In his Australian accent, Dave told us to meet him and his wife Dina for coffee at Sunger.
“’at’s roight, Mate, ‘arbor road just in front of the hotel. Three o’clock then, roight? See ya then, Mate.”
On our three-day trip down from Instanbul, one of the hotel owners, upon hearing our story and our search for a new boat, immediately whipped out his phone, dialed a number, chatted with someone on the other end of the line, and then handed me the phone.
I was hesitant to take the phone. Everyone in Turkey, upon hearing our story, tells us they know someone who’s selling a boat. It usually ends up in a discussion in which they don’t quite get what we’re looking for. Or, they get it, but they want to convince us to consider something else.
Now the phone was at my ear.
“Hi ya Mate, so my friend tells me ya looking for a boat.”
After the first few exchanges of what becomes a twenty-minute conversation, I can tell that Dave gets it. He seems to know boats. He recommends a broker. He says that we are on the right track by coming to Marmaris and Bodrum area. And he concludes by saying that when we are in town to give him a call and he’ll give us any other advice we need.
We stayed in Marmaris the first night, after visiting the “Mythical” there with Kemer. We left the next day and drove about three hours to Bodrum.
We checked in and wandered the town.
While Marmaris has succumb to the seduction of catering to tourists with all-inclusive hotels and waterfront restaurants all offering the same over-priced food, Bodrum has worked hard to retain its town center as a village.
Since coming, our impression was confirmed by the ex-pats we have met who came, saw both towns, and settled here.
Dave and Dina walked up and greeted us at one of Sunger’s sidewalk tables.
Dave has an adventurer’s face, weathered by wind and sun, while Dina’s is round and agelessly smooth. They sit, look at our Turkish coffees and ask,
“You going to have anything else?”
We shake our heads and they look at each other.
“They might as well get to know us,” Dina says.
“Yup,” Dave says and orders a bottle of white wine.
We were expecting to meet them for a quick coffee, maybe an hour, pick their brains and get a lay of the land.
Seven hours and four bottles of wines later, we realized that maybe this was more than that.
For most of his 60-some years, back down under, Dave was a commercial diver, professional motorcycle racer and stunt man. After breaking his back twice, various other bones several times and getting a metal hip implanted, he ended up in Bodrum about seven years ago and got to see the gulets.
“I came, worked at this gulet tour business and then bought it,” he said, then waited for a beat, winked at Dina and added, “and I got the girl as part of the package.”
Dina is half Turkish and half American. After applying her entrepreneurial skills to an internet cafe and ice-cream shop, she ended up working in the gulet business.
We talked, we drank, we shared our stories and when we left Sunger’s at ten that evening, we walked home tipsy and with renewed hope that we had come to the right place to find our new boat.
Since that night about two weeks ago, they've had us over for dinner twice, hooked us up with the brokerage Gino Group, shown us another couple of boats with another broker, and just generally kept our spirits up and eyes open to possibities.
You'll hear more about them in future posts.
This is a shot of Dave and Dina I pulled from their website. Check it out: Southern Cross Blue Cruising.