Just got back from the Turkish charter yacht show and I have to say that I was really amazed at the warm welcome and very special service I received from everyone in this delightful country. Although Marmaris is a resort town, full of Brits, Germans and especially very rich Russians, the locals are remarkably “un-contaminated”. So far.
In our little yachting world, Turkey’s Aegean coast remains the poor cousin of the classic Med destinations - certainly in the minds of our American clients. Worries about Islamic countries, political unrest, terrorism, etc. cloud our vision of the realities of this great yachting destination. Friendly people who genuinely love foreigners and don’t really care where you’re from - delightful weather, pristine blue waters, forested mountains that reach right down to the ocean and very reasonable prices are certainly reason enough to rethink your travel plans and plan your charter in this country.
Turkey’s Aegean Coast pretty much starts in the city of Bodrum which is the furthest North of the yachting grounds, then it extends down to Gokova with it’s unspoiled forests, marvelous ruins and archeological treasures, then further South to Marmaris which is your classical resort town with great hotels and restaurants, and continues on down to Gocek, in the Fethiye Bay with it’s large bareboat population and where many of the crewed yachts are based.
Charters are generally organized from Saturday to Saturday and the best sailing, as all sailors know, is with the wind behind you. So in summer, with the prevailing wind from the North, charters that start in Bodrum and end in Marmaris or Gocek are encouraged. It's also possible to cross over from Turkey to the Greek Dodecanese islands and jump back into Turkish waters again although there are ports fees every time you switch.
Turkey is also home to that very unique Turkish sailing ship the Gulet. (Spanish speakers please note the origin of the word “Goleta” or small sailing ship). These beautiful wooden vessels are still being built today and come in two basic flavors: the very large variety that can accommodate up to 16 or 18 guests and the smaller ones that generally carry 8 to 10 passengers. The master cabin is generally aft and large, the identical, generally spacious, guest cabins with en-suite heads run port and starboard off a long fore and aft corridor. The crews are Turkish but most are English-speaking, the service is excellent and the food delightful. We had several at the show – one had been launched only a few weeks ago and had that amazing smell of new wood. Built in Bodrum, she can accommodate up to 16 guests.
There is also an excellent and exciting assortment of motor yachts including some very new ones all of which can accommodate from 10 to 12 guests, however, the price of fuel being what it is especially in Europe, motor yacht itineraries need to be carefully planned to maximize fuel economy.
For the budget-minded, there is also an assortment of owner operated and generally smaller crewed monohull sailing vessels and a couple of crewed cats that operate either out of Gocek or Marmaris that can accommodate from 4 to 8 guests.
Bareboats are also available in all three major locations whether these be from the larger international companies or from smaller local companies, they all look pretty good. Bavaria seems to be the marque of preference here.
How to get to Turkey? Several options: fly into Istanbul and then take a local flight into either Bodrum or Gocek. (Delaman) Fly into Athens and take a local flight (Aegean Airlines) to the island of Rhodes and then take the ferry over to Marmaris. This is a favorite with charter brokers going to the Marmaris show.