The amateur navigator Cengiz Arslanoğlu aspires to go around the world as his idol, Sadun Boro, did 50 years ago. A series of unforeseen events took him to the South American country.
The Turkish Cengiz Arslanoğlu arrived on the Venezuelan coast by mistake on Sunday, April 1, when a week of religious celebrations culminated in the South American country. It was not a planned stop in the round that is giving to the world in its boat and that it was like ending destination of the same starting point: Turkey.
With the stars and a compass as sole guides, I have aspired to arrive in Panama, to enter the waters of the Pacific Ocean and continue his long journey to Asia. But a succession of unforeseen events led the amateur sailor to the country his brother – a Turk who lives in the city of Seattle, United States – gave him good references, especially his people.
When he was in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, the pole of his simple 3.3-ton vessel broke. This forced him to sail for 35 days with diesel, until reaching the island of Santa Lucia, in the Caribbean Sea. After spending two months repairing the boat, on March 26 he was finally able to sail to Panama.
For four days there was no wind in favour. This forced him to use the fuel again. But soon it ran out and I was stranded. Around him, there were no other boats, but there were dolphins, one of the many marine species that he has seen on the tour that he undertook on August 22, 2017.
He did not know it then but it was already in Venezuelan waters, specifically in the port of Carenero. Soon a group of local fishermen found it and helped.
They took him to a place where he could refuel, although he was told to wait until the next day. They received him in their homes and gave him to try the famous Venezuelan arepas, stuffed with cheese. The dish reminded him of the börek of his country.
On Monday morning, the Venezuelan Coast Guard -which had approached him the previous afternoon, while trying to refuel- escorted him to a larger port, the one in La Guaira, where they could process what the authorities considered a “forced entry” into the country. It was there that Arslanoğlu was able to communicate with the Turkish embassy in Venezuela, to help him continue his journey.
Venezuela also had not been among the stops of the amateur sailor Sadun Boro, the first Turkish who went around the world in a boat 50 years ago, and in whose honour Arslanoğlu undertook his. I have tried to be as faithful as possible to the original version of the trip, but at sea, things changed.
A dream come true
52 years ago, Arslanoğlu was born in Turkey almost on the shores of the Black Sea. Despite this, in decades it has never sailed it. However, I had the dream of repeating the feat of his idol, Boro.
In a meeting they had in 2013, Arslanoğlu brought him some gifts and gave him the news: in 2017, when it was 50 years since his return to Turkey going around the world, he would go on his own journey.
Boro was surprised that he was so determined to do so, without having had any previous experience in navigation. He, on the other hand, had grown up in rowing boats and sailboats and before his 30th birthday, he had already made his first long trip, from the British Isles to the Caribbean Islands.
Boro died in 2015 and could not be there to see Arslanoğlu sail from Istanbul. The television station of his favourite soccer team, the Fenerbahçe, yes; and documented his departure, along with a girlfriend and a mongrel dog three months old. He also took with him the advice that his idol had given him: if he wanted to do things right, he had to give them heart.
The setbacks, however, have accompanied him from the beginning. Before making his first stop in Greece, I have faced the harsh weather conditions of the Mediterranean Sea. But I managed to overcome the first challenge and followed the route with stops in Italy, France, Spain, Morocco and Cape Verde, where he finally entered the Atlantic Ocean.
Gone are his occupations in a deli in Frankfurt, the German city where he had residency and also his trade in the world of construction. Now I was travelling the world in a 1991 boat, which I had bought for the voyage.
No girlfriend but with ‘Pupa’
From the port of La Guaira, in Venezuela, with a bigger puppy and without his female companion -which he lost on the way-, Arslanoğlu showed on Tuesday afternoon some black and white photos of that book that he took out of the ship’s cabin. In the graphics, Boro was seen with his wife and a cat: the original crew.
When he met his compatriots from the Turkish delegation, who came to meet him at the port, led by Ambassador Şevki Mütevellioğlu, a sincere smile was sketched on his face. Pupa -popa, in Spanish-, his faithful companion, did not stop wagging his tail.
The leathery skin of Arslanoğlu is proof that in almost eight months he has not left the top of his boat, on whose shaft the Turkish flag flies and at the stern of the flag of Germany. It is there, in the open air, the navigator counts, where the day and night pass, and where the next will pass.
Source: El espectador