Alanya, Turkey

Vasco da Gama
Ian Strathcarron
Sun 25 Apr 2010 07:49
We left Kemer on Friday morning. Vasco has been parked there for nearly six months. Sailing comfortably in the Mediterranean, even the eastern part, is more or less confined to six months of the year. Before we left, Ian gave a presentation he has prepared about his Byron book - 'Joy Unconfined!, Byron's Grand Tour re-Toured'. The presentation took place in the Library of the Navigator Bar, used as a club room by the liveaboards. We rehearsed the presentation a few times, it incorporates slides and videos, with Ian reading from the text. The presentation was announced on the daily radio broadcast to take place at 8 pm. I arranged 10 comfortable chairs, not knowing how many people to expect. But at 8pm somewhere between 30 and 40 people arrived. I gave a short introduction and Ian presented for more than one hour. The talk is about Byron's tour through the Med to Istanbul between 1809 - 1811, and our own voyage in his wake. I think everyone enjoyed it, and we had lots of positive comments. To me it brought back lots of memories and reminders of what a fantastic journey it has been. The book will be published by Signal Books on 5th September. It includes several pages of photographs and illustrations and a beautifully designed cover, showing S/V Vasco da Gama, Lord Byron and Ali Pasha, the mad Albanian tyrant.

On our last day in Kemer we went by bus to a Lake District 100 miles to the north. The trip was arranged by our neighbours on Nanette, Debbie and Tom Shwab, and the purpose was to see the lakes and visit the fields of roses, where rose oil, attar of roses is produced. Attar of roses was a most valued oil to the Persians and Ottomans, and now it is used to create perfumes and cosmetics. We saw acres and acres of rose bushes. Only one type of rose is used, a pink damask rose and they are grown on farms all over the area. We visited a rose oil plant and saw rows of copper vats, where the oil is distilled by steam being passed over rose petals, then condensed, producing rosewater with a very thin layer of oil on the top. We were told it takes 100 kilos of rose petals to produce 25g rose oil. It is very expensive and most of it is exported to France. The rosewater is a much more plentiful byproduct. We bathed our hands in the beautifully scented rosewater which spilt from the sides of the vats.

We waved goodbye to our neighbours on the pontoon, and set off rather shakily as we have not been at sea for so long. We first hit choppy sea and unexpected winds coming straight at us and Ian estimated that the journey to the anchorage we had picked out was going to take 20 hours, instead of the 7 we had planned. But after 2 or 3 hours the wind moved behind us, we set both sails and rocketed along. There are very few ports of call along this coast, and for our first anchorage we were told of a safe place along the Manavgat River, 45 nautical miles from Kemer. The entrance to the river was not clear until we had almost reached it. There was a sea wall on either side of the entrance, packed with fishermen and a strong current creating folds of water in the sea as the fresh water rushed out. You can see the origin of the water on mountain peaks, still covered with snow. We motored slowly along as it was shallow, but the river was very peaceful and empty, bordered on one side by tall reeds, and on the sea side by a beach, with rickety shelters on stilts. As dusk was approaching we could hear and see lots of birds, among them hoopoes, egrets and swifts, and sparrows which landed on our rigging. It was public holiday and a few Turkish families fished from small boats tied up to the reeds. We dropped anchor in mid-stream and spent a peaceful night. Yesterday we motor sailed for 5 hours before arriving here at Alanya Marina. It's a new marina, not many boats, unfortunately built next to a busy coast road, but comfortable enough for a 2 night stopover.