Fethiye resident, Sally Campbell, has lived in Turkey for more than thirty years.
She used to teach but now prefers to go on kayaking adventures around the world.
To prove the point, she is currently rowing from Istanbul to Gallipoli with Hüseyin
Ürkmez, a friend from her teaching days.
Their plan is to arrive in Gallipoli on ANZAC day, the 25th April but just doing it seems enough.
Although her vessel of choice is a sea kayak, when she was asked by Hüseyin to join him
on the challenging journey that required her to row a boat over the course of a week
from Istanbul to Gallipoli, she couldn’t resist.
The 260km (140 nautical miles) journey which the courageous pair, both in their 50s,
are making in separate boats, is to deliver a message of peace and commemorate
the centennial of the Çanakkale war, in particular the mariners of all sides.
Remembering the survivors and the fallen
Both Hüseyin and Sally have grandfathers who fought in WW1 on Turkish
soil but on opposite sides. Sally’s paternal grandfather was Colin Campbell.
Hüseyin’s Grandpa (also Hüseyin) had a twin brother who died at Çanakkale.
As tribute to them the the intrepid rower always carries his namesake’s compass
when he is travelling and this trip is no exception.
Taking on the media
The Istanbul media descended on Hüseyin and Sally as they were preparing for their
expedition, but finally after the reporters, interviewers and TV cameras had gone
they were left alone to focus their thoughts on the days ahead.
Sally had never attempted a rowing expedition of this kind and with only a couple of days
notice she had no time to prepare, mentally or physically.
‘Come to Istanbul now!’
When asked about the physical impact of such an undertaking, Sally explained:
I can paddle my kayak under most conditions but rowing a boat is very
different from rowing a kayak. The paddles are different and the action is too.
Hüseyin didn’t give me any time to prepare. He called to ask me to come to
Istanbul straight away, so I’m concerned that I’ll get blisters before my hands
are used to the new experience.”
She was right, but after a few days of rowing and a couple of days resting up because of a
windstorm, she pronounced the problem solved.
Dodging tankers in Istanbul
Their journey started at Moda in Istanbul, but with the destination on the northern shore
of the Sea of Marmara, this meant rowing across the Bosphorus, one of the busiest stretches
of water in the world. As Sally explained, Hüseyin had planned the trip down to the finest detail.
If we rowed consistently for 10 minutes across the Bosphorous we would be
able to pass between the massive tankers and container ships as they moved by
us on either side. There were one or two hairy moments, but we made it.
Battling the elements
Of course, when facing the elements and the choppy waters of the Sea of Marmara,
especially in April, nothing is that straightforward. Uncertain weather, wind, hail storms
and the resulting rough seas has made them fall behind schedule on more than one occasion
when they had no alternative other than to stop and take shelter.
However, on a more sunny day they achived an impressive 56km (30 nautical miles),
rowing from 8.30 in the morning to 23.00 at night.
The end is in sight
On Thursday morning they plan to set off early, if the weather is good, so they should
be in Şarköy by evening and then they’ll be only one day away from Gallipoli and the
end of their incredible journey.
Regardless of their achievement, having a well earned rest is not part of
the plan. Instead they want to meet up with 500 Aussies who have come over from
Australia with surfboats for a race.
It’ll be a few days after that when Sally makes the journey back to Fethiye for a rest.
Sleeping on the boat isn’t very warm or comfortable, she says even when you’re
She says she definitely won’t be rowing home but it probably won’t be long before
she’s planning her next adventure.
To follow Hüseyin and Sally’s journey click here
For more information about the surfboat race click here