Face that launched an eight-month odyssey: Ramazan's amazing voyage fails to find happy ending
Ramazan Culum's odyssey of love has attracted international attention. Photo: Ramazan Culum
In his dreams, the story must have had a far happier ending.
After sailing over 4000 kilometres from Turkey in a 4.8-metre yacht, Ramazan Noyan Culum imagined that the British woman he loved would be swept off her feet and accept his hand in marriage.
Instead, his eight-month odyssey took him only as far as an immigration removal office in Sussex, with the object of his desire telling him he will be arrested if he comes anywhere near her.
Mr Culum, a 38-year-old Turkish businessman, was picked up by Customs officials in the Channel this week after sailing the length of Europe to win the affections of Courtney Murray, whom he met at a restaurant in Cyprus in 2005.
At the time, Ms Murray was working as a waitress on the island and only served Mr Culum once. It was enough for him to fall madly in love and he stole her number from the restaurant's wall.
His affections remained undimmed even after Ms Murray turned down his requests for a date and returned to her home, thought to be Liverpool, where she later married.
Last year, Mr Culum found her on Facebook and began writing a blog about his plan to track her down.
After three months of preparation, he set out on April 23 from the Turkish port of Bodrum on his yacht, Ninova, writing: "Courtney I come. Pray for me".
Mr Culum struggled against storms as he crossed the Adriatic, the Mediterranean, and passed through the straights of Messina and Gibraltar and along the Spanish coast. He then sailed up the Portuguese and French coastlines.
At one stage, posting bearded pictures of himself, he claimed he was "ready to die" for his intended.
Along the way he claimed to have been deported nine times, imprisoned, gone on hunger strike and slept rough.
He wrote: "I spent my every second with her in my mind and in my dreams."
Addressing Ms Murray directly, he added: "I love you too much. The world is not beautiful without you. I don't want to continue to live without you. Will you marry me?" He eventually sailed into the Channel and was detained off Plymouth. Mr Culum, who once ran a mobile phone company, was taken to a deportation centre and will sent back to Turkey.
Relations of Ms Murray appear to have become increasingly alarmed as Mr Culum made his way to Britain, posting messages on his blog to warn him off.
In April, her aunt Florence wrote: "Courtney is my niece. She has never and never will have a relationship with you.
"If you ever make it to the UK and make contact with Courtney the police will be informed immediately. Courtney is married and happy. All you are doing is making yourself a fool and upsetting Courtney and her family."
The blog charts his infatuation with Ms Murray. At one stage, he raged: "You stupid girl, you didn't understand even why I come to the UK. I will come there, I will kneel down in front of you, I will kiss your hands and I will propose marrying me. You can marry me or you can imprison me. It's yours to decide."
In his latest entry, on Tuesday, Mr Culum recorded how he had been detained by the UK Border Agency and was in an immigration removal office "located in Sussex". He wrote: "After seven months on the water, after a last month under highly bad conditions, after a lot of works, after a lot of efforts, I did never dream to immigrate. But I was trying to gain the heart of the angel of my life. But I'm now at an immigration centre. I'm not happy of course."
Peter Jones, of the UK Border Agency, said in a statement that a 38-year-old Turkish national had been detained.
He added: "This man was attempting to enter the UK without a visa or a valid passport but was stopped and will now be removed to his home country."
The Daily Telegraph, London