Ünye, Turkey: By bus to Terme, the land of the Amazons

Photo: The harbor of Ünye is located next to a large cement plant. Credit: Lisa Borre.
The harbor of Ünye is located next to a large cement plant. Photo by Lisa Borre.

Black Sea Logbook Entry

Date: 6/25/2010
Distance: 55 nm
Sailed from: Samsun
Lat: 41° 06.7’N
Long: 37° 20.6’E

Our passage from Samsun to Ünye today was one of those days where we experienced first-hand what we call “cape effect” — by some magic of physics there is completely different weather on either side of a cape. Cam Burnu, a low-lying cape formed by the Yesilirmak River delta, is not as large as Bafra Burnu which we rounded on our way to Samsun. For that earlier 61 nm passage we had favorable wind and current. No such luck today — we set out in calm seas and light winds, but as soon as we rounded the cape, the wind and seas built quickly.

In the middle of crashing through steep seas and contrary winds, we noticed a harbor with large ships in the vicinity of Terme. Investigating a potential safe harbor on the east side of this infamous cape would have put us on a dangerous lee shore if it didn’t pan out, so we pushed on. We did our best sailing to windward for the last 20 miles, but it was still not enough to get around a smaller cape lying 4 nm west of the harbor, so we fired up the engine and motor-sailed around the rocky promontory and into Unye harbor at 8:00 p.m.

Lisa went ashore for provisions the next morning which involved climbing up steps and crossing the Yeni Yol, the coastal highway along the Black Sea coast. She found two mini-markets and a bakery and decided to share our meager business among all three: bread from the bakery, eggs from one mini-market and juice and water from the other. The shopkeeper at the latter must have detected that we’d had a rough passage the day before. After picking out her items, Lisa was invited for tea and a simple Turkish breakfast of bread with grape molasses and olives at the small table in the back of the shop. She returned to Gyatso and fed David roughly the same breakfast onboard since it had done the trick for her.

We decided to spend a day and back-track by bus to further investigate the port we had seen near Terme. Not only was it a site of historic significance as the land where the Amazons lived in ancient times, but if the new harbor we saw was in fact suitable for yachts, it would be a good option to reduce one of the longest passages between safe harbors on the Turkish Black Sea coast — one we would have appreciated using the day before.

In the pleasant town of Unye, we needed to transfer to a larger bus headed for Terme, so we asked a traffic cop to help us out. He immediately stopped directing traffic and stayed with us until we were on the right bus. As directed, the bus driver reluctantly dropped us off on the side of the highway and pointed down an abandoned-looking road indicating the direction of the harbor we were trying to find. We left without rain jackets or umbrellas, so of course it began to rain. Not knowing how far we had to walk, we ducked into a covered porch next to a closed cafe until the rain passed.

It was only 0.5 km to the harbor, as it turns out, and there we found a large shipyard and fishing harbor which does not appear on any charts. We approached the guard gate of the Terme shipyard to ask for information about the harbor and were taken to meet Ali ihson Dumlu, a young naval architect and mechanical engineer who is manager of the shipyard and speaks English very well. Over tea, we learned about the newly constructed shipyard and then he kindly gave us a tour of their facilities before driving us into the town of Terme so we could find a return bus. In town, we were warmly welcomed for lunch at a lokantasi and then met everyone waiting at the bus stop. We don’t think many foreign tourists make it to the land of the Amazons these days, but Lisa ended up with a few new Facebook friends.

Before setting out in the morning, we noticed the Dutch-flagged yacht Atlantis had arrived in the harbor and was berthed across from us — the first foreign yacht we’d seen since leaving Sinop over a week ago. We found owners Hout and Yolanda onboard and agreed to get together later in the day. When we returned from Terme, we met-up with them for drinks onboard Gyatso and then to share notes on Black Sea ports onboard Atlantis (they were on their way west again after making it to Trabzon). Even though we had two long days since leaving Samsun, we departed early the next morning for Yaliköy.