“Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than those you did. So, throw off the bowlines. Sail away from safe harbor. Catch the wind in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain
Sailing was something I never thought I would do, let alone with a group of people who all had the same disability as me, Multiple Sclerosis. The quote above from Mark Twain rings true to my ears. If I hadn’t of gone sailing, I would have been disappointed.
Saturday October 5th, 2019
I stepped onto a Yacht called Pollix in a beautiful Marina in Fethiye, Turkey, with my fellow crew members Debbie Boo, Nicky Young, Nicki Heff and Liz Stevens. It was a sunny and very warm day (28 degrees Celsius) yet not a cloud in the sky. I knew everyone apart from Liz and was due to meet my skipper later that night as her flight was coming in late. After organising the kitty for the week and deciding on what to buy food wise myself, Nikki Young (Skippy) and Liz went off to the local supermarket offshore from the Marina and bought supplies to last most of the week. Whilst awaiting the arrival of our Skipper Jackie Reaper, the shopping had been unpacked and put away, Debbie cooked a quick and easy pasta dish which was enjoyed up on deck in the beautiful warm evening breeze and lots of catching up was made with everyone.
This was my second trip sailing with Oceans of Hope as I had been to Croatia in April/May this year so I knew what to expect but I still had worrying voices in the back of my mind. I may know these people but I’ve never spent a week with them, sharing cooking, sailing, bunks and personal space. I was unsure if it would be different from the last time I sailed or much the same? Meeting Jackie and having a female skipper was a new experience for me as I had been used to the male skippers (Bill Williams the legend) but Jackie was brilliant, calm, and certainly knew her stuff - plus she was a neurologist by profession so if there were any medical issues we were in safe hands.
Sunday 6th October
After a much-needed sleep we all woke the following day with excitement and anticipation: today we would be leaving Fethiye to dock at our first island. After Jackie had a meeting with the other skippers from other yachts and we had cleared breakfast dishes away, life jackets were donned and jobs were assigned. I brought the fenders in with Liz, Debbie took the rope that had us tied to the marina dock and Jackie steered the yacht out of the marina onto the open sea. It was a rough first day sailing due to a storm we had had the pervious morning (thunder, downpour of rain and lightening with a strong wind).
Everyone on the yacht were ok until lunchtime when Nikki Young and Liz went down to prepare lunch and Liz started to feel ill. Bless her she was then out of action the whole afternoon and took to her bed in the cabin we shared. Seasickness is no fun and when you feel so ill and horrible all you want to do is go home but that feeling subsides when you arrive at your destination. Our first stop of the night was an island called Tersane, and I can see why Rob say’s it’s his favourite. It was beautiful, tranquil and scenery that you would see on a postcard or holiday advert. There were showers, toilets and a Bar/Restaurant. I cooked everyone dinner that night – sticky peanut butter chicken and rice which went down well with everyone, and after washing up/clearing away we all had an evening of just talking. By 10pm after a final cup of decaf tea we all went to bed exhausted but I know everyone had smiles on their faces as they drifted off to sleep, with the boat gently bobbing away and the waves lulling us to sleep – it’s tiring being a sailor.
Monday 7th October
This morning I woke to hearing animal noises from afar and no I am not talking off my fellow crew members who do snore (including me). As it was still 6.30am and everyone was still asleep I crept up on deck to take in the beautiful scenery around me and to hear the following - two cockerels having a cock-a-doodle-doo contest on who can be the loudest, a cow that was mooing so loud it sounded like it was in labour, pain or just wanted to join the “Turkey’s animals have got talent competition” but then the goats started bleating away and shaking their bells, joining in. I am no Simon Cowell but it’s a no from me! I had to remind myself I don’t get this beautiful view every morning when I wake up at home so to just sit back and soak up the atmosphere with animal noises as a bonus.
We started our day with breakfast at the restaurant and bought some fresh bread for lunch. By 11am we were off on our way to the next destination. We had a brilliant day’s sailing, consisting of heeling the boat, steering the helm, pulling the ropes and launching the sails. At lunchtime we paired up with another one of our group’s yacht, Sirius, and afterwards went swimming in the warm Mediterranean Sea. It was the first time for me, and I did not get in gracefully. More like a fat fish, just chucked back into the sea. My legs got crossed over on the small ladder and I lost my balance, it was a big mouth of salty sea water swallowed and coughing/spluttering but I was just glad it was not cold. After 3 laps round both yachts I came in feeling sick (blame the salty sea water), we dried off and went on our way again. In the afternoon we did a man overboard drill with a fender and bucket, who we called Wilson (Castaway movie). Liz became our chief thrower of practicing man overboards with Wilson. Monday’s night stay was a lovely place called Kille (we called it Tomb Bay), where we had dinner on land and met a beautiful dog who took an instant shine to me.
Tuesday 8th October
This morning we woke to wet bedding, seats and a very wet kitchen. Due to heavy rain and stormy thunder, our windows had let the rain in. Yes, we expected to get wet but not inside the yacht. Still, after drying everything off and myself cooking everyone a hearty breakfast of scrambled eggs and bacon, we set off with full stomachs and happy, smiley faces. Liz became our chief thrower and practicing man overboard drills with Wilson 4 times was the afternoon’s entertainment. We made our way to Gocek which is where we docked and stayed for the night. After much needed showers and some power naps, taxis were booked and at 6pm that evening yacht Pollux was off to hit the town! Dinner was a beautiful place called West Bay Café, food was delicious and after a cocktail and pizza (that was my choice) we had a look round the shops for souvenirs and gifts to take home. I found the Turkish Delight shop…. omg its lovely and its nothing like Fry’s Turkish Delight, not good for the waistline but had to bring some home. Gocek is a place that I would love to go back and visit, it’s beautifully lit up at night and I am sure there is more Turkish Delights to be savoured as well as the sweet stuff.
As written by Trish Smith. Part 2 to follow soon.