An Endless Plain: The Ocean

navigaWho’d guess that I would be welcoming the 2015 with 6 total strangers in the middle of the ocean with champagne! That’s why I think it is important to “carpe diem”, time flies and as William Blake puts it “To see the world in a grain of sand, And a Heaven in a wild flower, Hold infinity in the palm of your hand, And Eternity in an hour.” Another well-known quotation is from John Lennon:

“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy with making other plans.”

naviga2What I’m talking about is a cross-Atlantic trip on a super-yacht. I’m sure that you have read many other articles on the preparations for cross-Atlantic trips. However, I believe that there are usually about preparations for small sailboats. Small? That means boats of maximum 15-20 meters in length. When put like this, it might sound a bit looking down on some boats because of their size, but that’s the truth: our boats are a bit elegant. That’s why they are called super-yachts.

naviga3That’s a new boat. Its grandeur surpasses the Wally a bit with its length of 42 meters, almost the double size of the Wally. I spent 2 years on the Wally in the Mediterranean sea. This one is a sail super-yacht made in the Netherlands. To cross the ocean, indeed, the Dutch-made sailboats are the best. I will upset the Italians a bit but the Italian-made Wally is pretty similar to the Italians. The Wally looks magnificent like an Italian man in a Italian-made suit, but its functionality is a bit problematic. The Dutch-made boats are usually favoured to cross the Atlantic and set foot on the Caribbean, or to cross the Pacific. Just like the one I am on.

naviga4Before the cross-ocean trip begins, while the team works on the technical preparations, I am naturally busy with the culinary preparations. The difference between what you’re about to read on the preparations for a cross-Atlantic super-yacht trip and the pre-trip preparations on the “small” boats is that the former provides more convenience for food preservation; on the other hand, while on the small boats you can “eat canned food”, on the super-yachts you usually don’t have that option due to the number of people on board. That’s what makes it harder.

It’s literally impossible to cook in rough weather. What I mean by rough weather is 50 knots! If you have a cooker and an oven that is mobile with the direction of the wind it is not impossible but I don’t know why our oven is built stationary! (Should I reconsider my convictions about the Dutch-made boats.) Because we didn’t have the time to change the oven, we made the pre-cooking preparations. I say “we” because while I was busy with shopping, the sous-chef, Sam cooked some dishes in the oven that made our lives easier. She kept preparing shepherd’s pie, cottage pie, a variety of pies of vegetables and chicken, and some soups that are the indispensable components of an English team. On my part, I prepared meatloaf, an Italian classic, melanzane parmigiano with aubergine, vegetable gratins, Italian dishes similar to lasagne.


As for the shopping, a variety of meat, chicken, fish… I buy all the ingredients from the Metro Market which has branches in Turkey as well as everywhere in Europe. I don”t use provisioning company because this boat is only 41 meter sail boat. We don’t have big cool rooms and freezer like motorboats. So it”s easy to fill the whole freezer without provisioning company. I buy whole meat, and then cut it in different sizes depending on the dish I want to cook. And I use the remaining parts in chicken curry, or in the dishes that require meat pieces. Fish is not a good choice for sailing! The people usually suffer from funny stomach and the smell of fish can aggravate this. However, I have bought quite much fresh fish for the good weather. End of shopping.

naviga8The fresh vegetables constitute the most problematic part for a cross-ocean trip. Unfortunately, it is hard to preserve them for a long time. That’s why I have to put some of them aside for good weather, and the rest, I have to cook and freeze. That’s how the vegetable gratins work. The freezable vegetables have to be sliced before freezing, such as mushroom. Otherwise, they go bad in a week.


naviga10The most unpleasant part is the preservation of the salad ingredients, avocado, and the food similar to banana. Among these, buying the banana as green as possible, and the avocado when it is hard helps prolonging their shelf-life. However, you have to do it, in the last part of the trip that is the real crossing of the Atlantic. What does it mean? Since you have an opportunity to stop at the Strait of Gibraltar, and the Canary islands, you can buy fresh vegetables and fruits at these ports. For the next twelve-day trip, you have to buy the green/raw ones to prevent them from rotting. That is the difference of expectation in a super-yacht and a family boat. In brief, if you can’t preserve avocado in your middle-size boat, you can live without avocados.

Let’s continue with the trip.


naviga11When we sailed from La Ciotat, France, it was 8 December 2014. And when we arrived Antigua, it was 4 January 2015! Due to some problems as well as the bad weather, I think we had the longest cross-Atlantic voyage. Because we had sailed relatively later than other super-yachts that sailed to the Caribbean, the Mediterranean sea was pretty rough. It was the middle of the winter, though. On the first day, we saw 50 knots. Thanks to my experience at sea, I am not a person who suffers from seasickness. However, the long time I had spent on the land with the sudden 50 knots had an obvious impact on me with stomach-aches.

naviga12Our first stop naturally was the Gibraltar. All the vessels before sailing across the Atlantic stop there. Since it is under the English rule, the super-yacht sector is dominated by the English. That’s why the chefs are expected to visit the huge British market to purchase the tastes that the English long for. While the Christmas was drawing closer, finding the Christmas turkey over there which did not happen in France rejoiced the team. The only problem was that the turkey weighed 6 kilograms, enough for 15 people, while we were only 7! One of them being vegetarian, thus, one kilogram of turkey each. It was so huge that I had a hard time in fitting it to the freezer. Because it was to travel with us until the Canary islands, we called it Harold and enrolled in the team.


naviga13While Harold was relaxing in the freezer, we enjoyed the Gibraltar. It is a small place, but I like it. It was of course not my first time there. It does not have much to offer other than the monkeys entertaining the tourists in the natural park up on a hill at the end of a telpherage line. Still, I like to walk along the long street with nice shops, and enjoy myself in the restaurants and pubs around the Ocean Village.

naviga14Our next stop was the Canary islands. According to the plan, we were supposed to have some rest at Tenerife before the real crossing, but due to the problems of the boat on the way, we had to anchor at a yard in Lanzarote. One of the guest cabins took on water. There was literally flood in the cabin! It was of course not as bad as to risk a submersion but due to the failure of our two engineers to specify the source of the leakage, the boat was anchored in the shipyard for a week.

naviga15Lanzarote is not a very pleasant town. A typical Spanish yard town. The restaurants and the shops in the marina constituted the best area of the town.

It is possible to do jogging and even to surf on the ocean side of the island. On the side facing Africa, however, you might suffer from sandstorms. While the reddish sand from the desert creates an A-Thousand-and-One-Nights atmosphere before the sun, the layer of sand on the snow white vessel that needs to be cleaned provokes some unpleasant remarks form the crew.

navigaWhen the repair of the vessel was completed, we had already exceeded the time we had overseen for the crossing. Our real Atlantic crossing after the Canary islands took 11 days. Travelling to the south, we could enjoy the sun on the deck while sipping our pina coladas. Except for the last 5 days, it was a pleasant voyage.



naviga19On 25 December, that is the Christmas, I prepared a real English Xmas lunch. We started with the starters including a variety of cheese, salami, smoked salmon shaped with my imagination. The main course was quite delicate with Harold under the limelight: a creamy pumpkin soup embellished with pumpkin seeds and goat cheese, oven roasted winter veggies such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, red onions, carrot accompanying our dear friend Harold, honey glazed parsnips, cauliflower gratin with walnuts, sweet-sour sticky red cabbage, a mixed salad with walnuts, grapes, and dry figs. Harold was also accompanied by the classical English cranberry sauce and turkey gravy. The final stroke was the famous Christmas pudding. As if this had not been enough, we had a masked party for those who were crossing the ocean for the first time. This party also included the ceremony of pranks such as throwing eggs to these “lucky” fellows.

naviga20The best thing about crossing the ocean is feeling the time of timelessness, since the phones do not automatically update the time-zone although you internet connection. This is followed by the feeling of the non-geography: away from all those people in your life, the things that touched you two days earlier, from the feelings and ideas, staring into the depths of the blue under the huge tides. This feeling of non-geography helps to locate yourself better. Feeling that the life you left on the land, your neighbourhood, your job, the city with its smoky skies does not matter as much as you had felt, the evanescence of the human life. And thinking about the depths of the blue that you sail on where under hundreds of meters there exists millions of different species with varying sizes most of which still wait to be explored.

The ocean was an endless plain. We spent the New Year’s Eve at the ocean. Who’d guess that I would be welcoming the 2015 with 6 total strangers in the middle of the ocean with champagne!

naviga21That’s how it happened. Precisely at midnight, while holding my glass of champagne, I was thankful for the life I had. It indeed felt like a very well embroidered series of pearls with every moment offering a gift involving a wide variety of feelings and satisfaction. Yes, the moments. I always had the most precious moments and not necessarily the best ones. Those were gifts to me. I took a sip from my glass and made a wish. I will of course not disclose my wish.