Atakoy Marina at Istanbul and the Sea of Marmara

The marina is well run, but we felt, for the benefit of the resident boats. Visiting yachts are welcome but no provision made for them by which I mean no map of facilities, showers ¼ mile off, toilets closer but scruffy, laundry co-located with distant showers (at least there was one, but we did not use it) staff with limited English. Security seemed to be good.

Atakoy’s big plus is being on the same land mass as the old city of Constantinople and almost within its walls. But at the moment there is major reconstruction going on along this line of coast, the coastal railway has been closed down to be replaced by the metro, but the metro has yet to reach Atakoy (Bakirkoy). Thus you are dependent on the bus for transport to and from Eminonu (transport terminus) a service every 10 mins. The bus stop is on the main road adjacent to the marina and the ride in to the centre in the morning takes 30 mins, the return via rush hour road and metro works takes an hour or more. There is also a fast ferry but it goes to the Asian side from which you could get a ride back to the Eminou – we never tried this. There is an inland route taking a Dolmus to a metro station but I am not sure you save much time but you see some interesting bits of the underside of the city.

There are other marinas, the two Asian ones at Kalais and Fenerbache may well be better connected than Atakoy as there is a new metro tunnel to that area and a road tunnel under construction. We met a couple who used the harbour at Katirli (Esenkoy) and took the fast ferry in and out; harbour and ferry very cheap.

The only firm advice we can give is to get an Istanbul Travel Card, works on buses, metro and ferries but not Dolmus. Each journey is a flat rate so you only present the card at the beginning of the journey.

As I have already said we loved Istanbul and easily filled 5 days with diverse activity. The Sea of Marmara was disappointing – cold, murky and jellyfish. Istanbul has to be the focus. That said we spent 3 very pleasant days at Port Marmara stopping there on both passages and had an unremarkable over night off Heybeliada of the Princes Islands. There may be a pleasant route along the south of the sea but we heard nothing good of Bandirma and were very conscious of the restrictions around Imrali Island. We know of no one stopping on the north shore of the sea.

We completed the entry to Turkey formalities at Ayvalik which meant we had no need to check in at Canakkale – a smart move as it turned out. At Ayvalik I tried to get a chart for the Sea of Marmara but the chandlers had yet to receive their new stock, our C-Map only gave the west of the Sea, so we made do with the planning chart and the invaluable Navionics on a tablet – what a blessing. The passage through the Dardanelles is simple enough. We went up from the anchorage off Bozcaada, anchored off Canakkale Marina, it looked small and crowded, with no response to a call on #73 (did not try #9) we decided to keep going into increasing wind and strong current and with relief anchored off the harbour at Lapseki. On the return we again considered Canakkale, but it was on the “wrong side” and we were going fast, so kept going to anchor off the war memorial at the entrance to the Dardanelles.

On reflection we had had any amount of advice from sailors and others about what to do in Istanbul, I now realize that very few of them had gone there by boat!

Was it worth it? Unequivocally yes! Will we do it again? Not by sailing vessel!

Intentions 2015

January - thankfully the website is sorted out - I think - and it is time to get our intentions for 2015 roughed out.
So - we both go out to Selkie Dancer in Leros at the end of January for two weeks. Jinti to improve her Greek and I to maintain and enhance. In April we return and set sail north up the Greek Aegean islands to Lesbos or Limnos where we will cross into Turkey and up into the Sea of Marmora to sample Istanbul and possibly the Black Sea. Then back down the Aegean along the Turkish coast to Marmaris where we intend to leave Selkie Dancer for the July/August break. On our return we may head east for Cyprus or south for Crete with the intention of finishing the year somewhere around the Peleponese ready for an Adriatic cruise in 2016.
So much for intentions, an election in Greece, security concerns elsewhere and the fickle finger of fate have yet to show their hands !

19 Jan ‘15

13 Feb - just back from Greece where it was very windy. We were lucky with our flight in from Athens, got to Leros before the wind; even luckier to get away on time. Flights were cancelled the day before. While in Leros we fitted the new galley counter top, re-plumbed the aft heads, re-ran a reefing line, fitted new bilge and shower pumps, replaced a circuit breaker, bought another fan heater, explored on foot, tried to find places to eat and struggled to keep warm! Yes, we did enjoy being afloat in winter, first time in three years. Andy

30 Mar - as ever our plans for the summer have been in flux but we now have a firm set of intentions. We had intended to position Selkie Dancer for an Adriatic cruise in 2016 but we will now delay that and do the 2016 East Mediterranean Yacht Rally (EMYR) instead. It used to be Turkey, Turkish Cyprus, Syria, Lebanon, Israel and Egypt. You will not be surprised to learn that Syria is off the list for 2016! So it now makes sense to stay in the Aegean throughout 2015 and to return to Leros for the coming winter. So we will leave Leros late April and enter the Dardanelles late May, spend the first three weeks of June in the sea of Marmara/Istanbul/Black Sea and then work our way down the coast of Turkey to be in Marmaris for the first week of July. We will leave Selkie Dancer there and return to Scotland/UK mid July until mid August From late August, through September we will move from SW Turkey to the North coast of Crete before returning to Leros in mid to late October. Andy

20 Apr - we have been back on board for almost a week and intend to sail north midweek. Our trip out was different - fly BA to Athens, Metro to Piraeus, Blue Star ferry to Leros and taxi to Marina - almost exactly 24 hours door to door and cheaper than a hotel in Athens. On the boat I have finished off the maintenance tasks while Jinti has been concentrating on her Greek (the language) and entertaining and being entertained by the locals and other yachties - averages - age 65, nationality French. Andy

19 July - Back in Burntisland. We are back in Burntisland and Selkie Dancer is in Marmaris for further enhancements, which I will detail later in the year. We have had a very full program sailing from Leros to Istanbul and back to Marmaris via Gocek. Jinti got fed up with her website master and is now blogging as and when an idea takes hold - it is more immediate and works well for us - just click on “Jinti’s Random Writings or Blog” above. If you want to read her in short time you can subscribe! I am recording our passage in brief on “Click to find Selkie Dancer’s last position”, you can’t subscribe to this but you could copy and paste the link to get quicker access.
So how has it been - well you have heard most of it before but the Sea of Marmara and Istanbul deserve comment. I am taking the easy way out and repeating the comments I made to a fellow sailor earlier in the season

- See box below. Andy

22 Sep, Panormitis Anchorage, Simi

The wind is gusting to Force 7 and we are sitting steady in the anchorage with 2 meters under the keel and the new Rocna anchor is 30 meters out ahead. We are in the company of 25 similar yachts. The rain has been and the thunder abated.

Tomorrow we set off on a circuit of the Southern Cyclades to take in the north coast of Crete before returning Selkie Dancer to Leros and ourselves to Scotland.

The past five weeks have been shared with family and friends and now that our summer visitors have been and gone, we now have 5 weeks for our own adventure. Selkie Dancer has never been in better shape, the summer enhancements in Maramris have made sail handling easier, the stern safer, the hull cleaner and the instruments more accessible.

Jintis blog will give you a feel and you can follow our passage on the chart

2015 Season


I am drafting this on the easyJet from Athens to Edinburgh, and realize that we have enjoyed a vintage year with Selkie Dancer. What made it so? It may have been the way the year developed into three well defined phases. The first was crossing to Turkey and travelling north to Istanbul to enjoy our time in the city using SD as a hotel before returning with some great winds for the second phase. This was entertaining friends and family at the southern end of the Aegean in both Turkey and Greece. The phase was subdivided by our return to the UK for 5 hectic weeks and was followed by the third phase of Jinti and I striking out on our own for Crete. This phase was also marked out by strong winds and the use of SD as a hotel.

We took full advantage of the work completed in Marmaris a year earlier, notably the raised boom, larger bimini, copper coated hull, and took pride in the gleaming paint work and new deck. Not content with this we returned to Marmaris for the mid summer break to raise the waterline, move the instruments, replace the anchor, add yet more stainless steel and correct some deficiencies in the new deck. All of these gave me great pleasure, moving the instrument in particular has raised my awareness of just what is going on above our heads, while the new anchor, a Rocna, lets me sleep with ever greater confidence. To cap all this in our final week at Leros we commissioned and fitted partitions to Jinti’s wardrobe – this will allow Jint to compete with the French in the Haute Couture stakes or, at the very least, be a little less crumbled (he meant crumpled but I think crumbled is appropriate! - Jint) in appearance. Most of these improvements feature or will feature in New for 2015 page of this website.

We also changed the way we record our adventures – Jint found the wordpress app for blogging suitably immediate and allowed her to incorporate photos without my assistance – the result is certainly fresh and we must now find a way of giving it some permanence outwith the cloud in which it currently resides.

Looking ahead to 2016 we intend to go east as far as is practical or perhaps safe - ie Antalya. Thereafter we will make our way back through the Corinth Canal to the Ionian to be in position for a 2017 summer in the Adriatic before wintering in Sicily. Thereafter the crystal ball gets very hazy!


9 Nov ‘15

2015 Overview

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Selkie Dancer’s

Position and Passage


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Selkie Dancer’s

Position and Passage


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Selkie Dancer’s

Position and Passage