In every journey, like in every life, there’s a place where you stay longer than expected. Pleasant or not.
Sozopol held me for 20 days. It was up to me, I would have stayed even more: I’ve been happy there. In Sozopol there’s some magic, on that rocky cape.
Beside all the nice and interesting encounters during the festival, I’ve faced a series of fast but strong meteorological depression that created dangerous waves for Clodia, that’s not built for that kind of sea. The pauses between disturbances were not long enough to calm the sea, so I couldn’t set off.
In the meantime, time was passing by. In Istanbul many people were waiting for me and I, who manage to make it to the Black Sea by the end of July, felt bad not to have taken the chance to sail in the best two months for navigation. However, I was kindly asked to wait until september to get a better media coverage, so, being my project also about communication, I couldn’t refuse.
Waiting, the art of waiting: I’ve become a very good artist. And I always try to get better at it.
From the Lago Art Waiting Room, where we’ve physically built the boat, to the art of waiting in Sozopol: Some experiences, wind gusts, miles or Kilometres, but it hasn’t passed such a long time. Maybe.
Waiting, active and positive. I can’t remember boredom anymore. Every single minute there’s something to be done. And to be learnt. I’m sad when I see people looking bored, and sometime I nearly envy them.
I see a young man sticked to his chair in Sozopol: He’s smoking and drinking beer all day. I’ve seen hin for 20 days without any noticeable change. Maybe he likes it. I wonder which worlds he’s exploring: He must be about 20 years old. And he’s not the only one. All in all, we wait all our life, so we better put some art in that.
One day I get to the boat, that I’ve moved in the fishermen’s area not wanting to abuse of the kind Sozopol Marina hospitality, and I see a big man coming to greet me. He’s Nikolay. He shakes my hand quite firmly and says: “Strong handshake you have”. “You too”, is my answer. It’s the beginning of a nice friendship that’ll take me to pass a long time with him.
Nikolay is a little younger than me, he has two children. He’s been in Italy for 13 years. From his first days under Pavia’s bridge, breaking the ice to wash his face, to the chance to come back in this paradise after so much work. Tough years, with many unpleasant encounters. But Nikolay is built out of stone, and is a man of great sensitivity and intelligence. Rare, I would say.
He tells me tales about his father, a fisherman as his grandfather: Days of hands who didn’t know any button to push but just ash wood handles and rough hemp ropes. And so much fish. So much that all Sozopol smelled when the Alamane and the Mahune came back.
The fishes were dried. Thousands of mackerels and bonitos, hanging from wooden structures remembering those of the great north. Another piece added to the great scheme, always clearer, of the migrations of northern populations toward south in ancient times. Today still, I could see some fish being dried.
Nikolay takes me often in his bar pizzeria, where I’m served Sozopol’s best pizza. The cook, another Nikolay, is very good. Life in Sozopol is not easy: Envy, piques and wounds are not missing. Money brought all of this. Nikolay shows me the horrible new buildings, telling me about illegal constructions and drain water that flows to the sea where peole swim. And corruption, wild commerce, foolness. Thousand years old ruins hidden under dull buildings. They’ve killed the hen to get the egg. I’ve seen it too many times.
I was happy to meet Stoicio, the owner of Barracuda, Sozopol best restaurant. He has begun a few years ago with just four tables, and now he can serve up to 300 people. Inside his restaurant he has built an ancient Greek ship and placed many findings coming from the sea, beside some photos of old times. He invites us for lunch and dinner. At night, I can also appreciate a show: Dancers, singers, musicians. A fantastic Balkan feeling. They knwo how to party here! Women are beautiful.
All sad faces change after a few songs and some sip of rakia. Of course, they dedicate me the usual, worldwide popular (second only to “volare” and “o sole mio”) Sono un italiano by Toto Cutugno. I find myself singing it, not as shy as I thought: Surprisingly, I know nearly all words. I have a good time. Seven stars generosity, and ten stars food, all home made.
In the afternoon I meet Stoicio’s mum and I understand many things from her look, from a story of care, passion and work that has led to success.
I get back to the boat. Nights are now chillier, I wear a jumper. Sometimes there’s a nasty wind. I meet Sarah and Martin. She’s a Yoga teacher, he’s sold his interior designer business in the UK and decided to start anew here. Time, slowness and beauty. Now Martin paints with watercolours, mainly boats and marinas. Dinners, interesting encounters with people full of life, never dull. Sozopol: An endless matrioska, even if so small. The weather doesn’t get better. It never rains but the sea is too big for Clodia.
One day we leave with Carina: We manage to reach Tsarevo, at the border with Turkey, 200 nautical miles from Sozopol, but we face a southerly wind of 25 knots, so Saulius decides to come back.
Another seven days pass by. I visit the rich archaeological museum with Nikolay. I see the relics of St. John Baptist. Then lots of walking, many tales from the past and encounters. Little works on Clodia.
Bruno Cianci comes: He’s a friend and international press advisor for the Koç museum in Istanbul, where I’m waited. Bruno is also a sailor, owning an auric cutter from 1919 called Vilia. Hell falls upon us: Rain, wind and waves. In short, I decide to wait. I’m nearly depressed, I know I’m disappointing many people: Saulius, Bruno, the museum, Paolo who’s coming to Istanbul for me. But I know Clodia and I can’t afford to loose it. It wouldn’t be right. I have to wait and take my responsibility for this decision. I’m afraid of the sea, especially on an open boat. A windblast, a nasty wave, and it’s the end of the story.
Bruno waits one more day. We visit Burgas and Sozopol, then he gets back to Istanbul. I see his disappointment. But I also know that, as a good sailorman, he understands.
But the art of waiting bears fruits. Sometimes fate can surprise us. I was prepared to ask for help to Marty e Art aboard Sherpa, in case Saulius and Ruta would have decided to stop in Sozopol for winter.
One day, during breakfast aboard Carina, the Pilot cutter of Saulius and Ruta, I was telling about something nice and moving that had happened to me. Ruta, who usually doesn’t like to sail on tough conditions, opens her blue eyes and says: “Let’s go”. Saulius stares at her, stunned, and says: “Let’s go”. I look at them both, frightened, saying: “Let’s go” too. A little earlier we had received the alert of “Near Gale”, thunderstorm coming. 30 knot wind and 3 metres waves, however something tells me to listen to these mad Lithuanian friends.
The night before I was blasted by the wind in the port, what would have waited for me in open sea? We quickly greet the other friends and set off. I don’t even get aboard Clodia, I make her ready to get towed. We get off the port by sail, with a wide bowline wind. Bye bye Sozopol.
Outside, there’s a strong NE wind: We fly at 7/8 knots of speed. We have a quick dinner in Tsarevo, then keep going. My watch turn is between 1:30 and 4:30 at night. We wobble a lot but travel fast. When I wake up we’re in Turkey already. High coast, no ecological disasters like up north. The coast is clear. Trees and rocks. the winds comes and goes.
At 4 pm we spot the Bosphorus lighthouse. A lump in my throat. I cry, going at bow. I can’t believe it: So much have passed under Clodia’s keel. A robin takes rest on Clodia’s helm. Land is near.
The waves are now longer, the white lighthouse is approaching, the wind fades. The waves are still 2 metres high. Many ships around us. When we enter the Bosphorus I don’t know who I am anymore. It’s not real, I’m here. And it’s me.
I hug Ruta and Saulius. I see all the journey in a few seconds. I know what’s been, intense and tough life.
We get into Poyraz golden bay. We’re in Asia. A strong smell of resin. Another world. We moor. Dinner, great tiredness, gread happiness. 105 miles in 26 hours. But it doesn’t matter. We see Istanbul from 24 hours, at least the city lights in the sky. Just the time to mount the tent for the umpteenth time, and I enter a cold dream. I’m happy, I’m in the Bosphorus and alive: The Black Sea has let me passed. Thanks to Saulius and Ruta.
Thanks to everyone.
Today is Septembre 22nd. Tpmorrow is my 47th birthday. The best day in my life.
I’ve born twice. And soon Istanbul.