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Turkish Delights Page 2

We had already concluded, after only a few days in Istanbul, that we’d never figure out the Turkish language. Then we saw our Sunsail charter boat. The stern carried a French flag and the boat’s name: UAGIZ. My wife, Kathy, and I have dealt with a lot of foreign languages, but this one truly had us scratching our heads. And asking a dockhand didn’t help much. I heard “Oo-gosh,” and
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Moving Aboard

Our new Jeanneau 36i was in perfect condition, right down to the new-boat aroma, and had all the cruising essentials, including a GPS chartplotter. Going below we immediately began sorting out the provisions Sunsail had put aboard for the week. A communications snafu had resulted in our having lots of snacks for four people instead of two, but very little for meals. Ah, well, we’d make do just fine, even though Kathy was attempting to control her weight, and this diet wouldn’t make that any easier.

From Kathy’s journal:

“I plan to gain about seven pounds per week from anxiety over hunger and odd meal times, overeating at meals, too much bread, the ubiquitous French fries, Coke, wine, Turkish coffee and tea with sugar, desserts provided as favors and ice cream on hot days. I met that undesirable goal during our time in Istanbul. I am wondering if, indeed, the isometrics of simply staying upright on the boat will burn off some calories.”

As it turned out, our cruise route obviated the need for preparing dinner aboard. Each evening we tied up at another village restaurant, every one of them excellent. Good news for the cook, bad news for weight control. The contest was on: the fitness of sailing versus the wonderful Turkish cuisine.

We certainly had plenty of space on this boat. We cruise the Chesapeake on a 1976 Ranger 33 and camp on land in a conversion van, so the 36i was more than adequate. Nonetheless, getting used to any new boat inevitably includes bumping into things that aren’t where you expect them, so “Ooch-ouch” was an appropriate reading of the name for the first few days, despite the spacious cabins.

Ambiance and a Breeze

Although Turkish cities are as modern as any in the world, life in rural areas is more traditional, with shepherds moving their flocks from one island to another in small boats, and women in head scarves making bread and pasta in the way their ancestors did. Tourist towns conceal much of this local color, but approaching a place from the sea always reveals its hidden side.

Our first morning in Fethiye began the same way the previous evening had ended, with the local muezzin calling the faithful to prayer through a powerful amplification system. This one wasn’t as talented a singer as some of those in Istanbul, and we wondered if career qualifications for holy men included musical ability. We became instant aficionados of this sound, especially the counterpoint of simultaneous chants from two or more mosques in the larger towns.

“Where is the cruise captain?” Kathy asked. “The one with the blue shirt and hair,” a dockhand replied, and sure enough, we soon knew we’d have no trouble finding Senol (“Shen-yol”) even in a crowd. The hostess, an attractive young woman named Ebru (“Eh-brew”), normally spends much of her time on flotillas looking after children, but since there were none this week, she shifted gears and tended to us instead. She seemed to think this was an improvement.

At the breakfast briefing, we took care of paperwork and finances and headed back to UAGIZ with the Sunsail pilot book for the region, Turkey, the Turquoise Coast—Coast of Culture and Magic. This is an outstanding cruising guide that would be useful for every sailor exploring the area.

Navigation turned out to be very simple. Not only were our destinations always in sight, but if we didn’t want to read the paper chart and follow compass courses, the chartplotter had all the anchorages preloaded as waypoints, with the Sunsail logo.

A light breeze greeted us as we sailed from Fethiye about 14 miles across Fethiye Krfezi (Fethiye “gulf” or “bay”) to Sarsala Iskelesi, or “port” Sarsala. Names for bodies of water in southern Turkey are as ambiguous as they are in the eastern United States, where a “creek” may be larger than a “bay” or “sound.”

The Turkish coast has a semi-arid Mediterranean climate resembling that of popular southern resorts in Spain, France and Italy. We saw distant mountains capped with snow, while the closer hills plunged at the water’s edge, creating a striking landscape. Soundings of 300 feet or more within a few boat lengths of shore are not uncommon in these waters.

If there was a downside to this beautiful setting it was seeing all the Med-moored boats and wondering how I was ever going to dock UAGIZ stern-to singlehanded.

Indeed, tying up in Sarsala, it was impossible for me to back into place at the pier, use a boat hook to pick up the bow line leading to a deep anchor offshore (they call these “laid lines” here) and then get back to the stern in time to throw two more lines to the waiting dockhands. Things were just reaching the embarrassing stage when Ebru suddenly materialized on deck, grabbed the lines, secured them all and then leapt away to handle the next approaching boat.

I turned blankly to Kathy. “Who was that masked man?” I said.

Kathy was delighted. It meant she could cruise the entire week without having to heave lines or haul on taut ropes, a near impossibility for her. Flotilla sailing never looked better.

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