They say friends are the family you choose, but suddenly the best friend who was thrust upon me is grinning across the harbour, her blue eyes matching the waters of the lagoon. Six months since we last shared in sorority, we are now reunited in the Mediterranean sea.
The ship that we share is a beauty, with its forest green sails and polished wooden hull, and the blue glass eye hanging from the gleaming chrome rails of the prow. A beauty indeed, yet she pales in comparison to the wilderness she sails through.
We board early, the sun already burning with a heat that was unimaginable to us in the torrents of mere days ago, and seat ourselves in the bow, legs hanging off the deck as the anchor makes its mighty clangour and an anachronistic motor gently moves us through the harbour.
Its takes a while to become accustomed to the heavy sway of sailing after so many landlocked months, and we spend the first leg of the journey lounging on the deck, enjoying the sea’s arhythms.
Our first step is largely secluded, a rugged rocky island, and bottomless azure waters into which we are urged to leap from the ship’s top deck. Sam slips into the water without ado, but standing on the small sill between the railing and 30′ of nothingness, I feel an unfamiliar vertigo rising in me – soon put to rest with the gloriously cold plunge that I finally embrace.
Adrenaline-pumped, I jump another few times before Jess finally works up the courage to leap in after us. We float on our backs and glory in the exclusivity of our surroundings.
Another stretch of sailing, and this time eerie silence as the motor cuts off and the great green cloth unfurls into the wind. We indulge in delicious grilled fish as the steep mountainsides give way to sandy bars, then saunter down the gangplank into warm knee-deep water and an hour spent searching for sea turtles, ever elusive and always a thrill.
Our third stop is at the very edge of the nineteen-island cluster that fills the sheltered bay, and swimming out from the ship we can see the wide horizon unobscured by craggy rocks. This flash of the beyond is all we’re granted, however, as the ship turns back toward now-distant Fethiye, granting us glimpses of flying fish as we feast on fresh watermelon.
As we glide back into the harbour, Turkish flags burn bright from every window across the hills, the ruinous castle standing proud in their midst. Somehow simultaneously exhausted and relaxed, we disembark and wobble home on sealegs for drinks and roast chicken and rest.