It has been a year - almost to the day - since Lyn and I moved 'onto the bank'. During that time our life has proceeded, gently and pleasantly, in the wise of the broad mass of landlubbers. We've visited - for gigs - Poland, Spain and Ireland; and toured around England, wherever engagements demanded my presence.
The visit to The English Folk Music Club, on the Costa Blanca; and staying with our old friends Carol and Ian Smith; reignited our (mild) passion for snorkelling. That engendered a search for an affordable sea-going adventure: which led us to joining a cruise on a Turkish 'gulet' (pronounded: 'goolett'), around Gokova Bay, in South-West Turkey.
Our craft was NAVIGA 1, a beautifully outfitted (motorised) two-masted, wooden sailing vessel, about 28 metres long with a beam of about 6 metres.
Anyway ... we departed Leeds/Bradford airport on the afternoon of Friday, Oct. 12; setting down on Kos around 9pm. and by 10:30 we were seated in a lovely open-to-the-pavement restaurant in Kos Town; listening to three elderly (sort of MY age 😉 ) Greek musicians, and watching the locals dance. The food and wine were delicious!
The following morning we took the ferry to Bodrum, in Turkey; about a 50 minute trip.
Whilst the population of Bodrum is about 43,000; compared with about 23,00 for Kos; the harbour of Bodrum is only a little larger than Kos, but much more crowded due to the thriving holiday sailing industry based there. Once through Turkish customs and immigration formalities, Naviga 1 was mere steps (about 50 mtrs) away and, within minutes we were comfortably ensconced in our cabin. Not all our shipmates (read: fellow-passengers) had arrived, so there were just three of us for a delicious and casual dinner; we two being joined by Suzanne: who was 'an army brat' all around the world, now a Belgian citizen, currently residing in France! Nowhere near as cosmopolitan as the rest of our shipmates, though ... read on.
Whilst our cabin was well outfitted and very comfortable, a restful night's sleep was not to be. In the season: Bodrum is a 'party town', and very loud. That cacophony had not long died down when the muezzin called the faithful to prayer ... at 5:30am. ... 3:30 UK time ... and the 'sound guy' had the sliders set at eleven!!!
At breakfast (the last time I'll wax rhapsodic about the lovely eating options of coffee, fruits and copious deli choices) our complement was fully assembled. Joining Lyn, Suzanne and me were ...
Srinivas (from India), Ahmed, Adel and Ali (from Egypt); all employees of the Carrier air-conditioning company, in Dubai; on a company funded jolly ...
Ayesha and Hussain (from Istanbul) ...
Paola and Gerardo (from Naples) ...
... thankfully our (shameful) deficiencies in Hindu, Arabic, Turkish and Italian were deferred to; and English became the 'lingua franca'. Even the young Turkish captain and his (3) crewmen all spoke English.
Raising anchor (literally) after only one more blast from the speakers on the mosque, we set sail (not literally) from Bodrum and 'pointed her nose', westward, into Gokova Bay.
Break here so that you can make up substitute lyrics, and hum the melody of Otis Redding's: (Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay. My version starts: 'Cruisin' on the Gokova Bay, Ain't no clouds to get in the way-a-a-y. Cruisin' on the Gokova Bay, Wastin' ti-ime.
For the whole week's duration of our cruise the (daytime) air temperature hovered around 23-25°C, with water temperatures maintaining 22-23 °C ... gorgeous! At this point I find myself with very little to add. We came seeking relaxing indolence and, having achieved that, I find descriptions of it to be decidedly prosaic. We spent a full week enjoying the company of our shipmates - each of whom proved to be delightful and interesting - sleeping, reading, conversing, swimming, lazing; accompanied by an occasional glass of beer or wine. As the weather had just taken a turn for the worse; when we were in our cab to Leeds/Bradford; we worked very hard to avoid any sense of schadenfreude . really!
We can't claim that the skies were always cloudless. Look ... there are some clouds!
At the half-way point of the trip, Our 'Gulf' contingent, along with Ayisha and Hussain, left us; so we had a small party to wish them all bon-voyage; enabling them to proffer their gratitude to our crewmen ...
Our skipper - stage right - is looking suitably serious and responsible, but I must mention Servet: standing next to him. Servet was the gulet's second in command/cook. He was unfailingly cheerful, helpful. and proficient. He is working towards his command qualification, and we can truthfully say that we would be very happy to sail with Servet, at any time.
We were concerned that, with our complement reduced to a mere quintet, we might lose our 'critical mass'. Happily; Veronika and Martin - from exotic Slovikia - replaced our deserters! Their arrival reduced the average age of souls-on-board by several years.
We've sacked the official photographer. We can't find Martin anywhere, but here's Veronika!
I've used the terms: 'sail' and 'sailing'; which were appearing to be redundant, until I led a mutiny and several of us nagged our skipper, until he relented and, eventually, raised the sails so that we were wind-driven for two or three hours ... blissful, and better than nothing.
Every night; excepting only the first and last nights, in Bodrum harbour; we spent anchored in small, deserted coves ... very quiet and peaceful. Often there would be one or two other boats moored nearby; but they were as quiescent we; so we were never disturbed. We did drop in, for water, bread and a few other supplies, to one (nameless) little community. We contributed to the local economy by purchasing, and drinking, beer ... but within an hour or so, we were back aboard Naviga 1.
... and so; after a week of near-perfect indolence; our bowsprit was pointed back towards Bodrum: that port of noisy tourist bars and minaret loudspeakers. We made poignant farewells to our shipmates and took the ferry back to Kos.
We spent an almost prosaic six days - after our cruising idylls - in a quiet, comfortable hotel; as a base for exploring the town and island ... but that was not a watery peregrination; so any description has no place in this journal. We drank lots of wonderful coffee - made by Nikolas - in The Coffee House; and imbibing some of the finest I.P.A. which has ever passed my lips! REALLY ... and in Greece too! Who'd have thought it? That was in Cafe Zero; where we jammed with Kostas and Tom ... lovely fellows ... for metalheads!!!
I've already taken up too much of your time. If you want any information about how we booked this (fabulous value) trip, just drop me a line. For now ... stay well. Tom.