Refugee Part Two - The Land of Promise

by William King

Chapter 5

Escape

Jordan with the help of Pierre had everything prepared. Simon Conway had received the copies of his sailing certificates, the letter of authority was in his hands, and the log for the voyage was filed. Stowed away on the Uccello Marino was an inflatable dinghy and three extra life jackets. It only remained for Jordan to say goodbye to Ted and Martha tonight, at the farewell dinner they had planned. Tomorrow morning he would set sail for Antalya.

They took a taxi from the marina up to the restaurant. The building was clean lines and modern, it's strong point, why Ted had chosen this place, was the large terrace out front. There were only those trailing whispery white clouds in an otherwise blue sky, and it was warm enough to eat outside. They were shown to their table by a polite young waiter dressed impeccably in black trousers, white shirt and black waist coat. The panoramic view back towards the coast across open countryside, was spectacular. You could see the coastline, the sea, and the grey blue shadow of the Turkish mainland beyond.

It was a wonderful meal, Jordan ordered the schnitzel á la creme, Pierre a steak, and Uncle Ted and Martha went with the chicken. They passed a very pleasant couple of hours talking about this and that, Pierre explained about his studies in marine biology and Ted and Martha about how much they adored the Mediterranean. The sun set over the coast, turning the horizon a flaming orange, before disappearing and leaving the distant Turkish hills invisible. Jordan thought to himself, 'In two days I'll be back in Turkey to get the boys' ." His heartbeat raced an instant, perhaps with the idea of rescuing the youngsters, but also because of the danger of the adventure.

Jordan woke up the next morning onboard the Uccello Marino, he'd moved all his stuff there yesterday, which wasn't much. They had all said there goodbyes after dinner last night when they got back to the marina. He wanted to make an early start, but before anything else he phoned the boys.

As usual it was Amar who answered, he'd taken sole possession of the phone, probably because he saw himself as being responsible for the three of them. Jordan explained carefully what would happen. It would take him two days to reach Antalya and he would not phone again before he arrived. Then they would meet somewhere outside the marina, before he brought them onboard. He made sure to tell Amar they could only bring with them one small bag, it had to look like they were visiting the yacht, not moving in.


The next two days were uneventful, plain sailing. The sea was calm, the warm weather that had arrived with the Spring was pleasant. Jordan hugged the coast, he'd hoisted the Turkish flag as protocol demanded, and it was 10 o'clock in the morning when he sailed into Antalya. He moored the yacht at his allocated bay, number 43, and made his way to the marina building. There he handed over the log and showed his passport.

There were two guys in the marina office, one was the person responsible for running the place, the other a police officer, which was evident by the uniform. As all the formalities were being completed Jordan couldn't help the feeling that the uniformed officer was inspecting him. Perhaps trying to decide about him. It made Jordan uneasy, but he took a couple of deep breaths, determined to stay cool.

As he turned to leave the officer spoke. "You will not be staying long?" He asked.

Jordan turned back to face him. "No, I just wanted to visit my godfather before I take the yacht to Italy."

The man had picked up his passport and was thumbing through the pages. "You were only here a week ago, why didn't you see him then?"

Jordan felt like he was being put through the third degree. All these questions, surely it wasn't like that with everyone that arrived here.

"He hadn't arrived then and I couldn't wait." Jordan explained to the officer. "You see, I got this job to sail the yacht to Italy, which I really wanted to do before I have to fly home. It's..." he paused thinking what to say. "It's just too good to miss. A chance to sail the Mediterranean for a couple of weeks. You know, that doesn't happen every day."

Jordan wondered if he was saying too much. He asked himself whether the officer understood everything he was telling him. How good was the guy's English?

"Godfather?" The officer repeated the word as a question.

"Yes," Jordan replied looking at him. Then realising that he perhaps didn't understand the term, he started to explain. "He is the man who was at my christening, when you are a baby... in church. I've known him all my life and he just arrived here a day or so ago. He's running the Christian Aid programme."

The man seemed to think about this for awhile, then nodded, handed the passport back to the clerk behind the desk.

"Pick this up tomorrow, before you leave," the clerk told him.

"About nine, is that okay?" Jordan was hopeful the office would be open then.

"Yes, that is okay." The clerk stamped his passport and placed it along with the other documents in a tray on his desk.

When Jordan had left the office the officer turned to the marina clerk. "I'm not sure about that one and what he says he's doing."

"He's American," the other man replied. "They are all crazy... and rich." He smiled and laughed. The officer grinned, but was in two minds about things. Never a man to make work for himself if it could be avoided, he would naturally prefer to let it drop. However, he also didn't want something to come back on him for being negligent.

It was a good thing that Jordan was completely unaware of what the officer's real thoughts were, because had he known, it might have dissuaded him from going ahead with his risky plan. What took place later that day would almost certainly have stopped him dead in his tracks, but Jordan was blissfully ignorant of the unfolding events.

Later that afternoon Baris Demir, the marina police officer, met Haluk Aydin, an old friend of his. The men were the same age, forty something, they had been to school together, then in the navy during their military service. Haluk had stayed on in the navy and was now a captain in the Turkish Coast Guard. They used to always see each other when circumstances allowed and that afternoon Haluk's boat was in port.

Over a glass of tea in the cafe near the marina, as the two friends were catching up on events, Baris recounted the arrival of the young American who was sailing a yacht to Italy. He explained to his friend, although Haluk knew him only too well, that he didn't want to make a big fuss, but neither did he want to get bitten. It made Haluk smile, because much as they liked each other, he knew just how lazy Baris was. Still, to satisfy his old friend he asked what time the American was leaving and said he'd put in a call to a colleague who was out on patrol in the area.

Baris smiled and clapped a hand on his friend's shoulders. "Thank you my friend, that will take care of things."

"I am curious though," Haluk told him. "What do you suspect he is up to?"

"Maybe nothing at all," Baris replied.

"Just covering your back as usual," Haluk laughed. "I can't promise they will do anything, depends what's happening out there tomorrow."

"Yes, yes, no problem." That at least as far as Baris was concerned, neatly took care of things.


As soon as Jordan got back to the yacht he called Amar. They were ready Amar told him, they had one small bag that they had crammed some clothes into and the rest of their stuff they were leaving with Fadil. They arranged to meet in half an hour at the Dönerciler Çarşısı, a kind of fast food restaurant on the main street about 400 metres from the marina. Jordan told him he would buy lunch.

He couldn't help smiling when he saw the three boys walking up the street, and they in turn couldn't help running up to him and folding their arms around him in a group hug.

"Suppose you thought I wouldn't be back!" Jordan exclaimed pulling back a little, freeing himself from the circle.

"No mister Jordan," Amar had a huge grin on his face. "How would we think this?" Then he turned to look at Firas. "Maybe Firas was a little worried" He said that like he didn't really mean it. He slung his arm around Samir and pulled him close to his side. "But never me and Samir."

"Come on, let's eat," Jordan replied, and ushered them into the restaurant. "By the way, you do look smart." He added.

"By what way?" Amar asked as they sat down at a table.

Jordan laughed, and the rest of them joined in.


After lunch the four of them walked together into the marina. There were a few people about, but no one paid them any attention. Once onboard, Jordan took them below deck straight away, 'best they keep well out of sight,' he thought to himself. The yacht was very similar in size to Uncle Ted's, four berths, twin cabin aft and double bedroom in the stern. Amar and Samir took the stern bedroom, Firas was up front with Jordan.

Jordan made sure that the boys knew to stay below out of sight. He briefly explained the plan. They would leave here tomorrow morning and sail to Rhodes. With a bit of help from the boys, Jordan thought they could sail night and day. It was 226 nautical miles from Antalya to Rhodes and that would take nearly two days. Jordan wanted to do the crossing as fast as possible, the least time spent at sea, the less the risk that something went wrong.

It would be unlikely that they encountered any patrol vessels and if they did, well the paperwork was in order and it was an Italian registered yacht. So long as the boys were out of sight, they would actually have to come onboard to discover them. Jordan told them that they could help by keeping a watch at night. The yacht had an auto-pilot, so would stay on the set course, but there was always a possibility of running into something.

It was quite obvious the boys were excited, both about being on the boat and that Jordan was taking them to Europe and safety. Jordan did not yet tell them the plan for actually landing them on the island or what they would do once there. The first part of that he had worked out, but once on the island they would be very much alone, no way could he be there with them.


Jordan was in the marina office to retrieve his passport and documents at just after nine the next day. Baris Demir, the same man he'd seen yesterday, was behind his desk drinking coffee. "How was your good father?" He asked Jordan.

"Godfather," Jordan replied smiling. "He was very well, and very busy with his work, but we had lunch together."

Changing the subject Baris told him, "You do know storms are forecast for tomorrow. Why don't you wait a day?"

"It's because I really need to get the yacht to Italy as soon as possible, and it's not really serious storms." Jordan replied.

The marina official handed him his papers. "Well, have a good voyage and be careful. We don't want to have to send a boat out to rescue you."

"I'll be careful. Thank you." Jordan took his documents, turned and left the office.

Once back onboard the yacht, he started the engine, cast off, and navigated slowly out of the marina. Then he hoisted the sails, cut the motor, and set the auto-pilot. They headed North North West with a calm sea and a very light westerly breeze, it was warm in the morning sunshine.

Once they were well away from the coast he called for the boys to come up on deck. The next half an hour he spent showing them how things worked, and he warned them to get below deck if they saw any other boat. Now they'd started the crossing, the boys had been briefed, Jordan relaxed a little. He left Firas on deck and went below to the galley to get some coffee.

The rest of the day was uneventful. With little wind their progress was slow, much slower than Jordan would have liked. Firas had made them lunch whilst Amar and Samir lounged on deck in the sunshine. As dusk approached, some ten hours into the voyage, the wind picked up and clouds could be seen skittering across an overcast sky.

Baris had been right of course, about the change in the weather, and it looked like it would be choppy tonight. They must have headed into the brewing storm, because it was forming quicker than expected. Now as the yacht lurched forward under an ever strengthening wind, it became apparent it wouldn't be all easy sailing.

Amar was the first to throw up, spewing his lunch over the side, whilst Samir had his arm around him, holding and trying to comfort him. Firas followed suit not long after. Jordan told them to go below and lie down, he gave Samir instructions to find the sea sickness pills. He had anticipated this might happen. Samir was the only one of the three who seemed unaffected by the rolling motion of the yacht.

"Is this the bottle?" Samir asked Jordan.

He came away from the helm a moment to check. "Yes," he replied. "One pill each. They should feel a bit better in a little while.

Samir disappeared below, and Jordan went back to the helm. 'That is quite something, the kid's talking,' he thought, 'perhaps he's getting better.' Rain started hitting the deck, slowly at first, then getting heavier. The sky was now black, darkness had descended with the storm.

Jordan knew he needed to stay awake all night, and it looked like being a long one. Within fifteen minutes or so, the rain was lashing down and the yacht was cutting through the waves at a fair old rate of knots. Jordan let out the sail to slow the pace, he wanted to make up time, but needed to be watchful at night.

He'd pulled on his waterproofs and stood legs apart balancing with the rolling yacht. His eyes glanced up to the top of the mast where a bright white light shone through the rain. Checking the rest of the boat, all seemed in order. Their speed had slowed, but they were being buffeted by the waves. The main concern, as he peered ahead through the darkness was that they should not hit anything that might be floating in the water. The seas were full of debris of all kinds and he knew it was very risky sailing at night.

Samir came back on deck some time later. He'd found a waterproof jacket and had the hood over his head. "Can I help?" he asked.

That was something which touched Jordan. This small boy who seemed to have found his voice and wanted to help. For a moment he was choked with emotion, before he managed to reply.

"Are the boys feeling any better?" he asked.

"They are sort of sleeping," Samir told him.

That was good he thought, hoping they would get used to being at sea. "If you want to just stay keeping a look out Samir, I will go get a coffee."

"Yes, go," he replied.

So Jordan left the thirteen year old keeping watch and went below to grab a coffee. He was feeling the strain, but wanted to keep going. For some reason it just felt better to take the risk to make the crossing quicker.


As the first light of dawn appeared on the horizon, the sea was calmer, the rain and storm had passed. All three boys were asleep below. Jordan was sitting looking ahead, scanning the sea in front of them. It was difficult to stay awake.

Amar appeared at the hatch and came over to join him. "You okay Jordan?" he asked.

"Yeah, and you," Jordan looked at him trying to gauge his appearance in the half light.

"I not feeling sick anymore." Amar told him.

"Good... and Firas?"

"He's still sleeping, I think." Amar moved to stand next to Jordan. "I can take over if you like."

Jordan considered this an instant, he needed some rest. "You sure?"

"Sure mister Jordan," Amar smiled. "I will get you if anything happening."

Jordan returned the smile, turned away and went below, taking off his waterproofs he went forward to the aft cabin. Firas was indeed asleep in bed. He removed his jeans and t-shirt and climbed into the other bed. Firas stirred but didn't wake. Jordan was asleep in an instant.

It was daylight now, Amar could feel the faintest hint of the sun, it would be a fine day, blue skies, and just the tiniest of white crests on the tops of the waves. This felt good he thought, now he had overcome the sea sickness. About fifteen minutes later Samir joined him, he brought with him two cups of coffee.

The two of them spent the next hour or so together, looking around, although there was not much to see. The shadow of a boat way off in the distance, but otherwise a vast expanse of blue sea in every direction.

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