Why Not Turkey? It's Delightful!
The ancient land by a turquoise sea offers a perfect getaway for the bareboat charterer with an appetite for bigger adventures.
Just how perfect, how idyllic was each anchorage along the way? How exhilarating were the views of the imposing ochre Taurus Mountains while sailing or after taking bracing hillside climbs among the remains of distant civilizations? How relaxing was it to hear out of the predominant silence little but the tinkling of bells around the necks of goats that nudged themselves along precipitous crevices?
The truth, of course, is that each stop and every outing was all that. What actually caused the most consternation and, admittedly, another cultural disconnect was when we tried to distinguish nomenclature variations and spelling mistakes that lurk in the government-issued paper charts and in the electronic software and square them with names in Heikell’s guides. It made me wonder why the base didn’t just print up its own chart with Heikell’s terminology and pass it out to charterers before their departure.
Ortism Buku, our anchorage on the first night of the charter, is called “Gunlukluk Koyu” on the charts. The lively exchange among guide- and chart-wielding crewmembers while hovered over the electronic-chart readout at the nav station also built up our appetites. So none of us protested when we heard the cry “Pancakes! Pancakes! Pancakes!” from the husband-and-wife couple who puttered from anchorage to anchorage not just selling but also kneading the dough and quick-frying before our eyes the thin crusts they filled with everything from chocolate and bananas to cheese, potatoes, and spinach.
Heikell’s Wall Bay and Ruin Bay (Ruin Bay is also known as Cleopatra’s Bay, a legendary meeting place for the queen and Mark Antony) are “Kapi Koyu” and “Hamam Koyu” on the charts. We may have been tongue-tied trying to pronounce those names, but it didn’t get in the way of our anchoring there, deploying the kayaks, and exploring ruins that seem to tumble into the water.
And Tomb Bay, a place I cherish for the climb we made to its stone vaults tucked in the hillsides, is “Tasyaka” in Heikell. On the charts, it’s “Siralibuk Koyu.”
Attribute those quirks to modifications and name changes over time, explains Heikell, who uses Turkish modern and common names with old names and variations on those names contained in brackets in his guides. Too bad the charts, created by Turkish hydrographic departments, don’t do the same. We figured it out and got by, though it left me wondering if I should’ve taken a stab at the language, part of the Ural-Altaic group and related to Finno-Hungarian tongues.
“Knowing Turkish doesn’t necessarily help with understanding when it comes to place names, sailing jargon, and idioms,” Joseph Curtis assured me. I met Joe and Oya Ünal-Curtis, his Turkish wife, on the last night of our charter, after dinner at the restaurant at the Kapi Creek anchorage.
Joe and Oya were with a large group; it turned out that he was the commodore leading a Moorings flotilla of six boats whose sailors hail from the Sequoia Yacht Club out of Redwood City, California. Oya learned to sail in the San Francisco Bay Area, and when the yacht club decided to sail in her homeland’s waters, her language skills came in handy—to a degree. “We ended up helping them learn sailing terms in Turkish,” Oya said. Nonetheless, Joe added, having a speaker of the native tongue aboard helped in many situations.
What no one needed expert language skills to comprehend that night was that a memorable meal was produced in a remote location that seemed about as far from civilization as you could get. Many platters heaping with fresh vegetables, salads, cheeses, breads, and dips appeared before the main courses of fish, lamb, and chicken arrived.