Mooring Techniques for Turkey

The Turkish coastline has innumerable lovely deserted, sheltered  bays, making it an ideal sailing area. However it is not simply a matter of “dropping the hook” as most of these bays have 40 metres or more of depth and are only 100 metres wide, so that even if you do have an exceptionally long anchor chain, you just can’t anchor there.

The solution is to do it the “gullet way”, dropping the anchor in the middle of the bay and backing up to the shore and securing the stern with lines to a couple of trees. Fortunately the Turkish coastline has many trees growing right down to the water’s edge and it is relatively easy to find some conveniently placed tree or even a rock to tie up to. There is also a growing tendency for the locals to install steel rings in the rocks for boaters to use, rather than ring-barking the trees from too frequent use, or abuse, of the tree trunks.

Simple! Or is it really? Well, if you have a good crew on board, one for the anchor, one to dive into the water and drag a line ashore, another to feed the line and secure it and another to scan the rising sea floor for rocks while you are at the helm coordinating everything, it is quite easy.

But when you have only a not-too-practical wife for crew, or when you are completely alone, it is not so simple, but it is possible. You just have to be prepared. The secret lies in having the right warps (ropes), and plenty of them. It is essential that they be floating ones and better if stored on a rotating drum on the stern, so that the swimmer makes no effort in unrolling it as he swims ashore. A floating line will not sink and snarl on the bottom or worse still, foul in the prop.

It will be necessary to place several lines ashore and better with two very long lines either side from the bow of the boat, so that a side wind will not push the boat ashore if the anchor does not hold firm. Ideally you should always moor with the stern pointing towards the dominant wind direction, but this is not always possible.

When choosing the mooring site, take note of any trees with cut ropes hanging from them, as this is an indication of rushed departures during sudden storms. Personally, I confess having tied up to such trees, having dragged the anchor and having almost been blown ashore by a sudden side wind. The mess was further complicated for me by fouling the anchor trip line on the prop, so the anchor was suspended in the water and the crippled boat was being blown towards the shore. Quickly cut the trip line with a knife, I anchored in deep water to free the prop and go ashore to collect my warp (and other bits and pieces lost in the rush).

Once, to avoid a coming storm and get back in time to catch a plane, I had to leave a tree mooring in the dead of night, swim ashore and stumble around in the dark to free the lines... all part of the adventure. On another occasion I nikked the tip of the rudder backing into a mooring, so I speak from direct experience.

A single-handed sailor friend says he makes sure the anchor is securely holding and leaves the engine in reverse while he goes ashore with the mooring line, preferably in the dinghy.

I will also mention a new gadget, which I found very useful on the boat, the laser range finder, which measures up to the centimetre the distance from the shore. It helps you get down the maximum chain, without running out before you get to the pier. It also helps determine whether the anchor is dragging during the night, by simply measuring the distance of the rocks, either fore or aft of the boat.

So when choosing your next anchorage, check carefully the marked depths to see if you can swing at anchor, otherwise get ready for a stern-to mooring. There are also many fish restaurants with rudimentary piers and now many proper marinas, so you will always find a safe, idyllic haven in your navigation around Turkish waters.

L. Camillo

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         Copyright L. Camillo 2009