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Sailing from Greece to Turkey (Leros to Keci Buku)

This is an example of a typical itinerary on our two week Greece to Turkey trips. However, no two trips are ever exactly the same; one of the greatest things about being on a sailboat is the flexibility to change our minds and our route to suit personal preferences, prevailing wind conditions, etc. The start and finish points are fixed, of course - but all else is changeable according to the whims of the wind gods and those on board

Day One

Your yacht will be awaiting you at 11am in Lakki, the main harbour on the west coast of Leros. We'll have drinks, boat chat and show you the ropes - time to settle in before we sail for our first destination.
Dependent on the winds - our first port of call is usually Lipsos - the island of the 42 blue-domed churches. It's a quiet, very untouristy island; the harbour is a typical, whitewashed little Greek town; a photographers' dream in the village! To cool off, there is a lovely little sandy beach, just over the hill from where we moor the boats, and a great hike along a little goat track to the point, with amazing views to the other islands. Sail time, approx 3-4hrs

Day Two
Given calm conditions, we may be able to stop for a late breakfast at Macronisi - a collection of stunning rocks and cliff faces, just outside the entrance to Lipsos harbour. The water is a bright turquoise, perfect for snorkelling; and for the brave, there is an underwater cave swim-through!
Duly refreshed, we'll set sail for Marathi. - If you could paint a picture of the perfect, idyllic island retreat, Marathi would be it - a tiny island with a sandy, horseshoe-shaped beach, and more beautiful water to swim and snorkel in. There are just two families living here; wonderfully friendly and hospitable people. The food is incredible too !! This place is a magical balm for the stressed-out city-living soul...so much so that it's often been hard to persuade people that, really, we should leave, there are other islands to visit ! Sail time, approx 3hrs.

Day Three
Sail to Patmos - a short hop of only a couple of hours. This is the famous monastery island - in fact is supposedly the second most important religious centre for Greek Orthodoxy in the world! This is where St John (as of Apostle fame) was inspired by visions to write the Book of Revelations; where the 10th century monastery (built by Crusader Knights) reigns over the island, still an active training centre for novice monks. The village that lies at the foot of the monastery is everyone's romantic image of what a Greek village should be like; incredibly narrow, winding alleyways, cats sunning themselves on whitewashed streets, old ladies in black collecting fresh bread from the bakery in the morning. Despite all the visitors they now get, these villagers have remained wonderfully friendly; particularly if you go up there in the early morning hours; the old ladies will look at you in faint amazement that a foreigner should find their way up there at such an hour; if you can remember enough of our Greek lessons to say "kalimera!" (good morning), they'll give you a huge smile and a "kalimera-sas" back (good morning to you too) !

Day Four
We'll spend most of the day in Patmos.... there's so much to do and see here, we could spend a week and still not be bored ! It's a great place to rent little 50cc scooters and explore; or mountain bikes for the more energetic; or join us for a hike to a really cool, sandy "clothing-optional" beach which even has surf at times! For those who love a little nightlife, the more modern port of Skala offers plenty of choices; tavernas, bars and chance to dance the night away for those so inclined !

Sail late afternoon for Arki - another relatively short hop. Arki is another of our real tiny, traditional islands... there is a total population of 37 here... not counting the goats ! Dinner at Manoli's - another of our very colourful island friends. Many an evening has been spent up at his cottage on the hill; dancing the night away under the stars (he and all his nephews & nieces are amazing dancers!); or maybe just sitting and sipping an ouzo, doing some quiet star-gazing.

Day Five
Morning sail for Pandeli, a pretty and lively little village on the east side of Leros. Traditional blue-and-white houses lie scattered down the hillside, around the little horseshoe-shaped bay. Our favourite beach tavernas are conveniently just a 2 min swim from where we anchor the boats in the middle of the bay - a real picture-postcard scene! For those with plenty of night-owl energy, there is the infamous Savana Bar - a very idiosyncratic little local hangout, where we often end up dancing the night away! Leros is also a great island to rent little 50cc scooters or a jeep, and go explore the dozens of bays & backroads, other little villages - and most of all, the 11th century fortress which towers over the bay (both sunrise and sunset are totally spectacular from up here).

Day Six
Leave Pandeli around midday, giving us the morning to make the most of our time on Leros. Then we'll sail for Vathi on the island of Kalymnos —another 3 hr sail—and spend the late afternoon/evening here.

Vathi is a dramatic little spot; a well-hidden and very narrow fjord-like entrance, opening up into a tiny fishing village at the head of the bay. It boasts one main street and a collection of houses scattered into the valley; an unexpected patch of lush vegetation on an otherwise very dry and arid-looking island. Vathi is the only place on the entire island that is lucky enough to have it's own spring water supply, and they use it carefully to cultivate citrus fruits, figs, grapes and anything else that can be persuaded to grow!

It's also the home of Poppy's—, where momma makes the best homemade dolmades (stuffed grapeleaves) you'll ever taste in your life, and the swordfish steaks are out of this world!!

Day Seven
OK, so here is the "adventure" part of the trip—we'll be sailing early for Kos—yes, we're talking sunrise here!! It's amazingly beautiful on the water - if you've never experienced this before, it's well worth getting dragging yourself out of bed for. This is going to be the long day's sail, as we need to clear out of Greece, then into Turkey. So, we'll arrive in Kos around 10am, and get customs paperwork cleared as fast as possible. We'll have a couple of hours in Kos—plenty to go see the castle and the famous plane tree where Hippocrates supposedly taught (for the more culturally-inclined); or enjoy a great chocolate milkshake on the busy waterfront for others!

Passports duly stamped, we will set sail for Bodrum; a lovely beam reach for a couple of hours, where it will be Welcome to Turkey ! Or at least, modern-day Turkey; Bodrum is quite the busy, bustling metropolis. Winding street bazaars criss-cross the town, beautiful old wooden gulets line the waterfront, as do hundreds of little bars and restaurants. The fortress of St John is still incredibly intact, and has a fascinating museum inside. And for those who love their nightlife, Bodrum claims the largest outdoor disco - "Halicarnassos" - in Europe ! It's also THE place for those Born to Shop; great bargains to be had in all sorts of leather goods, silver jewellery and semi-precious stones; and of course, the ubiquitous Turkish carpets.

Day Eight
We'll spend most of the morning in Bodrum, leaving around lunchtime for Knidos - about a 3hr sail.
Once upon a time, Knidos was a key city/harbour in the ancient world, home to many thousands of people. Now it is just a tranquil and well-sheltered bay - but the remains of these former civilizations still lie scattered around the hills, surrounding the bay on all three sides. There are amphitheatres, stone pillars and carvings, temple remains - all incredibly intact. It is really a time warp experience to wander around these hills and try to imagine the way of life all those thousands of years ago.

Day Nine
Sail to Ova Buku - a fairly short, and most likely downside sail - lovely! We should be at our destination in time for lunch; and time to explore the tiny village of Ova Buku. Our favourite taverna - Ogun's Place - has the best home-cooked Turkish food imaginable, not at all the usual tourist fare; and our young host - Ogun himself - always has lively (and often unexpected!) additions for our evening's entertainment ! The village itself has a great little bay for cooling off; for those looking for a little more privacy, a short hike away is a lovely long and isolated beach; a perfect afternoon retreat.

Day Ten
Sail to Datca - a very lively little town! The waterfront is lined little bars and tavernas; one street behind are several interesting craft & jewellery shops. Walking towards the beach, there is a tiny lake, with a surprisingly powerful "mini-waterfall" as it runs into the ocean; a great and very cooling massage experience !! For those wanting to dance the night away, Datca has several lively bars and nightspots - and a "hamam" (Turkish baths) , to ease any aching muscles the next morning ! Nestled up in the hills is a fascinating old Greek town, which is now being repopulated. And if anyone has a hankering to buy a Turkish carpet, some of our best local connections are here.

Day Eleven
Sail to Bozburun; a small, very traditional Turkish town; full of gulets (wooden motor sailors), but not many yachts, and certainly not many tourists. We dock just outside the town, on a wooden jetty outside a little family-run pension/restaurant right on the waterfront. It is a shady, tranquil little spot to hang out in - and we even get to borrow their fun kayaks plus a windsurfer or two to go explore the bay in! Most importantly of all is the evening's entertainment - for our groups, they will invite along local friends who play traditional Turkish music - and even a belly-dancer to teach us all how it is done !

There is also a chance to take a minibus trip inland to see some of the local villages, climb a little waterfall to cool off! - and visit a carpet-making cooperative, to see firsthand how it is all done.

Day Twelve
A gentle run to Dirsek, a secluded little bay about 2 hours sail away. A little taverna lies nestled in one corner, a blaze of brightly-coloured bougainvillea and other greenery. Wonderful place to swim and generally veg out.A family of young brothers run the taverna in this tiny, tranquil spot - who given half a chance, will crank up the dancing music after dinner - an unlikely-seeming but great little create-your-own party spot !

Day Thirteen
Sail to Keci Buku. A well-sheltered hideout described as a "gem" in the Turkish Waters Pilot - and it truly is. A wide, sweeping bay surrounded by pine forests, with a fascinating old fortress perched on the top of an island guarding the entrance - a view which is well worth the scramble up! It's a little-known sailor's hidey-hole, perfectly sheltered, and only 30mins drive over the peninsula to the hustle-and-bustle of "tourist town" Marmaris.

This is the easiest connection back to the "real world" of modern-day Turkey, where you can shop-till-you-drop in Marmaris's fun bazaars, and experience the bright lights of a busy and brimming Turkish seaport. For one day/night, Marmaris is an interesting and fun contrast to the places where we will have been sailing; (though one always feels a little sorry for the "package tourists", for whom this is the only aspect of Turkey which they see !)

Day Fourteen
Disembark 9am in Keci Buku.

Ongoing connection info: We can help arrange transportation from Keci Buku to Marmaris, or directly to the airport at Dalaman, for those who need to catch a flight right away. Dalaman is the closest airport, being 90mins from Keci Buku, or 1hr from Marmaris. Ferries run from Marmaris-Rhodes (Greece) twice a day; approx 9am and 3.30pm; take approx 1hr.

 

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