I have transited the Dardanelles many times but always at night.  Today I had the opportunity to make the passage in daylight and bright sunshine. Wonderful.

Turkish war memorial. Photo Ray Penson
Turkish war memorial. Photo Ray Penson

We entered the northern end of the Dardanelles from the Sea of Marmara at daybreak and the blinking lights on shore gradually turned into recognisable structures and landmarks.  The straits have traffic separation lanes, just like a motorway, with southbound ships keeping to the lane on the western side.  Pilotage is not compulsory so we headed
south without delay.

The highlight of the Dardanelles is passing Canakkale where the strait narrows and turns.  On shore either side are impressive castles, the sense of history about the place is very powerful.  On the eastern shore at the town of Canakkale can be seen the Trojan Horse.  Canakkale looks like an interesting place and I would like the opportunity to visit sometime.

Castle at Canakkale. Photo Ray Penson
Castle at Canakkale. Photo Ray Penson

After passing Canakkale the Dardanelles open out into a wide strait heading westwards towards the Aegean Sea.  On the north shore is the impressive Turkish War memorial and the biggest flag you will ever see. The Turks seem to be fond of large National Flags, they can be seen painted on hillsides, flying from bridges and just about any tall structure.

Slightly inland can be seen the French war memorial and further along the coast the British war memorial.  It makes you wonder about the logic of expending so much effort and losing so many lives fighting over a featureless, barren piece of dirt.

Once out of the Dardanelles we turned south, helped along by a strong northerly wind in sparkling seas.  Our next stop is Gibraltar where we will load some more fuel to get us across the Atlantic.  We should be in Gibraltar in about eight days.


One week ago I boarded a plane in Auckland and now find myself heading down the Bosporus with a long voyage ahead.  This time I have no heated bathroom floor – a hardship I will have to live with.

romania-to-newfoundland-canadaA 30 hour trip from Auckland brought me to Galati in Romania where a new build ferry was waiting to depart the shipyard.  The ferry is headed for Newfoundland, a distance of 4,000 plus miles through the Mediterranean Sea and North Atlantic Ocean.  My crew of seven is a mixture of Dutch, Belgium and Indonesian nationals.

I enjoy ship delivery, it’s always interesting, varied and at times challenging.  The ability to solve problems, improvise and good seamanship are helpful attributes.  It doesn’t matter what type of ship, big or small, new or old, they all provide opportunities to learn new tricks.

Anyway, today we are lucky and have a Bosporus transit in beautiful weather and daylight.  The first time I made this passage many years ago there were no bridges, now there are three magnificent structures connecting the European continent to Asia.  Istanbul is now a massive sprawling city with many high-rise buildings.  The waterfront is very pretty with cafes and restaurants overlooking the strait.  I didn’t feel any desire to get ashore for a visit.

Our Bosporus pilot turned out to be a surly, bad tempered, miserable individual and it was good to be rid of him before we headed out into the Sea of Marmara towards the Dardanelles.