No blog updates until late August. Berkeley East is in Istanbul, while we are vacationing at home in North Carolina.
We have never really given much thought to flies. We use a rolled-up magazine, or the two-hand clap method, to take care of any fly that annoys us too much. So when some fellow cruisers (upon hearing that we were headed to Turkey) told us to take a lot of fly swatters, we just laughed. What they were implying really didn't register. But here we are, in the Sea of Marmara, doing our best to extinguish every fly on the planet, which all seem to be on our boat. For more than a week now, we have suffered with a variety of the pesky little insects. In the Dardanelles, they were biters, drawing blood with every landing. We couldn't help but think of Jeff Goldblum in the movie "The Fly" and wonder if one of us would wake up next to a loving, but bug-eyed, spouse one morning.
In each subsequent harbor, we have been inundated with more black flying bugs than we have ever seen. Luckily the non-biting flies are slow so they are easy to get. But we have to pick them up quickly and really squish them, or they come back to life, half flat and hopping rather than flying. At home, we would just close the windows to keep the bugs out, but it is really hot and still here so the front door (companionway) of Berkeley East is always open for the air. Luckily the hatches and portholes have screens, so points of entry are limited. Still, the more flies we kill, the more there seem to be. We tried to ignore them for a while and go for a swim. A refreshing dip would have been the perfect distraction, but for another fly in the ointment, the 50+ jellyfish circling Berkeley East. Pretty as they are, we have both had painful sting from these creatures, so we decide that we'd rather stay on the boat and kill things.
Aside from the flies and jellyfish, the Sea of Marmara has also proven a bit challenging when selecting a scenic harbor or anchorage. Our cruising guide gives descriptions, but it has taken us a while to decipher the meaning of some of the words. For instance, "most attractive" means "not completely ugly."
The description "picturesque wooded valley" should really be "picture a wooded valley where there is none."
"Idyllic" is "idyllic compared to everywhere else you have been here."
As cruisers, we have anchored in many less-than-desirable locations, usually on our way to a specific destination. And this is no exception. The Dardanelles and the Sea of Marmara create the path to our goal of reaching Istanbul. Fly ridden as they are, without these harbors, we would have to make a multiple-day passage to reach the city.
When we got tired of uninteresting harbors, jellyfish and flies, we decided to go the 60 miles to Istanbul. Little did we know that the flies were also going to Istanbul, with us!
For the eight hours up the Sea of Marmara we were swarmed, and some of them were the nasty biting breed. We continued our fly slaughter, killing more than 1,000 (seriously) of what is now our least favorite insect. Our arms were too tired to throw the dock lines when we arrived in Istanbul. Fortunately they had two boats, and four guys to help; we really like docking in Turkish marinas. Our efforts were not in vein, BE is finally fly free.
Okay it wasn't really as bad as the photo above, but it felt like it.
We're convinced that the NSA and Apple have conspired to hijack the shuffle feature in our ipod. In the last two weeks we have had two instances when our ipod has randomly selected a song that scarily fit our location. We have been listening to our ipod on random (shuffle) where it selects, from the over 10,000 songs, what to play while we sail from port to port.
While sailing along the Atki peninsula, it selected Todd Rundgren's "We Gotta Get You a Woman". This peninsula is a very unique place, where women are not allowed. It is full of large monasteries with lonely monks.
Next, we were in Canakkale, Turkey and the ipod selected ""And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda". Not a song that most people are familiar with, but it is an account of a young Australian soldier who was maimed at the Battle of Gallipoli during the First World War. Canakkale is right across from the Gallipoli peninsula where the Australian troops landed. We had not heard that song in years, but within hours of our arrival here, our ipod reminded us that it was in our music library.
We were in Canakkale on our way to Istanbul. The first hurdle in this passage was the Dardanelles, a narrow strait connecting the Aegean Sea to the Sea of Marmara. The strait is 38 miles long and less than one mile wide in some areas. This is the major waterway for oil and goods to and from the countries on the Black Sea. There is a large container ship or tanker passing by every 10 minutes. While water flows in both directions, the surface current from the Sea of Marmara to the Aegean is right on Berkeley East's bow and over 3 knots strong. Add the current and freighter traffic together and it was an exciting trip. We were planning around an hour from the entrance of the Dardanelles to Canakkale, but as we slowed from 7 knots to 6, then to 5 and eventually to 4 knots, it ending up taking over two hours.
At the entrance to the Dardanelles is the city of Troy, well-known in history, legend and from the movie with Brad Pitt. At the Troy archaeological site, archeologists have identified nine different layers of cities built on top of one another between 3000 BC and AD 500. Troy VIII is believed to be the setting of the Trojan War described in Homer's Odyssey. It is unclear what, if any, parts of the tale of the Trojan horse are true, but the story makes for good tourism. And you hear the phrase "beware of Greeks bearing gifts" a lot around here.
We spent one afternoon touring the Gallipoli peninsula, focused on the Australian New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) sites. The Gallipoli Campaign (as it is called) was a battle for control of the Dardanelles, which lasted nearly one year and resulted in huge casualties for many countries. There are a lot of numbers out there on how many people died and were injured (some say as many as 500,000), but our guide summed it up pretty clearly "in the end, they died for nothing".
Perhaps our ipod's selection of the song "And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda" was not a result of NSA spying, but simply a chance reminder of how futile and gruesome war is.