Dear readers, hello! I am back in Istanbul, as a direct result of having spent several hours 30,000 feet in the air seated next to a grown man who watched the ENTIRE SMURF MOVIE from beginning to end. And when I got back to Koç, there was a dead bird on my doorstep! Truly, there is no place like home.

I am very happy to share with you today another installment of student writing from my Koç nonfiction class: “The Deep,” a photo essay by sophomore literature major Simay Yaylalı, complete with original emoticons.


This photograph brings back memory for me because my first yacht master sailing experience started with that photo. I am half Greek and half Turkish, which means I grew up with the culture of the sea. Mediterranean and Aegean cultures surrounded me. I can’t live without the sea. Whenever I feel miserable, I go to the seaside and it makes me relax.

First I took a laser course. A laser is a sailboat about 4m long, with only one sail. One has to weigh 45 or 60kg. I weighed 52 kg. I learned how to sail a laser in Marmaris. I still smile when I remember my course periods. I had bruising on my legs and arms. It wasn’t a proper sport for delicate girls. I knew this, but nevertheless I adored it. My trainer had chosen me to be part of a sailing team. However my dad didn’t let me join. He thought that if I attended sailing races in the winter, I would get sick and in the future I could be infertile. When he told me this, my world was destroyed. I cried for days. But I didn’t give up. I made a search of international sailing courses where I could take a certificate, so I could sail through my whole life. I finally found a course. The trainer was my schoolmate’s dad, Cumhur Gökova. He had sailed two times around the world. He was my role model.

The course lasted one week. You stayed in a boat one week and sailed the bays. My first day at the course was so interesting. I had never slept in a boat before. We signed a contract that if anything happened to us in the course, we were responsible for ourselves. All the other students in the course were older than me. They were like 28, 35, and 38. I was just 19. My trainer liked me a lot. He treated me as a daughter. He was 57. He had a Russian girlfriend who was 35. It seemed strange to me. The women and girls were always chasing him. I still haven’t figured it out. What makes him so special?

Every day we woke up at 7 AM, did yoga, went hiking, and had breakfast. Later we had a theoretical class in the open air. The course language was English. We learned about boat terminology, the weather, and sailing positions.

Afterwards we sailed till dark and then boarded to port. We had lunch on the boat or in restaurants. My trainer drank red wine every day and went to sleep at 10 PM every night. He kept a strict routine but he adored that life. One day at dinner, a student named Dimitri was staring at me. I knew where this would end. Finally he asked me whether I knew what love meant to me. Even though I knew what love meant to me, I said “no.” He was drunk and got really upset by my negative answer. The night was fabulous because the sky was covered in stars. There were thousands of stars. We had nothing else, only stars. In the bays there were barely any lights.

Every day the sailboat’s captain was selected. The captain had to clean the boat and prepare breakfast. The last day of the course, I was selected. I cleaned the boat and prepared breakfast. In that boat I learned many things about life. I learned how to struggle against difficulties, not only against strong winds and waves, but also with living conditions. It was just a 12-meter sailboat. There was one toilet, and it wasn’t that luxurious, compared to the toilets at our homes or in restaurants. We had to use water sparingly, because we were eight people sharing the same water. While washing the dishes also we had to be careful because water was scarce. Smile There wasn’t any shower to take when we were sailing. Our bodies got salty, and even though I adore the sea, I hate sea salt. I was a meticulous girl and I really wanted to take a shower, but I overcame my weakness and learned to wait until we boarded to land.

One day, when my instructor was using the toilet, I mistakenly opened the door on him. I didn’t knew what to do, so I just shut the door and went to my cabin and waited there silently. When I told this story to my course mates, they laughed and said to act as if nothing had happened. I did this, but the moment I saw my instructor again was so strange and at the same time funny. Smile I still laugh when this event comes to my mind.


1. I received my international yacht master flotilla skipper certificate.

2. I made my dreams come true.

3. Sailing is always in my life now.

4. During college I attended some races secretly (from my family).

5. I finally told my parents the truth. They now want me to sail and to race.

6. I proved to my family how much sailing and the sea mean to me.

7. My close friends and relatives know that my future husband has to love the sea, or at least has to sail.


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3 Responses to “THE DEEP”

  1. Sean Carman Says:

    This is lovely!

  2. Andrew Says:

    This story has a graceful earnestness about it. Well done!

  3. simay Says:

    Thanks a lot for your comments it encourages me to write more.

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