I don’t quite know why I thought it was a good idea to cruise Turkey’s Mediterranean at the beginning of spring.
I think it’s even less of a good idea once I discover I’m stuck on a boat for four days, in feral weather, with a silver-spooned toff couple from Canada.
Charles and I don’t get off to a good start. My first conversation with him and a New Yorker ends abruptly when he extends his hand out in front of my mouth and remarks – “anyway back to my story.”
That’s the first and last time I have a direct conversation with Charles.
Despite that I learn a number of things about him through osmosis.
My favourites and I quote – “I played piano, to a very high level.”
Then it’s déjà vu when a group of us were talking about how college sport neglects those just wanting to play socially and he pipes in with – “I had the opposite experience, I played college football to a very high level.”
His wife’s equally as grating with her loud almost American sounding voice telling countless long-winded and seemingly purposeless stories.
Luckily there’s an eclectic mix of other easily likeable boat passengers. My roomie is a 60-year-old expat kiwi who freakishly has had the same career in radio and politics as me, there’s a guy who decommissions chemical weapons for a living and I can’t not mention the fantastically funny, intelligent and musically gifted Englishman called James.
Then there’s Captain.
Captain, which we all call him because it’s easier to pronounce than his real name, is a 25-year-old Turk who has pretty much lived on a boat since he was 11, much to his farming parents’ dismay.
He looks a lot older but has a lot of mana and is a total cruiser to the point he drives the boat with his feet while sitting on a beanbag.
He’s also got a wickedly dry sense of humour.
My favourite was when James had a builder’s crack and Captain walks right up to him and says -“James your arse showing, people looking, but not me.”
He’s also ridiculously good at jenga, although he’s a bad loser and whenever he collapses the tower he pulls the ‘boat jenga’ card.
One night and one too many Efes beers later I decide we should up the stakes and bet on jenga.
By the end of the night I owe the boat a bottle of raki, Captain a big box of baklava, and I somehow find myself in the boat kitchen cooking Captain nutella flavoured instant pudding.
I get my revenge though when he tries, like many others, to teach me to play backgammon. I can tell I frustrate the crap out of him and it finally boils over when he remarks – “most people two games understand, you many more.”
But perhaps my most embarrassing moment was on the last night when we were all looking at the stars and I point and ask – “what’s that one?”
Captain’s reply – “an airbus.”
Due to the feral weather our tour ends right where it started in Fethiye, but as luck so often has it on the last day we managed to get the sails up (even if they were around the wrong way) and some blue sky.
We then bussed to Olympos, home of camp scout type treehouses, ice cold showers and the ancient Chimera flames which have apparently been burning for thousands of years. Given they’re now a mere shadow of their former fiery self they’re still pretty damn cool.
Only regret – forgetting the marshmallows.