EMYR Turkey – Cyprus

The next EMYR stop was Bozyazi fishing harbour. Although in appearance quite a contrast to the lovely new marinas in which we had been staying, the hospitality from the local fishing cooperative was exceptional. The rather desolate & industrial dock was transformed into a banquet and dance area with lively Turkish and western music for our welcome dinner: quite unexpected, but wonderful. It was a good base to visit the ancient site of Anamurium situated in the most beautiful spot on the coast a few miles to the west.

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We tasted the local specialty of tantuni in Anamur town and bought some of the locally famous small Anamur bananas from the roadside. We are also getting to like ayran, the Turkish yogurt drink – delicious and refreshing once you get used to the rather salty taste.

More cocktails and dinners at the brand new marina of Kumkuyu – another good base for visiting more of the many ancient sites dotted along this coastline.

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Kandlivane – a 90m chasm where those who caused the Romans displeasure were said to have been thrown to their deaths.

IMG_6595 IMG_6592 IMG_6586 The caves of Heaven & Hell. The long slippery tour down into a rather cool ‘hell’

IMG_6612 IMG_6617 And the so-called ‘Asthma cave’.

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On to Mersin, another new marina where we left Sea Cloud for a 2 day 1200km bus trip (!!) to the spectacular Mt Nemrut. The drive, although long was fascinating. We were very much in the SE Turkey – about 50km from the Syrian Border in places. Obviously a very important and highly fertile agricultural area.

It is hard to imagine how the 50m high man made mountain of stones on tip of this isolated mountainous site were constructed. It is believed that more of the huge human statues lie under the peak but nobody has been able to find them. Built by a megalomaniac king, they depict he and the gods (his family). They are hauntingly beautiful, well worth the long drive and climb up the hill.

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Sanilurfa (known also as Urfa) was our all too short overnight stop. It looked like a fascinating town, deserving a few days rather than the hour or so we had scheduled.

IMG_6737 IMG_6738  It is a pilgrimage town, with a very middle-east feel because of its proximity to Syria. For many of the people here, Turkish is their second language. Dress is traditional and conservative, with women wearing colours of their tribes, and facial tattoos depicting their ‘ownership’ and men wearing arabic –style baggy pants.

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Gobeklitepe, is a relatively newly discovered site (not in our guide book) dating back to 12,000BC (well before the pyramids). It is so hard to imagine how they had the resources to allocate to this religious site in what was essentially the stone age and probably before organised farming in this region.

IMG_6752 IMG_6751 Another great party at Mersin, then we were off on our first overnight EMYR sail to Girne, Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. Motoring into residual lumpy seas and a little wind on the nose wasn’t the best start. The wind picked up as predicted so we had a great sail for about a third of the journey, increasing as we approached Cyprus. This made for quite exciting docking in the very exposed and crowded Girne commercial harbour. Berthing 32 boats in 25+ knots is always rather a challenge, particularly as the wind was blowing right into Delta Marina.

The cocktail reception at Girne castle was fabulous. After touring the castle and the shipwreck museum, we were treated to music, cocktails and yummy food in the wonderful surroundings of the castle courtyard. Informal conversations with local dignitaries at these events is a wonderful opportunity to hear more about the politics and background of their city.

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The Girne shipwreck (about the same size as Sea Cloud) which sank just off Girne harbour about 2,300 years ago (around 300BC) after travelling from along the Turkish coast from as far north as Samos with a cargo of olive oil and almonds.

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The Bellpais monastery on the hill overlooking Girne is a beautiful spot. Unfortunately we weren’t there for one of the concerts they have regularly in this lovely refectory. The holes in the back wall were reported to be a result of English troops practicing rifle shooting in the 1950’s. The lovely gardens are a popular wedding spot.

IMG_6840 IMG_6836 IMG_6835 IMG_6847 The St Hilarion castle on the peak above the coast is in an impressive site, easy to see why it would have been easy to defend in times gone by.

IMG_6853 IMG_6857 IMG_6863 The green line between Turkish and Greek Cyprus, the border controls in Nicosia and the Turkish troops doing target practice just below the castle is a reminder that this is still an unsettled part of the world. The ex-cathedral now mosque in Nicosia is one of the many seen around Turkey.

The pirate party – one of the highlights of the EMYR calendar – concluded our stay in Girne. There were some fabulous costumes, much better than our bits and pieces cobbled together at the last minute. Parading through the town with our flags was a lot of fun. Locals come our each year to enjoy the parade, while some tourists obviously were a bit perplexed by the antics! Our resident German bagpiper Claus piped us through the town and around the old harbour. Fortunately his bagpipes had been returned after he left them in a taxi following the last cocktail party.

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Dinner overlooking the sea at the Dome Hotel, was of course followed by dancing. A display of belly dancing by the EMYR group of Turkish and German belly dancers was enjoyed by all.

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IMG_6924 IMG_6943 DSCF6438 Our last few days in Cyprus were are the new Karpaz Gate marina, a beautiful site with fabulous marina, restaurants, art gallery and a beach club with a pool and lovely sandy beach. We were fortunate to be here for the season opening, cocktails, followed by a party at the beach club.

DSCF6476 Our last tour was to the extensive ruins of Salamis, near Farmagusta, a port on the south east side of Northern Cyprus. Tour finished, we were back at the marina to say our goodbyes to our new friends who were heading back to Turkey. Our remaining group of 26 yachts will leave during the night for the 200Nm sail to Israel.

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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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