The water below barely rippled, a sheet of blue reflecting star sapphire or lapis lazuli, brilliant in the morning sun. From my spot on the bowspirt it looked impossibly distant. For more than two years I’d dreamed of being in this place, high above the Aegean Sea with the sun on my shoulders and that deep blue bleeding into indigo like a memory long forgotten.
I took a deep breath, gazed at the horizon, looked down once more, then dove toward that memory. Down, down, arms reaching, chin tucked, feet pointed, down to the sea, slicing without impact into that lapis pool, cool silk caressing my skin. Down, down, into that radiant mystical sapphire that dazzles like a sunrise, like a shooting star, like a full moon glimpsed through autumn trees. Down into that blue that is so blue it feels like it’s reaching into the cosmos.
My favorite moments on the seven-day gulet trip were diving off the bow, swimming in that jewel-colored water, floating on my back looking into the blue sky, then rolling over and gazing into the depths that threw back an even bluer reflection. I never tired of it no matter how much the salt stung my eyes, and I gladly returned every day.
Paddling a kayak also provided a way to immerse myself in the seascape, feeling the paddle pulling the water as I propelled forward, exploring the shoreline out to the ends of the harbors and beyond. My moments of deepest tranquility—except for one moment of lying on deck looking up the main mast as the sails captured the wind—took place in the kayak.
These were the two activities I was loath to leave behind, so on our last day at sea I made sure to do both, swimming early and late in the day, diving off the bowsprit each time, then paddling slowly along the shore as the sun began to settle, giving up only when I knew it was time to move on, back to Bodrum, back to Istanbul and San Francisco and my life off the boat.
With the final paddle strokes I took solace in the knowledge that I would be back, as certain as the dolphins leap in the sea, the bathing beauties come to Cleopatra’s Island to show off their stuff, and the Turkish people welcome visitors with open arms.