It was early morning when we untied our lines at Rhodes marina, the sun was rising over a calm sea as we set off on a 26 nm journey. There was a force 3-4 westerly wind and once out of the marina we had full sails up as we passed the old town and several large cruise ships moored in the commercial harbour.
Our course was set to go northeast to Marmaris, the wind continued to blow all the way enabling us to maintain good speeds. It wasn’t long before we reached the border and were sailing in Turkish waters. By early afternoon we were approaching the large bay containing Marmaris harbour, there was a race in full swing and we had to weave our way through a procession of yachts all taking part.
Checking into Turkey is known to be quite complicated and it is recommended to hire an agent to organise things for you. We followed this advice and arranged to meet an agent in Marmaris. Our instructions were to head for the customs dock, where he met us and took us straight to the immigration police. Here our passports were stamped and the policeman shared a joke before inviting us to visit the duty free shop, not quite the welcome we have become used to. During this time the agent took our documents for inspection at the customs and port authority offices.
After a couple of purchases in the shop, we went back to Ziggy just as the agent returned with our completed paperwork. It was definitely worthwhile having an agent, within 45 minutes from arrival on the dock we were checked in with permission to stay in Turkey for 90 days, so we left the dock and anchored close by in the bay.
Over the next couple of days long wooden gulet boats were a common site around the large natural harbour. Many were decorated as pirate ships offering daily cruises around the area, they returned in the evening with the crew and passengers singing and dancing to loud music (often Sweet Caroline) to show everyone what a fun day it had been.
Marmaris is situated in an attractive valley between pine-forested mountains and clear waters along the Turkish Riviera (also known as the Turquoise Coast). With a long narrow beach, seafront promenade, an old town with a medieval castle and lively nightlife at open-air clubs and bars, it is one of Turkey’s biggest holiday resorts.
Throughout the town, preparations were underway and the bunting was out ready for the forthcoming Republic Day. This is an important national holiday to celebrate the creation of the modern Republic of Turkey.
Along the promenade, a large statue stands proudly surrounded by Turkish flags to commemorate Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the first president of Turkey and founder of the Republic.
After the sun sets, the town is lit up and the music bars come alive.
The small old part of the town has quaint, cobbled, winding lanes which are full of brightly coloured flowers, small boutique stores and cafes where the locals sit playing dominoes and drinking Turkish tea.
The medieval castle overlooks the town with commanding views across the harbour, it is the oldest landmark in Marmaris. It is believed that a castle has stood on the site since 3000 BC, the current castle was built when the city became part of the Ottoman Empire for use in a planned assault upon Rhodes.
Since 1979, renovation work has been continuing at the castle, in order to restore it back to original condition and nowadays it houses an archaeological museum.
Marmaris was previously known as Physkos until the Ottoman Sultan at the time, Süleyman the Magnificent, changed the name to Mimaras, (which later became Marmaris). A local rumour has it that the reason for the change to Mimaras was that Süleyman, on returning from his expedition to Rhodes, disliked the castle and said “Mimari as!”, which means “Hang the architect!”.
After a few days exploring the town, we visited the large local farmers market to stock up ready to lift our anchor and leave Marmaris the following morning.
We set off early and motored back through more racing yachts. Our plan was to head south to one of the many bays along the coast. With a force 3-4 westerly we were enjoying a comfortable sail, the forecast for the next few days was that there would be very little wind so we decided to make the most of the wind we had and continue sailing on to Goçek. After a full day travelling 45 nm, we arrived at Goçek just as the sun set. It was very busy in the anchorage and rather deep, we looked for a space to squeeze into and finally dropped our anchor in 25 m depth, thankfully it was a calm night.
With so many boats anchored around us we didn’t want to leave Ziggy to go ashore in case the wind changed direction or someone snagged our anchor. So in the morning we moved 3 nm to a group of small islands within the gulf where we were able to anchor with long lines ashore in a quiet picturesque bay. Some of our friends were also moored here so we had a couple a days catching up and swimming in the crystal clear water.
As there were no shops or restaurants close by, a boat visits daily which has been fully set up as a supermarket where you can dinghy over to stock up on essentials.
After 3 more nights relaxing in this quiet bay, the wind was favourable to move 13 nm on to Fethiye. Along the way we were intercepted by the coastguard who wanted to see our documents, thankfully it seemed that the agent had completed everything correctly for us and we were soon on our way again.
On arrival at Fethiye we anchored in the bay close to the town. The next day was Republic day and we looked forward to experiencing the celebrations.