Akliman: A natural harbor near the northernmost point of Turkey

Photo: Gyatso anchored in the well-protected natural harbor of Akliman, Turkey. Credit: Lisa Borre.
Gyatso anchored in the well-protected natural harbor of Akliman. Photo by Lisa Borre.

Black Sea Logbook Entry

Dates: 6/14-6/17/2010
Distance: 32.5 nm
Sailed from: Çaylıoğlu
Lat: 42° 03.0’N
Long: 35° 02.5’E

Today we rounded Inceburun, the Black Sea cape which forms the northernmost point in Turkey, just as the last of yesterday’s clouds lifted off to the northwest and gave way to hazy sunshine. A white lighthouse stands in contrast to the rocky coastline with its windswept vegetation and evergreen forest further inland. Like the north coast of Menorca in the Balearics of Spain, it is clear that this point of land takes a thrashing during winter’s northerly gales. Our cruising guide identifies this as one of the capes along the Turkish coast that “splits the wind” — it can blow in one direction on one side and in the opposite direction on the other side. Since we had very little wind, all we noticed was a nice lift from a 0.5 knot current flowing east. Several dolphins were feeding closer to shore.

On the east side of the cape, we poked our nose into the small but picturesque anchorage at Hamsi Cove at the same moment a tour bus arrived at the park onshore disgorged a bus load of photo snapping tourists. “Smile for the camera!” Lisa joked while we floated in the quiet cove surrounded by pine tree covered rocky shores.  As lovely a spot as this is, we also wanted to explore the next cove to the south, so we stayed long enough to take in the beautiful sight before moving on.

The natural harbor of Akliman has been used since antiquity as a safe anchorage and as the west wind began to increase in the afternoon, we discovered why. Tucked into the back corner of the bay is a small pool used by a fleet of local fishing boats.  The one large trawler tied to the shore was a good indication for us that the narrow channel leading in might still be deep enough for Gyatso, but we were too cautious to try for ourselves. The landmarks for the leading line into this inner harbor were not obvious, and as it turns out, are no longer in place.

As we headed over to the other recommended anchorage, the fisherman who had been placing nets off the small island at the entrance to the bay came zooming over waving their arms to follow them into the pool. We had planned to continue on to Sinop, but decided, “What the heck, why not have a quick look around?” After having turned down several kind offers of assistance by fisherman in the last few days, we thought it would be interesting to see if the information in the pilot book was accurate.

We followed the fisherman in, and with his help, were anchored with a line ashore several minutes later.  Sitting in the cockpit that evening, we soon realized what a special spot this is and gave up any plans to continue on today. We were anchored in a place known in ancient times as Armene. Xenophon and his 10,000 Greek soldiers spent five days in this very spot 2,400 years ago. The wind strengthened in the night, so we released our line ashore and re-set our anchor to swing freely in the center of the protected pool. We figured it was meant to be and ended up spending three nights at anchor here while the northwest wind blew up frothy seas offshore.

Lisa hiked around the entire harbor one day, creating a detailed map since Akliman is not well-represented in previous guides.  Along with Hamsi Cove, this entire area is part of a national park.  We took the convenient dolmus (minibus) to Sinop one day to set-up some appointments for our visit there and went ashore one evening for dinner at the new restaurant 0.5 km down the road. The local fisherman befriended us, and when Cengiz Kaptan, our fisherman guide from the first day, rowed out with a gift of fresh milk from his cow, we invited him aboard for a visit. He begged us to stay for one more day so he could bring us fresh fish, but once again, we had to tear ourselves away from a beautiful spot and continue our
voyage east.