A Month in Turkey Pt. III – Sailing the Aegean Pt. I

After 3 days in Fethiye and it was time for one of the real highlights of this sortie; a week sailing the gorgeous Aegean in and old wooden gulet. We pack our things once more and wander down to the harbour to find it. We got this cheap – going rates are around 900 per person all included for the week. We paid 550. Went straight to the source rather than through Busabout. Though the situation is looking… well; a bit fucked when we check in at the office. There’s 3 ships setting sail, 20 odd people on each ship, 2 Busabout groups ages 20-3ish, and an old peoples and family boat… of which we are supposed to be on. Now that actually wouldn’t be too bad, but given the two party boats heading along, we would be bored out of our brains with the oldies and kids while envious of the others.

Cat and I share a look. We need to fix this. We need to fix this bad. Words are said, and she is pretty firm. They budge and squeeze us in 3 to a cabin… saying we all sleep in the deck anyway. Sounds good
Aboard the boat, introductions take place and we are off after meeting the crew and the Captain’s briefing.

Sailing Turkey

The sun is hazily going down as we chug out of port around the far side of the headland for safe anchorage on the first night. Its a great mix aboard. A German and Englishman a few groups of Aussies, a girl from Poland and an assortment of others. Everyones cool at least. The ship pulls up not far where we drove the scooter to the previous day. The waters below look radiant and leave us thirsting for some booze and a swim. World cups on tonight, a big game for Germany, but theres no TV on the boat. Wait up…theres no TV on this boat and its world cup finals! A few of us football fan aren’t having a bar of it and we negotiate a tender and a van to take us the 10km back into Fethyie and to the bar so we can see it. We all get merrily boozed for the night with our new friends.

I Wake up on the deck to the ship chugging along the coast. We’re moving early. Captain at the helm, keeping the wheel steady with his feet; boss of his universe. We motor past Oludeniz heading for butterfly bay – a beach nestled in a cove named Kelebekler Vadisi. It is spectacular, magical and enthralling. I swim ashore. Opps forgot my pristine Bregeut genuine fake watch. Filled with seawater. Fuck. Too bad I think as I marvel up at the canyon before me; about 80m high of steep cliffs that narrow several hundred meters back where the creek falls down a series of steep waterfalls. We head that way, past the bunch of ramshackle huts, and bungalows that are cluttered amongst the trees just behind the dune space on the beach.

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There’s a good 30 of us making the venture up as 2 or 3 boats have come to the bay for the morning. It gets slippery though and many drop off. We climb through the muddy wet rocks, clinging to vines as ropes as we make our way higher. It steeps out about 50m up and a few good 6-10m scrambles. Theres only 5 of us who make it this far up. Kings of the valley that stretches out before us.

The gulet is a marvel – all wood and probably a good 50 years old, but running in slick order. Captain runs a tight ship. Chef cooks a tight meal and the deck hand scurries about on an endless array of tasks while all of us guests bum around, play cards, draughts, read books and share stories all in-between our next cocktail or swim.

The boat cruises back over towards Oludeniz and drops anchor on the far side between the private beach club and a rocky outlet. Theres a cliff jump on one and its great snorkelling. Not much sea-life, but theres a mystical depth to these blue waters that keeps you entranced. One of the girls; Tamara heads ashore to go paragliding off the summit of Mount Babadag. A 1969m Behemoth whose far side runs down into Kelebekler Vadisi, and front face cascades down to Oludeniz before it. I think its the biggest mountain Ive seen so close to the sea.

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