Excellence to Last the Ages
We have cruised the Caribbean and loved the Virgin Islands. The beauty of the Maldives, the Florida Keys and the Bahamas has swept us away. Yet time and time again, we return to the Gulf of Fethiye in Turkey. It’s safe, picturesque and, when it comes to yachting, paradise personified.
The Gulf of Fethiye is bounded by the communities of Marmaris to the north and Kas to the south. It is a roughly T-shaped gulf with the ports of Göcek and Fethiye at each head of the crosspiece. Göcek is a fishing village that has grown to embrace fleets of bareboats and crewed gulets. A couple of the town’s four marinas host Sunsail and local fleets.
We cruised aboard a Numarine 78 Hardtop. She is a Turkish-built motoryacht whose aggressive styling makes her a standout in most harbors, and whose design makes her surprisingly spacious for a whole family during a week aboard.
The islands here rise steeply from the seabed, with pine and oleander trees covering the cliffs. High winds and heavy seas are rarely a problem, and the choices of anchorages and moorings include more than 30 creeks and bays, many with restaurants that serve local fare.
Some bays are close to sites of antiquity, letting boaters clamber over ruins from the Roman occupation and earlier. At Ruin Bay, we dropped anchor off the ruins of a partially submerged structure believed to be a Turkish hammam that Cleopatra visited. We explored with snorkels and masks, and then cruised to the ruins of wharves from the Ottoman Empire in Sasala. Tomb Bay has crypts carved into the rocks high up on the cliff face, each with an imposing façade.
Throughout the day, small boats approach, offering wares and edibles. Fresh rounds of oven-hot loaves arrive at breakfast time. Ice cream is offered just before lunch, along with pancakes filled with cheese and herbs. Each is made to order. Later in the day, fishermen display their catch for you to buy and cook yourself.
If time in the galley isn’t your fancy, motor over to Fethiye, the largest port in the area, where the waterfront bustles. Craft of every shape and dimension are there, including fishing boats bringing the day’s catch to the waterfront market. It’s great fun to mingle with locals as they crowd around the stalls. Every so often, one of the waiflike cats gets rewarded with a small fish tossed onto the floor. Cameras click, and children squeal with delight.
We bought octopus, sea bream and snapper and brought it to a man named Mustapha, whose market stall has tables and chairs under umbrellas. While we sipped Efes, the local beer, Mustapha prepared our dinner. He served it deliciously unadorned, save for huge wedges of local lemons and baskets of fresh bread.
You don’t need much to feel perfection in this part of the world, where our civilization is merely the latest to enjoy the spoils.
Gallery: See a larger selection of Turkey charter photos in the gallery below:
Göcek in Myth
Legend has it that Göcek was the home of Daedalus and his son Icarus. According to myth, Daedalus was the architect and sculptor who built the labyrinth on Crete. He carved the figure of a cow-headed man, and he created wings for his son using bird feathers held together with wax or tar. Daedalus and Icarus were then banished from Göcek, and Icarus flew away, carrying his father with him—too close to the sun, which melted the wings. The pair dropped into the sea and drowned.
About the Numarine 78 Hardtop
On board, this yacht feels much larger than she appears at the dock. Inside, charter guests and owners find a contemporary interior. The master stateroom is amidships with diamond-shaped windows. Forward of the master are two twin-bed staterooms, and then the far-forward VIP, which rivals the master in terms of sleeping accommodations. The main deck had plenty of space for our family of six, and sometimes so much room that we felt like we were aboard a bigger yacht, including at the indoor dining table that seats nine.