16 December 2014: A sailor who is attempting to fulfil her childhood dream to become the first Turkish female to cross the Atlantic praises Inmarsat’s IsatPhone Pro for keeping her going through stormy seas.
Inmarsat’s partner Arskom provided Dilek Ergül, 41, with the satellite phone and 500 minutes of free calls when she set sail on her 14-month voyage in June, onboard her nine-metre long sailing boat ‘Symina’.
She has used the phone to speak to sailors for advice during gales and to her family to boost her morale as well as send and receive texts and emails.
So far, Dilek has travelled 3,700 nautical miles with another 9,000 more to go and is currently on a stopover in Arrecife, Lanzarote before sailing to the Island of Sal, Cape Verde Islands in January
“I’ve used the phone three times since starting my journey in Istanbul to call other sailors for advice when the weather was really bad. The worst time was when I was between La Linea and Rabat. It was gale force eight and the sea was really rough. My autopilot was broken and I had no wind steering system. I had to steer two days and two nights until I got to Rabat, without eating proper food and sleeping for just two hours.
“In the middle of the gale my husband sent me text messages telling me he loved me and urged me to keep going, telling me I could do it. It’s invaluable to have the link with the outside world and it kept me going,” said Dilek.
As well as realising her childhood ambition, her voyage – named Rota Atlantik – aims to raise $0.5 million to fund school places for girls.
The money will pay for ten girls aged from 10 to study at Darüşşafaka – Turkey’s oldest non-profit organisation which offers high-quality secondary education to promising students from disadvantaged backgrounds, and who do not have a mother or father.
The mum-of-one, who was brought up in the coastal town of Izmir and has been sailing since she was eight, wants to inspire more girls to go onto further education.
Dilek explained: “Everyone in Turkey goes to school until ten but afterwards some families can’t afford to send their children to continue their education. Generally girls prefer to get married young or their families force them to. I want to inspire them to aspire to an education and become self-confident, happy and successful leaders in society. The world’s seas are waiting for them!”
During her voyage, Dilek plans to visit and interview women living by the sea to document their dreams and adventures.
The names of each supporter who contributes $2,500 or more will be written on Dilek’s boat.