Women’s Flotilla – Sailing Our Life’s Journey!

I disappeared for a week.

It was intentional though I had hoped to leave
some signs of life while I was gone!

But life rushed me out the door, to the airport
and on a surprisingly full plane from Israel to
Turkey. I travelled to join the 4th International
Women’s Sailing Week, a phenomenal initiative of
the Turkish conceived and run ‘Women’s Sailing
School’ which brings together Women from all over
the world to celebrate the beauty of the region
and the joy of sailing – women only.
Traditionally sailing is quite a macho sport where
women are often left aside while the men take over
the running of the boat. However, Neslihan
Karayel (her surname is the Turkish for the ?north
west wind? which happily we experienced quite a
few times during the week as it filled our sails
and kept us busy on board!) has created a place
where women can learn to sail and qualify as
skippers, a place where we can celebrate the many
faces of women’s strength and empowerment . This
week was witness to such wonderful display!

I had been warned by many that I was crazy to
attempt to travel to Turkey during these turbulent
times. I paid no heed to these warnings, having
attended the Women’s Flotilla last year (isn’t it
amazing how so quickly ‘flotilla’ has become a
dirty word!). My first experience was to be
greeted by pleasant Turkish travel companions on
the flights and arriving in Marmaris, my yacht
awaited me with the Turkish and Israeli Flags
hoisted side by side.

The week was simply amazing. I reconnected with
life at sea (yes, hints of my colorful past!), I
reconnected with the simplicity of life without
kids, partner and a hectic work schedule, I
reconnected with wonderful friends and of course,
with myself.
I was romanced by the good food, sunshine,
powerful winds, beautiful sea life and the company
of wonderful women. What more can a girl ask for!

Every day started with yoga and a hike by which
time it was so hot that we dived into the
amazingly blue and clear water to cool down and
pique our appetite for breakfast. After eating
fruit, yogurt and muesli or sometimes the fresh
bread baked by the local women and delivered by
little boats that pulled up alongside ours, we
rested, tidied up the boat and set sail. Some
days the sea was quiet and we were forced to put
down anchor at the most beautiful sheltered bays
for swim and snorkel stops. Other days the winds
were so strong that we had to wear harnesses and
life jackets. As we used to say in Dublin, the
crack was mighty (that means we had such a great
laugh!) as only girls know how, and we talked
about everything under the sun!

In the evenings we moored or anchored in more of
the wonderful sheltered bays that had simple
restaurants, some with no road access, electricity
or running water. We then celebrated the day with
happy hour, good music and followed by a lovely
evening meal.

It is a vacation that involves serious physical
exertion and I love that. We had ample
opportunity to witness our own powerful selves
sailing through rough waters. It was an awesome
sight and a heart-warming experience. There are
so many parallels to our own life’s journey. You
are stuck with people that you may not normally
choose to be with in such close and confined
space. You are faced with physical and emotional

The outcome was wonderful. We all pulled together
and the atmosphere on the boat was supportive,
inspiring and caring. Each individual taught me
so much. There was Denise, who never stops
smiling, showed me how much a smile can change the
world! And Audrey taught me to stop sweating the
small stuff. Serra showed me how being intensely
feminine and beautiful can still be strong and
powerful. Feryal showed me how she stopped
fearing her 6th sense and makes powerful positive
use of her talents.; so many lessons, so much

And I told stories! Lots of stories!

Perhaps the most wonderful outcome of all was to
understand that women thrown together from all
walks of life, and many cultures, beliefs and
backgrounds, will always find a way to enjoy,
appreciate and rejoice in each other’s company.

And as Feryal told me when she read the remains of
my Turkish coffee – what I am doing (working with
women entrepreneurs through story) is what I am
meant to do, if I had not found it, it would have
found me. What a blessing, what an honor!

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