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Monday, September 30, 2013

September 14 – 26, 2013 – American Visitors, Some History Lessons, a Scare from the Turkish Navy, and a Dreadful Storm…

Two happy men at Wall Bay
Jaime and Christine Tate, formerly of s/v Morning Light, came for a visit. We covered quite a lot of ground during their short time here and packed away some precious memories.
Cleopatra's Baths by Wall Bay
Of course we spent several days in the Gocek/Skopea Limani area. Jaime wanted to float like Frank in his birthday photo, which pleased Frank immensely. 

While at Wall Bay we noticed several yachts shining huge spotlights onto the shore area the first night. The next morning we asked them what that was about. This bay is home to giant porcupines that come out at night, raid the rubbish of the restaurant and often abscond with their watermelons. A watermelon-stealing porcupine you ask? They must be massive! And they are. We sat vigil the following night, and eventually one of the spotlights illuminated a huge creature that in my mind resembled ALF from the TV series, at first I thought it was a large boulder on shore, but it soon began to amble about. I jumped up and pointed, “There’s one! My God, he’s enormous!” There were actually two of them, but the lights frightened them away, so I only got a quick glance. Frank, Chris and Jaime razzed me, saying I must’ve been either hallucinating or exaggerating. No porcupine can be that large. Well…we went hiking the next morning, and as we approached the area around Cleopatra’s Baths Jaime bent down to pick up something. It was a porcupine quill about a foot long. Now they believed!

Jaime's quill find

 Next stop was Amigos for wild boar casserole and fresh baked bread, and then Fethiye. There is so much rich Christian, Lycian, Byzantine and Roman history here it is mind-boggling.

We then sailed down to Kas where Bill and Judy had recommended that we rent a car and drive south one day then north the next day to the ancient towns and villages of the Lycian way; 1) Myra/Demre, home of the church of St Nicholas and ornate tombs built into massive cliffs, the once the capital of Roman Lycia, and a well preserved Roman Theater, 2) Patara the alleged birthplace of Apollo and St. Nicholas also home of a beautiful sand beach where St. Paul boarded the ship for Rome (I think to attend his trial), 3) Xanthos and Letoon a UNESCO archeological site that is astoundingly large and intact. Great advice! We spent two full days touring these areas and enjoying the scenic drives after spending a day discovering lovely Kas with its ancient winding streets, markets and cafes.

J & C in Kas

Stones at Myra

Myra Tombs

Emperor Frankin Myra Amphitheater

Dome at St. Nicholas Church

Walking Patara Beach where St. Paul walked

Patara Beach from the road above

Tombs at Xanthos


We then sailed down to Kekova Roads where the water is crystal clear and you can see an underwater city. The surrounding hills are peppered with sarcophagi. It was wonderful except for three things that nearly dented our fun.  We were swimming around, marveling that there were no dangerous sea creatures in these waters when Jaime shouted, “OUCH!” A small fish had bitten his nipple! It really did hurt him and his nipple swelled up but we couldn’t stop laughing long enough to feel sorry for him. After that we were wary of the wicked Nipple Biter Fish! Not long afterward an intense windstorm suddenly came along nearly ripping our canvas awning to shreds before we could get it taken in and move the boat into a safe cove that was so overcrowded with yachts rushing for shelter we nearly met with catastrophe. Then to top it off, poor Jaime got stung on his finger by a bee, causing it to turn black and swell up.

Relaxing at a Kekova Roads cafe

Poor Jaime!

We departed Kekova roads early two days later for another day in Kas. On September 23rd, I made the following notes in my journal:
“Turkish Navy Monday, Sept 23, 2013
We had some big excitement this morning - we left Kas for Kalkan hoping the winds and seas would be kind for the trip back up and actually picked up some fantastic sailing wind and were flying! As we passed Kalkan, Frank decided we should go for it and get as far as the good weather would allow when all of a sudden a Turkish warship started heading toward us. Our cockpit mic is out so we didn't hear them hailing us at first "sailing yacht on our starboard side, this is Turkish Warship calling" they got more urgent until we realized they were calling us! I ran down to the VHF and answered them. They told us to turn immediately to 180 degrees for 10 miles and then we could turn to 270. They are clearing the area for live fire exercises. They diverted all traffic up and down the coast from Kalkan to ??? We heard them talking to lots and lots of yachts. Several were asking permission to go into Fethiye or Gocek and permission was denied because of the exercises, so we know it went at least as far as Gocek for 10 miles off the coast. Frank is angry and insisting that we must at least get into one of those ports because we had guests on board who needed to catch a flight tomorrow. They couldn’t believe we were arguing with them and we couldn’t believe our rotten luck. Having no choice we diverted, and can hear the booms of weapons fire from time to time.
At least we caught a good angle and now are sailing again - amazing to be sailing back up the coast! It's awesome!!! At 2 PM they finished the exercises so we are all heading back toward shore. We can see at least 5 warships out here. We are wondering what they are preparing for…is something going on here we should prepare for?”
The Warship that hailed us
We never found out whether that was just a standard exercise or an emergency drill. We did make it to tiny Gemiler Island. On arrival a man and woman came along in a little boat offering to help us stern-tie to shore. Afterward they cooked up some golzeme pancakes for us for a few TL each. We relaxed a bit and then wet exploring. During the Byzantine period the island housed 4 churches, one dedicated to St. Nicholas who was rumored to have lived here, ruins of tombs, houses and hostels for weary travelers. It’s really beautiful. We hiked all over this little island that rises straight up out of the water to a high peak that gives magnificent 360° views of the bay and beyond.

On the 25th we returned to Gocek, sliding in on the toes of a nasty looking weather system. Bill and Judy had BeBe berthed there on the wharf at Skopea Marina and had made a reservation for the 6 of us at Blue. Tonight was two-for-one dinner night. We dinghyed into the Skopea dinghy wharf, and all looked fine and good, weather-wise. We wore our foul weather gear just in case. While at dinner, however, the storm we had hoped to avoid hit Gocek with massive intensity. We watched as yachts slammed against the town quay, praying that Destiny was ok out there on the hook, not giving any thought to the safety of our dinghy. The storm was not showing signs of letting up any time soon so we bundled up and headed out to check on the yachts. We arrived to utter chaos. The dinghy wharf was in splinters and our dinghy had been slammed up under a small bridge and was repeatedly pierced by jutting nails sticking out of he concrete. We felt physically ill watching it deflate to nothing, the motor barely above water. Frank managed to fish the painter out and walk it to shore but there was no way we could use it to get back to Destiny. Bebe was getting bumped by yachts on both sides, and her stern was slamming up and down violently. Judy and Bill managed to board her and to get the lines secured while trying to fend off the Russian catamaran that was wildly tossing about on Bebe’s stern side with the crew and passengers drinking and partying not worried a bit about damage. They were pretty far-gone, stoned or drunk and could care less. It was a hellish scene. The temperature had dropped several degrees, and there we stood freezing and in shock. The night was pitch black and we couldn’t lay eyes on Destiny, nor did we have a way to get back to her. Eventually the captain of one of the super yachts offered to give us a lift to our boat when it was safe to deploy his tender. Getting into his tender took monumental effort in slamming waves that drenched everyone. We found Destiny still afloat but furiously bucking the anchor chain. We nearly broke our necks trying to board her but did manage to get aboard safely. No one slept well that night until the storm finally abated in the early morning hours. Gocek’s wharf looked like pick up sticks the next morning, and our dinghy was a mess. But the skies were clear and the day was beautiful for Christine and Jaime’s departure. They got a cab to the airport and we sent Destiny to the dinghy hospital.

The little bridge that ate our dinghy. looking closely you can see nails sticking out of the bottom.