Orhaniye in Bee Season

View in the Orhaniye valley
View in the Orhaniye valley

We are still anchored in Keçi Bükü, a bay at the head of the Gulf of Hisaronu. As it is early in the season, we are still the only cruising sailboat anchored in the bay. One other boat, a large motoryacht, is anchored a few hundred meters away from us. There are lots of sailboats tied up to the small quays on the southern side of the bay, but most are still being stored there for the winter and are unoccupied.

A few days ago, the wind finally eased and we took our dinghy to shore to check out what the area has to offer. There are small hotels and restaurants on the southern shore but none have opened for the season except for one restaurant. On the northwest side of the bay, near its mouth, is the upscale Marti Marina and Hotel. Two kilometers in from the southern shore is the little agricultural village of Orhaniye. It is set in the middle of a valley cut by two streams and surrounded by steep rock cliffs on three sides, and Keçi Bükü bay on the other side. As one climbs up the four kilometer long valley it narrows so that it is just a hundred meters wide at its narrowest, and only one kilometer wide where it comes down to the water. The air is filled with pollen from the flowers of orange, lemon and other fruit trees, and from fields thick with wild flowers and honeysuckle, and groves of pine trees below the cliffs.

Blossoms
Blossoms
Flowers
Flowers
Flowers
Flowers

The bloom of flowers makes the air intensely sweet everywhere in the valley. The pollen is so thick that it even covers the boat with a substantial layer of fine pollen powder even though we are well out in the bay. Every day we wash off an accumulation of pollen from our solar panels in order to get the most energy from the sun. Last night it rained and in the morning the whole boat was streaked with red-orange pollen. It is not surprising that the main agricultural pursuit of the season is beekeeping. Every orange tree hums with the hundreds of bees gathering pollen from its flowers. Shake the tree even lightly and the hum turns into an angry drone. A walk in the wildflowers brings up little clouds of bees. These are domesticated bees, not wild bees, so the risk of bee bite is low. There are blue wooden boxes with bee hives everywhere. Not all of the bees make it back to the hive every night. When we take the dinghy back to our boat just before sunset in the evening chill (less than 60 degrees F), the bay is marred by bees doing a death dance on the water’s surface. Some of them fall onto the boat – twirling on the deck and unable to fly.

The valley consists of a series of small farms. Women in traditional loose fitting clothes and scarves work planting vegetable gardens and caring for already mature onions, lettuce, rocket and other early spring crops. Men pick oranges and lemons, work the hives, watch over goats and sheep, or till. Most of the homes are rough stone, all with electricity, and most with a motor scooter or car. There are a handful of very nice multistory polished stone homes overlooking the valley, some with a swimming pool, that are the country homes of urban families from Izmir and other cities. During one afternoon walk we met a young Turkish woman and her mother. The young woman is an electrical engineer and very hip, with a tattoo of Ataturk on her shoulder that proclaims her secularism, and spoke excellent English. She and her family are from Izmir and are building a country home in the valley. When we mentioned that we would love to buy some oranges, she said that she didn’t think there was any place to buy them at retail, but she would be happy to ask a farmer if we could buy some. As we passed a beautiful orchard, she said that its owner had the best oranges in the valley and she would ask him if we could get some. The owner was very friendly and immediately took out a ladder and climbed one of his trees to gather some fresh oranges for us… as many as we wanted. Since we had to carry them back to the boat we limited ourselves to about 5 kilos of oranges and several huge lemons. He charged us 5 lira (about two dollars). One other day, a different farmer sold us juice oranges and his wife took us into their extensive garden and cut three heads of leaf lettuce and a bag of rocket for us to buy. On another walk, a man invited us in for coffee where we met his two children and talked about the Orhaniye valley. He told us that he and his uncle had just gathered 20 kilograms of the “best” honey from their hives, and how many kilos would we want to buy…five? He was surprised that one kilo was all we wished to buy. Not only do Turks soak baklava and other dessert dishes in honey, some take a tablespoon of honey morning and night to aid digestion. He pulled some lettuce and a large onion from his garden as a parting gift. Today, at the only little store in the valley, we sat outside and drank cherry juice with the proprietor. Two days before his wife sold us a large chicken just off the rotisserie, and we ordered another for tomorrow – plus some organic farm eggs.

Wildflowers fill a field
Wildflowers fill a field
Bee hives stacked in front of a farm house
Bee hives stacked in front of a farm house
A farmer picks some oranges for us
A farmer picks some oranges for us

Tomorrow the wind switches to the southeast again so it is time to head north. We will head for Mersincik and anchor for the night, and the next day continue north again. We have enjoyed our stay in the anchorage at Keçi Bükü, our walks through the valley of Orhaniye, and the new friends that we have made. This is certainly among our favorite places in the Med.

M.

Goat munches on wildflowers
Goat munches on wildflowers
Shearing sheep
Shearing sheep
Mulberry tree
Mulberry tree
Farmer picks lettuce for us
Farmer picks lettuce for us
Farmer washes rocket for us
Farmer washes rocket for us
Orhaniye valley
Orhaniye valley
Tilling a field (witth a cow!)
Tilling a field (with a cow!)
Lemons
Lemons
Valley girls
Valley girls
Priimary school children celebrate Ataturk's birthday
Primary school children celebrate Ataturk’s birthday
View towards Sabbatical III from Byzantine fort on an island in the bay
View towards Sabbatical III from Byzantine fort on an island in the bay
View from the fort
View from the fort
Poppies
Poppies

 

Keçi Bükü

Ruins of fort at Keçi Bükü
Ruins of fort at Keçi Bükü

We left at Sunday morning for a sail to Keçi Bükü, a bay at the head of the Gulf of Hisaronu. Two kilometers inland from here is the small village of Orhaniye. The forecast called for southeasterly winds lasting only 18 hours or so, and we were determined to make use of them for heading to the northwest up the Turkish coast.
We left the marina on Saturday afternoon and anchored out in the adjacent bay. There, we set both downwind poles, installed jacklines, and made other preparations for a nighttime sail. After a couple of hours of sleep, we left at 1 am for our passage. We motored for 4 hours or so in light northwesterlies until the southeasterlies came in. When they did, we set our big (150 %) genoa on a pole and our mizzen on a preventer and had a great sail. Our route took us right in front of the harbor or Rhodes. Unbeknowst to us, a wooden sail boat carrying Syrian migrants crashed onto the rocks of Rhodes sometime that day, with the tragic loss of three lives.
The Rhodes harbor used to have one of the “Seven Wonders of the World” ,the Colossus of Rhodes, a 35 meter tall statue, as a landmark for ships. It was toppled by an earthquake in 227 BC. What a sight it must have been for sailors of the time. Now there are a couple of poles with flashing lights to mark the harbor entrance. Not quite the same effect esthetically, but still effective from a navigational point of view.
We were doing over 9 knots in strong winds when Laura was at the helm. We did only 7.5 to 8 knots when I was at the helm. Something about Laura brings out the wind and gets the boat going. When we started to bring in sail to turn up into the Gulf of Hisaronu, the turning block on the fore guy that holds the downwind pole in place completely blew apart, flinging bearings into the sea. We did not need the pole anymore to head up into the gulf and we have a spare onboard, but it was a beefy bit of boat hardware that was bent and destroyed by the force of the wind.
We are anchored behind a small island topped by a medieval fort but have not left the boat in the three days since we arrived. It is blowing so hard (from the northwest) that we are just hunkered down until it blows itself out a bit. Fortunately, we have plenty of food and reading material aboard, so we are happy. But we would like to stretch our legs and search for fresh fruit.
M.

Gombe and Patara

Sow covered mountains behind the mosque at Gombe
Snow covered mountains behind the mosque at Gombe

We took a day away from boat chores yesterday and rented a car and explored nearby sites with Melinda and Dave of Sassoon.  A nice Fiat 4-door sedan is only 25 euros this time of year.  Our trip took us west along the D400 coast highway past Kalkan to the beach and ancient Lycian city of Patara.  The Lycian civilization goes back more than 3000 years. On the way we stopped for a look at Kaputas Beach in between Kaş and Kalkan.  From Patara we took the road up into the mountains to the small town of Gombe, locally famous for its cherries, apples, and other orchard fruit.  At Patara Beach it was 72 F and sunny, the warmest day this year, but 90 minutes away in Gombe the mountains were covered in snow and we were wearing coats over our fleeces, with warm hats.  The road down to Kaş from Gombe was particularly beautiful — covered in pines, views of snow capped peaks, and the occasional herd of goats crossing the road.  We left the marina at 10 am and were back at 7 pm the same day.

Kaputas Beach on the Kaş - Kalkan road
Kaputas Beach on the Kaş – Kalkan road
Laura at the ancient Lycian temple at Patara
Laura at the ancient Lycian temple at Patara
Temple coliseum at Patara
Temple coliseum at Patara
Some friendly your Americans who just finished hiking the Lycian Trail (Patara)
Some friendly young Americans who just finished hiking the Lycian Trail (Patara)
On the road above Kalkan
On the road above Kalkan
View from the barrage (dam) at Gombe
View from the barrage (dam) at Gombe
The trail above Gombe
The trail above Gombe
The trail above Gombe
Dave, Melinda, and Laura on the trail above Gombe  We saw no one else on the trail that afternoon.

 

The boat is almost ready to put to sea.  Easterly winds are predicted for Sunday and Monday and we will use that opportunity to sail to Goekova Limani, the long, narrow bay on which the city of Datca is located.  We will leave at 1 am Sunday or Monday morning so we can still arrive in daylight at our destiination.

 

M.

In the water for the start of a new sailing season

Sabbatical III awaits launch at Kaş Marina
Sabbatical III awaits launch at Kaş Marina

Sabbatical III is back in the water and we are getting her ready for a cruise up the Turkish Aegean coast and then to the Greek Isles.  We spent four nights living aboard while Sabbatical III was on the hard (above), using the ladder pictured to get on and off.

Sabbatical III shows off her waxed and polished topsides and new anti-fouling paint below the water line.  Note the timbers used to hold her up.
Sabbatical III shows off her waxed and polished topsides and new anti-fouling paint below the water line. Note the timbers used to hold her up.

We are back in our previous berth at Pontoon C berth 13.  Next to us in C14 is a sea turtle (below) who is very polite and does not disturb us even when she eats the marine growth on our underwater lines.

Our sea turtle neighbor who hangs out in the adjacent berth.
Our sea turtle neighbor who hangs out in the adjacent berth (C14).

On the other side of us, in berth C12, there is a school of sea bream (below) who are quiet except when you throw them some bread — then its a feeding frenzy.

Sea bream in berth C12.
Sea bream in berth C12.

Plus the young ones who hang out at our stern in C13 (below).

Small fry behind Sabbatical III in C13.
Small fry behind Sabbatical III in C13.

We are almost finished with our maintenance and  improvement projects and should be ready to head north-west up the coast by Sunday or Monday.

Stuff that needs to be stowed.
Stuff that needs to be stowed.
Laura scrubs the deck and wipes down the stanchions.
Laura scrubs the deck and wipes down the stanchions.

M.