Log #29f The Dardanelles & Gallipoli-2

May 23, 2003 in Log Series 20 - 29, Logs by Series, Series 29 Greek Aegean to Istanbul, The Logs

Cakilkoy, Sea of Marmara,

Kapidag Peninsula, Turkey

May 23, 2003

Hi Folks,

We are in this “rustic” hamlet on the Kapidag Peninsula of the Sea of Marmara as I prepare this log for the floppy disc. I probably will not be able to send it for several days until we get to Istanbul, as we will be in similarly “rustic” villages without internet access or in isolated anchorages until Istanbul. Rustic means more tractors or donkeys than cars. In the case of this community it also means more fishing trawlers than cars, as it is a major port for about 70 of these large ocean going vessels laid up out of season.

In my last log I gave a bit of a geographical description of this part of the world. I had a website suggested to me by a friend in Espanola, Ontario where we used to live, from which a more detailed map of Turkey can be accessed to follow our route. The website is http://www.adiyamanli.orgMapofTurkey/turk_map.htm which I hope I copied correctly. If not, try a “.” after “org”

May 24, 2003

Enroute to Istanbul

Hi Folks,

We are having a quiet day motoring across the southern part of the Sea of Marmara over to the Bozburun Peninsula (Yarimadasi), heading for a small hamlet called Katirli, about 25 miles south of Istanbul. We just passed Imrali Adasi, an island penal colony, and were waved away by the coast guard and told to stay 5 miles off. Our pilot said no such thing, but no problem.

This log gets us out of the Dardanelles, a fascinating and historical area. We will be in Istanbul by the time I am able to send this off, as the small harbours we have been visiting across this sea are too small to have anything like an internet café.

The sailing the past two days has been OK, with several sightings of dolphins who came over to play around Veleda. I have learned to use the movie feature of my new digital camera and have some good footage of them swimming under Veleda’s bow and jumping out of the water. I will summarize our trip across the Sea of Marmara in my next log.

All the best,


Log #29f The Dardanelles & Gallipoli-2

Gelibolu, Gallipoli, Turkey

May20, 2003

40 24.4N, 026 39.9E

We were weathered in Canakkale for a third day of force 7 to 8 northeast winds. The weather forecasts were saying force 2 to 4, maybe 5 – HA! Fortunately the marina here has secure laid moorings, although it is relatively expensive at 20,000,000 TL a day with no amenities. The one (only) shower does not have hot water, and we would have to pay an extra 15,000,000 TL a day for water or for electricity. The attendants do not speak much English. However, it is secure. I was able to send my last log from an internet café in town, and we made the acquaintance of Mehmet Yağiz, a rug dealer who spoke English. He was quite interested in our travels and didn’t even try to sell us a carpet.

We have toured the fort, minelayer and military museum here at Canakkale, the Turkish and French memorials and war graves at Anit Limani where we were anchored a few days ago, the Anzac battlefields and memorials on Gallipoli, and Troy. We have immersed ourselves in the Gallipoli campaign and the history and archeology of ancient Troy.

The trip to Troy, 30 km from Canakkale, was obligatory because it includes the Troy of the ancient of the Homeric epics. The archeological mound contains the remains of ten civilizations which inhabited this strategic location, the Homeric one destroyed by the Greeks using the “Trojan Horse ’’ was the sixth  (VI) level dating from 1700 to 1250 BC. The first level dates from the early Bronze Age, 3000 to 2400 BC, with each successive settlement built upon or modified from the previous. Some were destroyed by fire, others by invading tribes and countries. It originally had access to the entrance to the Dardanelles from a river estuary, making it a strategic location. The estuary has since filled up with fertile farmland, turning it into a productive area. A German entrepreneur/archeologist named Schliemann did many excavations in the late 1800’s extracting many treasures, and not observing sound archeological procedures, possibly limiting future archeological findings. Since then more systematic digs have identified the ten levels and the historical periods with which they were associated. The remains were complicated with walls, ramparts, temples and houses from several periods and the construction methods from those periods. There was a tacky wooden Trojan Horse outside the entrance, far too tall to have ever gotten through any of the gates of the walled town.

The Greek epic by Homer of the Trojan War about the beautiful Helen with the “face that launched a thousand ships” pursued by Paris, and the ruse of the Trojan Horse is generally debunked. There was a Greek war against Troy, but it centered around power politics for control and dominance in the area. The route we will be taking through the Dardanelles, the Sea of Marmara, the Bosphorus and the Black Sea is close to the route of Jason and the Argonauts in his quest for the Golden Fleece (found in what is now Georgia on the east end of the Black Sea).

We finally left Canakkale after 5 days on May 19th at 0510 while it seemed relatively calm with only a force 3 (10 knots) breeze. However after we got around the point, we were encountering force 7 (30 knot) winds, and so decided to cross the lanes over to the down-bound side to get into a bit of a lee on that side of the channel. It worked and we had a bit quieter water, but had to keep altering in towards shore to escape the heavier current only three hundred yards off shore. Our plot charting system came in handy as we used it to identify when we were going into shallows and for the various shoals indicated. When we have this computer generated chart on our laptop linked to our GPS, we see on the monitor, the chart and a dotted course line indicating exactly where we are on the chart and the course we have followed. A great toy! We zigzagged our way the 24 miles up to Gelibolu (40 24.4N, 026 39.9E), arriving after a six hour trip.

Gelibolu, also known as Gallipoli in English, is the town after which the peninsula is named. It is at the beginning of the peninsula where the Dardanelles enter the Sea of Marmara. It is a pleasant small city with a little enclosed fishing harbour in the main part of town. We entered the harbour yesterday, unsure of whether we could get any space inside or whether there was enough space inside to turn around to get out. As it was, there was room alongside the sea wall of the restaurant immediately to the left as we entered, and a waiter and the chef beckoned us alongside. It was a well protected spot, right in the middle of town, with a view of the Piri Reis (a famous Turkish cartographer who made one of the earliest maps of the Americas around the time of Columbus) Museum and the platform where the Ataturk festivities were to take place that evening. It was a holiday commemorating Ataturk’s return to Anatolia at Samsun on May 19th, 1919 to establish the new state of Turkey and the Grand National Assembly in Ankara from the ashes from the decrepit Ottoman government in Istanbul, and to oppose the invasions of the Greeks (whose army was in Smyrna) and the occupation of other parts of Turkey by the British and the French. So, we dressed ship overall, including a large Turkish flag we flew from the masthead. A few hours later, Jean Andrews and her partner Bill in Okaliptus, came and rafted alongside of us. There was enjoyable folk music, singing and dancing that evening. We had many people come over to look at our boat with all our flags flying.

The opposite side of the peninsula was where the Turks expected the attack to take place in 1915, as, had it been successful, the entire peninsula would have been cut off, thus allowing the navy to force their ships through the Dardanelles. However, this was not to be. After the initial invasion by the Anzacs and the French and British on April 25th as mentioned in my last log, it became stalemated trench warfare with attack and counterattack until another large landing of British and Indian troops in August at Suvla Bay. This offensive was no more successful, and only extended the trench lines a few more miles along the coast of Gallipoli. The British then considered withdrawal, but were concerned that up to 50% of their forces could be killed in such an evacuation. In the fall, casualties were far fewer as both sides seemed to be aware of the futility of the situation, and the soldiers just wanted to get out alive, and not take unnecessary chances.

The evacuation took place for the Anzacs by December 20th from the area of Anzac Cove and for the British at Cape Helles by January 6th. The allies tried various ways to conceal their withdrawal, and not a single life was lost in the evacuation. There is some dispute whether it was just the covert stealthy evacuation procedures that resulted in such a successful withdrawal. Considering some of the informal communications between the opposing trenches, in some cases only 20 metres apart, and the fact that the Turks occupied the high ground and had view of and could have shelled the evacuation beaches, I agree with some of the documentation suggesting that the Turks were aware, but did not press their advantage. They took the “live and let live” attitude, that they had done their duty to successfully protect their country, could go home, and similarly would let the Anzacs go home. Unfortunately many of the Anzacs then found themselves in the even worse killing fields of France. The mutual respect these foes had for one another continued after the war, and is evident all over the battlefields and monuments and commemorative activities each year. There is a monument of a Turkish soldier taking a wounded Australian to the Australian lines, with a first hand account of the situation by an Australian officer, First Lieutenant Casey, who later became Australia’s Governor General from 1967 to 1971. For me one of the most moving tributes was made in an epitaph by Ataturk on one monument. It said:

Those heroes that shed their blood

And lost their lives…

You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country.

Therefore rest in peace,

There is no difference between the Johnnies

And the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side

Here in this country of ours…

You, the mothers,

Who sent their sons from far away countries,

Wipe away your tears;

Your sons are now lying in our bosom

And are at peace.

After having lost their lives on this land

They have become our sons as well.

Each side had about 500,000 troops involved in the 10 month campaign. The casualty rates were about equal with the Turks suffering more.

The Turks losses were: Killed – 55,127, died of disease – 21,298, missing – 10,067, wounded – 100,000, evacuated sick – 64,440. The allied losses were: Killed – 52,249, wounded – 156,040, and evacuated sick 12, 293.

As I write this, we are at anchor off Gelibolu, at the north east end of the Dardanelles, having returned after leaving three hours ago. The winds were 25 knots on the nose with 1½ metre waves as we made our way out of the Dardanelles into the Sea of Marmara. We still had 30 miles to go into that mess, and so decided to return to Gelibolu. I am getting tired of these horrible wind conditions! We have been pounding into 20 knots plus winds from northwest to northeast for over two weeks now, having been weathered in at Mytilini for two days and in Canakkale for three days, and now here in Gelibolu for I don’t know how long. To enter the Sea of Marmara, we have to go northeast, and that is the direction the wind howls down the curvature of the sea coast. In the month and a half since leaving Kemer, we have sailed for less than 6 hours but motored for over 140 hours for a distance of 640 nautical miles. I’m looking forward to getting out of the Aegean in the fall, but trying to go west out of the Med next year is also against the prevailing winds! One thought we have had is not to go out all the way out through Gibraltar, but to go up the Canal du Midi from the Gulf de Lyon which empties out on the Biscay coast of France. Then we would spend the season sailing with the predominant Atlantic coast northerly winds down the Spanish and Portuguese coasts to the Canaries and then across to the Caribbean. Maybe?

The Dardanelles is fantastically busy. Ten to twelve ships per hour will pass any given point on the channel. When we turned around this morning to come back to Gelibolu we had already crossed the channel into the up-bound lane, and now had to go back across the down-bound. When we turned, we had to watch out for an up-bound ship. To cross well ahead of him we unfurled the genoa as we were now going downwind with a 25 knot “breeze”. Once clear of his bow we then had to anticipate the movement of five down-bound ships entering the channel. A group of three of them was slowly overtaking our downwind course, and I did not want to try to cross ahead of or between them, as there was less than 500 meters between each. To make my intentions clear, we hardened on, altering our course upwind to point close hauled on a reciprocal course to them. Then as the third ship was passing abeam, we altered course downwind again to get across well ahead of the last two. It was great sailing downwind for a change. Upwind under engine we were pounding into 25 to 30 knot winds and 1½ metre waves at 3.0 knots, whereas downwind we were bombing along at over 7.0 knots! After getting clear of that gaggle of ships, we were outside the down-bound lanes and didn’t have to worry about them any more. The bay just north of Gelibolu, recommended as an anchorage in the pilot, was not well sheltered, as a military pier and buoyed area in the northern part is now in place and the rest of the bay was exposed to wind and swells. Rather than go alongside the restaurant in town, we elected to anchor in the southern bay, a wide exposed bay, but sheltered by the town.

It was a quiet afternoon and evening at anchor. I took Sprite a mile or so down the wide bay to a partially submerged wreck. It had just its after superstructure, a couple of masts and the bow section above water. Had it been a quieter day and warmer, I would have tied Sprite off and snorkeled around it. The weather calmed down overnight causing us to venture out by 0600 in the morning, against the wind, but smaller waves and only 15 knots against us. We had another intriguing time crossing the traffic separation lanes, reminding me of my navy cadet days with rel vel (relative velocity) problems to overtake or intercept ships, except this time it was to avoid them. It was — interesting.

By 0845 we were again slogging into force 6 (25 knot) winds and one metre seas; however the sight of a school of dolphins compensated for the heavy weather as we watched them frolic in the tumbling waves. Because of the upwind slog again today, we decided to alter our destination to another community called Kemer, but this one on the Sea of Marmara. We anchored north of the fishing harbour which was full of local boats and larger trawlers in the lee of the headland. At the headland we saw a fisherman tending his nets, but out to sea from him we could see seagulls circling around the calm waters. Then we noticed ripples on the surface as several dolphins surfaced, feeding, and the gulls looking for the leftovers. We watched this spectacle for a half hour as we too had our lunch. In the early afternoon we took Sprite up the local stream under the bridge where several fishing boats were docked alongside.

However we continued upstream a mile or so into an idyllic marshland area, high reeds and wildflowers adorning the banks, hundreds of turtles scurrying from the sun-dried shores into the water as we passed by, fish darting at fantastic speeds to escape our slow progress. We turned the engine off and silently drifted back downstream, stealthily paddling to observe the many turtles and frogs in the mossy green shallows, and taking several pictures of the more adventuresome who stayed on or near the surface to watch our silent passing. We saw a couple of graceful white egrets flying calmly above the marsh, but we were startled by a sudden fluttering, as a brown, speckled, crow-sized bird with white patches on the undersides of its wings took flight out of the reeds across the stream to disappear in another dense patch of reeds. When we went over to investigate we saw no sign of it, and it did not take flight from its new hiding place. Looking it up in our bird book later we discovered it was a least bittern, a member of the heron family. Back in Canada we would expect to have seen redwing black birds in a marsh area such as this, but not here apparently. After stopping off at the sleepy town for a few supplies we returned to Veleda.

The winds outside seemed to have subsided and I suggested that we consider going on, with the promise if it was still heavy out there, we would return. The winds were light and no sea was opposing us for a change, so we continued on another 20 miles to our original destination of Karabiga (40 24.1N, 027 18.4E) further into the Sea of Marmara for a total distance of 40 miles that day.