When you join a Mariner yacht rally you’ll soon realise that the group dining experience is about a lot more than just the food. From cricket in Croatia to Bon Jovi in the Caribbean, Trevor Joyce remembers some of the unusual culinary experiences he’s shared with past rally participants.
Over the years, we’ve gained access to some wonderful dining venues. While we re-visit these locations regularly with different rally groups, each experience is unique and the stories taken home are repeated often. Here are some of my personal highlights as we’ve dined with rally participants in various ports:
Tears in the taverna
Little did we know, when we entered Poppie’s taverna on the Greek island of Kalimnos, just off the Turkish coast, that it would end in tears. The humble and petite Sylvie, who runs the tavern, had spent many hours making her famous moussaka, pastichio and dolmades in preparation for our group dinner, and had engaged two musicians from the town to entertain us for the evening.
Upon hearing their opening song, our Turkish technician, Metin, commented: “This song is not Greek, it is Turkish”. I asked if he would be willing to sing it in Turkish for us, and he agreed. And so, we found ourselves in a humble Greek taverna, listening to a Turkish yacht technician singing a soulful rendition of the haunting ‘Agladikca’, made famous by Kurdish Turk Ahmet Kaya. As Metin sang and the Greek musicians played, our group sat spellbound and there were a few tears shed during this special cross-cultural experience.
Metin singing at Poppy's Taverna in Vathi, Kalimnos Island
AFL on the Med
During one rally, we happened to moor in the Turkish port of Karacaoren Bay on the eve of ALF grand final day. There’s only one restaurant on the water’s edge, and I approached the owner, Jan, to see if he had access to the tv station broadcasting the AFL – which would see the Swans play the Hawks. He didn’t.
But all was not lost. As Jan and I had become friends through our frequent visits here, Jan was willing to sign up for access to the relevant pay tv channel and broadcast the game exclusively for us. Because of the time difference, it was an early morning kick off, and Jan opened the restaurant especially for our group. With most of the group dressed in red and white, the TV commentary in Turkish, and a delicious breakfast served by Jan at half time, this was the most memorable AFL grand final most of us had watched, irrespective of the score.
AFL Grand final celebrations in Karacaoren Bay, Turkey
Wine on a World War 2 airstrip
On the tiny island of Vis, off the Croatian coast, Australian born Croat Roki, has his restaurant nestled in the hills. It’s a unique venue – while a 15th century farm building houses the restaurant, most meals are served outside under a huge mulberry tree. Nearby, Roki grows his own wine grapes on what was once a U.S. military airfield during world war 2.
In recognition of his birth country, Roki’s restaurant also features a cricket pitch. However, on the occasion of our visit, our group’s challenge to some travelling Brits did not produce a result, with the excessive heat forcing both teams to abandon play for a cool beer together under the mulberry tree.