Excitement, anxiety, anticipation and horror

What a week of highs and lows – of excitement and anxiety, of pleasurable anticipation and indescribable horror!

On our way to Bozburun where we’d hired a car

We were eagerly waiting for our daughter and son-in-law to arrive from the Netherlands but we weren’t allowing ourselves to get too excited as we have become used to arrangements being cancelled or rules changed at the last moment due to Covid.

Hannah getting her Covid test before leaving the Netherlands

Then, while we were hopping from foot to foot in excitement, a terrible, horrifying, tragedy unfolded – out-of-control bushfires sparked by the hotter-than-a-hairdryer wind that had first hit us a few days previously.

A horrifying tragedy had unfolded (photo credit Sue Done)

Up and down the coast terrifying fires raged and it seemed like all hell had let loose. There was wide scale devastation from Marmaris to Orhaniye and later terrible conflagrations up and down the coast and inland too.

In Orhaniye where we’d been the previous day (photo Sue Done)

We had left Sue and John in Orhaniye and were back in Bozburun where we had hired a self-drive car to pick up Hannah and Pieter from Dalaman airport the following day.

Social media were full of horrific images and stories of the blazes in Marmaris and surrounding beach suburbs. That evening Sue and John witnessed the terrifying fires first hand in beautiful Orhaniye.

Marmaris alight (photo credit Facebook)
The restaurant where we had eaten dinner a couple of days earlier (photo Sue Done)

Every boat was absolutely covered in soot and ash from nearby fires and I (selfishly but momentarily!) regretted spending the many hours cleaning to get Sunday “shipshape” for the arrival of our guests. Of course, that was definitely an extremely petty problem in the context of people’s homes and farms being burned and the vast tracts of glorious forest destroyed.

Sooty ash on our decks

We set off on the Saturday morning for Dalaman – only 2.75 hours away but we had a few things to do en route.

Pieter waiting for the tram to Schiphol Airport – on their way at last!

It was a good thing that we left plenty of time as we had a slow trip along the 40 kilometres (25 miles) of winding road from Bozburun to the main road for Marmaris.

We had a slow trip along the 40 kilometres (25 miles) of winding road

At various strategic points we encountered groups of fire fighters and trucks and water tankers as we wound our way along. There was smoke everywhere.

At various strategic points we encountered groups of fire fighters and trucks
The smoke-filled skies

Once on the main road, traffic came to a complete standstill to wait for the water bombing helicopter to drop its massive load of sea water on one of the fires.

There were fire trucks everywhere
Once on the main road, traffic came to a complete standstill
Having just dropped water on a nearby fire the helicopter flies over us to pick up another load

Soon we had been diverted off the main road and we found ourselves on a country lane heading for the Marmaris suburb of Içmeler.

There’s that helicopter again (centre of picture)
Another helicopter, another vital load of water
We found ourselves on a country lane heading for the Marmaris suburb of Içmeler.

It was like driving through a war zone. Black trees, burnt to almost total destruction, some less damaged but with ghostly scorched pale leaves quivering in the smoky atmosphere loomed above us on each side of the road.

It was like driving through a war zone
Black trees, burnt to almost total destruction
Some less damaged but with ghostly scorched pale leaves quivering in the smoky atmosphere

It was heartbreaking to see such devastation and frightening to see that the tree roots were still smoking and in places, flames licking around the dead tree trunks.

It was frightening to see that the tree roots were still smoking and in places
Smoke everywhere
It was heartbreaking to see such devastation
The whole of this hillside was burnt out

On the outskirts of Marmaris we saw a number of damaged buildings but the firefighters had done an incredible job of protecting homes and businesses from the fires.

We saw a number of damaged buildings
The firefighters had done an incredible job of protecting homes and businesses from the fires.

Eventually we reached Marmaris just an hour early for Jonathan’s second Covid vaccination but not enough time to do a couple of other jobs we had planned.

The fires were being kept away from homes by the helicopters dropping huge loads of water on them

So we went straight to the hospital -perched at the top of a hill – to see if he could sneak in early. We had to wait a short while as the clinic was closed for lunch but he was able to get his shot straight away once it opened. Thank you again Turkey!

Meanwhile Hannah and Pieter were about to board their flight

While I was waiting for him I sat in the car with the air conditioning on (the temperature was around 42 degrees with that hot wind still blowing) mesmerised by the heroic helicopter pilots dumping tonnes of water on the hillsides surrounding Içmeler.

The heroic helicopter pilots dumping tonnes of water on the hillsides surrounding Içmeler.

Rather than travel into the centre of Marmaris we decided to have a late lunch at Florida – a favourite restaurant to go to when we want a change from all the delicious Turkish meals we enjoy.

Florida – our favourite restaurant for when we want a change from Turkish food

Situated at the foot of the hills I’d been gazing over earlier, Içmeler is a small seaside area on the fringes of Marmaris. Florida is away from the seafront but it can be accessed by a canal from the anchorage and whenever we are in the area we like to visit it.

You can visit Florida by canal when you’re at anchor

The road was cordoned off to allow fire trucks to come and fill their water tanks from the canal. An impressive array of pumps and guys to help a fast turn around for the fire trucks were ready and waiting.

The road was cordoned off to allow fire trucks to come and fill their water tanks from the canal
There were an impressive array of pumps and guys to help a fast turn around for the fire trucks

While we ate our fish and chips we witnessed the very efficient filling of a couple of trucks that were soon ready to to return to fire fighting. It was extremely impressive to watch.

We witnessed the very efficient filling of a couple of trucks that were soon ready to to return to fire fighting

After a leisurely lunch we decided to start for Dalaman Airport. We were a little early but with so many fires in the region thought we should allow for possible diversions and delays.

A mustering point for the local fire fighters

We arrived with plenty of time to spare and were happy to find that Hannah and Pieter’s plane was landing early!

Yes! They were arriving early!

After weeks of uncertainty and anxiety it was such a joy to see their faces after five long months! Our only sadness was that our son and daughter-in-law, who we haven’t seen for two years, were stuck in Australia due to Covid travel restrictions and unable to join us.

Ahh, that first glimpse was very special
It was such a relief and such a joy to be together again

On the way back to the boat we stopped at a roadside stall to buy huge bags of oranges and limes. Kilos of limes cost the same as I’d paid for half a dozen in a fruit and veg shop in Bozburun a couple of days previously!

Sampling the limes before we bought a sack
Hannah made a friend at the fruit stall

The trip back was rather long as the fire fighters were still working on dousing spot fires from Marmaris onwards.

There were still fires smouldering on our way back to Bozbrun

Finally we were home on Sunday in Bozburun! Bubbles and a preprepared curry were enjoyed and there was non stop chatter as we caught up.

Jumping into the cooling water was a first priority the following day and a delicious meal at Osman’s restaurant with a beautiful sunset ended a perfect first day on board!

The first jump off the boat – bliss!
In our own “private swimming pool” between Sunday’s hulls
In Bozburun
A lovely meal at Osman’s restaurant
A smoky sunset in Bozburun

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Salty tales from Bali Hai

In 2015, after a break from cruising of almost 30 years, my husband and I sailed off into the sunset - this time to the wonderful Islands of Indonesia and beyond. Three years passed and we swapped sails for wheels driving through Scandinavia and Europe in a motor home. Now we are on the brink of another adventure - buying a Lagoon 420 Catamaran in Athens. This is our story.

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