At the north eastern tip of Cyprus, at the top of the pan-handle, it gets a tiny bit hazardous with some underwater rocks. Nothing particularly scary, and when one looks at the satelite image it’s all rather obvious, but like any new, unfamiliar territory one is always a bit cautious. Since the other skippers were all from Cyprus we thought we’d drop back and wait for someone with a bit of local knowledge to make the decision as to whether we cut through the rocks or extend the sail by a couple of miles by going round the tip. Seems like everyone else had the same idea. Within 10 minutes we were all bobbing around each waiting for the other to lead and before we knew it Liz and I were cautiously heading the flotilla through the rocks, after a consultation with Jim on ‘Dragon Song’ and a decision that it all looked ok. And so it was with no real hazard to worry about. Not that I’d do that at night you understand.
We continued down the coast and past our ultimate destination of Monastery Bay and on towards a lunchtime anchorage we’ve named Crowded Bay. Should have named it ‘Twats In Motorboats’ Bay. Basically it was carnage, with everyone dropping their anchor wherever they wanted. Extra points were awarded for laying one’s chain over another. At one point Esper almost had her bow sliced off by a passing motorboat who was busy dropping his anchor over the top of ours and I had to radio through to ask him to move on. Really, some of these local motor boat owners have a lot to learn about anchoring – it got rather hazardous at one point. I spoke with Ilkin, co-ordinator of the rally, about this later and suggested that it was just down to inexperience. “Yes”, he replied. “You sailors, who abide by the rules and do things properly, could teach these local motorboat owners a lot.” If only they’d listen.
Crowded Bay is another shallow-watered, sandy beach affair with just one building as far as the eye can see. Being a Saturday there was much frolicking in the gentle cove, with kids competing in dinghy races and families arriving in their 4x4s, camping on the beach and stoking up BBQs. I’d like to savour this scene because I fear in 10 years time it’ll be unrecognisable.
We sailed the return stretch, which took us back up the coast to Monastery Bay, and with the wind behind us we deployed the cruising chute and mizzen stay sail, making 3.5 knots in just 6-8 knots of wind. Mind you, at that tremendous speed we were the last boat in and as we furled away the last sail we were escorted in by two dolphins, who were obviously guardians of this anchorage.
This was the last night of the Kuzey Kibris Rally and we celebrated by eating at the local restaurant with all the participants. Despite my gripes about local motor boat owners it’s really encouraging to see the locals getting together, whether sail boat or motor boat owner, and having a bit of fun around a very beautiful part of Cyprus. We were welcomed with open-arms and had a lot of fun, which is what a rally should be about. Long live the Kuzey Kibris Rally – it’s an important feature of Northern Cyprus’s social and tourist calendar. If you have the opportunity, please support it.