Amasra’s gale lasted 2 days. Tainui, safely moored, rolled in the surge and heeled to the gusts while driving rain hammered the decks. I slept or read Neal Ascherson’s splendid book on the Black Sea. It is better than any cruising guide. When he finally reached the shore with his 10,000 men, Xenophon’s cry of “Thalassa, Thalassa” resounds in Ascherson’s prose. Now here I am in Eregli, enjoying the fruits of the age-old, annual anchovy migration east along the Anatolian coast, so well described by Ascherson.
From Amasra my bus trip through the mountains to Bartin in epic pursuit of a new SIM card was memorable but not really blog-worthy. But those narrow steep streets of Bartin, the men with their flashing gold teeth, drooping moustaches and baggy trousers, the old ladies with headscarves and fat shopping bags, the barrow boys with their heaped loaves of fresh bread alll of them make striking images. I’d forgotten my camera, of course.
The SIM card was finally obtained after 2 hours of difficult negotiation – you need to prove you are not an illegal immigrant and that is difficult even if your passport and visa are all in order. Many photocopies, stamps, 3rd party calls to somewhere else. I could have been in Russia!
Rosie arrived with rapidly improving weather (just a coincidence?) and we dined ashore at a little cafe on the waterfront. I will not mention how skilfully she fished me out of the water when I slipped re-boarding the rolling boat, after our meal ashore. Another of those embarrassing moments with which my life is becoming increasingly littered. Rosie regrets not having had her camera nearby, nasty woman.
Yesterday we departed in warm morning sun with smooth seas and a fresh breeze off the land. On the Black Sea strong winds kick up nasty chop in no time, but it subsides just as quickly. A joyous, 8 knot close fetch under full sail gave Tainui the best day’s sail she has had for god knows how long. Rosie has the makings of a fine sailor and it is a treat to have a beloved daughter on board as both crew and friend.
By dusk the breeze had dropped and we motored over a flat glassy sea into Eregli, dodging hundreds of small, unlit fishing boats in the inky black night. We did not have a clear idea of where to go in this huge harbour with its bustling, brightly lit shores. We groped about and finally found the most likely spot (yachtsmen note it is on the northern side of a T shaped seawall on the eastern side of the harbour). We tied up at what turned out to be the customs wharf, behind 2 large trawlers.
Willing hands took our lines and within minutes the cockpit was full of curious, wide-eyed fishermen keen to see the innards of our tiny palace. Eregli being a port of entry, customs and police stopped by to check our bona fides, more out of curiosity than officiousness. We passed their tests and collapsed into bed after presenting the fishermen with photos of Tainui in Patagonia. They were touched.
This morning, as the city wakes up, Rosie has prepared a sumptuous high-fat breakfast. As I write, one of last night’s fishermen has dropped by to present us with a handful of fat little bonito called palamut. Chris would know how to prepare them but I will need to research the issue.
Pasha arrives tonight and tomorrow, insh’Allah, we set off on the last 130 mile leg down to Istanbul. We are excited about seeing the Bosphorus.