About two years ago someone in Turkey had a bright idea.
They were concerned about pollution from all the boat traffic, especially in the Marmaris / Bodrum area.
So they decreed that henceforth every boat must collect all its black water (ie toilet sewage) and grey water (ie shower and washing water) in holding tanks. And these holding tanks must not be discharged anywhere in Turkish waters – not even way out at sea, as is the normal custom.
Instead, they must be pumped out at pumping stations.
Most modern boats do have small holding tanks for black water, but not at all for grey water.
Furthermore, they would introduce a compulsory ‘Blue Card’ which would record each time you went for a pump out.
There would be a big fine if you discharged at sea. Or if you don’t have a Blue Card. Or if you don’t pump out ‘often enough’.
But they missed one important point.
They did not make sure there are enough pumping stations. Nor do they give you a list of pumping stations.
There is one in most marinas. So there is one, for example, at Yalikavak, at Bodrum, Orhaniye (where we are headed today) and Marmaris.
There is none anywhere else in the 40 mile deep Gogova Gulf, nor along any of the Datca peninsula.
Which, if you are trying to cruise along there, leaves you rather stuck.
Our tanks will hold up to about one week’s worth of cruising. But after a couple of days they start to smell. So we have to carry this smell around with us while cruising and trying to find a pump out.
Everywhere we go, we ask people where there is one. Most of the locals (ie all the restaurants that have docks to invite you in to stay and eat) have no idea. In fact, they have never heard of this system. One of them, when we showed him the Blue Card, asked us if we worked for this company!
In Datca we asked the yacht agent- ie the people who give (sell) you a Blue Card when you first check in to the country - where to pump out. He suggested that we just empty out at see if we cannot get to a pumping station before we are full. ‘Just make sure no one sees you,’ he said.
From what I can gather from other boaters is that they just do a pump out every few weeks just to have it on record.
Our whole goal in cruising is to avoid marinas, not to have to constantly look for the next one every few days. It definitely detracts from cruising here.
But that is not all.
We have also noticed that quite often we can smell sewage when we walk around the towns ashore. I don’t know where this comes from, but something is not right with the Turkish sewage systems somewhere. Quite a contrast from all the flowers we often smelt in Ionian Greece.
So, sad to say, our experience of Turkey so far is smelly.