We 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.
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.
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.
Tonight 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.
There 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.