If you are looking for a holiday to escape the crowds and for complete and utter relaxation, read on. What is it like to sail the tranquil, emerald green, warm waters around the coast of Turkey with your own crew on an exclusive boat? One word sums it up: bliss.
A gulet is a traditional wooden sailing vessel which normally has two or three masts. They are popular around the eastern Mediterranean, but particularly in Turkey. These vessels can vary in size from 14m to 35m and can accommodate small or larger groups of people.
Often chartered by tourists in peak season and coming with their own crew, you literally have nothing to get stressed about. Powered by wind in the sails and with a motor and generator on board, they are sturdy and self-sufficient sailing boats.
Rota Yachting offer several different sizes of gulets with a choice of destinations and routes. Having been in business since 1999 and with a big network of associates, they are dominant in the Turkish yachting market. They offer 4 categories of vessel to choose from: standard, upper standard, luxury and deluxe. We went for ‘Luxury’ which made it very affordable, especially with the cost split between our group.
We (our group) consisted of 12 people (3 families) and we chartered a boat in summer which slept 16 so it had spare cabins, which were useful for storing suitcases, etc. The crew slept below deck in their own hidden private areas, meaning you have total freedom over the whole boat.
Cabins are small, as you would expect, on a boat of this size but are fully functional and en-suite bathrooms have plumbed, flushing toilets and shower cubicles. The onboard generator is noisy when it’s on, but the crew only turn it on at certain times of the day when you want hot water to shower and to charge mobile phones, use hair dryers etc – not that I bothered with the latter.
We picked up our gulet from Marmaris in Turkey which was once a sleepy fishing village and is located at the meeting place of the Aegean Sea and the Mediterranean Sea. Hills run into the sea creating magnificent, calm bays with stunning views.
This holiday isn’t so much about where you visit, it’s mostly about the fun of being at sea. Our route took us from Marmaris to Fethiye (a lively fishing village and harbour) and back to Marmaris again, which took 7 nights. Each night we stopped at different secluded bays where we could sleep in our cabins or above deck on the sun loungers, under the stars. We did this a few times which was great fun – like one massive sleepover – falling asleep watching shooting stars and listening to the gentle lapping of the sea on the cliffs.
Of course, it also means you wake up as soon as it becomes light – but it’s a view TOTALLY worth waking up early for. The sunrises and sunsets in Turkey reflecting in the water make it a truly spiritual experience. The mountain goats balancing along the cliff edges defying gravity are also a sight to be seen. You find yourself holding your breath at their daredevil antics whilst hearing the echoes of their bleating carrying in the wind.
Our Captain and crew were a family of 3 generations who owned the boat. The grandfather cooked all meals from scratch using the freshest ingredients – high quality and locally grown food – which was included in the cost. They went above and beyond to do everything for us and kept the gulet immaculately clean, whilst offering their local knowledge and information.
Our days were spent swimming and snorkelling in the crystal-clear waters, though sometimes we did have to avoid the jellyfish. Nearby boats come round offering activities like water skiing, speed boat fun, dinghies and parasailing so kids can do activities as much as they want.
The scenery is awe-inspiring, especially the historic architecture in the cliffs where tombs have been built into them, and we stopped off for a mud bath along the way which was wonderful fun.
If you want to while away your days and nights, swimming in the luminous waters, spotting dolphins, sea turtles, colourful fish, soaking up the sun and reveling in the joy of nature and just how beautiful the world can be, this is the trip for you. It clears your mind, refreshes your senses and takes away all decision making, worries and day to day responsibilities.