Kefken, Turkey: The calm before the storm

Photo: Kefken harbor on Black Sea, Turkey. Credit: Lisa Borre.
Sunset view from Kefken’s small fishing harbor — this turned out to be the calm before the storm. Credit: Lisa Borre.

Black Sea Logbook Entry

Date: 5/31 – 6/2/2010
Distance: 30 nm
Sailed from: Şile to Kefken, Turkey
Lat: 41° 10.2’N
Long: 30° 13.5’E

With no wind for sailing today, we motored in calm seas close to the shore in order to get a better look at the Black Sea’s coastal landscape and some of the anchorages mentioned in our cruising guide as suitable lunch stops. Although we rarely stop for lunch when cruising long distances, we wanted to note any changes since the publication of the most current guidebook ten years ago. The anchorages appeared unchanged, and one fishing harbor that was under construction is now complete, something we had already surmised by using Google Earth.

The shoreline development along the coast is highly clustered. There are none of the hideous resort villages that have sprung-up along the Aegean coast of Turkey, but obviously there is growing pressure of weekend and vacation home development in proximity to Istanbul. It’s no surprise to us that this stretch of shoreline, with its low bluffs (about 80-100 meters high) and sandy beaches every few hundred meters, is highly desirable for holiday home development.

Along the way, we shot our first video footage of bottlenose dolphins on the Black Sea while four large dolphins played in our bow wake for about five minutes. We anchored in Kefken’s small fishing harbor at 5:20 p.m. and found the smallest of the three cruising boats from the past two nights tied alongside the quay.

We relaxed and made dinner onboard while watching the fisherman come in with the day’s catch of rapana, a marine snail, which was introduced to the Black Sea from Japan in the ballast water of ships.  It is now commercially harvested here by divers and is one of the only fisheries open at this time of year — all commercial fishing in Turkish waters is closed from 1 May to 1 September which is why all of the fishing harbors are full of fishing boats. A truck waits on the main quay, and the fisherman bring their catch in red mesh bags to the dock to be weighed and loaded on the truck. It was after dark when the last boats arrived and the truck looked nearly full. The sun set that evening over glass calm water — it turns out that this was the calm before the storm.

We launched the dinghy and went ashore the following morning where we met the harbormaster and the director of the fisherman’s cooperative. We brought two posters with us which were received with great curiosity. One of the five men gathered in the office near the quay asked, “Are you from Greenpeace?” To which we replied, “No, these are a gift from TUDAV, the Turkish Marine Research Foundation.” They smiled, indicated that they would post them in the harbor and served us tea.

They wanted to know about our voyage from America to Turkey and our plans for the summer. We then asked for help finding a barber, and one of the men led us into town to one of two barbershops. After a haircut for David and a walk through town for Lisa, we had lunch at a small cafe and then explored the town some more before returning to the boat to catch-up on paperwork and writing projects.

We didn’t like the weather forecast or what our new digital barometer was telling us, so we decided to stay put for the day. Storm clouds began to gather in the late afternoon and by early evening, a big thunderstorm with lightning, high winds and heavy rain was upon us. Our anchor held very well as the wind shifted to the southwest, and we rode out the storm without any problem in this protected little harbor.  It passed off to the northeast by the time we went to bed, but we awoke at 3:30 a.m. because the wind had come-up again from the northwest and the swell was starting to work its way into the harbor.

We kept a careful anchor watch until we noticed several of the fishing boats move to the north end of the harbor at 6:00 a.m. We followed their lead and rafted off the fishing boats that were now eight deep off the jetty.  We rode out our first Black Sea storm in relative comfort.