The Cap’n enjoys a hands-on Euro sensitivity-training course, of sorts.
The local hardworking Turks are friendly, but still, you have to count your change. Their narrow worldview is that you have so much and they have so little that some impromptu wealth redistribution is in order. This normally translates to an additional lira or two being “mistakenly” added to your bill, seldom more if you keep your eyes open. In addition, many goods and services are very reasonably-priced. Thus, Turkey is still considered a true bargain by American and European standards.
The marina is relatively First World and charges for dock space the equivalent of US$315 per month for a six-month stay; it’s less for a year-round agreement. Since this price includes electricity to run electric heaters in the winter, and there are zero hidden charges, this isn’t too bad.
The marina’s social fabric is quite interesting. Many residents are German, with an almost equal number of French and British. We’re the only American couple. There’s a smattering of Scandinavian boats. The largest minority is the Russians.
The French, English, and Germans are used to working together and have an easy camaraderie (despite some, ahem, underlying historical tensions). They always include a dash of self-deprecating humor in their dealings with the others, and things generally run very smoothly.
They sensibly tend to focus on where they agree, first and foremost, then use that as a springboard for compromise. The Europeans are wonderfully diplomatic and considerate. They have to be. For centuries, they’ve been sharing the same precious finite resources and have been “actively at peace with each other for over 50 continuous years now,” as one proud Berliner recently told me.
The Russians are the odd men out here. Many haven’t quite learned that with rights come responsibilities. They make little attempt to communicate or cooperate, and they love the vodka bottle. They’re either laughing uproariously or crying loudly. The women in particular seem to be almost Olympian in their crying.
Occasionally, they line the rails of their gleaming yachts at dawn while weeping pitifully. Any attempt to discover what they’re crying about elicits, first, an increase in tears, then naked aggression. So a word to the wise: A softly weeping Russian woman is far better than an angry one.
There’s a nicely heated clubhouse called the Porthole that serves as the marina’s community headquarters. It offers an open kitchen, refrigeration, library exchange, video room, bar, and teahouse. It has “scheduled” social and educational activities each morning, afternoon, and evening. If you like to begin your day with yoga and Pilates, this is the place to start. There are art lessons, music lessons, navigation lessons, and various other impromptu education opportunities galore. Monday night is DVD movie night on the big screen—Irving Johnson’s Around Cape Horn, chronicling his sail aboard Peking, was a recent hit. If you’re into darts, Saturday’s Pub Night is for you. (If you’re lucky, I’ll be playing a wallpaper gig while watching Carolyn drink up my profits.) Sunday afternoon is the barbecue and musical jamboree (often with six or eight guitarists). This list of social activities isn’t nearly complete: there’s quiz night, woodwinds, biking, hiking, running, walking, and climbing activities as well.
And the local yachties can be imaginative when it comes to wearing down a newcomer’s resistance to join: I missed the first group guitar session. When I did show up, Clive, the organizer, asked me if I wanted to teach. I refused. Without pausing, he asked if I’d cover for him while he went to the toilet. I said sure, of course. How was I to know he was returning to Wales for a five-week-long urination?