On a cold, wet and windy morning we set out into the Sea of Marmara. There could be no more stark contrast with the colour, noise, smells and exuberance of Istanbul. This is Tainui’s 5th bit of water this year – the Barents Sea, White Sea, Sea of Azov and Black Sea all lie under her keel.
Tainui romped south in squally 30 knot winds with a bone in her teeth. Mr Aries served her well, despite steep little quartering seas, and 70 miles just disappeared in our wake. We just hung on.
Rounding the eastern side of Marmara Island we were relieved to find flat water and in the dark we anchored under wooded cliffs on the south side. Bullets swept down from the mountains but we were secure and comfortable. A fine meal (I am getting used to this!) and bed.
Overnight the gusts increased. In the morning a tepid sun blessed our departure for the crossing to the Dardeanelles but 35-40 knots of squally land breeze made for memorable sailing. In flat water we romped east along the shore with double reefed main alone. In anticipation of an uncomfortable day I distributed seasick tablets as harnesses were donned, but when we came out from the lee of the land the sun warmed us, the breeze dropped to a very comfortable 25 knots and the 40 mile trip was both relaxing and fast. Staysail, yankee and a single reef gave perfect balance for Mr Aries.
At the northern entrance to the Dardanelles, the wind disappeared entirely as we approached the shallow entrance to Lapseki’s snug little fishing harbour. Rafted to a fishing boat in 3 m of water Tainui’s crew were treated to Rosie’s splendid roast. In welcome, our neighbour passed across to us a large bowl of rich yoghurt. You wouldn’t be dead for quids, I say.
This morning it is cold (7 degrees) and cloudless. Across from us the Gallipoli Peninsula stretches south as we discuss Winston Churchill’s appalling folly. There is a fresh northerly blowing and I hope we will have a fast trip south. Our destination tonight is uncertain but there are myriad potential anchorages.