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Sunday, August 19, 2007
We are back on board DOVKA, having returned from Europe two weeks ago. The new teak deck is now completely finished! We celebrated with a bottle of prosecco on Friday night with Ilhan, the contractor, and his wife, Yasmine, sitting for hours visiting in our beautiful new teak covered cockpit. Their carpenter did a magnificent job.

DOVKA is floating again. We have washed the carpets, slip covers, reinstalled the canvas dodger that protects us from wind, sea spray and sun, and have done an overall cleanup and are now ready to sail a bit before we have to return to haul and put DOVKA to bed for the winter.

Our month away while the work was being done in July: in England, Normandy and Amsterdam was a very lovely experience. We enjoyed a weekend in London and got to see life with three adorable, rambunctious little girls (and their delightful parents) in Ramsbury, a rural village, west of London.

We stayed with sailing friends who live in Newton Ferrers, in the West Country, near Plymouth, on the steep banks of the River Yealm (overlooking the guest pontoon, so even if one is not sailing, one can watch others come and go and, of course, comment on their mooring skills!); and with Ocean Cruising Club friends outside of Hastings, on the South Coast, not far east from Brighton or west from the White Cliffs of Dover, in an idyllic spot overlooking pastureland, cows, castles and hills, as well as the sea.

The Channel Ferry took us from New Haven across to Dieppe, and we were whisked away by our dear friends, Angelique and Bob, to have Moules Normandie (mussels in cream) for lunch overlooking the harbor. Thus began ten delicious days of life in rural Normandy, in St Martin Aux Buneaux (by the sea), near Cany-Barville and Fecamp, the cliffs of which you have seen in Monet's paintings.

Our arrival was in time for a Son Et Lumiere extravaganza commencing after dark (10:30 p.m.) in a farmer's field. This is not like my image of an American farmer's field. This French one had two beautifully maintained stone barns, several hundred years old, and a huge round dovecote with tile roof. The viewing stands faced the field, with the buildings on the edges and a large stand of huge trees in the background, smack amidst the several acre stage (field), with the quarter moon setting behind them.

At one point an actor was reminiscing how he would sneak out to the dovecote as a child and as he pointed up to the huge cylindrical stone building and the sky, we all followed his hand to see that the sun was gone and the moon had set and we were staring at a star studded black dome. The only illumination anywhere else was on our actor.

These summer productions consist of local folks coming together to produce a spectacle with thin plot, huge cast (200 people in ours) including cows, sheep, horses and dogs, ingenious props, narrative, dialog and music. Lights are strategically placed around the field, so different scenes are spotted in different locations throughout. I called it a French "Christmas Revels" but on a grander scale, if only because of the location. It was great fun and very well done.

The highlights in our show were a medieval village scene including brigands on horses and a battle; and a turn of the century village scene with three different early life-size airplane mock-ups arriving from the sky via strung cables; and a huge, 40 foot wedding cake that was rolled in from behind the trees for the finale, complete with fireworks.

Our hosts kept exclaiming; "That's our doctor. Oh, he's the owner of the farm and she's the chemist" "I did not know Marie Claire was in this" Et al. It was definitely worth the long slog in through the mud, from the road where the cars were parked.

A contrast to this event was Vespers at the Montjoyer Monastery. Shafts of light from the setting sun shone into the Abbey, highlighting the simplicity of this huge stonewalled room with timbered vaulted ceiling, from a local barn, lofting above us. The monks' chanted service was a spiritual experience, even for non-believers.

We timed (not intentionally) our travels so that we were 10 days in England between the rain and floods; were cozy, in Normandy, but cold and damp; and had gorgeous spring like weather in Amsterdam, where we met our younger son and fell in love with the city of beautiful houses, flowers and canals. We were wined and dined and made to feel a part of the family by our dear friend's family, which we much appreciated after we had walked our feet off wandering the city's wonderful areas and museums.

We were taken for a lovely launch ride through the canals south of the city in Loosdrecht: had the experience of operating the canal's locks and enjoyed the lovely countryside and homes along the canals. We visited a sailing friend who lives in a windmill northwest of the city in Zahndaam: an open air museum, comparable to Sturbridge Village in Massachusetts or St Mary's City in Maryland. On another morning we observed the largest flower market/auction in the world, in Aalsmeer, just outside of Amsterdam - a truly awesome sight in a building larger than 200 football fields! And, most importantly, we had precious days with one of our sons.

It was a very special time with a lot of very special people, most of whom we have met through our sailing adventures. Meeting all these different people and making good friends is, for us, as we have said before, truly the essence of this cruising life.

Sunday, August 28, 2007
Two months ago, as we were heading south along the Turkish Aegean coast, we docked at our favorite restaurant in our favorite cove in our favorite gulf. We are delighted that it remains unspoiled and undeveloped since we were last here in 2004. A few days ago, we once again anchored in Keci Buku (Goat Bay) off the little island with the ruins of a Byzantine fort, where we first made our landfall in Turkey, five years ago: August 1, 2002. We came ashore to the Buk Restaurant that August night and it has been a highlight of our travel times in Turkey ever since.

The mountains on both the north and south sides of the Hisaronu Korfezi (Gulf) rise dramatically from the sea. On the north side, the promontory extends over 30 miles from the head of the bay. On its western end is rugged grey rock formation and then the mountains become green with pines, or brown with jagged features.

The southern promontory is only about 15 miles from the head and there are small green mounds of islands midway, some with wild goat populations. Navigating the water between these islets feels more like lake sailing than being in the sea. In other spots, as it shoals towards shore, there are little beaches with Caribbean-colored, extremely clear, aquamarine water.

As one sails east to its end, the north side looks a bit like southwestern U.S. rock formations: brown and jagged and strange shaped, while the south side reminds me of the Smokey Mountains with layers of rounded peaks falling away to the sky.

There is only one town of any size (and that is not big) in the gulf, Datca, one third of the way in on the north shore. There are a few hotels, most nestled into the woods, and a small marina almost at the head of this gulf. Otherwise it is a rural and pastoral scene. At the head of the gulf, to the south, is Keci Buku.

This little circular cove is surrounded by pine studded, rocky mountains with no development. The setting sun highlights them in golden red just behind us across the water. There are a few other docks (from other restaurants) around the cove with a few other boats.

Nestled in the flatland behind the pines, in front of the mountains, is the traditional village of Orhaniye. And 40 minutes away by car (one or two days by sailboat around the southern peninsula) to the southeast, is Marmaris, once a fishing village and now a tourist and yachting mecca and where DOVKA will spend the winter.

As we walk towards the restaurant from the dock, there is pink oleander growing everywhere and a long, green lawn with several amphora strategically placed under small banana plants. There are a few tables set out and then there is the deck of the small restaurant building which has more tables. And that is where we eat when we come ashore. Once we arrive back on the boat in the Med, we never eat a meal inside, except when we eat down below on DOVKA.

A cow, tethered in the field next to the beach, moos every now and then. Ten small chickens cluck around the lawn and a white mother duck circles the boat all day calling her teeny, tiny chick to stay with her, which he (or she) does not do. Last night as we were walking back to the dinghy at the dock, about ten p.m., we saw the mother swimming by the shore, but this time the baby was right by her side. Guess he was scared of the dark.

We are winding down now and will head back to Marmaris soon. We have visited with friends in the nearby marina, partaken of a Turkish buffet combined with a yachtie music fest with songs of England, Germany, Holland and the USA, and had the good fortune to see a fantastic performance by a stunningly superb male belly dancer!

We have had some good reading time this summer. The highlights have been Isaacson's "Einstein," Goodwin's "Team of Rivals," and at the top of the list, Dawkins' "The God Delusion," an empowering read for every thinking person.

And now we are anchored off a little beach, in Dirsek, another idyllic, totally undeveloped cove, on the western end of the southern peninsula of the Hisaronu Gulf. We have a full moon to gaze upon as we lay prone in the cockpit after dinner, enjoying the sounds of the rural night and the end of another good, and so far, happily uneventful, season. DOVKA is to be hauled on Sept 5 and we haul ourselves home on Sept 10.

Happy Labor Day Weekend and end of summer to all.