Rob and Jacky Black
Thu 17 Jun 2010 08:16

36 47.4 N 34 37.5 E

Mersin 29th May - 2nd June

Having taken fuel in Delta marina around 1100am we anchored in the bay and had a swim followed by a siesta before heading off to cross the 110 miles to Mersin a large shipping port on the south east coast of Turkey. Our group were designated an arrival slot of between 1100 and 1200 so we were able to adjust our speed as we progressed through the passage to arrive accordingly. Yet again the passage was mainly a motor sail though we did have two short periods of just sailing. We were surrounded by other boats and saw a few ships en route. The bay out side Mersin had some 15 ships at anchor waiting entry to the port (it rather reminded us of the anchorage off Bembridge! The port authorities at Mersin had organized the fishing harbour to be cleared to accommodate our fleet so we were soon alongside on our designated 'yellow group' pontoon. Electricity and water were available though only 3 showers and 1 toilet (in a port a-cabin!). The city is extensive and there are real shops – not tourist stuff! We were also able to catch a local bus to the Mall (or Forum as it is called in Turkey) where there were extensive shops all inside an air-conditioned precinct!

We were again entertained by the city dignitaries on the first night with a lovely finger buffet and some excellent traditional dancing performed by a group of men and women in the most beautiful costumes. We refrained from the official tour and caught up on a few jobs – sewing the spray hood as the stitching is rotting with the heat, washing the boat again and cleaning the inside. There was an excellent laundry service so all the bedding was sent off and returned the next day for a most reasonable price of 10 TL. On Sunday evening some of us went to a classical music concert held in the city's auditorium we heard the Bilkent Symphony Orchestra (from Ankara) play the Mendelssohn violin concerto in E minor with a Russian soloist, followed by Rimsky Korsakov's famous Scheherazade Symphony Suite which was really splendid. The conductor a French man really encouraged the very best out of the musicians and was very entertaining to watch!

We had a lovely rally dinner on the lawns in front of a hotel looking over the bay to the west of the port; but sadly this event was a subdued affair due to the events that had happened earlier that day. In Ishkendrun (our next port of call) the naval base was subjected to a terrorist attack and several soldiers were killed. As a result our fleet removed the 'dressed overall flags and flew our Turkish courtesy flags at half mast. The civic dignitaries who would have attended did not do so and there was no dancing after the meal.

A meeting of group leaders was held to discuss the situation regarding our proposed visit to Ishkendrun and after consultation with the local EMYR representative in the town we have been advised the rally will not go there this year. As a result we are staying an extra night in Mersin and then sailing straight to Syria. Having an extra day here we all took advantage of the 'down time' and some of the groups (including ours) held pontoon parties which were great fun. In addition we went out for lunch with our friends from Seraphina - Sarah and Rob and their crew Leslie and Trevor.

It seems ridiculous but we have hardly had tine to chat to them except in passing. Jacky has an appointment for a 'pedicure' today set up by our friends from the Turkish boat Sumerkan who we have got to know since joining the rally in Cesme.

We are not sure as yet if our visit to Israel will take place following events concerning the 'Gaza' peace convoy. We really hope we will be able to go there as it was for us one of the high lights of the rally.