Yaliköy: A festive day at Jason’s Cape

Photo: Folklore festival near Jason's church, Black Sea. Credit: Lisa Borre.
Women making traditional Turkish snacks at a folklore festival near Jason’s church on the cape named in honor of the ancient legend of Jason and the Argonauts. Photo by Lisa Borre.

Black Sea Logbook Entry

Date: 6/27/2010
Distance: 18 nm
Sailed from: Ünye
Lat: 41° 03.1’N
Long: 37° 36.6’E

We tied alongside a big fishing trawler in the pleasant harbor of Yaliköy on a sunny Sunday morning. The fisherman were ashore busily preparing their nets for the upcoming season, so Lisa cut-up some watermelon and handed a tray to them which was received with many smiles. There was a knock on our hull about ten minutes later, and the tray was returned with a big chunk of chocolate hazelnut fudge. This was our first indication that we had ended up in a special place.

Yaliköy used to be on the main coastal highway until they built a tunnel which now by-passes this picturesque peninsula. At its outermost point is Yasun Burnu, or Jason’s Cape, named for the ancient legend of Jason and the Argonauts who sailed along this coast in search of the golden fleece. Hazelnut covered hillsides drop steeply into the rocky sea coast. Rough volcanic rock encloses small sandy coves. Small towns with roadside butchers specializing in kofte (meat patties) and lamb are spread along the coastal road. Most evident is the lack of traffic which is now diverted away from here. It is noticeably local, friendly and quiet compared to towns on the adjacent to the highway.

Photo: Festival near Jason's Cape on the Black Sea coast of Turkey. Credit: Lisa Borre.
Our host for the day joins in with the music and dance at the festival at Yasun Burnu, or Jason’s Cape. Photo by Lisa Borre.

We went ashore to find lunch and were invited to join two men who were sipping tea at one of the harborside cafes. Before we knew it, one was driving us in his car to Yasun Burnu. Instead of the quiet, out-of-the-way place we had read about in our guidebook, we found hundreds of people enjoying the breezy afternoon.

A folklore festival was just about to begin, so many people were already seated around the field where dances and competitions would be held. Others were flying kites, swimming in the refreshing sea, or sampling the local foods being served from vendors and at the nearby cafe. We soaked up the festive atmosphere but decided to leave just as larger and larger crowds began to arrive. Our host could not help himself when the musicians struck up a tune — he began to dance in the traditional style — much to the applause of the waiting crowd.

We rounded Yasun Burnu the following morning on passage to Ordu, and by then the crowds had dispersed. We re-read accounts of other passages around Jason’s Cape from our onboard library while continuing east along the Turkish Black Sea coast. The lighthouse on the point and the small Greek church stood alone marking this cape which has been famous since antiquity.