This web page describes the first leg of the third 1997 sailing trip with S/Y Thetis in the Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean. The leg was from the island of Samos to the Greek islands of Pharmakonisi, Kos, and Niseros. From Niseros we sailed to Datça, Turkey. We then sailed down the Turkish coast to Serçe Liman, Ekinçik, Kizilkuyruk Koyu, Fethiye, Yesilköy Liman, and finally to Kas. The web page is illustrated with photographs, also included are historical and geographical descriptions of the places visited as well as several links to other related web sites.
Friday July 18, 1997 Day 1
Now we start our real trip. After we closed the Kalami house we took a taxi to Poseidonio. The shopping for some provisions and the ferrying of our clothes by the zodiac to Thetis took some time. By 11:50 we untied the cavos, raised the anchor and Alice, Corinna, and I departed for Pharmakonisi. There was a nice breeze from the NW and we had a very pleasant downwind sail for the 29 M to Pharmakonisi [37° 17.4' N 27° 05.5' E]. We arrived at 16:45.
Pharmakonisi (Φαρμακονήσι), the ancient Pharmakusa, is the small island where Julius Caesar was held captive for ransom by pirates. After he was ransomed, he returned with the Roman fleet, captured and crucified his former captors. On the island here are the ruins of a Roman bath and of a small Byzantine church. Now the island is uninhabited save a company of Greek soldiers. They have established a lookout, mostly for illegal immigrants, in the ruins of the Roman bath. They do not allow the unescorted landing of non-Greek citizens. We, as Greeks, were well received. They are truly paranoid about illegal immigrants. The sentry soldier radioed ahead that two Greeks - Alice and I (Corinna did not want to go ashore) - were climbing to see the little St. George church. He urged us to go and have coffee with the captain as they are dying for outside contact. The church was not very remarkable but there was a good view.
As the wind was veering to the E and we were just anchored without a cavos (shore line) ashore I was getting nervous and as a result we skipped visiting the captain. It turned out that we were well clear of the rocks and my nervousness was unfounded, but with boats it pays to be conservative.
Corinna cooked rice with tomato sauce. We had an uneasy sleep because all through the night patrol boats were moving back and forth near the cove entrance.
Friday August 8, 1997 Day 2
We sailed at 8:30 towards the small island of Pserimos (Ψέρημος), past the infamous islets of Imia. The wind was from the North and reasonable, and we raised both sails but as we were approaching the island it became stronger, with 27 knot gusts. We were planing to stop at Pserimos for a swim but there were too many day-trip boats at the main cove and there was no room for us. We looked for a suitable beach on the S and SE side of the island. While the beaches were lovely the gusts were so fierce that we could not find one where we would be comfortable, even for a short stop.
As the wind was veering to the East, we motor-sailed to the island of Kos arriving at 14:45 after covering 33 M. The harbor of Kos has changed since we were there last. They have made a new dock right under the Castle on the E side of the harbor. We docked [36° 54' N 27° 17.4' E] without any trouble.
Kos (Κώς) is a fairly large elongated island with a peak of 845 m (2772 ft) on its NE end. In antiquity Kos was famous as the birthplace of Hippocrates, the father of medicine. Near the town (about 5 km) there are the ruins of the Aesclepion where the ancient god of medicine Aeslepios, the son of Appolo, was worshipped. The modern town is dominated by the castle built by the Knights of Rhodes after the crusades. Unfortunately, this nice island has been overrun by tourists.
Alice and I went shopping, looking for a new pot to boil pasta as Alice had declared the old one “a disgrace.” Corinna went on her own to find a shady place for an ice cream and to read. At the dock, not too far from Thetis was the S/Y Genghus, the Italian boat I had met last fall in Cagliari, Sardinia. Her owner Tony was, at that time, very helpful to me in getting weather reports. I asked for Tony, and sure enough he came out and was delighted to see me. He was sailing with his wife and a friend towards Antalya, and Cyprus for a haul-out, and eventually to the Red Sea. It is a small world!
At night we went out to dinner which was not very good. Kos has become an unpleasant town full of noisy tourists and hassling locals. Most of its charm has been sacrificed to the gods of profit.
Saturday August 9, 1997 Day 3
Our reason for going to Kos was to get clearance out of Greece for Turkey. Since I did not know where to go for this clearance, first thing in the morning I hailed the Limenarchio (Coast Guard) on Ch 12. We had a heated exchange because I had not checked-in with them on our arrival but I did get the information.
The passport control was at the end of the dock, the Customs under the Demarchio (Town Hall), and the Limenarchio few blocks away. The man in the passport control was not there yet but he came within minutes. He stamped Alice’s passport, but did not stamp Corinna’s and my US passports since we had no entry stamp into Greece having entered with the Greek ones. He said that there was no problem and he stamped the crew list in case we were asked for proof of leaving Greece legally by the authorities in Turkey.
Next I walked to the customs office. It was shut but there was an Israeli man waiting for them. He was with a large chartered motor cruiser and had been waiting for over 1 hr. I did not wait but proceeded to the Limenarchio. The officer, the same one I had talked to on the VHF, was now extremely friendly and apologetic about our argument. After I paid the harbor dues he stamped our crew list and tried to locate the customs officer by phone. He had no luck but advised me to go to the dock as he may be there. Back I walked to the dock, past the waiting Israeli. No sign of the customs man although the passport fellow did try to find him. In the mean time the officer from the Limenarchio showed up. They both asked me why I was so bent on the customs? Being a Greek boat, they said, I should just forget the customs. The Greek bureaucracy is really amazing! Well, since they said so, who was I to argue?
Alice and Corinna had finished shopping for provision, we were ready to leave right away. We left the harbor at 9:50. We did not head for Turkey but we headed for Niseros instead. First we motored past the harbor area, then we raised the sails with the main on the 2nd reef as we had been warned by our Navtex to expect strong winds. That was very good because as we rounded the SE tip of the island we experienced very violent gusts. After going a further 2 M however the wind died out completely and we had to motor. It is good that I did not put up the tent as I was thinking. Because after another mile or so the wind picked up again. We raised the sails again. The wind was from the NE gusting from 5 to 35 knots! We sailed in these conditions all the way to Mandraki, Niseros.
As we approached the island, however, we saw all the day-trip ships leaving the harbor. We waited. Sure enough, the ferryboat came and we realized that with the ferryboat docked, there was no room in the harbor for any other boat. We hovered at the harbor entrance waiting for the ferryboat but it was very rough and uncomfortable. Finally we decided to try the other harbor Πάλλοι (Pali) which according to Heikell is preferred. We were reluctant to go there because 11 years ago we had entered that harbor and it was so shallow that we almost run aground. Well, the harbor has been upgraded and it is not only fine but provides much better protection than Mandraki. By the time we docked [36° 37.2' N 27° 10.3' E] it was 14:30, distance covered 26 M. The only problem was there was considerable swell into the harbor as its entrance faces directly north.
Niseros (Νίσυρος) is an almost square shaped island with an active volcano whose caldera is about 4 km in diameter. Legend has it that Niseros was a large bowlder which, during the battle of the Titans, Poseidon removed from Kos and hurled at the titan Polyvotes whom he crushed.
The harbor was very hot! Corinna went ashore and installed herself at a cafe reading. Later Alice and I joined her. We then rented the worst motorbikes I have ever had the honor of riding. Their lights were in doubtful condition and so were their brakes. Nevertheless Corinna rode one and I the other with Alice in the back. We rode them 30 km uphill, and downhill, past a free roaming bull, to the bottom of the caldera. We spend some time walking to the craters. They are spectacular!
On the way back, Corinna suggested we take a detour to the village of Εμποριό (Emborio). At the kentro (cafe, restaurant, bar) there was a placard informing us that this was the exact spot where during World War II the Germans killed a local Greek officer and member of the resistance. They were grilling some deliciously smelling food and inside an older man was playing folk tunes on the violin while teaching a teenage boy how to play the lute. We had no choice! We changed our plan to eat on board and entered the establishment. We were shown to the balcony overlooking the caldera. The music kept on and we were served a most wonderful meal of revithokeftedes (falafel), pitakia (small cheese pies), and grilled pork. What with the food, the music, and the view, it was a magic evening. Of course there was a price. On our way back we were cold as we were dressed for a hot day and not for a cold windy night on a motorbike and the lights did not work very well. Every time we slowed down for a curve, and there were a lot of them, the lights dimmed to nonexistence.
At the harbor the swell was going strong and continued all night. As a result the two studs that prevent the rudder from rotating more than its design limit were sheared off. As a consequence, for the rest of this trip we had to tie the tiller most carefully to avoid further damage to the rudder mechanism.
Sunday August 10, 1997 Day 4
We left Pali at 9:30 for 29 M for Datça, Turkey. We sailed most of the way with one reef on the main as the wind was coming from the North and not as strong as yesterday.
We entered the Datça harbor at 1500 with the yellow pratique flag flying. We were directed to dock [36° 43.3' N 27° 41.5' E] at a particular spot and a young attendant took our lines. Quite a change from Greece! After the easy docking the young attendant asked us for our boat papers and passports as the marina can handle all the paperwork. Indeed after a while he came back with our stamped passports and the Turkish transit log for Thetis. The fee, payable at the marina office was $160! Quite a change from Greece also! I went to the office and gave them $200 in traveler’s checks and was given change back 60,000 Turkish Liras (TL). On my way back to the boat I noticed the price of a beer as 150,000 TL and at a travel agency the exchange rate of 160,000 TL to $1. So instead of $40 change the man at the marina gave me 40¢! I talked to the young attendant who took me back to the office where they apologized and now gave me the correct 6,400,000 (that is, six million four hundred thousand). I, of course, gave a handsome tip to the young man as well as paying the 2M TL harbor fee. Now I wonder if the whole thing was not a set up. Although this includes all the water one may want, it is still much higher than any harbor in Greece. Near us was another boat with a Greek flag under charter. They were asking then for $600!
I then walked to a teller machine and got another 10M TL. I was extremely confused with all the zeroes on the money. Later we filled the tanks with water, although thanks to the water-maker we did not need much, and washed the zodiac. The diesel truck came and we refilled the fuel tank with 75 L of fuel, no cans!
After showers etc. we went ashore to walk around and find a nice place to eat. As we took stock of our monetary situation and realized that we may not be in a sizable town for several days we decided that we needed more money. We walked to the teller machine but it refused to honor my card. We surmised that it allows only one transaction per day. We could not find another machine. We avoided the tourist havens near the dock and settled for a Pida Salon. It was very nice and very reasonable. We had our fill of boureks (cheese wraped in phyllo dough), salads (wonderful salads with parsley), pide (πεϊνηρλί), Adana kebab (skewers of lamb meat loaf), washed down with cold beer, all for only 2,500,000 TL.
After dinner Corinna went back to the boat while Alice and I walked some more and sat down at a pastry stand and shared a portion of loukoumades (donut shaped honey fritters). When we got back to the boat it was past 11 PM and to my dismay realized that we were docked right next to two extremely noisy discos blasting the worst, to my ears, music. I tried to persuade the rest of the crew that we should unmoor and anchor off shore so that we could have a peaceful sleep but I was told to shut up and be realistic. I got so angry that I left the boat for a 2 hr walk to cool off. By the time I got back the music, although just as loud, had switched to Turkish which at least was more palatable. It was not a good night!
Monday August 11, 1997 Day 5
Since we needed to get more money, we had to wait for the banks to open which they do not do in Turkey before 8:30. At that time Alice and I walked to a bank to change some traveler’s checks. The first bank we walked into does not change money, the second does so, but not before 11:00 AM! We started looking for a third bank, while doing so we passed by the PTT and noticed that they advertise changing foreign currency. We walked in and after signing $300 of traveler’s checks and handing them to the man, he disappeared with them without much of an explanation. He was gone for at least 10 tense minutes. Eventually he came back. It turns out that he had to get more millions to pay us. At least it was the correct value of 160,000 TL/$ or $6.25 per million.
We set sail at 10:25. The wind was favorable and we had a very pleasant sail past the Greek island of Symi to Lorymna 20.5 M away which we reached by 14:10. Lorymna, when we were there last, some 11 years ago, was a lovely place with several coves with a large very well preserved Hellenistic castle overlooking the sea and was very remote with a small shack run by Ali which served eggs. We were the only yacht there. Now it was still lovely but had several restaurants competing with each other for the yachts which were there in a surprising number. The form of the competition was as follows: each restaurant had laid a number of moorings in front of it. Each mooring was marked by a buoy. A man in a row boat patroled his buoys. As a new yacht entered the anchorage, the men in the row boats waved a loose buoy trying to entice the yacht to their moorings and hence to their restaurant. Quite a zoo!
This cove sheltered the Athenian fleet during the Peloponnesian war before the battle of Knidos. Also, in the third century BC, Demetrios Poliorkites assembled a large fleet here for his unsuccessful siege of Rhodes.
We resisted the buoy sirens and anchored by ourselves in a spot away from any restaurant [36° 34.1' N 28° 01.1' E] and had lunch and a pleasant swim. At 17:00 we raised our anchor and motored for ½ hr to Serçe Liman. On the way I called Nikos with the Autolink. He and Rozina are with the Faneromeni in Ekinçik and we will meet somewhere along the coast. We had been several times before in Serçe Liman. There was a very modest shack of a restaurant run by Osman and when a yacht came he would sent a row boat with a young boy rowing and a gentleman wearing a tuxedo (no shoes or tie) who directed where to anchor and took a line ashore. Now there is another establishment at the S. end of the cove but we headed for Osman’s [36° 34.66' N 28° 03.04' E], after 24.2 M from Datça. Here too they were waving buoys! We took the offered mooring line from a young boy and he took our shore line and tied it on a rock ashore. Because I was not totally sure of the mooring I asked the young man to please set our second anchor, which he immediately did.
In Serçe Liman the wreck of an 11th century Byzantine ship with a lot of glassware was found and excavated by George Bass. The glassware is now exhibited at the Bodrum underwater museum. After the excavation was over, Osman was left as a guard of the site. Being enterprising he started catering to visiting yachts.
Next, almost immediately, came another row boat with a man selling kilims and honey. Alice bought some honey. Later in the evening, and after washing, we went to Osman’s with our zodiac. Osman was not in residence but we had some wonderful homemade bread with a variety of salads and fish kebabs. The night, unlike the previous one, was blissfully peaceful and quiet.
Tuesday August 12, 1997 Day 6
After waking up we started preparations to leave as we wanted to catch up with Nikos. First we went ashore to Osman’s and bought 2 loaves of their marvelous freshly baked bread. Then as we were contemplating which line to untie first their row boat came with last night’s waiter bringing us freshly made loukoumades. This was the last straw. After the shock of Datça this place is too good to leave so soon. By unanimous vote we decide to postpone our departure.
We spent a most pleasant day eating loukoumades, swimming, and doing nothing. In the late afternoon we went ashore at the S end of the cove for a hike. I had never been there before. It is most unusual! There are a series of either dry lakes or filled old volcano calderas. Corinna liberated a young goat that was trapped in a bush. It was bleating its heart out while its siblings were hovering helplessly about. At night we went back at Osman’s but unlike the previous night we were the only clients. We had a simple meal of salads and bread.
Wednesday August 13, 1997 Day 7
We left at 9:00. The wind was very strong and we sailed downwind with the second reef and reduced genoa the 32 M to Ekinçik. Near Ekinçik we experienced very violent gusts reaching 52 knots (force 9)!
At Ekinçik we went to the NW bay before the light house [36° 49.1' N 28° 33.4' E]. We were about to anchor when a local tourist caique approached us and someone called: “Vasili, Vasili.” It was our old friend Mr. Kurt of Sardis tours. He was warned few days ago by Nikos of our coming and he kept a lookout. He took a long line, as it was too shallow to go near the beach, and tied it for us to a tree. We made an arrangement with him for visiting Dalyan. We would be picked up tomorrow at 8:30. Since we all had upset tummies, possibly from the loukoumades, we made some rice and went to bed early.
In the last few years many Turkish and foreign jornalists under the influence of Mr. Kurt have staged a partialy succesful campaign to block development along the beach of the ecstuary of the Dalyan river which is, along with Zakynthos, one of the main breeding grounds of the thretened sea turtles Caretta caretta.
Thursday August 14, 1997 Day 8
As promised, at 8:30 a caïque came with Mustafa and we left for our visit to Dalyan. The river, Köycegiz Çay, was as breathtaking as I remembered it from our last visit 13 years ago, but, there were appreciably fewer birds and other wildlife. Corinna did see a water turtle. We went upriver, skipping Kaunus with the Lycian tombs, straight to the lake Köycegiz Golü which has an amazing green color. We stopped and had a swim there. Unlike our last visit there were a number of boats in the lake.
Kaunus or Caunos, which we skipped since we had spent considerable time there on a previous visit, was an important Carian city and was a member of the Delian League. Today one can see the remains of the acropolis, theater, several temples, and baths.
We then convinced Mustafa, after some difficulty, to take us across to Sultaniye which is a hot spring spa. Many people go to a building which has a pool where they plunge into the water which reaches 41° C (105.8°F). After they soak in the pool, they plunge again into the cool lake. There were many people wearing traditional Turkish dresses who seemed to be staying in one room with many beds. Others seemed to have come for just one day and were camped with many blankets, despite the hot day. There was a wood-burning bakery where we bought some very tasty bread. We then had a tea at a çay hani while watching the other customers playing a game that resembled bingo.
We left Sultaniye and went to Dalyan (the town) for some shopping (bottled water, paper towels, etc) and a very mediocre and overpriced lunch. In the mean time the traffic on the river was endless. After lunch we started on our way back to Thetis. The whole river was “bumper to bumper” with a continuous procession of motor boats, full of tourists, going both up and down river. The fumes from the diesel exhausts were everywhere. It was very good that we had gone up river in the early morning and were able to appreciate its beauty, a far cry from the afternoon madness.
Going from the river mouth back to Ekinçik was rather choppy. After we reached Thetis, Mustafa asked for $20 more than the $150 we had agreed with Mr. Kurt to cover the visit to Sulatniye. There were considerably fewer boats at the anchorage than yesterday. We had a refreshing swim and put up the tent where we relaxed the rest of the day in the lovely surroundings. Since we already had a main meal no one was up to cooking and both Alice and Corinna were still under the weather so we just had bread and cheese for supper.
Friday August 15, 1997 Day 9
We left Ekinçik early at 7:50 heading SE towards Fethiye. There was hardly any wind and we motored past the Ince Promontory to the Kizilkuyruk Koyu cove [36° 37.1' N 28° 52.3' E] which we entered at 11:15 after 24.2 M.
The cove, despite its isolation, was crowded with at least 25 other boats, large and small. Boats continuously came and went. The cove is lovely but there was a small restaurant that was blasting the cove with disco music. Blissfully, it did so intermittently. The water was crystal clear. After a swim we made lunch of stale bread and melted Turkish cheese which is almost too bland to eat by itself.
One of the large tourist gulets came and anchored across our position, fouling our chain. I spoke with the skipper and he promised that they will be leaving before 5:00 AM so that there would be no problem. Nice place but way too crowded for my taste.
At 5:30 PM we took a hike to Lydae an archaeological site about 30 minutes walk straight uphill. The site, two Roman mausolea and some Byzantine foundations, was not very interesting but its setting is exquisite. There were several mud-brick domes which Alice speculated they were Moslem tombs but we were not so sure because goats were using them for shelter.
The night was cloudy. We prepared fettucini alla putanesca for dinner in the accompaniment of extemely loud music from the restaurant. What a shame! How can people spoil such a beautiful spot?
Saturday August 16, 1997 Day 10
We left the cove at 8:30, since there was still no wind we motored around the islands and into the Skopea Liman gulf [36° 40.4' N 28° 52.8' E]. It is very beautiful but again crowded with boats, so much so that we did not even stop for a swim. In one of the coves we saw a large barge with a complete house, a helicopter, and a large number of speed boats and jet-skis.
We then proceded straight to Fethiye, by that time the wind had increased and we were able to open our genoa, and sail while still keeping the tent on. After a total of 23.7 M we arrived at Fethiye at 14:00 [36° 37.7' N 29° 06' E]. The harbor was full of gulets so I decided to anchor off-shore. It turns out that Corinna was not very pleased with this because she wanted the freedom to get in out of the boat without engaging her parents.
Fethiye, the ancient Telmessos, is a very pleasant town with a large esplanade. The town is surrounded by Lycian rock tombs carved on the rocks. There is also a medieval castle built by the Knights of Rhodes. In the middle of the town there is a Lycian sarcophagus tomb in the shape of a small house.
When we went ashore it was extremely hot. We walked to the museum, which seemed in the heat to be miles away. When we got there it was already 4:30 PM, just ½ hr before closing time. They have a very exciting stele from the Letoön with an inscription shown in three languages: Greek, Aramaic, and Lycian. They also have a nice ethnographic section. Unfortunately it was so suffocating hot and stuffy that I was afraid that I would faint. After the museum visit we restored our selves with dondurma (ice cream). On our way back to the boat we found a laundry that washes clothes within 3 hours, to which we took a load for washing.
Later Alice and I went ashore for dinner, while Corinna, who did not feel like it, stayed onboard. After dinner we found a store selling loukoumia (Turkish delight). You packed your own box with any flavor combination that struck your fancy. We bought several boxes. The night was hot and humid but fortunately we were a distance from the noisy shore.
Sunday August 17, 1997 Day 11
I woke up early being bothered by the heat and the mosquitoes. I was joined by Alice in watching a spectacular sunrise over the mirror-calm bay. Later we went ashore to get some bread.
We left Fethiye at 7:50 and we motored past the notorious 7 capes to Yesilköy Liman [36° 15.6' N 29° 22.34' E] (38.8 M) just west of Kalkan except for 1 hr of sailing out of the total 7:10 hrs. During the passage I disassembled the cleanser dispenser for the head, un-plugged it, and reassembled it.
In Yesilköy there were very strong gusts and also the inevitable large number of boats and gulets but fewer than at Kizilkuyruk. We had an incredibly difficult time mooring, as the anchor would not hold. After four separate attempts, during one of which the rudder scraped on a rock (fortunately without any damage) we gave up and tried in a totally different spot. Here things seemed all right but again the anchor dragged although it was completely buried in the sand. We put the second anchor as well.
Yesilköy, which, as it turned out is a very common name meaning “green place”, is, despite the anchoring problems, a very attractive place. The water was very clear. At night we made for supper linguine with garlic oil.
Monday August 18, 1997 Day 12
We got off to a late start at 10:45 and motored to Kalkan, just 2 M away. Kalkan (Greek Kalamaki) looks very much made up with several large hotels and older houses jazzed up in many pastel colors. We decided not to stay and proceeded to Kas.
As there was no wind we had to motor the 13.8 M to Kaş, arriving at 14:00. At the Kaş harbor [36° 11.8' N 29° 38.6' E] a bearded dark gentleman speaking very rapid and garbled Greek helped us dock. It is not a large harbor but rather attractive.
We went ashore for some light shopping. It was almost unbearably hot. We had a small lunch under the tent and went to the other side of the jetty for a refreshing swim. There was abundant fresh water at the dock and with this we cooled the tent and washed the boat thoroughly.
The gentleman who helped us to dock came by, a little bit inebriated, and started a conversation in his broken Greek. The water here, he said, is very good in the afternoon but in the morning it is skata (shit). In an effort to advance the Greco-Turkish relations I pointed to myself and said “Vasilis” then I pointed to him and asked his name. My efforts backfired and he flew into a rage calling me: “Skyle Fashista” (fascist dog). It turns out that he misunderstood me and thought that I said that I favored the king “Vasilias.” Eventually the misunderstanding was cleared and he told me that he has many friends in Kastellorizo including the “Skylo Limenarchis” (dog of a harbor master), to whom I was to convey his most respectful greetings. Thus international cooperation was advanced!
By 7:30 PM the harbor was packed with many day trip gulets returning. The town (at night) looks charming. We had a very pleasant dinner of an assortment of mezedes. The moon was full.