Log #24b Kemer Marina

March 31, 2002 in Log Series 20 - 29, Logs by Series, Series 24 Turkey, The Logs

Log #24b Kemer Marina

Kemer, Turkey
March 31, 2002

It is a grey rainy Easter Sunday morning as I sit down to do this log. I just heard over the BBC short wave of the death of the Queen Mother. I have a great respect for her, and am thankful for her contribution to Britain and the world throughout her long life. She brought dignity, respect, and compassion to the monarchy, and I hope and pray that her heritage will positively influence the monarchies to come. God save the Queen!

We are nearing the end of our time here at Kemer, a most enjoyable time it was. It is the best marina we have ever been in. There have been a few closing parties and barbecues, as many of the yachts will be leaving over the next few weeks for their summer sailing destinations. The marina’s success owes much to Hasan, the marina manager, his assistant Umut, and to the boat yard manager, Oktay. The combination of good staff, good facilities, good location (one of the warmest, most southerly in Turkey), and reasonable prices make this a marina that many return to year after year.

It has a very active social program that makes wintering here an enjoyable living experience. Routine weekly activities include a morning exercise program (we haven’t attended any yet, but we should have; they are worthwhile), weekly trips into Antalya for shopping and movie nights, weekly concerts at the concert hall in Antalya, free language classes in Turkish, French and English, a bridge club, dance lessons, Sunday walks/hikes around the Kemer area, most with bus transportation to interesting sites, Happy Hour every evening between 1800 and 1930, special economical but tasty local menus every Thursday, and other parties and celebrations several times monthly for holidays (the Christmas and New Year’s  were spectacular from what we heard) and other occasions.

We have had three barbecues the last month here, at Finike, and at Antalya with the yachties wintering there, as well as a couple of musical performances from an improvised yachties band, and a year-end picnic last week for the whole marina staff and liveaboards. It was a happy occasion that reminded us how we have come to enjoy each others’ company and share in this international community of sailors. We enjoyed over the winter the enthusiastic music, dancing and intensive partying of the French, New Zealand, and Australian boaters especially. We learned the older Macarana, and the newer Mambo #5 group dancing, as well as some interesting gyrations taught by the Turkish contingent. I participated with the Kemer Yachties Band, having made a “lagerphone” from a wooden oar and bottle caps. This is an Australian bush instrument that their pioneers would make up with a stick and bottle caps nailed to it, and beat with a serrated stick to jangle the loosely nailed bottle caps to add to the rhythm of their singing. I have a picture of me gyrating around in one of our numbers with it that I’ll send to the photo list or others who would like to see it. Another shot I’ll send out soon is one of a Turkish belly dancer at the picnic we had in Antalya last week.

The marina has excellent security 24 hours a day (we don’t bother locking up the boat even when going away for a day or more); very clean washrooms and showers, in several locations throughout the area; a dishwashing room and a laundry room with a washer, drier, clean sinks, and an iron and ironing board (a sign-up sheet keeps its use well organized); reliable water, electrical and phone hookups to all boats (the phone lines are data capable, allowing us to send E-mail and access the internet from our laptop on the boat); an internet office with printer for liveaboards; fax facilities; a service laundry with same day service; and a well equipped chandlery.

There is a large well equipped boat yard with machine, electrical, woodworking, and painting shops, and a most co-operative and helpful yard manager, Oktay. We were extremely pleased with the several thousand dollars of work they did on Veleda while we were away, and they included with our bill a written summary of what they did, why and suggestions for future work that might be needed. All this work was done in our absence back in Canada, and we were ready to go back in the water a few days after returning to Kemer. The mooring facilities were good, with strong solid cleats and rings on the concrete docks, and lazy lines for stern moorings. The duty boat was always at hand to assist and to help with any adjustments. When we were launched, our battery was dead and so their duty boat towed us to our slip. The water inside the breakwall is very calm with minimal surge even in the heaviest storms. The wind caused more movement than did any surge effect.

The marina is also home to about 30 gulets, wooden Turkish excursion boats with classic flared bows, tall wooden masts, some with stern cabins, reminiscent of bygone days of sail in Arabian waters. A concrete swim dock with shower, boarding ladder and deck chairs provides a good platform for sun tanning, leisurely picnics, a view across Kemer Bay lined with pebble beaches and resort hotels, fishing, and swimming. The grounds are well maintained with other picnic and barbecue areas as well as tennis courts and a covered pavilion. The Navigator, the marina bar/restaurant, is a friendly place with a fireplace stoked up for Happy Hour, all kinds of mounted sailing gear, boat parts and pictures decorating the walls and walkways, and very good meals at reasonable prices. We can pay as we eat or drink, or just have them keep a tab for our boat to be paid later. There is a meeting room in the back with a good lending library, TV/video, dart board, chart table, and fireplace. A small cafe/bar and minimarket are located just outside the boatyard, and the main shopping area of Kemer starts just 150 metres from gracious Corinthian pillars and plinth arching over the entrance to this park/marina complex.

There are many bars and restaurants lining the edges of the marina, competing with each other for the customers and tourists of the town. They often offer specials such as a large beer for 50 cents Euros. My favourite is the Sailor Wine Bar which offers a snack of three pieces of fish, salad and bread, plus a drink for the equivalent of 2 Euros. I go there quite often now to have a beer or glass of wine for only $1.50 US, while reading their daily International Herald Tribune, and Time and Newsweek magazines, cheaper than buying the paper. In fact the manager, Hakan, often gives me the paper if I am there late at night to take back for Judy.

The East Med Yacht Rally is organized from Kemer. I am helping out by writing up history and details of all the tours we will take at each of the 9 ports we will be visiting in Turkey, Cyprus, Syria, Lebanon, Israel and Egypt. I have also written an historical summary of the Middle East, including a section on the Crusades This material will be included in the rally manual. (If any would like a copy of this, let me know and I will forward it to you.)

As you can tell from my description, Kemer is a special place to spend the winter. Their staff are excellent, friendly co-operative and knowledgeable. Even the few who do not speak much English go out of their way to help. We will miss the community that has developed here over the winter, but feel we have made many friends we will see on the water as we sail the Med, and know that if we return to Kemer we will be greeted by the friendly faces that have served us so well. Thanks Kemer!

Our plans for this season will find us leaving Kemer about April 19 when our current contract ends. Before that we will do a few overnight trips to local anchorages, weather permitting. We were originally going to leave on March 19, but expanded the contract a month because we enjoyed it so much here, and wanted to attend some of the closing barbecues and parties the end of March, and besides, the Med can still deliver some bad spring storms, as we have found out.

In one storm last week the winds were force 7 and 8, but with heavy sudden gusts going from 15 to 60 knots in a minute or two, severe katabatic winds howling out the mountain valleys. We had the first damage done to our bimini when one of the gusts blasted up our stern, breaking the nylon straps holding the back of the frame, tearing it out of its sockets and thrashing the bimini onto the top of the dodger. Fortunately no severe damage was done, except the window in the top of it was torn. We took the fabric off the frame and lashed the frame to the boom until the storm was over two days later. We had wanted to replace the window anyways, as it had become opaque and did not permit us to see the mast and sails through it. We took it to the same fabric and upholstery shop where we had the cover made for our new dinghy, and they replaced the window for us next day for an economical sum of only 35,000,000 Turkish Lira (about $40.00 Cdn). We remounted it using heavier straps (old jack line material) this time. It was the only damage we have had with the full enclosure since having it made at Genco in Toronto in 1998. Five years is a good length of service  for full time use 12 months a year.

When we leave we’ll leisurely work our way west down the coast around to Fethiye and Marmaris (good gunkholing coastline) and up to Bodrum where we will rendezvous with David Mulholland, a navy chaplain friend of ours who will join us for a couple of weeks. We’ll link up with the East Med Yacht Rally (EMYR) there and stay with it as it makes its way back to Kemer for the official start before heading off to Northern Cyprus. We are looking forward to the experiences of the rally. It will not be a leisurely sail as we will put over 1000 nautical miles on from Bodrum in Turkey  to Port Said  in Egypt, and finishing in Herzliya in Israel, from May 9 to June 14, but the experience of the Middle East countries will be worth it.

In my next log I hope to summarize our experiences when we returned to Canada, and the few local anchorages we will have experienced here in Turkey before our departure.