In part 2 our correspondent and novice sailor finds that crews must work together on and off the water and experiences his first ‘broach’.

The first day’s sailing was tough so that evening the lure of a warm meal and a few beers sounded just what the doctor ordered. The event due to start at 7pm was held in Gocek’s Club Marina on the other side of the bay. To get there we could either take the small marina ferry or the local council bus. As the bus came first we, and 35 others, crammed into every available space for the 20 minute journey. Everyone was in high spirits after the day’s fun racing and chatted about their experiences. The bus stopped just outside the marina restaurant.

Now ravenous we headed straight for the buffet but the queue for the food was already very large, split into two and snaking around. We had already worked well as a crew on the water, but now we would need to get organised on land I thought. So we agreed that the others get in the queue while I would supply them with drinks from the complimentary bar. The queue moved slowly and from time to time the food ran out. It seems catering for large numbers of hungry sailors wasn’t something this small restaurant was used too. But at least with regular refills of booze our crew didn’t miss out on that important element of sailing nourishment. Eventually, some hour or so later, our crew arrived salivating at the shiny silver salvers and buffet hot plates only to find the food had run out, yet again. By the time they did get what little food was later produced, the complimentary bar ran out.

The organisers apologised for the food supply problems and promised the following night’s event would be much better. But with hungry stomachs only lined with beer and wine a deep sigh was the response from many. Then it was time for the awards of the winners that day and the triumphant teams posed for the cameras and accepted their prize of a wooden yacht mounted on a picture frame. We weren’t in the line up.

Don’t Rock the Boat

After the awards, with the food and drink now exhausted, came the rush to get back to our marina. The small ferry used to shuttle people between the marina and Gocek is a sweet little thing. It reminded me of one of those miniature steamer boats seen in pleasure parks with its small funnel, bridge and upstairs seating area. The boat has a capacity of around 35 people but, as we stepped on, it was already holding well over 70 ‘merry’ sailors. Revellers on the top deck started to rock the boat and some nervous passengers got off smartly muttering that this was dangerous. We sat firmly even when the ferry skipper turned up and pleaded with any one who spoke Turkish to explain to the passengers that he wouldn’t go until more people got off. After some time and mumblings the ferry skipper reluctantly cast off to Gocek across the mirror like water.

Hurricane Alley Revisited

Heading for the yellow marker in fethiye Bay on the seventh Gocek Regatta November 2009

We awoke the following morning to sunshine and light cloud. After breakfast we studied the race plan for the day. The course would take us up ‘hurricane alley’ (Gocek Island) deep into Fethiye Bay where we would round a yellow buoy for the final leg to the finish line near Kapi Creek. But with little wind around we thought it could be a very slow day.

How wrong we would be. As we cast off to head for the 11am start, the black clouds formed and thunder clapped over head. Just after I had thrown off the bow line and was making my to the back of the yacht a bolt of lightening shot into the sea not 20 metres away to be followed immediately by a loud crack of thunder. I nearly jumped out of my skin! I kept well away from the metal stays that support the mast after that – yacht masts are fantastic lightening conductors apparently.

As we arrived near the start line the wind began to build until it was gusting to 30 knots. It was almost a repeat of yesterday except that when the whistle blew to start the race the heavens opened and we were pelted with heavy rain. Here we go again I thought.

We crossed the start line and beat up wind tacking to make headway. With arms still aching from the previous days winch work, getting the fore sail in tight took some effort and we often worked in pairs on the winches. When we exited Hurricane Alley the wind direction changed to a following wind and the sails were reset. Some of the yachts hoisted their spinnakers; the large colourful sails that billow out from the bow to the top of the mast. Our skipper decided that the wind was too strong to use our para-sail, a wise decision as we later found out.

The yellow marker buoy came into view. We watched as the leading boats with spinnakers set struggled to lower them as they rounded the marker. Our turn was less dramatic but then so too was our speed. The next leg towards Kapi Creek took us through another heavy downpour and squally winds. At one stage the rain was so heavy the white horses and waves were flattened to create an eerie sea. A small green dingy taking part in the race was a short distance away and we marvelled at how they continued through the weather despite their open design. We were damp but they must have been soaked. But when the rain eventually passed and the sun started to appear we were treated to a wonderful view of a full rainbow.

What’s a Broach?

Once inside Gocek Bay for our final leg the wind, which had been so strong, just died. We came to a halt along with five other boats and slowly bobbed along. The skipper set the light cruising sail to try and capture what little wind there was but we were almost dead in the water. Time to put the kettle on said one of the crew.

These guys are hardy souls. Sailing in Fethiye Bay on the seventh Gocek Regatta November 2009

When the wind drops and the boat slows, when nothing much is happening, its easy to lose concentration, relax and chat. But as we were soon to find out there’s no such time. A glance behind us revealed an ominous white line on the sea and the familiar dark clouds. Another squall and approaching fast. But before we can drop the cruising chute, the next squall has hit us with a huge force. Bernard takes the helm and we quickly accelerated towards the finish line. But, with the waves becoming larger and the wind strengthening, just as we cross the line the wind swirls and the light sailing chute ‘backs’. The only way to get the wind back on the right side of the chute  to get it down, is to spin her around 180 degrees – the boat heels violently, pivoting on the nose, I am thrown and slip on the wet deck but the sail fills again and Mike hurriedly brings it down.

What was that I asked Bernard? “That was a broach” he says. A broach, I later find out is actually a very dangerous thing that can lead to the mast going into the water or even capsizing boats with different keel arrangements. Maybe we were lucky but I think it was Bernard’s expertise that saved us and he seemed very pleased to have been on the helm at that point. I was too.

We drop the sails and head into Kapi Creek where the rest of the flotilla was heading or had already moored for the night. But when we arrive at the narrow bay with its rickety jetties it is already, to the eye at least, full. We join the queue with other boats waiting to be moored. But with the strong wind blowing straight into the bay and the lack of space we decide as a crew to go to another bay for the night. “At least we would get a proper meal tonight” said one of the crew.

We spent a very pleasant night in Wall Bay by a roaring log fire supping beer, drying out and chatting about the amazing day’s sailing we had just had.

Could it get any better than this?

Find out in part 3 coming soon.