Location: Göcek, Turkey
Built In: 2004
I've just returned from a remarkable two week vacation in Turkey. It's been too long since we've gotten away for this long, and the first week was an amazing experience - we were on a 100' traditional gulet off the Turkish coast. It was a family trip, a dream of my mother's, and there ended up being ten of us (friends and family) on board for a week, along with a five man crew. If you've ever longed to see a country at its most natural and avoid all the tourism, cars and noise of the cities, this is the way to go. And Turkey (aka Ottoman Empire, Byzantium, ancient Rome and Greece) is a delight that Americans have yet to fully discover.
Following are the pics with descriptions, and since I'm a designer, I've focused on the boat itself and not our family and friends. If you're interested in doing something like this, it's very easy, and Petra Muller of Vira Yachting is a great agent for a whole range of gulets of various different sizes and price points. BTW our boat is not listed on the website, but it's number is Vira 05-A15 and it had eight cabins, allowing it to hold up to 16 people.
What can I say? The water is a big reason you go. It's incredibly salty (buoyant), clear and has the most remarkable blue colors passing through it at all times of the day.
Many of us slept every night on the roof of the boat, which was delightfully cool and comfortable. You simply pulled up your bedding from below deck and spread out on the many sunning cushions that were there to perform this double duty. At night we watched shooting stars and in the morning, we watched the sun rise before jumping in the water for an early morning dip.
The boat is a traditional design that has been modified for these more leisurely cruises. It can sail a bit, but the captain motored everywhere. Only seven years old and built by the captain, the boat was extremely roomy and simple. I loved it. The decks are all teak and outer woods are all teak and mahogany, and Soldar would wash down the deck each day to keep the wood moist.
We didn't spend much time below deck (except when reading to Ursula during her quiet time), but it was beautifully outfitted. Everyone had a room with accompanying bathroom with clean sheets and duvets, and round portholes to peek out of.
My hats off to our five man crew, which included Captain "War" (his last name translated from Turkish), first mate, Soldar, the cook, Zeki, and two sailors who were very quiet presences and only one went by the name (Soldar's idea) of "babyface". Only the captain and first mate spoke a little English, so our conversations were limited, but always full of good cheer. They took care of us from morning till night for seven days. On the day we left a party of 16 was arriving for the next week. They work hard.
LUNCH & FOOD
The middle of the day is HOT, so beer is called for. Lunch and breakfast were served in the back of the boat (dinner in front) at large tables that the crew tied a tablecloth around so that it was as tight as could be.
Evening was the best. As the sun set, we'd gather on the front deck for cocktails and sit on beanbag chairs while reflecting on the day. After that, Ursula went to bed and we moved to the dinner table, where we often stayed until very late.