Thursday, 17 October
What a ride we had today … at times rather terrifying! But now we are safely anchored in the sheltered waters of Fethiye Harbor, and can breathe a sigh of relief and put the trip here from Gemiler Adası [Island of Boats] out of our minds.
At the conclusion of yesterday’s post we were anchored between the two boats in the picture to the right, seeking shelter in the lee of the island. At least that was the case until after breakfast this morning. That was when we moved to the middle of the channel to ride out the worst of the storm at anchor… a safer alternative since the boats on either side of us were at times too close for comfort.
Still shots don’t show the ferocity of the storm we endured today — especially since I refused to go out at the height of it to take pictures. The video below pretty much sums up our experience — from Gemiler to Fethiye — although it, too, doesn’t show the worst of it. What can I say … Mui was holding on for dear life and didn’t have a free hand to operate the camera ;-) You can watch the video, and skip the story. Or, if you are bandwidth-challenged, you can skip the video, and read the story.
Stormy Weather … and I don’t mean the song!
Even in the sheltered channel between Gemiler Island and the mainland, we had a pretty rough night — can’t imagine what it was like out in open waters. We woke up to the sound of the generator and the engine at 3:30a. Wondering what was going on, we threw on some clothes and went topside to find the crew and Hakan working the ropes and re-positioning the anchor so that it would hold more securely in the face of strengthening winds. At 4:30a they repeated the task. It was then that we noticed a boat, unable to tie up to shore, trolling the channel. Captain Apo said that it had been sailing up and down the channel since arriving late last night. It was too dangerous for him to take the zodiac across to help them then, but he did so at first light … and again later when he saw that they were dragging their anchor.
Yılmaz and Captain Apo go over to help fellow-boaters with their dragging anchor.
The storm at its worst in the channel!
It might not look bad; but trust me … it was rough!
With the cushions from the aft and fore decks piled inside, you sit where you can ;-)
At its height, the storm was a Force 9 gale, packing 47-54 mph (75-88 kph) winds and waves reaching up to 30 feet (10 m) in height. We didn’t have it nearly as bad inside the channel. The worst of it passed over us between 10:00a and noon. As forecasted, patches of blue began appearing to the west around 3:00p; half an hour later we were having afternoon tea on deck and discussing whether to stay put or leave Gemiler.
in the clear — at least inside the channel!
The concern at hand was a second storm heading in our direction from the east that would keep us on lockdown for another day. By this time, all the other boats had already left the channel, so we decided to follow suit. Rather than head to Ölüdeniz, which was closer, but where there was little shelter, we decided to brave the still rough seas and sail to Fethiye.
Bidding goodbye to Gemİler Island and the ruins we explored yesterday …
… we decide to head back to Fethİye.
With 25-30 mph (39-49 kph) winds coming off the bow, we had following seas as we left the channel. Even with the bow pitching rather wildly, the ride wasn’t too bad — at least not at first. We even enjoyed the company of dolphins riding the bow wave for a while.
Then we made the turn to get around the peninsula, and all h-e-l-l broke loose! With the waves and winds hitting us broadside, the boat started to roll and the ride suddenly got VERY — and I mean VERY — rough. In the back of our minds, we knew that the boat was built to handle the 9- to 13-foot (3-4 m) waves we were battling, and that Captain Apo knew what he was doing. Still, it was hard not to be terrified. At times the mast would roll to an angle that we didn’t think was sustainable, but within seconds it would be upright — only to roll again … this time in the opposite direction. On and on went this roller coaster ride until we rounded the peninsula. Heading north, conditions improved almost immediately. Not that we were in smooth waters, but we were able to let out a collective sigh of relief.
Rays of Sunshine = Rays of Hope.
Left: water spout heading towards land.
Right: Not looking good in Göcek!
During the roller coaster ride, the boat suffered some minor damage — an unsecured microwave fell off a ledge in the kitchen, plates and glasses were broken, a couple of the shower stalls in the en suites came off their tracks, and the awning frame on the aft deck was bent, with one piece breaking off. All easily fixable. Though nerves were frayed, we all survived the storm intact. And amazingly, none of us were seasick despite the rough conditions we endured during the 1½-hour trip to Fethiye.
Another 20 minutes and we’ll be anchored in Fethİye Harbor.
Looking at the map a few paragraphs above, one might wonder why we didn’t seek shelter in one of the bays or coves on our way to Fethiye. Simple answer — some of them were too open to the elements; the tie-ups in others were already taken. Remember … though it’s late in the season for boat trips, this is a holiday week in Turkey, and there are plenty of boats of all sizes out on the water.
The rough journey behind us, we can smile now.
Despite the mess in the kitchen, and our assurances that we’d be more than happy with a simple soup and sandwich meal, Hilmi Usta insisted on preparing his usual feast for dinner. The news on TV was filled with reports of storm damage up and down the coast, and conditions far worse than what we had endured — one town was hit by a twister that blew off the roofs of several houses and a hotel, broke windows, tossed trees around, and sunk four boats in a marina.
No one is ready to laugh off today’s storm. Not even us — and we’ve been in a small vessel before, battling 30-foot (10 m) seas in the furious 50s of the Southern Ocean. But someday we will laugh at these memories; and in the meantime, we sure do have a ‘sea story’ to tell!