We are scudding along
with a gentle breeze blowing us a little off course for Herzylia, Israel,
as we pass Pharos on the southwestern end of Cyprus. This is our second
night out from Finike, Turkey on the Turkish Mediterranean Coast, just
west of Antalya. It is a straight shot from Finike, 338 miles southeast,
to Israel. Then we will have reached the end of the Med and can go no
further east (Syria and Lebanon are out for us just now).
Jupiter is high in the sky, standing out from the other stars and planets
like an oversized diamond ring. The moon showed itself in a blaze of
orange that I first mistook for a fire on the horizon. The winds have
been light and we have done a lot of motoring, so we are especially
grateful for this glorious evening of soft winds and rhythmically gurgling
waters. There was quite a bit of traffic the first night, including
4 ships and 4 sailboats, but since yesterday afternoon, we have seen
nothing and no one, which is the way we like it.
We are enjoying being at sea again, if only for three nights. Once again,
we are alone on the high seas, totally responsive to our little world,
with no one else to interfere. We are in control of our responses, but
in the control of the weather and the boat systems. We are the only
ones who can and must respond to whatever the wind and sea and boat
throw at us. There is an order about this situation which is very satisfying.
Life aboard and at sea is immediate. And right now, quite lovely. But
we do know things can change instantly. No matter how we try to anticipate
problems, we do not know what exactly to expect or what immediate response
will be required of us. The challenge is part of the joy, just as is
the ever changing seas and skies, smells, sights, sounds and feel of
We have been back on DOVKA since mid May. We spent less than two weeks
at the marina in Marmaris, getting her launched and ready for the season.
She is looking spiffy with her new teak decks and our hard work varnishing
the caprail and hand rails. We re-met old friends, made some new ones
and enjoyed the comraderie and comfort of the marina, until we were
ready to move on to our own little self contained world on DOVKA.
Marina living can be addictive and it can become difficult to untie
the lines. Our next door neighbor was a Turkish-American casino manager
who raced catamarans in t he 1958 LA Olympics. He has retired to his
boat in the marina and was very kind to us. A Dutch-Israeli couple noticed
our name as they walked by and we began talking. They have sailed many,
many times to and from Israel and Turkey and befriended us and gave
us a lot of advice. We spent some time with a lovely Dutch couple who
brought their 50 foot steel motor yacht through the canals of France
into the Danube to its end in the Black Sea.
In Finike, just before we took off on this passage to Israel, we met
a professor from Virginia who took a sabbatical, bought a sailboat in
Greece and, with his wife, had followed the path of St Paul for over
a year and then wrote a book called "Sailing Acts" about his
experiences. The ease with which one connects to so many different kinds
of people as we share our common interests is one of the best aspects
of this sailing life. But we knew when it was "time to blow this
pop-stand" - our expression for when we are ready to move on -
and we celebrated our freedom from the dock, at anchor, with a split
of awful champagne that one of the Croatian marinas had given us back
in 2006. We worked our way east, stopping for two weeks to explore the
Gocek Bay area, a nature preserve with 12 islands and scores of green,
unspoilt anchorages, and for one of those weeks shared it with dear
sailing friends, now living in Sante Fe, that we had met when we both
were cruising in Croatia in 2004.
We shared a little bit of Turkey with them as we sailed a little, swam,
ate delicious mezas, drank Efes beer and hiked up to ancient Lycian
tombs carved into the rocky hills. We also shared the area with too
many charter boats and large traditional Turkish tourist schooners called
gulets. When our friends left us, we were, once again, ready to move
on to our next adventure, which is this one of sailing to Eretz Yisrael
and spending most of July visiting family and friends there.
Lest this all sound too idyllic,
I will skip over the constant cleaning and maintenance necessary to
keep things going and just mention in passing the refrigeration and
marine head (toilet) both of which stopped working at the same time
several days out of Marmaris. We were at anchor in an isolated, fjordlike
cove, tied to a tree because it was so deep. Sid, the miracle man, spent
the morning crumpled up in the cockpit locker exploring the refrigeration
electronics and discovering many bad connections. He held out little
hope, but after hours of work, the refrigeration began again and is
still going. The head's pumps and pipes got a needed overhaul and cleaning
with only one pump part dropped over the side into 25 feet of water.
Fortunately, the water was clear and we were tied stern to a tree and
in a stable position so were able to retrieve it from the seafloor.
That was a long day though.
We are savoring this season, even days like the above, as it is our
last one in the Mediterranean. We have made a big and difficult decision
to ship (NOT sail - how that is done will be a story in itself) DOVKA
back to the States in August. We are glad to be here this fifteenth
year of cruising and living on DOVKA 6-9 months a year and this our
ninth year in Europe in the Mediterranean. As Hans, our Dutch friend
on the trawler, said: "After so many wonderful people and experiences,
we have to start for home. My hard drive is full." It is time for
us to move on, "to blow this pop-stand' and return to the other
side of the Pond.
July 26, 2008
It is late
afternoon. The water is sparkling and gurgling as it rushes by our tilting
hull. The wind is on the nose at about 15 knots and we are doing about
5 knots. We are hard on the wind, sailing up the west coast of Cyprus
after a wonderful 3 ½ weeks in Israel. We left Herzliya Marina
on Tuesday morning with a lovely wind, but by evening it was 20 knots
on the nose with big, lumpy seas. We bashed our way north for two nights
and then decided to rest before we clawed our way up the west coast
Unfortunately, Cyprus is full - meaning the three ports on the south
coast have little or no room for transiting yachts - so we found an
idyllic anchorage, in Pissouri Bay, all to ourselves off a quiet resort
town, over clean white sand and by stunning sandy cliffs. We rested,
read and swam for 48 hours while the wind howled outside.. Never got
off the boat or cleared into Cyprus. This morning as the wind abated,
we upped anchor to continue our return to Turkey, after our wonderful
soujourn in Eretz Yisrael.
The 3 1/2 weeks in Israel were the icing on the cake of our 9 seasons
sailing in the Med. We had people (wonderful, warm and hospitable cousins)
connections and then met more people once there, which made all the
difference (more small world: at a fourth of July party in Jerusalem
with a friend whom we knew from D.C., I mentioned my son was coming
for a Journalism School friend's wedding in Aug. The woman to whom I
was speaking said "Oh, Aaron's wedding. I have known him since
his parents and we were at Harvard together and he was a baby!).
Our base was just outside of Tel Aviv, but we spent 5 days in Jerusalem
and flew south to travel one day to Petra in Jordan. Then, from Herzliya,
we rented a car (first time since accident)and drove up north to the
Golan - really beautiful and green and mountainous. It is a very complicated
and contradictory country, as is the USA. But whatever it's flaws, it
must continue to exist. And it is such a western European oasis in the
middle of the Middle-Eastern intellectual, cultural, democratic and
We found the Israelis to be rude, as a group, but absolutely charming
and kind as individuals. And so many of the people we met were so interesting
as they originally came from Ireland, Holland, Italy etc. Very cosmopolitan.
In one week we went to three concerts: a clarinet chamber Klezmer concert,
in Jerusalem, a spectacular production of La Traviata in the park in
Tel Aviv with 70,000 in the audience, and a wonderful sing along with
about 600 in our cousins' town center near Herzylia. And it really is
true that if you have two Jews you have three opinions. It was very
comfortable to be here. It was very special to arrive by sail, rather
than air. Leaving also was more dramatic as we gently sailed away in
the sparkling sunshine with the coastline of Eretz Yisrael slowly fading
away behind us. We were surprised at how meaningful and moving this
visit was for us. We were last here 39 years ago for a week while on
We are very content to be at sea again, as usual. I am about to make
a chicken curry for dinner, so Sid will have leftovers for midwatch
rations and we can have it for dinner again tomorrow. I am trying to
lose the weight I gained with all the wonderful food: the best hummus
we have ever had; all kinds of eggplant mixtures, and fabulous breads
and pastries, as well as the usual Med mixtures of fresh fruit and vegetables.
We are literally sailing into the sunset as I write this.
Sunday, July 27, 2008
Landfall in Turkey
We are anchored in
a calm, very protected cove on the Mediterranean coast of Turkey after
a 80 hour passage from The Promised Land: 46 hours to an unplanned 50
hour stopover at an idyllic anchorage on the south coast of Cyprus to
get away from strong headwinds; and then a 34 hour trip, arriving here
and anchoring with the absolutely last light of day. Last night was
one of those "It does not get much better than this" nights
of off shore sailing. Today we had some of the "Why are we doing
this?" discomfort days of punching into seas and strong headwinds.
All in all it was what one expects when 'going to sea.' And overall,
we really like 'going to sea.' And really like getting in and taking
our showers, having our dinner in the cockpit with the Bach cello suites
playing and the stars bursting out all over above us, and now going
Along the Mediterranean coast of Turkey
We are underway,
worried about all kinds of things going wrong and screwing up these
last days. It is now 1000 and we are about two hours from today's destination.
In order to avoid the strong northwesterlies which will come up this
afternoon, we were up by 0630 and underway by 0700 with outboard mounted
on stern pulpit, dinghy tightly tied down on deck and shoes below, all
the accoutrements of shore-side safely stowed. We felt deep appreciation
as we said farewell to the safe, shallow, mud bottomed protected harbor
of Gocek Town (one of the handfuls of such we have encountered in the
Med), from which we could, comfortably leave the boat at anchor to go
ashore, shop, get a haircut, and have dinner at a lovely restaurant.
In the early morning mist, we soaked in the pine forested smoky layers
of mounds of hills rising into mountain peaks which surrounded us as
we motored, on windless seas, past the bays and islands of Gocek Bay.
The large motor yachts and gulets were parked in rows along the green
shores, anchored in deep water with lines tied to shore. All was quiet.
No dinghies or jet skis racing around, no swimming kids as we motored
by. We and the fishermen were the only ones moving, but within hours
the parade will begin as the breeze gets up and the boats get underway
and move here and there to new bays and coves for another day and night
of pleasure. Obviously, we are feeling nostalgic and savoring these
last views and days. Meanwhile we expect to be in Marmaris tomorrow,
ending our Mediterranean sojourn and beginning the wait for the Dockwise
ship! And, we are ready. Keeping our fingers crossed to get there safely,
get a place at the dock (we have been told the marina is FULL)and then
prepare for transport AND find a way to get to London for our flight
home Sept 2nd.
DOVKA COMES HOME TO THE USA
August 24, 2008
We loaded DOVKA
on the Dockwise ship, M/V Explorer, at 2 p.m. this afternoon. For the
past three weeks we were docked at Marmaris Yacht Marina - slowly doing
our chores in the morning and hiding from the oppressive heat of the
afternoon, either under our awning or at the marina swimming pool. We
whiled away the time visiting with Ocean Cruising Club friends and an
assorted array of other interesting folk, including the very hospitable
Turkish parents of the young man from whom we bought our car back home,
this past spring. We were antsy and anxious, but also enjoyed these
last days of life in this special environment in a place to which we
have become very familiar and comfortable. Last night, we cleaned and
folded up the bikes and put them away down below, symbolizing the reality
of the end of our stay here.
The loading, after all the
anticipation, was anti-climactic. Which is the way one wants it to be.
We were very impressed with the professionalism of the Dockwise crew.
Eight yachts (two small sailboats, one large sailboat and an assortment
of large motoryachts) hovered around the orange ship anchored in the
middle of the large harbor. Our OCC friends had come off anchor to wait
with us and take pictures. We took turns cooling off by swimming off
the stern. Our Israeli sailmaker and his family sailed by as they left
the marina to begin a cruising holiday and tossed a bag filled with
Israeli sweets, as a final farewell.
We were all in radio contact
with the ship and were given instructions on loading order and procedure.
We were the last to load, motoring DOVKA into the flooded hold of the
ship, which looked like a pick-up truck with a flooded bed, and tying
next to the other small sailboat which was against the side wall of
the ship. It was just like rafting up alongside another boat. Divers
swam around putting jackstands under all the boats. The back of the
ship was closed as the water began to be pumped out. We scrambled over
other boats, up long ladders and then down the side of the ship into
a waiting launch before DOVKA was high and dry. We returned to the marina
to get our suitcases. It seemed so strange that DOVKA was not there.
We are in a hotel in Marmaris for the night. From our window we can
see, still at anchor, the orange ship on which our sailing home is now
ensconsced. Tomorrow we wend our way to London and home.
Falls Church, Virginia
DOVKA arrived home
safely, as did we. Something we no longer take for granted. We have
been back in the States for 10 weeks, but hardly home as we drove here
and there celebrating 50th wedding anniversaries, 50th college reunions
etc. Several of those weeks were taken up with boat duties. We drove
to Fort Lauderdale to await DOVKA's arrival. We had three days to wait,
rather than 3 weeks. Since there was a $20,000 per day charge if we
did not take her off the ship when scheduled, we were again anxious
that we not miss the date. We inspected her, high and dry aboard the
EXPLORER, on Monday, Sept 29th. We found clear signs that US Customs
had been aboard to check for contraband but nothing was disturbed. The
following morning, at 6:30 a.m., we were back to offload. It was, as
in Marmaris, anti-climactic and extremely easy. DOVKA was floating again
and we just maneuvered to turn her her around inside the ship and motored
out into a grey and drizzly morning.
A month before we were on
DOVKA in the Mediterranean and now, poof, 0900 and we were back in U.S.
waters, motoring up the Intracoastal Waterway in Fort Lauderdale. Wednesday
morning we motored into the Atlantic Ocean and made our way 100 miles
north to the marina we had chosen, in Fort Pierce, Florida. DOVKA is
now ashore, tied down with hurricane straps and hopefully able to withstand
the weather until we return to her, in late February, to sail to the
Bahamas for our last taste of the tropics before we return her home
to the Chesapeake Bay in June.
We are happy to be ashore.
Happy to be home for the holidays; to spend some time working for the
Obama campaign; to be home to work at the polls; to have an election
night party and to toast the end of an unpleasant and unprecedented
era in American history; and to wish the best to an extraordinary man
who has now to deal with extraordinary difficulties. But the sense of
relief is as palpable as the sense of victory and we are moved by the
good wishes and congratulations we have received from friends around
the world: travelers in Burma, and those living in Germany, England
and Australia. We are 'nesting' now, enjoying our children and friends
and family. But we have a box in the bedroom already half filled with
items to go back to the boat with us. We are accumulating new charts
and dreaming of new cruising grounds. So, stay tuned.