Log #30d Ankara and the Black Sea Coast

August 13, 2003 in Log Series 30-39, Logs by Series, Series 30 Bosporus & The Black Sea, The Logs

Toronto, Canada

Aug. 13, 2003

Hi Folks,

We have been back for six weeks now and Judy’s mom is still holding out. She is bedridden but medications and IV drips are keeping her properly hydrated and quite comfortable. Every day is a blessing.

This log takes us from our trip to Ankara and further along the Black Sea coast. To our knowledge there were only three yachts cruising the Black Sea coast of Turkey in June, Veleda, Prima (German) and Eagles’ Nest (British). The Danish and Swedish boats that came up the Bosphorus with us returned to Istanbul and the Aegean after the first Black Sea anchorage at Poyraz.

We will probably stay here for the fall and winter, hopefully be able to return to Veleda in the spring to resume our Black Sea circumnavigation, or perhaps go on the KAYRA Black Sea Rally. If any of your sailing clubs or organizations would like a slide presentation on any aspect of our last five years afloat, let us know. An opportunity to travel and to meet some of our E-mail friends would be appreciated. We hope to be in Melbourne, Florida in the middle of November attending the Seven Seas Cruising Association annual general meeting and party and hope to see some of you there. We may take a few extra days either side of it to visit other friends in Florida or enroute before returning to Toronto. Give us a call if there is any chance of visiting with you.

We miss our life aboard. Houses are so unnecessarily big, especially the kitchens. I miss our nice compact galley where everything is within arm’s reach. Oh well!

All the best,


Log #30d Ankara and the Black Sea Coast

Toronto, Canada

Aug. 12, 2003

Ankara, the capital of Turkey, has grown exponentially from a small city of about 25,000 in 1923, replacing the Ottoman capital in Istanbul when proclaimed the new capital, to over 2,000,000 today. It has suburban sprawl, some lovely modern homes and apartment buildings, but also the crowded hurly burly of small businesses and street hawkers in narrow roadways with the resulting cacophony, and hodgepodge of sights, sounds, and smells to assault the senses. After visiting the most enjoyable Ataturk Mausoleum we went to a small cheap ($20.00 US) hotel listed in the Lonely Planet guide, in the centre of town, in the midst of this crowded street scene. The room was barren with a single low wattage bulb, the washroom a concrete box, which at least had a toilet and not the footpads. The sink had no hot water and we would not have wanted to take a shower, standing on the questionable cleanliness of the concrete floor. We only saw two pet cockroaches. I promised Judy we would not look for cheap places any more.

However, it was central, and we enjoyed a walk through a nearby park and a meal beside a pond with downtown office buildings visible above the tree line, reminding us of the parks on the Toronto Islands. We also had an energetic walk up to the citadel, and through the defensive ramparts into the even more narrow streets crowded with a motley mixture of high end restaurants, derelict buildings, dusty grime covered street front “mom and pop” variety stores, and semi-occupied dwellings, some with fantastic panoramic views across the city, all enclosed within the castle walls. We were so exhausted from the uphill hike along cobblestone streets and alleys that we didn’t go to the summit, and didn’t have the energy to climb the steps up to some of the rooftop bars overlooking the city. However we did pass the closed Museum of Ancient Civilizations that we planned to visit, but agreed we would take a taxi next day.

Our second day in Ankara was a full one with our first stop at the Ethnographic Museum a couple of blocks from the hotel. It is housed in an old Ottoman mansion that was used as the resting place for Ataturk’s bier from 1938 to the early 1950’s, until the Ataturk Mausoleum was completed. The museum is a modern display, with movement activated lighting, of Turkish life, arts, traditions and customs. Some of the examples of Turkish art and architecture were fabulous, including ornately carved wooden doors and louvers, intricate silver work, colourful ceramics, and ancient and modern tapestries of Turkish carpets. It included dye vats and a working model of a loom used today in hand manufacturing of their exquisite carpets. We would rate it as a very worthwhile museum.

Then by cab, we went up to the famous Ankara Museum of Ancient Civilizations, another modern museum housed in an old Ottoman castle near the citadel. Without a doubt, this is a world class museum with ancient finds and artifacts dating back to Mesopotamia and the Hittite dynasties mentioned in the Old Testament. The well kept grounds displayed ancient pithoi, large (5 feet tall) amphorae-like urns, as well as burial stellae from Hittite, Greek, and Roman eras, innumerable columns and capitals from classical Hellenistic buildings, and shards from other statuary and architecture of bygone civilizations.

From this museum we wanted to take a cab ride past the parliament buildings and then over to the Ataturk Mausoleum once again before catching the bus back to Amasra. However, our Turkish was not quite up to it and our taxi driver took us to the Mausoleum first, and so we did not see the parliament itself. We did want more time to go through the well organized historical vaults to learn as much as possible about the founding of the Turkish republic from the Balkan wars and WW I to the War of Independence and all the remarkable developments in Turkey and changes in the Turkish people attributed to Ataturk (as mentioned in my last log). The Mausoleum was the highlight of our trip to Ankara.

We had a hurried walk from the Mausoleum to the subway and from there to the Otogar (bus station), getting our tickets and rushing to the bus platform with less than five minutes before departure for Bartin. The return trip was shorter by an hour, in part because as we arrived in Bartin, we were able to run out to flag down a dolmus heading to Amasra. Had we missed it, we would have had to wait around the dingy bus station for another hour in Bartin for the next bus or dolmus. As it was we got back to Amasra at sunset and had a light meal at a pleasant street side table near the park before returning to Veleda for the night.

Next day our German neighbours on Prima left about 0900, and we departed at 1140, only to find out we were going into a 2 metre swell with a force 4 wind both coming at us from the northeast. So we returned to the harbour, but anchored out rather than going along side. This provided us a quiet day without disturbances from interested locals. While we were out at the harbour entrance we could see Prima a few miles out, still struggling against wind and waves, due north, 45 degrees from their intended course. We were glad we decided to return.

We left early next day before any wind or waves came up; however, there was still a one metre swell rolling in from the northeast. At noon we anchored in the harbour of Kurucaşile (41 50.8N, 032 43.4E) for lunch, and a short trip ashore to look at the wooden fishing boats being built, an industry for which the town is noted. From Veleda we could see the stacks of slab lumber in criss-cross tee-pee fashion, drying in the sun along the shoreline and the skeletons of several decked in, partially completed boats proudly extending their blatantly flared bows, awaiting completion, as if eager to get into the water. Ashore, we could smell the fresh lumber as we wandered around these gaping shells and inspected the workmanship of several boats in various stages of completion.

Levent Akkor, a boat builder who spoke reasonably good English, welcomed us to see his work shed and a couple of boats he was building. He showed us the skeleton of a hull inside one shed that had a couple of watertight bulkheads athwart-ship in the middle. They were bulkheads for a water trough midships to keep the live fish immersed in salt water. He pointed out a finished hull that was to be taken back to Istanbul next day by ferry in order to have the engine, electronics, and other mechanical fittings installed. This finishing work is not done in this community for the bigger boats. It was market day in town and we enjoyed strolling through this pleasant village untouched by any tourism. We had Levant out to Veleda for a cup of tea. He gave us his phone number in Istanbul and asked us to call to visit with him there and to meet his family. It was an enjoyable anchorage for the few hours, but we left late afternoon to anchor seven miles further on at Gaideros (41 51.6N, 032 51.7E) in a well sheltered natural bay. There were only a few houses and a restaurant around the bay, surrounded by tree clad hills. We stayed on board for a quiet night in this secure anchorage, leaving about 0800 next morning.

Six miles on we poked our nose into Cide (41 54.1N, 032 58.8E) with fewer than a half dozen small fishing boats in its well sheltered but semi-deserted harbour. It would be a good port in a storm. This is one of the aspects about this coast of the Black Sea, that there are many harbours in which a yacht can anchor, or if conditions permit, go alongside free of charge. We have not found anywhere in Turkey where we have been charged for anchoring. Along this Black Sea coast there are no marinas, but many well sheltered harbours and bays into which a yacht can safely drop the hook. We have not done any Mediterranean mooring since coming back into Turkish waters at Avalik, as we have been able to anchor out or go alongside town docks at all locations. We have paid only at the marinas in Avalik, Canakkale, and Istanbul, and nominal amounts at the town docks at Bozcaada and Katirli.

Technical Note – Yukari Mescit

Another 20 miles on we circled around and sounded the harbour of Yukari Mescit (41 01.13N, 033 21.33E in the middle of the entrance) {NOTE – the latitude figure of 42 10.3N given in Cruise the Black Sea by Doreen and Archie Annan is in error). There was a depth of 22 feet (7 metres) in the entrance and 20 feet (6.8 metres) in the harbour, except for a shoal showing only 8 feet (2.6 metres) just inside the entrance (41 01.085N, 033 21.450E). There is a substantial breakwater with ongoing construction with the exposed opening facing WNW. Along the north breakwall there is a depth of 12 to 16 feet close in to the rocky unfinished breakwater. In the SE corner the bottom shallows to about 6 feet (2 metres) up to 150 feet (50 metres) from shore. The bottom in the harbour appears to be rocky, and we would question its holding power. No facilities, jetties, or buildings were constructed on site yet (June, 2003).

Halfway between Cide and Yukari Mescit we were visited by a pod of dolphins, four adults and a juvenile, for about fifteen minutes as they played around Veleda. We have seen more dolphins in the past month in the Sea of Marmara and the Black Sea than we have seen the past two years in the Med and the Aegean. Perhaps up here yachts are such a novelty that they want to play with them any time they see one?

On another four miles we entered the well sheltered harbour of Doğanyurt (42 00.5N, 033 27.6E) to drop anchor, as all the jetty areas were occupied by local fishing boats. We put Sprite in the water as we needed fuel, and thought we could dinghy around the outside of the breakwater to he fuel station which was reported to be across the stream outside. However, there was no landing place out there and we could not see any fuel station from the water, so we came back inside and landed at the end of the jetty beside the boat sheds, to be helped ashore by friendly locals. We wandered up the road and across the bridge spanning the semi-dried stream bed to find the fuel station just beyond the bridge, several hundred yards from the outer shore. The attendant was most helpful and indicated we should wait a bit, when a small pick up truck came along and we were asked to put the jerry cans in the back. The two gentlemen then took us up into town as we indicated we needed some groceries. We were the only customers in the well stocked store, and were the focus of much interest and attention. With our bags of groceries and the three jerry cans we were taken back to the dinghy, where several other locals carried our bags and cans into the dinghy and helped us shove off. Great hospitality! They would have been offended had we offered them any money. I wish we had had some souvenirs from Canada to have given them. Thank you Doğanyurt! (We received the same hospitable treatment when we came back this way en route to Istanbul a week later, for fuel, with different but equally helpful locals.)