Winter in Turkey, ICOM M802 SSB radio, Levante Basin Rally | Distant Shores Sailing Newsletters

Winter in Turkey, ICOM M802 SSB radio, Levante Basin Rally

Wintering in Ece Saray Marina, Fethiye, Turkey

In the November 2004 newsletter, we mentioned meeting a couple of Italian boats in Kekova Roads, Turkey, who we quickly befriended and enjoyed many seafood feasts with, especially with Giorgio and Antonella aboard NARENA. Giorgio is an excellent fisherman and free diver and he and Paul would often go off together to dive – Giorgio catching fish with his hand spear while nearby Paul would be “catching” marine life on the shoals and reefs with his underwater camera. Where possible we like to feature an underwater segment in each episode of Distant Shores since marine life is so beautiful and different in each part of the sea we explore on the boat.

Throughout the autumn of 2004 in Turkey, we cruised together back and forth with NARENA , anchoring in bays and coves all along Turkey's Turquoise and Lycian coasts now enjoying the anchorages to ourselves after the crowded summer season. We sailed right up until early December needing only sweaters and light jackets while high above us there was snow on the tops of the Taurus mountains.

Our plan had been to spend the winter on board at Turkey's Yacht Marine in Marmaris where the rates are good and there is a large and very sociable live-aboard community during the winter. The plan was that in early spring we would start working our way west out of the Med in time to do another transatlantic passage back to the Caribbean in the autumn. We dropped in at Yacht Marine on October 31st to check it out and, at the cruisers' Hallowe'en Party being held that night, ran in to Bill and Jean aboard SOLEIL SANS FIN, who are featured in episode 20 of Distant Shores which is about the sailors' rendezvous they coordinated in Hvar, Croatia.

With great enthusiasm Bill and Jean told us about their latest project, coordinating a small flotilla-cruise to countries of the Middle East. They year before they had participated in the popular Eastern Mediterranen Yacht Rally (EMYR) which is more or less a port-a-day cruise over 6-weeks to introduce you to the region. It does this with great success and although it appealed to us, the pace was way too fast for us to film a season of shows. Bill and Jean had loved the places they visited on the EMYR so much they wanted to go back and spent more time in each place. As a result, they were designing a slower-paced cruise for the summer of 2005 that worked really well for us. Bill invited us to join the flotilla, max 12 boats so we could visit some of the smaller harbours that the EMYR with 100 boats participating couldn't fit in to, and scheduled to leave Finike, Turkey, in May 2005 to sail to Cyprus, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Jordan (by land) and ending in Egypt in August. We quickly signed on. Once again, our sailing plans underwent a major change. The voyage back to the Caribbean went out the window for another year.

We met up with NARENA once again, excited about our new plans of sailing to the Middle East in the spring, and as we sailed together back towards Yacht Marine to spend the winter, NARENA experienced engine trouble. We escorted our friends to the nearest port en route which happened to be Fethiye, a harbour we had never been to before.

We discovered to our delight that there was a brand new marina in Fethiye, Ece Saray Resort and Marina, with excellent facilities near the very cute market town. There are also many interesting historical sites in the area including ancient cliff tombs. To top it off, several of the people wintering in Fethiye were friends that we had wintered with in Kos, Greece, a few years before. We felt right at home and now quickly changed our wintering plans too! Once NARANA's engine was repaired Giorgio and Antonella decided to sail on to Yacht Marine since it had been their base the year before and they had many friends to catch up with. But we stayed in Fethiye and signed up for the winter. One of the perks was good rates for a membership at the resort's spa so throughout December we worked out in the gym each afternoon after a day of editing and scripting, then enjoyed a Turkish bath and massage before dinner - luxuries unaffordable in most other countries!

Turkey is a secular country but most people are practicing muslims so we were quite surprised to learn that Christmas was a big festivity here. Why? The real St. Nicholas was born here and was later bishop in the nearby town of Demre. So Santa Claus is Turkish! We visited the cathedral in Demre where many Christians from around the world come on pilgrimage and bought very Eastern-looking Christmas decorations to decorate Two-Step with including a unique Turkish carpet with an image of St. Nick woven in to it! Christmas Day is was so warm we went for a sail out into the Bay of Fethiye and anchored in a peaceful cove for lunch. We had a wonderful Christmas dinner was fellow cruisers in a nearby restaurant telling stories in front of a roaring fire.

Toronto Boat Show

We flew home to Canada in January to do the final post-production on the new season's episodes and to conduct seminars at the Toronto International Boat Show and other sailing venues which we really enjoy. We get great feedback from the sailing community on what topics they're interested in which gives us fresh ideas for our TV programs and DVDs.

We flew back to Turkey in early April, spending a few days in Istanbul to visit friends there, Elif and Fikret, who always show us new and exciting things in this amazing city each time we fly through. This time the highlight was a visit to the Topkapi Palace, home of the Ottoman sultans of the past, where we had a fascinating tour of the lavish Harem and soaked up the spring sunshine in the courtyard garden with Elif.

Spring Outfitting

We arrived back in Fethiye via bus (13 hours), our bags loaded down with boat spares and goodies for the boat's upcoming cruise and after a reunion with cruising friends there sailed on to Yacht Marine to have the boat hauled to do bottom paint and install various new equipment including our new ICOM IC-M802 transceiver and an IC-140 tuner obtained from Radioworld in Toronto and set up for installation by our good friend and marine electronics wizard, David Anderson of Stand Sure Marine Enterprises also in Toronto. Our very old radio had a manual tuner and needed to be replaced especially since we'd be relying heavily on reqular radio communications with the other boats in our flotilla on the upcoming Middle East Cruise.

In Marmaris our good friends Mustafa and Ali Yesildag of Yesildag Workshops, gave Two-Step's hard dodger a beautiful new paint job and refinished all the wood work while we worked on installing the new electronics and various other major tasks. Ali and Mustafa and the other fun-loving members of their family are featured in our adventures in episodes 36 & 37 of Distant Shores, found on the new Volume 5 DVD coming out in November 2005.

Levante Basin Rally
Most of the 11 other boats participating in the Levante Basin Rally were also doing boat prep in one of the marinas in Marmaris and we got together for several pre-planning sessions before we all met up later in Finike to begin the rally. Dan and Karen on DAKARE volunteered as the official webmasters for the rally. They did a beautiful job. Check out the official Rally Web Site at

The first leg of our voyage would be to the war-torn but beautiful island of Cyprus, considered the birthplace of Aphrodite, the goddess of love.

Stay tuned for the story of this passage, our experiences with the Turkish and Greek Cypriots living at different ends of the island, and further adventures in our voyage to countries of the Middle East in our next newsletter.

Sheryl and Paul
SV Two-Step
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