Hakan Öge
Hakan Öge
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Hakan'ın Kamerasından
India Ocean

So I'm back already.

I've had a breakfast of yogurt apples and cereal. I had a cup of tea, folic acid and multivitamins as well. A bottle of water and still I feel weak, weak and sad. Therefore I take a few of my Rescue Remedy®. Extracts of flowers. Supposed to calm, relax and relieve the mind. I'm not sure it works. Funny its called rescue remedy as my spirit plummeted during a rescue. But lets get to the beginning of it, I'm not in state for any fancy flash backs or anachronic figures of style.

Now we're yesterday. The weather is foul. There are nose winds, the sea is very confused. There probably is a sandstorm not far away, the visibility is crap, like mist but not humid. I'm tired, it's been way too long already, I need a good night of sleep, in Hakan's arms, the whole night. You wouldn't believe it but I miss him tremendously during passages. It's very paradoxal, but you'd do long passages and you'd feel the same, I'm sure...

I'm seasick. Its way passed lunchtime and I haven't gathered energy enough to do anything about it. Eventually we opt for emergency food. Packaged ready made stuff for occasions like this. Indian spinach curry bought in Singapore. Did I tell you already that Singapore has probably the best food in the world? Anything we ate or bought there is of superior quality. Even their fast food courts are a delight of fresh high quality delicatessen. Now I know. Don't you come to me and tell me you had no time
for good food so you stuffed yourself with junk and poison. Junk and poison has no relation with time, none. Anyway, this is beside the point, I have to get to what I'm here to say.

So we eat our best quality emergency goodies. We eat inside. I don't know why, not that it matters. It's 3 o'clock, I eat my little portion of Belgium chocolate, letting it melt on my tongue, letting it cover my throat, I close my eyes, absorb. A sailboat is a sort of misshaped stringed instrument, like a guitar or a cello. When you're inside the resonance box, the cabin, any rope that moves, any thing that touches the hull, the mast or sail will resound tenfold. So Hakan is projected in the cockpit
while I fly my head through the porthole when we are hit by something. From my point, nothing in sight, I get up in the cockpit and look at our wake. There is something, it is big and strange looking, of indefinite color. It is attached to our wind vane and then it gets lose and we sail on. Is it dead? Is it one thing or many? Suddenly I understand the sight, a sight of horror, a thing I know about but never really saw.

Getting out of reach is a bundle of disguarded contorted fishing nets. In them, turtles. Trapped. Stuck. Doomed. Drifting to their death. There are many it seems. Some move, others don't. They are drifting away. To oblivion.

We have to turn back, save them. We turn on the motor, pull down the sails and turn. Where are they? In the hurried action I lose sight of them. Then see them again, then I lose them ones more. Finally, with the sails down completely we approach them, slowly slowly. If the net gets stuck into the propeller we'll just join their death-march. Hakan hooks the net. It is heavy, too heavy, too big. Finally we pass a rope through it and attach it to Mardek. The net is filled with turtles, the sight is
abominable. They are completely wrapped in thick nylon rope. This time it is good Mardek is so low. I lay down grab the net and try to cut the line around one of the turtles. The fucking knife is not cutting. Hakan brings me another knife. The good knife, yeah right... good for onions or garlic, not for deathtraps. I try to cut, the swell is big, the net comes up, in easy reach, then Mardek swings the other way, the weight of the net pushing my ribs on the edge of the hull. And on and on and on with
a knife that doesn't cut. When we finally cut most of the ropes around the first turtle we realize in horror that that was the easy part. His legs are inextricably knotted in the body of the net. There is no way we can cut him loose, no way. I look at the others, there is one smaller one at the edge of the net, the ropes are thinner there, let's get to that one. We put mattresses on the edge of Mardek, otherwise we'll break our ribs for sure. Hakan tries to cut, he's stronger, longer. I get busy
with another turtle, I realize it is easier to undress them, untangle them of the gross parts. They help in the process, lifting, bending, pulling the leg I'm trying to free. Not once do they try to bite us. Sometimes they get nervous and start flapping about, entangling them self all over again. Strangely when I tell them to calm down, to be still they do. Calm down, stop wriggling their strange legs. After a while the first one is free, I push it with the long hooked stick in the direction of freedom.
For a couple of seconds the turtle is immobile then suddenly, feeling all ties loose it swims off. Madly, hurriedly.

Adrenaline and joy fill us with the energy needed to continue our job. One by one we cut, detangle, free the sweethearts. Speaking words of comfort. I feel pain. These cutting lines, bloody legs, hurt faces, peeling skin, bulging sick eyes. I hear their breath, the breath of life, I see their condition, oceanic hell. No sound comes out of them but surely only because they have no vocal cords. The pain must be so intense.

All over there are fish, in the net itself some cute small coral fish live happily in their nylon metropolis. Crabs too seem to enjoy the place. The net is so big I can't really judge where it stops but I can surely see that in its heart decaying creatures are being cleaned by the smaller ones. Under the net millions of bigger fish hang out, under them still some more, it is impossible for me to see further down but surely deeper big tuna and sharks are present too. This net has become a floating
reef. So it is not all bad, but the turtles, they don't belong here, not at all. And why so many of them?

One turtle has a leg so badly entangled it cut half way through it. He's going to lose it, blood flows out a little when Hakan pulls and cuts the imprisoning lines. Finally that one is free as well, I push it out in the good direction and of it goes, the bad leg piteously hanging, immobile as he trashes the water to escape. A few fish are following it. Are they going to eat him alive? There's one to go, this one is in very good condition, beautiful green color, no cuts no blood, no white dead skin.
Did he just arrive or did he just refrain from fighting the unfightable net. At long last he's swimming off as well.

We too get away from this nylon hell. I feel like vomiting, my whole body shakes, I feel my hands swelling, my spirit sprinting underground. Why don't I feel good? We just save 7 big sea turtles inevitably doomed to a netted death. There was no escape. We were a miracle for their lives. Really, what are the odds? And in this rough sea, who would turn back in the middle of pirate land to save miserable turtles. Who has a boat low enough to allow arms to reach the water? Maybe some still will die but
we've done what we could. It was a successful rescue. Why then do I feel so broken?

The cruelty of the universe probably. I saved a few turtles, but what about the many others that are fighting the same struggle and I'm not there to free them? What about dolphins in nets and people in hunger, and children in wars, and friends who can't find love. In my head I keep on seeing this leg slowly being cut of by a disguarded nylon net. And I'm hurt. And I cry. And it hurts too.

I want to sleep but my mind is racing the underworld. The sun is going down, down down and I follow it, to the dark side. Then I'm on watch. I watch ''Le Peuple Migrateur'' on DVD. It's about birds, beautiful, so beautiful. I let its power pull me up a bit, I watch in amazement the soothing perfection of the images. It is then I see the dolphins. I pause my film and walk, crawl really, to the front of Mardek. In the strong moonlight I look at them. There must be at least 20 or 30 of them. And they
are much bigger than the ones we usually see. They are soaring in front of me, jumping now and then. Creating a fluorescent trail in the dark water. Then they hit a school of fish. A frenetic dance follows with flying fish hitting my legs and the sail, passing by like bullets. I protect my face with my arm and fill up on the spectacle. Ones in a while the water leaps up on deck. It wets my feet, it is very warm. One dolphin wets me with his fluke, I feel I'm being pulled up again. I watch them for
an hour maybe before my watch ends and I fall asleep. This morning I'm still sad for the world, although after my second tea, my drops of Rescue Remedy® I feel a little better already. I know I can't save the world. I know I do what I can. I know it is better to save 7 turtles than to save none. Some of their pain leaked into me. I will carry a piece of each saved turtle with me and hope each one of them will survive me...

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