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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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