SAILING THE DATCA PENINSULA - TURKEY

July 8 Icmeler

After almost a month of working on the boat, doing minor repairs and major cleaning, wet sanding the entire cabin top in an attempt to remove the Red Sea grit ground into the gelcoat, we finally broke away from the Marina in Marmaris. We sailed to the neighbouring bay of Icmeler and anchored the first night. The anchorage was good holding but noisy with bar music, fireworks, swimmers, banana boats, tubers, jetskiis, and gulets returning from day trips.

July 9
Awoke to the sounds of a mosque breaking the morning silence. After a big breakfast, it was time to scrub the bottom of the boat, a long overdue chore. Gord donned his wetsuit and we jumped into the water. I found it quite warm but then I was working hard scrubbing the green slimy beard off the bottom of the boat while Gord chiselled away at the barnacles on the prop and shaft. Finally, we decided that was enough work for  the day although there was a lot more to do yet. The little we accomplished will probably at least add another knot to our speed.

We relaxed the rest of the day. About 11 am the daily hot westerly wind picked up, so predictable and strong that it is given its own name "meltimi." Gusts of 20 plus knots kept the wind generator humming and put power in the boat. We were securely anchored and the breeze felt good in the hot sun and high 90 deg temps. All around the water was bustling with activities and water sports, people swimming by the boat and yachts sailing by. An array of beach toys floated by; balls, waddles and runaway air mattresses that escaped from the beach and tumbled and rolled across the water, the wind carrying them quickly out to sea. We thought about going ashore in search of a grocery store but were daunted by the thought of lowering the dinghy in the gusty winds. At night the wind settled down and we had a peaceful sleep on the glassy seas.

July 10 Hisaronu Peninsula

We left Icmeler early and set sail for the Hisaronu Peninsula. We had a mixed bag of sailing conditions, first no wind, then only a little but on the nose. We motored, then sailed at 3 knots, then motored. As we sailed past the bare rocky headlands, the wind funnelled through the gorges and suddenly we were sailing along at 6 knots. The wind twisted and changed direction but we were able to tack and had a wonderful sail. We were even tempted to bypass our anchorage because the sailing was so good!

The hydrofoil ferry to Greece flew past us, floating a top the water, barely touching the surface.

Bozuk Buku 36.34N 28.01E
We were drawn in to Bozuk Buku by the large ancient ruins of a Hellenistic citadel at the entrance to a long protected bay.  The bay consisted of a number of coves, most of which had docks provided by restaurants and all of which were full with charter boats.

There were numerous yachts in the bay along with gulets, all with a stern line to the shore. We really had made it our goal to try and anchor whenever possible and NOT tie to the shore, making us sideway's beam to the prevailing winds. Everywhere the boats in the Med all insist on the practice of stern tying feet from the shoreline, which is uncomfortable in windy conditions but also dangerous because if you drag anchor you are immediately on the rocks.

We managed to find a nice hole to set the hook, well away from either of the huge gulets that were on either side of us. As the afternoon fell into evening, many of the boats cleared out of the anchorage but many many more came in. We were entertained thoroughly watching these newcomers trying to anchor in the meltimi that had developed, because those that managed to get hooked could not get their lines ashore. Boats were still milling around under nav lights well into the darkness in their unsuccessful attempts at anchoring.

The following morning we contemplated staying and exploring all the ruins scattered around the bay, but the landscape was  uninvitingly dry, rugged and rocky with sparse vegetation. And the anchorage was just too crowded for comfort. So we headed out.

July 11  Bozburun 36.41.4N 28.02.6E

It was still early and the winds had not developed, perfect to round the Cape of Karaburan which produces a Ventura effect between Turkey and the Greek island of Simi. By early afternoon we were under sail in ideal conditions reaching toward the town of Bozburun

The hilly landscape surrounding Bozburun is barren and rocky, but an adequate home to numerous goats.

The town of Bozburun lies at the head of a very long bay sheltered by islands and offering numerous anchoring possibilities in the islets. Since our purpose was to buy a few provisions we anchored right outside the town marina basin and took the dinghy into the little village.

The small quaint town had 2 grocery stores where we were able to get everything we needed and even a cart to transport our purchase back to the dinghy. We wandered along the waterfront past little pensiyons and restaurants.

July 12

Leaving the bay of Bozburun, the wind was not in our favor. Directly in our face, we just motored out and around the point until we were heading in a more NE direction. We had a slow but comfy sail and marvelled at how many other sail boats were all around us. We were not used to such crowded waters! 90 percent of the boats we see here in Turkey fly a German flag; there are a few French flags and the occasional Swiss one but, other than the local Turkish boats, most of these are charter or holiday sailing boats. We rarely saw a cruising boat while we were sailing the Peninsula.
And of course, there are hundreds of gulets, the classic wooden boats that are built here in Turkey for the tourist trade.

Keci Buku 36.46N 28.07.5E
We sailed into a long finger of a bay, past the ruins of a Byzantine Church, past the new Marti Marina, past the SunSail Chartering base, past numerous docks that toted free usage, power and water (in exchange for eating at their restaurant) and settled in a peaceful anchorage behind a rocky island topped with the ruins of a Byzantine fort.  the old rock walls cascading down the barren slopes.

There are lots of other boats anchored near us, 90% of which are German flagged. A few French, the occasional Swiss, but not many cruisers like us. Mostly charter boats and Europeans that use their boat as a summer retreat.

We hiked up to get a closer look at the Byzantine ruins atop the island. Only the wall, probably used for defence, was still intact. The island is now home for a family of black cottontails. There were some lovely views of the anchorage from the hilltop.

We were completely protected by a bookend of high mountainous rocky slopes, covered in pine.

We swam and relaxed in the flat calm waters, quiet except for the cicadas buzzing like a million crickets but 50 times louder. It was such a gem of a spot that we stayed the next day and were able to finish scrubbing the bottom of the boat, a big chore to get all the slimy green beard off the bottom of the hull.

We discovered the added bonus of being able to take the dinghy to Marti Marina, where there was a little grocery store to buy fresh bread.

The area also had a few restaurants where visitors would be unloaded from gulets or dolmus to spend the day, however, we make it our practice not to eat ashore as the restaurants are generally too pricey for our budget.

July 14  Bencik 36.47N 28.02.5E
Just across and west of Keci Buku  in the same bay was an spot that looked very protected on the charts.
We arrived at Bencik  a narrow inlet that looked more like a river than a bay. We had to tie to a tree because the anchorage was very deep all the way to the shore. Ashore there was a stone walkway that led to a private villa area but not much else to keep us interested enough to spend more than one night there.

July 15   Kuruca Buku (Kochini Bay)  36.45N 27.53.5E
We attempted to motor to Kuruca Buku only a few miles away. We were hoping to charge batteries and make water but the engine was having one of it's cranky days and kept overheating. We would shut it off and try again. Eventually it stopped overheating and just ran way too cold. A new problem to try and solve.

Kuruca Buku was a great anchorage in a double bay backed by a pine covered campground and separated by a sandspit dotted with restaurants. The beach comprises of small round stones but the mostly German tourists sprawled across the plastic lawnchairs don't seem to care. There are quite a few boats anchored here probably because of the clear water, proximity to the restaurants, a little grocery store and even sporadic wifi! What more could you want.

July 16
Another day at this great anchorage protected from the developing NW winds that are changing the escalating waves outside the bay into angry frothing foam.

July 18
Bob, Becky and Tracy came for a visit to deliver our parts and help celebrate my birthday on July 19. We had lunch, then all went for a swim off the boat.

July 19 Ginny's B-Day

We spent the day relaxing on the boat, reading and swimming

July 20 Back to the Engine Room

We pulled up anchor mid morning to set sail for an anchorage just past Datca, about 10 miles away. Since there was not much wind we were motor sailing. About 2 hours out, there was a horrid crunching sound, then rattle rattle, clank. Despite the shock we hurriedly shut down the engine, knowing full well that  it was serious once again. Sure enough, the teeth on the timing gears, both cam and crank shaft, had shattered, spewing bits of metal throughout the engine AGAIN!!

We executed a 180 degree turn and headed back toward Kuruca Buku. There wasn't a lot of wind but enough to keep the sails sorta full and we drifted along until eventually reaching the anchorage and dropping the hook under sail.

At first I could not believe our bad luck, considering that our galley had just 2 days ago been adorned with the icon of good luck in Turkey, an "evil eye," which supposedly keeps away the evil spirits! The Turks apparently really believe in the power of these symbolic images,  marble like discs, dark blue with a white and lighter blue circular shape inside and a dark spot suggestive of an "pupil." You see them handing in all the shops, restaurants and homes, even embedded in the sidewalks.

Then I realized that maybe our evil eye worked after all. Bob and Becky had, only 2 days before, brought us the spare parts ordered from the US, the very ones we needed to repair the engine. It would be difficult to install the new gears at anchor, but not impossible.

So Gord set to work and spent the following 2 days with his head in the engine. Somehow he managed to get the new timing gears installed and we held our breath when it was finally time to start the engine. The old gal churned to life but the sound was very disconcerting. The engine sounded more like a tractor or maybe a compressor. In any case, something was wrong. We decided that probably a rod had been bent when the engine failed. The motor ran but we didn't want to take chances on further damage so set sail back toward Marmaris.

July 21 Serce

We were able to sail most of the day, only having to use the engine to leave the anchorage and make our way into Serce, where we stopped for the night, about 20 miles from Marmaris. It was a protected spot and we stern tied to a rock amongst a flotilla of charter boats, with the help from a fellow hoping to sell us some of his rugs and nic naks. Beyond the fishing boats that lined the shore was a restaurant nestled amongst the remains of ruins and rock walls forming terraces cut into the hill around the anchorage. Herds of goats meandered to the water's edge.

Back in Marmaris we replaced the bent rods, and did some other minor repairs. We signed a 6 month contract with Yacht Marina, which set in stone an intention to winter over in Turkey.

August 4

Our three month Turkish visa was up and to renew you have to check out of Turkey, leave the country, then re-enter for another 3 month visa. To accomplish this we decided to leave the boat in the marina and take a ferry to Rhodes, Greece, for the day.



August 28/08 Continuation of Datca Explorations

After several weeks of thoroughly enjoying the tranquil anchorages of the Fethiye area, our group all took different directions and we sailed back to the Datca Peninsula to resume our explorations of the coastline, beginning where our engine had failed the last time.

With 25 knots in our face, the sail from Fethyie toward Marmaris was boisterous but we made excellent time.

We anchored overnight at Gerbekse  west of Marmaris about half way along the peninsula. Gerbekse was an tranquil little inlet with some ruins at the head of the little bay. We stern tied close to rocky shore. The water there was the clearest we had seen so far. Unfortunately late evening brought out swarms of yellow jacket wasps, which drove us from the cockpit to take refuge below. But not before Gord was stung! It was an anxious several hours to see if he would have a reaction because as a child he was allergic to bee stings. Luckily the sting was on his foot so other than severe discomfort, there were no consequences.

The following morning Gord went forward to lift the anchor and when he opened the cover to the anchor locker, hundreds of wasps converged and Gord was stung again! Consequently we renamed Gerbekse "Wasp Bay."

August 29

We sailed around the Peninsula and anchored at our familiar spot at Kuruca Buku on the Datca Peninsula in front of Aktur Campground. We took the opportunity to deposited our trash, go to the market for some fresh veggies and connect to the free wireless.

August 30 Kargi Koyu

We sailed to a large bay 1 1/2 miles south of Datca. I had been suffering from a toothache and we wanted to see if the antibiotics would make a difference before venturing too far from the town of Datca, where a dentist could possibly be found.

We anchored in front of a quaint little restaurant surrounded by a pebble beach loaded with locals sunbathing and swimming.

A gaggle of geese immediately came to visit, looking for handouts. The tightly grouped fleet tottered from boat to boat
all day long.

We were visited by locals curious when they saw our Canadian flag. A number of young people, in their 20's, swam out to Ascension and congregated at our bow, hanging on to the anchor chain. We learned that they were students attending the university in Istanbul. They spoke some English and were very congenial and laughed like crazy when we suggested that they were having an anchor-chain party!

We thought the sail around  Knidos point would be boisterous and windy but it was the calmest day we had for the past few weeks with virtually no wind. We motored the whole way and the engine purred along blissfully past the rocky barren shoreline, the occasional lighthouse warning of the dangerous perils that could befall a ship in worse conditions.

August 31 Mersincik 36.45.55N 27.28.35E

We anchored in an enclosed bay, only large enough to accommodate a few boats. the water was unbelievably crystal clear. We could see our anchor lying in 10 meters of water as if it was only a few meters deep.

September 1 Kucuk Cat 36.47.7N 28.00.9E

We experienced a glorious sail, tacking along the coast all the way to Kucuk Cat anchorage. We dropped the hook in a protected tiny bay between 2 other boats in only 4 meters of water. I swam to shore and tied the stern to a tree. The water was very warm but not as clear as what we had seen.

Sept 2

We went ashore and walked along a rocky road that climbed the hills behind the anchorage. Eventually we could see the white horses dancing in the waters on the other side of peninsula and realized that it was a good day to remain tucked in our protected anchorage.

Sept 3-4 Kargilibuk 36.56.1N 28.05.8E

This long inlet was like being anchored in a river with lush tree covered banks. A threesome of ducks immediately came to greet us as we were the only ones there. We tucked in at the elbow of the inlet, beyond which was a rustic restaurant.

The ice cream boat even delivered fresh bread to us for only 1 YTL per loaf.

We enjoyed our stay at Kargilibuk, hiking around the lower part of the bay and watching the cows come to the water's edge for salt. The water wasn't as clear as elsewhere, but the breeze through the anchorage kept us quite cool.

Gulets would come and go around us but we were often all by ourselves.


Sept 5 Degirmen Buku (English Harbor)

We motored the 5 miles westward to charge batteries and settled the anchor in an arm on the eastern side of the bay, across from some jetties with restaurants. A stones throw by dinghy across the flat enclosed bay were markets where we bought bread and vegetables. We explored the area by dingy and were again disappointed at the sterility of the crystal clear water....no fish, no coral, nothing in the way of marine life apart from a few minnows. It makes you realize what a hard existence the fishermen in the area must have.

A statue of a mermaid reined over the calm tranquil waters.

We ventured to an area that was reported to be the summer home of the President but were immediately waved away by armed guards on the dock blowing whistles!

Sept. 7 Snake and Castle Islands 37.N 28.12 E

We anchored between Castle and Snake Islands swinging freely albeit we kept a watchful eye on all the surrounding gulets, coming and going constantly  unloading there noisy throngs of daytrippers to visit the famous Cleopatra Bay.

After a rolly night at anchor, we journeyed ashore to check out Cleopatra Beach. The tale is that one of Cleopatra's extravagant gestures was to have galleys of sand shipped form Egypt to create the beach. I must admit I envisioned the site to be more alluring than the tiny roped off area that it was. When we arrived, the beach was empty.

Hours later, on our way back to the boat, we had to fight through the crowds swimming and sprawled on lawn chairs. Guards patrolled the roped off area so no one would steal the sand!


The little island was full of ruins amid olive groves. The small theatre, seating about 1500 people is sited with a great view of the bay and anchored boats.

We explored numerous ruins and a defensive wall that ran around the island.

Ancient cistern

Old gnarly Olive, fragrant gum and rare amber trees


Somehow we got off the beaten track, bushwhacking our way around the island and over the rock discovering ancient walls and homes.

The island was home to thousands of little lizards and we had to be careful where we stepped! We finally returned to the boat and watched everyone pull up anchor around us and leave the bay. Soon we were completely alone. But turns out they were the smart ones...the anchorage was again uncomfortable and rolly and we were very ready to leave early the following morn.

Sept. 9 Cokertme 36.59.9N 27.47.6E

The little hamlet of Cokertme, halfway along the Bodrum mainland, was a charming stop with restaurants and low keyed pensions lining the pebbly shore. We were able to buy bread and some tomatoes there

A very large herd of goats came to the water's edge for a drink.

Sept 11

It was a blustery day when we left the protected bay at Cokertme. We sailed along the mainland coastline toward Bodrum. We anchored in a tiny cove, only big enough for ourselves, on an island only 2 miles from Bodrum. A couple of Party boats came into the bay for a swim, but we were soon alone for the evening. Although the bite was protected from the strong winds, we spent an uncomfortable night rocking and rolling.

The next morning we decided to join Gone With the Wind at Symi, a Greek island several hours away. Although we had not checked out of Turkey, we knew of other boats anchored in Symi with apparently no problems so we decided to chance the visit.