by Trevor Joyce
Some days everything falls into place, begging the question – why can’t it be like this all the time? This particular day was the Thursday of the first week of the 2013 Turkish Lycian Yacht Rally, operated by Mariner Boating Holidays between Marmaris and Antalya in Turkey. The rally format alternates fun passage races between ports along the route with leisure days when exploration takes over.
Karacaoren Restaurant - Turkey Lycian Coat Rally
This particular Thursday was a designated as the day for race two from Skopea Limani near Gocek to Karacaoren, just around the corner from Fethiye on the eastern side of the gulf of the same name.
As the sun came a fickle breeze occasionally stirred the flags on the rally yachts berthed at the town quay. The sky was clear – as it had been since the start of this rally. The rendezvous for the start of the race was a bay just south of the headland where race 1 had finished two days before. A small island created the perfect anchorage just off the shore and the rally yachts were anchored while the crews swam in the 25 degree crystal clear briny. Lunch happened and the sun shone while out to sea a thin blue line crept across the horizon.
One perfect bay on one perfect day - Turkey Lycian Coat Rally
The line was the breeze, predicted to fill from the west at Beaufort force three to five; 12 – 18 knots. 'OK folks', called the race director Maggie Joyce from the committee boat.' We are going to shoot for a start at one o’clock so let’s get the anchors up and get ready to roll.'
At 1.10 the sequence for the rolling start ended and the jibs were unfurled – the race was on. By now the breeze was a steady 10 knots at 90 degrees apparent, the sea was flat and the first of the lazy whitecaps began to dot the inky blue sea. The big lazy yachts stirred into action and pretty soon the speed logs were reading in the six's and seven’s. Still the breeze continued to build but just gently so – how good was this.
The bay is overlooked by Baba Mountain - Turkey Lycian Coat Rally
Across the gulf the cape that was the first corner on the race course loomed as the crews fiddled and trimmed to get that extra fraction of a knot. Pretty soon we were at the corner and turning to port for the last two miles to the finish but it was not quite so simple. The breeze became just a little more capricious as it tumbled down the valleys between the high limestone headlands along the shore. But just two hours of near perfect sailing saw the fleet pretty much together at the finish, which used a somewhat worse for wear south cardinal mark as the northern end of the line.
LR13 4 SARSALA 117 - Turkey Lycian Coat Rally
The anchorage for the night was the nearby bay called Karacaoren, where the young good looking Jan had set up his restaurant, the only one on the bay. He had laid moorings around the shore and we took long lines ashore to stop the boats swinging with the breeze. The less than convincing wooden structure stood on the high side of the bay; no windows, no name but a curious array of transmissions by way of the signage across the facia – Karacaoren Restuarant- Bananas – Ringo – Parasailing - Watersports - Icecream. Retired fishing nets decorated the space below the open facade of the restaurant and the sea lapped continuously against the rocky shore to add perfect sound effects.
Racing on the flat water off the Turkish coast - Turkey Lycian Coat Rally
This surreal scene was all overlooked by the imperious 2,000 metre Baba Dag (Father Mountain) from just across the bay while the Taurus Mountains marched off into the distance with the shade of blue becoming more misty with each range.
The race begins - Turkey Lycian Coat Rally
Jan, the owner of the establishment; cook, boat driver, host and barman welcomed us all with a boyish charm and his own unique version of the English language. 'Is to see you coming here very nice for me and please to sitting at this tables'. Jan had bought some white fish he called Lamb fish, which we would call Amberjack, from the local fisherman but he also offered his famous lamb casserole and oven baked octopus.
Perfect for a dip - Turkey Lycian Coat Rally
The race results had On Blue as the winner again but the race results were somewhat academic in this perfect setting of all perfect settings at the end of a perfect day. Nigel Russell, the force behind Duchess, one of the yachts in the rally, proclaimed enthusiastically that such a place and such a day could not possibly be any better but then he had already said that at the end of each of the first three days – and there were still ten to go!
Lunch time anchorage - Turkey Lycian Coat Rally
More details on the 2014 Lycian Coast Yacht Rally on the Mariner Boating Website.