If one were to open our ship’s log book at 18th July, one would read, in big letters, “MILLIE GOES MISSING ON TERSANE”. This is the tale of two grown-ups reduced to tears when their cat finally does what they’d been afraid of all long.
The weather has been hot this summer. Not suffocating like last year, but hot enough to sleep in the cockpit to get some respite from the still nights. The great thing about sleeping up on deck is that we can keep an eye on Millie, who divides her nocturnal activities between sleeping on her throne, and jumping ashore to play with insects. By 5am she is always back on her seat, or asleep nestled at the foot of the bed. Sometimes she comes and sleeps on my pillow; frequently I am woken by her nibbling my beard!
For those who don’t know, Liz and I don’t have children, so Millie has become our surrogate kid. It’s worth bearing in mind that unlike most owners and their pets we spend pretty much most of our time together, and within a confined space, so the closeness an owner gets with their pet is more acute on a boat. I hope this helps justify why Liz and I are completely soppy when it comes to Millie – she really is our little shadow.
When I awoke at 3am this particular night, there was Millie, fast asleep on her throne. When I awoke again at 5am Liz turned to me and just said “Millie’s gone”. Instinctively both of us knew she wasn’t going to return, but we put it to the back of our minds and dozed uncomfortably until 7am when we decided to get up and start looking for her. Our calls aroused nothing but barks from the four dogs who live around the restaurant area on Tersane island. Immediately we started imagining little Mills being chased up a tree by a savage gun dog. Actually two of the four dogs are as small as our cat and wouldn’t say ‘boo’ to a goose, but one’s imagination starts to consider all possibilities. At the very least we were hoping to hear a faint, scared ‘mew’. Nothing.
When we returned to the boat sans cat around 8am, our neighbours had awoken. Despite all three boats being Turkish we were able to communicate to them that our cat had gone missing and may have climbed aboard their vessel. One 49ft boat had ten people aboard, so the chances of her finding a quiet spot were minimal, though one does start to imagine that the 10 year old girl had taken a shine to Millie and hidden her in her bag or something. The next boat was chartered by young Istanbulites, and one was a red-haired girl who spoke excellent English. Turns out she was a cat lover too and was saddened to hear about our pet going awol. We reminded her that should she find the cat she could use the telephone number printed on her collar. The third boat was owned by some fat-arsed Turk who, it turned out, was a famous thesbian. Gay, more like. He was on a weekend break with a load of other ageing Turkish men who spent the weekend massaging each other and generally being obnoxious to Liz who approached them for their help. Old-school Turkish men: sexist a-holes! We assumed that should Millie be found on their boat she would have been cast overboard at first sight. After checking with all three boats, two of which then left, there was no sign of her. Nothing.
That day was one of the worst in recent months for us. We took it in turns to patrol the island, in the blazing heat, knowing that if she were around, she’d have bedded down and gone for a kip in the hot weather; we also thought that perhaps she’d got her collar caught in something and had got stuck. Many hours later, with sore throats, we returned to Esper with nothing.
As the night was drawing in we got a bit more positive. It was about that time in the evening when Millie wakes up, so we decided to make a point of playing cards in the restaurant and chat in the hope that she could hear our voices and return to the boat. Alas, fat-thesbian and his bent sycophants decided to stay up all night, keeping the restaurant staff and the generator up until sunrise the next morning! Any chance we had of hearing Millie was gone for another day and Liz and I went to bed losing hope. To compound the issue Marcus and Rachel were still with us and the next day was to be their last.
Another day spent looking for Millie. By now everyone on the island knew she had gone missing. We’d been in contact with Karen of ‘Antigua Lady’, cat-woman of Marmaris, who told us to remain positive and that Millie wouldn’t be far away. The problem was Marcus and Rachel had a taxi booked from Boynuz Buku at 8pm, so we had to cast our lines and leave Millie behind somewhere on that island. We made the most of our last hour with M&R but after dropping them off and returning to Tersane we were deflated. You know that post-holiday feeling you get when your friends leave after a great week together? Well it was that plus the fact we had to return to the island knowing that the chances of finding Millie now were almost zilch. The restaurant owner took pity on us, fed us and explained in his pigeon English how he had lost a dog and cried for days. When we returned to the boat and I put out Millie’s bowl of food, we looked at each other and burst into tears. “I just want my cat back” I sobbed into Liz’s shoulder.
Needless to say we didn’t sleep that night but took it in turns to patrol the restaurant. Next day we were kindly joined by our friends Terry and Fiona of ‘Roam II’ who we wouldn’t be seeing for another couple of months and spent the morning relaxing a bit with them. Gina of ‘Impulse’ had offered to come over to help look too, and we were eased slightly by this support from our friends.
Then the telephone rang. There was an excited Turkish woman’s voice at the other end…