Cast off – Tuesday 15th May 2012


Last night the engineer was still at work on board until 11.30 at night. Seats had been dismantled, lockers emptied, carpets lifted and the stairs between decks had been removed for access to the engine room. (Actually it is a simple thing to put the stairs back in place!)
This morning, our task is to it everything back in place. We wake at 7.30 to arrange passport control, and get the ship in ship shape condition for sailing. There are plenty of small tasks, removing a stain from the cushion, scrubbing the deck where some chemical had been spilled – and breakfast, of course.
By 11.30 Captain says we are ready to cast off. We leave Turkey today and sail to Greece. Goodbye to the lovely warm showers at the marina and the posh restaurant. Whilst the marina sea is flat and calm, as soon as we reach the open sea, we find out that the gentle breeze is, in fact, quite strong. This is good for sailing, but creates a ‘lumpy’ sea. Short bursts of high and low rock or toss, depending on your constitution. It is always a shock at first until your body gets into the swing- pun intended!
We hoist our sails and set off. Both John and his friend instantly parry with each other to be at helm. Our friend is 70 this year, but you would think they were both 7!
After 4 hours, with wind of around 20 knots and a speed of 8 knots we land at Pythagorio. This is the island of Samnos, on which Pythagorus lived, becoming the famous mathematician and triangle buster!
It’s a tiny harbour near an airport. There are a few other yachts. There are several good restaurants to choose from and we eat in a garden, covered by vines.

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Ephesus- Monday 14th May 2012


Captain has owned this 45 foot yacht since she was built over 20 years ago, near the beginning of his retirement. Every year, he sails her around Europe. Beginning in the North West, around Britain, France, Scandinavia, and then over to the East, via Italy, Croatia, Cyprus.
These days he sails it for two seasons. From May to July and from September to November. Every fortnight a different crew arrive to cook and support the sailing, doing heavy work, but enjoying themselves hugely.
We know Captain through friends of friends.
However, the beginning of each season is fraught with the need to maintain the boat and she needs at least another day of serious engineer time.
As crew, we are redundant. The ancient site of Ephesus is a long taxi ride away and would cost order £100 so we opt to hire a car and drive off.
Best preserved after Pompeii and more visited than any place in Turkey, after Istanbul, Ephesus dates back 7 millennia. The roads, public toilets, amphi-theatre, library have been restored to something of their former glory, although photographs show just how ruined it must have been at the turn of the 20th century. Not all the restoration is a success. Frequently, the overuse of concrete, the mismatch of remains creates a strange, rather ugly.

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In some areas, the remaining stones line up awaiting for their turn to complete the city further.

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The library shows the elegance and grandeur of the city in days gone by.

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There are streets with houses and even public toilets to admire!

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The scale of the place is very impressive, even with the coach loads of tourists. Surely it must be far more crowded during July or August.
Near the main site is a rather lovely legend of seven Christians who were entombed for their faith. Some two hundred years later, they emerged to tell the tale of their ordeal and shortly after died. I was eager to see this and am so glad we did, as we found a fabulous restaurant just by.

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Driving down the road, we came across a tortoise! What country do tortoises come from? Was it wild or an escaped pet?

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Close to the marina, we stopped at Didima to see the famous Medusa’s head and found another great restaurant for our evening meal. The food was cooked in a wood oven just by us and tasted wonderful.

Learning the ropes – Sunday 13th May 2012


I’m sleeping on bunk beds which are incredibly hard. I bulk up the thin mattress with an extra sleeping bag, which makes a big difference. Our shared bathroom is a narrow triangle consisting mostly of cupboards. The tap pulls out of the basin and then acts as a hand held shower. The main saloon is very comfortable with comfy seating, a dining table and a small galley kitchen. Our captain sleeps at the stern with his own bathroom.
Around 9.00 we assemble for breakfast: bread, cereal, honey, orange juice with coffee. The sky is a soft blue, the air warm, the sea in the marina very still.
As crew we are divided: those who know stuff about sailing and those who are able to follow orders. We are also in charge of food.
We are going nowhere today as the engineer continues his work aboard, so we assess the food stock. Miserably low! Captain has not spent any time buying food, except essentials and some of last year’s stuff is out of date and we throw it.
The sails were hoisted back into place by John and our friend, overseen and assisted by the captain while Louise and I wrote careful lists for the afternoon expedition to the supermarket.
Lunch at the marina was a beautiful affair. The yacht club has exceptional views and the dining area surrounds a large swimming pool. All very white table linen and considerate service. It was like being transported to a new ethereal world.


The afternoon was spent at the supermarket, water, beer, tonic, lots of tins for emergencies, fresh vegetables and fruit etc.
In our time off we thought we might like to swim in the magnificent marina pool for half an hour but, the rules insist that unless we actually own a yacht each we have to pay over £10 for the privilege. No way!
The 7 o’clock gin went down well as did dinner back at the yacht club, generously paid for by our lovely captain.

Journey to Turkey – Saturday 12th May 2012


Our friends turn up with the taxi about 20 minutes before they were due! Not that it mattered, we had already packed and had only the last few things to do. Packing brings its own excitement: what to take and the piquancy and anxiety of forgetting something vital- like passports!
Our journey to Gatwick took just over an hour. By train it would take more like two, so we were lucky that Louise had won a voucher for a minicab ride and was happy to donate this to our trip.
Although EasyJet Bag Drop was impossibly slow, there was time, once through passport control and security to buy some lunch and avoid the ridiculously high prices from plane food.
EasyJet, of course, do not allow booking of seat numbers without a premium, so we felt lucky to make our way through the scrum to the emergency exit and the additional leg room that space provides. Three and half hours flying time is best with a little wriggle room!

Our yacht’s captain had arranged for a taxi to meet us from the Turkish airport. It’s the first time I have ever needed to scan the crowd awaiting planes to see our name! The driver sped along for over an hour and delivered us safely to the yacht in the marina.

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She has been out of the water over winter, having repairs and improvements to her engine and canvas hood. She looks beautiful, but still has a few minor changes before we can set sail. It will be at least a day onshore.
Nevertheless our captain maintains a strict code of conduct which includes a gin and tonic around 7 at night. This settles us in well and the marina has a good restaurant for the evening meal.

I’m convinced travel suits me!

Traveling Again


Despite the fun I am having with my grandson, despite the reunion with lots of friends, John and I are off again; this time only for a fortnight.  A friend of a friend owns a yacht, and he needs crew.  So we fly to Turkey on Saturday.  Hopefully the boat will already be in the water, for it has been in dry dock for the winter season.  Our plan is to sail from Turkey to Greece, where another crew takes over.

We’ve sailed like this before and I am very excited!

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We will travel out with friends who introduced us to the owner several years ago.  So there will be five of us on board altogether.  I’ll take photos and update you when I can.

Yippee!  A retiree’s life is never dull.