36:46.19N 34:34.18E There has been a change to the programme as a result of
a little diplomatic disagreement between Lebanon and North Cyprus, This
required the rally to travel back to the Turkish mainland prior to
proceeding to Lebanon. This screwed things up a little but it’s not uncommon
when travelling in this fickle region. We made the early morning departure
from Karpas Gate with the customary dramatic sunrise in a clear blue sky.
Temperatures are currently reaching the high 80’s and sometimes hitting 90,
but it is very pleasant out on the water. The winds were very light for
most of the way so it was on with the engine, again, although we did get a
little lift from the sails. This was a long day, entering Mersin at
1600hrs. The marina here is new and has been built and fitted out to a very
high standard. We didn’t get involved in any of the little evening
gatherings and welcomed an early night. Mersin is Turkey’s second largest
port after Istanbul and came to prominence during the American Civil War
when Europe was denied the supply of cotton. The Turks stepped in and
happily filled the gap. On Monday a formal dinner was organised by the
municipality and we were introduced to the mayor. The traditional folk
dancing they put on was fantastic with men and woman dancing together which
is unusual for a Muslim country. Unfortunately, we are still being messed
about by the Lebanese. This time they have really made it clear the rally is
not welcome in Lebanon as we were then intending to proceed onto to Israel.
The message came via their navy, so we daren’t enter Lebanese waters as they
will be tracking us. Apparently the pressure came from Syria. One would have
thought they had bigger problems than 35 boats entering Jounieh. This is a
major disappointment for the rally as it really screws up the programme big
time and denies us a chance to see the spectacular tourist sites we were
hoping to visit. It is now necessary for us to spend extra time here in
Mersin and then back to North Cyprus for four days, before going directly to
Haifa, Israel, on Tuesday 12th June. That is the plan but watch this space!
We are fortunate here in the marina as there is a Starbucks at the end of
the jetty and the parties and the informal evening gatherings still go on.