Today is the first time since we arrived in Turkey over a week ago that I can find a quiet moment to post an update about our long-awaited reunion with Gyatso. It’s been a busy week of travel and a mad dash to prepare our Tayana 37 for launching. It also has been a week filled with reunions with old friends. We are afloat at Marmaris Yacht Marina enjoying a sunny, calm day — the kind of Sunday that begs you to slow down, take it easy and enjoy being on the water. That’s exactly what we plan to do.
We arrived in Marmaris last Saturday evening, after spending three days in Istanbul. The short flight to Dalaman airport was one of the bumpiest we’ve ever experienced, including two landing attempts as a southerly gale slammed the Turkish Mediterranean coast with strong winds and huge waves. We added the flight from Istanbul to the list of hurdles we’ve had to overcome since hauling out and storing our boat 18 months ago.
We had booked a room for the first few days at the Hotel Carikci near the marina, owned by the parents of Volkan Turkyilmaz, a friend we met on the Black Sea who came to visit us in Annapolis shortly after we returned home at the end of the 2010 cruising season. When we arrived at the hotel late Saturday afternoon, we were pleasantly surprised to find him there to greet us. He had flown down from Giresun the week before and stayed through our first week here. He even brought us hazelnuts and local treats from the Black Sea. He and his parents are the perfect hosts, sending us off every morning with a Turkish-style breakfast of cheese, olives, sliced tomatoes and cucumbers, bread, homemade marmalade, special local honey and tea. The hotel was a welcome sanctuary at the end of a long day in the boatyard. We are so happy to be back in Turkey and to experience the famous Turkish hospitality once again.
Within minutes after arriving, Volkan offered to drive us to the marina so we could check on Gyatso. He knew we were very anxious to see our boat after so many months in the yard. We found it pretty much as we expected, a bit sad and neglected but much happier for the work we commissioned before our arrival: a deck wash down, topside polishing and a fresh coat of bottom paint. A fine layer of grit covered everything in the cabin, but nothing was damaged or stolen. The projects could wait. We retreated to the hotel and joined Volkan for dinner at the Greenhouse Beach restaurant near the hotel. The gale blew through with heavy rain that night, and we were back at the yard working the pre-launch “to do” list after breakfast the following morning.
We re-splashed on Tuesday evening, just before one of the last southerly gales of the winter season arrived. After servicing last year, our trusty Yanmar engine wouldn’t start. We suspected that there was air in the engine but decided we’d let the mechanics at Marlin Marine sort it out. The marina decided to leave us in the launch slip for the night which turned out to be one of the safest places as the winds built to Force 8-9 during the night. It was also a convenient place to move our remaining luggage and gear aboard the following day. Here’s a video we recorded of the launch:
The mechanic was onboard by 9:30 the following morning, and the engine came back to life soon after. By noon on Wednesday, the wind dropped off again, and we moved onboard. I’m not sure if it was just that we were tired or relieved to be back on the water again after more than a year away, but it was one of the most restful nights of sleep I’ve had in a long time.
We’ve had many reunions with old friends this past week. In Istanbul, we had a fish lunch overlooking the Sea of Marmara with Teoman Arsay, the organizer of the KAYRA Black Sea rallies, and dinner with Kenan, a friend we met on the island of Bozcaada who now lives in Istanbul. After launching Gyatso in Marmaris, we celebrated over dinner with friends we met while spending the winter in Lagos, Portugal in 2007-2008: June & Steve of Piper and Lee & Barbara of Amour de le Mer.
We’ve recovered from jet lag and settled back into life aboard. The pre-departure list is long, but somehow it seems perfectly manageable. Reunited with our cruising guides and charts, we’re now planning this season’s cruise. We’re scheduled to give a talk about the Black Sea next Friday, so we’ll get underway in a week or so. It’s great to be back on Gyatso.