Finike to Fethiye

Leander has been hauled out of the water, and sits in a yard in Fethiye, in the south of Turkey. She will rest there for the winter, giving us time to welcome our coming child, and, later, to do some repair and maintenance work.


Leander at Setur Marina in Finike.


For the first time in many years, Leander met a sister ship. The script is more clever than ours, with a tip of the hat to the mythical Leander, who swam the Hellespont to meet his lover, hero. Not surprising to meet Leander in this neck of the woods, as we come to Leander’s home in Turkey.

The boat had been at Setur Marina in Finike, but we don’t like staying at commercial marinas. Fethiye is also easier logistically. We have set up camp for a few months in Istanbul, requiring that we fly back and forth to the boat from time to time. The local airport down south is far from the marina in Finike, but it’s a shorter hop to Fethiye. (Don’t worry – reading these blogs doesn’t require that you keep separate in your head place names like “Fethiye” and “Finike.” Paul is still learning the Turkish language, and the names sometimes swim in his head. Erzurum or Erzincan? Izmit, Izmir, or Iznik? Throw in some slight dyslexia, a fast-speaking Turk, and little bit of stress, such as, say, when trying to grab a last-minute bus from the airport, and a mild panic can set in. Did he just say he was going to Alana, Adana, Antakya, or Antalya? Amasya? Alaca?!)

In September, when we were staying in Bodrum (easy to distinguish from Batman, in the eastern part of the country . . .), we took a couple of days to drive the coast and scout out marinas. We visited the boat yard in Fethiye. Filled mostly with Turkish gullets and only a handful of fiberglass cruising sailboats, we took to it right away. We met the proprietor, Levent, and he said all the right things about providing outside workers access to the yard and seemed laid back about things in general. We asked around, heard good things, and so to Fethiye we decided to come.

But how to get the boat from Finike to Fethiye, a two day sail?! Sima, at eight months pregnant, was encouraged not to take the trip, though she longed to do so. (“What do you mean you’re going to sail the boat without me?!) Paul figured on finding another cruiser in the marina at Finike, but did not look forward to sailing with someone that he didn’t know.

Paul flew down to Finike at the end of October and began to prepare the boat.

October 29 is Turkish Independence Day, providing a good distraction from the need to move the boat.

The streets of Finike.

Finike is all in for Turkish Independence Day.


Independence Day celebrated in Finike, in southern Turkey.

The day started early with the thump of drums and martial music rolling over the marina. Forgetting the need to find another sailor for the moment, Paul donned his running gear, packed his camera, and went out to try to find the source. Out on the streets, he ran into another cruiser, Martha, of the New Zealand flagged sailing vessel “Silver Fern.” She was looking for the source of the music too, and so they traveled together along the streets of this small coastal town in the south of Turkey.

Post parade rest. That trumpet on the left could use a shine.


Paul and Martha of Silver Fern met searching for the Independence Day festivities, Martha on her bike and Paul out for a run. Martha is from the U.S., lived in Massachusetts, on Boston’s North Shore, and worked at one time in the Mayor’s Office in — Lynn! It’s a small world.

Where was she from? The U.S.? Paul too. She was from Boston? The North Shore? She used to work in Lynn?! What a small world. A quick friendship was formed, and when Paul and Martha found the stadium where the bands were marching and the students parading, they took up seats and enjoyed the festivities together.


Raising the flag at the Independence Day ceremonies.

Turkish Independence Day: The lead drummer signals a change in cadence. She was nothing but business throughout the celebration.

Post parade rest.  That trumpet on the left could use a shine.

Post parade rest. That trumpet on the left could use a shine.

Students in traditional costume.

Students in traditional costume.


Student as Turkish soldier.

Tassle asway.

Tassel a-sway.

Watching the Independence Day Festivities.

Watching the Independence Day Festivities.

Students line the parade ground.

Students line the parade ground.

Watching the parade.

Watching the parade.


Mustafa Kemal casts a sideways glance, no doubt reacting to the probing camera lens.

Martha was returning to the U.S. in a few days. Where to find someone to help with the boat?

Enter Samet!

We met Samet Bilgen and his wife Gugi at a wedding in Bodrum, and took to them right away. Samet is himself an avid sailor, and we had talked for a long time at the wedding about boats. Gugi had given birth to their first child, Bora, about five months earlier, and so we also talked about the birthing process and caring for toddlers. We ended up changing hospitals and physicians based upon comments that she made, and agreed to stay in touch.

Gugi found out that Paul needed help moving the boat. Samet was on the phone to Paul within minutes, asking about particulars. It would be difficult, he said, because the holiday weekend was coming up, but he said that he would make some calls to see if he could make it work.

He called back a short time later. He could make it work. He arranged travel, absolutely refused help from Paul with the cost, and was at the boat three days later.

Samet pilots Leander in the early morning light.

Samet was a treat to sail with. Paul and he talked about sailing, Turkey, reading the weather, and a host of other topics.


All that reading about heavy weather has caused Samet’s eyelids to become, well, heavy, although the seas on this day were anything but.

This cloud and its twin set of hills seem to have a natural affinity.

This cloud and its twin set of hills seem to have a natural affinity.

The days passed quickly and effortlessly, and they arrived safely in Fethiye Harbor two days later. In harbor, we had slow dinners where Samet displayed skills at uncovering very good Turkish food in mediocre restaurants by drawing it out of the waiter. He also, unfortunately, forever ruined for me Turkey’s staple beer, Efes, by helping me taste the sugar that is added at the end of the brewing process. My taste buds were perhaps happier in ignorant bliss.


The view from the boat yard in Fethiye.

The boat yard where Leander will sit for the winter.

The boat yard where Leander will sit for the winter.

Fethiye is a pleasant place to be. It is nice to hear the banging of hammers and rasping of saws instead of the whine of high speed power tools and the beeping of forklifts maneuvering in reverse. Here, calmly, in the midst of the soon-to-be snow-capped mountains, Leander will rest for a few months, while her crew prepares for a new member.

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