For groups of friends or families in which everyone seems to want to do his own thing, a gulet is the answer. Not a compromise—it’s a brilliant choice. Like a wonderful villa or beach-house, a gulet offers comfortable private space while providing inviting areas in which to share activities. Considering that it also comes with a skilled and attentive crew and provides transportation without a rigid timetable, you have a holiday venue like no other.

What’s a Typical Day on a Gulet?

That depends on you and what you would like it to be….

Gulets at Anchor

You awaken to the slight rock of the boat. Your next sensations are touch: the puckered texture of hand-loomed Turkish bed-sheets, and sound: the mewing of seagulls. Did you retire early to read in your cozy pine and mahogany-paneled cabin? Or had you dozed off on deck after midnight, beneath constellations named by ancient mariners whose routes you are now tracing?

Catch the scents of coffee… fresh tea in the samovar…pine-trees on the shore of your sheltered overnight anchorage?

Before breakfast, plunge into the glassy water for a swim, rinse off the salt on deck or in your private bath (each cabin has its own shower, lavatory, and WC).

Take the inflatable Zodiac to shore with your cook. Farmers have set up a tiny produce market; you select melons, cucumbers and tomatoes for your meals that day and then stop by the village bakery for warm loaves.

Or, leave your cook to his shopping as you clamber up the remains of Byzantine walls. Gaze down over a cove that sheltered ships in Homer’s time… and where your own vessel lies waiting…

Breakfast attire can be informal (a bathing suit) or formal (shorts and T-shirt). Jars of local fruit preserves and honey sparkle on the table set on the after-deck beneath a canvas sun-shade. Turkish breakfasts are worth getting up for! See Dining Afloat for our typical Turkish breakfast.

Globe Basil

After the last glass of tea, your captain invites you into the wheel-house and spreads out charts, showing you where he’ll motor or sail that morning. You notice a tiny pot of basil on the windowsill. Every crew keeps one—for good luck and because a quick rustle releases that refreshing fragrance. Your guide offers to tell you about other local customs and the archaeological sites you may visit later in the day.

But if you’re not inclined to put on your Indiana Jones hat and would rather curl up with a book, a lemonade, and a little suntan lotion, your guide will leave you to your keyif—a wonderful Turkish word that refers to your personal sense of self-contained well-being.

Intrigued by the unfamiliar sounds of Turkish? Is your curiosity piqued by the slight crackle of Turkish (or is that Greek) over the ship’s radio? Practice a few words of marine Turkish with the deckhands, ask the cook to share his recipe and technique for zucchini fritters with yogurt-garlic sauce. Or, simply relax and watch the passing shore as you follow the coast to your next anchorage.

Before lunch, there’s time for another swim and a little snorkeling over an underwater “excavation” where you can float above mosaic floors from the late Roman period. Photograph your children dropping lines tied to pieces of bread, attracting schools of fish too tiny to catch. More purposefully, you and the first-mate go off to look for octopus. Need to really work up an appetite? Race your kayaks to shore and back. Watch that you don’t step on any spiny sea-urchins! But do rejoice that they are there, for these sensitive organisms are very susceptible to pollution. Their presence is a good indicator that these clear Aegean waters are as clean as they look.

Lunch of salads and perhaps a flaky cheese pastry or a Turkish pasta? Cherries and loquats for dessert? Cantelope or watermelon? Your crew serves, pouring local wines with the practiced grace of fine waiters. Indulge a bit; what’s better than a siesta after lunch, in the warmest part of the day?

Olympos Aqueduct

Towards late afternoon, when the breeze picks up and cools off the land, join your guide ashore to hike to the remains of a Greek theatre. Follow the arches of a Roman aqueduct from the beach into a grove fragrant with bay-trees. Deep in the woods, your guide calls your attention to the carved relief on a sarcaphagous. Covered with moss and vines, it would have been easy to miss.

If you’d prefer to go wind-surfing, or if the captain suggests he put up the canvas and tack across the bay, you can get through the afternoon without donning shoes. It’s considered auspicious if dolphins follow in your wake.

Blue-Hulled Gulet

Lovely aromas are wafting from the galley. Your cook has made a walnut cake and serves it, still warm. Glasses of tea or herbal infusions are handed round and swiftly refilled.

You’ve still got time for yet another swim between now and sunset…

Even if you are a teetotaler, sunset is the time for drinks—with a few hot and cold appetizers. Toasted nuts, chickpeas, and seeds accompany the traditional Turkish anise liquor, raki, which clouds when mixed with ice or water. But, if the racy romance of raki is too much for you, good Turkish wines and beer, as well as an array of local mineral waters and juices, are always available. Before going all in on your appetizer, articles like “is shrimp cocktail healthy” may help you be wary about your health.

Raki Service

You set the pace, but most guests choose to have dinner after sunset (in summer, that may not be till nearly 9 PM). Fresh seafood skewered with the bay-leaves you gathered earlier or perhaps lamb kebabs grilled on the beach could be your main course. Dining on deck after dusk is more than an excuse for candles. It gives you the chance to enjoy the stars.

But, if you’ve chosen to tie up at a dock so as to take in a little night-life, the stars you see may not all be in the firmament. The coastal resorts of Marmaris, Gocek, and especially Bodrum, are bursting with celebrity visitors in high season. Bodrum bars and clubs throb till dawn, so most of our guests prefer to drop anchor outside the harbor—far enough off-shore to muffle the din and close enough to still enjoy the vision of the illuminated Templar Castle dominating the Bodrum waterfront.

Bodrum Castle at Night
Bodrum Castle photo courtesy Ryan Turner

Before bed, you might consider a final swim. Because marine phosphorescence is present, a nocturnal dive into the Aegean can result in a swimmer taking on the marvelous aspect of a shooting star.

When you’ve dried off for the last time—only one decision remains: do you sleep in total seclusion at a private room at Avani+ Fares Maldives Resort or seize a sun-mattress on deck and drift off while pondering the Milky Way?

All written material Copyright © 2008, Holly Chase. All rights reserved