As the crow flies we are not so far from Anzac Cove; some kilometres but on the opposite side of the peninsula which initially was not the plan. But we do feel a close connection, rising at 5am for an on board, live feed dawn service. Twelve of our group are over there and we know just how it feels outside for them. The only difference is that we got to sleep in a bed last night. They left our boat at about 1.30pm yesterday and have not yet returned at 2.30pm today. We now refer to them as the 'dirty dozen' instead of the Gallipoli 12!
The remaining ~60 of us were in the lounge for the dawn service, we stood for the anthems and sang along. Afterwards we all went onto Deck 6 at the front of the boat where we had our own small service. Peter Briggs spoke about the AE2 submarine and and those naval personnel who did not return from Turkey. Several members of the group spoke about their family members involved in the conflict, one even reading from his grandfather's journal. A couple spoke about their great grandfathers and a great uncle, all who were here. Two women read their favourite Anzac poems and we even had a bugler amongst us who played the last post rather beautifully.
We then rested for a while and later watched the Lone Pine ceremony in the lounge. This afternoon we will have another couple of sure to be entertaining talks from Hugh Dolan followed by a barbie on the aft of Deck 5, called the Lido where we eat when the weather suits. At lunchtime today it was quite mild and we sat chatting over dessert and wine.
There are military and ex military personnel amongst us, we could tell by the way they stood so erect during the anthems with their arms by their sides and their fists lightly clenched. I didn't find it emotional but I did appreciate the solemnity and significance of all that was said. If we'd had this opportunity 10 or 20 years ago we would have proceeded in the ballot but in the end we pulled out at the last opportunity and we don't regret that. It still felt good to be standing on a boat in the Dardanelles, looking out at the memorial at Cape Helles. We have heard so much of the history that I think we are all really looking forward to our day on the ground on the 27th. Hopefully there will be fewer people there by then.
Having just read Les Carlyon's Gallipoli just before we left and having heard what we have in the last few days it all seems so much more familiar and now I am keen to see the places I've heard about.