30th July – 3rd August. Nessebar to Istanbul.

The frivolities of the previous night had taken their toll, and we both felt a tad fragile on the morning of the 30th.  Nevertheless, we managed to get ashore and have a look at Nessebar.  The old town is right next to the harbour and is charming, with wooden buildings, cobbled streets and interesting churches to see.  It is very popular with tourists and filled with restaurants, cafes and souvenir shops as would be expected.




After a wander and a light breakfast, we returned to Doris.  The water in the harbour was clear and clean-looking, so Cy took the opportunity to get in and change the anodes on the boat from ones for fresh water back to salt water ones.  Anodes are basically lumps of metal attached to the hull that sacrificially corrode in the water, thereby protecting other metal structures.

We left the harbour at Nessebar in the early afternoon, headed to Sozopol.  It wasn’t too far, just 20 or so nautical miles.  It was quite choppy, so there was a lot of unpleasant motion on the boat which I struggle with a bit, both nerves and seasickness.  Although I’ve lived on Doris for a while now, the majority of the time has been canals and rivers, being back on the sea is quite different.  Cy, however, is back in his element!

The marina at Sozopol is large and on arrival we were directed to tie alongside, next to a huge superyacht.  It was a case of little and large, or the prince and the pauper.  A glamorous, well groomed lady looked down at me from above whilst I was in my stinky shorts and t-shirt coiling ropes and tidying fenders away.  Interestingly, this huge motor yacht could not be found listed in any of the usual vessel databases, and we spent a long time searching the internet.  It was UK flagged, but the crew were possibly Russian?


Doris and Davina

We had dinner watching the sun go down, then wandered into town.


Sunset at Sozopol Marina

Sozopol is a really lively place.  The streets in the evening were bustling and there were plenty of cafes, restaurants and a market selling souvenirs and trinkets.


Sozopol Marina

July 31st was a bit of a chill out day, involving breakfast in Sozopol (two pasties for Cy as I accidentally bought a meat one!), a spot of laundry and other jobs.  There is a chandlery at the marina, so we were able to get a new stern light to replace the one that had been broken in Sulina.  We also visited the Archaeological museum, which had lots of artefacts but not much in the way of explanation.   The old town of Sozopol is on a small peninsula with the harbour on one side and the beach resort on the other.  Much of the afternoon was spent wandering around, taking it all in.


Beach resort at Sozopol

As there was wifi at the marina, it was also a good opportunity to double check weather reports for the next few days and plan the passage to Istanbul.

Tuesday 1st August started with a trip to the small market nearby to top up on groceries.  We then filled water tanks and headed over to the fuel berth for diesel.  We left Sozopol in the early afternoon for Tsarevo.  This is the last port of call in Bulgaria and the place we would have to ‘check out’.  The sailing was good for most of the afternoon but the harbour at Tsarevo is very poorly protected from sea swell.  We were helped to moor stern-to by port staff but Doris was leaping up and down on the swell so much, it was very difficult.  One of our ropes snapped in the process.  In the end, we decided to pull forward on the laid mooring lines, keeping the stern well away from the quay and not worry about shore access until it was necessary the following day.

We were pretty keen to leave the next day, despite the port staff advising us to wait a day for the weather.  I managed to get ashore in the morning to complete the formalities.  The police and customs officers came over to inspect the boat but after seeing how difficult it was to get on and off, seemed to think an external inspection was sufficient.

We were now all set for our long trip to Istanbul.


The passage plan was intended to have us arriving at the entrance to the Bosphorous at first light, however, Doris sailed so well that Cy had to reduce sail at one point to slow us down!  The night was uneventful, a bit choppy at times but not too bad and we both managed to get some rest (at different times!).

In the early hours of the 3rd August, we went through the anchorage for large ships waiting to transit the Bosphorus.  There is a one way traffic scheme for shipping through the straits and as the light began to show we could see just how many were waiting for their allocated turn.

We entered the straits and passed under the first bridge at dawn.

As we continued through, it became busier and busier.  The container ships and tankers were the least of our problems – the plethora of ferries and fishing boats nipping around made it seem like the nautical equivalent of the wacky races.

A definite case of AIS overload

Despite this, we did still manage to see some of the sights.


The initial plan was to stop at Istinye marina in the straits, but they had not responded to email and as we passed it looked very crowded, so we decided to continue on and head for a marina on the north shore of the Sea of Marmara.  Once out of the Bosphorous, we passed through the ships anchorage on the other side and arrived at West Istanbul Marina at around 12:30.  The marina staff directed us to a berth and after doing the necessaries at the marina office, we had some lunch and crashed out.

Clearing into Turkey is reported as being a complex and difficult process and we wanted to be fully rested so we could get on with it the following day.  It did indeed prove to be so, I’ll save it for the next entry.





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