We’ve just finished a high speed 390 nautical mile trip and have arrived in Istanbul for the boat show. The first day of the trip was a bit wild with Force 7 winds, gusting 8. That’s a big sea for a powerboat. All settled down on the second day and we arrived last night, a day early.
The sun is shining and all is bustle here on the pontoons with show stands still under construction, flower arrangements being delivered to yachts and showrooms, cleaners wiping and mopping and deckhands scrubbing and polishing.
The season is nearly over. Turkey has been amazing and being a galley girl on a powerboat has been a revelation.
Let me share with you again this video of an early evening trip home to our berth back in July. (I originally posted this in ‘The 5,000 HP Thrill Myth’, July Archives.) There have been ups and downs this summer, but despite my being a sailor at heart, there have been some special moments and I am almost won over to power boating.
It’s taken rather a long time to get round to the third part of this saga. We’ve been away cruising between Greece and Turkey. We’ve had a great time but the days have been long, with lots of playing on the jet ski and other garage toys.
I hope you can still remember the afternoon of Galley Girl’s day from my last post – thank you for waiting so patiently for the evening.
Anyway, finally, here is the third and final part of the saga of A Day in the Life of Galley Girl: Skipper has everything under control after a long day of fixing mechanical glitches. He’s been in the water a lot, mostly unexpectedly, fully clothed…
All is calm as the owners and guests relax on deck with fruit, sweetmeats and tea.
The morning has been a busy one. In the second part of A Day in the Life of Galley Girl, it’s already looking like it’s going to be a long day. And we have a problem with the anchor that we’re keeping quiet about.
The owner’s daughter wakes up. She is completely lovely and I happily make her breakfast and put it in the bin virtually untouched afterwards, just as I do every day for her brother. One of the guests asks for Turkish coffee and the daughter says she will make it. It’s a Turkish cultural thing, and like tea, it has its own mystique and ceremony. A prospective bride will make coffee for her future husband’s parents as a test of her suitability as a wife. Of course we have a machine to make coffee for us, but still there is something quite charming about this gorgeous girl meticulously arranging cups on a pretty tray and serving coffee to a very elderly and tubby old man. Once she’s finished the coffee and chosen the designer bikinis she will wear today I make her bed and clean her bathroom.
After an early start we have served three rounds of breakfasts, umpteen rounds of coffee, started on the housework, moved the boat to a new anchorage and got the toys out of the garage for the owners and guests to play with. We still have to fix the anchor winch which failed as we dropped anchor on arrival. Without it we can’t raise the anchor when we leave. Hauling 50 metres of chain up manually with a big anchor at the end is not an option…
There is never a typical day, ever, on board a boat. The weather, sea state, maintenance routines and repair issues all have a bearing on how the day will go. And if you are working aboard, then of course the demands and whims of your clients or owners and their guests will dictate where you end up and when. Some days are more memorable than others however…
0630 At anchor
The alarm goes off. I’ve been lightly awake since sunrise. The oblong square of the hatch, which is also our door, is open as always. We drape a mosquito net over the space and the sunlight streaming in is softened by the mesh. The air conditioning booms into action with the thud that always makes me jump. My bunk is not much longer than me but surprisingly comfortable, in a dark den kind of way. Skipper sleeps above in the longer bunk, which is set at right angles to mine, above the washing machine. The cabin is cosy, to say the least. And not in the least bit conducive to romance.
We had a particularly roly night in our berth a few weeks back with strong winds and a swell and Skipper had had enough of the creaks and groans of the warps. (A warp, or mooring line, is a rope that ties the boat to the quay or pontoon.) Every time the warp slackens and then tensions again it creaks. At 4 am, in the dark, in our cabin in the bottom of the stern of the boat, it sounds like we’re living on a big old wooden galleon rather than on a modern fibreglass powerboat.
So Skipper went out and bought rubberised shock absorbers that compress and minimise the snatch when there is a swell. They are attached to a cleat on the pontoon with chain and then the warp is attached to the other end of the shock absorber. They work a treat: lovely silent nights.
It is really noticeable when you walk along the pontoon on a swelly day how much creaking goes on. Several of our neighbours have come to see what the English Captain has done to achieve blissful silence. Now all we have to do is persuade them to do the same thing.
Breakfast is very big in Turkey. So important in fact, that it is the only meal we ever serve on a boat that is so lacking in culinary aspiration that we don’t even have an oven in the galley – just a small ceramic electric hob with three tiny hotplates.
I took this photograph this morning, not on the boat, but at the little hotel where we occasionally go when the owners don’t need us on board overnight. (One day I shall show you our cabin and you will see why the hotel is such a welcome treat.)
As in an English Breakfast, there are important cultural as well as culinary traditions that govern the serving of a perfect Turkish Breakfast. As much as porridge, bacon and eggs, kedgeree, toast and marmalade and tea, are to an English Breakfast, so cheese, eggs, tomatoes, cucumber, olives, simit, (a circular ring of seeded bread) honey and jam are to a Turkish Breakfast.
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 Iam 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.
We have been paying a day worker for the past few weeks to come and help on wash-down days. The skipper and I are not on a really big boat, but with 72 feet either side and a bit at the back, it’s still a lot for just two of us to manage several times a week.
Skipper and I are proud of our garage. The boat may not be a super yacht but she has a sizeable boot in the stern. It’s bigger than our cabin next door – a lot bigger. Sometimes we dream about knocking through.
This is how it was in April when we first moved on board. A pristine palace for the jet ski and all the other toys yet to come.
Since then Skipper has thought up some modifications to accommodate the rapidly accumulating purchases. And to house all those useful things that can’t be thrown away because they might come in handy one day. Amongst which are:
The owners of our boat have brought their maid to join us for the summer. This is great for me because there are differences between galley girls and ladies’ maids. Galley girls don’t lay out clothes and ladies’ maids don’t winch anchors, for one. Galley girls know where everything on the boat is stored and maids know what to do with it all. While I have been trusted to store our umpteen different sets of table linen, the choice is determined by the maid. This pretty dinner for two was arranged a few nights ago by her as a surprise to celebrate the owners’ wedding anniversary.
With the owners dispatched to the shore on a ruse thought up by their daughter, the maid had twenty minutes to arrange the table, sneak the flowers up from her bathroom where she had managed to have them smuggled to during the day, prepare bowls of nuts and fruits on beds of ice, frost the champagne glasses, light the candles and scatter shells across the tablecloth. (Shells because it was a subtle sea-sidey theme – as you might guess.)
Skipper and I gave an extra polish to the glass and chrome, retrieved the poshest champagne ice bucket from under the floor, put the smoochy french music in the CD player and waited on the swimming platform to help the owners on board when they arrived in the tender.
Lying on deck under the stars in a remote anchorage, while a warm and balmy breeze kisses your skin and the sea gently cradles you, in the knowledge that you can up anchor and roam the seas whenever the fancy takes you, is surely the greatest expression of freedom.