Palamut, SW Turkey

Vasco da Gama
Ian Strathcarron
Mon 14 Sep 2009 06:39
We arrived at this heavenly small harbour this afternoon and tied up to the town quay. It's a small resort with a long empty beach, a few locantas (restaurants) and a few houses, lots of small fishing boats and a few yachts. The bay is encircled by mountains and so we are protected from strong winds, which have been blowing every day for the last five weeks since we arrived back from England.

The wind is usually the meltemi, a northerly wind which has helped our progress south, but two nights ago, after we had left Bodrum, we dropped anchor in the bay of Knidos which was protected from the meltemi, but not from a southerly wind, and unfortunately it was a southerly squall which blew unexpectedly that night. For the first time since the Atlantic we were in full wet weather gear and on deck in pouring rain, rough sea, keeping an eye on our anchor to see that it didn't drag; we had the engine on just in case and to keep some stress off the anchor and to watch out for other boats. Lightning was flashing on three sides, but we only once or twice heard thunder so the storm was not directly overhead. There were some yachts tied up at a rickety pontoon outside a small locanta in the bay. At about 10.30pm we heard a lot of noise coming from the pontoon and we saw some of the boats leaving and heading towards the bay where we were. One careered straight towards us. Men on the deck were shouting 'Arret, Arret'. I was in the bow shouting 'We are not going anywhere' at which moment the yacht collided with our bow, spun around and took up our anchor with its dinghy. With a rush of adrenalin I drew in our anchor and dislodged it from the dinghy. I was clinging on to the mast and trying to stop myself falling in the water at the time. The rogue boat sped away and we realised that our anchor was now very firmly dug into the sea bed. The winds were between 23 - 25 knots at this time. We were both on deck until 2.30 am and watched as other yachts dragged their anchors and had to try and find a new anchorage, one got washed ashore and one yacht motored around for two hours until finding somewhere to settle. We slept for a few hours as the wind died down to 18 knots. The next morning everything was still. People swam from their boats and the owner of the boat which hit us called out to apologise. He was English and on his own. Men from the locanta had asked him to move because they thought the pontoon was breaking up. They got on board to help him but he couldn't speak Turkish and they didn't speak English, just a few words of French. Ian said 'Don't worry it could be any of us next week'. The man said 'Please apologise to the lady, she must have been terrified'. Ian said 'That wasn't a lady, that was my wife', or some such words. We were all laughing and happy by then. Poor old Vasco has some scratches and paint removed from her bow but she does not seem seriously damaged. Later in the morning a few stray black clouds came overhead and dropped torrential rain on the deck. I was in the aft cabin and Ian was in the saloon and there was a no-man's land in between which neither of us could pass. After an hour the rain eased and Ian opened his washboards and called ' It's just like Yarmouth. Would you like a cup of tea?' One hour later the sky cleared, the storm had passed and as so often happens in these parts we had blue skies and hot sun again and went ashore for a delicious lunch of Turkish mezze.

'Ancient Knidos' is so called because it was once a huge and important port, with harbours on two sides of the promontory on the end of the Datca Peninsula. Since the Bronze Age the Aegean Sea was the centre of mighty civilisations which were in turn colonised by the Greeks and the Romans. The ruins of the ancient city cover the hills on either side of the bay, but there is not a lot for a modern visitor to see. A famous colossal Greek statue of Aphrodite was removed by the Byzantine Emperor Theodosius and taken to Constantinople in the fifth century A.D. after which it was destroyed by a fire, and visits from scholarly explorers in the nineteenth century ensured that other important finds were removed and sent back to the British Museum.

The second night in Knidos harbour was enlivened by the arrival of four huge fishing boats, who with a lot of noise and lights and men scurrying around throwing ropes, came to rest in the bay, only about 100 yards from us. Two boats on the outside of the line dropped anchor, and tied themselves to the two boats in between. I was fairly scared as the wind was blowing again and I imagined them all sailing towards us and our having to jump onto the boats for safety, so I got dressed just in case. But after a while they were all quiet and left at 8 the next morning. So after these adventures you can appreciate how happy I am to be in a quiet, safe bay.