As we neared the end of a long, Black Sea passage and entered Ukrainian territorial waters, we began to call the Ukrainian Coast Guard at 12 miles out. Their VHF radio call sign is “Lebed” which means swan in Russian. No answer. We tried again at five miles out but could only hear Ukrainian and Russian being spoken on the radio. David’s Russian was coming back to him after our time in Georgia, but it was not enough to handle radio communications. Continue reading Feodosia: No gift from the gods for us→
As we motored north today, the rugged, mountainous shoreline gave way to the low flood plain and delta of the Rioni, Georgia’s largest river. The heat and humidity of this sub-tropical environment seemed to intensify as we went. The threat of thunderstorms loomed in the distance, but thankfully held-off until after we arrived in port when they let loose with cracks of lightening and heavy rain later that night. By then we were safely moored with many tall cranes and towers in the vicinity. Continue reading Poti: Georgian hospitality, photo ops and a local sailing regatta→
After clearing out of Hopa, Turkey this morning, we carefully steered around the “prohibited zone” extending from the Turkish/Georgia border out 12 miles to international waters on passage to Batumi, Georgia. It was a 24 mile detour which we had been instructed to take by the Turkish Coast Guard but didn’t mind because we had a nice breeze for sailing most of the way. Afternoon rain showers moved in and the wind dropped and then shifted to the south, so we dropped the mainsail and turned on the engine as we made our final turn toward the Georgian coast. Continue reading Batumi: Welcome to Georgia!→
We cancelled plans to visit Russia today after learning that a European-flagged yacht was denied entry to three separate Black Sea ports in Russia in early July, despite having all paperwork in order and a fluent Russian speaker onboard. We had hoped that things would change when Sochi, Russia won the bid for the Winter Olympic Games in 2014 earlier this year, but apparently this is not the case.
Shortly after arriving in the large but empty commercial harbor of Hopa, we had the Turkish Coast Guard stop by to check our papers and inquire of our plans. They notified the appropriate authorities on our behalf and arranged for the port management to fill our water tank. They also briefed us on the requirements for clearing out of Turkey and entering Georgia, a passage we planned to make on Sunday, 18 July, rather than tomorrow in hopes that the weather would improve. This is one of the rainiest parts of the Black Sea region, and the forecast was for rain and thunderstorms tonight and tomorrow. Continue reading Hopa, Turkey: An empty commercial port and a trucker’s border town→
The clouds began to build in the late afternoon, but the weather remained fair for our passage to Pazar today. We spotted a small waterspout to seaward, but it collapsed quickly into a rain cloud. Nevertheless, we were relieved once again to find a very good harbor at Pazar. We tied to the end of the fisherman’s quay and were greeted by the captain of the big fishing trawler nearby. He asked if we needed anything, so we asked if there was any water to fill our tank. Something must have been lost in the Turkish translation because he disappeared and returned with a dozen drinking water bottles. It was not exactly what we wanted, but a generous gift which we gladly accepted. Continue reading Pazar, Turkey: A double rainbow, cooler temperatures and another pleasant dinner ashore→
Minutes after stepping ashore in Rize’s fishing harbor surrounded by tidy new boathouses, Lisa was handed a cell phone. “Hello, Welcome to Rize!” said the mystery man. He continued in perfect English, “Is there anything you need?”
We both found Trabzon to be a very interesting city. A major stop on the Silk Road, it’s long history as a cultural melting pot is still evident today. Oddly enough, our first stop was to the Forum, a large, modern shopping mall complete with high-end, international chain stores, including a Migros supermarket, and with a mix of Iranian, Arab and local clientele. Likewise, the old bazaar quarter in the city center is packed with similar clientele, many of whom are women with colorful, silk headscarves shopping for fine jewelry, exotic fabrics, and designer clothes. They come to Turkey for a dose of Western culture in an slamic nation that is less traditional than their own. Continue reading Trabzon, Turkey: Ancient history meets modern culture→
We had a late start and a long day of motoring in flat calm conditions on the Black Sea with several harbors, both new and old, to survey along the way. This is why we were so relieved to find a new harbor in Akçakale, just five miles short of our intended destination of Akcaabat, as the sun sank over the horizon. We tied up to a large fishing trawler and were invited for dinner ashore, but we declined. It was early to bed for the crew of Gyatso. We wanted to get rested up for the final push to Trabzon tomorrow.