Pirates on the High Seas

Trip Start Aug 17, 2010
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Trip End Sep 16, 2011


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Where I stayed
The good ship "Blue Key"

Flag of Turkey  ,
Tuesday, August 23, 2011

We are keen to visit Lauren's friends, Ranee and Turguy, who live in Fethiye, so we grab a 3hr bus from Antalya and head-over to stay with them for a couple of days. There is another motive afoot, as Turguy captains one of the cruise boats operating out of Fethiye, and we are fortunate in being able to join Ranee on his next cruise out !

A 21m boat accommodating 16 guests for 4 days cruising on the Mediterranean, with freshly caught fish for dinner sounds just the ticket for us hard travelling backpackers ! And at this time of year, sunny hot days and calm cool waters are guaranteed – lets go !

It’s a mixed group with two ex-pat Aussie couples, Italy well represented with two couples and two "lads", a French couple and a French Canadian couple with the youngest backpacker we have met – 9 month old Henri ! Henri proved to be very popular – the Turks are mad for kids – and seemed to just take everything in his stride. With the boat casting-off and introductions complete, we are all ready to enjoy our cruise, and looking for our first swim off the boat.

An hour’s motoring along saw us moor in a beautiful bay for lunch. Anchor barely hitting the bottom before everyone leaping into the water – ahhh, cooling Mediterranean waters ! Lunch appearing on the table prompted an array of dripping passengers to take their chairs, treated to fresh, tasty Turkish salads and spicy mixed bean, tomato and chilli dishes. The food, it must be said, was exceptional – lunch setting the standard maintained throughout the cruise – breakfasts included !

Next stop – Butterfly Bay, named for the small, overgrown ravine at the back of the beach, home to a variety of butterflies. Deeming it too hot to tramp in, and being out of butterfly season, we opt instead to swim to the beach, which prepares us for afternoon tea, which in turn prepares us for more swimming.

The night mooring is off St Nicholas Island. Yes – as in Santa Claus. The actual man who became St Nicholas came from Demre, Turkey, and this island nearby was named after him – so we have a Santa Claus island in the Mediterranean off the coast of Turkey. A delicious dinner of BBQ’d fish with more fresh salads set us all up for an evening of socialising interspersed with night swimming, with a neighbouring cruise ship providing the entertainment with their passengers generally behaving like loons to very bad music – earning the title of “The Party Ship”. Luckily The Party Ship did not party too long, appears that everyone is all worn out after a hard days cruising. Snoooozze !

Life on a boat starts early, holidaying passengers or not, and with anchor up and engine on, we head-off at 5:00am, to the groans and moans of those who swam over and visited the Party Boat last night ! A reviving dip in the sea has to wait until we reach our breakfast mooring in yet another scenic bay. Boiled eggs and breakfast franklets set everyone up, and we snorkel over to the rocks and find an arched passage through the rocks to explore and swim, encountering many fish darting in the crevasses and holes.

Onwards to the Blue Lagoon – a beach bay surrounded by short cliffs. The serenity is disturbed by the cliffs near the boat moorings offering a 6m jump-off point, and boys being boys, all the guys are leaping-off with yells and screams. The Aussie girls, not being ones to let the guys have all the fun, show how its done with style, just to be trumped by our Frenchman diving off the ledge – getting his dive just right to survive a 6m drop !

Its time to go ashore, me hearties, and we dock in the harbour of Kas. Exploring, we find Kas to be a lovely tourist town, with some great traditional craft – lamps, backgammon sets, rugs as well as local artworks. There is no shopping for us, alas – we must wait until Istanbul, our last stop, but we do indulge in an ice-cream. Now, Turkish ice-cream is different, as a vegetable gum is used as a setting agent. So while the ice-cream is cold and comes in standard flavours, it strings out like chewing gum ! There is also a tradition amongst ice-cream sellers of tom-foolery, as they trick you by pretending to drop the ice-cream, but as its sticky it stays on the cone ! Similar tricks are done with the long, metal stirring / serving rod they use – this can go on for hours !

To our night mooring, in yes, another amazingly scenic bay. We all jump into the water to a shock – there are cold patches in the mild water – natural springs welling up from the seabed, creating pockets of cold, fresh water where you least expect it. BBQ chicken and salads for dinner, and the sun goes down on another wonderful day on the water.

Our third day on the boat in packed with activity and experiences. First up, we motor over to view the Sunken City – a 2000 year old habitat built by the Lycians and subsequently abandoned following too many earthquakes and pirate raids. Between the earthquakes and sea-level rises, the city has sunk and slide into the sea, but with the clear water, the original harbour and town buildings can clearly be seen. Fascinating.

Onto the coastal settlement of Simena, a village perched on the cliff, with ancient tombs on top of the cliff ridge but some sitting in the sea – courtesy of the same land changes as the Sunken City. We shuttle off the boat to go and explore, climbing up through the narrow winding village lanes to view the stone sarcophagus sitting above the village. Its hot work, but the tombs are fascinating and the views fantastic. Back down to the shore to photo a tomb sitting in the sea, and its time for refreshment at a café commanding a picturesque view of our sailing course to date. Such a good view, we see the rest of the cruise party shuttling back onto the boat, and we rush down not to be left behind !

Weighing anchor once again we head off to our mooring spot for the evening – excitingly called Smugglers Cove ! Aye lad, we sail into a jumble of small islands and inlets, apparently pirates hid here in times past ! Captain Turguy has a treat for us, as he slows the boat as we pass a large cave in the cliff wall, allowing us to all jump off and swim into the Pirate Cave – arrr – it actually goes in a fair way, and a party of us swim in further, spotting a pebble beach right in at the back of the cave – treasure me hearties ??? Also spotting a cluster of bats sleeping up In a roof crevasse, and hearing the boat call to move on, we turn back, not wishing to incur the wrath of the treasure guarding bats or ghosts of pirates past.

Now, Smugglers Cove has an additional attraction – a shuttle boat that takes passengers to a Pirate Bar hidden on one of the many inlets, for dancin’ an’ carousin’ me hearties ! After another excellent dinner of BBQ koftas – which had followed, mind you, a scrumptious lunch of fried tuna and salads – we were all agog and ready for the shuttle. In fact, our boat was so excited by the Pirate Bar that we were the first ones there, but a quiet night soon became a party of dancing and hooting once the other cruise boats passengers turned-up ! A very silly time but fun and a good way to see out the last night.

Morning cast-off again, the Italian “lads” just getting a recovery swim in just in time, and we are packing as our final port, Demre, is only 1/2hr away. A great cruise and fantastic way to enjoy the Mediterranean – we highly recommend it to you !
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