Barefoot across the Atlantic
And so in January 2019 Jennifer and Corrie enter a plane to Croatia with all their belongings. The plan: to sail from the Mediterranean to Australia. They have the starting capital for their adventure from selling an apartment they bought many years ago on Wilson Street in Newcastle. Hence the unusual name of the boat, which is already their fourth.
The boat search on the Adriatic Sea takes longer than expected. Many of the yachts offered on the Internet have little in common with the advertisements. It takes weeks until the couple find the Sun Odyssey 40.3, built in 2005, near Pula. A boat that they like.
The Sun Odyssey 40.3, ready for the barefoot route © Private
In spring Jennifer and Corrie set sail. The adventure, which they have been looking forward to for decades, can begin. Fantastic weeks in Croatia and Greece pass by. The fun-loving couple, who immediately find friends in every port, wants to sail first to Tunisia, where they plan to haul out and prepare for the long journey. For the winter they plan to cross the Atlantic on the barefoot route.
Tunisia seems a good choice. On the one hand the country is cheap, on the other hand Australians are only allowed to stay in the Schengen area for three months at a time. After the carefree weeks in the Adriatic, a large part of the time budget has already been used up. So they have to leave the EU soon. When they are in Greece, they spontaneously change their plans. They like the Mediterranean, so why should they rush? They set course for Turkey. They want to spend the winter on the south coast. In the 80s Jennifer was already backpacking there. Now she wants to show Corrie the country that impressed her so much back then. In mid-October they will moor in the city harbor of Kaş.
2020 – a bewitched year
As relaxed as the year 2019 was for the Australians, the new year begins as bewitched. The Corona Pandemic destroys all plans. Instead of sailing out, Corrie is trapped for weeks on Wilson Street. The Turkish government places all over 65-year-olds under house arrest. Since Wilson Street is right next to the Coast Guard, which meticulously watches over the Corona measures, weeks pass before Corrie can set foot ashore again. He is particularly hurt by the fact that the other sailors, including two other Australian yachts that also winter in the city harbor, are still allowed to sail along the coast. But Corrie is stuck. Only in May Wilson Street is allowed to leave the harbor with a special permit, but only to moor again in an opposite bay at a restaurant jetty.
Carefree days on Wilson Street in Turkey (Jennifer left, Corrie right, friend in the middle) © Private
The typical gulets are put back into the water, so the private yachts have to clear the harbor. As beautiful as the bay is, it is unprotected from north winds. And so it happens that on a stormy night the small flotilla, which had to leave the sheltering city harbor, is literally worn down at the pier. Several boats are damaged. Also Wilson Street has to be craned out and have the gel coat and the rudder repaired.
Politics thwart plans
When the Corona restrictions are lifted in June, Corrie and Jennifer continue their journey. The plan is to sail slowly over the Greek islands towards Malta. But now politics thwart their plans. Greece denies entry to all boats coming from Turkey. For weeks they wait on the west coast of Turkey, hoping that the entry ban will be lifted. But it does not fall. If they want to stick to their plan to cross the Atlantic in winter 2020, they will have to leave. If necessary, without stopping in Greece, 650 nautical miles non-stop.
Long-time sailor Corrie shows the right direction © Private
On August 29, Jennifer and Corrie clear out in Didim on the Turkish Aegean Sea. Actually a short act, but there is a problem. The Australians should pay a fine of 2000 Lira, about 250 Euro. They had anchored off Marmaris too close to the promenade, the coast guard had reported them, the officials say. Grinding their teeth they pay the fine – and leave Turkey.
Trouble with the coastguard
It seems as if fate has conspired against them. Even in the windy Cyclades they have to motor a lot. They are just at the top of Ios, when a fishing line gets caught in the propeller. Corrie sets course for the island to free the propeller in a remote bay. And as they are already anchored, they want to stay there for the night to rest. But it doesn’t take long for the coast guard to come into the bay. The Australians are in the bay illegally. The officials threaten a fine of 5.000 euros, and the two would have to be quarantined for two weeks if they did not immediately continue their journey. While Jennifer is already pulling anchor, the coast guard warns: One more violation and they will not get off lightly. „We have you on the radar!“ To be on the safe side, Corrie switches off the AIS.
The Sun Odyssey 40.3 in Greece, no Murphy on board yet © Private
The calm continues. The engine runs around the clock. If there is no wind, there won’t be enough diesel to reach Malta. And then, when the wind finally picks up on the third day, and Corrie wants to set the mainsail, it seems as if they have a stowaway on board: Murphy. Whose law says that anything that can go wrong will go wrong.