I first heard about sailing along Turkey’s Turquoise Coast a few years ago when I read a story by San Francisco Chronicle Executive Travel Editor John Flinn, a story that was reprinted in Travelers’ Tales Turkey. From that moment on I wanted to do what he had done, and I had the opportunity in 2006. Setting sail in Gocek we meandered to Bodrum, stopping at the ancient city of Knidos and many other sites along the way. But once was not enough, so I returned in September, this time to explore Gorkova Bay in a loop out of Bodrum.
We sailed the same lapis sea, dove into the same blue, blue water, but visited other places such as English Harbor, where the British hid their submarines during World War II, Bachelor Harbor, where before the age of engines sailors waited for the winter winds to blow them back to their homes after stocking up on firewood, Cleopatra’s Island, with its famous government-protected sand found only there and in Egypt, the quiet seaside village of Oren with its engaging Wednesday market, the hill town of Bozalan, known for its carpet weaving but now known to our group as a place of special hospitality.
We may have been biased but our boat, the gulet Kaptan Sevket (a gulet is a traditional Turkish wooden yacht), was the most beautiful on the high seas with its blue and woodgrain mahogany hull and blue masts. For seven days it was our home, seven days of relaxing on deck, swimming in the sea, paddling kayaks in hidden coves, hiking in the forest, and exploring Hellenic ruins, all the while eating like Ottoman royalty. We also had our own special interest, building a writers’ group and pursuing the writer’s craft, which we did for several hours each day. But such special interest is no requirement: gulets can be booked with no agenda beyond enjoying yourself. There’s just one thing to keep in mind: once you’ve sailed here you may be compelled to come back again and again. The exquisite waters of the Aegean Sea quickly get into your blood.