East from Marmaris to Ekincik
This stretch of the coast of Turkey measures 160 nautical miles, which doesn’t sound like much in the context of what Australian sailors typically do. But there is so much to see and do along the way that the luxury of time that charterers generally don’t have will enhance the experience enormously.
The first stop will be Ekincik because the Aksas Gulf next to Marmaris is closed due to the presence of a huge Turkish Naval Base with 20,000 sailors based there.
Ekincik and the Lycian Rock Tombs
Ekencik has a really safe marina with a restaurant and facilities and this is the jumping off spot for excursions in small boats up the Dalyan River to the Lycian cliff tombs and the ruins of the ancient Greek city of Caunos. The huge estuary which grows thousands of hectares of swaying reeds was the location for the Humphrey Bogart – Katherine Hepburn movie the African Queen but only senior citizens would remember that movie.
The Lycian rock tombs were carved into the cliff face overlooking the Dalyan River but several of them were never finished because Alexander the Great turned up and obliterated the Lycian culture.
The Gulf of Fethiye
After Ekincik comes the Gulf of Fethiye, where a sailor with time could easily spend a week, a month or even a year. There are 50 anchorages within 15 miles of Gocek at the head of the gulf; some of them with restaurants that offer private berthing and some where a tree on the shore will secure the stern of the boat for the night with the anchor holding the bow. The pine trees on the shore will inject the aroma of conifers into the air and the absence of ambient light will make for a brilliant overhead show of stars. You might hear the lapping of the micro-waves against the side of your yacht as you drift off into the land of nod.
The deserted Greek city of Kaya Koy
Around the corner on the eastern side of the Gulf of Fethiye is Gemiler Island, the bay called Karacaoren and the deserted city, high above the coast, of Kayakoy. When Ataturk came to power in the 20’s and he created the Turkish republic he decided that Turkey would be for the Turks and the Greek population with their origins back in Byzantium times were evicted and the town was suddenly empty. It remains so today and a walk through what remains of the Greek styled houses and churches is a must do. It’s a bit of a climb but well worth the effort.
In Karacaoren Jan from the only restaurant will be happy to connect you to one of his buoys and cook you a dinner that you will enjoy while seated on his undulating restaurant floor that overlooks the bay and the towering Babada, which stands nearly 2,000 metres above sea level and from which you might hang glide to the beach by Olu Deniz should you so choose.
South to Kalkan and Kas
The next step is quite a big one, around to Kalkan, which has a harbour protected by a sea wall and a town that has regrown after it was flattened by an earthquake in the 50’s. Being modern may make some of the architecture a little boring but the town has plenty of character, all be it primarily tourism focused. The narrow cobbled streets that run up the hill from the port are lined with shops, restaurants and maybe a Turkish barber shop where Mustafa will burn the hairs out of a man’s ears by dipping a cotton wool bud in a jar of methylated spirits, setting fire to it and wafting the flame across your ears! A Turkish shave is an experience all by itself because it will typically include a neck, shoulder and arm massage.
Just a few short steps along the coast is the neighbouring town of Kas (pronounced Kash) but before you get there you’ll find the brand new Kas marina, which offers the very best of everything a visiting yachtsman could wish for; all technical services and shore facilities, which includes easy access to the town.
If you berth in the town harbour you’ll be in for an experience because the two rows of boats that face each other across the harbour invariably foul each other’s anchor chains so departure in the morning can be amusing to say the least.
At the end of the quay is Smiley’s restaurant, where you may not experience the best of Turkish cuisine but where you will find access to whatever information you need to know about Kas, and his service will include delivery of fresh bread in the morning.
Underneath the bar next door is a water cistern that dates from Roman days, which you can access for a look and then after dinner you might be lucky enough to catch a band playing live Turkish music late into the night; and I mean late.
After a late start next day and with the Raki still causing a few tremors you might take yourself off for a Turkish bath, where alternate hot and cold bathing will open up your pores in preparation for a pummelling by the wiry hands of a masseuse. At the end though you will walk out of the establishment without your feet “even touching the ground”.
The Greek island of Lastellorezo
Again starting with the letter K is the neighbouring island of Kastellorezo, which the Greek flag will tell you is not Turkish and you will be right in coming to that conclusion. Its’ 200 or so Greek citizens are comfortable these days with their proximity to what was once a hostile shore and there is even commercial cooperation so that the local restaurateurs can now source their foodstuff in Kas rather than having to go all the way to Rhodes.
The Athenian restaurant owner Vangelis will tie you up at his front door, welcome you to “Europe” and pour you a cold beer. The walk home after dinner will be all of 1 boat length unless you take a walk through the town. There is a mosque at the end of the quay and if you stay long enough you will surely have the opportunity to visit what is today a small museum that will detail in an understated fashion the tragic recent history of this tiny dot in the global scheme of things.
Kastellorezo has extensive familial connections with Australia and in fact there used to be a Kazzi Club in Kingsford Sydney. If you hang about on your anchored boat for a few days someone will come along and ask if you know Dimitri or George who lives in Australia. Make sure your Australian flag is on your port hand spreader and that you have a Greek flag on the starboard side. The flag on the stern can only be the flag of registration of the boat.
The must do on “Kazzi”, which familiarity will now allow you to call it, is the climb up the escarpment behind the town for the view that will equal anything you will ever see anywhere in the world. It all steps but worth every breath you will take.
You can go to Kastellorezo without making a formal exit from Turkey or an entry into Greece but there will be a small charge levied by the charming port “Capitanessa” who will charge a few Euros for the privilege of visiting the port. Once you have tied up here for a few days you will ask how it can possibly be so cheap.
Now the enclosed waterway of Kekova
Further east now and here comes a real surprise; the almost totally enclosed waterway of Kekova, which can be entered through a key hole at the western end. Then a little further west is Aperlai with its two restaurants and a walk across the isthmus to the sunken ruins of a Roman town. Paved roadways, a bridge and the walls of the houses over which it is possible to snorkel as the surrealistic scene unfolds a few meters below.
Toward the centre of the waterway is Kale Koy, a storybook like steep-sided hill with a castle perched on the top, a few restaurants around the bottom and a safe anchorage just off to one side. You might be lucky enough to see this scene illuminated at night and if you do your imagination will really run wild.
Nearby is the town of Ucagiz with the c pronounced as a ch, the U as an oo and the g soft, almost silent – oocha’is. There are many mysteries in the Turkish language, which has its origins way to the east in Turkmenistan and even further because the Turks are related to Genghis Khan and the Mongols.
Kekova and on to Antalya
After Kekova you take a big left hand turn up to Antalya but you really have to stop, because you have the time, at Tekirova where there are extensive Roman ruins all connected by an elaborately constructed aqueduct, a gymnasium, theatre and several well preserved houses.
Also along this coast lies Demre where Father Christmas supposedly has his origins back in the days of early Christendom. The wonder never stops.
Behind this semicircular coastline the mountains rise to 3,000 meters and if you are there even as late as June you will be sailing along in clear warm sunshine with snow on the mountains to add further to the wonder.