We arrived in Leros on the 24th October. We had emailed the marina to say that we would be doing in a week early and whilst we were on route we had a phone call to say that unfortunately because of the Bodrum Cup they wouldn’t have room for us until the 25th or 26th. It wasn’t a big deal for us as we knew we could anchor in the bay and it would give us time to check out the marina before having to back in for the winter.
We had been anchored for about an hour when the bay started to fill with big Turkish Gulets.
A gulet (Turkish pronunciation: [ɡuˈlet]) is a traditional design of a two-masted or three-masted wooden sailing vessel (the most common design has two masts) from the southwestern coast of Turkey, particularly built in the coastal towns of Bodrum and Marmaris; although similar vessels can be found all around the eastern Mediterranean. Today, this type of vessel, varying in size from 14 to 35 metres, is popular for tourist charters. For considerations of crew economy, diesel power is now almost universally used and many are not properly rigged for sailing.
It was an amazing sight and the size (width) of these boats enabling very plush accommodation. We realised that these boats weren’t old. They were built on an old design but seemed to be mostly fairly new, very swanky boats with 10 or 20 crew members aboard.
We looked up the Bodrum Cup and realised they were ‘racing’ over 5 days around Turkey and Greece. I am not sure if they really were racing as most of the first boats to arrive didn’t look as if they had been sailing at all although some of the latecomers obviously had.
The Gulets began to moor up stern to along the Quay and in the marina. I was amazed at how straight these boats could go backwards, they moored up with no problem at all. Although when they began to double moor, that is one in front of the next, we thought that retrieving anchors might well be interesting in the morning as they set to leave.
As the wind was due to pick up again during the night, we didn’t envy them having to go out in 30 to 40 mile an hour winds the following day. There were obviously several different classes for the Cup as some of the smaller boats were only 26feet, so really small if the waves get up.
The following morning we awoke with the anchor alarm saying we were dragging our anchor. We had had trouble setting the anchor, it just didn’t like the holding, I don’t know why, it seemed to be mud which means it should be good holding, but there we are. We rushed out to switch on the engines and pulled the anchor up to reset. Some of the Gulets were also pulling up there anchors in order to head out. And so the fun and games began.
With so many boats moored together, they caught each others anchors and also they caught the anchors of the boats in the bay like us, anchored before they arrived. We spent a good few hours watching them untangle themselves in order to leave. Because their boats are so big it was a real dare devil act to try and free the caught chains. They had to balance on the Bobstay under the bowsprit in order to loop a rope under the offending chain. They then had to pass the rope up to a crew member on top to pull the chain off the anchor to release themselves.
For a moment, I thought I had seen a boat I would really love to have, now I am completely happy with our boat again, as balancing on a tightrope under the boat is just one step to far. I know I can lie on deck and release any ropes on TopCat, and that is as far as my acrobatics go!
We then realised that the yachts which had left had just moved around the corner as they were in the way of the ferries. It seemed the days sailing had been postponed due to the strong winds and they were all actually going to stay another day. The next morning the departure was much smoother and we spent a great morning watching then all move out.
I am so glad we came in to the bay and we were lucky enough to be right in the thick of this spectacular event. It was a beautiful sight and although the wind was howling, the sun did come out and we could enjoy the occasion from our frontside seats on TopCat.
We were looking forward to exploring the town and finding some good walks for Lilly. We are planning to be here until February or March and so we hoped it wouldn’t be to noisy and it would be safe from the winds and waves. We hadn’t realised that the ferries would be coming in three times a week in the middle of the night right next to us, nor that the lorries and cars would be driving right past us to board the ferries. I don’t know how this will affect our nights sleep …. We will keep you posted. Certainly last night we didn’t hear the town noise or the ferries whilst out at anchor.
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