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Last voyage of 2009: Bozcaada, Çanakkale, Marmara Sea

Friday, August 28th, 2009: Leaving for Istanbul


Friend's children from Canada on board of Snow White

Tied to fishing boats at Babakale




We decided to go to Istanbul at the first weather break. It has been blowing hard for the last 20 days.

We got our break suddenly on a Friday morning. The wind stopped down to zero level, sunny sky, warm, and the outlook was even better with light winds. We looked at each other and decided to leave within 2 hours (11 am).

We re-fueled another 20 gallons of diesel, got necessary food and water and left the marina. 4 hours later, we crossed Edremit bay across from Mittillini (Lesvos island) on to Bozcaada. Just as soon as we turned the tip, wind was blowing about 25-30 knots with high waves, We turned around and entered a fishing harbour, Babakale located right at the nose. It is an all weather protected harbour with lots of fishing boats. We hailed one of them to board, they greeted us and helped to tie our boat to theirs. We chatted about who we were, what we were doing, etc. They were very friendly but told us that they would have to leave by 5 am in the morning. We said it would be ok so we could leave as well. Then another boat came up and they boarded our boat. By two am, we had a knock on the boat that the fishermen were leaving. So, we untied and let them go. After a few minutes deciding what to do, we anchored and backed into the rocky side with a line. The other boat wanted to board us again but we declined and asked them to anchor themselves, so they did inside the harbour.

In the morning, we had breakfast, the wind calmed down a bit, took Daisy out for her business and headed for Bozcaada. The wind and waves were down from yesterday, it was motor sail all the way.


Saturday, August 29th, 2009: Bozcaada


Very peaceful city marina with crystal  clear water at Bozcaada.

Bozcaada turned out to be a great place for tourists, wine and sightseeing. The boats would back into a high wall by the pier, which was the most pristine harbour we have ever seen. Lots of people were swimming inside the harbour by the boats.

The whole island seemingly turned into tea/coffee shops, hotels and restaurants. wine producers, lots of fish, and plenty of food. It has specialty wines that are known worldwide. We purchased several bottles. Harbour is overshadowed by a large protective fortress overlooking the area.. People freely walk by the boats all evening and night under clear sky. We saw lots of romantic couples strolling by the pier..

Leaving beautiful Bozcaada

Monday, August 31th, 2009: Dardanelle strait to Canakkale


Entering Dardanelle (Canakkale) strait from Bozcaada

Next day on Monday, we sailed across the Aegean into Dardanelle strait. We knew that it would be about 2-3 knots of current against us but did not know that current went up to 4 knots with strong winds. So, as we pushed the engine over 2000 rpm expecting to make 4-5 knots overall, we were pushed back by wind and current making about 2.5-3.5 knots. Our destination to Canakkale seemed to take forever to get to. Finally, by 6:30 pm we arrived at the city marina right inside the city after an 8 hour ride. Same distance took us little less than 4 hours on the way back while we sailed 50% of the time.

Canakkale port was located in the middle of town with good service and security. There was a coffee shop facing the boats so we provided a lot entertainment for patrons there. It was a national holiday with thousands of people walking on the boardwalk by the sea, lots of city vendors, kids games, shows, even a rock concert was going on in the evening. We took kids and did some shopping, eat ice cream, walk along the park there. In the morning, we added some fuel at 2.65 TL/liter and took off North. Leaving Canakkale in the morning. Notice the remake of Horse of Troy on top of outboard motor

Tuesday, September 1st, 2009: Lapseki waiting out storm at Dardanelle strait

As we headed out to Gelibolu (Gallipoli), the wind subsided but weather reports indicated rain the next day. In a few hours, we arrived at Gallipoli but could not find a place to dock safely. I hailed the port, there was no answer. We decided to cross the strait to Lapseki fishing port. It was a well protected port but was not deep. Not taking any risk, we stayed in middle and anchored at 2 m deep. Our keel height sits at 1.88 m so not much room to play if there is any change. Then we dingied to the marine safety station there and talked to the fishing boats while I checked the depth by the boats. One fisherman suggested that we tie into this old fishing boat which was not going anywhere soon. The depth was 2.5m but we had to approach it via the trench that was recently excavated. All was good and secured in no time.
The next day was uneventful as we watched the dark clouds pass by. In the afternoon, we locked the boat with Daisy inside and went for food supply in downtown, in a walking distance.

After buying a ton of local vegetables and fruits at incredibly low prices, we had lunch in town, then hired a taxi-cab for 5TL to the port. During the evening I visited the marine safety unit station and chatted with folks there. They let me use their internet, checked my emails and weather condition meanwhile some fisherman were moving our boat forward along with the old boat by rope to open up some space. Becky was frantically trying to get my attention without success. I had to hear about how scared she that night :).  These were local fishermen, actually they were very helpful than being dangerous. Had a good night sleep with no problem.

Wednesday, September  2nd, 2009: Avsa and Marmara Isles

Next morning, we reached one of the Marmara Sea islands, Avsa, from Lapseki after 8 hours of motor sailing. We found this small section of the island called Yigitler village on Avsa island located on the east side of the island opposite from the main town. There were no boats in the harbour. It was a huge place, practically empty, deep and very clean, just next to the village. After docking, we strolled the streets of the town, got some fresh bread and walked back for agood evening meal. It was a beautiful day. We arranged a taxi-cab for 20TL to take us to the main town and back for the evening. The town was half empty, most holiday people were gone, shops were discounting their goods, we bought a few more bottles of wine, had a good time eating ice cream, 4 scoops for 1TL. When we came back there were for more sail boats docked alongside us. Late that evening, I went to the town's internet cafe, found out that in three days time, a weather storm was likely to hit the area. After talking about it that night, we decided to cut the trip to Istanbul short and return back to Ayvalik.

The next morning we left to explore the area such as other islands and ports. It was a pleasant cruising on absolutely flat water in between the islands. Finally, we decided to cross Marmara see to Murefte for the night.

Thursday, September 3rd, 2009: Murefte

Murefte port seemed as another huge fishing marina with tons of investment but not properly maintained nor secured. There was a coffee shop, lots of stray dogs, an co-op organization that looked after it. The head (Baskan) collected 50TL from us for tying and electricity, and we could use the washrooms at the cafeteria. Stray dogs proved to be biggest challenge because we could not take Daisy out, for the fear of attacks. So, we had long sticks and wood pieces shooing away other dogs while taking Daisy out for her business. Nothing dangerous happened but it was disturbing seeing the size of those dogs.

We hired a taxicab for 10TL (less then $8) to go downtown shopping and back.

As we settled into the night, four young persons arrived in a car with a case of beer and hoped into the boat ahead of us. They partied until 3 am keeping us awake and concerned but again nothing happened.

We left the next day to Canakkale. Canakkale strait is divided into three sectors, Gelibolu, Nara, Kumkale where all ships had to report in and out. The control towers line up ships passing through the channel in an orderly manner. We reported our little boat just in case one of them hit us.

Friday, September 4th, 2009: Back to Canakkale

We left Murefte early in the morning for Canakkale. With favorable current and cooperating winds, arrived in the same city marina in about 4.5 hours which was approximately 40 miles passage. We listened to the zone radio monitoring ships passing by on channel 12(?).

It was exciting to see such huge boats passing by. Fortunately, they are restricted to 14 knots of speed. Even with that speed, one has to be careful not to be in their way and watch out the wave they create!

Saturday, September 5th, 2009: Bozcaada Festival

. We arrived at the same pristine marina and docked easily after 4 hours from Canakkale. We arrived early, so we had time to go swimming just by the boat. It was a festival weekend so we watched bands, concerts, selection of the wine harvesting queen, dances, etc.

On the way back, the next day Sunday, we had strong winds and waves (downwind) all the way to Babakale doing 8+ knots. Just as soon as we turned the tip, there was nothing, no waves no winds. We crossed the bay into Ayvalik, wind picked up, did some sailing until the marina entrance. We docked about 5pm that evening. The storm hit the area by 6 pm and continued for 3 days. We learned that it was coupled by thunderstorms and torrential rain up North of Marmara sea and Istanbul. All told about 30 people tied in flash floods. We were ever so glad to return to safety in time.

Sunday, September 10th, 2009: Enjoying Ayvalik on Snow White

Happy 1st Birthday Bertun! Notice the finger on the right, he was showing that this was his first birthday. He would constantly repeat one!, one!, one!. And o boy! o boy! Did he ever like that cake!

By September 13, we had settled into an apartment of Becky's distance relatives, two days later, I left for Istanbul only to fly to Toronto on 17th. We decided to leave the boat in water until the next season. Hopefully, we will catch a few days of sailing this winter.

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