Last Post

…well, for this year, at least.

IMG_4418Tainui and I are still reeling from the shock of Yat Marina Marmaris. This winter 1,000 yachts will sit in silence on the hard here, with another 700 in the water. It is a truly astonishing place. I suppose marinas like this are everywhere, but for me it is new and unsettling.

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On the plus side, there is everything a temperate weather cruising sailor could wish for. Superb chandlery, fine restaurant, bottle shop, showers, laundry, medical centre and every imaginable marine service facility. All you have to do is pay. There are just so many boats that you feel like a small cog in a huge, smoothly run machine. You just nod, open your wallet and let it all happen. Isn’t money amazing! My folding bike is out and serving me well (sore bum aside) – the facility is so large that everyone here uses bicycles to travel the kilometre of hard from boat to restuarant and shower.

What a metaphor

What a metaphor

For all its size though, this marina has surprisingly few cruising yachts as I have always known them. I mean the ones with an Aries vane on the stern, a row of extra fuel canisters on deck, big fat anchors, heavy running rigging and all those battle scars. Maybe they’re a dying breed. Many of the yachts are shiny Bavarias and Jeanneaus with stainless steel anchor chain, scrubbed teak boarding gangways and even air conditioning. Then there are the huge, vulgar gin palaces with all their bling, spit and polish – hundreds and hundreds of them, not saying fuck me but fuck you. I don’t envy any of these people their boats. Tainui sits proudly, if more than a tad grubby at the moment, and how I love her.

Pasha and Tatiana left yesterday, with a genuine reluctance which I found gratifying. How pleasing it is to know that your crew have enjoyed themselves. They have been fine cruising companions but as usual I find much pleasure in being able to spread out, make my own special kind of mess and do what I want , when I want and without interruption. Suddenly I am in a much larger boat. It is quiet though, and already I am beginning to talk to myself. I would make a truly hopeless hermit.

It is certainly easier to leave the boat in a temperate climate. Sub-zero winters mean a huge amount of extra preparation. Last winter in Tromso, for example, I had to prepare Tainui for 2 metres of snow on deck. Here it is only rain and occasional storm to consider. No worry about the fresh water plumbing, antifreezing residual water in the tanks, or heating and dehumidifying the interior.

Preparing the boat for winter is always like this. I usually allow a week for the process and I tinker away at my own, increasingly sedate pace. There is no longer the need for juggling crew changes, route planning, provisioning, maintaining supplies of fuel, water, gas, engine coolant (especially that!) and choosing the next night’s anchorage and emergency backup stop – not that I am renowned for my longer term foresight – just ask Maxine!

During this trip maintenace has been a continuous and fairly easy process. With so much flat water and endless calm anchorages there has been time. With crew like Pasha, Dima, Maxine and Rosie in particular, it has been reasonably straightforward. So here in Marmaris, it has just been a matter of changing the engine salt water seacock, greasing the Maxprop, attaching new anodes, cleaning out the fridge, stowing sails, doing the huge pile of laundry and negotiating with Ercan the winter’s hull paint job and a bit of sail repair.

This afternoon I will fold up my Brompton bicycle, close the main hatch for the last time and trundle my bags to the taxi.

I have no idea what next year holds. Perhaps a season in the northern Aegean, perhaps (heaven forbid!) the Red Sea/Indian Ocean voyage, or perhaps an exploration of Lebanon, Egypt, Tunisia and other southern Mediterranean places. If we return to Australia via South Africa that will mean a long trip across the Atlantic to Brazil, then down via the Falklands and South Georgia to Cape Town. I wonder whether I am too old for that. We’ll see.

One thing is certain though – I have the finest imaginable vessel, whatever we do. And what a rich collection of companions she can call upon for her next adventure.

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