The EMYR (Eastern Mediterranean Yacht Rally)

Our first impressions of the EMYR are smiling welcoming faces, and lots of flags! All boats are ‘dressed’ when in port. Flag ceremonies were to soon become a feature at official functions. The start of the rally was quiet as the usual cocktail parties had been cancelled due to the three days of national mourning following the tragic mining disaster near Izmir.

IMG_6113 It was exciting to be part of a fleet of 32 boats heading off across the bay at 6am. The fleet is divided into 3 groups according to size and speed. The smallest boat (Pure Fun) is only 8.4 meters long, so is quite a bit slower than the large motorboats in our group. Our first sail from Gocek to Kas was a cracker, great winds on the beam. Ian was very pleased by how well the boom preventer worked and the new spinnaker pole was also given a test run.

IMG_6095 The winds and seas increased as we approached Kas, with Sea Cloud surfing into the bay near the marina under bare poles.

IMG_6101The arrival of 32 boats into Kas Marina with the winds blowing over 30knots straight into the marina was a challenge. It was handled so well by the marina staff who did a fantastic job of assisting with docking in these difficult conditions. We were made to feel very special, being welcomed with fresh flowers and local goodies. Kas marina was as enjoyable as ever, as was the lovely town. We spoilt ourselves with a hammam at the marina and of course Ian visited his usual barber – I think this haircut will last quite a while!

The boat we had been watching being built over the last few years (first picture Apr 2011) is almost ready for launching (May 2014) – it has been wonderful watching the progress of a boat being built in the traditional way.

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Another 6am start (this will become quite a pattern!) and unfortunately a long motor to Finike marina. Once again, we were given a lovely welcome by both marina staff and expat residents who joined us at the welcome cocktail party. Trish had been wintering here for 10 years!

IMG_6128 Cocktail parties always have a formal component with presentations to the marina and singing of the EMYR song.

IMG_6126 Side trips are a big part of the EMYR. The Finike marina manager guided a small group of us around Antalya, one of our favourite Turkish cities.



IMG_6158 We had never seen a waterfall flowing directly into the sea – the volume we saw is apparently a small fraction of what is seen in March when the snow melts.


The trips are a great way to meet new people. It is much easier to get to know 15 people on a minibus for a day.

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Impromptu dinners are a big part of the rally. In Finike it was with a group of Swedes – two of whom were nearing the end of their 8 year circumnavigation. Jan wants to return home before he turns 80 later this year.

Dinner Fineke Ian is looking a lot happier having sourced a replacement for the broken gear connecting cable in nearby Antalya and the knowledge that the solution was simple – he and Sea Cloud are both ‘dressed’ in their rally gear.

IMG_6189 We enjoyed our first formal rally dinner at Kemer, an introduction to the dancing and partying that will occur throughout the rally. Early morning walks and exercise classes are also part of the busy rally timetable, helping us (well not really Ian) to get out of bed and enjoy the morning.


Another long motor to Alanya marina, our base for a few days. Although we had visited Cappadocia last year, we joined 46 other sailors at 4am for a very full 2 day bus tour back to this interesting area. It is a long drive from Alanya – about 7 hours each way. The Mevlana museum, the former lodge of the whirling Dervishes at Konya was an interesting site and a chance to reflect on their philosophy better.

IMG_6200 IMG_6206 IMG_6212 An appropriate stop for us was one of the many renovated caravanserai along this route. Traditionally an overnight stopping point (safe from the bandits) for travellers along the silk road, this beautifully restored building was a relaxing spot for us after so many hours on the bus.

IMG_6222 Cappadocia has so many interesting sites, we were fortunate that our excellent guide had chosen many places we had not seen before. So many photo opportunities!


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Another 4am start, this time to a beautiful morning, perfect for our hot air balloon flight. What a spectacle, so many colourful balloons floating over this spectacular and unusual landscape and dipping down into the spectacular valleys.

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After walks around Pasabag, a visit to a ceramics factory and then a final visit to the aptly named Love Valley we were back on our way to Alanya.


IMG_6436 IMG_6429  Alanya Marina put on a wonderful reception for us, and for the first time we experienced the flag procession. As the only Aussie boat – no prizes for guessing who got to do the honours with ours. Each country makes a short speech thanking our hosts (Local Mayor and marina manager). As we are the only Aussie boat, Ian and I will take turns, whereas the many German crew have been asked to share the job around, obviously an issue in previous years.

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Unfortunately the boat carrying our in house Turkish belly dancer will retire from the rally tomorrow due to mechanical problems (boat not belly) – the rest of the girls will have to lift their game to uphold the EMYR tradition!

IMG_6476 Hasan, the rally organiser is a real party boy. So much energy & such a good dancer!

IMG_6492 This rather quirky band follows us from place to place providing the entertainment for our parties. Usually it is just music, but last night we were treated to a bit more. They would look at home at the Petersham bowling club!

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Southern Dodecanese


Although we had planned to explore our favourite haunts in the Dodecanese, a constant stream of strong southerly winds interrupted our plans of going north to Kalymnos and Leros and back in a short period of time. A few days in Rhodes (always such an enjoyable town) enabled us to shop for appropriate gear for the EMYR as we had no ‘formal gear’ on Sea Cloud. We also finally made it to Lindos, a place we had been planning to visit for a few years.

IMG_5953 IMG_5969We could see why there is supposedly a colour ‘Lindos blue’ – the water was stunning. The ruins were really worth the visit.


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Back in Panormitis, we said said goodbye to our new American friends who were heading for Athens. We had shared many laughs, drinks, dinners and conversations with them and hope to catch up again soon. Such meetings are a great part of the cruising life.

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Finally we made it to Khalki – small island off the south western coast of Rhodes. Apparently it gets really crowded in the summer – there was only one other boat on the dock. We were pleased it was a calm evening as the dock had only just been assembled for the summer – they were still screwing cleats into the dock as we arrived.


A few days here would have been lovely, such a pretty island to wander around, with very friendly locals and great food.

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Back to Rhodes for a very easy check out of Greece and into Marmaris for a very difficult check in! Rather than checking in via the marina as we had done in the past, the officials now insist that boats moor up on the customs dock to check in (which still needs to be organised through an agent). We were not impressed, moving Sea Cloud onto a high concrete wall covered in black tyres – and they didn’t even come to look at the boat!

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Back in Netsel marina, it was lovely to be side by side with Enki to spend some time with Diana and Alex. Their local knowledge and Ottoman Tech Support advice was much appreciated as was their wonderful company. With the boat organised and new spinnaker pole installed, we sadly said goodbye to Alex and Diana as they too are heading west.


I am sure we will cross paths again somewhere. After a night in the increasingly expensive My Marina in Eckincik (they have introduced a mooring charge) we had a great sail into the wind towards Gocek to start the EMYR rally. There must have been big winds south of us as by the time we approached Fethiye bay, the seas were short and steep, reaching about 3 meters. Thank goodness for Sea Cloud’s hard dodger, it would have been a very wet sail otherwise!


Spring 2014

Early April is a lovely time in Gocek, with few people and pleasant (but rather unpredictable) weather. Sea Cloud is looking fabulous – so well looked after by Huseyin at HMS Yacht services, with gleaming stainless and a shiny hull. Launch date, as always, is rather stressful – seeing 22tons of your prized possession being towed through a very busy and crowded boat yard by a tractor while gently rocking to and fro on a rather small “trolley”.


Once in the water, Sea Cloud is very quickly turned into a workshop while Ian installs the Nemeth patented fuel polishing system. We are hoping that pristine tanks mean that the ‘green death’, our very fussy Volvo D3 engine will behave. With cleaned injectors, overhauled turbo and intercooler etc etc, it should be okay. Fingers crossed!


Apart from the large charter fleet and a few motor yachts, Marinturk is rather empty. Sea Cloud has a wonderful isolated spot on the end of the pontoon. This time of year, they are frantically building all over Gocek. The desolate, “mothballed” resort behind the marina is rapidly transforming into a 5 star hotel. Although the buildings are still shells, it is said that the hotel will be up and running by the 1st June. The speed with which the Turks work is incredible – go to the loo and come back and there is half a building completed!


So good to be out of the marina! We couldn’t go past a free mooring in our favourite spot in Deep Bay – a good place for a few days of gusty southerly winds.

Marinturk is definitely not the place to be as it has no protection from the south. Although my first swim was on 20th April, there is still snow on the peaks above Fethiye.




We had planned to sail around the Aegean this season, visiting favourite places and a few new islands. After a chat with the skipper of the adjacent yacht in Deep Bay, our plans completely changed. By the next morning, we had signed up for the EMYR (Eastern Mediterranean Yacht Rally)! Although this seemed like a very hasty decision, we had been planning on joining this rally for a number of years, but after its cancellation last year due to troubles in the Middle East, we had forgotten about it. We will join the rally in mid May in Gocek, sail east along the Southern Turkish coast as far as Mersin, then cross to Northern Cyprus, and down to Israel where the rally ends mid June. (Egypt on the agenda but unlikely to happen given the political situation).

We spent a few very enjoyable days in Netsel Marina Marmaris with Alex from Enki (aka Ottoman Tech Support). Unfortunately we missed catching up with Diana who was on mothering duties back in Sydney. Alex and Ian were like boys in a lolly shop searching the back streets of Marmaris for boat bits. On board Enki boom preventer systems were workshopped, later put in place by Ian on Sea Cloud.


We said goodbye to Alex we headed back to Kiseli Adasi one of our favourite spots in Turkey.


We always feel sorry for animals in small boats, suspect it means a visit to the butcher.


Dirsek was a fabulous sheltered retreat from the 20+knot winds blowing through Kiseli Adasi. Such beautiful blue water!


I almost stepped on a turtle on our walk to the top of the hill – didn’t realize they could hiss so loudly.


There were great views from the top, across to Simi in Greece and over the lovely bay below.Luckily we saw the pair of snakes lower down the trail before treading on them. Apparently Turkish snakes are pretty shy, unlike the browns at home.


The brisk southerly breeze was ideal for sailing across to Datca where we anchored in the bay.


There is more evidence of the new marina which is being built adjacent to the main harbor. I do hope it doesn’t change the character of this lovely town.


Checkout (via an agent) completed, we sailed the short hop across to Symi, Greece. The usual harbor antics were evident, – it took us two goes to anchor, then we watched another cruiser be uprooted by a charter boat. The charterers were settled and into the bar in minutes, the poor cruiser took the next hour or so to try and reanchor with a brisk wind on their beam. Symi is generally an easy place to check in to Greece. It took a little more time than usual this year as the police are very preoccupied with the large number of Syrians who arrive by boat. They are accommodated on the balcony of the police office in the main harbour before being transferred to Athens.


Symi is such a pleasant town to spend a few days. Great walks with spectacular views, good restaurants and of course a couple of excellent mojitos all eased the pain of turning 60 for Ian.



The best time is when the cruise ships and ferries have left for the day, and Symi returns to its calm, pre-season state.


Although Symi harbour was enjoyable, it is good to be back in a peaceful bay.


We are now settled in Panormitis on the south eastern corner of Symi, famous for its large monastery.


Big winds are expected tomorrow, so today we are making the most of walks ashore and meeting other cruisers.



Some times Sea Cloud seems a big boat, other times rather small. You can rent this ‘charter yacht’ for $62,000 per week! The tiny yacht at its stern is actually 40 feet long!




The crew were fully occupied for an hour or so manoeuvring the yacht to make room for the local ferry. A little close for comfort but fortunately they appeared very competent.