We’ve been at anchor outside the Orange Bar for a few days now – I said it would become a favourite spot! In this time we’ve met some great people including Becks and Benn, two ex-Navy soldiers hailing from New Zealand. I hooked up with them yesterday to watch the rugby in a bar in town and over a few drinks invited them out to come sailing today. Drunkenly we all agreed to set sail around 11am.
Three o’clock in the afternoon a bleary-eyed Kiwi couple emerge onto the beach and, after picking them up in the tender and getting them to Esper, we decided a sail was not such a good idea as we were all feeling a little worse for wear (except Liz who had taken a night off the booze due to Bodrum Belly). Shame, since the wind had really picked up and a quick sail around the busy Marmaris Bay could have been a laugh.
After cracking open a beer I suddenly noticed that, due to the increasing swell, the anchor had dragged and we were quickly making our way backwards towards the holidaying families of Turks on the beach. Well, re-anchoring means lifting the chain up and since we were going to have to do that we may as well throw in a quick sail!
The next two hours were a complete manic blur. We hadn’t stowed, closed the hatches, had cans of beer all over the cockpit, hadn’t checked the charts, all completely unprofessional, so whilst at the helm trying to keep Esper steady under engine Liz, Becks and Benn stowed all of the above and prepared for a quick hack around the bay. As soon as the last ipod was tucked under the chart table we had full mizzen, reefed main and full jib out in the katabatic winds gusting off the westerly mountains. Our sailing dictionary says katabatic winds ‘may be dangerous’. It wasn’t wrong!
On the very first tack I had Benn sheeting the jib and after getting the sheet round the winch something went ‘crack’, flew down the deck and had Benn mincing around the cockpit looking very pale. Turns out the traveller for the jib sheet had just sheared off and this lump of metal hit him square in the shin, creating a very deep cut that wouldn’t stop bleeding. As the winds started gusting 30+ knots I decided we had too much jib out so Liz reefed that in as Becks, who’s sailing courses were starting to come back to her, happily coiled lines and generally relieved the cockpit of its snake pit of ropes. Benn, who hadn’t murmured one word of complaint over his obviously painful injury, was back on form and stooped over the starboard winch, ready for tack number two. Becks was in charge of letting the leeward sheet off, and Liz was in charge of sheeting main and mizzen. Me, I just stood behind the helm, giving instructions whilst battling an increasing weather helm. Weather helm is when the bow wants to turn to windward. To counter this the tiller has to be pushed to leeward to keep the boat on a course, otherwise known as sailing with the handbrake on!
And so this continued for an hour and a half, dodging the passenger ferries, day tripper boats and fisherman, tacking and gybing around Marmaris Bay. It was excellent fun but the winds were really unpredictable and at one point I had to steer Esper through 120°, just to keep her close-hauled (sailing into wind). Admittedly I’d not anticipated how strong those winds were or how chaotic they blew so over this period we gradually reefed each sail away until we were just on main, dropping the boat down to a gentle 3 knots with Esper upright again (I think we’d managed to tip Esper over the furthest she’s been!). Poor Benn, who earlier was so hung over he was struggling to put sentences together, was sweating like a pig. “How’s the hangover Benn?”, I asked? “Yeah, beaut mate”! Nothing like a quick, frantic sail with unpredictable winds in a busy sea to clear those cobwebs!
What excellent crew we had today. With Liz now so familiar with Esper she can do things with her eyes closed, and Benn and Becks, two ex-Navy soldiers with sailing experience and used to reacting quickly, what could have been a scary sail was actually an extremely enjoyable one! We won’t forget the sail, or the company, in a hurry. Cheers guys!