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Our Turkish Odyssey Begins!

23rd October - 6th November 2022 - Kas Marina & Saklikent (Trip 1)

We had arrived a couple of days before in Kas marina. The guy in our permanent spot was a bit reluctant to leave so we were still in a temporary berth. We didn’t blame him, it was a beautiful marina to spend time in. We had said goodbye to Ian and Liz after the first day but we were planning on doing a road trip with Fay and Derek before they moved on. They needed to hire a car to get back to her family’s place in Köycegiz and had not been up to Saklikent gorge yet so we were going to tag along. First things first, our berth had become available and we needed to get Rockhopper tucked in. We had been in contact with a few people with boats in the marina already and one such couple were Ben and Lynnae on Yemaya 2. They were on our Lagoon 42 UK owners group (we ignored the fact that they were from Canada) so there had been a few messages back and forth between us in the preceding months. It turned out that we were going to be next to them on F pontoon. It's fairly tense parking the boat anyway but with someone you know right next to you there is a bit of performance anxiety and a stronger will not to hit their boat. With the added aid of the marineros who pounced on the front of our boat, Carl brought her in square. Phew! Our new home unfortunately had our solar panels not pointed for optimal solar availability but it was a nice enough spot with great neighbours. On the opposite side was a Russian guy on a monohull who was pretty friendly. The one down side was that our boat was too short for the lazy lines so we had to use our lines to tie onto them. They would be sitting in the water for 6 months, getting green and furry.

Anyway, once secure, we headed out, with Derek behind the wheel, for our day trip to Saklikent. Our first experience of crazy driving in Türkiye, random speed limit changes, dodgy overtaking manoeuvres and the occasional wild dog barking and chasing the car. Stopping at red traffic lights seemed to be optional for some too.

It was just over an hours drive to the Saklikent gorge. Near where we parked the car there were a few restaurants offering the local lunchtime favourite, a Gozleme. A huge pancake cooked over a large, slightly convex griddle with savoury fillings; typically potato, mince meat and cheese. We settled on a restaurant with colourful cushions to sit on in booths near a stream. As soon as the gozleme’s turned up so did the geese. Very curious fellows.

After lunch it was time to walk the gorge. We had been pre-warned by Fay that we would need to use our water shoes as we would be wading into the water at some point. The walk started out on a bridge bolted to the side of the canyon, with the water flowing down below. Once we got to the central meeting point which had a cafe and a place to buy plastic shoes it was time to get wet. The water was cloudy so you couldn’t see the bottom but as we crossed the rocky patch into the flow the water level rose, first above the ankles, then the knees but not quite to waist level. And it was freezing! There was a rope to hang on to through the faster flowing river. That turned out to be the deepest bit and the rest was really ankle deep all the way. It was a spectacular walk with the canyon walls quite close together in places.

The following day back in Kas we said goodbye to Fay and Derek, very appreciative of some recipes that Fay left behind and some good fishing tips from Derek. It was time for us to settle into our new life here in Kas. We were just in time for Republic Day, a public holiday commemorating the proclamation of the Republic of Türkiye on the 29th October 1923. A large stage had been erected in the square in Kas and a massive flag was flying across the square. We ventured into town fairly early and managed to find a small table on the edge of the square to watch the festivities. Of course we didn’t understand any of the speakers but every once and a while they would play this tune, Yil Marsi, by Kenan Dogulu (I shazammed it!) Which everyone knew the words to. Looking at a translation of the lyrics it was a rally cry for the Republic “We are Turkish, our chest of the Republic is a bronze shield, It is not befitting for the Turk to stop, the Turk is ahead, the Turk is forward!” Possibly a bit of dodgy translation there but you get the idea. A helpful woman sat behind us let us know that the Turkish anthem was about to start and that we should stand up. It was a fun night and great to witness.

7th November - 11th November 2022 - Marmaris, Kusadasi, Ephesus, Pamukkale, Kas (Trip 2)

We were due to fly home for Christmas on the 27th November but before that we wanted to do a bit of a road trip ourselves. As usual, it would involve stopping off at a chandlery along the way and the best place for that was Marmaris. It has a whole block of yachty delights. We opted to stay the night there, see the castle (note in the pictures that Carl had a little friend follow him around the museum for an hour) and the grand bazaar before moving on.

The friend:

The castle:

Our next stop was Kusadasi which was another 3 hour drive along the coast. This was only a 20 minute drive from the ancient site of Ephesus and the site of another marina where our friends Dave and Susan on SV Pelican were (these are the ones we met in Zakynthos earlier in the year). Carl and I had each booked a few of the hotels that we would stay at on this journey, mine was the boutique one in Marmaris that had no parking so was a bugger to get near, and Carl’s was this one. Well.

With the advent of google maps and a local SIM card the world is our oyster. The only problem with google maps is that it tries to always give you the fastest route. Hotel Stella was on a road just off the sea front and had great photos of a pool looking out over the bay. The main road on the seafront was paved, well lit and could fit two cars either side down it. The back roads to the hotel…couldn’t. We found ourselves on steep dirt tracks between residential houses, just wide enough to fit our Corsa down them. The corners were right angle so frequently we needed a bit of back and forth to get round them. Also children were playing football in the streets too. One street was completely blocked by just a mound of dirt, I guess ready for a road resurfacing. All of this was too much for google maps to follow and it kept sending us in circles. After the fourth attempt to get near the hotel with the phone signal getting lost between the buildings and Carl constantly moving rather than giving me time to assess the situation, not so much angry Jo, more frustrated Jo came out. I even had to yell out to Carl to ‘Mind the Chicken!’ Which was crossing the road at the time. In fact the chicken helped to lighten the mood and we eventually found the right road close to the hotel. Before we had even stepped out of the car a very nice man came out and said ‘Welcome to Hotel Stella, how on earth did you find this road, usually people come from the main road below and we direct them here to park for the night!’. Just lucky I guess.

The hotel was not quite as luxurious as the photos (they never are) but the guy on the front desk was very welcoming, the room was clean and relatively cheap. There was an elevator from the pool terrace down to the main road so, once settled, we walked along the sea front towards the marina to meet up with Dave and Susan. They took us to a fantastic seafood restaurant where the owner just brings you what he had prepared for that evening. We had several courses, ceviche to start with, monkfish and a seafood salad. It was delicious.

The next day we were on the road again to Ephesus, a vast and extremely well preserved sight, showcasing centuries of history, from classical Greece to the Roman Empire. Obviously consult Wikipedia for all the details but the library of Celsus is the centre-piece and was truly beautiful. The site also has a theatre capable of seating around 25000 people, the largest in the ancient world. There is a stone road that stretches all the way down to the ancient harbour, long since silted up. Nowadays the sea is 6km away. There was also a very impressive covered area on the hillside showing the artisan terraced houses with remarkably preserved mosaics on the floors and paintings on the walls. Walking between the houses and up and over the rooms on a walkway was the closest we would probably get to seeing what it might have been like all those years ago. Granted we were in a long line of other tourists and the sight was rammed. We were constantly getting caught up in a tour guide group and the local guy who offered his services for €80 each to take us round the site scoffed when I said thanks but no thanks.   

Once we left the main site we drove the short distance to Selçuk where we stopped for lunch. Another gozleme, why not? Round the corner from the restaurant was the Ephesus Archeological Museum which we had a wander through before walking up to the Basilica of St John, constructed by Justinian I in the 6th century. This is believed to be the burial site of John the Apostle. The site was up on the hillside. As we walked around the wind gently blew through the ancient olive trees surrounding the site. It was truly quite a peaceful place. The tomb of St John was inaccessible but there was a stone tablet above it marking the spot and a grate with the chamber below. Apparently sick people would be taken there to breathe in the air emanating from the grate and be healed. As we looked down we saw some coins on the floor. I guess some saw it as a wishing well too. Nearby were the remains of the Temple of Artemis, completed around 550BC and designated one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

By 3pm it was time to move on. We had one more stop to make before heading back to Kas. Another 2.5hr drive, further inland, through cotton fields, to Pamukkale. This is a town known for its mineral-rich thermal waters which flow down the hillside via bright white travertine terraces. Incidentally the word Pamukkale is Turkish for Cotton Castle. Above the travertines is the ancient sight of Hierapolis, a Roman spa town founded around 190BC.

We arrived early evening at the Venus Suite hotel which was in the main town, at the base of the travertines. The town was a short walk away but since it was late we opted to just eat in the hotel that night. It had been a really long day, especially for Carl who had been driving.

The following morning we were awoken at 7:30am to the sound of the burner on a hot air balloon. Looking out the window we were met with two huge balloons landing in the field opposite the hotel. They offered sunrise hot air balloon rides over the travertines but we had decided to hold off on our balloon ride for the Cappadocia trip later on. As with Ephesus, the site was on the coach trip tourist trail so we decided to get out at 9am and maybe beat the initial rush. From the town there was a walkway up to the lowest terrace of the travertines. From there you are required to remove your shoes and walk barefoot up the white slope. As it was early, and November, it was a bit nippy. Once shoes and socks were off we stepped onto the white rock. The water from the thermal pools above was running down the rough limestone deposit and where we were, much lower down, it was absolutely freezing. It wasn’t even ankle deep but cold enough to numb your feet which turned out to be a blessing because in certain places the ground was quite sharp. We were in luck, there were very few people walking up that morning so we were able to experience it largely on our own. I’ve never seen anything like it. The terraces with blue pools seem to have been man made with the limestone deposit gradually building over the edge and down the walls. The higher you climbed the more the view of the valley below came into view. Nearing the top we could see that there were more people. The water temperature had gradually been increasing and the top two pools were hot, enough for our freezing feet to start to sting. There was a photographer there handing out massive angel wings for the Insta crowd to take ridiculous photos at the edge of a travertine pool. Two girls who had arrived in thick full length coats whipped them off and posed for photos in their bikinis. We warmed our feet in the top pool then stepped out to put our shoes back on and grab a coffee, looking out over a stunning vista.

A short while later we thought we would go and see the Antique Pool and see how busy it was. Apparently bathing in the pools will cure illnesses such as nutritional and chronic disorders, digestive and circulatory problems, to name a few. Even Cleopatra was said to have visited the healing pools. This thermal pool has actual Roman columns submerged in it from an earthquake long ago. The edges are covered in moss. Looking at the water and the masses of the great unwashed in it I wondered whether we would catch something in there rather than be healed by it!

It seemed quite busy so we thought we’d try it later on. The large site of Hierapolis spanned the hillside with a really well-preserved amphitheatre, a necropolis with sarcophagi stretching for 2km and a curious building called the Plutonium (or Pluto’s Gate). Overlooking the Plutonium is a restored large marble statue of Hades and Cerberus. The site is built on top of a cave that emits toxic gases, hence its use as a ritual passage to the underworld. Animals were routinely sacrificed by flinging them into the cave and then pulling them out on ropes. The carbon dioxide still kills off passing birds attracted by the warm air emitted.

The Plutonium was on the route up to the amphitheatre, quite far up the hill. It seemed like the masses couldn’t be arsed to walk up the hill so it was very quiet. We sat on the top tier of the amphitheatre looking out at the reconstructed facia in front of us (albeit missing one further level), the town of Hierapolis in the foreground, and the valley stretching out below the travertines. It was a phenomenal sight. And then the call to prayer started. I was struck by how the passage of time changes the cultures, religions and strategic importance of these ancient cities, now just a ruin on a hillside. Then this Russian dude next to us ruined the moment by shouting across at his family.

We left the amphitheatre and took a hike across and up the hillside to the Church of the Sepulchre. The 6th century chapel supposedly the burial site of St Phillip. This spot again was very peaceful, no olive trees this time, just the rustling of the long grass around us. Hardly anyone came up this far so we had the site to ourselves.

There was so much to see that I won’t go into all of it here but suffice it to say, we really enjoyed our time here. Maybe because we had the whole day to explore (we had booked two nights here) so weren’t rushed; maybe because it wasn’t as touristy at the other sites we had been to; or maybe we just had a great day hiking, stretching our legs and exploring this fascinating site. By 4pm it was time to get into our swimmers and brave the Antique Pool. We stepped into the warm waters, climbing up over Roman columns and around plinths, submerged in the water as gracefully as one can. I drew the line at sticking my head under though, too many hairs floating by. Others were more brave and scrubbed themselves with the water, head to toe. After 45 mins we were sufficiently healed and decided it was time to get out, fling on our clothes and head back down the travertines to town for a drink and dinner. Again, the masses weren’t interested so it was fairly empty on the way back to town. The setting sun lit up the terraces and white turned to orange. What an end to a magical day.

Our final day on tour was just the 4 hour drive back to Kas but as we reached the coast and saw the familiar islands just off Kalkan come into view, followed by the Greek island of Meis in the distance as we approached the marina, it really did feel like coming home.

12th November - 25th November 2022 - Boat prep in Kas

Türkiye has a 90 day in a rolling 180 day visa situation, just like our beloved Schengen. So to stay more than 3 months we needed to get Turkish residency. All the research we had carried out suggested this was a straightforward process. Ben and Lynnae, our next boat neighbours, had applied for this straightaway as they wanted to get it sorted before they visited family back home in Canada. They told us that due to the influx of Russian visa applications, from application date to interview date was taking at least a month. This was backed up by Louise and Ray (on their boat Greylag of Hoyle) and Jon and Sharon (on their boat Aquarela) who had been at the marina since September and had already applied. We needed to be back in the UK for Carl’s dads 80th birthday on the 4th December so we had spoken to the agent who told us not to apply when we first arrived, but wait until just before we left to go to England. That way the interview date would be allocated when we would be back in Türkiye in the middle of January. Unfortunately we listened to him but more on that later. Prior to us flying out on the 27th November we wanted to get several bits of work arranged for Rockhopper.

We wanted to get the sails professionally cleaned (after the Gibraltar red rain disaster) so we set about taking off the jib which was straightforward and then taking off the mainsail which was not. We attempted to film everything so we would know how it all went back together again. Only time would tell how successful we were. We also wanted to get mesh sun shades made for the cockpit, (rather than the solid Sunbrella material ones that had come with the boat) the saloon windows and a tent for the trampoline area. We had also been told of a local guy, Ayden, who did stainless steel work so we arranged for him to extend our helm seat so we could actually see the bows whilst sat down (especially me!), and an arch to fit over the dinghy transom so we could tow a wakeboard behind us.

We were also going to be hauling Rockhopper out for the first time to get a bottom clean and a reapplication of antifoul. We had asked for PropSpeed (an antifoul product for the the propellers) to be applied before Rockhopper went into the water in France in 2021 but this was not done so our props were pretty barnacled. We thought we would also take the opportunity to get the gelcoat repaired where those anchors had put a few dents in the starboard side back in April in Marina Ibiza.

She’d be out of the water for the time we were away and then for two weeks after we returned. It was at this point that we realised Setur marinas were quite grabby with the money. We would be paying for the water berth as well as the land berth. And the land berth quote was only valid for 5 days. In the time we were taking to digest the cost and determine how long we wanted it out of the water for, the cost had gone up by €200. We also needed to get the engines serviced and the local marina boatyard, headed by Özgur, was quoting more than double what the guy from Fethiye did, which also included the cost of him driving the 2 hours down to do it. Özgur seemed confused when we went with the Fethiye guy. The marina also charged us €50 per person per day if you used another company to do any work.

As lovely as Kas was there was only one chandlery that didn’t have much and only one boatyard so they had the monopoly on work in the area. Going elsewhere required a drive. Anyway, once the decision was made to haul out we wandered over to the haul out dock to see how wide it was. The marina had already told us that they could lift a Lagoon 42 out but there were two docks so we wanted to suss it out. Well, it didn’t look that wide to us! We came back with a range finder and measured the gap as 7.9m. Our boat is 7.7m wide. The dock simply had concrete sides with no wooden or rubber rails. We wouldn’t even be able to fit fenders down the side. The nerves started to kick in. Every afternoon the wind seemed to pick up and we had had some pretty strong winds recently. Our haul out time was booked for 10:30am and the weather forecast showed 20kn gusts from 12pm onwards. More nerves. We set about stringing up our pool noodles and some rubber matting that we could dangle down the side to soften the blow.

24th November 2022 - The day before the haul out we talked to the boatyard and asked whether we could come out a bit earlier to try and give ourselves a margin before the wind kicked in. They told us there was one boat to go into the water before us but if that didn’t happen then it was possible. The fuel dock was next door to the haul out dock so we thought we’d get up nice and early, go top up the tanks and get a pointless pump out certificate and wait there.

We also decided to pull the trigger on the residency application. So went back to the agent to get the ball rolling. We had to spend 2000TL for the agents fee, 4000TL for the medical insurance for us both (had to be an annual policy even though we only had a marina contract for 6 months) and 700TL for translating and notarising our marriage certificate (required because my name was not on the boat registration document). This would buy us residency until our marina contract ended on the 19th April 2023. So around £340 total, not including a hire car to the location of the interview in Kemer. The agent then mentioned that the web portal was only opening for about 20 mins per day due to the number of applications raised by Russians seeking residency. Apparently some districts had started to refuse applications from them. So with a ‘you might have messaged us to say that before’ but smiling demeanour, we asked him to apply for us as soon as possible, told him that we would be away in the UK from the 27th November to the 15th January and left.

25th November 2022 - Haul out Day

We had gone for a fortifying pint at the local bar called Oxygen the night before and told our fellow Kas marina residents Jon and our neighbour Ben, that we would be moving in the morning. Jon had said he would come over and offer a hand to fend off. First we had to get to the fuel station so, with very little sleep, we called the marina office at 8:30am to send a marinero around to retrieve our lines from the lazy lines at the bows. We weren’t keen on them sinking to the bottom and staying there for the 6 weeks that we would be out of the water. The marinero helpfully then drove round and helped us with our lines at the fuel dock. The fuel attendant however, wasn’t there yet. Anyway, phase one complete. We’d not use our holding tanks whilst in the marina but went through the process anyway to get the certificate just in case someone asked to see it and, when the guy showed up, topped up the fuel tanks. It was now 9:15am and it was still pretty calm. 2kn of wind turned to 4kn as we looked over at the boatyard expecting to see the travel lift fire into action and a transport a boat out. By 9:30am there was a guy strolling around with a remote control and the travel lift came to life. It became apparent that they were heading for one of the haul out docks so clearly the other boat that was due to come back into the water was not doing so. They were positioning the lift for us. By the time it was in position it was shortly before 10am and they gave us the nod to make our way in. I quickly messaged Jon to say it was happening but to be honest it was that calm and there were four guys stood either side of the dock, we had all the help we needed. Headsets on, fenders at the bow and stern and me waving a noodle for the middle fatter bit, Carl took us out and positioned us for as square an entry into the dock as possible. We had lines on all four corners and when we got close enough I lobbed them out to the guys on the dock. Due credit to them they kept us off the dock nicely while we nudged our way in. Occasionally I thrust a noodle in their face to use but once fully in the dock the fenders at the bow and stern were brought towards the middle and we were pinned off the dock. It really couldn’t have gone better. They then positioned the strops under the boat. We suddenly remembered that the markers on the hull as to where to position the strops to avoid the rudders etc were not in the correct position so hurriedly tried to explain this to the Turkish guys but they were great. After closing all the sea cocks and preparing the boat to be lifted we got off and watched the strops take the strain. There was a fair bit of creaking but she was eventually clear of the concrete walls and hovering above the water. Once clear they pressure washed the hull which actually looked remarkably clean unlike the props that would require some work. Like mother hens we nervously watched her being manoeuvred into her land base. During this time Jon and Sharon appeared, ‘Sorry mate!’ Just got your message!’.

The travel lift operator positioned Rockhopper on some wooden blocks, right next to the waters edge. The stern looked out over the bay. After they had knocked some logs into place at the bows and stern to shore her up that was it, our land berth for 6 weeks. We found a ladder and climbed up on deck. It was pretty strange being that high up with the boat on a slight tilt. Looking through the escape hatches (otherwise known as the fish viewing windows) under the stairs it was weird to see concrete below. The marina allowed you to stay on your boat in the yard and since there was only a few days before we were due to fly back to the UK we thought we’d do that. As a reminder Carl placed tape over the sink hole to ensure that we would not use the galley sink and we refrained from using the boat heads. There was a portacabin with toilets not too far away so it wasn’t so bad. All teeth washing, hand washing and dishes were done in our giant red bucket in the cockpit. True to the forecast, about half an hour after we settled ourselves on the hard, the wind picked up to 24kn. It would have been impossible to dock the boat without causing serious damage.

That evening we were treated to a fantastic sunset from the cockpit. The view was incredible from our elevated vantage point. Sat on the cockpit seats looking out we were so close to the waters edge that you couldn’t see the dock. It just looked like we were suspended over the ocean. The sun set between the two hills of the Kas peninsula directly across from us. It was our shortest passage yet but equally deserving of an anchor beer/G&T. Who cared that you had to wash your dishes in a bucket.

27th November 2022 - Flight back to the UK

Once Rockhopper was safely tucked up and winterised we took the death-defying taxi ride to Antalya airport to fly home. Been a while since I’ve felt car sick but this guy was trying to set a land speed record along a windy coastal road. Anyway, Ben had kindly offered to keep an eye on her for us so we felt she was in good hands.

Our time at home was largely spent with family. It was Carl’s dad’s 80th birthday so we hired an Airbnb near Beeston in Cheshire to house all the family. What made it equally special was that Carl’s son and family were also coming from Canada and, together with Carl’s daughter and family, it would be the first time that he would see all his grandkids together. It was a very special few days with them all.

This year had another landmark date in that it was my parents 50th wedding anniversary on the 17th February so, even though we would be flying back to Türkiye on the 15th of January to prepare the boat to go back in the water, we made the call to fly back again and do something similar with my family all together.

Whilst still in Beeston, around the 6th December, we messaged the agent back in Kas to see how our application was getting on. He said he hadn’t done it yet, as he kept missing the window. We started to get nervous about it getting done. He then said he would have one more try and if not he would hand over the details and we could do it ourselves. Remind me again what it was we were paying him for? A day or so later we got the message that he had been successful in putting the application in for us both. Our interview date was scheduled for…wait for it…the 17th of February. Apparently the only way to change the date was to cancel the application and start again. With a heavy heart I called my parents to say that I wouldn’t be able to be there in the UK on the actual date. After some discussion we decided it would be better for us to turn up a few days later anyway as it was half term and my niece and nephew would be off school for the week. I promptly booked an airbnb in Devon for us all to congregate and looked at changing our flights which, sadly, we had already booked and paid for.

One piece of admin we needed to complete was our US B1/B2 visas. This would allow us to stay in America for up to six months whilst we waited for the hurricane season to blow through the Caribbean. We had to attend an interview at the US embassy in London and we had to surrender our passports for a week. We would not be going to the US until at least May 2024 but this was the longest period of time that we would be at home for so on the 15th December we took a trip to London to get it done. Unfortunately by the 23rd December Carl’s passport was still not ready, mine was waiting to be collected. It had gone into ‘further administrative processing’. We were due to catch a lift down to Meribel in France for a snowboarding holiday with some friends on the 27th and over new years but the date came and went with no passport. To say that Carl was disappointed was an understatement. And no, I didn’t go without him. That may have been grounds for divorce. Especially since I was the one who insisted that we get it done just before the Christmas holidays.

Anyway, many phone calls later, Carl’s passport was eventually released with a visa in it and we were good to go. It was ready to collect only a few days before our flights back to Türkiye.

15th January 2023 - Back to Türkiye

Whilst we had been away the guys from UK Sailmakers in Fethiye who were making our sunscreens had been to collect our winter enclosures to use as a template. They had also taken the sails to clean. We had left when the weather was still quite warm and returned when there was a definite chill in the air. Since we were unable to use the heating on the boat as we were up in the air and the system required sea water to operate, we unpacked the fluffy onesies that Charlotte had bought us all those months ago.

Since we’d been away there was a new boat in front of us. We had definitely seen this boat before, a 47ft catamaran called Seaduction and whilst chatting to its owners Neil and Kirsten we all narrowed it down to Saranda in Albania. Neil and Kirsten were wintering in Finike but had brought their boat round to Kas to haul out and get some work done. It was a similar width to ours so we shared our stories of how tight it was to get the boat in the dock.

We had met some lovely people at the marina in Kas, one such couple was Zach and Clare on their monohull called Champagne. She was Australian and he was from Alaska. They had come to Kas about four years ago and, due to Covid, had stayed. They had used it as a base to travel from until the world sorted itself out. Zach was going in for an operation on his knee and shoulder and they invited us out for a pre-op dinner with a bunch of others. We extended the invite to Neil and Kirsten and new friends were created. It was a fun evening, especially listening to the antics of Andre and Felix, a German couple who were anchored out in the bay on their 57ft Hanse monohull called Su. Andre had a business growing coral and Felix had this weird accent that was half Oxford English and half German.

In the time that Zach and Clare had been in Türkiye they had adopted two cats that were living with them on the boat. They were old hats at wintering in Kas and since there boat was a bit smaller than ours, without heating, they had rented an apartment in town for a few months. That allowed Zach to continue working on the boat without tidying up every night. I got a message from Clare saying that they would be away for Zach’s operation and did we want to stay in the apartment for a long weekend. We were still on the hard, in our onesies, washing dishes in a bucket and with a much longer walk to take a shower. It was such a lovely offer I jumped at the chance. They didn’t want any money for it, we just had to look after the cats whilst they were away…and not eat all their Vegemite. I’m not a big cat person but it really amounted to letting them out when we woke up and back in sometime in the afternoon. I could manage that. Although the thought of letting a pet out to roam was a bit terrifying. What if they didn’t come back?! The night before we were due to head over there, Clare messaged me to say that one of the cats, Kismet was not well and they would be taking him to the vet for the weekend. So only one cat to look after, Ishka, the white one with a heart shaped brown patch on her. Beautiful cat, although a bit of a biter!

The apartment was set up on a hill, with a balcony looking out over the town of Kas and the harbour. The view was stunning. From the apartment there was a short walk to a 4th century BC tomb on the hillside. Whilst Carl shot off on the bike every morning to work on the boat, I made full use of living in town. Every Friday there was a fantastic market selling fruit, vegetables, nuts and eggs as well as clothing and other bits and bobs. Since we had a kitchen I bought some veg at the market and set about making a big pot of base gravy for curry dishes. Thankfully Ishka returned each day and whilst Carl was nibbled at times, she was quite affectionate to me.

After our brief time in the apartment (thank you Zach and Clare!) we were back on the boat, enjoying the sunsets and getting the boat jobs done. In the yard there is always something going on but one morning we were sat in the cockpit and the boat suddenly shook. It felt like someone had run into the boat with a forklift or something. We took a look around and couldn’t see anyone. We looked at each other and said, could that have been an earthquake?! Carl saw a guy from the yard who confirmed our suspicions and we saw them go around and double check the logs and the stands that were holding up all the boats. Thankfully ours hadn’t moved much. The end of the month had come and it was time for Rockhopper to go back into the water next to Yemaya 2. With a shiny new bottom and gleaming props the reentry went down without a hitch.

A week later, on the 6th February, we read the horrific news of the devastating earthquake near Gaziantep and the Syrian border. It was 7.8 on the Richter scale, about a 10 hour drive away from us. We didn’t feel a thing in Kas although we were back in the water and it happened at night. Whilst we had been back in the UK, Ben and Lynnae had done a bit of a tour and had visited Gaziantep and its ancient castle, now in ruins. The scale of the disaster and the loss of life was hard to contemplate. What was heartwarming to see was that the town of Kas gathered together and donated hundreds of bags of clothing, blankets and food. Every day for weeks afterwards the area outside the Municipality building was covered in donations with trucks being loaded up to take them out there. We were on a Kas WhatsApp group, not just sailors, and the calls for what was needed and what help could be given was incredible. Some of the areas were difficult to get to and the authorities and aid agencies were asking people not to just turn up or clog up the roads so that aid could get through to those who needed it. A few local aid agencies were mentioned on the WhatsApp group but, doing a quick google search and asking around some of the Turkish friends we had met, we opted to donate to a recognised emergency relief agency operating out of the UK who I knew were sending qualified rescue workers and doctors. I did respond to a German woman called Elli who had been living here in Türkiye for a while with her Turkish husband and could speak the language. She felt compelled to do something and, since we didn’t have a lot of clothing/blankets to donate from the boat, we gave her some money to buy supplies in the bigger towns which would offer better value for money on her way to Adana. Elli was known to Zach and Clare too so I trusted that she wasn’t just running off with some money. She ended up going in a friends camper van so they were self sufficient when there. She became a translator for a set of German doctors for a few weeks until her supplies ran out and she had to return. Elli came round for a coffee to talk about her experience afterward. Zach and Clare came round too.

15th February 2023 - The Interview

As mentioned above, the interview date was approaching and we needed to hire a car to take us to Kemer. Thankfully there was a great deal of information from the other cruisers to say exactly which building to go to, what time they opened, what to expect and how many copies of our documents we needed to take. Since Kemer was a least a couple of hours drive away and our friends Bill and Laurie on SV Toodle-Oo were in Finike marina, we thought we’d make a bit of journey of it. We thought we’d drive to Antalya, stay in the old town for a couple of nights and then track back to Kemer for the interview on the 17th, stay the night there then a night in Finike to have dinner with Bill and Laurie.

So, on the morning of the 15th we picked up the hire car and set off up the coast. Taking the taxi to Antalya airport in November we had seen the modern bit and it was just a big city, nothing special. We thought we would go there as there was an Ikea and a store called Bauhaus which was a bit like a B&Q. An opportunity for me to pick up some storage solutions and for Carl to buy another power tool. What we found when we got to the old town was a fantastic little place of narrow streets, bars, restaurants and ancient sites. It is set up on a hillside overlooking the Gulf of Antalya with mountains in the background. There was a great cocktail bar with a terrace next to the Hidirlik Tower, a 2nd century Roman fortification. We took the steps down to the ancient Roman harbour which was packed full of gullets. Obviously drawn to boats we headed back down there for dinner that evening, sampling the show piece, salt-baked fish. It was pretty impressive, coming to the table all in flames but once they broke open the salt crust and filleted the fish for you, it turns out that it was a bit overdone. Anyway, if was an experience.

After dinner we stopped off at Odin Pub for a bit of live music. The outside seating space had a log fire going and the waiters kept bringing over popcorn. We’d just had dinner and weren’t hungry but when does that stop one scoffing popcorn when its put in front of you. Over a glass of wine we listened to the guy and girl with a guitar singing away. They were very good. A couple of dodgy English pronunciations (‘I like the way you verk it, no diggidy’) but a good selection of songs that we recognised. We really enjoyed our time in Antalya, luckily for us it would not be the last time we were here.

On the 17th we headed down to Kemer. We were early so unbelievably found a chandlery to spend a bit more money on boat polish and then had lunch by the marina. Our interview date was at 3pm but we chanced going to the office at 1:30pm. The office had only just opened after lunch and already there were four people waiting in the outer office. For some reason I started to feel nervous about the whole thing. After about 20mins a guy came out and read out some names, no one came forward during this time and so he carried on and when we heard a ‘Greenwood’ in there we shot up. Once inside the guy asked for each document in turn. We fumbled about trying to separate the originals from the photocopies. He took our passports, looked through them and then promptly walked over to another computer. After about 5 mins he called me over. “There is a problem madam…”

So it turned out that applying for residency when you were outside the country was a no no. I explained that our agent did this on our behalf but he said you couldn’t do that. The application was void. He told me that we had to reapply and wait for another interview. We were still legal in that we were still within the 90 days of our tourist visa (only five days remaining!). So as long as we reapplied within five days we could try again. Whilst we waited for the interview we were allowed to stay past the 90 days. We walked out with our bunch of paperwork, completely deflated. I got straight onto our agent and explained what was said to us. He had no idea of the restriction and thankfully agreed to apply again for us straightaway. We didn’t even discuss whether there would be an additional charge for his services, I wasn’t going to be paying one. We checked into our hotel and found the nearest bar to drown our sorrows. Whether it was our mood or not, we didn’t think much of Kemer. It was fine, but really quiet, not much going on. Maybe it was the time of year. We could have just moved on to Finike and stayed there. Great, more money wasted on a hotel there.

Whilst there we heard that our agent had managed to apply again and our new interview date was the 9th April. Our marina contract ended on the 19th April. We’d be going to the interview asking for a residency permit for 10 days. Still, with the interview date set, we at least were legal in the country. We were due to fly back to the UK for my parents wedding anniversary in four days. We had no idea whether the border force would let us back in with 1 day on our tourist visa left. Would they even know we were in the residency process?

Our mood was vastly improved by meeting up with Bill and Laurie in Finike. They offered to cook dinner for us on their boat in the marina. I was a tad confused why they didn’t just suggest eating out but when we got to Finike we realised why. It was quite a traditional place with not many places to get a beer and the restaurants looked a bit fast foody. Unless you wanted a kebab, there didn’t seem to be anything else. Having a wander round Finike we were vastly relieved that we had chosen to winter in Kas. Laurie cooked us a lovely meal and we washed it down with copious amounts of wine. Thankfully it was a short walk back to our hotel from their boat.

On our way back to Kas we stopped off at a place called Demre, the modern town on which the ancient city of Myra was built. The Lycian tombs and amphitheatre were pretty impressive. Myra was also the birthplace of Santa Claus. Saint Nicholas of Myra was actually born in near by Patara but he became the Bishop of Myra. He was the patron saint of sailors, as well as children and a whole host of others. The remains of an East Roman basilica church built within 200 years of his death is now a museum to have a wander through. The church was built over the site of the church where he served as bishop. There wasn’t much to see in Demre other than that so we were on our way pretty soon after that.

21st February 2023 - Flight back to the UK

A short few days later we were all packed up again to head back to the UK, this time from Dalaman airport rather than Antalya. Thankfully the driver was a bit more sedate this time but unfortunately the nerves were building. The guy at the residency permit office had told us on the 17th that we had five days left on the tourist visa. I recalculated it and we had only got three. This meant we were already one day over the 90 days and we arrived at the airport. We had heard that the fines were not too crazy and, although I had printed out the residency applications ready to do battle, I figured a fine might come our way. Unfortunately we didn’t have much cash and hoped we could find an ATM at the airport. Turns out Dalaman is quite a bit smaller than Antalya. No cash machines at Departures. More nerves building. We checked into the flight, put our bags through the scanner and then joined the queue for immigration. My sweaty palms held the residency application forms and our passports. Ahead of us a woman got into a heated discussion and got led off to a side office. Stress levels climbed a notch. We moved forward in the queue and soon enough it was our turn. I handed over the passports and put a big smile on my face. Hopefully not a dodgy smile. He scanned the first passport, looked at the screen…then stamped it. Then did the next. We were through!

I don’t know how we made it through but we went straight for a large beer in relief! We’d worry about how to get back into the country in a couple of weeks.



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