It’s set to be the hottest day of the year in Turkey today. Istanbul is reporting 90% humidity. As our owner’s wife pointed out, it’s a good thing it’s a Saturday as people won’t have to go to work in this terrible heat.
Hmm. Yes, but actually I am at work today…
However the owner and his wife have gone ashore for a long leisurely coffee, so while we swing lazily at anchor I have picked up my laptop.
You will know that Turkey is a hot country. But unless you’ve been here in July and August, you cannot imagine the kind of searing heat and humidity that make your throat swell with every breath you take. From 8 am it is hot, hot, hot and the wet air is heavy to digest, sapping your strength and definitely your motivation to do very much at all.
Standing still in the shade makes you sweat. Moving makes you sweat so that your shirt sticks to your skin. Any kind of activity in the full sun and rivulets of sweat trickle down your chest and your back. The decks are too hot to stand on barefoot and will burn the soles of your feet, make your heels crack and the skin peel away. Shoes, or at least flip-flops, are a necessity. Our uniform of short sleeved shirts and shorts seem heavy and constricting. As for tucking my shirt into my shorts and wearing a belt on top of that…Unfortunately the belt has to stay to attach a radio and a knife to, but there is no way my shirt is getting tucked in this week.
We are of course incredibly fortunate to be on a fully air-conditioned boat. Most of my sailing in humid or tropical climates has been a lot less luxurious. ‘Air conditioning’, at best, has been a small electric fan plugged into the 12v socket in my cabin at night. Now when I make beds and clean bathrooms and restore order to the galley, it is all to the welcome hum of the built in AC units. The Skipper has it tougher up on deck. And especially in the engine room where temperatures are frequently over 40ºc. When my galley duties are done and I join him above in my deckhand role, the cool dry air down below is exchanged for rain-forest heat and dampness that cover me in a film of wet salty air within seconds.
We recently gave a lift to some friends on their way back to their sailing boat with their new air conditioning unit. They were planning on hiking this thing, which is the size of a fridge, back on the bus until we rescued them with the use of our owner’s car. The unit now lives in their saloon, taking up a fair amount of floor space. They close the hatches and portholes and sit cross-legged on the floor in front of the unit, like two yogis in a state of enlightened transcendation.
The bonus during these days are the opportunities for a swim in gloriously clear and warm Turkish waters. We drop anchor two or three times a day, tie stern lines to a rock on shore to keep us steady, and lower the swimming platform. We are generally invited to ‘jump in’ by our genial owner, if we are not busy serving at the table or sorting our anchors and shore lines. Sitting on the platform waist deep in water dangling my legs over the edge as the heat of the sun abates in the evening is very very soothing. And the best way to get in is to simply dive straight into the water. Then it’s a shower on deck and ten minutes to dry off before getting back into that uniform…
A fast ride home to our marina berth as the sun sets is stunning. The spray is tinged with gold and our wake glows with the pinks reflected in the sea from the sky. With the cool breeze on my skin and my hair still wet from the sea, it’s a moment of pure pleasure and one of the many things that make my job extraordinary.