Lycian Coast Yacht Rally - Kekova Calls
Trevor Joyce, inveterate rally organiser from Mariner Boating, here tells the story of the Lycian Rally cruise - with some fun day races thrown in - along the more easterly, less-travelled Lycian coastline of Turkey.
The Greek Island of Kastellorizo is the gateway for sailors to what Anglophiles call the Kekova Roads. The long island of Kekova lays parallel to the coast enclosing a waterway more than three miles long and only just a half a mile wide.
The entrances at each end are narrow and the water movement in and out is minimal. The Turks call it Olu Deniz – the Dead Sea.
Our race day from Kastellorizo to Kekova has two legs and both are sailed in a healthy 20 plus knots of westerly breeze. Duchess wins her first race in the series, on the water and on handicap, and after a short break the second race entered the roads from the west and finished in Kale Koy - in English, Castle Cove.
Duchess wraps her headsail around her forestay during a gybe and is forced to withdraw soon after the start but our technician Mesut comes to the rescue and quickly sorts the problem.
Like something out of a kid’s story book the castle is perched majestically above the flat waters of the roads below. The city of Simena, as it was known in ancient times, was founded back in the fourth century BC and with nearby Aperlai was part of the Lycian league, which then became part of the Roman Empire, which then became part of Byzantium, which then became part of the Ottoman Empire and so on.
The Lycians buried their dead in dog kennel shaped Sarcophagi together with all of their valuable belongings, creating fantastic opportunities for later grave robbers.
Nearby the marina at Ucagiz (pronounced Uchayiz) provides haven for the rally fleet and Hassan provides a hearty dinner for celebration of a day on the high seas in a literal sense.
The novices on board Volante, Brendan and Adele with their skipper Stephen are seriously excited by the adventure in strong following wind and proclaim the best day’s racing of the rally so far. The finish in front of the castle is spectacular and on handicap Countess and Volante dead heat for first place.
Ucagiz is a sleepy kind of place with it’s only real attraction being the Lycian remains, some of which are under water. How so when the other ports of this coast have been silting up? Well in the misty annals of time earthquakes caused the subsidence.
Oh there is another attraction – The Nomad antique jewellery shop, which at one stage is seriously under siege by rally crews who presumably made a significant contribution to the Turkish balance of payments!
On the lay day a visit to the castle endorses the historical chronology of what we have been looking at and in the afternoon we move to a berth alongside the rickety pier of Ramazan’s restaurant right at the southern end of the waterway and near the also submerged ruins of Aperlai, which the boys and girls snorkel over the following morning.
'Just amazing' they report, before we set off for the elbow shaped bay of Karaloz at the north eastern end of Kekova Island.
At dinner the previous evening our host Ramazan pitches for one of the girls on Casi – in jest of course. As the masquerade continues the offer swells to three camels and two cows while the hilarity of the farce entertains all and sundry.
The next and last day of the rally was originally a race but the series closed early because of the departure of Countess.
A race happens nonetheless in a perfect fifteen to twenty knot breeze assuring fast time to Finike and the terminus.
Next morning it is disembarkation and transfer to Antalya via Phaselis, another Lycian, Greek, Roman, Byzantine site.
Shaded today by the beautiful Mediterranean Pines Phaselis proves to be well worth the stop.
Our hotel in Antalya is the renovated but preserved remains of an Ottoman residence located in the middle of Kaleici, the old port of Antalya.
A labyrinth of tiny streets with its ubiquitous line up of traders offers the last opportunity for the local merchants to get their hands on some Ozzie dollars.
The end of our rally approaches inexorably and after the final night gig it’s back to another reality – the real world, oh bother.
The unanimous conclusion among the participants is that the rally concept has added enormously to the quality and extent of the experience of sailing along this amazing coast.
Nigel Russel adds his comment – 'Even if I came and did the same trip again I would still do it on a Mariner Rally. I couldn’t even begin to put a value on Mesut’s role, the social fun and Mariner hosting is priceless.'
Sharon Kennedy, a member of the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron and a repeat Mariner client says the best part of the whole exercise for her is the elimination of hassle.
'All we have to do is go on holidays', she concluded.
Details of next year’s Turkish Lycian Coast Yacht Rally are on www.marinerboating.com.au or from Mariner Boating Holidays in Sydney.
by Trevor Joyce - 11:06 PM Thu 26 Sep 2013 GMT
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