Traditional Gulets: The Best Boat Vacation in Turkey Ever

Location: Göcek, Turkey
Size: 108'
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.

>> Vira Yachting

THE WATER

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.

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Captain "War" and my brother sat in the water and drank Raki for two hours one evening. The captain said he could do it for five.

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Me and Ursula jumping in together from the deck. She only wanted to do this once. :-)

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The stairs down to the water. We LIVED on these stairs - going up and down all day.

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This is me swimming below the water, which is crystal clear and super blue during the day.

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We didn't go ashore very often, but when we did it was lovely to look back out at the sea. It's picture perfect. This one is taken with Instagram.

MORNING

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.

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Ursula sleeping late

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The captain fishing with bread before people get up

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We were often surrounded by other gulets at night. Our captain knew most of the other captains and some even came over for dinner with him.

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THE BOAT

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.

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That's our boat - the big one farthest out from the shore. This is the view from the ancient castle above Kas.

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Teak.

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A view from the rear, where the captain had his second wheel.

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The boat was huge. You could always find a comfortable spot in the shade to nap or read a book.

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Don't you just love ropes on boats? There are so many of them and so many different kinds.

BELOW DECK

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.

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This is to the forward cabins. There were four rooms in the front and four in the back. Each with their own bathroom.

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I loved this room at the stern. I read to Ursula each day in this room right before her nap.

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To the rear cabins.

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My brother's room shot across the hall from our room. Lovely light through the portholes, which were deep and lined with a very shiny metal.

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Tea time!

THE CREW

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.

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Our captain - who was very cool and strong, silent type.

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Soldar was our first mate and the one who did the most talking with us. Here he's relaxing on the last evening after washing all of his shoes.

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Soldar heading down to the crew's quarters at the front.

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Zeki at work in the galley preparing dinner.

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Cook Zeki and "Babyface", one of the two sailors.

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.

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Food was excellent, varied and mainly fresh. We had a lot of fish, which was delicious and there was always salads and a range of fresh vegetables as Turkey is a big agricultural country.
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This is actually a breakfast pic. I liked the light, but you can see that there is always a ton of food on the table, from cheese, to olives, to meat, to cereal, to eggs, bread and jam. AND my favorite book of the summer, which Sara bought and then gave to me and then everyone read.

EVENING

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.

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Cocktails on the bow at sunset. I loved this time.
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Dinner is on! Everyone gathers at the table at the bow.

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The Captain and fellow captain from another boat hanging out after dinner by the grill.

BOAT SPECS

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Maxwell left teaching in 2001 to start Apartment Therapy as a design business helping people to make their homes more beautiful, organized AND healthy. The website started up in 2004 with the help of his brother, Oliver.