Cruising the Mediterranean from North Cyprus by David Gerrard – 11/9/2010

Alanya Marina - photo credit: ozgurmulazimoglu

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Captain’s Log
Star Date 11 September 2010
36 33N 31 56E

Alanya Marina

I can’t believe it’s nearly two months since I swallowed the anchor and gave up the delights(?) of home living, air conditioning, English TV, no ungodly early starts in the morning and visits to my favourite bar and fish and chips.

The Eastern Mediterranean Yacht Rally this year was a great success and we enjoyed it very much, but it is 3 months non-stop.  We have had a constant stream of visitors this summer, both family and friends, some new and some old, and Hotel Alsancak has been full, to say the least.

We have been out a few times in the summer, mainly with friends and family, but only day sails not enough to get a real fix of cruising. So despite some reluctance to drag oneself away from these fleshpots, and the latest episode of Coronation Street, we are off on our Autumn cruise. No plans, intentions written in sand, no time limits and definitely chill time.

A little scanning of the weather seemed to give us a favourable passage on Thursday night, 15knts from the West to South West. It was the second day of Şecker Bayram so there was going to be no moon, but the promise of a starlit night was good enough. So at 8.30pm we slipped and bade goodbye to Delta Marina bound for the southern coast of Turkey.

The first two hours were rocky and rolly, little wind and what there was, was on the nose. What changes?

Then it suddenly started to fill from the west, not 15knts but 20, one reef and three quarters of a genny and we were flying. The sea tended to be somewhat on the beam so it wasn’t the most combatable of passages but we were sailing, leaving behind the temptations of shore living. We were at peace with the world. The air temperature was warm, the sky the clearest I have seen it, the phosphorescence amazing and, despite a couple of small splashes, a dry cockpit.

With only the bow lights and the rear light on we could appreciate the utter blackness and the seeming closeness of the night sky, our old favourite the plough was just on the starboard bow and Orion was easily picked up. The Milky Way looked immense, it’s nights like this that make you wonder.

Twelve miles out we were doing about 6.5 knts when the boat was lit up momentarily by what appeared to be a flare somewhere to starboard. I quickly checked the radar but could see nothing and certainly couldn’t pick anything out visually. It wasn’t a meteorite as it had an upward trail as well as a downward one, and anyway nothing could have been as bright as this.

We searched around and put a call out to the RCC in Cyprus giving our coordinates and details of what we had seen. They would pass it on to the coastguard and that was it, we have heard nothing since and the mystery still remains. Maybe it was a piece of space debris falling to earth, maybe we were mistaken about the upward trail, but whatever it was it was bright enough to light up the whole boat.

Onward through the night we sailed, sometimes reaching over 7knts. Mashona was at her best, fine reach, bone in her teeth, we just didn’t want it to end.

On rounding Cape Anamur all good things have to end, the wind dropped and we were left with a remainder sea that was rolly and confused; it seemed to come from each side. This is not unusual in the Mediterranean, one moment sheer happiness and next utter misery. It was nowhere near the latter but after a magnificent few hours it was a great let down. The sea gradually calmed and dawn saw us motoring along in light air somewhere to the west of Anamur point. The rest of our passage to Alanya was uneventful, hot and sticky and no wind.  The only highlight was that we caught a fish, only a Palumut but just enough for a starter for the evening meal. Lots of sealift around, though an enormous turtle waved his flipper at us and flying fish were abundant and there was even a jumping swordfish.

We arrived at Alanya about 3pm and were soon moored and heading for showers and the delights of the swimming pool.

This morning has dawned fair (well they mainly do here) and a relaxing day is in store, maybe a sortie down town and most probably, or actually definitely, a cold beer in the Red Tower. Those of you who are familiar with my narratives will remember I wax lyrically about this hostelry.  It is a micro brewery and produces quite passable home brewed beer. Not in the same class as English bitter of course but beggars can’t be choosey.

I haven’t mentioned ‘The Cat’ but no trip would be complete without the inclusion of our Tilly. To say that she didn’t enjoy the trip would probably be understating her reaction. She moaned and groaned for hours but when it calmed down and the fish was caught she was purring as usual.

Well that’s all folks, don’t know when you will get the next instalment as this is our holiday. Keep Smiling!

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