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Grey Pearl/
Autumn Wind

Eastern Mediterranean Yacht Rally
"Grey Pearl"
"Autumn Wind" 62-17

It's been nearly two years since the Nordhavn Atlantic Rally (link to NAR section) disbanded in Gibraltar. Yet, most of the Nordhavns that participated in the event stuck together to travel throughout Europe. Now two of those boats, Autumn Wind and Grey Pearl, are participating in another rally: the Eastern Mediterranean Yacht Rally (EMYR). Crews from four of the NAR boats have joined together to take part on the six-country tour of the eastern Med and they'll be updating us of their travels along the way.

May 31, 2006 - Departure from Syria
From Wayne Davis on board Autumn Wind

While in Syria, we logged over 1800 kilometers in a coach seeing the best sights Syria had to offer with the aid of a personable and knowledgeable tour guide who was a strong ambassador for his country. We left with a much better understanding of Syria’s world situation and positive memories of our interactions with very friendly and warm Syrian people. Unfortunately, the majority of the fleet also left Syria with diarrhea and lower intestinal symptoms that would stay with us for some time. We departed at 19:00 hours.

May 30, 2006 - Aleppo, Syria
From Wayne Davis on board Autumn Wind

Road to Bagdad taken on our way to Damascus, Syria.
Road to Bagdad taken on our way to Damascus, Syria.

We spent a day visiting the old city, another very impressive castle and enjoyed the best lunch we have had in Syria, served in a beautiful old stone home in the Armenian district. Tomorrow it's off to Jounieh, Lebanon

The 28th and 29th were spent on a two-day tour to Damascus. Krak des Chevaliers is the most awesome castle we have ever seen. DE Lawrence simply called it “the finest castle in the world.” The original castle was built in 1031 but the impressive structure that exists today (looking much as it did 800 years ago) was built by the Crusader knights around the middle of the 12 century. Despite repeated attacks and sieges, the castle held firm; it was never breeched. The Crusaders finally gave it up in 1271 to Beybars, the great Muslim warlord, in exchange for safe passage. The exterior wall has 13 towers and a main entrance. A moat dug from solid rock separates the inner and outer walls. It was designed to accommodate a garrison of 2000 and withstand a 5 year siege.

Syria’s capital city, Damascus, claims to be the world's longest continuously inhabited city, dating back over 4000 years. It was a critical link in ancient trade routes and prospered because of its location in a valley between the mountains and the Syrian Desert. Saul became St. Paul on the road to Damascus according to the Bible and there is a church and other religious monuments to St. Paul in the city. We toured the Bazaar (souk), visited the street called Straight, and toured the very impressive Mosque of the Umayyads (the great mosque). The mausoleum of Saladin is on the grounds surrounding the Mosque of the Umayyads and the mosque contains an enclosure that is believed to contain the head of John the Baptist. Huge, intricate, impressive and bustling with activity is how I would describe this mosque. All women in the rally were required to be fully covered in special prayer garments and the gentlemen with shorts were required to wear skirts or robes to be covered. Oh, did I mention that the temperature on the day we visited was 41 degrees C? That translates to about 106 degrees F.

Palmyra is called the queen of the desert, this ancient trade route city is located on the Silk Road at an oasis. It was an important and very wealthy city until its destruction in 745 AD. The scale of the city ruins is impressive and includes a colonnade that stretches for 1.6 km with huge columns on each side of the road. Temples, markets, tombs and living spaces are in sufficiently good condition that we really got a feel for the city and the way the people lived.

May 30, 2006 Latakia, Syria
From Tina Jones on board Grey Pearl

Two weeks, 6 stops, 3 countries (1 Republic) and one crew change since I last wrote two weeks ago...this Eastern Med. Rally has kept us movin'!

Some recent highlights from our journey to date:

Alanya, Turkey - In 44 BC, Mark Anthony gave this city to Cleopatra as a gift. As romantic as this may sound, there was a practical reason for his choice (aren't men predictable?!). The area around the city was an important timber producing center and Cleopatra needed to build up her wooden ship Navy - security important even in their day. Today, Alanya is a popular Mediterranean resort destination and is considered to be the "Riviera" of the Turkish coast. We couldn't agree more.

Girne, Turkish Republic of N.Cyprus, Cyprus being the third largest island in the Med after Sicily and Sardinia. Due to its strategic location, Cyprus has been occupied by everyone from Phoenicians to Persians, to Knights Templar, to French and British just to name a few.

In 1975 Cyprus was partitioned into the Turkish Federated State of Cyprus in the north and the Republic of Cyprus in the south, after the occupation of the north by the Turks in 1974. The north side contains the Turks and the south, Greek speaking nationals. A UN peace keeping force overseas the border between northern and southern Cyprus. Heavy military presence (but, oddly friendly) was noted around the commercial port where we were berthed. Most of the remaining rally boats were berthed in the old harbor beneath the magnificent Girne Crusader castle, where another reception was held in our honor. The 11th century Salamis ruins were worth the visit. In spite of many natural catastrophes (mostly earthquakes) there are fine examples of hot water bathes, an aqueduct, mosaics, latrines, a theater and amphitheater still standing.

Mersin, Turkey - Crew change - thanks Teri & Scott for all your help - we so enjoyed your company! My mother, Maralee, my Aunt June and cousin, Lorna - all seasoned mates aboard the 'Grey Pearl' blew in to join us for the rest of the rally. Many here are wondering how Braun managed an "all female crew" matter, he knows now...he's totally outnumbered :) Their timing was good as the evening of their arrival another lovely cocktail reception and dinner held by the chamber of shipping and attended by the mayor and the governor. Later that evening we were entertained by native Turkish dancers followed by a dj that was stuck on 70's American music (disco)...go figure.

The last several ports have required overnight passages as our groups of boats (larger boats) are expected for the earliest arrival at the next port of call. Running at night can be challenging in itself but, imagine cruising with 75 boats all jockeying for the same rumb line. The radar often looks like a kid with a bad case of the measles! Bottom line, Braun & I are enjoying the experience of a lifetime...visiting places we'd have never otherwise come on our own, enjoying the wealth of antiquities present in this part of the world that you read (history & Bible) about when you were a kid and meeting quite a set of international characters to boot!

We arrived this morning into Syria. I was thrilled that during my watch (3am-6am) I was required to hail the Syrian Navy, identify ourselves and announce we were about to "enter Syrian territorial waters"...not so bad...I'm still here to report about it! Anyways, we leave early tomorrow for a two-day journey to Damascus, Palmyra and Krak Des Chevaliers Castle...two out of three World Heritage sites. Stay tuned!

May 27, 2006 Ugarit, Turkey
From Wayne Davis on board Autumn Wind

Ugarit-According to the guide, Ugarit is possibly the oldest city ever unearthed with artifacts dating back to 7500 BC. This is the city where the first alphabet was found recorded on small clay tablets. Prior civilizations had used cuneiforms and hieroglyphics but the Ugarit alphabet contained 30 letters and each letter represented a phonetic sound rather than an object. Thus, words were composed of assembled letters. According to our guide, it was the basis for Latin, Greek and all modern languages. Ugarit was also allegedly the site where the first musical notes were transcribed. Saladin’s Citadel (Sakag Eddin)- This citadel (walled city) was held by the Phoenicians, Byzantines and Crusaders. It was the furthest East in a series of Crusader’s fortresses. Huge and impressive, it was designed to withstand a 3-year siege. The story of its fall to Saladin (a great Moslem warrior) in 1188 is a story of deception rather than military victory. The Crusaders, after withstanding 9 months of siege from Saladin’s forces, received a counterfeit message indicating that all other castles had fallen and the commander was ordered to surrender as well. Saladin is a hero here and we saw a statue erected in his honor as recently as 15 years ago.May 25-26, 2006

May 25-26, 2006 Iskenderun, Turkey
From Wayne Davis on board Autumn Wind

We toured Antioch today, home of the first church to use the term “Christian.” The cave-church dates back to about 60 AD and was added onto by the early Crusaders. The church is best described as a cave with a few improvements including escape tunnels in case the early worshipers were pursued by unfriendly visitors. The Vatican has accepted this as the first cathedral and it is believed that St. Paul and Barnabus preached here.

We also visited Titus Tunnel, a Roman-made tunnel that was designed to prevent flooding of the city of Samandagi. We had been told of its dimensions before our visit (23 ft high, 20 ft wide and 4,265 feet long) but we were astounded at the vastness of this man-made tunnel through solid rock when we walked through it. Many soldiers and slaves worked on the project for approximately 70 years but we understand that it did not ultimately prove successful in preventing the flooding. Today it is an infrequently visited tourist site complete with slippery rocks designed to wet one’s behind following a sudden fall.

After lunch we visited a mosaic museum that is reported to be the second best in the world, following the one in Tunis, Tunisia. When the Romans built vacation homes on the Turkish coast, they frequently installed elaborate and beautiful mosaic floors. The museum is filled with the actual floors from several villas discovered on the coast near Antioch.

All passports and ships papers must be put in order because this is departure day (May 26) for Syria. The Syrian officials are known to be careful about immigration and paperwork formalities so we cancelled our Turkish cruising permit, got exit stamps in our passports and prepared for the evening departure from Turkey. Autumn Wind and Grey Pearl are the last boats to leave harbor (and usually the first to be secured at the next harbor) and this will be no exception. Smaller sailboats started departing the harbor just after lunch for the 100 mile trip. At dusk (about 8:00) we slipped our mooring lines to the quay and lifted our anchor. The weather was not as good as had been predicted, something we have grown accustomed to in this end of the Med. The sailors experienced a tiring ride with 20 knot winds on the nose and 5-6 foot sea swells of short duration, also on the nose.

“The two big motor yachts” (as we have become known) traveled approximately 4 miles west of the rhumb line to avoid close encounters with slower boats that we overtake as we move up through the fleet at night. This was a good strategy but with the head winds, we had more boats tacking across our course line than we had anticipated. Eighty boats in the fleet and the scores of fishing boats along the Turkish coast kept the radar full of targets all through the night. At 03:30 Bingo, a catamaran in the rally fleet, reported coming within a couple of meters of an unlit fishing trawler that did not show up on their radar. The fishing boat suddenly turned on all their lights and startled the Bingo crew on watch. Apart from this report from Bingo, the only other problems were several sailboats that lost engine power (all turned out to be fuel related). One sailboat without engine propulsion required a tow into the close quarters of the marina. Wayne used Autumn Wind’s shore boat to tow her in with the assistance of Frank from Vision. Upon arrival there were several hours of hard work getting all rally boats secured and then at 2:30 PM we climbed on a coach for an afternoon tour.

May 23, 2006 Mersin, Turkey
From Wayne Davis on board Autumn Wind

This was a “free” day used to provision, explore town and get ready for the overnight passage to Iskenderun, Turkey, our last port in Turkey. The crew of Autumn Wind passed up the local Turkish restaurants and quietly slipped into a Burger King on the main street to enjoy Whoppers with fries and a Coke. There is nothing like a little home spun culture and cuisine. “Do you want to supersize that order?” Why not?

We departed Mersin at 8:00 PM and arrived at Iskenderun at 8:00 May 24th. There was not ample room in the fishing harbor so Grey Pearl and Autumn Wind are anchored in 30 feet of water just outside the break wall of the harbor. The daytime temperatures are increasing (it is very warm today) and for the first time we are experiencing biting flies. I make these last comments because I know some of you are jealous of our situation and I wanted to bring you back to reality.

May 22, 2006 Mersin, Turkey
From Wayne Davis on board Autumn Wind

Today we signed up for another all day tour, leaving at 9:00 AM and returning at 6:30 PM. We started out with a 30 minute coach drive to Tarsus, birthplace of Saul/Paul (founder of many early churches in this region of Turkey). We visited St. Paul’s church which is really a 19th century building on the site of an early Armenian church. As far as I could determine, it had nothing to do with St. Paul. Some of the Catholic members of the EMYR arranged for a mass in the church. We next visited St. Paul’s well which is reputed to be the actual well from which Paul drank. I’m not buying this story at all. After seeing the “touristy” well site, we explored the local market before getting back on the coaches. Tarsus was a huge disappointment for me. There was not much to see and what is available is not very believable or authentic.

We drove to a fish farm for lunch. This time the farm was a large series of cribs located in a bay. We have been informed that they actually tow these fish farms with large boats at night without lights on them. We believe we tracked such a tow operation on one of our radars at 3:30 AM on our way to Mersin. The fish we devoured for lunch were sea bass instead of the freshwater trout we had enjoyed last week. Although a bit bony, the fish were delicious and the setting on a peaceful bay made the meal very special. To add to our enjoyment, a three-piece musical ensemble (flute, guitar and percussion) played 60’s music while we ate. Following lunch we trekked up a hill to a hotel with a view of the harbor for tea (cay) and coffee. When we were finished with our drinks, the time was already 2:30 and many of us were not very satisfied with the tour or the guides so far. This region of Turkey is just beginning to develop its tourism assets and the guide, while friendly, could not assemble a complete sentence in English. We believe there were many things to explain but he was not able to do so. Thus, we started the afternoon with somewhat lowered expectations.

Our interest in the tour improved when we arrived at Corychion-Antron, home to a temple dedicated to Zeus and two deep gullies that had religious significance to the ancients. The first gully is called the Heaven Chasm and is connected to the deep cavern known in ancient times as the Corcian Cave. To see the cave, visitors must walk down 452 steps to reach the entrance and a small chapel dedicated to Mary. Since we stayed so long at St. Paul’s church, we did not have time to walk down into the dramatic gully. Heaven Gully was lush and green with vegetation. Hell gully is arid with red rock formations, stalagmites and stalagmites. The two gullies are adjacent but quite different in character.

The tour improved dramatically when we visited an ancient fortress (Elaeussa Sebaste) built in the late Hellenistic and Roman times. The fortress was surrounded by a moat for security and was positioned to overlook the Maidens Castle (fortress of the girl). Like most of the antiquities in Turkey, this site had not been developed or restored at all. What we saw was what the Greeks left and we found climbing around in the fortress was a lot of fun. Huge thistles with brilliant purple blooms were everywhere in the fortress and all the camera bugs contorted themselves to get a purple thistle bloom in the foreground of their photographs. The Maiden’s Castle is built out in the bay, maybe 400 feet offshore and required a boat trip. We did not have time to visit the Castle on this trip but it was a beautiful and much photographed site.

Next we visited Seytan Deresi, thought to date back to the 2nd century AD. It consists of the remains of a city on the rim of a deep gorge. The sun, lower in the sky by this time of the day, dramatically lit the red rock walls of the gorge and the stone remains of ancient buildings. At the top of the hill stood a huge mausoleum obviously the final resting place of a very important person in the city. Given our short time to visit, it was a very fast walk up the hill to the mausoleum for pictures to document our visit.

On the way back to town, we stopped at one more burial site composing tombs that were carved into the sheer stone wall of a small valley. One of the tombs was that of a military leader and was adorned with carvings of soldiers. Early Christians had defaced the statues so that the human features of the faces could not be recognized. The rest of the statues were very well preserved.

Our post mortem on the tour resulted in a consensus that although we all had wanted to visit Tarsus, the morning was not worth the drive but that the lunch was delightful and the afternoon was very interesting and could be easily expanded into a full day tour. We have also decided to do our own research prior to each tour to ensure we are prepared for what we are about to see. Even this is made difficult by the profusion of names for each site. Many places have 3-6 names owing to the many civilizations that occupied the region.

As if we hadn’t had enough activities for one day, tonight we had a formal dinner sponsored by Mersin Shipping. The venue was the waterside terrace of the Hilton Hotel complete with a huge swimming pool. The long buffet tables were loaded with foods of all description including desserts that were impossible to ignore. Obviously this rally is about touring, food and drink and they are doing a great job of fattening up the cruisers for the summer.

May 21, 2006

From Wayne Davis on board Autumn Wind 

Some interesting facts about the Eastern Mediterranean Yacht Rally (EMYR)

22 Nations represented by crew 16 Nations represented by boat registry 251 persons aboard boats 76 Yachts 14 World Heritage Sites will be visited in the course of the rally

May 21, 2006- Mersin Harbor, Turkey
From Wayne Davis on board Autumn Wind 

We arrived safely in Mersin Harbor at 9:45 this morning. We are moored in the fishing harbor, stern-to with our anchor deployed to secure the bow.

May 20, 2006
From Wayne Davis on board Autumn Wind 

We departed Girne at 7:00 PM for the overnight trip back to mainland Turkey and the large commercial port of Mersin. Of the 80 boats in the rally, only Grey Pearl departed after Autumn Wind. Throughout the night, we monitored the radars as we passed through the fleet of slower sailboats in a sloppy quartering seaway. The seas were much larger than we would have suspected given the winds that seldom exceeded 15 knots. The swells were obviously from prior high winds. The only excitement during the night was when a large tug towing an unlit barge went through the fleet at 03:00 AM.

May 19, 2006
From Wayne Davis on board Autumn Wind

Wayne & Pat Davis dressed as Barbary Coast Pirates for EMYR pirate party.
Wayne & Pat Davis dressed as Barbary Coast Pirates for EMYR pirate party.

One of the greatly anticipated events of the EMYR each year is a Pirate’s Party in Girne, hosted at the beautiful Dome Hotel on the shoreline. All rally participants, dressed in full pirate attire paraded down the streets of Girne to the hotel providing a great deal of entertainment for the locals. The crew of Autumn Wind dressed as Barbari Coast pirates complete with jewels and large sabers. The dinner consisted of a huge buffet presented in a relaxed shoreside outside terrace at the Dome Hotel.

May 18, 2006 - Girne, N. Cyprus
From Wayne Davis on board Autumn Wind 

Autumn Wind and Grey Pearl are too large for either of the two marinas in Girne so we are moored stern to on our own anchors on the ferry boat dock in the commercial harbor.

May 17, 2006 Alanya, Turkey
From Wayne Davis on board Autumn Wind 

At lunchtime we received a VHF radio call from Tari McCabe (S/Y Vision) asking me (Wayne) to come to Delphinius. Maureen on Delphinius had fallen, injured herself and could not assist on the crossing to N. Cyprus, an overnight sail. By 2:00 PM I had joined Delphinus and left the Alanya harbor. Autumn Wind left at 7:00 PM short one crew member.

The sailing on Delphinius was great and the passage was uneventful. In fact, the last 5 hours as we approached Girne, North Cyprus, the sea swell was minimal and we were sailing at hull speed in 12 knots of wind on the beam. However, the joy of a good night of sailing would never overtake the benefits and comfort of Autumn Wind. I was glad to be back aboard Autumn Wind.

When we checked our satellite email this evening we learned that Brandon and Melissa announced the birth of their third daughter (our third granddaughter), Brinleigh Greer Clarke Davis born May 17th at 9:40 PM. We could only be happier if we were in Houston to welcome her into this world.

May 16, 2006 Alanya, Turkey
From Wayne Davis on board Autumn Wind 

Our day tour of Alanya started as our motor coach drove past Cleopatra’s Beach. Marc Antony gave Cleopatra a large portion of this coastline of Turkey as a wedding gift. The lumber in this forested area was needed to rebuild her navy. We visited a Selcuk fortress (4th Century B.C.) located on a high promontory overlooking Alanya. Much of the wall that once surrounded the city still stands. A mosque, numerous cisterns and a dockyard also remain. The views from the fortress were, of course, spectacular. Just below the fortress was the Red Tower that was part of the defensive system for the harbor. The town is now very much oriented towards tourists but it is quite beautiful anyway.

Lunch was at a trout farm (our second such lunch) and it was delightful. This trout farm was located on a raging cold-water river. Various restaurants had been built along the shoreline and offered an interesting approach to dining al fresco; they provided floating pontoons approximately 12 foot on a side that were floating on the river, attached to land by lines. Although we chose to eat on land adjacent to the river, many locals elected to eat mid stream on one of these floating contraptions. One can only conjecture what would happen if a line parted and one of these floating dining platforms went careening down the river.

After lunch we visited Dim Cay caverns, a series of caves discovered in 1996. Lacking in color and rather poorly lighted, the caves were, nonetheless beautiful as they were filled with huge stalagmites and stalactites. One of our group commented that “the caves would be spectacular if the lighting were provided by the French or Italians; they have a flare for such things.”

On the way back to the boats the bus stopped at a supermarket to allow boaters to purchase provisions. We filled our cart and checked out. We were immediately pulled aside and asked to produce our receipt. I had paid, so I pulled out the long receipt. There was much discussion in Turkish among the employees and security and I was asked to sign a written form with my name on it and the amount of our purchases. We all wondered aloud, “what have we done wrong NOW??” Finally, a man handed us an empty plastic bag and pointed to a large display of fresh vegetables and fruit and told us in broken English to fill our bag with the produce of our choice. Apparently, there was a promotion in the store, and if one purchased more than 100 Lira worth of food, there was a bonus bag of food; very nice.

The evening party started with a formal reception at the base of the Red Tower. It was an elegant set up in a marvelous setting surrounded by bougainvillea. Following the reception, we were taken to a formal sit-down dinner in a local restaurant in a garden setting. Chairs were covered much as they would be at a wedding reception. The food was excellent European cuisine and elegantly presented.

May 15, 2006 - Kemer, Turkey 
From Wayne Davis on board Autumn Wind 

Last Thursday approximately  80 EMYR participants enjoyed a full day tour of historic sights around Finike including the ancient city of Myra (5th century B.C.).  Behind the ruins of a theater, was a tall rock cliff into which had been carved tombs, some of which were elaborate, resembling small temple facades.  We next visited the church in Demre where St. Nicholas was bishop.  From a wealthy family, and particularly generous to children, he is thought to be the inspiration for Santa Claus.  The church was in poor repair and was covered by a protective structure.

The unexpected treat of the tour was lunch outdoors on the banks of a rushing trout stream at a restaurant located adjacent to the trout farm.  Home made pita bread; hot from the oven, salads that featured goat cheese and local tomatoes were followed by a perfectly grilled trout (one per guest) approximately 15 inches in length.  It was simply delicious and the setting was very much like Colorado.

After lunch we visited Arycanda (5th century B.C.), a beautiful site, now in well preserved ruins.  It was strategically sited on a hill on a series of man-made terraces.  As is true of many of these ancient cities, it was home to several different civilizations at different times including the Greeks and Romans.  The two theaters were Greek and the stadium at the very top of the hill was probably Roman in origin as were the baths.  From the number of baths we have seen in these ancient cities, the Greeks and Romans must have been very clean people.

Although the tour required a long bus ride and Arycanda required a long, steep walk up a road under repair and then more climbing to reach the stadium, the scenery and sites were beautiful and very interesting.  Most participants agreed the tour was well worth the trip and were very happy to have seen this part of Turkey.

 The next day the EMYR boats started leaving the Finike marina at 04:30 Friday morning for the 47 nm trip to Park Kemer Marina.  Boats in Groups 5 & 6 (the largest boats in the fleet) departed last and were moored first at Kemer.  Autumn Wind departed at 07:00, and, after moving up through the fleet of slower sailboats, was secure in her mooring next to Grey Pearl just after noon.  The scenery is beautiful along this coastal region of Turkey with high snow capped mountains in the distance and red rock slopes dropping directly into the sparkling turquoise water.  All 72 EMYR boats were moored in Kemer Park Marina by 5:00 PM.  Park Kemer is a very popular wintering spot for cruisers and it is clear from the attitude of the staff that the marina is a friendly place for cruisers.

Saturday morning we took buses to Phaselis, another ancient city; but unlike most cities that were built on steep hills, this one was built along the coastline and was blessed with two natural harbors.  For protection, the citizens had built walls. 

Saturday night we experienced the first “formal” EMYR dinner with dignitaries from the region and from EMYR destinations as far away as Egypt.  Everyone was in their finest clothing and it was an impressive sight as approximately 400 people shared the hospitality of the Kemer Marina.  Given the quantity and quality of the food at these rally dinners, weight gain may be an issue for many of the crew as the rally continues.

Today was the EMYR Olympics that provided another opportunity for cruisers to meet one another and compete in silly games like egg tossing, three legged races and a tug of war.  Although there were some issues with officiating, a great time was had by all.  Tina Jones on Grey Pearl was the pride of the Nordhavn fleet when she downed a huge bowl of yogurt without using her hands or any other implement.  Yes, she licked the bowl clean.

Briefings on our voyage Monday morning were completed Sunday afternoon and the boats had the rest of the day off.  Departure on Monday morning starts at 03:00 for the organizing boats followed by 4:00 departures by the slower boats.  Grey Pearl and Autumn Wind will probably leave about 07:00 or 08:00 to arrive by 16:00.


May 14, 2006 - Kemer, Turkey
From Tina Jones on board Grey Pearl

Some of the 70-plus boats participating in the Rally dressed in flags
Some of the 70-plus boats participating in the Rally dressed in flags

Last Sunday, May 7, Grey Pearl and our guests, Teri & Scott Strickland owners of a 47' Nordhavn, 'Strickly for Fun', headed south for Gocek to rendezvous with approximately 60 boats participating in the Eastern Mediterranean Yacht Rally - EMYR.

A few facts about the EMYR. Since 1990 yachtsman have converged from all over the world on Turkey to participate in the EMYR. Presently, there are 76 boats (mostly sail) participating and 22 different nationalities represented. The Rally route starts in Istanbul, cruising the SW Turkish coastline, N. Cyprus, Syria, Lebanon, Israel and Egypt. The Turkish Coast Guard accompanies the Rally for the Turkish coast portion. We'll see what happens in the other countries.

Autumn Wind's crew from L-R: Wayne Davis, Arline Smith, Bill Smith, Pat Davis
Autumn Wind's crew from L-R: Wayne Davis, Arline Smith, Bill Smith, Pat

In the ports we have thus far visited, the hospitality has been tremendous. In efforts to encourage tourism and particularly western tourism, our port hosts go to a lot of trouble to "roll out the red carpet"...cocktail parties hosted by the Mayor, lavish dinners, entertainment and dancing...and according to the Rally manual, it is "mandatory" that we attend...oh well...which explains why one of the EMYR coordinators (from Manchester, England) signs off on his recent emails/updates, "the liver is evil...and, must be punished" and "sleep is not compulsory, partying is." So... we aboard the Grey Pearl are fitting in nicely.

We had a pleasant cruise to a favored EMYR stop, Kekova Roads. Lagoon-like waters making for a boaters paradise with no ocean swell, well-protected anchorages, interesting historical sites and just enough restaurants for a satisfying meal ashore. Accompanied with Effes beer and Turkish wine (not Bordeaux but not bad). The morning after our arrival, fresh hot bread was delivered gratis to all the boats in the anchorage (not croissants but not bad).

Scott and Teri Strickland, Tina and Braun Jones on Grey Pearl
Scott and Teri Strickland, Tina and Braun Jones on Grey Pearl

Following Kekova Roads our next stop was Finike where we enjoyed a full day touring the ancient ruins of the Lycian city of Myra (5th century BC); a stop in Demre to pay homage to the site of the ancient tomb of Saint Nicholas (11th century) THE Santa Claus and in Turkish, Baba Noel. According to Turkish lore, he was also the patron of sailors, merchants, scholars, virgins (?!), and of all people, pawnbrokers. Sadly, his bones were stolen and he's now resting in Bari, Italy - hey! Not so's still in the Med! Finally, a few more stops to ancient city ruins - Arykanda and Limyra...yep, a boat load of history here.

The Nordhavn 62s stand out amongst the EMYR boats
The Nordhavn 62s stand out amongst the EMYR boats

Finally, 4 harbors later in less than a week, we've arrived in Kemer where we pick up the remainder of the boats participating in the Rally and where the international portion gets underway. Kemer is an attractive beach resort with several large hotels along its waterfront. We have an ideal spot in the harbor overlooking all the "dressed" (dressed with signal flags) EMYR boat and the armada of 'day tripper' Turkish gullets.

For now, I must is good...and, we wish the best to all of you!


May 10 - Kekova Roads, Turkey
From Wayne Davis on board "Autumn Wind"

Tuesday night the EMYR fleet anchored in a sheltered bay that many believe to be the safest anchorage in all of Turkey: Kekova Roads. The entrance is a bit tricky with shallow water and submerged rocks, but mostly it’s tricky because the CMap charts we are using do not accurately reflect the situation in the bay. Our safe passage through the rocks showed us “high and dry” on the electronic charts. Our cruising experiences in the Bahamas were invaluable as we visually navigated into the bay interpreting the water colors as depth indicators. Once inside, Kekova Roads easily swallowed up the 53 boats currently in the EMYR fleet and each yacht had ample swing room for a very peaceful evening at anchor. The local restaurants put on a small reception for us and many "yachties" enjoyed the local Turkish cuisine in one of 5 or more waterside restaurants. The Autumn Wind crew chose Hassan's kitchen after Hassan personally informed us that his was the best food in town. We were not disappointed. The fresh fish and grilled shrimp kabobs were excellent. The Turkish equivalent of a salad bar “Mesa” had a wide selection of mostly veggie treats. Dinner leftovers were shared with the numerous felines prowling the establishment. Of course, with the beautiful weather we enjoyed our meal outdoors.

Following a good night’s sleep, complete with what we believe to be owl sounds, we arose to attend the skipper’s meeting at 08:30 Wednesday morning where we received arrival times for mooring in Finike. At 09:00, approximately eighty EMYR participants joined a gullet boat ride walking tour of the Lycian tombs and the Knights of Rhodes castle overlooking the anchorage. The tombs are believed to be from the 4th century B.C. and are more correctly described as sarcophagi carved from a single large piece of rock. The bottom of each sarcophagus resembles a large square stone bath tub and the top resembled a gabled roof with protrusions that may have been used to lift the lid onto the bottom. Across the bay were the remains of a large settlement including habitations carved into the rock and submerged remnants of harbor and piers. The castle required a steep climb that was rewarded with a breathtaking view of the bay and surrounding islands. On the way down the hill we enjoyed orange juice, fresh squeezed by the owner of a small café at the foot of the hill.

Autumn Wind and Grey Pearl are members of group 6 (the largest boats in the EMYR fleet) and were asked to arrive in Finike by 14:00 today. This allowed a leisurely cruise along the Turkish coast to the spacious and secure marina in Finike. Upon arrival, we contacted “Dockside” the radio alias of Dave on SY Meshona for berthing instructions. Although docking 50+ boats in two hours seems daunting, the EMYR volunteers and marina crews are very capable and the berthing went off without a hitch. Both Nordhavns are currently moored and fully dressed with their signal flags.


May 8, 2006 - Gocek, Turkey
From Wayne Davis on board "Autumn Wind"

Today is one of those beautiful days that serves as a clear reminder of exactly why we crossed the Atlantic to see the beauty and charm of the Mediterranean. Autumn Wind is anchored off the small harbor town of Gocek, Turkey. She towers over the 10 or so cruising sailboats also in the anchorage and she is little influenced by the building chop in the afternoon sea breeze that makes the sailboats bob up and down and their tenders slap in the waves. The turquoise blue water of the bay is filled with tree lined islands and numerous boats. The hillsides here are not crowded with condominiums and hotels that spoil the natural beauty of some other regions in the Med.

We arrived yesterday afternoon from Marmaris and decided to enjoy the freedom of anchoring over the “civilization” of mooring in the marina. According to the cruising guides and charts, there are several nice anchorages in the bay and we explored five of them. Each would have required a stern line leading to shore and several potential anchorages were quite deep. We elected to swing on our hook without a stern tie in the bay just off the village.

This morning we launched the shore boat and went to the marina to “check it out” and see if we needed to “check in.” No, we did not need to check in; "No problem," assured the friendly marina staff. The marina (Port Gocek is a Camper Nicholson property) was spanky-clean and gorgeous. The grounds are landscaped with abundant bougainvillea, shrubs and trees and the buildings are European in design with stucco exteriors and tile roofs. All of the facilities were well cared for; most were new. This is a very desirable stop over for cruisers in the region.

From the marina there is an attractivel- paved and well- lighted walking trail into the heart of the town. Once a fishing village, Gocek is now oriented totally toward the tourist and the yachtsman. Bill found a needed fuel-water separator at the marine hardware, Pat and Arline bought light weight pantaloons for our time in warmer climes and we enjoyed a peaceful lunch along the waterfront in the shade. Although Marmaris is also a tourist town, Gocek is on a totally different scale. Marmaris is bustling and busy, filled with eager merchants, bars and discothèques. Gocek is more laid back, and the merchants less likely to pursue potential clients. Although Gocek has fewer shops than Marmaris, they appear to be more unique and charming.

We were informed by the marina staff that 5 EMYR boats had already arrived and we expect the entire fleet to arrive by 18:00 this evening. There is nothing planned for EMYR participants tonight so we will continue to enjoy the anchorage. Tomorrow we will take the shore boat in and start to act like members of the EMYR group.

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