Voyager Captain Neil B.
Wednesday 23rd October 2013. Canakkale.
Overnight, Voyager crossed the Sea of Marmara, arriving at the entrance to the Dardanelles, or Canakkale strait as it is also known locally, at 0500. There I embarked a pilot who guided us through the strait as far as Canakkale. We had a berth booked at the new pier, but first there was the task of getting the ship alongside. The strait narrows at Canakkale, increasing the speed of the water as it does so. With over three knots of cross current and a freshening side wind, additional power was needed to ensure a soft landing. Two strong tugs, angry red in colour and billowing smoke from their funnels, manoeuvred alongside Voyager and connected lines to her deck. Despite their obvious strength they seemed to struggle to move Voyager against the might of the water that streams through the Dardanelles. Nevertheless they managed to slowly but surely heave Voyager into position and gently ease her alongside.
We were all fast to the quay with the gangway in place by 0700. Plenty of time for my passengers to enjoy breakfast (smoked salmon with free-range eggs for me!) before boarding their tour coaches. Canakkale waterfront includes a giant wooden horse, and is the gateway to Troy. Some of my passengers would visit the fabled city from Homer’s Iliad, now excavated by archaeologists, and an UNESCO World Heritage site. A chance for them to imagine life as it was over 1000 years BC when maybe, just maybe, Trojan prince Paris claimed Helen, the most beautiful in the world, to be his, and brought about the Trojan war.
‘Some say a host of horsemen, others of infantry and others
of ships, is the most beautiful thing on the dark earth
but I say, it is what you love
Full easy it is to make this understood of one and all: for
she that far surpassed all mortals in beauty, Helen…’
Aboard Voyager I am delighted to host many Australian and New Zealand guests. For them a visit to Gallipoli on the western shore of the Dardanelles was planned. ANZAC Cove was the landing place of the first wave of Australian and New Zealand troops during WW1, and during the Gallipoli Campaign it was home to 30,000 troops. In the southern sector of the ANZAC sector, 120 metres above the sea, a plateau was renamed Lonesome Pine after the single tree that stood there. Now it is the site of a cemetery and the Lone Pine Memorial commemorating the 4934 Australian and New Zealand troops killed in that sector. There are other memorials too, including Hill 60, and the 30 meter high obelisk Commonwealth Battle Memorial known as Helles Memorial.
Departure was at 1900 on a crystal clear evening. As the sun set in a cloudless sky, we witnessed a beautiful view of the starry heavens. Orion stood guard overhead, and Venus was to the south east, shining brightly upon our track, as if guiding us out of the Dardanelles and into the Aegean Sea.