Ozur dileri!!! I really am sorry I haven't written lately. The last two months have been really hectic for us. First, George and I took the overnight ferry (20 hours up the coast through the Dardenells, Sea of Marmara and into the Golden Horn) to Istanbul for a five day off-the-boat vacation. Soon after we got back my mother arrived and she and I were off on the same trip. It's impossible to describe the color, sounds, sights, smells, and tempo of Istanbul with its bazaars (one built in 1400's with 5,000 shops selling everything from exotic spices to Meerschaum pipes), its several palaces (in the Topkapi and Dolmabahce palaces the harem sections alone were large enough to hold the Sultan's 400 women), and its mosques (the Blue Mosque has the third largest dome in the world and is the only one with 6 minarets). Our "hotel" was in the Sultanamet district within walking distance of everything we wanted to see. A room for two with shower cost 15,000 per night - $3.75 per person. All-in-all, our kind of city. We really enjoyed it - I got to enjoy it twice.
For the three and a half weeks Helen of Spearfish was with us, she and I went to a market, bazaar, ruin, museum, or carpet shop every day. The two of us would squash into a rickety dolmus with 16 dark, silent, somber-faced men and off we'd go. We were always impressed with how all the men would go out of their way to give us good seats, make sure we got on the right bus, and find us a glass of cay or a chair in which to wait by the side of the road. The time went fast, but we managed to pack a lot in.
As soon as Helen got on the plane in Izmir, George had the boat hauled for one week of frantic work which turned into two weeks due to slight rudder damage that needed fixing. We're finally back in the water, and now the race is on to provision and get out of here.
So, that's why I haven't written. And unless you wanted to hear all the intimate details of our rudder repair, I've really had very little news. That is until about two weeks ago...our plans have changed a bit. Instead of heading for the Caribbean for next winter, we're going to live in Holland. I mean, if you're going to change your plans, might as well go all the way.
George has accepted a programming job, and we have to have Promise in Vlissingen (Flushing), Holland by October 1st. In addition to being able to see more of Italy, Holland, Belgium, and weekend trips across the channel to England this winter, we're looking forward to our trip up the French canals through Arles, Avignon, Leon, Dijon, Burgundy, Champagne. Sounds yum, doesn't it? Of course, Promise's mast and sails will have to come off and be stored somewhere in Southern France. We'll be going through hundreds of locks and many tunnels. One tunnel is several kilometers long - only big enough for one boat at a time and so small you can't stand up in the cockpit while transiting. It's unlighted, too. Hmmmmm. Promise will be completely draped with plastic sheeting and tires so we can play bumper cars with the barges in the locks. Hmmmmm, again. At night you jump ashore (preferably in front of a little bistro serving the local specialties), drive some stakes into the bank and tie up - Hmmmmm, much different intonation this time. My kind of cruising. I'll send you all the mouth-watering details. And we'll be going right through downtown Paris. In fact, the marina is just at the Bastille, so we'll park Promise right there and "do" the town.
But all this sightseeing is still a long way away - about 1,500 kilometers to be a bit more specific about it. And we have tons of work and preparation to get out of the way before that. We'll need charts and pilot books for Southern France and the Canals, French visas, enough dry and tinned foods to make some week-long passages through the Med toward France (the selection of tinned foods here in the Eastern Med is pretty dismal), plenty of kerosene, diesel, drinkable water (they've had no rain this year in the Eastern Med and are expecting drought condition this summer), and so on and so forth. So I'd better get off the computer and get busy.