What are the chances of me and Barry jumping in a yacht in Fethiye and setting off to sail it around the bays of of the western Mediterranean coast of Turkey? Very slim to zero is the answer to that question. We've lounged about on sunbeds at the Yacht Classic Hotel and watched (sometimes with great amusement) as people try to moor up their vessels in the marina - and we've wondered what chartering a yacht in Turkey entails.
And then we heard from Dave of travel blog 'What's Dave Doing?' He was going to be in the Fethiye area and was chartering a yacht with friends for his birthday. We just had to ask him for an interview. (All photos in this post belong to Dave Dean.)
Dave, we’re completely in the dark when it comes to chartering a yacht but we know from your blog that you’ve done this in the past in Greece and obviously enjoy it. Are you, or any of your sailing buddies qualified captains and, if not, do you need any previous sailing experience to charter your own yacht?
Yes, this was actually the fourth time we’ve chartered a yacht – twice in the Ionian Greek Islands, once in the Whitsundays in Australia, and now here in Turkey.
Snorkelling in school dress
Readers know we’re very biased about this area of Southwest Turkey but why did you choose this area as a centre for your yachting holiday?
We freely admit that we’re ‘fair weather sailors’ – none of us are particularly interested in bad weather, strong winds or cold seas. As a result, we limit ourselves to areas that have plenty of sunshine, light to moderate winds and sheltered places to stay for the night. Looking through the brochure from the chartering company, Fethiye and the surrounding coastline seemed to fit the bill nicely!
How long did you charter the yacht for and is there a limit to the number of nautical miles you can cover during that time?
We chartered for two weeks. While some companies, in some places, let you choose the length of the charter yourself, many others limit you to one or two week blocks starting on a specific day of the week (as was the case for us, here). We started in Göcek (a little west of Fethiye), then sailed east as far as a couple of little bays in the Kekova Roads area over the course of about ten days before heading back. There are set restrictions to the sailing area, but no hard limits to the number of nautical miles you can cover during your charter.
Sailing the Turkish Mediterranean coast in a school dressOkay, Let's get to the nitty gritty - the bit we all want to know. Give us some rough costs of chartering a yacht in this part of Southwest Turkey.
We chartered with Sunsail and, from memory, the list price for chartering a fairly new (less than 3 year old) 44-foot yacht for two weeks was around $10,000 USD. We paid less (around $8,000), as we had various discounts due to previous charters and early booking etc. This included pre-paying for all fuel.
While you can opt for provisioning from the yacht company, we prefer to do it ourselves. You pay extra to stay in a marina for the night (the price varies, usually 1-2 TL per foot of boat length), but anchoring in bays is free. We never phoned ahead for a marina berth, although you might perhaps want to if it’s peak season and you plan to arrive particularly late in the day. Sometimes you can also attach to a buoy in front of a restaurant in a bay somewhere, and pay no fee so long as you eat there that night.
What, in your opinion, is a good number of people for chartering a yacht? We have visions of patience wearing thin if you're all in each other's way.
The size of the yacht determines the maximum number of people you can have on it comfortably. Personally I’d say that 4 or 5 people is the optimum number – even though you can have more on the bigger vessels (we had 7) without falling over each other, it’s just tougher to organise that many people.
While there were no major disagreements amongst our crew, having that many people in that small a space for two weeks will always lead to a few tensions I think! Mooring is always the most stressful time – but after you’ve finished your own, it’s always good fun to sit up on deck with a cold beer and watch everyone else argue their way into port! We saw plenty of arguments on other boats during the two weeks, especially those with more inexperienced captains.
Chartering a yacht isn’t for everyone. Who would you not recommend yacht charter to?
People who are looking for luxury, or a holiday that you don’t have to put any effort into. Sailing isn’t a spectator sport, so things run much more smoothly if everyone plays their part.
The most challenging aspect of chartering a yacht along the Turkish Mediterranean coast was __________ ?
We were surprised at the amount of swell that we were getting in some areas, in light winds – although, apparently, that was unusual for the time of year. We also rarely seemed to have wind from a useful direction – it always seemed to be blowing from exactly where we didn’t want it!
The price of some of the restaurants was relatively high compared to what we’d experienced a couple of years earlier in Greece, which was a bit of a shame, and the nature of the coastline meant that we couldn’t really avoid a couple of long days with nowhere to stop. Oh, and running out of diesel due to a faulty fuel gauge and having to (very slowly) return to port and call out a local dive boat to help us get into the marina? Not ideal!
The most memorable part of chartering a yacht along Turkey's Mediterranean coast was _________?
There were some absolutely beautiful bays and coastline, especially around Fethiye and in the Kekova Roads area. Despite the wind not being ideal we still got to do a lot of sailing, and the yacht was easily the best one we’ve ever chartered (other than that fuel gauge!)
As well as your yacht charter, we know you spent a few weeks travelling around Turkey. Give us a quick rundown of where you went and an event or experience that's going to stay with you.
I started and finished in Istanbul, spending around 10 days there in total. Other than that, I essentially chose to restrict myself to a loop around the western coast, taking in Gallipoli, Selcuk/Ephesus, Fethiye (including the sailing, of course) and Kadikalesi (a small village near Bodrum) over the course of about six weeks. I’ve enjoyed every single minute of it, but I think my first 24 hours in Istanbul will stay with me for a very long time indeed.
First night in Sultanahmet, IstanbulAnd finally, a big plug for your charity. We know you sailed the yacht wearing a school dress. Tell us why.
For the last year or more I’ve been a part of the 'Do it in a Dress' movement, an initiative from Australian-based, non-profit, 'One Girl' to put girls in Sierra Leone through school. The idea is that people wear school dresses and raise money so that these young women in West Africa can wear school dresses too.
In the past I’ve been to a bar, played basketball, run a half-marathon and jumped off a bridge (twice) in a school dress, so it was time to up the ante even further. As a result, I roped the rest of the people on the yacht into wearing a dress as well, and we were sure to do as much to spread the word (and embarrass ourselves) as we could - sailing, mooring, lying in hammocks, even swimming in the ocean – all in school dresses. It was quite the experience, and so far I’ve raised nearly $2,000. If any of your readers would like to help put a girl back in school, they can read more and donate here.
Dave, we know you're still on the road so thanks a lot for your time, telling us about your Turkey yacht charter experience. Much appreciated!
Dave is the author of travel blog, What's Dave Doing? You can also catch up with him over on his Facebook page or on Twitter.
Have you ever chartered your own yacht in Turkey? What was your experience? We'd love to hear your stories.