Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Course change

Diving into the arms of the Mediterranean Sea, I smile before concentrating at the task at hand. We are in Turkey and most of the anchorages here require dropping the hook and swimming a line to tie to shore. It has been windy these last three days and our anchoring technique is improving daily. It goes something like this, Gar maneuvers DK into a good spot to drop the hook (over mud and sea grass), once it's dug in he deftly keeps her as straight as possible, a bit more of a challenge in reverse than in the light fiberglass boats or on a larger cruising yacht with bow thrusters, as DK likes to kick her stern to port. But he manages to do a good job and keep us safely off the rocks while I plunge through the clear blue sea and search, slightly frantically, for a good spot to tie our stern.

I know I don't have much time because if a big gust comes we will be in the wrong place with severe consequences or Gar will have to gun DK forward and out of harm's way and we will have to repeat the process again. There are black sea urchins, and sharp limestone boulders and horns, lying below the surface like giant crocodile teeth, and standing like sentries along the shore like mini mountain peaks. I seem to choose the biggest ones and usually use all of our 30 foot line to wrap the the girth of the rocks before Gar can tighten the stern line and finish the process.

Someone once told me, "If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans." I'm not a religious person but in this circumstance this quote seems entirely appropriate. You see, we never planed to coming to Turkey. Our plan was to leave Israel and check into Simi Greece, 4 days later. We had a surprisingly nice sail for three hundred and some miles. It wasn't DreamKeeper rebelling against our route with some broken part, or the fierce Meltemi winds driving us to the Turkish coast, but our own physiology that forced us to detour and make landfall at Finike, Turkey.

We have been lucky so far. We carry a first aid kit big enough to treat most diseases, viruses, infections, and small traumas. We are both trained in wilderness medicine. For four years we have responsibly re-upped on our 15 or so prescriptions and been lucky enough to dig into our kit only for simple things: band aids, bactroban, and advil. This time, our first aid kit was of no use. Twice in two and a half days Gar had intense pain in his upper abdomen that spread to his chest and severely reduced his breathing. Both times he called me into the cockpit gasping for breath and clutching his stomach and chest worried he might pass out. Gar never calls me for anything. This was intense. When it happened the second time and we were 18 miles past Finike, Turkey, we turned the boat around and ran for the marina.

I was scared, we both were. We were lucky to be so close to shore the second time and to be able to pull in. We have to give props to Osman, the marina manager and his team, who were great at expediting our paperwork, escorting us to the community hospital, and helping us in any way they could. By the following morning we were checked into Turkey and booked on a flight to Istanbul, headed to the American Hospital for tests and an appointment with the gastroenterologist.

The doctors and care at the American Hospital couldn't have been better. Within three hours Gar had seen two doctors, had blood work and results back, an EKG, Ultra Sound, and x-rays and was scheduled for an endoscopy the next morning. We can't imagine how long it would have taken or how expensive it would have been to get those tests done in the States. Thankfully all of Gar's tests came back normal and he hasn't had another incident since off shore Finike. Sometimes happy accidents really do happen.

For the last couple of months Gar and I have been struggling a bit. Our life is sometimes dreamy like most people imagine, yet sometimes the reality of it comes crashing in and it is like life anywhere else. The truth is, we were both fried on the boat, taking each other for granted, and kind of going through the motions of our life without the joy and passion we usually bring to it. It all shifted when the stability of our lives was challenged.

Turkey reinvigorated and revived us in a way we desperately needed and didn't realize we did. Everything shifted. Our senses were heightened and everything was good. We could see through the crowds of Turkish gulet boats and tourists and loved our little nooks of anchorage spots despite having two to five neighbors. The landscape welcomed us like a familiar friend, hills climbing out of the sea, layered in limestone rock and identifiable trees. The sea was invigoratingly chilly and friendly, reminding us of dips in Lake Tahoe. A giant green sea turtle visited me on my birthday.

We are reviling in summer. We splurged on ice creams from the ice cream boat. We're loving going on lazy swims in picturesque anchorages, suckling sweet peaches and painted apricots, having late dinners and early mornings and celebrating life and summer long days. We are lovingly embracing life again with our eyes and hearts wide open.

1 comment:

Jane (Aus) said...

Sounds idyllic, like all of your journey. Tough times and wonderful times, overlapping. (I think you mean revelling, not reviling :-) )