Written by: Robert Spedding
Well we arrived in istanbul last Thursday having completed our trip up in as you know cold and miserable weather that Paul and I completely misread care of our dopey captain!
The Marina we came to which is where the rally starts from tomorrow is still under construction and was really not ready for us in so far as they had no shore facilities that you look so forward to after a week at sea. - namely hot showers in a space bigger than a shoe box and WiFi so we can do what we do best and all catchup and do what I am doing now !
The first day we just relaxed and washed down the boat then retired for an early night.
The next day Paul decided he was going to go and do a bit of sight seeing so John helped him book a hotel in the old city in Sultanhamet - close to the blue mosque and many of the sights and then we went in with him - to make sure he didn't get lost haha!
Well typical John we caught the a taxi to the bus then the bus to a point where we could get the Tram and then we were squashed - and I mean squashed in with half of Istanbul on the tram ride into the center of the city. Paul had just about had enough and was getting off when John said - this is our stop guys ( I think he had read Paul's intentions !).
We found Paul's hotel called the Innova Istanbul and which is a new hotel - and nice but no old world charm of the area or past era. Dropped his gear off in his room and spied the hotel across the road that had a good roof top patio so we shot across there for a well deserved beer ... Or two ... Or was it three haha!
After that we wondered down and looked at the Sultans palace , the blue mosque and by then it was 6pm so we grabbed a quick meal outside on the tram line and afterwards we headed back to the boat ( a 2 hr ride) and left Paul in the city.
Next day was wet and windy so we mostly stayed indoors and I retired to my favorite spot.... The couch and snoozed much of the day in-between catching up on ray white news and keeping the company afloat for my dopey boss!
Next day I went with john to find a pharmacy so that I could get some anti booties for the cough I had on the way up which seemed to be getting worse. Dosed myself up and afterwards we had a shave and grabbed a kebab at a great local place and again ... Retired to my commanding position ... The couch. And that was how that day went.
Day after Paul head Ed back and Derek arrived fresh from his cruise around the states and having flown in from London. Good to see him again and we spentbthe afternoon just chatting and Derek once again quickly took control of the kitchen and we had the left over soup with some lovely fresh bread for lunch.
Dinner that night we decided to christen the new BBQ that I had brought all the way from Brisbane so we got that out and fired it up for the first time down on the pontoon behind the boat. We had lifted out one of the butterflied lamb racks that I brought and Derek set about ... With a bit of help from Pal in cooking that out back. I must say i was very impressed at how quickly it cooked with the hood down. The webber certainly does build up a great heat for cooking but the trick is certainly z - keep the hood down.
Anyway we had a grand meal that night and the next day decided with the weather looking the best it was going to for the next few days we would first head off to Gallipoli and the next day - to head on up through the straits of Bosphorus and into the black sea.
We went up a dirt track to see the NZ monument which I must say was a bit disappointing in comparison to the Australian memorial ( especially as 1000 of our lads nearly saved the day and turned the war before being relieved by the British who promptly lost the hill back to the Turks! ( hmmm bet they don't teach that in their school classes back in the motherland!). Anyway was a great day and sobering for all us us but good to have done. We headed back late that afternoon and got back to the boat about 10pm.
As I said the next day we set sail up the BOSPHORUS - Well as you will see from some of the photos I will send you it was a magical day on the way up and to see the city from the water like that you really got a good perspective of the Asian and European side to the city and some really expensive water front property.
It was fun dodging the ferries on the way up and John had his hands full and needed eyes in the back of his head as at one time we counted about 12 ferries and all coming across our bow or from the rear or heading straight for us.
We were only about 1/3 of the way down when the clear visibility behind us disappeared and we had the most ferocious winds come up from nowhere. The is was coupled with driving rain sleet off the sea and the worse to still to come. With the boat leaning over so much from the wind we suddenly heard the engine vaulter and next minute ... It died! Right in a storm and in a major shipping channel AND with a dirty great big container ship steaming down behind us. Despond had called out the wind minutes before as you will hear on the video and it went from 22 knots to 30 then 40 and then 52knits and all in the space of literally 5 minutes. We were all stunned by it. Anyway with no power and no sail up we were being blown into the oncoming cargo ship so John screamed for the headsail to go out ( not an easy task in these winds the crew would like it duly noted) .... Paul was all for " abandon ship and call the coast guard whilst the old sea dog ( me!) ... Well I just kept the skipper calm. We got the head sail up and John tacked a few times and we missed the cargo ship but I must say - you do suddenly realize how things go wrong at sea .
Anyway I checked the fuel and we tried the motor again and she started - thank god! Then a minute later she died again. I shot down and swoped the fuel tanks over and tried again .. By now the cargo ship had doubled in size and given us a few blasts on the hooter - Paul was even more convinced we jump ship and the skipper well .... I ain't seen me old brother looking so serious and committed to life in many a year haha!
Anyway we were glad to get back into port and returned but to a different marina in istanbul called Atakoy Marina which was just by the Sheraton hotel. Mostly occupied by Turkish local boats and serious money cruisers , the facilities were not what we were used to and a bit run down.
The next day John and I returned to Sultanhamet to book a hotel for our forthcoming trip that mum and I do to Europe and that was not before we caught the wrong ferry and nearly landed back up the bosphorus before we could get off! and not a patch on what we were used to and twice the price! Anyway we berthed for 2 days there. Did a big re provision of the boat, went up center of town to the ... Wait for it Nespresso shop as dopey john had emerged the milk frother in water when washing despite big letters " do not immerse in water! " and it no longer worked. I also checked up on my flights with Turkish airlines and after a walk around headed back to the boat about 7pm. Dinner that night was a great Turkish restaurant we went to and the night before Paul kindly shouted us all dinner at an equally nice restaurant in the marina. Had we known he was paying John and I would have ordered up big plus had a really good expensive red on Ray White haha!
Next day we departed back to our west marina under construction and spent a lay day about the boat. Did some laundry drubbed down a few things and slept ... I have done lots of that this trip and have been feeling a bit tired with this cough and bad chest that I seem not to be able to shake. Had anti booties but think will see a doctor on our next landfall and make sure I have got the best ones for the ailment. John Derek and Paul went off for a shave and a bite to eat and I slept on the couch - well someone had to play security I told them!
Dinner that night and the next night was care of the first 2 cocktail parties and as there are only 3 boats starting from Istanbul we thought it might be a drab affair. No such thing in turkey ... The first hint we got was the security that appeared on the road checking cars coming in and then the catering trucks arrived and it turned out to be a great night. We were givenour official rally shirts and caps and John had a skippers meeting and the lowly crew just ate and drank haha!
Next night was a similar affair but at another new marina under construction and 12 ams away. The 2 new marinas will provide an additional 1400 berths - there ain't anything they do small in turkey when it comes to construction!
We met the other yachts starting with us . All French men but passable and the commodore of the rally is a top chap and has been most helpful. So altogether a good start to the rally.
Well yesterday was the start so with a blast on the airhorn we released lines and set off. Little wind in the morning so we motored. Tried the spinnaker later but not enough wind so John had it up then down - bloody he'll Paul said - he like shoving his holiday crew a work over doesn't he haha! Then it was headsail up headsail down. Wind then got up so we reefer the sail in - then the wind dropped so we dropped the sail and motored. ...... I remember saying to Paul come for a great sun filled holiday to turkey..... I think he is questioning his decision haha!
Got into a most picturesque harbor around 6pm and bugger me down - they had the bus waiting to take us off to see a wine museum and then onto a dinner up on the hill at a lovely rural but quaint restaurant. Then it was home. On the way we stopped to buy some bread for one of the boats so we sent Paul to grab a few too. He got 3 loaves from the wooden display cabinet they all seem to have outside but didn't quite close the door properly. Well as he was leaving a smart Labrador trotted up pawed the door open and happily swaggered off with a fresh loaf for dinner - oh well it could only be turkey! The dog was so deft at the loaf removal he has obviously done that before too! First day was long 72 miles and 12 hours sailing/ motoring and tomorrow even longer - doing 80 odd miles so we are planning an early 6 am start having got back to the boat at 10.30 - hey this ain't a relaxing holiday yet !