Warning – Unsafe Marina in Alanya Turkey
After 15 years of living aboard, 40,000+ ocean miles, a hurricane and several gales at sea who would have guessed that the greatest danger our boat would face would be while tied to a dock at Alanya marina in Turkey. To say that Alanya marina is terribly unsafe and a disaster waiting to happen only scratches the surface of the problems there. We were attracted to Alanya marina by quoted low prices for the 2009-2010 winter as well as the friendly blandishments of Hasan Kacmaz the marina co-ordinator. As we were to find out to our dismay Hasan is much better at making promises than delivering on them. The rest of the staff while all very nice seem to have adopted Hasan’s style of telling you whatever it is they think you want to hear regardless of whether they have any intention at all of living up to their promises. There is no polite way of saying this but it is best to assume that anything the marina tells you is a flat out lie.
As far as any perceived savings that notion was shattered by the cost of getting to Alanya from the cruising grounds to the west and by the fact that there are virtually no yacht services available there so everything you do or need costs much more than elsewhere. Service people who come to the marina drive from Antalya 2 hours away so you pay for 4 hours of travel time before they start work on your boat. Also they are not allowed to quote you a price for work-everything must go through the marina with at least a 30-40% markup.
Any boats cruising Turkey are likely to be in the area between Kemer and Marmaris, where there are dozens of marinas and most of the prime cruising grounds. Alanya marina is 150 miles to the east across the bay of Antalya. Unless you are heading to Syria it is far out of your way. With fuel at $8 per gallon and a virtual certainty that you will motor most of the way there and back that amounts to roughly $450 in fuel expenditures to get there.
The grand opening was to be May 2009 but construction delays and the fact they ran out of money made them reschedule until October 2009 by which time they promised a fully complete marina. Six more months later as of March 2010 the promised cruisers’ lounge, swimming pool, restaurant, health club and spa were all non existent, even though since September 2009 we had been told each one of these items was “about 2 weeks away from being finished.”
The market was in fact a tiny store with only drinks and a few snack items available and they could not carry frozen meat as the electricity supply was unreliable. The closest restaurant was 4 km away in town. Of the apartments that were to be poolside only one was marginally habitable, with its toilet lead to an open sewer running through the marina property. Of the promised technical services there were none. No machine shop, no woodworkers, no electrical shop, no canvas repairs, nothing. The chandlery was small and the salesman had no boating knowledge whatsoever. Most of what cruisers wanted had to be ordered in from elsewhere and was expensive as there was no competition.
For most of the season the electricity available varied from 165-190 volts and there were electrical outages most days. On several occasions the electricians managed to send 400 volts down the lines resulting in many boats having expensive battery chargers, computer power supplies and other sensitive electronics damaged or destroyed . Wifi was also unreliable.
The water on the docks was working but the unheated shower blocks often had only enough hot water for 4 or 5 people to shower. Often they would be closed for repairs with no prior notice. The “shopping center” consisted of unfinished buildings to house 20-30 or more stores. None was occupied or finished and this area as well as much of the marina was a muddy construction site with gaping holes here and there and no lights making it very dangerous to walk around at night. The construction meant there was constant dust and noise of heavy equipment. Because of the dust cleaning the boat was a daily affair. Due to the poor quality of construction even brand new buildings leaked, had backed up sewage in the toilets, non working fixtures, etc.
However all the above problems paled into insignificance compared to the aforementioned docks. The docks are floating concrete pontoons chained to the shore and with chains going to concrete blocks on the sea bed. These type of docks are used elsewhere in Turkey and seem to do OK. Alanya marina though is open to swell from the 100 mile wide bay it sits on. The breakwaters are woefully inadequate so that surge and surf make their way completely into the marina.
In the first storm of the season on Nov 4, 2009 the shore side end of the docks was moving laterally 1-2 meters. Farther out from the secured end the docks looked like a giant snake whipping side to side 2 meters and more. The boats med moored to the docks were likewise whipping back and forth wildly and even though most boats were tied with 5-10 lines the whiplash effect was so violent it was hard to stand on either the dock or on the boats at times. Our boat would one second be 7 feet off the dock and the next nearly smashing into the dock. Many boats did hit the docks even though the lines were bar tight. At one point the gangway connecting the dock to shore was wrenched away and into the water making it impossible to get from the dock to the shore.
Boats tied to the shoreside concrete were alternately smashed into the concrete or were lifted by the swells and nearly deposited onto the quay.
In several cases the marina supplied med mooring lines parted leaving nothing holding the boats off the docks. The result was smashed bows or sterns. The shock loads on cleats, chocks, lines and the docks themselves was far in excess of that for which any yacht is designed. Cleats and windlasses used as Sampson posts were ripped from the decks. And all of this was in a storm that only blew 28 knots. Before it was over there was thousands of dollars in damages.
At a meeting held with marina management a few days later their official policy was “to hope there are no more bad storms from that direction”.
Even on days of 15 knots the docks moved so much that they broke many passerelles as well as making getting on and off the boats an extreme hazard. Most boats were forced to invest in heavy coil springs to cushion the whiplash effects on the boat, but despite the springs everyone was regularly replacing expensive dock lines which were simply worn out from constant snapping back and forth. In just the two months of November and December which were relatively calm four people went into the water while trying to get from dock to boat. Fortunately only one incident required a hospital visit.
The strain and damages to the docks is of course cumulative and while the docks may hold together for a year or two, if a breakwater is not built eventually the dock sections will separate or the chain attachment points underwater will fail leaving the dock and all the boats attached to it to smash up against the rocky breakwater.
I assume that sometime in 2010 the long promised showers, pool, health club and other facilities may eventually get finished but unless an entirely new solid rock or concrete breakwater is built the place will be terribly unsafe. This is obviously a very expensive undertaking involving the government who owns the land so it’s doubtful to happen quickly. The marina did some minor repairs to strengthen the docks and try to reduce the movement in early 2010. They also had plans for a floating pontoon in the entrance. The marina will no doubt be telling everyone this cured the problem.
THESE REPAIRS DID NOT SOLVE THE PROBLEM- UNLESS YOU SEE WITH YOUR OWN EYES OR HEAR FROM A TRUSTED FRIEND THAT AN ENTIRELY NEW SOLID ROCK BREAKWATER HAS BEEN BUILT I SUGGEST YOU DO NOT WINTER IN ALANYA MARINA.
Because leaving your boat unattended on the docks was so hazardous several people changed plans and decided to spend the extra money to haul out while they went home for a month or so. This sounded like a reasonable idea until on Christmas day the travel lift drove directly into a boat’s mast knocking the boat off its supports, breaking the mast and dropping the boat to the ground. The mast, all rigging and lifelines were destroyed and the hull and keel cracked. The boat was declared a TOTAL loss and the liveaboard cruisers left homeless and boatless. More than 3 months later neither the marina nor their insurance company has paid out one cent on this disaster and they are not answering emails from the boat owner asking for compensation. Likewise nearly all the many boats in the other damage instances report the marina did not fully pay for their damage.
As far as the other marina services – do not believe ANY promises made by the marina staff. They have proven time and again that something “just two weeks away” is likely to never happen. The marina staff is well meaning but it appears the place is out of money and cannot afford to finish the marina. A concern for 2010 would be that the marina, clearly on hard times financially, goes bankrupt leaving cruisers who have paid upfront for berths to fend for themselves.
It would not be fair to point out all the marina’s shortcomings without also giving praise where it’s due. Here it comes-- the clay tennis courts are excellent.
In 2009-10 the tennis courts were free, however at the end of the winter the marina, desperate for funds licensed the courts and unfinished health club to an outside entity. The health club will cost 90 Euro per month and the courts will often be used for tennis lessons for people outside the marina. Cruisers use of the courts is only possible when not reserved by people from town. It remains to be seen if cruisers with boats in the marina will have to pay for use of tennis courts and pool. (And regardless of what the marina may promise cruisers to get them into the marina they have shown a complete willingness to suddenly change their policy and charge for something they promised was included in the berth contract).
The med cruising fleet includes many boaters who have spent years in Turkey at Marmaris or Kemer and are looking for someplace new where they can take a year long contract. Those who wintered over in 2009-10 and put up with the many above mentioned difficulties have been offered a significant discount to stay again and to help promote the place. So if someone suggests you winter there I would ask them first if a new breakwater is built and second what their discount is for bringing you to the marina.
Importantly there are very good alternatives. The majority of the circumnavigating cruising fleet ended up at Finike marina and reported they were very satisfied with the experience there. Finike is a pleasant town, the marina is safe, there are restaurants nearby and a very lively and active social scene. Others enjoyed marinas at Kemer, Marmaris and Kusadasi.
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