Or ‘How our heroes spent the hottest 6 weeks of the year traipsing up and down the southern coast of Turkey looking for a winter mooring’.

After the dubious joys of wintering in Corfu, we decided to do a bit more research before choosing this winter’s location. So we’ve travelled along the south coast of Turkey from Marmaris to Antalya checking out the marinas en route to see if they match up to our exacting standards, namely bombproof shelter, excellent facilities, helpful multilingual staff, good technical services, cheap and good accommodation for when hauled out, beautiful surroundings, lively social life, good provisioning, interesting cultural opportunities and dirt cheap. Not much to ask, is it.

In doing so we compared and contrasted Marmaris, Fethiye, Kas, Kekova, Finike, Kemer and Antalya. As usual we couldn’t make our minds up and had to go back and see them all again. In the end we plumped for Finike as the best compromise and have booked in for 6 months from 1st November. If any other yotties are interested in comparative facilities and prices, leave a message and we’ll get back to you.

Throughout this exercise it’s been a tad warm. Afternoon temperatures have been averaging over 40 degrees in the shade, and even by 10 at night they’re still up in the mid thirties. Bedclothes have been dispensed with except for a thin sheet pulled over between 04:30 and 06:00 when the temperature has, on rare occasions, been known to drop as low as 25 degrees.

This requires some adaptation, physiological, behavioural and environmental.

Physiologically we probably can cope more with the heat than before, but it doesn’t feel like it, certainly when compared with the locals. Take walking through Antalya city centre, dressed in light shorts, sandals and a thin, short sleeved, loose-fitting shirt. All effort is made to keep in the shade, even though this means zig-zagging from one side of the street to the other and skulking in and out of doorways like Clouseau at his most incompetent trying to tail a suspect. Air conditioned shops (i.e. almost all of them) become strangely attractive, irrespective of the wares on offer within.

Despite all this we were drenched in sweat. Dark stains spread over shirts, armpits, backs, chests and stomachs. Shorts developed damp patches in embarrassing places. Hair became lank and slicked back. Sweat dripped off noses and earlobes and ran through sodden eyebrows into the eyes, stinging and blurring vision.

Now what are the locals like, walking, and working, under exactly the same conditions? Cool, relaxed, airy and what’s more dry that’s what. They stroll elegantly down the street in dresses, headscarves, shoes (and socks!), long trousers, shirts and ties, even jackets and hats. Some had vests under their shirts as well. How do they do that? Do they have a sheep dip full of antiperspirant in the front garden through which they’re poked with sticks on their way out every morning? “Mehmet! Make sure uncle Ibrahim’s head goes right under this time – you missed behind his ears yesterday.” And compare them to us. We might as well be carrying a bell and a placard announcing ‘Unclean! Tourist of dubious personal hygiene’.

Environmental changes mainly involved modifying the internal environment of the boat. Sunshades are great at cutting out the heat of the sun (hence the name), but they also drastically reduce airflow. So we had to increase ventilation.

This leads us on to a minor ripple in the pool of domestic harmony that is Birvidik.

Not to put too fine a point on it, Liz is jealous.

Of the fridge.

She considers that Bob is obsessed. Every time she turns around he’s on his knees before it, gently spraying its delicate inner workings with water. “It’s the heat” he says. “The poor thing can’t cope – it needs help.” Liz reckons it’s not the only one.

Liz keeps buying fans (which she’s told we don’t need) but when she goes to use them they’ve disappeared. Then she finds them lovingly arranged around the bloody fridge! She’s convinced that even if she bought a hundred fans he’d still have them all focussed on the fridge. He even sets a timer to make sure that, even if he’s reading a really good book, he doesn’t forget to check that the fridge is doing OK.

Bags of ice are bought and stuffed in to help it. If she’s very lucky she can have a couple of lumps in her vodka and soda but she reckons that the pained expression on his face when the ice cubes are sacrificed in this way takes away from the enjoyment somewhat.

Still, it’s all worth it as long as his beer is chilled.

This plethora of fans does help, especially in bed when one is left on all night in the aft cabin. This just about enables sleep and has the added benefit of stopping our sleep being disturbed by mosquitoes. The new ‘Megawatto Typhoonerama’ fan creates such a blast of air that any mosquito attempting a bit of vampirism either dies from exhaustion trying to fly against it to get to us or, if trying to go with the flow, ends up slamming terminally into the headboard.

Of course, the combined wattage of all these fans has meant that the wind generator and solar panel can’t cope so we’ve had to buy a petrol generator to replace all the lost amps. If it goes on like this we’ll have a carbon footprint the size of Luxembourg.

In behavioural terms, the obvious thing to do is nothing, especially in the hottest part of the day. Which is most of it. So what do Bob & Liz do during the heat of the day? Here are a few examples:

1. Climb to the heights above Fethiye to view the castle and the Lycian rock tombs.

On the way up we were befriended by Elgin who gave us a guided tour and plausible history of the region. He also showed us the Lycian ‘prison’ from about 3000 years ago. Well, I say ‘prison’ but it was really more of an oubliette. This was an interconnected series of caves and tunnels, accessed via vertical holes. Prisoners were lowered (or thrown) down one end and only pulled out the other end when they were suitably dead.

No parole there then.

The tombs were fascinating, especially as you could get right up to and inside them. Their public aspects, from the outside, were huge, impressive and elaborate structures, carved out of the rock in the form of temple frontages. They implied the continuation behind of large rooms and imposing spaces.

In reality, the business end, where the actual job of sticking leftover Lycians took place, was a tiny little hole just big enough for a couple of stiffs. 98% of effort and expenditure on image and PR and 2% on actually doing the job.

Human nature hasn’t changed much in 3000 years then.

2. Go sea kayaking in Kekova wearing a thick lifejacket and a rubber skirt.

This was led by a guy currently studying for a PhD in Astrophysics. He spends all summer leading adventure holidays, kayaking, canyonning, paragliding, hot air ballooning etc, and all winter at University probing the mysteries of the cosmos.

You needed a PhD in physics to balance the kayak, especially when there are two of you in it as you have to second guess what the other one’s going to do and try to counter it. We managed to get through without rolling the thing over, but it was a bit close at times. Especially when we went over a sunken city and Liz decided to lean over the side and have a really good look.

3. Climb up to the castle at Kale Koy and scramble through the ancient sarcophagi in the necropolis.

Do you see a pattern developing here?

There are so many sarcophagi on this coast that it’s easy to become somewhat blasé about them, but this area is stunning. There is even a lonely sarcophagus standing in the water off the quay at Kale Koy. It must be one of the most photographed sights in Turkey.

So we didn’t take one.

Now all is sorted for the winter we can enter pottering mode. We intend to wander up and down this bit of coast at our leisure and check out the sights we can go to when our prospective guests come out at the end of the summer.

Must dash – got to check on the fridge.

Originally written for birvidik

posts by birvidik