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F + 8 : Some Reflections on Chios and a 85 Miles Journey


We had company today from a Family of Dophins


Not being able to go to Chios has its advantages. Whilst we miss out on Mastic we now have an extra day and will visit the ancient towns of Miletu, Pirene and Didyma instead. The journey south takes us the entire day - there are 85 miles to cover and - no wind. We will have to motor again and do it in three legs: first to Cesme where we need to buy fresh fruits and vegetables; to lunch somewhere on the way and to where we will stay overnight.

Our Trip of 85 Miles from Çesme to the Meander


For the first third of the journey, Chios will be on our right - popping in and out of the haze that sits lazily on the sea. Chios was Genoa's most important trading station after Pera, the town opposite Constantinople. Run by a clan of Genovese families who coordinated their affairs with Genoa, the island was quite autonomous. Genoa never developed the centralised colonial administration that Venice put in place. The family feuds in Genoa prevented the emergence of a strong central authority. Families were best suited to govern.

The Big Cruise Ships are allowed to cross the Border


Turkish people arrived in the 12th century on the shores of the Aegean and established their own settlements. When Genovese traders obtained Chios in 1307 as a concession from the Byzantine Emperor, it became a bridge between the Ottoman world and the West. Chios' trading operations were vast and multilateral. Genovese traders bought raw cotton from Cilicia in Southern Turkey and sold it to spinners and weavers in Florence and Pisa. The proceeds were used to buy felt from Genoa to sell to the the Janissary in Constantinople. We already covered the alum trade which was partially financed by selling silk velvet fabrics dyed in Genoa to Ottoman nobles who were crazy for them.

Map of Chios by Piri Reis, the Ottoman Cartographer and Admiral - North is to the Right


The trading relations were manyfold. When the Turks needed craftsmen to build a fleet, the Genovese sent 60 carpenters and caulkers. When the Sultan needed transportation for his troops, the Genovese sent him their galleys. Both sides benefitted from cooperating. The Genovese also bought grain from Anatolia for their colonies and planted mulberry trees on Chios to produce silk. It is no coincidence that Chios formally remained Genovese until 1566, more than 100 years after the fall of Constantinople. When the Genovese' time was up, the Ottoman Admiral Piali Pasha simply showed up with his a few vessels, asked for the keys to the main town and Chios was Turkish. Trading now continued under Ottoman sovereignty.

The Coast Line of Çesme has lots of Chalk Cliffs and few Beaches


Chios was the place of an infamous massacre in 1822 at the beginning of the Greek War of Independence. Due to its close ties with the Ottoman Empire, Chios was a reluctant joiner in the War. But its hands were forced when an irregular force of a 500 Greeks from Samos landed and started attacking Turkish installations. The Ottoman answered by sending 40'000 troops, massacred 50'000 islanders and enslaved another 50'000. The numbers are from Wikipedia but seem to err on the high side. But who knows. The massacre was a disaster for the island. It is still a festering wound in the relations between Turkey and Greece.

The Massacre of Chios Massacre - Painting by Eugène Delacroix which swung Public Opinion in Europe for the Greek Cause - 1824


Sailing between the peninsula of Cesme and Chios made me aware of how integrated this region once was. When the border came down in 1913, it must have been devastating. An island that was at the heart of international trading for hundreds of years and developed the shipping industry in both Turkey and Greece, was suddenly at the periphery of Greece. Tourism repaired some of the damage in the 1970s. But if a harmless sailboat like ours can not easily cross the border, there is still a lot to be fixed.


After 65 miles, we felt we needed a break and decided to stop for the night. We also run out of cilantro and other herbs without which the Turkish cuisine does not work. An emergency round of on-shore shopping became necessary with our tender - a tiny vessel that turns into a speed boat when in the hands of Okan, our deckhand no 1.

Our speedy Tender at the Cumhuriyet Beach waiting for our return from shopping

We found the Herbs we needed and Dinner can proceed as planned





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