Sogut to Cokertme (Agean, Turkey)

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We start the day lazily. It’s been raining all night and squalls of wind and rain will continue to buffet us all day. So there’s no point rushing. So it’s probably 10am when I swim to the little stony beach to release the shore lines.

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It’s a shame the weather has been bad while we’ve been here in Sogut because this beach on the far side of the bay is absolutely gorgeous. It would make a wonderful place to swim and frolic. Well, I guess the irony of that comment is that I did swim at the beach. I swam there to undo the shore lines, swam back to the boat to collect my camera, swam to the beach again to take photos and then slowly swam back to the boat. But it would have been gorgeous on a sunny day.
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We leave Sogut and head towards nearby Cleopatra Beach. I have a lot of work to do, so I spend the time downstairs in the cabin typing until we get closer. Cleopatra Beach is on a tiny island that was occupied long ago. It had a village and church and amphitheater. All the things a Byzantine might have needed to be comfortable. These are my first ruins here in Turkey. They just look like stone blocks. But maybe it’s the rain and worrying about work that make me feel that way.

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What does very much impress me, however, are the way the mountains on the northern shore of Gokova Korfezi drop into the sea. The mountains have steep jagged cliffs and today, with the weather coming in, the clouds gather up there like they do in alpine regions. It is stunning.

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To get to Cleopatra Beach you anchor on one side of the tiny island. There are lots of tour boats here. In the peak season it must get really crazy here. Then you go to a small jetty at the island, pay a 15TL ($AU7) entry fee and walk on a board walk past an old ruined church to the famous beach.

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Cleopatra Beach is famous for its white sand. It’s the only white sand beach in this region. All the other beaches have stony shores. Legend has it that Anthony had the sand brought here from the Red Sea as a gift for Cleopatra. The beach shore itself is unsightly with an ugly rope cordoning it off from the public and a guard with a whistle very quickly chastising anyone who dares to try to reach or step through the rope to the sand. There has to be a better way to present this icon. But the water is, as always here in Gokova Korfezi beautifully clear. And watching all the other tourists is as much fun as seeing the beach. On a sunny day it would be a place to sit and watch people all day long.

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The amphitheater is only a short walk away along a boardwalk. Fortunately the day is relatively warm because the rain starts bucketing down. It’s my first ancient amphitheater. You cannot enter the site (imagine the damage that would cause) but I can see how impressive it is for it to still be here after thousands of years.

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The rain increases in ferocity on our way back to the boat. There’s no wind so I can watch as the drops of water make patterns on the sea. I think it looks interesting; though the feeling of having driving rain stinging me isn’t so nice.

After leaving Cleopatra Beach I again retire into the cabin to work. Mum and Dad hoist the sails and we cruise along under wind power. After a couple of hours the angle of the boat is too steep and my laptop starts to drift away from my hands so I return to deck. It’s lucky that I do because within fifteen minutes we are hit by the strong winds that are common here. Within the space of seconds the wind speed changes from 13 knots to 35 knots and settles back at 22 knots. It takes all three of us to get the sails in so that we can motor the final approach to Cokertme where we will stay again tonight (we stayed here the first night too).

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I need to charge my laptop for work so suggest we stay at one of the jetties so we have access to power (my laptop doesn’t charge off 12V). We approach near the jetties, unfamiliar with the process for getting a berth. But we needn’t have worried. The local men come to greet us in a dingy, expertly tie themselves to the bow of our boat, climb aboard and guide us in. Meanwhile, a guy on the jetty gives directions to Dad at the helm. I tie the fenders all wrong (it’s my first time) but the guy in the yacht next to us is all over it and reties them as we come in. There’s no risk to his yacht … he has lots of fenders out too and we are moving slowly enough. The process is simple and the men from the jetty are swiftly back in their dingy racing out to collect more yachts for their restaurant. Here in Gokova you can moor at a jetty if you eat at the restaurant attached to said jetty so the guys from the restaurant work hard to fill their jetties with boats. They also will go out across the bay to anchored boats offering to “drive” people to the restaurant in their dingy. They are not pushy or rude; just opportunistic.

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We will see these same men later in the restaurant dressed in crisp clean clothes serving our drinks and meals. We are moored at the Rose Mary Restaurant jetty so that’s where we eat. The view of the yachts on the bay under a quickly filling moon is beautiful. I can imagine it’s very romantic here if you are with your partner (alas, Paul is at home working). We eat dips with bread, garlic prawns and fresh sea bass. It’s all very lovely.

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