By Heidi Trautmann
Our American friends and boatpeople, Ruth and Randal, who have stayed this year in North Cyprus on their boat ‘SY MyDoramac’ for more than six months in the Karpaz Marina and are now stationed in Marmaris Netsel Marina over the winter months have witnessed the arrival of the first Turkish sailing boat of 14 m length that has reached the Antartica after 8,500 nautical miles. They have shared their experience and photos with me.
Osman Atasoy and Sibel Karasu will go down in history as the first Turkish navigators to reach Antarctica. They were received by many onlookers, politicians and representatives of Turkish Airlines who have sponsored transportation. The Turkish coastguard and many sailing and motorboats had gone out to meet with the claret red sailing boat to greet the two sailors after their long journey. The crews of boats moored in the marina were asked to leave their ships for security reasons and were invited to come onto the roof of the restaurant where they had a good overview over the bay and the arrival of the boat. Horns were blown and welcome shouts rang in the air.
The couple has given interviews to the local media and Radio and TV stations and here is an excerpt of it, as the story sounds great with their own words.
When asked about their feelings when reaching the Antarctica, the couple said: “The air got a little colder, the wind a little stronger and the waves a little bigger with every mile we covered as we headed deeper into the South Pacific. You leave behind waters crowded with people and enter the vast deep. The only thing of another colour in the stark whiteness that completely covers Antarctica was our claret red boat, Uzaklar II, and the red and white Turkish flag on its mast!”
Why had they undertaken this adventurous, they were asked.
“As the world’s most dangerous body of water, the South Pacific exercises a strange fascination over sailors. Once you’ve fallen under its spell, you can’t not go there. Even fear, the most powerful emotion there is, is no obstacle to that desire. You are afraid, and yet you go there.
What gave them the most trouble in your confrontation with nature?
Man was designed and created to live on land. Living on the sea is no easy task because it is a life or death struggle in a world rife with uncertainties as well as beauty. At the same time, the oceans are still fraught with unknowns. You have to adapt to conditions and have unyielding respect for the law of the sea. As long as you approach it in that spirit, your friendship with the sea will not easily be broken and you will be prepared for surprises.
When we reached Antarctica there was no need for the usual formalities you have to go through when you enter the port of a normal country. No customs agents waiting on land, no passport officials, no need to deal with all the confusion and disorder associated with land. All around us there was nothing but whales, penguins, sea lions and albatrosses.
How was the return voyage?
We went for 53 consecutive days and nights without seeing land. By the time we reached the island of Madeira we had put 6,500 nautical miles behind us. Every sailor who sets out on the ocean, no matter how big and powerful the boat under him, always wonders… The rules and criteria we are used to on land lose meaning in an instant on the open seas. Especially if it’s the South Pacific.
Altogether they have made about 19,000 nautical miles go and return. Since we are sailors ourselves we want to express our heartfelt congratulations.
Osman Atasoy and Sibel Karasu’s adventure-filled voyage, for which Turkish Airlines was transportation sponsor, is being broadcast as a documentary program, ‘Uzaklar, Antarktika’, on Turkish State Radio and Television’s (TRT) Turkish Channel .
For more information, visit the website at www.osmanatasoy.org and read Osman Atasoy’s captain’s log.