And so to Turkey

IMG_4266We arrived in Turkey at sunrise, after two slow nights of thunderstorms and headwinds. We are much taken with Sinop. The harbour is small and secure. The bows of fishing boats have that elegant, excessive flare which is so typically Turkish. It is warm and sunny. Calls to prayer echo around the hills, fishermen are mending nets, old men play dominoes and there is a languid easiness which suits our mood.



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Yesterday, about 100 miles out to sea, I was surprised to find we were not alone. A tiny passerine had taken refuge from the weather on Tainui’s after-deck. Soon she was strutting about in the cockpit as if she owned it. I was reminded immediately of Maxine, whose presence has been sorely missed by all of us. Like Maxine, this little bird was not keen to be photographed but I persisted. Unlike Maxine she left my sundowner undisturbed. She (the bird, not Maxine) disappeared at dusk and I thought she was lost at sea, but this morning we found that she had set up house with a partner under our dinghy on the foredeck. Customs and Immigration have not been informed.



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Rosie and Beth have been wide-eyed and enthusiastic. I had long forgotten what it must be like to do a first overnight passage. What for me is a humdrum if not tedious business was for them a major excitement. Rosie served up her sumptuous meals while Beth clucked and fussed over me. How many feet can a fellow fall on?



This morning in Sinop the narrow streets echoed with the calls of fishmongers. A young chap from a local fishing boat dropped by to present us with some fresh-baked bread. Over a palate-cleansing ale we congratulated ourselves on our safe passage. And ate hot bread and Vegemite. Then we slept. What a treat.

I have left immigration, customs, health and police formalities to a shipping agent. How much easier it is than doing everything oneself. I must try not to make a habit of it though, if our dwindling cruising funds are to be respected.

Beth leaves us here and Rosie is taking a short break to see Istanbul with her. I will doddle 300 miles along the southern shore of the Black Sea to pick up Rosie, Pasha and Tatiana there,  for the last leg of Tainui’s journey this year, through the Dardanelles and down to Marmaris.

IMG_4261Tonight the calm waters of the harbour reflect the shapely fishing boats. Waterside cafes are full of men sipping tea and playing dominoes. There must be some sort of board game olympiad in progress. A modest restaurant offers 23 different species of fish on the menu. I settle for anchovies, salad and a beer while the girls sleep.

IMG_4260There is life here, and a love of the sea, boats and good food. I keep thinking of how well-suited the Volga should be for this sort of life-affirmation. But there it is missing.

6 thoughts on “And so to Turkey

  1. Tony Gooch
    September 22, 2013 at 14:36

    Congratulations John and all who sailed with you. What an epic. You deserve a “cool one”. Thanks and kudos to Maxine for getting you through…..clearly an old Ozzie on his own would still be back there somewhere, on his back, legs waving in air, wailing at unsympathetic Russian officals.

    I was glad that the mast went up again with no hassle.

    And so to Marmaris.


    PS We just bought a Nordic Tug 32

    1. September 23, 2013 at 18:23

      Tony! I knew you wouldn’t be boatless for long. I have never contemplated owning any vessel other than Tainui but I find her winches are getting smaller, the anchor heavier and that bloody mast is getting taller by the day. I suppose there will come a day for me, too. I have admired the Yaroslavitz class motor cruisers on the inland waterways and I find myself fantasizing about cruising on Sydney Harbour in one. Skinny ribbed and draped with big car tyres, bleak gun-metal grey topsides with bold Cyrillic script on both sides. Black smoke belching from a 2 ton Russian engine turning over at 600 rpm. Imagine coming into the CYC in one of those!

      Thanks for all your help, mate. As I have said, I wouldn’t do it again with the mast down – there is just too much good downwind sailing to be had along the way.

  2. Mare
    September 20, 2013 at 15:51

    Dear John, Your sisters ( and no doubt your daughters’mother) are glad you made it without drowning one of your daughters, and her friend. That would have truly spoilt Christmas. I have suggested to Jane that we celebrate her significant birthday on Saturday 8 December. Do you reckon you and the girls could be home by then to join us? Have so enjoyed this site. I wonder if we could communicate this way when you’re back on dry land? love, Mare

    1. September 20, 2013 at 17:51

      Actually, I was not ever tempted to drown any of them. As crew and company they were all a delight. I’ve diarised 8 December. If you bring your computer and we sit at opposite ends of the table we can talk via XX

  3. Jen
    September 20, 2013 at 05:01

    Congrats on making it dad. We get to Istanbul on Sunday where will you be?

    1. September 20, 2013 at 14:42

      Jenny Wren!

      Not sure. Beth and Rosie are flying to Istanbul tomorrow, probably. Depending on weather it will take me up to a week to single-hand from here (Sinop) to Istanbul. If you wanted to join me you could come here with/without anybody interested – probably just one overnighter, if that. Pasha and his wife join the boat on 27th for the final 2 week trip down to Marmaris.

      Either way I am really looking forward to seeing you, darling daughter.

      More shortly.

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