Monday, May 26, 2008

Iskendurun, Turkey, Cevlık, Daphne

Cevlık, ancıent port
more photos on flıckr.........

We have had an extra day ın Iskendurun. The rally fleet took off yesterday afternoon and wıthın a few hours we had the call to return to port ın Turkey. There were hıgh wınds and bıg seas and ıt was really not safe. So all the fıshıng boats had to move away from theır berths agaın and make way for the dozens of yachts, moored sıde by sıde and bows between bows, now waıtıng to leave tonıght for the passage to Syrıa.

Here ıs the earlıer post:

Iskendurun, Cevlik ( Seleucia Pieria), Daphne

Our boats safely observed by 24 hour police in the harbour, we set off early for a tour to see tunnels, a necropolis, an early Christian church established by St Paul, and the ‘second best mosaic museum in the world’.

We drove from Iskendurun through the Belen pass and surveyed the Amik plain, squares of wheat and corn fields, rich and fertile. On to Cevlik, the ancient port town of Antioch (Antakya). Here we walked up a short path through pistachio, mulberry, laurel and olive trees to find spectacular Titus’ tunnel, an extraordinary gorge dig to divert the river from the mountains away from the town of Selucia (ancient Cevlik) in times of flood. A stream still trickles along the gorge, and we walked over a roman bridge and down to the tunnel – through along slippery rocks with light squeezing through the end of the tunnel and the top of the gorge. Groups of Turkish school kids filed past us, shouting “Hello!”

Nearby was a necropolis, with tombs carved out of the rock. Very beautiful and once peaceful; now frequently visited. Along the way we met folks selling flat bread cooked over a fire, soap made with laurel oil, and bunches of herbs.

A meze lunch overlooking the waterfalls in Daphne was a great opportunity to talk to Sally and Al, a couple from Minnesota who had travelled West to East across the Med last year, almost the same track as Rumpus. We wandered along the muddy main street and inspected the woven cotton, one shop with a working loom clacking. This town was once the summer retreat for the wealthy, with rich Roman villas.

On to the mosaic museum in Antakya – spectacular mosaics from the Daphne summer villas. Wild beasts being speared by handsome warriors, sea creatures, birds, and incredible 3D impressions in the geometric borders. Also a fine sarcophagus and some extraordinary lion pillar bases carved in 800 BC.

The evening was to be a ‘pot luck dinner on the wharf’ – which turned into another really fun occasion, with drinks provided by the local chamber of shipping, dancing (again!) and lots to talk and laugh about.

The passage to Lattakia, Syria promises to be the roughest so far: we have a southerly wind blowing against us and heavy seas. Pippy and Richard have left Rumpus to join another boat and we have my mother Diane arriving to join us in Lattakia. So it’s just the two of us this passage.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

A couple of lovely days in Mersin

Mersin is also known as Icel – we were greeted by Turkish navy sailors who helped us berth. It’s surprisingly cosmopolitan along the waterfront - a long wide stretch of esplanade is dotted with amusement parks, grassy parks, reproduction colonnades of archways, open air restaurants and sculpture ranging from beautiful to truly ugly.

In this part of the rally we are making passages at night and arriving in the morning with a day set aside to relax and explore. Our passage to Merson from Girne in Cyprus was just beautiful, with a full red moon rising just after the sun set, to light our way. Our first evening in Mersin was a wonderful event with local dancers and plenty of Turkish music for the rally sailors to carry on the dancing well into the night. The Lord Mayor of Merson regaled us with a song, crooning as he danced with Cath, one of the rally organizers, the microphone nestled between them.

The next day we took our own tour inland to Tarsus, the birthplace of Saul, later St Paul. It is also where Cleopatra met Mark Antony in 41 BC to discuss their strategy in the East. She was able to sail to Tarsus through a large lake that has now silted up – so Rupe and I travelled there by Dolmus (minibus) and train.

We met our French friends from ‘Arcaloune’ and together visited St Paul’s well, wandering through the streets past the shops selling cotton, walking sticks, and tobacco and tea from enormous bags. Caroline and Pilar bought hazelnuts from the street vendor, and enormous bags of fresh cheap vegetables. A very friendly Turkish traffic policeman was happy to give us directions, after a strong handshake: “I am Samil – what is your name? where do you come from? Yes the church is that way! Have a nice day!”

We lunched lunch at a waterfall; simple salads kebabs, and plates of mint and parsley with wedges of lemon – as we walked back across the bridge to the car we wondered at the croaking noises from the stream below – were they ducks?...frogs? Then a turtle slid from the bank and dived under the plastic bags and old bottles into the weedy stream.

Our departure was again timed for the evening, with an all night sail to Iskendurun. But we decided to leave a little earlier, and sail to an anchorage across the gulf from Iskendurun. We had another wonderful sail – sunshine, moderate breeze, a visit from dolphins, and arrived about eleven, anchored and then slept – in the morning a swim and an early start took us across the gulf in time to berth with all the other yachts mid morning. This port is small – we are crammed in side by side and bow to bow like a zipper; each yacht’s bow nestled between the bows of two other yachts. Enormous Turkish flags wave in the breeze and the huge hills loom over us. Iskendurun is the terminus for the Iraqi oil pipeline and the main port of Antioch.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Night Sail to Mersin

Evening sail - happy boys

Arriving in Mersin

We had a wonderful night sail across to Mersin after waiting most of the day to refuel in Girne from the one pump available for all the dozens of rally yachts.... Gennaker up for several hours and the boys were very happy - though there was a bit of a cluster%&^%%$er before it came down. Arriving in Mersin we were greeted by some very smart looking sailors to help us tie up...

Monday, May 19, 2008

Turkish North Cyprus; Girne

The quiet and ancient portof Girne in North Cyprus was invaded by pirates aboard the 80 yachts of the Eastern Mediterranean Yacht Rally. Last night was a big pirate party with all the crews parading around the town dressed in their stripes and skulls.

We had a day tour to a monastery and a castle in the hills; this morning when we got in a taxi to come to the old town and Rupe said 'to the castle' the taxi driver said "Which one?"!

We saw a shipwreck museum inside the castle; the ship had been carrying millstones, almonds, amphorae of olive oil and wine, and had sunk off the coast in shallow water. Rupe was a little sobered to see that the wreck was almost exactly the same length and beam as Rumpus!

A day of perfect weather; after exploring Girne old town and castle we ate a kebab in the square. Shopping highlights: fake designer shoes and handbags – such indiscriminate knockoffs – one shoe of a pair would be ‘Gucci’ and the other ‘Fendi’!

I was ill during the bus tour on Sunday – I had been fading out during lunch and the restaurant manager Rose, who’d lived in London and spoke perfect English, made me a pot of wonderful fresh mint and cinnamon tea. She then drove Rupe to the urgent pharmacy where he bought all manner of remedies for a sore throat including ‘gargara’ (gargle). The Turkish have a well-deserved reputation for consideration and kindness.

While Rupe and the rest of the group explored the town, I took time out in the Caravanserai - a four walled two storied courtyard lined with shops, stalls and cafes. I found a bench, lay down and went to sleep – Rupe had to call my name so that it echoed off the walls before he could find me. It was surreal to open my eyes and see the vaulted arches of sandstone above me and realize that I was here, resting in a place where over the centuries so many had done the same.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Beautiful Cyprus

A wonderful overnight sail with a nearly full moon and some interesting close encounters...truly ships in the night. Tomorrow we will see Nicosia which is billed as the only divided city (left) in the world. Again all the rally yachts are 'dressed' with flags and make a really magnificent sight.

Rumpus powering along under spinnaker for 60 miles..

Friday, May 16, 2008

Rumpus in Alanya - off to Cyprus today

Rupe, Pippy, David, Richard, Tamsin in Rumpus's cockpit.

Rally yachts in Alanya

Rumpus now has a crew of 4; Kristin arrived yesterday in Alanya, South Eastern Turkey after a marathon series of flights from Auckland. Last night we had a big reception at a lovely restaurant overlooking the port followed by a 5 course meal in a beachside restaurant. This afternoon we set off on our first overnight passage, to Cyprus. We have a light wind slightly forward of the beam forecast, and a nearly full moon; it should be a really nice sail. Of course it’s not a race!!! (yeah right).

We have ambitions to catch tuna on the way and arrive in time to cook tuna steak for breakfast after a swim , then on to the marina. There is a pirate party in the castle on Saturday night, so we will be working on costumes.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

On the Way to Turkey

Well after 21 hours' travelling I'm over half way - we came via Brisbane and Singapore and now I have a wait of several hours here at the amazingly clean and crowded Dubai airport before the 5 hour flight to Istanbul..The plane got progressively fuller at each stop; I was in the back seat next to the toilet which sounded like it was going to suck everyone out of the plane every time it flushed!!!

It is a wonderful mind shift to see so many people of different habits, dress and origin, and Arabic script everywhere - I guess I'll be seeing more of that in the next few weeks!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Meanwhile..back in Auckland...

Here are some of my wonderful students from Edenz College - I said goodbye today - I will miss them!

They made me lovely cards and we had a great day. I have really enjoyed my work teaching; every day there are so many good moments. Now, just a few days until I fly out to join Rumpus on Tuesday 13 May.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Rumpus is continuing the voyage; the first part of the Eastern Mediterranean Yacht Rally in Turkey...again, Pippy and Richard's blog has the updates. Today in anticipation of the Pirate Party I have bought plenty of piratical clothing and accessories; the countdown begins, I finish work tomorrow and will be getting all ready to join Rupe in Turkey. At the moment judging by this photo Rupe looks far too healthy to be a pirate!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Dodecanese and back to Kos

Rumpus has been for some good sailing miles, visting Leros - for more, see Richard and Pippy's blog with their wonderful photos.
Now Rupe, Richard and Pippy are heading back South, and all is well with Rumpus. She has had a good spruce up and the boys have been busy polishing.

The plan is to join the Eastern Mediterranean Yacht Rally from Turkey:
I am posting this from Auckland!

can't get good foredeck crew these days! Better put him on the helm....