Log #30c To Amasra and Ankara (and Ataturk)

July 29, 2003 in Log Series 30-39, Logs by Series, Series 30 Bosporus & The Black Sea, The Logs

Toronto, Canada

July 29, 2003

Hi Folks,

I finally got around to completing this log, although it is sidetracked a bit by my account of the role of Ataturk when we were visiting the Ataturk Mausoleum in Ankara.

Judy’s mother is still holding on, and our spirits go up and down with her progress or setbacks. She is bedridden now, and tires very easily. However she still likes to see all her friends with whom she has shared her life. The house is busy every day with ten or twenty visitors per day, for up to 12 hours hours between 0900 and 2100, plus phone calls on the two incoming lines. Her social calendar is keeping us quite busy. She is so weakened now I have to help her onto the commode. We refer to the process as our “dance”. We feel better when she is feeling good and down when she’s feeling discomfort. I am impressed by the palliative care provided by the local hospital included in the health care system here in Canada and Ontario. I hope to give a more detailed account of this aspect of our life away from cruising for those of you who might be interested. I will not make a whole log on it, but will report our experiences as our situation unfolds. We see this as a labour of love, and are privileged to be able to help her mom and dad at this time. Judy’s two sisters live thousands of miles away (Florida and Paris) and have their careers and families to take care of. They have been home for periods of time, but cannot put their lives on hold for an indefinite period of time as Judy and I can.

Doing the logs returns me to Veleda and our cruising life on the Black Sea. If you have any questions or comments about the cruising life, Turkey, the Black Sea, or the political situations through which we have passed, please do not hesitate to communicate with me. As I may turn my logs into books or magazine articles, your comments on what you found most interesting and enjoyable about them would be appreciated.

I did get out for a race and barbecue at the Royal Canadian Yacht Club a couple of weeks ago on a friend’s Nonsuch. However after we got to the start line, the race was cancelled due to lack of wind. The party afterwards was enjoyable, and my presence was acknowledged as a cruiser returned home and the writer of Pearls from Veleda’s Logs which appear regularly in GAM, an Ontario sailing magazine, and I was presented with a beer mug fro the RCYC. Thanks Doug Caldwell.

All the best,


Log #30c To Amasra and Ankara (and Ataturk)

Toronto, Canada

July 11th, 2003

Leaving Ereğli June 14th, we motored 20 miles to a supposedly sheltered bay at Değirmenağzi Koyu (41 25.5N, 031 43.2E) where we anchored off a popular beach between the rocky headlands. I went in for a bit of a swim, and to inspect the amount of seaweed and barnacle growth on our hull. The barnacles are not as bad as the growth we had when we came into the eastern Med two years ago, but the sea grass was rampant. This amount of growth on the hull would cut our speed by a knot (about 20%). Judy cropped the grass while at anchor in Sile a week ago when I was back in Canada that week, and it has grown back since. The conditions in the Black Sea must be conducive to such growth, as there was no sign of such when we set off from Kemer in early April. I also noticed the lower level of salinity, as I was not as buoyant in the water. Later in the afternoon a young man swam over and we invited him on board for a rest, and had a bit of a conversation with him, even though he spoke no English. Several other swimmers and boaters also came by and waved to us.

However, by the evening, the beach was deserted and we had the cove to ourselves. The waves made it quite rolly and we considered motoring the few miles up to Zonguldak, the nearby city and anchoring in its harbour. It is an industrial city that eclipsed Ereğli as the main coal centre, and became the “provincial” capital. Judy, based on the information in the pilot book, did not think the harbour would be attractive, and so we stayed and rolled all night, leaving at 0435 next morning as we were not sleeping anyways. This is a characteristic we have noted in the Black Sea, even though there may not be much wind, there is always a pronounced swell from whatever last direction the wind has blown. This is one of the reasons that even if we are motoring into the wind, we will have the main or genoa up as a steadying sail to reduce the roll.

We nosed into the Bartin River by late morning, hoping the overhead wires were removed or high enough for us to get under. No luck. So we proceeded eastwards and explored the new but incomplete harbour of Taraağzi Koyu (41 43.48N, 032 20.56E at the entrance). It had active construction going on, and the harbour walls very high and secure. We entered and circled the harbour noting depths of 25 feet (8 metres) at the entrance and mid harbour, with 15 feet (4 metres) alongside the couple of completed walls. There were no moorings laid, no finger docks, no shore bollards or fastening cleats in place yet.  It was used by a few fishing boats, and looked as if it would provide a good shelter of refuge to anchor mid harbour. There is no town or other development other than one complex under construction a half mile (1 kilometre) away. Otherwise it seems to be out in the middle of nowhere.

By early afternoon we were in Amasra (41 44.9N, 032 23.5E) and alongside Prima, the German boat we have been encountering periodically since Canakkale on the Dardanelles.  We enjoyed the town, with its sandy beach ringing the shoreline of the well sheltered harbour between the fishing docks where we were and the coast guard base on the far side. There is a large concrete area around the fishing docks, lined with restaurants and kiosks, providing a nice strolling and recreational area for the townspeople. The town is situated on an isthmus, with the old castle and walled fortifications still sheltering many inhabited buildings and homes, rising above the fishing docks. On the other side of the isthmus is a small well sheltered natural bay facing west, and providing a view of some lovely sunsets from the town park and promenade on that side. Amasra is a large enough town to have good provisions, markets, internet cafes, some nice hotels and restaurants, and good dolmus and bus services inland. I was even able to buy a Turkish Daily News English language newspaper there.

We found the people friendly, with one young lady from a beach side hotel escorting us through town to show us where the internet café, bus station, showers, and market areas were. Another gentleman from a dockside fish restaurant came over to actually look for us, as he was given the name of our boat by Eagle’s Nest (a British boat we met on the Sea of Marmara) who were here a few days earlier and said we would be by shortly. We had tea and a plate of deep fried mussels with him (for which he would not allow us to pay) at his restaurant, and he indicated if we needed anything to let him know.

The reason we were looking for the bus station was to take a trip to Ankara, the capital of Turkey. We took a local bus at 9:30 next morning into Bartin, and from there a coach to Ankara. The trip took about seven hours with a one hour wait in Bartin and a half hour restaurant stop halfway. Their coach buses are comfortable, with reclining seats, and airplane-type drop-down tables for beverages and snacks served enroute. Another courtesy offered on board, and in some restaurants and even a few businesses, is a sprinkling of a lemon scented cologne on the hands to refresh hands and face.

The scenery through the mountains was spectacular. The slopes were green with lush foliage of both deciduous and coniferous trees, and several valleys with their mountain streams sparkling up from rocky gorges reminded me of the Rockies in British Columbia. This is one of the contrasts of the Black Sea coast, as it has a more lush landscape, whereas the south and Aegean coasts of Turkey are more rocky with scrub vegetation, olive trees and pine forests. The last half of the trip was on a high central plateau leading into Ankara. I am impressed with the amount of new construction taking place. The suburbs of Ankara were dotted with new home developments and large good looking apartment towers. However, I observe that landscape architecture leaves much to be desired. There are modern balconied apartment buildings sitting out in the middle of barren garbage-strewn fields with no sidewalks and only dusty streets or trails leading to the more major, well paved roads. Turkey’s population is over 63,000,000 and expanding, requiring more housing for their young people. When the Turkish republic was established in 1923, the population was only about 24,000,000. Large and extended families and family life are important values for this Islamic society.

From the bus station, a large modern one, we took the subway into downtown Ankara where we walked over to the Ataturk mausoleum. Very impressive! Ataturk is the George Washington, the Lenin, the Napoleon, of Turkey, but in my humble opinion far greater than any of them for what he accomplished for his country. The changes he effected in Turkey, the defenses he successfully conducted to save his country, the legacies he left for Turkey, bringing it out of the ashes of the defunct Ottoman Empire to establish a peaceful, modern, democratic, secular, western oriented republic – are greater than those of Washington, Lenin, or Napoleon. His wars were fought for the establishment and protection of Turkey – from the Gallipoli Campaign defeating the French, British, Indians and Anzacs in WW I, to the expulsion of the Russians, Armenians and Greeks (not to mention the other mandate powers after WW I, Britain, France and Italy) attempting to take over significant regions of Anatolia. His wars were not of aggression, but of establishment and defense of Turkey.

As it was, he and Turkey were short changed by the western powers (Britain, France, and Italy) of the Dodecanese and other offshore Aegean Islands which were awarded to Greece after WW I. I have mentioned in earlier logs the injustice to Turkey of the Aegean islands given to Greece which lay within the arms of Turkish peninsulas, and which geographically should have been Turkish (Samos, Agathonisi, Farmako, Lesvos, Simi, Kastellorizon), as these and other Aegean Islands such as Kos, Rhodes and even Cyprus for that matter, lie far closer to the Turkish coast than to the Greek coast. It would be analogous to the US having Anticosti Island, all of the Thousand Islands of the St. Lawrence River, Prince Edward County, and Manitoulin Island (not to mention that the US has Isle Royale which is closer to Canada and the Alaskan Panhandle of the B.C. coast) as well as the Queen Charlotte Islands and Vancouver Island, including the Gulf Islands. This geographical anomaly severely limits Turkish coastal waters, fishing rights, and airspace, creating ongoing friction between Turkey and Greece.

Ataturk, born in 1881, not only led the War of Independence (from May 15, 1919 during the occupation of Izmir by the Greeks to the signing of the Lausanne Agreement July 24, 1923), to establish the state (October 1923) and borders of modern Turkey, but changed the culture from an Islamic dominated, Arabic oriented defunct Ottoman remnant to a western oriented, secular, democratic, republic. He changed the capital from Istanbul to Ankara (1923), changed the alphabet (1928), and to some extent altered the Turkish language from Arabic script to a Latinized alphabet, removed education from the Islamic mosque based medrassas to state supported schools (1924), banned polygamy, banned the fez and headscarves (symbols of a religious dominated state) from public institutions, eliminated the titles and roles of Sultans (1922), Caliphs (1924), Pashas and other titles to democratic republican functions, liberalized and westernized dress styles (1925), gave women far more equality (1926) and the vote (1934), accepted international time and calendar (1925), and metric measures (1931), established the use and laws for surnames (1934) and set the stage for his goal of peace at home and peace in the world before his death November 10, 1938. To this day there are not only busts and statues of Ataturk in memorial parks in every small town and city, but most businesses and offices have pictures of Ataturk, his penetrating stare overlooking and reminding workers and customers of his legacy.

The army is still loyal to his ideals, and sees one of its roles as defending the constitution (not necessarily the government) especially to maintain the separation of mosque and state. The term “Kemalism” refers to his program to westernize Turkey, and bring it into the modern developed world. His name was Mustafa Kemal, and he was given the name Ataturk, meaning Father of the Turks, or of Turkey. Last fall when the AK party looked likely to win the election (which it did with a majority), I asked a few Turks about concerns that the party was formerly an Islamist party banned until it changed its name and intentions, and would its election lead to an Islamic state. The response I got was that the citizens were voting for good government as the last government was suffering from many corruption scandals. The sentiment was, if the AK party went too close to Islam the army would take care of them, as indeed it has done on a few previous occasions, taking over the government and handing it back to the people a couple of years later. The greatness of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk is still guiding Turkish development, an ambivalent fulfillment of which would be incorporation into the EU. This latter development still remains to be seen, if Turkey can: overcome the prejudices of some European (read Christian) politicians, allow establishment of human rights that will not open the door to an Islamic takeover, and foster resolution of the Cyprus issue, especially now that Cyprus has been incorporated into the EU.

The Mausoleum for Ataturk is a fitting historical memorial to this great man. It is not one of Baroque deification, as is Napoleon’s tomb in Paris, but of flat roofed square colonnades around a large rectangular plaza, expressing reverence for him, and incorporating an extremely interesting museum depicting his life and achievements which correspond to the developmental history of modern Turkey from WW I to his death in 1938.

More about the Mausoleum and Ankara in my next log, as we resume our voyage across the Black Sea coast of Turkey.