Sailing in Autumn

AUTUMN, SAILING, MAYBE A TRAVEL ARTICLE, MAYBE A LITTLE MORE…

Music: I am coming home-Skylar Grey

I am looking down through the airplane’s window, at the empty, calm bays-seems as if past summer’s hand has never touched- and at the dark blue waters, even more deepened by the morning sun… The coastline is magnificent with twists and bends, ornate with islands surrounded by waters.

Today, our country is covered with quiteness, sorrow… Stones on the hearts and throats, all waiting and holding their breath. Terror. War. Clashes outside mixed up with the clashes inside…Earthquake in Van. Deaths. Separations… Just like the leaves falling down one by one to the earth in Autumn, bodies are falling down onto the earth… suffering by separations.

I never thought writing about my sailing journeys –which started 6 years ago, each time having invaluable experiences – would finally be today and it would start like this…. But at the moment, with my music in my ears, going to Datça-Bozburun from Marmaris in the minibus for an ‘escape’ sailing program in Autumn, it is almost impossible to think about the atmosphere surrounding us at the moment.

I am up since 4 a.m., my eyes are closing down with the sweet rocking of the minibus. But the warm and bright sun coming through the window onto my face doesn’t let me sleep. Despite of it all, I am excited about the following few days that will be full of sailing…
Everyone who gets on the minibus seems to know each other, they start chatting as soon as they enter. In small towns, warm weather helps everyone to be laid back, relaxed and kind- spirited. We drive down the curvy roads, gazing at the amazing Bozburun bay where green and blue collides… I hear locals say ‘this place is like paradise, we don’t appreciate how precious this place is, foreigners appreciate it more!’ When I get to the village, a loud announcement welcomes me: ‘Dear Bozburun residents, all kinds of fish sales will be starting at 12.00 today!’ While I am waiting to join my friends who have been sailing for the past 3 days and will be coming to the dock, I drink my morning coffee. Right beside my feet, a street dog is lying down and enjoying the sun with me. School kids pass by walking, merchants joke with each other, the fisherman at the corner arranges the fish one by one, the Germans at the table behind me chat away … Life here is peaceful and in harmony with nature. Life is quiet but lively here. Simple but rich. Calm but satisfactory.

Lying down at the edge of the boat, sailing with the soft wind, I remember our first sailing trips with our close friends- with whom we are like sisters/brothers now: After learning to sail in the storms in a truly amateur way, we took the theory exams and received our Amateur Sailing licences, but the real education was what we experienced in practice…. With beginners luck, we survived many incidents, sailing at 35 knots with full open sails, standing guard-making sure we did not hit the rocks -at the bays that noone else dared to stay overnight!!

Greek islands, Dalmatian shores of Croatia, all Agean and Southern coast, eventful entries at the marinas, endless ‘rabbit knots’ on the rocks… One day, coming back from a small tour around the island trip with motorbikes and the shock of not finding the boat where we anchored… The saving operation of our boat that almost ran ashore, whose anchor had moved away due to the wind and other boats’ anchors…

My daughter’s falling asleep, when she was really young, on her father’s lap peacefully even while half of the boat’s sails were in the sea! Our kids playing games inside the boat comfortably, so naturally -as if they were playing at home-even when we were sailing with full force… Hearing our children’s screams and laughs, the visit of the amazing dolphins for the first time… Dolphins, which symbolize freedom for me. Each time I see them, I cannot control my excitement….They swim in front of the boat, gazing at us- as my friend says- ‘with deep eternal eyes’, and then show us how they swim & jump…

The adventure of bringing the brand new boat from France to Turkey around the Meditterenean coast in almost one month’s time; taking every opportunity to step on land and the trips and walks, having the feeling of subtle swaying every sailor knows all too well; entering rain clouds suddenly while sailing; exchanging things–especially with wine- with the neighbouring boats; day and night, under the rain, having the freedom to swim in the serene waters; countless paddles, plates, cups, spoons that we have lost in the seas; the competitions we entered always protecting our ‘beginners’ spirit..

Finding the equilibrium and balance within us, doing yoga and meditation at the narrow front part of the boat with the harmony of the subtle motion of the sea or practices of yoga on the wooden mossy deck. Simple, but amazing fisher restaurants at the quiet bays. Filling up the dingy to get onto the land-efforts in the middle of the night, in the current, in the wind, in the shallow waters… Stars, the moon, seasparkle, sunrises, sunsets… Sharing. Sharing all of these with friends, which adds to the enjoyment, laughs mixed up with the quitness of the bays…

Sailing in the summer symbolizes life, vitality and motion, whereas sailing in autumn for me is finding myself again, a retreat, peace… Nature is calm, weather is warm after the storm two days ago. At this trip in the mornings, we gather life energy-Chi to our center and we breathe in with Chi-gong exercises, instead of yoga and meditation… At every chance, we swim in the glass-clear waters, at the shores where pine trees meet the water…

At night, we come across the Jupiter, who pretends to be like the moon, so close to the earth and shining its bright light in the sky and reflecting over the sea! I am in the surprised by the fact that the brightest star here is now Jupiter, not the Northern Star, which we also confirm with an I-phone application. As always, sleeping under thousands of flickering stars… The magnificant view, where our eyes are searching for but can’t find in the city… In the autumn, the sky, stars, moon, sunrise, sunset are all another kind of beauty.. An exciting star shooting with fire on its tail, my eyes slide too, I make a quick wish with one corner of my brain and loose myself in a deep sleep… Listening to the sounds of ropes hitting the poles of the sail, with the light wind, meeting of the waters underneath the boat and with the rocks at the shore, in the deep dark of the night.. I wake up in the middle of the night, suddenly seeing the yellow crescent moon right in front of me, rising over the beautiful bay that is housing us that night- saying as if ‘I am the most beautiful one in the skies’… When did this come up? And in the early morning, I watch the sun rise, right behind the boat’s wheel, painting the skies into orange with its soft hands… In the quietness of the morning, I listen to the sounds of birds, the sound of the small boat that is approaching, and I can smell the cool scent of the pine trees…. The sun is rising above the hills in front of me-piercing through my eyes-, reflecting on the faces of the village couple, who cut wood for the winter at the bay behind me..

Soul and mind go into a retreat in this environment, where one can take in the fragrance of the mix of salt and the cool breeze, and at the same time feel the warmth of the sun touching every inch of our body, with our sailing boat, in the middle of mysterious, eternal, peaceful seas, playing with the nature and the weather conditions that could change any moment… The only problem here, is to find fresh bread in the mornings, the only questions in the minds are where to go today, what to eat, or wishing there will be wind so we can sail…This is not an escape but rather a getaway, a space, a break right in the middle of life. It is a special time and freedom to go anywhere, anytime you want. In a very small space, where only basic and simple needs are met, your most natural and relaxed mood-completely staying salty with one T-shirt and shorts on…

In the recent years, for the people who want to ‘be truly alive while living ’, I understand the popularity of photography, which enables more awareness and looking around more deeply in a different way; and the devotion for sailing- which helps us turn back to our inner core, uniting with nature.

Especially in the rain, it feels so good to walk alone in Beyoğlu -no one is judging each other or do not need to categorize especially based on how one looks, everyone freely wandering around, aligning with self, finding their most natural innate state, deep self walking in the crowded, non-cliched streets. Or maybe for a while, disappearing in the crowd, a getaway, living the feeling of liberation… Sailing in autumn is a similar feeling. Moreover, it is quiet here. Away from city noise. Things are heard more easily when it is quiet. Especially, things in our heads.

May your path be open in your life ocean, full of wind, adventure and safe harbors!

Divya Beste Dolanay
October 2011

Dingy: Small motor boat with paddles.

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