Log #27p To Symi and Clearing out of Greece

December 7, 2002 in Log Series 20 - 29, Logs by Series, Series 27 Summer in Greece, The Logs

Kemer, Dec. 7, 2002

Hi Folks,

I’m including my answer to some correspondence we had from a friend in the US concerned for travel warnings issued regarding Turkey, to allay any concerns you may have. We are fine and enjoying the country.

This log ends our summer and fall in the Aegean, and starts me on my next series of logs (Logs #28), back to Turkey and Kemer for the winter. I may work up a summary of the Aegean, distances, islands etc. first.

The winter weather has started with a vengeance, stormy with rain and hail the past three days and more to come. There is snow on some of the mountain tops now, and the evenings are quite cool, 8ْ to 10ْ C, but nicer in the day time when nit is sunny. This weekend is a long holiday week end, (Şeker Bayramו) in Turkey (from Wednesday to Monday in some cases), the end of Ramazan. It is a family time and I wish all our Turkish friends a happy holiday.

We will be back in Canada two weeks from now, and can receive surface mail at 734 O’ Connor Drive, Toronto, Ontario M4C 3A9, or can be reached by phone at (416) 421-2668. It would be good to hear from some of you in person.

All the best,
Aubrey

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hi  forgot to mention that on tonight’s newsbroadcast on cnn, a terrorist attack alert was broadcast for southern turkey…..you all be careful!!!! they say it is a “credible
threat”, whatever that has come to mean.

Thanks for the caution. We were in that part of Turkey when we were in Iskenderun with the EMYR last spring. There were no real concerns there then. However that region has high unemployment, and also Kurdish separatist groups that use drug money to finance their operations. It is also a volatile area bordering on Syria and Iraq. Great neighbours eh? The area was depressed especially since the Gulf War as trade with Iraq and the Iraqi-Turkish oil pipeline and the resultant processing and transportation industries all suffered (over $50 billion). However, this part of southwest Turkey in Kemer is far away from that region. We are often surprised when we hear of some of the steps Turkey has to take to defend against Kurdish terrorists and Kurdish separatism. Right now Turkish forces are inside northern Iraq controlling an airport to assist British and US aircraft to monitor the No Fly zone  of Northern Iraq, and to deny the airport facility to the Kurds who might use it for more military attacks on Turkey. The fear is that if Iraqi Kurds establish an autonomous region or independent country in northern Iraq, the Kurdish minorities in Turkey and Syria would also want those parts to belong to any such emerging Kurdish state, and their use of force to effect such is certain to destabilize the entire area.

In addition Turkey has established refugee camps inside Iraqi territory so if there is a war against Saddam by the US and others, the fleeing refugees can be cared for inside Iraq, rather than inside Turkey, adding to the Kurdish population in that region. The area is a tinderbox waiting for a match.

It is an interesting area of the world, and I hope that Turkey can handle things OK.  We like Turkey and feel very comfortable and safe here. We have not seen aggressive Turks, in either their military posts or their police units. The local people like and respect the police and military. They do not fear them. Even conscription is accepted as a part of life. We had a party here last week for two of the marina managers whose military service exemption extensions had finally run out and they have been called up for 18 months minimum. They are men in their late 20’s, and it will disturb their life, but no resentment. It was a good party for them.  At Christmas this year the cruisers are thinking of doing a caroling night or two for the marina and then into a few of the local resorts in town, and outside the police and military offices here in town. The Turkish marina manager thinks it would be well received in good spirits. Too bad we won’t be here for it.

All the best,
Aubrey
Log #27p To Symi and Clearing out of Greece

Kemer, Turkey
Dec. 7, 2002

On Nisiros, I took the moped to the large but abandoned hot spring health spa, a long low lying building on the shore just west of our mooring at Palon. The building was stripped to the brick walls and concrete floors to such an extent that it could have been the shell of a new but unfinished resort. It must have been quite the luxurious spa in its day, and it is unfortunate that this prime real estate and building cannot be put to any current use. I sauntered through the grand foyer, and along the long corridors housing the over a hundred private doorless rooms with gaping windows and naked balconies overlooking the water. On the landward side of the building were numbers of concrete rectangular hot water baths (I assume), their plumbing having been torn out.

I then took the moped up to the impressive ancient acropolis of Paleokastro (old castle) above and behind Mandraki. The Cyclopean walls built of massive blocks of volcanic rock still stood sentinel, offering from their ramparts a spectacular panorama over Mandraki, the north coast and across the channel to the offlying island of Giali. I had the entire ancient site to myself, to wander along the walls, and into green pastures now embraced by these stalwart fortifications. It was pleasant to be in grass covered pastures as opposed to the dry parched stone-sprouting fields of most of the Aegean islands. I came across three ornate white marble Corinthian column capitals lying at the foot of one wall, beneath some trees at the side of one of these pastures – just lying there! I had no information on the date or origin of the Paleokastro, but judging from the design of the large blocks used for the fortification, similar to the blocks and fortifications I saw in ancient Lorimar at Bozuk Buku across in Turkey, they would date from the Lycian (in Turkey) and early Hellenistic period about 500 to 400 BC. I plan to go back to Bozuk Buku on our return to Turkey. I explored the immense fortifications there last year, but now want to anchor up in the bay and explore the ancient site of Lorimar, a thriving port and economic centre in the Lycian Confederation and later under Greek and Roman influence, about which we read at the Marmaris Museum.

I returned the moped on time (1700) and took Sprite back to Veleda. That night and next day we had thunderstorms and strong SE winds. The anchor dragged on a 13 metre German yacht that then swung into a larger old power yacht beside it. They then just secured alongside the larger motor yacht for the duration of the storm. Our anchor held OK, but it always causes us concern when storm winds are blowing sideways or onto the dock. We doubled up our bow lines and took additional lines from midships to the dock to reduce lateral strain and to prevent us from swinging onto the boat beside us. A few boats came in after dark and had a very difficult time mooring. People from other boats, including us, were there to help them come in. With each storm that comes through, Judy gets anxious and wants to head for Kemer that much earlier so we don’t get caught out in early winter storms as we did last year. We were, of course, very glad we made the decision not to stay on the public docks at Mandraki! Good shelter in these storms is essential, as the directions of the wind vary greatly, requiring all around protection.

The camber at Palon is good, no facilities, no charge, holding seems good, and the small fishing village is pleasant.

We left Oct. 14th and again motored the 34 miles to another anchorage called Panormitis on Simi. We started out with virtually no wind, but after an hour found ourselves bucking into a force 6 east wind. Of course we were heading easterly! We altered course and unfurled a reefed genoa to stabilize the boat as we continued to motor towards our destination. Panormitis means a bay, shelter or harbour (ormos) from all directions (pan), and several harbours on different islands use that name. This one is a large well protected oblong bay, about 800 metres in length, on the SW corner of Simi, with good holding in 2 to 7 metres of water depth. We anchored up in the NE end in 3 metres of water.

It is a most pleasant location, with a walkway around the shoreline from Moni Taxiarhu Mihail, the large monastery on the SE side, around to the peninsula and windmill on the NW entrance. Below the windmill I found a concrete bunker with a modern field gun in good repair! Apparently the area and monastery grounds have an arrangement with the Greek military to maintain an outpost and gun emplacement there. The military built the walkway used by the monastery for religious processions, but also for easy access and supply of the gun. The relation between the military and the monastery goes back to the resistance of WW II when the island was occupied by the Germans. Some of the priests assisted the resistance and a memorial to their execution is to be found there. The site has housed a monastery since the 5th century, the present one being built in the 18th century. Beds are available in the residences for about €10.00 (about $15.00 Canadian) a night. Inside the bell-towered entrance, the quadrangle houses the katholikon, (chapel) with ornately carved wooden iconostasis (altar screen), frescoes, and an icon of St. Michael, patron saint of Symi and protector of sailors. There is also a good folk museum and an ecclesiastic museum housing religious artifacts, as well as a restaurant and bakery for guests and boaters. Day trip boats from Simi Town bring several boat loads of tourists each day.

Next day the small informal flotilla of Toucan Tango, Meg, and Zelda, whom we met at Nauoussa on Paros a few days earlier, anchored astern of us. They too were considering checking out of Greece at Simi town, but could not agree on the best way to go there. We indicated our plans to sail around to it and that we would welcome any who wished to join us; they could return to the boats at anchor here by taxi. They were still undecided by the time we left next day. We motored the 12 miles around to Simi Town, going first to the fuel dock on the outer stretch of town dock. We topped up with diesel OK, but their VISA machine was not working, so Judy walked a kilometre or two into town to a bank machine for extra cash before we could pay and go in to the town docks. Bows-to on the docks, we were helped in by the harbourmaster to whom we paid a nominal 2 or 3 Euros for the night.

The town docks are right in the centre of town, with tavernas and boutiques only a few metres from our bow. The town is an attractive one, which flourished up until the beginning of the last century with ship building and the sponge industry as its mainstay, both of which are absent now. The Lonely Planet aptly describes it as:

“Symi Town is a Greek treasure. Neoclassical mansions in a harmonious medley of colours are heaped up the steep hills which flank its U-shaped harbour. Behind their strikingly beautiful facades, however, many of the buildings are derelict.”

The town suffers from a depleting population and economy, buoyed only by the tourist trade. It is one of the most attractive towns we have seen. The Maritime Museum, regrettably, was disappointing.

The next morning we went to the offices of the harbormaster and the Port Police to check out of Symi and Greece. We were told that as an EU vessel (as we were there under our UK registry) we did not have to clear customs. Although we tried to have them do something with our Greek Transit Log, no one was interested; we still have it with us, as any instructions on it are in Greek, so we do not know if we can continue to use it next year, are supposed to mail it somewhere, or are intended to discard it! So by 0935 we were ready to leave, and at 0940 departed for Bozuk Buku on the Turkish coast.