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MAY - JULY 2007

We are back on DOVKA, sailing down the Turkish coast and treasuring
every moment of it. Yesterday, June 21st, was the longest day of the year. It is downhill from here: for the year, and that could be said of us, too, but we are trying to make the most of it and certainly appreciate that we can still carry on cruising, still want to do it and are still here to do it!

On May 18th, we made the trip from the States to Ayvalik, on the Northwest Turkish Aegean Coast. It was non eventful and we spent a week on the hard, working hard, but with no problems with the boat or ourselves, except exhaustion.

Then we launched and spent another week pacing ourselves getting DOVKA organized, scrubbed, polished and put back together. We met a German woman in the marina who said: "At our age, if you wake up in the morning without any aches and pains, you are probably dead." I am taking that for my mantra.

Remember when, as a kid, you could not imagine how anyone lived with ongoing pain? Actually, I have almost none related to the accident, but my back and shoulders did hurt from scrubbing, bending and twisting, etc. etc. But, we know, that we both feel better and better, the longer we are on the boat. And that has definitely proven true, once again.

The only real surprise so far has been Sid's need for an unexpected root canal. The tooth started hurting right after we arrived in Ayvalik. A consultation with our dentist at home via phone, made it apparent he needed to see a dentist here. We found a dentist, made an appointment and took a lovely 3 hour bus ride (not kidding - much nicer than coach airplane travel) to Izmir, the third largest city in Turkey. The dentist had more sophisticated equipment than we have seen at home and quickly solved Sid's problems with little pain and, even better, a little price. He was extremely competent and kind. And we got to see Alcansak, the "Upper East Side" of Izmir, which was quite pretty, with lots of trees, cafes and chic shops.

We have had a wonderful five weeks. It is a delight to be back in Turkey with the friendly, helpful Turkish people and wonderful mesas (appetizers worthy of a meal). We took off from the Ayvalik Marina on June 1 and have had more isolated, idyllic anchorages these past few weeks than we have had in the past twelve years we have been cruising, either in the Caribbean or in the Med. Either it is early in the season, or we know where to look, but we are enjoying the solitude tremendously.

Heading south as we are, the wind is usually on, or abaft, the beam, making for some lovely sailing. Then we anchor, swim, have our hot shower on deck, dry in the breeze and have our gin and tonic as the sun sets. We cannot make ice, but I keep the gin and the tonic in the fridge and it is quite acceptable. We like to have a few days alone like this and then we can appreciate civilization (especially the gorgeous produce markets).

As we have worked our way south, one of the towns we have stopped in is the pretty Turkish tourist town (as opposed to the other towns with mostly English or German tourists) of Eskifoca, where the laid moorings were being installed as we came in, which was good timing. Otherwise, we have to use our own anchor and back in and that can get tricky. They were expecting a regatta from Sicily on the following day, so it was not really for us.

Laid moorings mean that there is an anchor block to which a heavy line is tied and to that is tied a lighter line which runs to a floating buoy or the dock/quay/wall. When a boat comes in bow or stern to the quay, the lazy line is picked up at the buoy, or the wall, and pulled out until the heavy mooring line is reached, which is then tied taut to the end of the boat which is away from the wall. It is a good way to squeeze in many more boats than the usual finger pier or pile systems used in the States. We just slip in between two boats like a book does on a bookshelf. Everyone has a lot of big fenders rigged. And many boats have very sophisticated passerelles [gangplank] with ropes and pulleys to lower them to the dock. We have a lovely little stainless steel ladder which fits over our bow pulpit. It is much simpler and one reason we always go bow-first to the shore.

As we go bow in, I get the lazy line and hand it back to Sid, who takes care of that in the stern, while I take care of the bow lines, which hopefully someone will take from me, put around a cleat and give back to me to secure on board. Sometimes I have had to leap ashore and secure the lines, myself.

It is funny now how apprehensive I was of this "Med Mooring" when we came into Gibraltar, 7 years ago. Pretty much everything else I am doing, I realize I have been doing now for 12 years, at the least (and most, for the past 36). And, both Sid and I still seem to be able to do most of it pretty well,albeit perhaps a little slower, which makes both of us very happy.

We met our dear friends Jack and Judy in Kusadasi(the gateway to Ephesus, the amazing Greco-Roman city), where we had hung out at the marina for four days before their arrival, enjoying the different markets on the different days (Wednesday is textiles, Friday is produce etc.); the company of other cruisers; doing our chores in a leisurely fashion; and taking advantage of a lovely swimming pool. Summer arrived during those days and we put away the down comforter and the sweaters and started sweating.

We had six delightful days sailing south with J&J, around the Bodrum Peninsula and into the Gulf of Gokova. Yesterday, we said a sad goodbye as they departed for home. We enjoyed a night in the Bodrum Marina with lovely showers and a good (not as good as Max's in Monfalcone, of course) pizza ashore. Today, we continue south. It is late afternoon and we are now in our favorite area, the Gulf of Hisaronu, en route to Keci Buku, our favorite cove and our favorite restaurant.

And we have found yet another isolated anchorage on the south coast of the Datca Peninsula, off a beach which obviously has no road to it and thus no signs of human life. The rugged coast has many indentations and as we look west we see layer and layer of rocky promontories fading from green into black into grey with the setting sun.

The wind is gusting in light bursts. The sea is quite flat and the ripples that come with the gusts sparkle like a million diamonds. As we look north to our little beach we see green pines growing a short distance from shore snuggled into the base of brown and green rugged hills. And gorgeous aqua water surrounds us as we look over the side at our anchor, well dug into the soft sand bottom 5 meters beneath us.

Later in the evening:
Sunset was lovely and, after dark, there was not one artificial light to be seen anywhere in our panoramic view of the coasts on the north and south sides of the bay. This gave me a chance to study my stars for the first time in a year, unimpeded by artificial light.

Next morning:
Not to always sound too Pollyanna-ish: I will admit that the wind died at midnight, and the anchorage turned very rolly. It was NOT a comfortable night for sleeping!

Today we will sail east to the head of the bay and the Buk Restaurant. Then on to Marmaris to arrange to have some serious work done on DOVKA's decks, probably putting the boat ashore and us to Europe, we hope, from mid July to mid August.

July Post Script
Happy Fourth of July to all! We had a lovely return to Keci Buku; nice reunions with the young men who ran our favorite restaurant and have now moved up to running their families' hotel in the same area (in proudly giving us the grand tour, they also gave us lots of fresh veggies from their hotel kitchen garden); and with several sailing friends we had not seen in several years. It was a special time.

DOVKA is now hauled out at Marmaris Yacht Marine, in the beginning stages of having the 22 year old teak decks replaced. The old teak is off. The boat is chaos. And it is time for us to move off the boat. We leave at 4:45 AM, Saturday, for two weeks in England visiting all those friends who said "Come visit us." We go on to France and then to Amsterdam to meet up with our son, Jonathan, for five days in the beginning of August. We will then return to DOVKA in Marmaris to oversee the, hopefully, final stages of the laying of the new teak decks; sail for a few weeks; put DOVKA to bed; and then return home by Sept. 10th. On this July 5th, the anniversary of the accident last year, we fervently hope the rest of this season is as pleasant and as safe as it has been until now.