…we received an unexpected call from the officer in charge, who invited Jamie to meet the skipper of the barge that rammed us. So he went back with Alica, leaving Liz and Millie-the-cat to guard Esper. After five cups of coffee Wat the translator arrived…
This of course puts us into emergency mode and the wind soon catches Esper and as the motors off without even so much as an apologetic glance back over his shoulder, we are left trying to steady our boat. We soon find ourselves sideways onto the pontoon, engine on with no wheel to steer ourselves away.
Banu and Batu’s progress has not been without its problems, however. Despite running their family business now for over 20 years they have had some run-ins with the local marina next door, who have only been here for five years. When Banu told me of the bribes Ece Marina have been offering her in order to close her down, I was disgusted.
Since the wind was up our bum I thought I’d expose mine and stripped off. I’d heard a lot of good things about naked sailing and I was keen to give it a go. It was all fine for about 2 minutes until I realised that the tanker behind us was not the one that had passed us 10 minutes ago going the other way, but another one following us behind pretty fast!
Batten down the hatches, climb the rigging and let the cabin boy out of the toilet as we set sail for the last time. FMFF steered, LJF put the sails up and RPL tried his hand at fishing off the back of Esper, two hours later all he had caught on his hook was his finger.
There was at least 35 knots of wind and the few other boats out and about obviously had the same plan – to get back safely asap. We discussed down to the smallest detail exactly how we would park the boat without hitting any other boats (or our own) against the pontoon.
Today goes down in history as my most embarrassing moment. It’s a moment all sailors dread. A moment that happens to most of us but one that shouldn’t happen in front of fellow sailors. It should only happen in private when no one is watching.
After Jon did the rounds in the dinghy we went off to practice some man overboard under sail, before returning to Bodrum marina. We tried dropping the pasarelle to lay the warps on in order to assist the marina boys but all I managed to achieve whilst jack knifing Esper in reverse was to gently nudge the guardrail of the boat next door. Oooops! ‘Jon!!!!!’
After a great night’s sleep Jon’s off in the dinghy, rowing to each boat in the flotilla giving them the low-down on what to do and what to expect for today’s sail. It was interesting watching Jon at work and it quickly made me realise I never want to be running flotilla holidays!
As we approached the Essex coast we ran out of fuel. Well, we didn’t run out of fuel, the second tank wasn’t feeding fuel to the engine for some reason. With this in mind the skipper wasn’t happy sailing all the way back to Burnham with no diesel so we made a detour up the Orwell with the aim of pulling in to Levington to refuel. It was closer and the wind was in our favour. Or so we thought. Are you ready for this?
After leaving our yachthaven in Aalsmeer, not forgetting to give the middle finger to the hairy, cigar-chomping Dutch twat who told the skipper off for borrowing a hose (that wasn’t even his), we headed towards Amsterdam. Of course this involved negotiating a number of bridges which meant either approaching very slowly and hovering backwards and forwards until the bridge opened, or, more sensibly, tying up to the posts provided on the side of the canal.
With strong gusting winds we found getting out of the pillared berth a real test of lateral thinking. If you imagine the boat tied bow-to, but with three 10ft high wooden pillars down each side of the boat, we were continually blown side on to one set of pillars. With some very careful manoeuvring and pushing against the pillars from all sides we eventually managed to reverse our way out of the mooring back into the main canal – straight into the path of an oncoming barge one way and a container ship the other! Quick! Slam that motor into forwards and get the hell out!
We anchored up at Creux harbour and as the sun went down Tim and I nipped ashore for a quick exploration and then back again to spend an evening of getting drunk whilst at anchor. We explored intellectual topics – just how fishy is fish from the north sea – and looked at the stars.