The weather welcomed us to Beyşehir; the drive from Eğirdir was a pleasurable one with wonderful views and roadside verges blazing with colour, the hollyhocks in particular were something to behold. We arrived in time for some lunch and then booked into the Ali Bilir Hotel near the old Ottoman weir and bridge. We’d decided to take a boat trip on the lake for a couple of hours and as the boats sail every hour we debated about when to go – thinking of our stomachs it was a toss-up between the 4 o’clock and the 5 o’clock departures from pier 9. In the end 5 o’clock won by a short head.
We spent a lazy afternoon messing about with the internet in between having the odd doze before setting out for the boat. ‘Do you think we’ll need a cardigan?’ asked J. ‘Nah!’ said know-all. Should have listened though, because now the weather was looking decidedly un-Julyish with storm clouds gathering on every horizon. Our sailing companions were made up of men in summer shirts and their wives in headscarves, long coats and lots of cardigans! Hindsight is a fine thing and women seem to possess it in bucket loads (bless them!). With the wind howling across the decks and the spray flying everywhere we were glad to be on the top deck despite the rolling. The lone crew man was wandering about assuring the white faced that there was no need to be afraid, it was a very normal cruising day, he said, as we ploughed on towards the islands that we could make out in the distance (Beyşehir Lake is a fair old size).
As we approached the islands our captain had a phone call from the captain of the 4 o’clock sailing to the effect that they had hit an underwater obstruction and were sinking but had managed to beach on one of the islands and would we mind dropping by and helping out. As we approached we could see the vessel, water up to its decks as it rolled in the heavy swell. Luck was with them because the island is home to a number of fishermen who were already ferrying the passengers back to dry land. Our captain dropped his anchor and eased in towards a sheltered spot where the people could then be ferried out to us. Most were OK, but some were soaked through and cold in the strong wind, others, particularly some mothers and young children were obviously frightened and yet there was a general calm as the rescue was carried out. As an old sailing hand I really have to commend the professionalism of our boat captain – he knew his boat’s capabilities and performed safely and efficiently.
As we set off back with the rescued passengers and crew spirits began to lift – the stricken captain was remarkably upbeat considering his livelihood had just gone down the drain. I guess he is one of those fatalists prepared to believe that whatever man does the fates will have their way rather like those lorry drivers who have ‘Allah Korusun’ painted on their trucks instead of checking their brakes or tyres occasionally! It was about this time that I commented to J that I hadn’t seen any of the rescued wearing a life jacket – come to think of it, could either of us see any life belts or jackets on our boat? The answer was a resounding ‘NO!’ Maşallah! ‘Allah Korusun!’ Glad we hadn’t decided on an earlier evening meal and a 4 o’clock voyage of discovery!
Now, before any of you lot start jumping up and down and posting comments about blind old duffers (or words to that effect), or advice on dealing with senile old farts – I want you to know that I’ve just spotted them too – enough for every passenger on the bloody Titanic, no less! In retrospect all I have to say is that ‘Hindsight is a perfect science!’
Alan Fenn, Okçular Köyü