It's now a little over one year since Aannsha and I said goodbye to our son Luke at Brisbane international airport in Australia. We're both another year older and certainly a lot wiser than when we began our journey and we're a little richer too. I don't mean richer in a monetary sense, as anyone who owns a boat as a liveaboard will certainly tell you that boat usually translates to Break Out Another Thousand. I mean richer for the experiences we've had and the people we've met along the way.
Casting my mind back to December 2017 when we flew from Australia to Spain it was wonderful to catch up with my brother Phil, whom I hadn't seen in person for 13 years. He very generously allowed us to stay in his apartment in Javea, Spain and use it as our base while we learnt how to sail in Gibraltar and searched for a yacht to buy somewhere in Spain.
When we did find our yacht we were very fortunate to also find José the broker, a truly honourable man who made sure that everything was just right to help make our dream become a reality. We're still raving about him and his team at Marina Estrella (Murcia) to everyone who asks us how it all began.
As complete novice sailors the idea of casting off the lines and heading into the wild blue yonder all by ourselves was very daunting, so when Mike, my good friend of 30 years, who has been sailing for 20 years offered to help us sail from Spain to Turkey if we covered the cost of his flight, we once again counted our blessings. We learned so much about our yacht and improved our sailing skills a fair bit during the month long trip and catching up with Mike and meeting his fiancé Elaine was the icing on the cake.
During our time in Turkey we've sailed into so many stunningly beautiful anchorages and met a wonderful array of people from all over the world. I know that I keep saying this, but I say it because it's true. The Turkish people are welcoming, helpful, friendly and generous. Don't believe all the bullshit that the media pumps out about the turmoil in Turkey, they make it sound like the whole country is a war zone. It's not.
The southern border areas of Turkey happen to be with Syria, Iraq and there is a lot of fighting going on in those two countries, so quite naturally Turkey is making sure that those borders are defended. Turkey also has an interest in bringing the conflicts in those countries to an end and so it is obviously a part of the ongoing political negotiation processes.
If you've ever considered coming to visit Turkey do some research, use your common sense and stay as far away as you can from the borders where the conflicts are happening. Turkey is a big country and there's so much wonderful Mediterranean coastline to visit and ancient history to explore. Let me know if you do visit and share your thoughts with me afterwards. I think you'll wonder why you didn't visit sooner.
Some people are crazy
On Christmas eve we were invited to go for a day sail on our friend Jens' yacht along with Mark and Ruth who we already knew, plus Oliver and Dagmar, Jens' German friends. It turns out that Oliver and Dagmar are crazy!
Don't get me wrong, they are a very nice couple in their 40's and they're on an adventure just like we are. But they are having their adventure on land following the silk road in a Ford Ranger with a pop up living cabin on the back.
They departed from Oliver's home town of Augsburg, 60 km west of Munich, on September 11th 2018 and the 5,100 km (3,170 mile) first leg of their journey took them through Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Albania, Greece and finally to Kaş in Turkey where they are currently spending winter.
As soon as things warm up they will leave Turkey for Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and briefly into Russia to get to Mongolia, then back into Russia to begin heading west again. Leaving just Latvia, Lithuania and Poland before arriving back home in Germany sometime around October 2019 with around 35,000 km (21,750 miles) behind them.
Rob thinks we're crazy
Oliver and Dagmar are not alone in their craziness because just a couple of days ago we heard a man's voice asking from the quayside "What are the Brits up to these days?" Popping my head out of the companionway I saw a friendly looking guy in his late 50's early 60's smiling in anticipation of my response.
Let me just go off on a tangent here before I get back to the story. Since we began putting our lives and journey out there on the Internet we have met up with quite a few people who are either following our blogs or our YouTube videos and they often drop by A B Sea wherever she's berthed to say hi and share a beer. So my initial thoughts on seeing Rob for the first time went something like this; Did we arrange to meet someone today? Have we met this guy before? Is he a fellow yachtie?
As it turns out we're neighbours here at Kaş Harbour and he is a yachtie, but he's not on a yacht. Rob, who likes to quote his age as 61 and three quarters, is what's known as an 'overlander' and since June 1st 2018 he's driven from the UK through France, Belgium, Luxemburg, Germany, Austria, Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Montenegro, Albania, Greece, Turkey, Georgia, Azerbaijan, crossed the Caspian Sea by ferry, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan again, across the Caspian Sea again, Azerbaijan, Georgia and is now wintering in Kaş, Turkey. In that time he's crossed 23 borders and covered 19,300 km (12,000 miles) in his 4-wheel drive, 11 tonne MAN truck.
Rob said the absolute stand out moment of his adventure was the Tajikistan and the Pamir Highway, brushing along the borders of China and Afghanistan, incidentally that's also a highway that Oliver and Dagmar are really looking forward to driving along. And strangely after travelling through, what most people would consider to be dangerous countries, his toughest and most frightening experience was when he was stopped by a policeman with an attitude in Austria.
Phase two of Rob's solo overland adventure is still in the planning stages and he's torn between heading off to Iran and onwards to Singapore or making for Egypt and onwards south to Cape Town, South Africa and then catch a ship across the Atlantic ocean to Ushuaia in Argentina, located on the Tierra del Fuego archipelago, the southernmost tip of South America, nicknamed the “End of the World.” Rob thinks we're the crazy ones for wanting to sail back to Australia from Europe!
You can follow Rob's journeys via his Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/rob.riddell.106, click like and follow to see how far this crazy 61 and three quarters year old takes his adventure.
It's now January 4th 2019 and Aannsha and I already have a rough plan for where we want to be before winter begins again in December. You really do need to plan that far ahead when you live on a boat. We're getting some very helpful advice and info from fellow yachties which gives us hope that our plan for sailing in 2019 is achievable and that we're not being too crazy.