Faithful friend, if you have understanding,
Know that the mariner's art is a difficult one.
For these seas resemble an enemy's muteness;
Their storms remind one of his bitterness.
Pirî Reis, Ottoman admiral and cartographer, 1525
[Istanbul] holds an absolute dominion over the Black Sea. By one door only, namely by the Bosporus, it shuts up its communication with any other part of the world; for no ship can pass this sea, if the port thinks it fit to dispute its passage.… For this reason all foreign nations, if they want to entitle themselves to any prosperity in the immense wealth of the Black Sea, and all seaport and island towns, are obliged to court the friendship of this city.
Pierre Gilles, French ambassador to the Ottoman sultan, 1561
[T]he storm began to buffet us most unmercifully, nothing but thunder and lightning, hail and torrents of rain pouring down on us for three days and nights.… Of the passengers, some were vomiting, some praying, some vowing victims and sacrifices, some alms and pilgrimages.… [T]he ship now touched the highest heavens, and now descended into the deepest of hells.… I swore never to try the navigation of the Black Sea any more.
Evliya Çelebi, Ottoman traveler, 1684