Sailing to Turkey

By | Category: Travel destinations
What could be better than sailing under the Bosphorus Bridge?

What could be better than sailing under the Bosphorus Bridge?

A popular favourite of cruise companies is the Turkish coastline since you can see great cities like Istanbul, small islands hardly touched by time, the waterways leading into the Black Sea and well-known beach resorts. All well and good for those who like cruises but if you really want to see the area, sailing is a much better option either on a gullet holiday or with your own vessel.  Much of Turkey’s coastline is only accessible by boat, making sailing the ideal way to explore. You see much more and even on a tour you can stop-off for an hour or two and see something that attracts.

Over the years the Turkish authorities have laboured long and hard to attract more visitors. They have opened museums almost yearly, built large and small hotels to cater for different tastes and improved their infrastructure.  All this effort has been helped by a favourable exchange rate which meant that, even during the height of the economic downturn, visitor numbers grew. Now it is one of the most popular destinations for us.

In all this growth, sometimes it gets forgotten how much they have done to appeal to those who like to sail.

a marina at Bodrum

a marina at Bodrum

Marinas have been created at an astonishing rate.  The latest planned include Dalaman on the Mediterranean coast, Oren on the Aegean coast close to Bodrum and another in Istanbul representing a capacity of 1435 floating and 780 hard standing moorings. Sifne, on the Aegean coast in Cesme and which is close to Izmir has a mooring capacity of 700 yachts. Floating docks In Istanbul to have a further 5,500 berths are planned

In all, Turkey has a large number of world-class marinas with 36 international standard marinas and 12 municipality operated marinas with a total capacity of 14,230 floating berths and 5,605 hard standing. Of these marinas 21 have been awarded the Blue Flag award. All are located between Istanbul in the north and Mersin in the south. Now attention is turning to develop the unexplored potential of the Black Sea region.

In Istanbul both Atakoy Marina on the European side and Setur Kalamis-Fenerbahce (Amiral Fahri Koruturk) Marina on the Asian side offer 24-hour service and the recently opened marinas also offer longer opening hours. Seven marinas have opened over the last year or so providing between them some 3,000 additional berths and nearly 1,900 hard-standing capacity.

If you prefer to sail on a gullet then a lot has changed over the years. Originally they were fishing or cargo vessels. Today only the outward appearance recalls those days. Most have large sunbathing decks, dining area and cabins below  and the majority have motors as well as sails in case the wind drops or you stand a chance of being becalmed. Gulets can be fully chartered by a group or are sold on a cabin basis by tour operators.

a modern gulet

a modern gulet

Most gulets also travel a specific route on the Aegean or Mediterranean coastlines, taking in the azure waters, a multitude of isolated bays and tiny islands. For those who prefer less time at sea, day trips can be arranged from any resort, either by booking through your operator, local agency. Feel free to tip up at the local harbour first thing in the morning and negotiate a trip there and then. There will always be someone who will agree a deal.

Whilst you are in Turkey there are any number of events linked to the sea. In October, there is the Bodrum Cup which lauds the end of the sailing season in October.  It brings together Bodrum’s charter fleet with private wooden yachts from around the world. This most exciting of competitions is held annually in October, exclusively for classically constructed wooden vessels, both for skilled yachtsmen and novices, who can stow away as passengers or join the crews for the last adventure of the sailing season.  Another event in October which is colourful and well worth a visit if you are near Marmaris is the  Bozburun International Gulet Festival.

Whichever method you choose to sail around the Turkish coastline, you’ll end up seeing more of Turkey the traditional and the new.


For more  information about Turkey, click here.


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