Şile, Turkey: Our first day on the Black Sea

Photo: sailing on the Black Sea. Credit: Lisa Borre.
Motor sailing in light northerly winds on our first day in the Black Sea. Credit: Lisa Borre.

Black Sea Logbook Entry

Date: 5/30/2010
Distance: 26.2 nm
Sailed from: Poyrazköy to Şile, Turkey
Lat: 41° 10.7’N
Long: 29° 36.3’E

We shared the Poyrazköy anchorage last night with three other cruising sailboats: two with German flags and one with a Swiss flag. This morning we watched each depart before us as we relaxed over Sunday breakfast. Then we allowed ourselves a slight diversion: we motored back across the mouth of the Bosphorus to the European side so we could get an up-close look at the tiny harbor of Garipce and then the famous clashing rocks. Both are important sites in the historical path we are following around the Black Sea, and the weather was sunny and calm, so we decided to visit them now rather than waiting for our return trip to Istanbul. We were joined by many playful bottlenose dolphins and the smaller, shy harbor porpoises who seem to like the area where the currents of the Black Sea and the Bosphorus mix.

By noon we rolled out the Yankee headsail before passing Karaburun, the “black cape” almost two hours later.  Lisa couldn’t believe her eyes, so she grabbed the binoculars. Moments later, she exclaimed, “Columnar basalts!” This is an igneous rock formation that she gets excited about ever since she saw it for the first time on a geology field trip to Newfoundland in 1986. We both had been wondering what would distinguish this cape from the others along this scenic coastline — its name goes back to sailing instructions used in ancient times — now we know. We spent the remainder of the day admiring the rock ledges interspersed among long stretches of sandy beaches backed by low dunes.

We were not surprised to find that the color of the water in the Black Sea is not black or dark as the name might suggest. The water is a soft, blueish-green color, not the deep, brilliant Mediterranean blue of the Aegean Sea nor the clouder, greener color of the Sea of Marmara. We also observed very little marine litter (plastic bags, etc.) floating in the water at the entrance to the Black Sea compared to what we have seen since entering the Turkish Straits in the Dardanelles.

We arrived in Şile harbor in the late afternoon and found the same three boats tied alongside the outer quay.  The owners of one invited us to raft-up with them, but we chose to anchor out in the harbor where there was plenty of room.  It was a busy Sunday in this touristy town. Boys were jumping off the end of the quay into the water. A few swimmers splashed across the harbor entrance. Families strolled around the harbor. Weekend visitors packed into the three “floating restaurants” in converted fishing boats. In the evening, we took the dinghy ashore for a stroll around the harbor and dinner at one of the fish restaurants. We were back onboard in time to enjoy a beautiful sunset — a fitting end to our first day on the Black Sea.