Life on land hasn't exactly been a walk in the park these last few months. Not only is there a deadly virus still on the loose, but earthquakes have also been rattling Turkey more so lately. Coupled with mandatory lockdowns and being confined to live between four walls amid the coronavirus pandemic, a Turkish couple decided that living on land wasn't for them.
Önem and Serhan Oğuz, who have been married for 30 years, decided to take the plunge toward the unconventional and have been living on a boat docked at the Tuzla marina in Istanbul for the past few months.
After realizing that life in a concrete jungle and the daily nuisance of traffic was too draining, the couple decided to buy a boat to spend more time at sea. The Oğuzes say the pandemic and the fact that they could choose their own surroundings and neighbors at sea expedited their decision.
Spending their days out at sea and nights rocked gently to sleep by the waves of the Marmara Sea, the couple says they don't think they'll ever be going back. For them, the benefits of life on a boat are multifold when compared with big city life.
"They always say, 'Don't buy for the house; buy it for the neighborhood.' Here, you are free to choose your own neighbors. You can decide whom you want to chat with on the marina or whom you want to be with friends with," says Serhan.
"Friendships at sea are also different. Everyone is already ready to help one another. It's more like comradery. When you stay in apartments, you may not like your next-door neighbor. They might not like you either. Noise may be an issue. You'll have parking problems. The best part about living on a boat is that you have no traffic. There are no vehicles stopping and starting in front of us or blocking our way," he adds.
A typical day for the Oğuzes starts at around 5 a.m. or 6 a.m. with breakfast. If they plan on going far, getting an early start is all the more important. After a 10-12 hour voyage, the couple docks at a place to have dinner and wind down.
"If we are traveling far, we'll usually just have a sandwich or some pasta, a practical lunch. But dinner and evenings are our real treat and we take our time" says Önem.
Önem, currently a school principal has been in the education sector for over 30 years, said that she and Serhan have always been nature enthusiasts and hence the transition wasn't as difficult as they expected.
The couple says although their boat is named after their son Can, they have nicknamed it their "turtle shell" as it can travel wherever it wants.
"When you buy a house, then you can't leave that area or move your house to another neighborhood ... Our boat is our shelter, and it takes us anywhere we want," says Önem.
Of course, there are hardships involved in living on a boat such as not being able to stop by at any random shop to get food and items you need, so you always need to be prepared.
Serhan always brings extras and backup for everything, she says, adding that life at sea can also be unpredictable in terms of weather as you might find yourself amid a storm battling waves and winds, so it pays to be cautious.
Yet, the couple says in unison, it's all worth it.
"The sea takes away all of our stress ... so we turned our gray lives into blue."
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