Turkey, the gateway between Europe and Asia, the cradle of great civilisations, is the point of connection between Western and Eastern cultures. The three seas that bathe the Turkish peninsula, its favourable geographical conditions plus efforts made to improve the infrastructures in its ports, make hiring a boat to sail round Turkey a truly simple and original option.
The best season to enjoy tranquil sailing in Turkey is between spring and autumn, as the gentle breezes guarantee safe and pleasant sailing. The star vessel, and that which is most sought after in the zone, is the gullet, which enables you to enjoy some authentic-style sailing round the Turkish coast.
The Bosphorus, also known as the Strait of Istanbul, is a natural divide between the European part of the country (formerly Constantinople) and the Asian part. The uniqueness of this spot, together with the charm of the city, make Istanbul a great starting point to sail with a hired boat.
TRAVEL ROUND THE TURQUOISE COAST
As a recommended sailing route, we suggest you travel round the Turquoise Coast, also known as the Turkish Riviera. It was given this name because of the turquoise colours of the crystalline waters of the Aegean Sea.
The majority of Turkey’s archaeological sites are to be found in this area of the country, as it is a region that boasts a rich historical past, brimming with myths and legends. The ruins of the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, one of the “Seven Wonders of the Ancient World”, are located in Bodrum (a destination that Homer spoke of in The Iliad), a city that is highly attractive to tourists thanks to plenty of day- and night-time activities, as well as presenting numerous natural charms.
Sailing round the Gulf of Gokova and exploring it is also highly recommended. En route, there are countless safe bays where you can anchor such as those of Kesr, Sogut and Degirmen Bukun. And by the way, don’t miss out on the opportunity of bathing on the beach which, according to legend, Marc Antony prepared for Cleopatra, with sand brought directly from Egypt. The Temple of Artemis in Ephesus, also considered one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, is another place highly recommended for a stopover.
THE GULET, A BOAT WITH A DESIGNATION OF ORIGIN
Turkish gulets are the star hire boat in the zone that enable you to relive the spirit of a past age. They are replicas of ancient work boats, but with every comfort and convenience onboard. Gulets are made of wood and use both sail and motor power. One of their advantages is that they can accommodate up to 30 people and have professional, highly-experienced crews. Nevertheless, if you prefer to travel in more intimate style, you can always hire another type of boat such as a catamaran, for example, which, with their small draft, allow you to sail in closer to beaches and coves like Moonlight Bay in Kemer, or Olympos Beach, situated in a picturesque bay in the shadow of Mount Olympos.
The Aegean Sea bathes the hundreds of Turkish islands and islets, and also the Turquoise Coast (considered one of the most spectacular in the world), that has a mild Mediterranean climate.
If sailing from mid-May to mid-September, watch out for the Meltemi, strong, dry, Northerly winds. They are usually at their strongest in the afternoons and die down at night, although they can sometimes last for days without interruption. The Meltemi start up in clear weather and without warning, and can reach 7-8 on the Beaufort Scale (between 50 to 74km/hour).
This wind rises when high pressure forms in the Balkans and low pressure forms in Turkey. Other winds in the zone that you should be aware of are the North Aegean, that blows North-Northwest; the Central Aegean, that blows in a Northerly direction; and the South Aegean, that blows North-Easterly.
If you are thinking about hiring a boat, BoatBureau suggests a sailing route on the Turquoise Coast, departing from, and returning to, Marmaris.
CALCULATIONS FOR SAILING
|From Marmaris to Rhodes||25.09′||183.7°|
|From Rhodes to Gobun||34.64′||67.7°|
|From Gobun to Fethiye||10.01′||87.8°|
|From Fethiye to Gocek||9.97′||301.5°|
|From Gocek to Sarsala||6.18′||216.1°|
|From Sarsala to Içmeler||29.85′||284.5°|
|From Içmeler to Marmaris||4.12′||358.1°|
Day 1.- Departure from Marmaris
Castle and Museum
The historian Herodotus recorded that there has been a castle in existence in Marmaris since 3000 BCE. When Caria was invaded during the Hellenistic age, the castle was held under siege by Alexander the Great.
In 1522, it was rebuilt by the Ottoman Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent, who established his base there for the Rhodes campaign.
Since 1979, reconstruction work has been going on to return it to its original state, becoming a museum in 1991 with 7 galleries and a courtyard decorated with flowers that vary according to the season.
Day 2.- Rhodes
The island of Rhodes is the largest on the Dodecanese Archipelago. It is also known as the “Island of Sun” as it enjoys more than 300 days of sunshine a year.
The Colossus of Rhodes stood at the entrance to the port, one of the original Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. The statue, that portrayed the god of the sun Helios, was destroyed by a strong earthquake in 226 BCE.
Rhodes has an important Medieval Old Town or Old Town of the Knights, which was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Inside the walled town there is the castle that was inhabited by the Crusaders of the Order of Saint John.
If you make your way along the Street of the Knights, considered the best-conserved medieval street in Europe, you will come across many signs of those former times: Christian crosses, Virgin Marys, coats-of-arms with fleur-de-lys, etc.
There are not only churches in this city, but also mosques and synagogues, as all faiths co-exist here.
Day 3.- Gobun
One of the most wonderful coves on the East of Turkey. Access to it is through an impressive opening between cliffs. Extraordinary and extremely beautiful surroundings to enjoy from your boat.
Day 4.- Fethiye
Built on the ruins of ancient Telmessos, Fethiye is the perfect choice if you are looking for a destination that is well away from international mass tourism. This city still conserves the appearance of a peaceful, coastal town, with its small port and taverns by the sea.
Fethiye is renowned for its remarkable rock tombs, hewn into the side of the mountain above the city. They were built by the Lycians as places of rest for their most revered departed souls.
Another place of interest is the Telmessos amphitheatre, just beside the port. Its construction dates back to the era of the Roman Empire, although there are signs that bring one to believe that a theatre already existed on this site during the times of Alexander the Great.
Day 5.- Gocek
Gocek is a small port town, surrounded by lush pinewoods and protected by the Taurus Mountains.
Almost certainly, the main part of the ruins of the ancient city are to be found mysteriously hidden beneath the long main street, Turgut Ozal, where you can find handicraft workshops, restaurants, cafés and bars. The seafront promenade is perfect for enjoying your evenings, sampling local gastronomy, listening to music and relaxing.
Day 6.- Sarsala
Beauty with a capital “B”: Sarsala is a cove with crystal-clear waters that simply invite you to take a dip in them, go diving or enjoy a spot of water-skiing.
Truly wonderful panoramic views can be seen from the higher part of the cove.
Day 7.- Içmeler
Located in a bay, Içmeler has the best beach out of all the other towns that also form part of it. It is surrounded by pinewoods and the mountains in the background offer a spectacular landscape, in contrast to the crystalline seawaters.
The night-life here is also peaceful. The bars and restaurants generally have live music and shows until around midnight.