Thursday, June 2, 2011

Arrived in Greece

Motoring north along the coast of Turkey was easier than we had been led to believe to expect.  The wind gods were with us, it seems.  True to the rumors, if there was wind then it was right on our nose.  But most of the time there was no wind at all.  Sea was glassy smooth most of the time.  We lucked out and did not experience any strong headwinds whatsoever during the approximately 150 miles north from Marmaris.

Our final night in Turkey was spent anchored at a lovely small island called Catalada, lattitude 37.00.3N longitude 027.13.17 E.   We had planned to anchor in Gumusluk.  The pilot guide said that Gumusluk was pretty and nice, but as we were negotiating the entrance the loudest call to prayer we have ever heard was blasting from the loud speakers on the mosque right on the shoreline.  It was deafening!!!!  Plus the bay was already crowded with anchored yachts.  Spending the night in such a crowded place and knowing that the mosque speakers would blast us out of bed at 04:30 the next morning did not seem at all appealing.  I just had a bad feeling about this place.  So we turned right around and backtracked to the little island of Catalada.  So glad we made this hasty decision.

Dog water skiing
There were several yachts already anchored at Catalada when we arrived about 16:00, so we anchored behind them.  As sunset approached, one yacht after another weighed anchor and motored away.  Only 4 yachts remained there overnight.  Several very small "tourist" boats came and went during the late afternoon.  Turkey has extremely few islands.  Almost all the islands along the Turkish coast belong to Greece.  Some of these do not make a lot of sense to me.  It is almost like considering Catalina Island to belong to Mexico rather than to California.  Catalada is one of those rare Turkish islands.  I would recommend this stop
Water skiing dog
to anyone traveling through this area.  There is a roped off beach swimming area and numerous picnic tables set beneath trees ashore.  A very nice stop and well protected from meltimi winds.

One of the sights we were treated to was a water-skiing dog.  The dog did not look the least bit thrilled to be doing this, but he stayed on the board as the small boat raced back and forth through the anchorage.  There were 2 dogs on this small boat.  The man attempted to get the other dog to water ski also, but that dog was having nothing to do with this activity.  He repeatedly jumped off the board and swam to the boat to be picked up.  

We had planned to stop in another anchorage in Turkey and delay our arrival into Greece.  The Schengen Treaty prohibits us from staying more than 90 days in all EU countries combined.  This year we plan to spend the entire 90 days in Greece.  Our grandson arrives in Athens on the morning of 14 June and departs 19 August.  If we clear into Greece too early then we will have to make a mad dash south through the Greek islands after 19 August in order to clear out before our allotted 90 days expire.   

However, when we checked weather gribs the next morning our plans changed.   Winds were predicted to increase and clock from northwesterly to due north -- the exact direct we needed to go.  Rather than stop as planned, it made more sense to get as far north as needed before the winds increased.  So, scratch the plans to stop in Buyukturnali and get on up to Samos.  And, miracle of all miracles, we actually managed to sail about 3 hours this day!  The entire trip from Marmaris to Samos was motoring except for these 3 hours of sailing.

Town Quay; Samos, Greece
We arrived in Pithagorion on the southern side of Samos around 14:30.  As we approached the breakwater Bill put out fenders and stern lines and folded down the bimini in preparation of (hopefully) backing in at the town quay.  I kept telling him that he was being very optimistic.  We motored in and looked around.  Nope, all full already.  There was an opening on the guay where the edge was painted blue.  At least 4 boats could have fit there, but since no other boat was moored in the blue area I assumed it was not an area open to visiting yachts.  Later we learned that the Port Police and Customs offices are located at that area and
Town Quay; Samos, Greece
that visiting yachts are indeed not allowed to moor there.  

We turned around and anchored just outside the town harbor in a very nice anchorage.  This anchorage is well-protected by the breakwater for the town harbor and there is a nice beach.  Lovely little place with room for about 20 boats to anchor.  There is a low stone wall where you tie off the dinghy, then walk a few steps to the restaurant row on the town quay.  Perfect place.  I actually like being anchored out here better than being tied to the busy town quay.

Samos narrow street, steep stairs upper half.
The pilot guide does not provide any details about clearance procedures.  We found the Customs office and were instructed to first go to the regular Police to have our passports stamped.  This involved a short walk; we had to stop 5 times to ask directions but it was all very easy.  With passports stamped (free), we returned to the Customs office where we obtained our Transit Log (cost 30 Euros).  Then next door to the Port Police (formerly called Coast Guard) where we paid our harbor dues and another fee (for what I have no idea) (cost 21.50 Euro).  Total cost to clear into Greece for 2 persons on a 16-meter yacht was $75.60 USD.  Not one of the 3 officials gave us the same answer when we inquired how long we are allowed to remain in Greece.  Based on the answers received, we can either stay 89 days and will be charged a hefty fee if we clear out on the 90th day; or we can stay 3 full months, or we can stay forever.  Customs said we must clear out on the 89th day or pay a fee.  Port Police said we can stay forever.  Yeah, sure.

Vathi, capitol of Samos, Greece
Today we managed to buy sim cards for the cell phone and 3G.  This can only be accomplished in Vathi, the capitol of Samos located on the northern side of the island.  A public bus operates between the 2 cities, but we opted to take a taxi for convenience.  The taxi driver knew which shop we needed and he waited for us, with the meter running.  The taxi cost 27 Euro; a lot less expensive than renting a car and paying for gasoline.  Plus, having the local knowledge of the taxi driver was a real time-savings.  The main town of Vathi is lovely.  Great natural harbor.  As we looked down on Vathi from the mountainside we had the thrill of seeing a submarine emerge.  Really cool sight!

Public exercise machines
There is a tiny park on the low stone wall separating the anchorage from the town harbor of Samos.  The children's playground is fenced off.  On the outer area there are a few exercise machines.  We have seen this type of public park exercise machines in many countries -- Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Turkey.  The machines are always in excellent repair.  And we have seen people using these machines in each of those countries.  It was really a sight in Malaysia and Turkey to see women covered head-to-toe utilizing these exercise machines. 

Public exercise machines, Samos, Greece

Why don't we have such things in the USA?

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