Log #28d Trying to leave Kemer

April 7, 2003 in Log Series 20 - 29, Logs by Series, Series 28 Winter in Turkey, The Logs

Kemer, Turkey
April 7th, 2003

Hi Folks,

Things are fine for us as we await good weather to take off. Veleda is ready for sea. We have the passarelle and bicycle lashed on deck, Sprite operational and back on the dinghy tow, and all our jerrycans filled with diesel and gas. That was our most expensive fuel the entire trip. We topped up our diesel tank and jerry cans with 81 litres of diesel at 1,490,000 TL per litre (about $1.30 per litre Canadian) for a total of 120,690,000TL, and 46 litres of gasoline (petrol or benzene) at 1,886,000 TL per litre (about $1.65 per lire Canadian) for a total of 87,000,000 TL. The total cost for the fillup of fresh fuel was 207,690,000 TL or $180.00 Canadian.

The war hasn’t affected us, other than the radical altering of the destinations for our friends going on the EMYR. The locals are not overly concerned about the politics, and don’t mention them when talking with us. The Turkish Lira took a hit at the start of the war, but has stabilized a bit. The values of the Lira to the Canadian dollar fluctuated from 1,145,853 TL on March 19th at the start, to 1,153,042 TL on the 20th, 1,162,210 TL on the 21st, and up to 1,181,454 TL by the 24th. It has since stabilized at around 1,150,000 TL the last few days. Last November when we left for Canada the Canadian dollar was worth only 850,000 TL.

I am glad Colin Powell came over to Turkey to explore other ways Turkey can help and keep America’s support by assisting in humanitarian ways rather than participating in the aggression and allowing US troops to attack Iraq from Turkey. For example Turkey not only allows overflights, but permits the US to use Turkey’s airbases for damaged aircraft and vehicles or injured personnel to be evacuated. It will also facilitate and provide humanitarian aid (to US personnel, Kurdish troops and refugees as well as other Iraqi civilians) channeled through Turkey.

Turkey is a compassionate Moslem country that does not want to be responsible for war against its neighbour for regime change or to “liberate” it. It knows the horrors of war first hand, from the carnage of Gallipoli in WW I to that incurred in WW II, and the 37,000 killed in a decade of PKK terrorism following the Gulf war in 1991. Turkey has played its part in the Korean War, and with NATO and UN peacekeeping, and assisting in Afghanistan. Ataturk expressed the caring nature of Turkey regarding the deaths caused in war on a memorial inscription at Gallipoli which reads in part:

“ …You the mothers who sent your sons from far away countries, wipe away your tears; your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace. After having lost their lives on this land, they have become our sons as well.”

I cannot think of a more suitable epitaph for the fallen or their families. Ataturk’s wish for Turkey is expressed in his desire for “Peace at home and peace in the world”.

Thanks to those who gave me feedback about my use of internet café E-mail. It seems to be working OK. The real test will be when I am in some small outport café trying to send from a Turkish computer. As I have had a bit of time the last few days, I have been checking my address lists, and found several inconsistencies, as I have two lists on my Microsoft Outlook, two on my word documents and two on a 3.5” floppy for internet café use. When making any changes, I have to correct all three locations. So, if some of you are receiving this after a long span of time, it is possibly because I had you on a different list. This is the fourth log I have written since the first of March. If you have not received the other three, let me know and I will send them to you. Also as I mentioned in my last log, I do not send attachments; so if you receive one from me unannounced, it may be a hacker trying to piggyback on my address list.

We hope to leave by Wednesday if the weather settles down.

Enjoy this Log #28d Trying to leave Kemer.

All the best,


Log #28d Trying to leave

Kemer, Turkey
April 7, 2003

We are still here at Kemer after an abortive attempt to leave the night of the 5th. There was a low coming through, and we thought we could get ahead of it by leaving at 2145 rather than wait until the morning. Hasan and Faruk (manager and assistant manager {Umut is still off doing his stint with the army}) were there to help us cast off our lines, and Hasan presented us with a Park Kemer pennant as another memento of our home away from home. Pulling out of our slip, several friends were there to see us off, and other boaters, including a couple of gulets, saluted us with a cacophony of their air horns as we wended our way out into the blackness of night.

Outside the harbour the sea was sloppy, but no wind. Around the first headland a mile away the slop got heavier but was manageable, as we could motor through the windless night. However a couple of miles later a light offshore breeze came up, westerly at ten knots and we were heading south. So we unfurled the genoa and motor sailed into the one metre seas. I took the first watch and Judy put her head down as she was already feeling the motion. Then the winds increased gradually up to 20 knots, then 25 gusting to 35 swinging to the south west. We were then pounding into 2 metre waves with force 7 winds. We didn’t need this for our first sail of the season, and so after two hours from leaving I reluctantly decided to return to Kemer. We had planned a 60 mile trip south and south west to Kekova Roads, and that was exactly the direction from which the winds and waves were coming. So around 0200 we quietly snuck back to our slip (with the helpful assistance of the duty boat and a security guard at the dock) and had a quiet sleep for the rest of the night. On the morning on the Kemer radio net we announced our departure and arrival, and the conditions we encountered. As an interesting observation, no one kidded us about our decision to leave or return, but agreed we had made the right decision not to continue.

So, Murphy’s Law is alive and well. We are reading on the Navtex, our weather receiver, that the winds are still from the south and southwest, so we will wait for a couple of days hoping it will change to a more favourable direction, or at least reduce in strength. Also on our Navtex are Notices to Mariners, storm warnings and other navigational considerations or restrictions. We are accustomed to warnings of firing practices near military training areas, but now we are receiving warnings from the US embassy (Special Warning # 121) about warship activity against Iraq by US and coalition forces in the Eastern Med (as well as the Gulf of Oman, Red Sea, Arabian Gulf, Gulf of Aden and the Arabian Sea). We are instructed not to approach any naval vessels and to be prepared to identify ourselves and possibly stopped and boarded for inspections. Failure to do so, or taking any action in which our course which could be interpreted as hostile, could result in defensive measures such as boarding, seizure, or destruction of our vessel. The area we will be sailing is not considered as the Eastern Med.

So in the extra days we will spend here I hope to get out a couple of logs and relax. Since coming back from Canada on Feb. 27th, we have done a lot of maintenance, and no touring, other than Sunday walks and the occasional trip into Antalya for concerts. We enjoy marina life, but it would have been nice to have taken a couple of days off to travel through the mountains instead of always working on the boat. However, Veleda is ready for sea, and I am looking forward to some quiet anchorages without the “hurly burly” of marina life.

Before we left last December, we went up to Cappadocia, a 600 km trip by cheap rental car, a mistake. The car had no air conditioning, which was fine with us, but as we were going through the mountains, we found it had no heater or defroster. We were miserably cold, and of course it was raining. We stopped overnight in Konya, the home of the Sufi sect and the Whirling Dervishes, but continued on early next day to Goreme in the middle of the Cappadocia area. We had a pleasant bed and breakfast at the Walnut Inn for an economical €20.00 per night and hired a guide for the two days for €60.00, using his vehicle to travel around. The scenery there is dramatic as it is on a lava plain that has been eroded over the centuries into fantastic Fairy Chimneys, convoluted gorges, and undulating hillsides bathed in red, ochre and yellow sandstone hues. There is one valley containing narrow tall, black-capped stacks jokingly referred to as “Bill Clinton’s valley” because of their phallic appearance. Another structure has the hump-backed appearance of a camel. Many of the large pyramidal Fairy Chimneys were dug out hundreds of years ago for living quarters, and are still used today. Many caves, storage rooms, and homes have been carved into the valley walls. There are some bed and breakfast pensions which are housed in these structures. Sunsets and sunrises create an intriguing wash of surreal colours and shadows.

Another intriguing tour was through their underground cities. These are elaborate warrens dug between the 6th to 10th Centuries AD to hide from marauding tribes. The word “warrens “ is too simplistic, as these underground cities were subterranean reproductions of the village homes and facilities on the surface. There were storage, cooking and sleeping areas for each family or group of families, as well as larger rooms for school instruction and worship. There were airshafts providing ventilation throughout the tunnels, and underground wells dug, not accessible to the surface. Underneath one surface village there were 19 levels going down over 100 feet. The tunnels had millstones slotted into some of the walls so that if invaders entered the complex, the stones could be rolled into the tunnel blocking it off. These tunnels from one town became linked to others providing an extended network covering miles of underground refuge. Some of these are closer to the surface and are being used today by local residents for storage (great wine cellars).

If we were doing this trip again, we would take a bus or a conducted tour from Kemer; as gas is so expensive bus fare for two would be cheaper than the gas, let alone the car rental.

On our return I wanted to drive down a dirt road to look at some fairy chimneys still used as local residences. When driving slowly around a bend, a small dog ran out and under the car wheels. We felt sick at the thought of running over a dog. We stopped and backed up to find it whimpering with its back legs injured. A local woman came out, extremely upset as it was their house pet. She of course knew no English, but we could understand her distress. We asked her to bring the dog into the car and we drove over to a Veterinary office in the next town. The vet probed, gave it an injection and gave some medication, giving a good prognosis. We paid for the vet, and the medication, and gave the woman some extra money for any other medication needed. When we dropped her off at her home, we hugged and shared our regrets, declining invitations to have tea as we wanted to get back on the road.

The trip back was in better weather, and we were able to make good time. The roads are good, two lane highways with several passing areas going through mountains. On some of the straight stretches across the mountain plateaus, vehicles would speed up to 110 to 120 km per hour even though the speed limit was 90. There were speed traps and we got caught in one. It was the same as back in Canada, with radar traps just below the crest of a hill or around a bend to catch you before you can see them. The police were professional and polite. Other drivers stopped shrugged, the same as back home, acknowledging they got caught, and waited for the ticket to be written out. They could not give me a ticket as I had no way of paying by mail, and as they could not accept cash, I was asked to wait as they called for a car that would be able to accept my payment. However after about ten minutes they waved me off rather than have me wait longer. The fine would have been about 44,000,000 TL or about $50.00 Canadian for doing 114 in a 90 km zone.

At that time the Canadian dollar was worth only 850,000 TL. Recently with the Iraq war and the economic problems facing Turkey, the Turkish Lira has dropped and the Canadian dollar is now worth up to 1,180,000 TL. In November the price of gas was about 1,400,000 TL per litre, and now is up to 1,950,000 TL, or about $1.90 Canadian per liter! The Turkish economy is still fragile, economical for foreign tourists, but expensive for the average Turk.

We rented a car for another day and took a trip up to Antalya to drop off some friends at the airport, then went up into the mountains, over to Finike, then back through the old mountain road to Antalya and returned to Kemer. The old mountain road, little used now except by locals, wended its way along the spine of the Taurus Mountains, giving some fantastic vistas across pine covered valleys, with snow capped summits visible through the afternoon purple haze. We have seen most of the other sites around Kemer, and are getting to the point that another archeological site is not appealing as we have seen so many excellent ones already. Turkey is a treasure trove of ancient ruins dating back to prehistory of the Paleolithic period, then abounds with other influences of the Assyrians, Hittites, Phoenicians, Carians, Lycians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Seljuks, Mongols, Arabs, Genoese, Venetians, Ottomans, and more recently the British, French and Germans.

So we now await better weather in which to leave. We had the final Kemer barbecue last Saturday, an enjoyable final get-together, as several boats are planning to leave as soon as possible. We sung a song done by our Kemer Khorale which is becoming a favourite, sung to the tune of “So long its been good to know you” which I wrote out in Log #28b. As the last line of the refrain says, “It’s a long, long time since we’ve set sail, and we’ve got to be moving along.”