We really love this life and here in Turkey, where we have met the kindest, warmest and most generous people. We have been here in Finike Marina, spending the cold winter months along with dozens of other long-term cruisers. This is the time to take trips home or prepare the boat for the next cruising season. However, now spring is here and bringing the warm weather we have all been waiting for so we can move on to our next destinations.
Where to next?
The Northern Hemisphere summer season ( mainly June, July and August) lures tourists from all over the world. Huge fleets of charter yachts and cruise ships bring thousands of visitors to all the famous, charming destinations in the Mediterranean. For those of us lucky enough to live on board all year, we try to find more secluded anchorages during the summer and enjoy the more popular spots in spring and autumn, when it is less crowded.
Apart from watching the weather patterns unique to each part of the Med, there are Greek cruising permits, vessel documentation forms, courtesy flags and insurance documents to take care of. Rules about discharge of black and grey waste water also varies from port to port, country to country along with requirements for sailing qualifications.
There is much information on line, specific Face Book groups give current up dated information, but these cruising guides, written by fellow cruisers, give us very valuable, detailed information about each port and anchorage.
However, the freedom of cruising that we both enjoyed thirty and forty years ago has changed a lot over the years. For visiting yachts to the Mediterranean, the Schengen Agreement has been a game changer. We now have to play the “Schengen Shuffle”.
The Schengen Agreement.
In 1985, an agreement was signed to try to achieve a Europe without borders. This means that members can travel freely without visas between countries. However, for those travelling on a non-EU passport, travel is restricted to only 90 days out of 180 days in any Schengen area. There are now 27 member countries, many of which border the Mediterranean.
So how does this affect us?
Looking at the coming year for us, our current goal to be in the Canary Islands by January 2024, in order to cross the Atlantic in February, which is a good time to do this. So, we need to be in Gibraltar, or possibly Morocco, by the end of this year.
As soon as we enter Greece in May this year, our Schengen 90-day clock begins to tick. In the following 180days, we will have only 90 days to visit Schengen countries and therefore must spend the other 90 days somewhere non-Schengen. Between here and Gibraltar, there are only 4 non-Schengen countries in the Med, not counting Turkey. They are Albania, Montenegro, Tunisia and Morocco. So, if we leave Turkey in May, we can spend six weeks in Greece (Schengen), then go to Albania and Montenegro (non-Schengen) for six weeks. That still leaves us six weeks to visit Italy (Schengen) before we must head to Tunisia (non-Schengen) and arriving there about September. Algeria is also non-Schengen, but it is very difficult to cruise along that coast with no natural harbours.
We would love to continue westward, visiting Sardinia, Corsica, France, the Balearic Islands, and Spain before going to Gibraltar, but these are all Schengen countries, and we would need to wait until November (the end of our 180 days since entering Greece), which is too late in the season to do this. Maybe next time!
2023 Earthquake in Turkey and Syria
On the 6th of February, this year, the world heard about the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that shook eastern Turkey and Syria. The Turkish people were in shock, as were the rest of the us, in seeing the horrific images shown on televisions around the world. As I write this there have been nearly 50,000 confirmed deaths and searchers are still digging through the piles of rubble. Plus, there are half a million people who are homeless.
We had visited this region of Turkey just 3 months ago, but thankfully, we were safely on board Mai Tai, in Finike, 1000 kms to the west, when the earthquake struck. We were not affected, nor was there any warning of a tsunami. However, we joined the community here in Finike, who rallied together to collect donations of anything that could help the homeless in eastern Turkey. Food, bottled water, warm clothing, blankets, mattresses, and other generous donations poured in.
We have made the most of our time wintering over in Turkey, taking road trips to the fascinating archaeological sites, many of which have been destroyed by other strong earthquakes throughout history. We are always amazed at how much the archaeologists have been able to restore at these ancient sites. It makes our many hours of wandering through these long forgotten cities come alive with visions of what it was like to actually live there.
One of these sites was Hierapolis, an ancient Roman spa city founded around 190 BC, situated above the famous travertine terraces of Pamukkale.
The Roman theatre was originally built in the 2nd century BC, under Emperor Hadrian. Over the centuries the city of Hierapolis has been hit by several earthquakes, but the theatre withstood the tremors due to the strength of the vaulted passages underneath.
Hierapolis was built above the Travertine terraces of Pamukkale so that the people could enjoy the benefits of the thermal pools.
The Terrasses were formed by water from deep in the earth that is heated by volcanic lava and spews forth down the steep hillside of Pamukkale. The deposit is called travertine, a sedimentary rock deposited by the mineral water from the hot springs.
When I visited here in 1974, water was pouring freely in floods over the cliffs, but today much of the warm, calcium rich water has been diverted to other uses.
We are constantly in awe as we see what has survived over the millennia despite the constant upheavals, political and natural, in this huge country. Antalya was founded 2 millennia ago because of its good harbour. It became a major Mediterranean port of Asia Minor in Roman times.
Just 15kms from Antalya is the ancient city of Perge. Perge was originally an ancient Lycian settlement, that later became a Greek city in Pamphylia. Each of these cities also has a theatre, some with a sports arena and Agora, or business centre.
The streets were once lined with huge marble columns and spectacular statues of emperors, empresses and other prominent political figures. The majority of these are now housed in the Antalya Archaeological Museum.
Aphrodisias, is an ancient city dedicated to Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of beauty and love.
The Stadium was the most impressive we have seen. It measures 262 metres long, 60m wide and seating for 30,000 spectators. See the 3 people in the centre of the image. I wonder what games the Romans played here 2500 years ago.
The cruising life, wintering over in Finike, Turkey
A large number of long-term cruisers from all over the world use Finike Marina as their base over the winter months in the Med. Firstly, it is non Schengen. Secondly, the town is not too touristy and has almost everything we need within walking distance from the Marina. We have formed a real community here, enjoying weekly bbqs, yoga and keep fit classes, game days, book exchanges, birthday parties and all the time preparing ourselves and our boats for our next season of cruising.
Even hail on the boats a few times during our winter here. But we were very cosy with our awning that fully encloses the cockpit, and a heater keeping us warm inside.
Every Saturday we wander down to the fabulous weekly local market, with absolutely everything you could wish for. Nuts, dried fruits, olives, cheeses, eggs, locally made honey, fresh fish, and the freshest of every vegetable and herb imaginable.
Sometimes we will organise walks and excursions to nearby sites.
Or to the Turkish Hammam. A wonderful treat, but no pics, sorry.
Lane and I went to the local hospital for a general medical check-up. Luckily, we are both healthy, but the efficiency we found at the hospital and the level of medical care was excellent. I have also managed to update our medical kit. Most of our medicines on board were out-dated. I guess that is a good thing that we haven’t needed any since we left NZ five years ago.
It has been over six years since Lane has seen a dentist and three years ago, while in Indonesia, he broke a tooth off while eating popcorn. Finally, while here in Finike, he was able to see a dentist and get a crown over the broken tooth. He actually ended up getting a total of three crowns and three very old amalgam fillings replaced.
I ended up having a total redo of my mouth as well. Full clean and all my amalgam fillings removed and replaced with either new fillings or crowns, where necessary. All this for less than a simple consultation might have cost back in NZ.
Not only that, but our dentist, Brindusa (Brenda), would shower us with gift baskets full of fresh fruits and vegetables from her family’s orchard, each time we visited her. We were also invited to have lunch at her lovely home amongst the orange trees. Many of us cruisers from the marina have been under her professional care.
Finike is famous for its amazingly sweet oranges which are distributed all over Turkey and Europe. We have never tasted oranges so sweet.
We were then taken to their co-op orange packing plant, where the oranges are sorted and packed before being trucked to their destination.
Our “to do” list, as follows, is now almost complete:
We have been working through the winter on Mai Tai to make her ready for the coming sailing season. This is the first long stop we have made since leaving New Zealand five years ago. There was much to do but we are almost finished now. Here is our list:
inspect rigging, re-place topping lift, new jib pole, several small sail repairs, engine oil change, water filters for the water maker, re-grease all 11 winches, fill diesel tanks, fill LPG bottles, re-place running rigging, replace water maker high pressure pump, fix the anchor winch chain peeler, repair the leak in the freshwater supply line, replace the blackwater tank for the toilet, replace the coolant pump on the diesel engine, re-stitch and patch canvas covers as necessary, change the engine transmission oil, replace the broken depth sounder, service both outboard motors for our dinghy, re-seal the chain plates at the deck, re-place the whole refrigeration system, remove the hot water heater and maintenance on the Fleming windvane steering gear.
Checking all equipment: fire extinguishers, life raft, flares, hand held VHF radio, etc.
No matter what you think, this cruising life is not all fun and games and road trips. There are so many things we have to keep abreast of at all times. We are nomads, living in a mostly wonderful and beautiful world. However, we must always be ready for anything to happen and can only rely on our own preparedness, vigilance and experience to successfully continue in our goal of exploring this amazing world. During our voyage we have been locked down through the Covid pandemic on a remote island in Indonesia. Later, in our travels in the Red Sea, we arrived in North Sudan during the country’s military coup and recently, while in Turkey, they had a 7.8 earthquake hit less than 500 kilometres from us. We monitor a world-wide tsunami alert app to help us keep aware of any current risks but we never really know what will come tomorrow. We have been lucky so far!
So, are we are ready to go?
You might think this is a crazy way to live and wonder why we do it when we could be safely at home in front of the TV or on a golf course somewhere. There is a quote in the book INTO THE WILD by Jon Krakauer that answers this question well for us I think:
“So many people live within unhappy circumstances and yet will not take the initiative to change their situation because they are conditioned to a life of security, conformity and conservatism, all of which may appear to give one peace of mind, but in reality nothing is more dangerous to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future. The very basic core of a man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun.”