Category Archives: Turkey

Sailing Family Video in the Med

It feels like a long time ago, and at the same time like yesterday. Before baby #3 pops out, closing a chapter, I had to put together our last sailing video from the three years we spent in the Mediterranean. Looking at it, it sometimes feels like the last summer before my life started falling apart… and here we are, slowly putting the pieces together again, trying to make sense of that big jig-saw puzzle that is life – to embrace whatever, whenever and wherever adventures the future has on hold for us. Namaste and love from Sydney.

 

Ruins and our own mortality

One of the things we love most visiting is local markets and ruins. The latter somehow has a magic spell on me as I trip over old carved and inscripted stones past rock tombs, my third eye sees the ghosts of the people who lived ordinary lives here thousands of years ago. Somehow visiting those places, whether it’s Lycian towns in Turkey, a former Lepper colony on Spinalonga Island or Myonian Palaces in Crete, are a tangible remainder of our own human mortality.

We take so many things too serious, yet almost everything will go the day our bodies disintegrate into dust and soil. I wonder what our descendants are going to say one day if they walk through the ruins of Mexico City, Shanghai and Cape Town, or observe the crumbling remainders of Sydney’s Harbour Bridge. This time round, however, it might be the end of humanity as it is hard to imagine that London would turn into ruins, while New York City would continue to build skyscrapers. Contrary to back then, it is a connected world. Unfortunately not a united – and this might be the very reason it goes down one day? Until then, remembering the lightness of our own transience, enjoy each moment of every day – and live a life that’s worth living. Carpe Diem.

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Refreshing cold feet and drinks IN the river by a massive gorge – tables semi-submerged. Kids loving it. Grown ups too.

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Updates from Crete

Arriving i Crete_317The biggest common trait I get from people new to yoga asking how to become a teacher, and lovely mails from wanna-be sailors is a huge distortion of reality. Thinking that a mere few months, or even years, of attending weekly asana classes give you the knowledge, understanding and experience necessary to pass on a thousand year old philosophy and life science is equally erroneous as thinking that by moving on a boat all your life’s problems will be solved.

Yes, our blog pics are beautiful and yes, all I write here is most true and honest, and yes, I do also write when the sun is not shining. But during the latter, writing often feels much harder and isn’t attacked as enthusiastically as when all goes well and our life is paradise on earth.

Living on a boat with your family can be the most fulfilling thing, but it can also be the hardest. There’s very little personal space and this is probably the challenge most dreamers (including us before we left) don’t give sufficient attention and thought to. There’s no friends to vent off, there’s no weekly schedule distracting from what’s going on… there’s just you, your family and your boat in a foreign country.

Add the fact that on the boat things break, ’cause that’s what stuff does when you put it in such a hostile environment as is saltwater. Whilst I have come to enjoy repairs and maintenance and especially the learning that comes with it (honestly, I think I learnt more in the past two years than if I had done a phd, and certainly more practical stuff!), it can all get too much when breakages come in a Murphy’s Law roll of three and more. On top of that, of course, the kids need their usual attention because this is how we’ve brought them up.

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Every day kids ask in a million different ways, am I important? What am I worth? Where is my place in this world? Generally our reactions are reflected in their actions.

In other words, the past few weeks, despite many highlights, namely friends left, right & centre, have been quite a journey and challenging on all sorts of levels. To start with, we were super sad to leave Turkey for Greece, but heading West towards the Atlantic there’s no other way. Thanks to all the readers who pointed out that our YellowBrick still had us in Turkey – we’ve now turned it on properly and once we sail again it will start showing our progress every 12 hours. We had another few nice one to two day passages with friends on board and friends expecting us in the harbour – a real treat as the lack of having friends around every day is for me THE biggest pay-off of this whole ‘Cruising the world with kids’ business. Whilst sailing to Crete, Pablo caught another massive tuna and the kids especially loved sushi for breakfast, lunch and dinner two days in a row while most of the rest of the crew fought with seasickness.

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After a couple of days at Marina of Ay Nikolao – by far the best, friendliest and most well thought-through marina in Greece (amazing bbq and stone-oven facilities, cheap laundry, big book exchange, working hot showers, a welcome pack for visiting yachts including a bottle of local wine, protected, responsive, smiling…) we are now anchored in Spinalonga Bay. The budget doesn’t allow for longer marina stays, yet the water-maker failure (new membrane has arrived in Malta waiting for us to get there) requests it.

Anyway, the bay is perfect and just what we needed to re-gather our energies: Beach in swimming distance, cute village inviting for the occasional stroll, playground near by, no swell whatsoever, nice promenade to run in the morning before my yoga practice and only one other yacht. Contrary to the Ionian, in Crete you don’t meet the clueless charter boats which make for after-noon entertainment and annoyance. To get here, you need to sail either a long or a tricky stretch of Sea, so those who make it generally know a good bit of their boats and sailing. Tomorrow we’ll rent a car for an excursion to some Myonian ruins, a gorge, a supposedly beautiful plateau and maybe a few traditional mountain villages. Then we’ll sail on 30 miles to Heraklion to hopefully get our main sail fixed (CANNOT recommend the UK Sailmaker guys in Fethiye whatsoever – they gave us the heads up on our sail in Turkey and less than ten days later, with a mere 25 knots of wind the clew ripped out!).

Bueno, finally the blog is up to date again and we are loving the first rain in months. Gentle welcomingly cooling drops amidst Crete’s humid summer heat.

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The truth about sailing Greece and Turkey

How do you know you are back in Greece?

  • No one smiles at you in the streets.
  • The guy giving you the mooring screams at you frantically when you are trying to make sense of the knotted bunch of two combined mooring lines he just threw at you, while your boat drifts with a nice 30 knots right onto your new neighbours.
  • The marina staff (Rhodes Marina – but honestly, could have been any other…) is so welcoming, service-oriented and friendly that they cannot even arrange for the fuel tanker to arrive on the day of your departure, instead ruining half of the one day you have to explore Rhodes, forcing you into tight and dangerous marina manoeuvres (yes, of course, with kids on board) at a lovely increasing 30 knots of meltemi kisses. Am I not supposed to be the customer if I’m ridding myself of 300 Euros for a service?
  • Before receiving any service in the new marina which hasn’t even installed its showers yet, you are asked to pay RIGHT NOW and UPFRONT!!!
  • Rubbish greeting you in tons in every bay you sail in.
  • The taxi driver is about the grumpiest person you’ve ever met on the planet and almost starts a fight when you want to pay him and don’t have the exact change.
  • Being the only ones in a restaurant, it still takes them half an hour to take your order (with eyes rolled) and another half hour to serve some nibbles, a few drinks and a (admittedly very nice!) nagile.
  • The waiter starts cursing at you (of course with more eye rolling and ‘tss’ and ‘ouff’ and ‘all too much’ kind of noises) when your two year old breaks an ash tray.
  • Food, drinks, buses, rental cars and a heap of other prices quadrupled.
  • The ticket guy on the bus almost kicks you out because your toddler is crying.
  • Supposedly fresh food from the markets goes bad the next day.
  • No matter where there’s zero effort made to increase economic activity, make the customer feel welcome and provide a fair and welcoming service.
  • In the average chandlery they shake their head ‘no’ at you before you’ve even finished your sentence as to what you are after.
  • You go for a run and all you can see for twenty minutes along a dirt road is three metres of rubbish on either side of the road. You can literally hear the earth crying out: Why are you doing this to me? I’m treating you so well; delicious olives, unique island paradise, incredible ruins… and this is how you treat me in return?
  • All the glory seems to lie in long past history.
  • You barely make it back from a run with a twisted ankle, obviously in pain, yet no one on the road would even bother asking if you need help.
  • … I could go on, but someone told me once if you don’t have anything positive to say, then better don’t say anything at all. The above, though, I just couldn’t hold back. Excuse my honesty.

Yes, we are back in Greece, and yes, I do miss Turkey where

  • You are received with a friendly smile everywhere you go.
  • People go out of their way to help you out and make provide an excellent service.
  • Life is hustling and buzzling at every corner.
  • The past is cherished, while the present embraced and the future welcomed.
  • The food is diverse, delicious and cheap and eating out can sometimes be cheaper than cooking on the boat.
  • Breath-taking markets are a living prove of aliveness.

Dalyan Markets_141 Dalyan Markets_143 Dalyan Markets_144 Dalyan Markets_145 Dalyan Markets_146 Dalyan Markets_148 Dalyan Markets_149 Dalyan Markets_150 Dalyan Markets_151 Dalyan Markets_153And finally a disclaimer, yes, we’ve seen a lot of Greece (the Ionian, the Peloponnese, the Cyclades, the Dodecanese and now Crete) and yes, there are also good sides to it, like the occasional friendly person, Rhodes being an exceptionally beautiful city, Crete seeming a fraction more friendly and switched on than the rest of the country, our journey west bringing us closer to Malta, Marocco, Spain and Gibraltar and, last but not least, we’ve been able to catch up with our cruising family friends on Maya which has easily been another highlight of the past two years in the Med.

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Both countries have exceptional sailing grounds from a purely geographical point of view, but if I had to chose between one of them, I wouldn’t have to think for a second! Maya, enjoy Turkey! We’ll be waiting for you over the pond.

Small things

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Appreciating small things is a great achievement!

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On another walk through stunning and abandoned ruins the other day, I couldn’t help but ponder about the difference between a large and a small aperture – metaphorically for life’s bigger and smaller picture. What to focus on when – without losing sanity when doing the latter? Big picture – has this world gone crazy? Too tired to list all the obvious… Small picture – such tremendous beauty, and us, a little sailing family right dot in the middle of it;)

Ruins

I know I’ve mentioned it already, but I just can’t get enough of the magic of the Lycian ruins all around us, mixed with Romans, ancient Greece and sometimes more. Each new rock tomb, each expected and unexpected ruin city we stumble across, takes my breath away anew.

After every proper ruin exploration, follows a proper lunch, like this one in our favourite spots by the Dalyan River with the fresh and organic eggs in your omelette brought to you by the chickens themselves, an old lady with ancient wisdom (alas I spoke Turkish…) running the show and the hammock gently swaying in a summer breeze.

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Fethiye Town (Turkey) – we came, we liked it, we stayed (for a bit longer)

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Weeks came and went. We got to Fethiye Town for a night and stayed for a couple of weeks. First friends arrived – more than that, our cruising parents, mentors and guides, if you wish. It was a very special moment for us as Sea Topaz moored next to Happy Dancer at Fethiye’s Yes Marina (Because the watermaker is still broken, we had to dock into a marina for water.). She just returned from a ten year circumnavigation. Duncan and Ria, the parents from a sustainability friend we made back in Sydney many moons ago (who’s now, btw, building his own eco house – super cool project if you want to check it out!), met us when we had just started to be real about going on this voyage and were looking for a suitable boat – about five years ago. Back then we probably seemed even loomier than today, but today the dream has come real. Seeing them, hearing their words of praise and encouragement, listening to their stories from the different oceans, seas, the Suez Canal crossing (!) and common cruiser friends, and not even to mention their invaluable tips and tricks which can help improve those little things aboard. The three days with them went ways too fast, but because of new regulations you are only to stay three months at a time in Turkey and thus, they left for Rhodes early one morning.

Our eldest turned four and we celebrated with lots of cake, cuddles, birthday pancakes, late night picnic by his favourite playground and of course a brand new yellow bike which Noah road proudly through town. Then we headed for the closest Bay past Fethiye Bay which would have water clean enough to swim and chilled out for a few nights to refresh and get our strength together for the haul-out and anti-foul the following week, that we had spontaneously decided on. I know, usually people plan these things months if not more in advance, but we generally let the seed of an idea grow in our mind – in this case we knew Happy Dancer’s bottom needed a clean before the Atlantic for the very latest – and then wait for the right place, moment and opportunity. Here it was, middle of Turkey, middle of the cruising season, good price, great people, what looks like a reliable lift, and a town we like the look and feel of. Especially the fresh produce markets leave me wandering for hours.

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