And so ends the ballad of Adam and Eve, we just have the simple task of delivering a different boat from here to Vounaki in Greece. It’s a short run compared to our marathon crossing from France. An epic journey, by all accounts. Many deliveries go to Croatia or directly to Vounaki, making ours one of the longest you can do in the Mediterranean, and it’s rare to get another job that brings you in the direction of home. Normally, we’d now be looking for flights out of here. And here, what to say about Turkey? What a place. A hit and run visit, we stayed in Fethiye less than twenty four hours, swapped our boat for a van, headed across a mountain range, and were assigned a new sailing vessel. Farceur, registered in Cannes. Monsieur Farceur to you.
Our last stint on Eve carried us across the bay into the marina at Fethiya. Rain threatened but held off, I scanned the quayside for company boats through the binoculars. A couple of lads were walking out towards the end of a pontoon. Two I didn’t know, but the other?
'Mark, that looks like Luca, they’re there already!'
'That confounded Dutchman!'
They had been four miles ahead of us in the bay as we stopped to eat, and Pete had thought that we were already in the marina. All we had to do was scan the horizon ahead but with land as a backdrop, it’s not so easy to spot a sail. They had been six miles out, not six hours, a simple misunderstanding? We’re all tired.
I ring home. I sound tired to myself. Land is once again confusing. The showers are cold, a disappointing state of affairs bordering on criminal neglect in my view, until a kind soul points out another block that still has some warm water. Warm, not hot. Adam’s crew headed into town, and I leave Mark and Dan onboard Eve to go and find them, ending up in the fish market, a circle of stalls with a lot of restaurants around it. Each place has a guy outside it, hassling me to go in and eat. “You want good food, sir?” I didn’t know what I wanted. It was all too much, too many things going on, “I’m just looking for my friends…” I want them to leave me alone. “You make good friends here, sir, come in, come in.” I know these guys only get paid if they convince me to enter but I can't take the pushiness and look to escape, spying a small place, just a kitchen with a few tables and chairs outside it. There’s a guy sitting there, no one is hustling outside it. I sit down, “Could I just get a cold beer please?”
I start chatting to Yalcin Oztoklu, it’s nice to talk to a different soul. Eventually he asks if I’m hungry. Well, he tells me I look hungry and tired. I agree and order everything he has that has no meat. Sorry Dan, but I need some deciduous food. The meal is gorgeous, served with the biggest stack of bread ever. Nearly a whole loaf, unbelievably fresh. I start to feel more normal. Yalcin’s family arrive to eat themselves, their hospitality is impressive, we talk away over a couple of beers. They have just opened for the summer season, I’m their second customer. The small place earns them enough to get them through the winter months. As I leave, I tell the father, “You sir, are a rich man.” His smile says it all.
Heading back to the boat, I meet the other crews, the English lads. Tom and Ross I had met when we docked, and Mikey introduced himself with a handshake, “Anywhere here have a pool table?” I had just passed a pool hall. We went for a beer and fell back to the boats hours later, my Irishness delighted that my eye (and luck) was in on the table. They finally beat me after getting me too drunk to stand. We haggled with the landlord over the last round. Good people. I like this place. I didn’t like the following morning’s hangover, but sure none of us did. We had to clean the boat but first I had a little mission to carry out.
They do a spicy pancake in Turkey. Along with their strange coffee, it’d put hairs on the inside of your chest. I went back to the fish market and Oztoklu’s restaurant. Yalcon had offered to help me find a guitar, but I didn’t think we’d have the time so my breakfast visit was purely to say goodbye. With my resolve strengthened by a sturdy mix of spicy coffee and crepe, we left for the guitar shop. It had moved but as the locals were so helpful, we found it’s relocation quickly. With some wonderful haggling, I bought a cheap Chinese-built Spanish guitar. At last, a guitar. At last! I ran back to Eve with my prize, guilty at having left the lads alone for so long.
Cleaning her was tough. The sun was beating down, we were all in bits. Turkish customs came on board and we even had to give them the serial number on the ship’s stereo, as each item is officially being imported. “Don’t forget Lisa!” We nearly left the CD in the machine. And of course we had to remove Eve’s name, what a shame. The little stocky marina guy, a pain in the ass, stuck on her new moniker, it looked like it spelt “garden” in Turkish. Dan couldn’t believe it, “We’ve brought her to the garden of Eden, alright!” We cleaned as much as possible and clambered aboard a maxi bus to bring us to our new destination, a four hour drive, we’re told. Mark, Dan and I, Eve’s crew. Peter, Fred and Luca, Adam’s. Ross and Tom, who we’d heard on the radio coming from Rhodes, and Mikey and Bobby (am I forgetting anyone here?), both Skippers, sharing a delivery. After a few weeks at sea level, we’re brought through a mountain pass at six hundred and seventy metres. The road is barely built in places, the scenery amazing. I played guitar, the lads dozed.
Not since I was working with Mark touring a band around Ireland had I played a guitar in a van traveling throughout the mountains. I had a bunch of melodies in my head from one of the mornings at sea, the time I stayed up for the sunrise. I had eventually gone below but was unable to sleep with all the ideas. I had sung the tunes into my camera, with the engine rattling away beside me. These are the first tunes I’ve written without an instrument to hand. Now I’m so happy to play them. Fred pays particular attention, Bobby slags off my voice, Pete acts as tour guide. “So they climbed that mountain but when they got to the top, it wasn’t cocaine!” Luca likes one of the tunes above others. The English lads chill, we all do. Such a mellow journey. Just after dark we arrive in Turgutreis and board our new boat. Farceur, the epilogue begins.
The Turks are lovely, great people. I’ve read that they make the best friends and the worst enemies. I would hate to have them as an enemy, they are warm and friendly beyond my expectations. A couple of days eating great food, trying some disgusting salted drinks, beating the lads at pool, buying cheap bits for those at home and we’re off again. It seems we stay there much longer but on Thursday the 29th at noon or so we cast off. And we sail. Wonderful wind. We head west-south-west to avoid banging straight into it and anchor at Analipsis on Nicos Palantiaia, a name I remember from our way here. The clothes line town that smiled at us smiles again as under cover of darkness we anchor in a sheltering bay. Food and wine and I play the guitar for hours. Mark and I end up sitting in the saloon chatting. I go to bed and instantly dream of Mark and I sitting in the saloon chatting. Jesus. Dreams. Sleep. I don’t know what sleep really is anymore, all I know is that I haven’t had enough in weeks. I’ve moved into another world. I’d buy sleep if I could afford it.
(29th March anchored at 36°34’30”N 026°23’44”E)
Of course we woke up a little hungover and faffed about a bit before upping anchor. Mark gave me the helm to steer her out of the bay, we turned east again and headed north along the island’s rocky coast. I went below after a while for a nap and wake up lying more on my cabin wall than my bunk. It feels like I’m in a washing machine. I can see the sea through the hatch on the deck side, a view I haven’t had yet. Getting my gear on is ridiculously difficult, I go above and find skipper at the helm, grinning a little grin, “It’s fuckin’ mad out here!” Oh yeah, now this is wind. A lively breeze we have today. High twenties gusting to high thirties. About fifty five kilometers an hour, on average. Farceur is the same model boat as Eve, a thirty-six footer. “So, Mark, are THOSE big waves?” A firm nod with a twinkle in his eye. Grin and bear it.
Dan had gone below when we went airborne the first time. That was what had got me on deck, I wanted to see this. I stayed hiding under the spray hood. The Captain looks forward, “See that headland? We’ll find shelter there.” I twist and see a distant island, Nicos Amorgos, the cliffs on it’s eastern headland beckoning us, but still very far away. This boat has a few more features than Eve, including hand rails along the gangway. I hang on tight, glad of the strength in my hands from carrying musical equipment in and out of venues. The sea is mesmerizing. And it’s best to see what size of wave is coming, to anticipate the boat’s movement. I film as much as possible, Mark steers as much as possible. It’s tough but, bit by bit, the massive headland grows nearer. As we near the land, the wind’s ferocity increases. We hit nine knots. It feels like the sound barrier. The boat bounces along, slipping in and out of control, pushing to port and fighting back to starboard. We can see the calm sea ahead, it’s been hours now, we need to reach it soon lest we break something, we’re so close. An almighty gust hits us, ripping a lifebelt off it’s moorings, pushing the sails towards the water, tilting the boat over, over, over. An unspeakable angle.
And then calm. We have reached the lee of the land. She rights herself and suddenly we’re safe. Silently we look at each other. Jesus. My phone beeps. I check the text. It’s from a Norwegian friend “Hey sailor! How’s the adventure going?” I show it to Mark, “Look man, contact from the outside world, we’re still alive!” We both thank you, Nina, we weren’t sure there for a while. We laugh a little laugh. Phew, it was tough going. Not as terrifying as my early watches, I’m used to this now. I trust the boat, I trust the Captain, I trust my own grip. But I had no time for terror. Time enough for fear, to be constantly aware of my footing, positioning, all muscles in use, pushing myself against the deck, holding on. Almost like climbing, utilizing the three points of contact rule. I photographed as much as I could, although it was much more difficult. Maybe I should have lashed myself to the mast.
As we head west along the north cliffs towards an anchoring spot, the sea rears again, head on waves, banging us up and down. I write lyrics, they come to me and I cannot ignore them. That song from nearly twenty years ago, written in my first flat on Francis Street, but never with lyrics I was happy with. Now maybe I have the right to write a seafaring tune of love and chaos, the promise of land and the risks on the sea, the control we so lack at times when nature smiles and says hello.