Cyprus beckons

Mystic of Holyhead (successor to Lynn Rival)
Rachel and Paul Chandler
Mon 15 Oct 2007 14:47
36:47.40N 34:37.50E

The harbour at Ovacik (actually Yesilovacik, "yesil" meaning green in
Turkish) was home to quite a number of turtles who flopped around us and
didn't seem to mind the occasional freighter that came and went in the
harbour.  Leaving Yesilovacik, we had a brief sail with the wind on the
beam, before having to motor into the wind in order to reach the next
anchorage before dark.  We anchored off a ramshackle collection of
houses and campsites in the bay of Agalimani and rowed ashore to have
supper in the one and only restaurant (which turned out to be very
good).  That night was exceptionally warm and we were also visited by
some persistent mosquitos.  Such is cruising life.

On Wednesday (10th October) we motored just a short distance to the
ferry port of Tasucu.  Many of the rally yachts had been there the night
before and the local fishermen who manage the small pontoon there were
surprisingly skilled at helping us moor up: they came aboard and dealt
with our bow lines while we organised the mooring line at the stern.  
Despite being the port for ferries to Turkish northern Cyprus, Tasucu is
a pleasant place with good shopping, cafes and restaurants so we enjoyed
our day there, but again the night was muggy and the mean mosquitos were
on the rampage!

The next day we had a long passage to a soulless place called Kum Kuyu,
whose only merit is to have a good harbour with plenty of room for all
the rally yachts.  On the way we had to divert around the Goksu
river-mouth with extensive and shifting shallows out to sea.  The area
is a wildlife reserve and apparently very popular with bird-watchers as
well as being home to rare green turtles and Mediterranean monk seal.  
East of there the coastline is one long sandy beach and extensive hotel
development that takes all the pleasure out of looking at the view
onshore from a passing yacht.  The sea is also quite polluted around
here, with endless plastic bags in the water.  One of the rally yachts
got a large piece of plastic stuck around its prop and the crew had to
go diving to free it.  Luckily they were well offshore so came to no harm.

Thursday 11th was the last day of Ramadan and the day after all the
rally yachts set off to arrive in Mersin by 2pm.   As we approached the
outer harbour we got all dressed up, decorating the yachts with flags
and bunting and the crews wearing rally t-shirts.  We then entered the
inner harbour one-by-one and moored up, providing a spectacle for the
passing crowds.  There is a big funfair nearby and lots of floating
restaurants in the harbour.  Friday was a public holiday (Eid al Fitr)
and the place has been buzzing almost continuously since we got here.

Mersin is a big city and seems very prosperous.  The older part of the
city has a bazaar with many small streets full of shops selling almost
everything you could possibly want.  The newer part of the city is full
of smart shops of the type found in most European cities.  There's a
large Carrefour which is very similar to those we visit in France.  
Eating out is very cheap here and being a festive time, the patisseries
are stocked with amazing sweet goodies made from pastry, dried fruits
and nuts, chocolate, and even carrots.  A favourite snack is Balik Ekmek
(fish sandwich) which we also found in Istanbul.  They fillet and grill
mackerel, serving it in bread.  We wondered where the delicious fish came
from since we never seem able to catch any.  The answer is that they
import it frozen from Norway!

Every morning the rally has a "net" on the VHF at 9am.  It's a chance
for Lo, the organiser, to pass on information and for all of us to raise
questions.  We have been having problems with a leak from our salt water
cooling pump and hadn't got the right tool to fix it.  We asked on yesterday
morning's net whether anyone had one and soon enough one turned up.   
Such are the advantages of being on the rally.

Despite the attractions of exploring a big city, the inner harbour is
inevitably rather smelly and we're all now looking forward to moving on.  
Because of the festive season it's been difficult to make contact with
the authorities but we've now got our passports and papers stamped
appropriately so we shall leave Turkey for Cyprus tomorrow morning.