Filyos (Hisarönü), Turkey: A newly constructed harbor with ancient history

Photo: Filyos, Turkey on the Black Sea. Credit: Lisa Borre.
Gyatso at anchor in Filyos (Hisarönü) one of the many new harbors along the Turkish Black Sea coast. Photo by Lisa Borre.

Black Sea Logbook Entry

Date: 6/5/2010
Distance: 39.3 nm
Sailed from: Ereğli
Lat: 41° 33.8’N
Long: 32° 01.3’E

The coast we sailed past today is coal mining country. It seems that it is also undergoing rapid change in other areas. Occasionally we found the water stained brown from the coal washing and active mining operations on land. A small bay described as a “hidden gem” ten years ago has been discovered and a large apartment building is under construction on the steep hillside above the popular sandy beach.

In places dump trucks empty their load of crushed rock atop large piles of gravel which tumbles directly into the sea. The large Dogancilar power station is actively expanding and a second, much larger harbor is under construction to the east of the old harbor. Somehow all of these developments don’t really detract from the beauty of the steep-to rocky coastline. From the standpoint of scenery, they are more like interruptions along the way, however, the long-term impacts to the Black Sea environment may be less obvious than the economic prosperity gained from the rich natural resources of this area.

Today was also a day for visiting several newly constructed harbors along the Turkish Black Sea coast, two of which sit on either side of the commercial harbor of Zonguldak, which we visited but decided not stay overnight on the advice from a friend in Istanbul.  We were more interested in visiting Filyos (Hisarönü), a harbor that was under construction 10 years ago and is now complete.  In addition to gathering updated pilotage information, we wanted to confirm if the town and harbor are in the same location as ancient Tios. As it turns out, it wasn’t until a few days later that we were certain that the historical accounts and the modern-day information matched up. Filyos happens to be one of the rare situations where the modern town was not built on top of the ancient Greek settlement, located a bit further along the coast to the east.

Since sailing across the Atlantic three years ago, we have visited enough ancient ports to know a good one when we see it. We sensed this in Filyos — ancient ruins on a small headland adjacent to a good-sized river — but the archeological finds are too recent to be mentioned in some of the reference books we have onboard. An internet search revealed some good leads. We’ll have to back track to Filyos and Ereğli by land at some point to meet the archeologist who is actively working to uncover the remains of the Greek settlement here, including the only ancient theatre on the Black Sea, but in order to keep on our ambitious cruising schedule, we must move on for now.

We spent one night anchored in the excellent new fishing harbor of Filyos. We walked through town accompanied by a small boy who
knew everyone in town, but when we stopped off for a bite to eat at Yakamoz, a beachside restaurant serving up large plates of horse mackerel, he lost interest and returned to gathering mussels from the rocks on the breakwater.

Each of the small and medium-sized fishing boats in the harbor has a designated place along the wall or hauled up onto the beach. The following morning, we watched a group of six men launch one of the traditional, double-ended row boats — a demonstration of teamwork which has been fine-tuned over the centuries. A space at the end of the quay is reserved for a work tug that is servicing a small exploratory oil and gas test well nearby.

We met the Turkish soil scientist onboard who was interested to learn about our plans to sail around the Black Sea. “It’s my dream someday,” he said in excellent English and invited us for tea later, an invitation we sadly declined. He told us that he also spoke Russian, so he and David chit-chatted briefly in Russian, before they set-out for another day’s work. His captain cautioned us that the winds were expected to increase to Force 7 later in the day which confirmed the weather report we received, so we wrapped up our harbor survey and got underway to Amasra.  Sure enough, the weather forecast was correct…