Island time in Port Marmara on Marmara Adasi

Photo: Fried mussels and beer on Marmara Adasi, Turkey. Credit: Lisa Borre.
No visit to Port Marmara is complete without sampling the local specialty of fried mussels on a skewer which are best washed down with Turkish Efes beer. Photo by Lisa Borre.

Logbook Entry

Dates: 5/7/2010 – 5/9/2010
Distance: 26.5 nm
Sailed from: Kemer, Turkey
Lat: 40°35.1’N
Long: 27°33.6’E

Arriving in Port Marmara on the island of Marmara Adasi, we thought the harbor looked full of fishing boats and there might not be room for us. Just as we were about to give-up and try a nearby anchorage or the new harbor on nearby Avsa Adasi, we noticed movement among some of the fishing boats along the north quay. Moments later, we were being flagged into a newly created spot alongside a 45′ fishing boat. Rather than a med mooring, we were rafted to him with our bow tied to the quay. We immediately relaxed and settled in to the slow pace of island life here.

Our first stop ashore was to the office that looked like it might be the harbormaster’s to see if there was a charge. The distinguished, gray-haired man at the desk welcomed us to the island and waved us off, indicating that there was no charge. Lisa showed him a piece of paper with the words “midye tava” written on it and asked where to find the fried mussels mentioned in our cruising guide. We were sent to Adali Mehmet’s Of’ Linin Yeri restaurant which is on the left-hand side as you walk toward town near the small boat harbor. We found the proprietor hard at work serving up mussels to his regular customers, so after a few errands, we returned for an early meal of a dozen midye tava washed down with Efes beer — delicious.

Back onboard Gyatso, we invited our fisherman friend onboard for a drink. Soon his brother joined us, and the fisherman disappeared and returned with tasty homemade dolmas and a special gift from the island. They spoke almost no English, but somehow we managed to communicate about island life, fishing and sailing. We’re pretty sure that they have never been invited onboard a foreign yacht, but it seemed like the polite thing to do since we were tied to them. They were interested to see the cabin and the instruments we used for navigation. They also seemed impressed that the two of us had sailed our boat all the way from America to the Sea of Marmara. The impromptu gathering lasted late into the night and progressed from wine to raki to Russian vodka before Lisa cut-off the party and sent the fisherman and his brother home.

Feeling the effects of the Dardanelles passage and the previous night’s party, we decided to take a lay day in Port Marmara to rest-up for an early start the following day. We wanted to make the long passage to the Princess Islands in daylight because of the shipping traffic in the approaches to Istanbul.

Lisa wandered around town shopping for provisions and admiring the geology which makes this island famous. Marmara means “marble”, and it is from here that pure, white marble has been quarried from the hillsides since ancient times. Along the beach, she found wave-worn samples of marble and the other rock types of the island: granite, shale and schist. We departed the next day at 7:30 a.m., an early start from this sleepy port town.