The Cap’n enjoys a hands-on Euro sensitivity-training course, of sorts.
I like to write about what’s new and exciting—and for the crew of Wild Card, that’s marina life, Euro style. My wife, Carolyn, and I are currently wintering aboard our modest, 38-foot sloop in the 350-vessel Setur Finike Marina, on Turkey’s south coast.
Why winter in Turkey rather than Greece or southern Italy?
The primary reason is that Turkey is a wonderful, dynamic, fast-growing country with a robust economy and friendly people. It’s both convenient and cheap. Best of all is the benign microclimate around Finike, where oranges and sunshine abound.
The secondary reason is that Turkey is the only realistic winter option for non-European Union residents cruising in the Med on a tight budget. (Croatia’s skyrocketing costs and growing corruption make it far less yacht friendly.) Because of the recent Schengen Visa regulations (for information on the 25 participating European countries and the visa, visit www.schengenvisa.cc), we Americans can’t stay in the European Union for longer than 90 days out of any six-month period, and our boat can’t stay in E.U. waters for longer than 18 months without paying a V.A.T. Needless to say, this makes the logistics of cruising in the Med rather difficult. Turkey, affiliated with neither the E.U. nor Schengen, is a bit of sanity in this bureaucratic anti-visitor madness. The country welcomes foreign sailors with open arms.
Full-disclosure: I’m not a big fan of marinas. In my 50-plus years of living aboard, only about 10 of them have been in marina environments. I much prefer the freedom and convenience (in our eyes, at least) of living on the hook. We don’t have any shoreside electrical devices—hell, we don’t even have a shoreside electrical system aboard Wild Card.
However, the trick in life isn’t to go through it demanding your way—but rather adapting to the reality of the changing situation. It gets cold here during the winter. It also gets windy. Breakwaters are fine things under such circumstance. Ditto for sturdy docks with dependable electricity for glowing cabin heaters.
The nicest part: the Finike marina is in the heart of a very quaint farming village of 11,200 people. We’re only minutes away from the friendly baker, the beaming butcher, and the bustling pastry shop. There’s no tourism. The preferred method of local transportation is still the manure-smeared tractor. There’s no crime, and there’s no need for an alarm clock—the predawn muezzin’s song from the waterfront mosque takes care of that. Things are still very laid-back here. The local hardware stores keep trying to sell me fencing wire, field sickles, and post-hole diggers, not items we’re usually in great need of aboard Wild Card.