Istanbul couple visits North Channel for sailing adventure

Banu and Peter from Istanbul sailing the North Channel waters with their dog Ada. photos by Roy Eaton

by Roy Eaton

LITTLE CURREN­T– Istanbul, Turkey…what? Yes, last week a couple arrived to sail our world famous North Channel from Istanbul in their own boat.

I’ve met many sailors from other countries who have dreamed of sailing our world famous North Channel waters. They fly in from distant parts of the world to sail with family, friends or on a charter boat from Canadian Yacht Charters, Gore Bay, or Discovery Yacht Charters, Little Current. A very few have sailed here from the Caribbean or the British Isles in their own boat but last week, I had the pleasure of meeting a fascinating sailing couple who had sailed here from Istanbul, Turkey.

Banu Oney told me she started sailing before she was born. While pregnant with her, Banu’s mother was one of the top sailors in Turkey winning cup after cup for her racing prowess. Banu’s father was one of the first recreational sailors in Turkey and became the sport’s ambassador organizing multi events in the Aegean and Mediterranean.

Peter Saggers was born on the other side of the world in Christ Church, New Zealand. He grew up in a fishing port, working on a commercial fishing boat, which harvested its catch under sail. At 14, he crewed aboard his first of many  ocean races. His job as cook was to prepare 3 meals a day and dinner had to consist of 3 courses while crashing through the treacherous seas surrounding New Zealand. When the fishing season ended, his boss would build a boat each winter and Peter learned to be a skilled boat-builder. I asked him what type he built and he said from a canvas-covered kayak to an 80’ aluminum yacht.

Banu and Peter enjoying their trip to Little Current.
Banu and Peter enjoying their trip to Little Current.

In 2009, Banu left Istanbul aboard her yacht the S/V Denize II, intending to sail it across the Atlantic to first see the Caribbean and then the US eastern seaboard. Before she left the Mediterranean, she stopped at Gibraltar. It would prove to be a life changing moment as she met this rugged New Zealand sailor. Peter was to deliver a yacht to South Africa but upon meeting Banu, he jumped ship and sailed off with, as he says, “the woman of my dreams.” They completed Banu’s first dream voyage and then she decided that Peter just had to see her home country. In 2011, they sailed back to Istanbul.

Banu never gave up her second dream of sailing to Canada, visiting these enticing North Channel waters, sailing westward to Duluth on Lake Superior where the boat would be transported to the Pacific Ocean waters off Seattle, Washington where her daughter lives. In 2014, together with their Portuguese water dog Ada as 2nd mate, they left their Aegean waters and started a journey which took them to the Port of Little Current and a visit to the Cruisers’ Net which they had been listening to each morning on the VHF marine radio.

What a pleasure to receive from them a gift of a flag from Turkey to add to the world wide collection hanging on the walls of the conference room at the Anchor Inn. It is the first from a Mediterranean country.

Their story was told on that morning’s broadcast and now it is shared with you. Just one of the many sailing stories which could be told of visitors to our fabled waters which have been constantly praised in the top international boating magazines like Cruising World and ranked No. 1 in world for summer boating.

(S/V Denize II is a 46’ sloop rigged Beneteau Oceanis which has been completely remodeled by Peter for ocean voyaging. The Little Current Cruisers’ Net can be heard on VHF Channel 71, each morning during July and August at 9 am.)