Sinop and Samsun
15th April - End of Day - Akliman
Cut the corner of a concave bend of coast. Wavey later and short on daylight hours, but wind forecast reassuring. Grey and rainy. In the gloom, swells and strengthened breeze sail beyond the northernmost point on the Turkish coastline, feeling as free as the dolphins. Round the headland and into Akliman as dark falls. Gentle low land and nice protected beach, but the feel of the place is unwelcoming. There's a local crowd around a shop and an ongoing dispute through the night, with police in periodic attendance.
16th April - Sinop
A short sail required to round the headland and reach Sinop Kulübü Yelken (Club Sailing). Once again everything is arranged and the stop at this historic city is a real pleasure. Tessakur Cenker and Özden and others!
It helps so much having comforts and multiple portions of good food once every few days. Pop into the mosque - nice and quiet, clean carpet, and good way to stretch the back out.
17th April - Yakakent
Get thumped by strong wind and feel entirely validated in holding out for a beefed up replacement sail for this last leg! Most days - yeah sure - any old sail would do - but when 30 knots comes on the open sea and you've a long haul to get anywhere safe the right tools matter! Downhauled to near extinction my beloved Severne Turbo 9.2 handles the conditions a dream and allows a line to save the board from too many big hits. I don't search out the wild days but do enjoy them once safety is reached! Pissing down with rain, of course.
18th April - Dereköy
Abandon the locals from my new local around midday, and warily round the low river-delta headland without incident. Waves wrapping round the point and a cross-offshore wind provide fun sailing and surfing for the next 17nm. Wind fades as night falls but there's just time to reach the port of Derköy. Pine trees to sleep under. Have not seen sun or colour for days. Black sea really is quite black.
19th April - Samsun
Early start needed to avoid a beating from the strong wind that is forecast (and comes) later. Samsun Yelken Kulübü (Sailing Club) are expecting me and coaches Furkan and Gökhan, and journalist Melis provide a perfect welcome. Translator Gülşah then shows up and the next two days pass in a blur of alcohol, music and 3AM sheep's intestine soup.
20th April - Samsun
Also play tennis (love tennis!)
21st April - Kargali
Can't take the Samsun pace and there's a weather window to get round the next corner. Sooo much enjoy a breakfast Q and A with the Oppie kids at the club. I might be getting used to the spontaneous talks, or maybe they go better sleep deprived. Will rest tomorrow because there's a rough ol' day forecast. Sail. Select a sheltered camp spot to hunker down in. Depressing amount of trash, but if you can filter that out it's delightful.
22nd April - Kargali
Most of day under sail. Am a bit short of water and interesting food, but collect rain, and will not starve in two days. There is a stretched out settlement here, but in terms of amenities only a brace of mosques. Horses and cows wander about. The contrast between city and rural is a time warp.
23rd April - Ünye
The sky dawns clear and blue. A green fade paints the sea that is brushed by a child's breath of wind. Once afloat, snow-capped mountains provide a backdrop to deciduous trees still in winter browns, but which up close are being resuscitated by the slow explosion of spring.
The dolphins seem more inclined to be playful in the sun-warmed surface water. De-gloved hands still need shaking to stay warm, but I get a little sunburnt today too.
22nm to the town of Ünye. A sailor / cycle-tourer called Evren says hello and invites me to a plate of pide - a pita filled with meat and onion.
A big country Turkey - but like our biosphere - not so big. Just a few weeks of a few miles a day to go.