Cleopatra's Beach

The last stretch of the Southern Coast of Turkey: Cokertme, Sece Limani Bay, Castle Island (Cleopatra’s Beach) and Seven Islands!

By now we are slowly getting into “turn back” mode. Slowly but surely we start to realise that our days on Scolamanzi the Leopard Catamaran 4600 are numbered! I am trying not to think about it too much, but it is hard if Johann starts cleaning, folding and packing away his sails (Gennaker and Code Zero) and empty out lockers at every opportunity possible!


We had to pick Dax (our eldest son) up in about a week in Cokertme (something to look forward too as well!) and thought of going to a few of the lovely bays we have not been to yet – even if it is only for a lunch stop. Some of them totally nameless (according to our maps or even Google maps!) but still gorgeous! That is how we got to Tail Bay : a beautiful anchorage on the southwest end of Fethiye Bay, one of many in the area. With a wonderful beach for swimming and snorkeling on the north side of the beach, and on the west side is a beach with a path to the ancient ruins of Lydae. Johann, the explorer made his way up into the hills in search for ancient ruins! I stayed aboard enjoying the azure-blue water and the lovely pine forests around me.

Getting ready for the meeting - 5.30am!
Getting ready for the meeting – 5.30am!

We only stopped for lunch but we had to make our way closer to Gocek for better internet reception. Johann was supposed to have a Skype meeting at 6am the following morning…that meant a 5 am start for us!… We at least found the overnight bay (again BZN -Bay Zonder Naam) that was perfect (good reception) and absolutely beautiful. We had to wait for a few tourist boats to move on before we could find a good spot to med-moor. Once we have settled in, a beautiful late afternoon unfolded! We could see Gocek’s lights at night… and a wonderful BBQ topped off a lovely evening and another fabulous sunset!
After all the trouble to backtrack, finding this bay near Gocek with strong enough reception, waking up at 5am… the meeting nonchalantly was called off. (A strong Not-so-Happy-Vibe was detected on board!)

We had an early breakfast seeing that we are awake since 5 am. We thought we might as well get going and made our way over to the lovely Sece Limani Bay as a midway stop on our way to Buzburun. The wind picked up to 16 knots on the nose making for a very slow and salty and wet journey!

Just before we entered the bay, we received the wonderful news that we can expect to meet our very first grandchild (Aeon) early in April 2014!!! For a moment we were both so stunned that we were not sure how to react to it. Then it settled in and by the time we opened a lovely bottle of wine at sunset at the restaurant of Sece Limani, we were joyously celebrating!

SECE LIMANI, SOGUT, SEVEN ISLANDS

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Sece Limani is a lovely deep bay – it almost gives you the feeling of being on a lake.
We came to know about Sece Limani when visiting the Bodrum glass museum. For almost a millennium, a modest wooden ship, known as “the Glass Wreck” lay sunken off the coast of Serçe Liman, filled with evidence of trade and objects of daily life from the Byzantine and Islamic worlds of that time. Its cargo included tons of glass cullet (Scraps of broken or waste glass gathered for remelting) including broken Islamic glass vessels, and a eighty pieces of intact glassware – of which some has already been excavated by the Institute of Nautical Archaeology at Texas A&M University. The cargo also included glazed Islamic bowls, red-ware cooking vessels, copper cauldrons and buckets, wine amphoras, weapons, tools, jewelry, fishing gear, remnants of meals, coins, scales and weights, and more!
That was the main attraction to this bay for us and it is certainly worth a visit for the sake of its rich history and for its beauty too!
We picked up a mooring and you can either pay outright for the mooring or get it “for free” if you support the restaurant. Dinner will be ashore then – which suits us just fine! Just before sunset, a little boat loaded with linen cloths (the type they use at the Turkish Baths) roped us into buying 3 of them from the deaf-mute local aboard. I am actually glad! They came in handy for a light throw over your legs at sunset or early morning behind the wheel.
We had a wonderful meal of fresh fish and salad at the restaurant and the table setting was just perfect! The closes table to the water – tucked away under a tree…just perfect! The fish was absolutely delicious and fresh and the bottle of Turkish wine complimented it perfectly! Who would have thought the Turks can make such great wine?
We arrived at Bozburun after an upwind bash and salty spray trip at about 10.30am! We were happy to stay in a nice quiet safe bay close to town to weather out the next few days of big winds . The season is clearly dropping off (20 September 2013). The town is very quiet and hardly any gullets (tourist boats) came in or went out in the 2-3 days we were there.
By now Scolamanzi was certainly due for a deck wash! Johann could not wait to clean the deck. I got some blogging done and we managed to get Johann’s flights booked for his trip back to Australia( Oh my word! Now it is really sinking in!) For some reason Emirates have decided that Johann’s initials on his Visa card looks different to his full names, and for security reasons went ahead and block all our credit cards! Luckily we could call them on Skype to finalize the booking. I later (a month later! And after having spoken to the bank and Emirates !) had the same trouble when trying to book my tickets online! The cards were still blocked!
As soon as the weather allowed us on the third morning, we left Bozburun at 6am on a 10 hour trip to Cokertme. A long stretch…motor-sailing most of the time in a wind almost on the nose! Damn! How good will it be if we can at least get one more decent sail in on Scolamanzi!

COKERTME

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Cokertme is a very lovely little town with a few restaurants with docks fringing the bay. The competition amongst them are obvious. As we approached three tenders raced forward, waving, and trying to get our attention! Shame, I felt for them… with the season almost over they are all trying to catch the last bit of customers roaming their waters. We picked up lines at then Cokertme Restaurant on a floating dock and stayed for 2 days! (These floating docks are not for the faint hearted! Especially in a swell or in windy conditions! You need to get your timing right to make the jump onto the ever moving dock! That is exactly how Johann got a nasty cut on his shin…misjudging the moving dock!) The wind was pretty strong at times and very gusty but getting pushed away from the docks made it easier and we were safe and happy to stay for 2 days. The place has got a great feel and atmosphere to it. The food was fantastic and the people managing the restaurant were professional, friendly and extremely helpful! I was so glad we had to go back to pick Dax up! I loved the place. The decorations at the restaurants are very artistically done and my favorite spot was the den! The Den, is a typical Turkish place where you sit around on big Turkish pillows/ cushions on the floor that is covert with colourful Turkish carpets. The low set tables all have Turkish Water Pipes (Hubble Bubble/ Sheesha) ready for use and the view from there is just awesome!
Having to stay there for 2 days gave me an opportunity to get some washing done ashore that I picked up the next day. With two days to spare, we decided to go to Cleopatra’s Beach, seeing that it is pretty close by.

Snake Island & Castle Island (Cleopatra’s Beach)
In variable wind conditions (from nothing to 26 knots – this is the Med for you!), we made it to Snake Island and Castle Island where Cleopatra’s famous beach is. The islands are beautiful and Castle Island has some amazing ancient ruins on it and certainly worth the walk. We packed a picnic lunch basket and relaxed under the trees near the beach. Johann wanted to go for a walk around the island (it is only small) and I wanted to go for a swim and a walk on Cleopatra’s beach.

The story goes that Mark Anthony imported the fine white sand from Egypt for Cleopatra. Whether it is true or not, it is peculiar that that is the only place in that part of Turkey with sand of that texture or color. It feels amazing to walk on (it is very similar to the sand at Whitehaven Beach in the Whitsunday Islands, Australia) It almost feel like you are walking on maize flower! The contrasting brilliant blue of the sea makes the sand look even whiter!
The security at Cleopatra’s beach is very strict with guards on watch all the time. No one can walk on the beach anymore (it is cordoned off) and no sand can be taken away from the bay. There are obligatory showers at both sides of the beach, so that when exiting the beach you will leave every grain of sand there where it belongs.

After a lovely swim and more pictures, we departed heading for Sogut to overnight.
It is 25 Sept and the autumn weather is starting to change with evenings and mornings certainly getting nippier by the day. Arriving at Sogut, the options were to either dock at a restaurant, use the yacht club or anchor. With the wind still gusting, we took the safe and easy option of the Gokova Yacht Club. (At a cost of 140 TL / night). The facilities were fantastic and the backdrop absolutely beautiful! The yacht club was pretty empty and reminded us of the start of our trip in April, when it was still so early in the season that we often had these quiet bays, docks or yacht clubs all to ourselves. It is in a way nice… nice and peaceful… a perfect way to wind down and reflect back on our time in Turkey, in Europe and all over on Scolamanzi. All which will soon come to an end. We went for a walk just to see what the town looks like and had a wonderful traditional authentic Turkish breakfast in the village – wonderful and unpretentious!

CLEOPATRA’S BEACH AND CASTLE ISLAND

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Back in Cokertme to collect our last guest on board Scolamanzi:
The owner of the restaurant at Cokertme was very happy to organise a pick-up service for Dax at the Milas-Bodrum Airport. What a wonderful service! Dax only arrived at 11pm that night (dead tired from the 36 hours of no sleep, airport waits and long flights and almost immediately on arrival collapsed into his bed). We had to leave the next morning at 8 am – at least he had a quick tour of the beach area and restaurant before we left. We were only waiting for the lovely fresh warm bread to arrive but missed out on having a coffee with Memeth (the Restaurant Manager) in the den of Turkish carpets and the magic view! The captain was in a hurry to get away while the wind conditions were still mild.

We made a quick dash to the 7 Islands on the advice of Memeth – it is beautiful and quiet with wonderful natural bays around every corner. It reminds me of the Konaki Islands in Croatia – Pure nature, with no development and hardly a soul in sight…and the scenery just absolutely mind blowing!
Seven Islands are located on the south west region of the Gulf of Gökova. They are a chain of small islands close to the coast. The surroundings are unspoiled and mostly quiet. It is one of those great locations for sailors where you pick your favorite spot to drop anchor and will often be the only yacht in the bay. It is a little tricky to maneuver around and into bays as some islands are surrounded with very shallow patches. Luckily the water is very clear and with good visibility and a few eyes on the bow, you should not have too much difficulty getting through! Approaching the islands, the pine-forested lower slopes of the hills create a magnificent backdrop in stark contrast to the shimmering azure of the Mediterranean Sea.

Seven Islands
Seven Islands

It would have been the perfect spot to introduce Dax to the beauty of the Turkish coast…but unfortunately, as we got closer we realised that the pollution, for some reason is pretty bad here. Both the bays we moored for an overnight stay, looked like the rubbish catchers of the sea! Plastic and debris seemed to accumulate in some of these bays, and before we could sat down and relax after having Med-moored , we started to clean up the beach! The amount of black plastic bags filled with rubbish was amazing! We stopped at 3 full bags on a beach not much longer than 15 meters.
The one thing I was dying to show Dax is the beautiful clean water we were so fortunate to swim in, but unfortunately, it was not going to happen here! We even reported visual pollution of Denzi Restaurant, who has a massive banner up in the midst of the most beautiful bay and pine tree forest! Why they thought that might be a good idea, I have no idea, because Denzi is a long way off from here!

Now that the mornings are really getting cold, the swim out to the undo the mooring lines became much less of a pleasure, to be honest! Dammit, I have to learn to manoeuvre the next boat!

For Dax’s sake we made a dash for Cleopatra beach again and he loved the ruins, the beach and the rich history and mythology around the island and the gorgeous blue and white picture of a beach with the mountains in the background! As we left the island behind, Dax was on his first watch on Scolamanzi (we were motor-sailing at least!) and we could have a lovely afternoon nap! For the first time in 8 weeks, we both could go and lie down together while on the move! It is great to have Dax on board…and he just made it in time to meet Scolamanzi!

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