Turkey – Kara Deniz (Black Sea)

If Turkey represents the “furthest” cruising ground for boats entering the Mediterranean then the Black Sea (Kara Deniz in Turkish) is “further than furthest”. Although Maringret crossed the west end of the Black Sea in 2013 after exiting the Danube, she returned to the Black Sea in 2014 and covered the north coast of Turkey as far as Trabzon which is close to the Georgian border. As usual we intend to use this page to collect information useful to other boats: goods, services, procedures and regulations. Hopefully this information will be of use to others.

With the unrest in the Ukraine in 2014 every boat we met was declined insurance coverage for the Black Sea. For some reason we were the only boat that was issued coverage for the Black Sea which meant we were the only non-Turkish yacht in the Black Sea for the whole summer.

We have listed the harbours in west-to-east order from Poyraz at the top of the Bosphorus through to Trabzon which is about 3 harbours from the Georgian border. Most excepting Samsun and Trabzon are fishing harbours and whether anchoring or quay space is available depends on the status of the commercial fishing. The commercial fishing season runs from September 1 to May 30th. There is no net fishing for June, July and August although small fishing boats still go out and fish by line.

There is a lack of tourism information and so we have included more information on the harbours when we can as there is little of any tourism operation in these towns and regular guide books only cover Samson, Trabzon and Sinop.

Pilot Books

The Black Sea is not a high volume yacht destination, hence there is a not a lot of interest for publishers to produce pilot books for the area. Consequently there is not a lot for the cruising yacht to choose from. From our own research and also talking to boats that had spent multiple seasons in the Black Sea there seem to be pilot books only in the English language. These volumes are:

The Annan publication of 2001 was still in use by some yachts up till last year. Although now dated it was very thorough. Rod Heikel’s Turkish Waters has a terse coverage of the Black Sea Coast which is to his normal high standards of writing but he states that due to the low number of boats sailing the Black Sea of Turkey the coverage of that area is minimised to reduce publishing costs.

The final choice is The Black Sea (2012) by Barker & Borre which is based on the Annan publication of 2001 – in fact it is perhaps better to view it as an update to the Annan publication of 2001, much information (including 180 harbour sketches) are from the 2001 publication. Additionally it has contributed material from a long list of cruising boats which makes the information hard to depend on as ultimately it is from multiple authors. The list of harbours and anchorages is quite complete based on our passages but the details and descriptions are inconsistent (most of the harbour from 2001 seem not to have been updated). The phrase “it is reported that” is used often in descriptions – when encountering that phrase it is best not to depend on what follows. The history and social record that Heikell covers so well and seamlessly integrates into his books is absent here, for example a prominent ruin of a Genoese castle being referred to as “the ruins of a fort on a headland”. Finally there is a continual attack on the coastal highway and a tedious saga of wetlands status – neither of which deserve space in a navigational pilot. This seems to be the only publication currently available and with the Ukraine being shut to cruising as of 2014 it is improbable that a new publication will appear any time soon.

The Fishing Fleet

There are very few yacht facilities on the Black Sea coast of Turkey. Additionally we found that at two of the places where there were yachts (Ereğli and Samsun) there were exclusive boating clubs  which had minimal interest in visiting yachts – both were even obstructive at times. It also must be said that Trabzon was the third harbour having yachts and was a most welcoming and pleasant place to stay. Due to the lack of yacht facilities at all other locations we were in fishing harbours almost all the time. The fishermen were great, on occasion they even moved boats so we could be immediately alongside the quay. They helped with virtually everything (diesel, paperwork, etc.) we needed and were very nice to be around. One thing that must be understood about the Black Sea fishing is that the large fishing trawlers are dormant between May 30th and September 1st as the fishing season is closed for this period. Certainly by the time we were moving east along the Black Sea coast in June they were idle. Generally they are tied up alongside on the concrete quays, often rafted 2 or 3 deep. We never were refused permission to tie up alongside although we always asked. But come September 1st this all changes. The dormant trawlers – some as large as 50m long with 2 large tender boats – become fish factories and are working around the clock in certain harbours. They charge up to the quays, gun their engines in reverse, swing alongside the quay amidst a cacophony of yelling voices, offload their catch into the waiting refrigerated trucks, take on water, fuel and ice and head out again. This happens at all hours of the day and night and is quite interesting to watch from an anchorage. Once this transition to open fishing season has taken place there is no place for yachts on the quays or alongside the trawlers. In the summer, depending on the harbour, there may be maintenance work underway, generally it increases as September approaches but some harbours such as Poyraz seemed to be busy during the whole closure season. Quite a bit of painting and grinding off rust is done which you do not want to moor up against.

Sailing Conditions

The Black Sea has a lot of wind. The commonly acknowledged sailing season is June, July and August. Having said that, most of the wind is outside of the summer months and is often gale or storm force – during the summer there is very little wind. However, at all times of the year there is swell. During the summer months the little wind that is present is usually insufficient to overcome the swell. During our 1,500 nautical miles in 2014, we were always motoring – we never sailed! There were days when we could have sailed but on those days there was always swell which was stronger that the available wind.

Black Sea (Kara Deniz) Moorages

The moorages are listed W to E

Poyrazköy harbour
Depth: >2m
Air Draft: unlimited
Facilities: limited shops in village, garbage on quay, city bus number 135 runs from Poyraz to Istanbul
Description: Located on the eastern bank of the Bosphorus immediately
before the Black Sea. It is a conveniently located harbour for starting
or ending a passage on the Bosphorus or across the Black Sea. Safe anchorage for all but SW winds.
Problems or Issues: In September/October there was a fishing boat leaving the
harbour every 15 minutes
for most of the day and night. The large boats dock on the quay while
up to 20 of the small 2 man boats anchor during the night time hours.
In June we were invited to moor up on the quay by the fishermen but then ordered off by the officials from the fishermen’s cooperative.
Şile harbour
Depth: >2m
Air Draft: unlimited
Facilities: water and garbage on the quay, limited services along tourist road at top of cliff, more services further into town proper
Description: safe anchorage and quay, entrance silted up to 2.8m in 2014
Problems or Issues: discos were much quieter than indicated in pilot book
Kefken harbour
Depth: >2m
Air Draft: unlimited
Facilities: small food stores in village, garbage on quay (possibly water also)
Description: safe anchorage and quay
Problems or Issues: very loud disco at water edge on week nights (too loud to talk over in the anchorage)
Ereğli harbour
Depth: >2m
Air Draft: unlimited
Facilities: garbage outside of sailing club on the promenade; water possible from sailing club if you ask one of the permanently moored yachts; food shopping one street back and public market about 500m towards the steel mills. This is the only harbour on the coast that has dock access for diesel fuel, on the east side of the breakwater dividing the fishing harbour from the yacht and navy harbour.
Description: large harbour, floating plastic dock in front of sailing club for dinghy access
Problems or Issues: sailing club is rather uninterested in visiting yachts
Other: Ereğli is a port of entry: the Harbour Master is on road in front of sailing club – about 200m to the left across the road – an agent must be used, $200 for exit and $300 for entry.
The Gates of Hell Caves are about 300m past the Harbour Master.
Filyos harbour
Depth: >2m
Air Draft: unlimited
Facilities: Water and garbage on the quay. Mini-markets visible from harbour, Wednesday is a market day, train station.
Description: Both entrance lights were inoperative in 2014, a large safe harbour for anchorage, the quays were fully occupied.
Problems or Issues: Although there is a lot of anchorage space, safety is an issue: on our first visit we were bothered with teenage boys in open fishing boats “buzzing” us each afternoon; on our second visit we received the same treatment from drunken men with raki bottles on a larger fishing boat at 2 AM – at which time we decided that it was time to change harbours.
Other: Filyos seems to have had a very rich history, something that is not even hinted at locally. In addition to the ruins of a Genoese castle overlooking harbour there are the ruins of a Greek ampitheatre on the way (and also 2 remaining arches from an aquaduct but we didn’t find them).
A webpage on the excavations:
Harvard University
Amasra harbour
Depth: >2m
Air Draft: unlimited
Facilities: Water and garbage on the quay, mini-markets and public market in town.
Description: Either anchor or moor on the new predominantly empty pontoons in NW corner with access controlled by chain and padlock (i.e. no shore access) – 30 TL to moor on pontoons (no water or electricity and iffy shore access). A new quay runs halfway out the north breakwater and is suitable only for cruise ships.
Problems or Issues: Loud music (too loud to talk over in the anchorage) during nights of July from town run concerts on waterfront (it can be heard 6 km away on mountain tops).
Other: Daily busses to the UNESCO Heritage Site Safronbolu (20 TL).
Karacaşile harbour
Depth: >2m
Air Draft: unlimited
Facilities: Garbage is available on the quay, mini-markets in town.
Description: Either anchor out or moor on the quay (which was empty when we visited during fishing season).
Problems or Issues:
Other: A town of many many boat building operations, ranging from a company building 45 metre wooden boats through to various cottage industry operations. Boats seem to be stuck into any space available.
Cide harbour
Depth: >2m
Air Draft: unlimited
Facilities: Water (from a floating restaurant), garbage on the quay, mini-markets in town.
Description: A large fishing harbour with much room to anchor out or possibly spaces on a quay adjoining the city works yard (dump trucks, garbage trucks, fire engines etc.)
Problems or Issues: There is an aquatic centre on the western side of the river, next to the sawmill which has a swimming pool, and sauna – showers may be available but we could never find it open to enquire.
Inebolu harbour
Depth: >2m
Air Draft: unlimited
Facilities: Water and garbage on the quay. Mini-markets in town, public market beside river at west side of town.
Description: The eastern pontoon was filled with a floating drydock in 2014, 2 cranes on the quay go with it. Only moorage space was in 5m in NW corner in between local boats.
Problems or Issues: Any yacht on the quay will become filthy from the powdered copper which is loaded and the constant trucks stirring it up.
Other: Cide is a port of entry: the Harbour Master is behind the fishing boats near the coast guard station, an agent must be used, €300 for exit and €300 for entry. There is no Health Office in Inebolu so a days notice is required to get one from Sinop/Samsun.
Çaylioğlu harbour
Depth: >2m
Air Draft: unlimited
Facilities: Water is available in the hamlet (about 20 houses) across the road from the mosque, the water point on the quay has been vandalised and no longer works, no garbage disposal.
Description: A bomb-proof harbour built in the early 90s. Not having a passable road out, this harbour has remained under used and mainly serves as a harbour of refuge. A large anchorage area and 200m of empty concrete dock with nothing moored there – possibly it is busier during fishing season.
Problems or Issues:
Akliman harbour
Depth: >2m
Air Draft: unlimited
Facilities: garbage ashore, commercial campground (which has a restaurant and and facilities such as showers), hourly dolmuş to Sinop (it turns around at “Hamsi Cove”).
Description: An inner and outer harbour in an idyllic setting with a view of ancient Sinop across the outer bay. Anchoring in inner harbour would be tentative in strong winds but possible in light ones. This is a lovely location in the off season but swarming in season when the water and park green spaces ashore are jam packed.
Problems or Issues: If entering by night the sole entrance light is red but is kept to starboard – beware of various rocks at entrance.

Notes on the city of Sinop:

Sinop is an ancient town and well worth visiting, people have resided there since the Bronze Age. It is nestled on the landwards side of a large rock about the size of the rock at Gibralter. Dolmuş run from Akliman into Sinop about 3 times an hour. The city walls, museums and the prison which is now a museum are well worth seeing. Sinop is the home town to Diogenes and where the Russians ambushed the anchored Ottoman Navy – thereby bringing France and Britain into the Crimean War. The town is easily walked and has numerous vantage points to take in the scenic panorama.

Alaçam (Toplu) harbour
Depth: >2m
Air Draft: unlimited
Facilities: water on quay, no garbage, a very small store near the mosque in the village
Description: Harbour entrance is located at N 41.65 E 35.67, has entrance lights as well as a concrete quay on the east side. The entrance was silted to 3.5m in 2014. Although known as Alaçam harbour, the city of Alaçam is actually located inland.
Problems or Issues:
Samsun harbour
Depth: >2m
Air Draft: unlimited
Facilities: Garbage & water on quay; cold showers.
Description: Hard to spot from the approach, it is basically at the bottom of the extremely tall tower building (under construction in 2014 and purported to be a hotel), east of the 2 yellow lions on the beach with Atatürk between them and west of the end of the breakwater to the commercial harbour.
Problems or Issues: XXX

Notes on the city of Samsun:

In 2014 there were no visitor spots and no pickup lines except for permanent berth holders. The only choice was of going alongside some old tires or dropping a anchor and going to the dock at the NE end. As the predominant wind is NE, this is a very poor position (which is why no berth holder had taken it). Wifi exists but only for customers of the expensive restaurant, the club house appeared to be having a dispute with the sailing club which negated any service to visitors. Cold water showers were available (i.e. no hot water), electricity was randomly available with most outlets near the NE corner being out of service. No staff were willing to offer any information about services, facilities or directions aside from the man in the evening who wanted €50 per night. We pointed out that it was only €40 in Yalova which included hot water showers and laundry so he dropped to €25. Water and garbage on the quay. The only information we could get was from some local boat owners who advised us to simply anchor out and ignore the marina (they also said that yachts are no longer permitted to anchor in the commercial marina). All the services described in the pilot book may exist but no point of access to them could be located. There are a number of large Migros stores including a M5 Migros (i.e. hypermarket) about 6 km to the east in the old city in a shopping arcade called Piazza. There is a tram passing the marina but it does not stop, meaning it is a 3 km walk into the old town as there are essentially no facilities near the marina. If visiting again we would take the advice of the local boaters and anchor out and ignore the marina. Due to the NE winds we had to leave the quay anyway and anchor out – no one came to assist us in getting off the quay, only to make sure we didn’t damage their boats in doing so.

Terme harbour
Depth: >2m
Air Draft: unlimited
Facilities: Mooring is available on the extensive fishing docks, some of which have both electricity and water available. Garbage is available in the village. A dolmuş runs to the nearby town of Terme where markets and stores are available.
Description: A very large harbour, in 2014 the “ship yard” seemed to be at a very low ebb, as it is inside a security fence it is not obvious that you could moor up there.
Problems or Issues:
Yaliköy harbour
Depth: >2m
Air Draft: unlimited
Facilities: Water and electricity may be available on the quay (but at some distance), garbage is on the quay.
Description: The entrance was silted to 3.5m in 2014. There is a concrete quay which is about 4m high although it has 2 side platforms closer to water level – but they are used by local motorboats. The harbour is small and anchoring is possible but would be tenuous in anything except dead calm. Rafting up on fishing boats may be possible – ask on the quay or at the fisherman’s cooperative building at the end of the road to the quay.
Problems or Issues:
Giresun harbour
Depth: >2m
Air Draft: unlimited
Facilities: fishing harbour with garbage on quay and possibly water.
Description: The red entrance light was burnt out in 2014. Mooring alongside fishing boats may be possible in the fishing harbour, check with the fisherman’s cooperative located immediately inside the gate to the fishing harbour – they have a desk inside the chai shop immediately inside the entrance gate from the highway. There may also be space on one of the quays in the fishing harbour. There is a purpose made dock immediately inside the breakwater of the fishing harbour on the west side where one sailing boat and some motor boats moored and it may be possible to moor end-to there if you ask.
Problems or Issues:
Other: The Giresun we found in 2014 has nothing to do with the pilot book description. Persons working for the local government told us the harbour had fallen idle as it could not compete with Samsun and Trabzon harbours. The coastguard told us the commercial harbour was basically closed and indeed it was empty aside from 4 fishing boats which had been seized for nonpayment of taxes. The “yacht club” which had been located on the west side of the commercial port was smashed by the government in 2012 and is now mainly unusable. In addition its remnants are now the location for local night time drinkers and security would not be good (you can hear them drinking and yelling long into the night from the rest of the harbour). As of 2014 the commercial port wanted 200TL per night to moor there along the quay (without electricity or water). Anchoring in the empty commercial harbour may still be an option – we didn’t ask.Of the two “excellent hosts” listed in the pilot book contact information, we contacted the first who wondered why we were calling him.We asked him about how to arrange staying at the Trabzonspor Yacht Club (as the pilot book called it) but he said he knew nothing about that. He said he would call us back which predictably didn’t happen. We didn’t bother with the second contact listed as the “yacht club” is no more. The people we met in the government archives office read through the book and diplomatically said “perhaps your book is very wrong”. Apparently there is no “local tourist board office” to “drop by”. The ladies we met said the town does not have any tourism support efforts aside from what is done at a district level. They thought it should but were definite that such facilities did not exist. This was confirmed by security guards at the town hall who gave us a Turkish language pamplet and told us “no tourism office”.
Terebolu harbour
Depth: >2m
Air Draft: unlimited
Facilities: Two concrete quays, garbage on central one, mini-markets in the town. A public market takes place adjacent to the concrete quay.
Description: A picturesque town perched on the side of a hill.
Problems or Issues:
Besikdüzü harbour
Depth: >2m
Air Draft: unlimited
Facilities: Garbage on quay, 3 convenience stores on highway above harbour.The fuel station on the highway has been closed for some time so diesel is no longer conveniently available at this harbour. There is a fisherman’s cooperative in the SE corner who sell chai and light meals, they also have a building (which was not completed in 2014) which has 3 shower stalls and toilets (the sign had been painted on the side of the building but construction had not finished).
Description: Wreck of the fishing boat at the entrance had a white light on it, the green entrance light was not operating in 2014. Rafting up on out of season trawlers may be possible.
Problems or Issues:
Akçaabat harbour
Depth: >2m
Air Draft: unlimited
Facilities: Garbage on quay, mini-markets across the coastal highway, the dolmuş terminal is 50m to the west from the street entrance to the harbour, there are dolmuş to Meyden in Trabzon.
Description: There was no red entrance light in 2014. The inner breakwater is now a purpose built dock for a day-trip boat. The harbour is almost choked with waterside restaurants and a few remaining fishing boats. Anchoring in this harbour would be for settled conditions only. With the restaurants and the adjacent highway the harbour is very noisy.
Problems or Issues:
Trabzon harbour
Depth: >2m
Air Draft: unlimited
Facilities: Water, electricity, garbage on quay.
Description: Trabzonspor Sailing Club was definitely the friendliest yacht facility we encountered on the Black Sea coast.
Problems or Issues: The airport operates about 21 hours a day which makes it quite noisy in the boat club.
There is a dolmuş between Trabzonspor Sailing Club and the city but using it to return is rather tricky (see following Notes on the city of Trabzon).
Other: The first thing wrong in the pilot book is the name of the boat moorage who refer to themselves as “Trabzonspor Yelken Kulübü” (Trabzonspor Sailing Club). We attempted to make contact with the Trabzonspor Yacht Harbour (as the book titles it) using the contact listed in the book. The only thing correct in the book is that the person listed does speak English – we didn’t bother trying French. She is in Istanbul, she has nothing to do with Trabzonspor, she could not suggest any contact person at Trabzonspor, and she wished us luck sorting out staying at Trabzonspor Yacht Harbour. As it turned out most of what followed in the pilot book was wrong.
We entered the harbour and someone came out to take our lines, show us where to moor. We sat having chai with the single security guard until a member of the sailing club arrived who registered our arrival – the daily rate is 50TL (regardless of length as best we could determine). The sailing club is sandwiched between the Trabzonspor football club and the sports centre built for the 2011 Junior Olympics. The sailing club access road runs between these two facilities and joins the main road (which is right below the airport runway) immediately outside the entrance gate to Trabzonspor. From this location a dolmuş runs to Trabzon twice an hour between 08:00 until 220:00 (as best we could understand although some people claimed service until 22:00). As the Karadeniz Technical University, Trabzonspor, Olympic facilities and the sailing club are all located on the water side of the airport runway they are separated from the east end of Trabzon – which is why there is a dedicated dolmuş.

Notes on the city of Trabzon:

Trabzon is a hectic city from ancient times built on the edge of a mountain, it is compact but very chaotic to navigate. The dolmuş runs between the Trabzonspor gate and the city and on the inbound leg it stops at the large shopping mall called Forum which has a Migros food for provisioning. The starting point in the city is down near the harbour, where you will need to find the dolmuş to return to the sailing club (note it does not always pass the Forum shopping centre on the return leg). We were never able to determine any marking or signage that indicated the dolmuş is destined for Trabzonspor (i.e. the sailing club) which makes it next to impossible to flag down along the route, hence finding the starting point for it in the city is necessary. The first time into the city, it is best to get off at the Atatürk Park (labelled as Meyden on the dolmuş) which is a large square in the city centre – most drivers simply referred to it as “centrum”. There is a tourist information office there (next to the police office) which will give you a map and show you where to locate the return dolmuş. The return point is only 10 minutes walk down hill from the Meyden. In addition the tourist information will annotate your map with all the other sites and where to get busses to Sumela Monastery, Üzongol (Long Lake), Georgia (Girgestan) and various other long haul destinations. The Sailing Club has water and electricity on the concrete quays, garbage receptacles were on the shore. A rinse off shower for the dinghy sailers is available at the rear of the sailing club buildings.


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