Almost 20 years ago our daughter Hannah met her great friend Crystie through the Australian Girls Choir (AGC). Hannah was in the brand-new Brisbane chapter and Crystie was from Sydney.
Over the years they travelled the world together with the AGC Performing Choir and stayed with each other in the holidays. In the intervening years they have met up in Australia and England and Crystie has visited Hannah once in India and twice in the Netherlands. Now they have reunited in Turkey!
Hannah and her husband Pieter had paid us a surprise visit so we had taken them out to the Prince’s Islands for a few days. Coincidentally Crystie was also in Istanbul and was able to slip away for the day to join us aboard “Sunday”.
She caught the early morning ferry over to the island of Burgazada where we met her. After a coffee and pastry breakfast we motored back to Sunday on our dinghy and then pulled up the anchor and returned to our favourite spot in the “lagoon “ at Heybeliada.
The girls (and all of us!) had a lovely day together swimming, jumping off the boat, eating and talking. A fabulous day all round.
Just before sunset we pottered back round to the anchorage near the ferry terminal on Burgazada and Crystie left to take the ferry back to Istanbul.
The next day we travelled back to our home base of Viaport Marina as sadly Hannah and Pieter had to fly back to the Netherlands to prepare for their big trip to Central and South America, India and Australia.
Back in Viaport Marina we had some work to do – Jonathan set to the task of stopping the creaking and groaning in the forward cabin that made it sound as though we were on an old timber sailing ship – rather than a modern catamaran.
He discovered that the noise was caused by the plywood cabin partition becoming separated from the fibreglass deck and the two moving against each other when the sea was rough or when we were at anchor and there was a bit of a swell.
After much grinding out and filling with of one and a half kilos of two-pack epoxy, the join was much stronger and the noise had completely disappeared!
We have been constantly surprised and delighted by the amazing welcome we have received from the Turkish people during our time here, particularly from fellow sailors here at Viaport Marina. You couldn’t meet a friendlier or more helpful bunch of people.
One such friendship arose from a chance meeting Jonathan had with Izzet, in a local chandlery store. Izzet stepped in to translate when Jonathan was trying to buy some “boat bits” and since then has been a regular visitor on “Sunday”, sometimes bringing his lovely wife Ayşe and one or both his two sons (in their early twenties).
We enjoyed a fabulous farewell dinner with the family at a wonderful nearby fish restaurant to send off Batuhan, the older son, just before he departed Turkey to travel to the USA to do his PhD. It was a fun night with wonderful food!
After a few days back in the marina we decided to head out again – this time to explore the Bosphorus Strait. We were keen to view Istanbul from the water and also to see the Black Sea with our own eyes.
We stayed the first night in the Princes’ islands and then set off the next day to fill up with fuel at Fenerbahçe Marina before heading up the Strait. When we got there we were told the fuel pumps weren’t working but if we wanted to wait they should be working in “ten minutes”. This was a Turkish ten minutes of course and more than thirty minutes later nothing had happened, and no one had arrived to fix the problem.
We had left the Princes’ Islands half an hour earlier than Catabella and had arranged to meet Sue and John outside Fenerbahçe Marina but when we heard we had to wait to fill up we suggested they go ahead and we’d meet later.
We gave up waiting in the end and decided to try Atakoy Marina – way over on the European side of the entrance to the Bosphorus Strait.
By the time we had got there, filled the tanks and paid, it was too late to try and catch up with the others so we decided to anchor in the quiet little bay round the corner from the marina.
The next day we wove through an astonishing number of ships waiting at anchor before being loaded or unloaded.
Close to land we saw a long line of service boats waiting to load the cargo ships with water, fuel and other supplies or take off their rubbish or black water.
Before too long we were right at the mouth of the Bosphorus and could see in the distance the striking and distinctive minarets of Hagia Sofia and the Blue Mosque.
We could also see parts of the ancient sea walls that had protected the city over hundreds of years.
What a skyline! Soon we were passing the iconic 15th Century Topaki Palace, and then the famous Galata Tower. This really is the way to see Istanbul!
Round the corner, at the entrance to the Golden Horn, three enormous cruise ships dwarfed the city buildings, blotting out our wonderful view!
While I can appreciate how much some people enjoy going on a cruise, I do find these monsters jarring when they are tied up in the middle of an ancient and beautiful city. Can’t they unload their passengers and then go and moor somewhere else?!
As we slowly made our way along on the European side of Istanbul we passed many beautiful buildings – venerable mosques, fabulous palaces, gorgeous mansions and luxurious looking hotels.
We went under the first of three bridges, spotted amazing turreted castles and admired the brightly coloured ferry boats moored along the side of the strait.
By late morning we had caught up with Sue and John at the anchorage where they had spent the night.
Together we carried on along the Bosphorus towards the Black Sea, always alert to the massive cargo boats chugging their way to and from the Black Sea.
Travelling under the final bridge we nosed out of the Strait into the Black Sea – just to say we’d been there! Heading back we called in to the small port of Poyraz.
As there wasn’t really a suitable place to anchor we decided to motor back under the Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge and anchor in a small bay just a bit further along.
That night, there was a lovely full moon and the bridge was lit up in red which was a marvellous sight!