Turquoise Turkey Sailing: Marmaris and the Bay of Fethiye

The refreshing Netsel Marina’s showers aid our 8 am departure. A light breeze allows for sailing with the genoa the 7 nm out of the bay. Over the next days we find a pattern of early morning wind dropping until midday. Mid afternoon it would generally pick up. We sail the rest of a pleasant sunny day the 17 nm to Ekincik.

Turkey Sailing Charter

We have a mix of experience. A few are content to sit back while others want to pitch in or learn. We settle on a loose division of above and below deck roles. Nicki takes control of the galley in exchange
for unlimited sunbathing.

Marmaris is large protected bay 50 miles across from Rhodes, Greece with a castle ruin overlooking the harbor. Castles have been here since 3000 BC. Alexander the Great stopped by, as did Suleyman the Magnificent. The castle also overlooks the many small cafes fronting the main harbor where we have dinner.

Turkey Sailing Charter

Our 49 ft. Bavaria sloop, Olivia, has 5 cabins: two double bunks and three queen size cabins. Two fridges will keep our beer and wine cold and a huge genoa will help keep us moving in light winds. The double helm will be helpful for teaching the novices.

Dan is eager to learn and Aynsley wants to polish her rusty skills. Bob and Jules are experienced. The remaining UK crew, Nicki and Sara, are more inclined to sunbathing and prefer handling the lunch duties than the lines. John, an experienced sailor from the US, rounds out our crew.

We’re around the Kizel headland by mid afternoon into Ekincik Bay.  We choose a small marina, aptly called “My Marina” on the SW corner of the Bay. It is too late for taking a small boat upriver to Caunos and its the famed cliff tombs so we relax on Olivia before dinner.

 Turkey Sailing Charter

Itinerary: Turkey Sailing Charter, Marmaris to Fethiye

The steep hillside leading up to the restaurant overlooking Ekincik Bay has an old cog-wheel chairlift to help the brave up to the restaurant. We opt out, enjoy the views and take note of the excellent restrooms & showers on the walk up. A nice touch is leaving ones shoes at the shower entrance in exchange for local wooden clogs. We’ll be visiting in the morning!

Turkey Sailing Charter

The staff at the cliffside restaurant jump to assist us bringing platters of fish to inspect and servings of wine. But no menu. Everything is presented and discussed. A few questions on prices establishes a comfort level and the eight of us end up with a delicious meal and ample wine for 560 TL. (2 Turkish Lira (TL) = 1 Euro.)  With dinner, the berth is free while 20 (TL) covers our electricity and water. Compared to other Med locations and even other Turkish berths this is VERY reasonable.

One of the big draws of Ekincik Bay is the well preserved tombs carved into the cliffside at ancient Caunos. In Lycean times Dalyan and nearby Caunos were approached by the Dalyan River. Its mouth has since silted over so local watermen will happily take you upriver for a price. I saw the tombs on my last trip and they are remarkable.  We decide not to use one of our six sailing days to view the tombs and sailed south along the east coast of Ekincik Bay bound for another rocky burial site about 28nm away – Tomb Bay.

We stop for lunch midday during our sail to Fethiye Bay. Rather than anchor at Peksimet Island next to a couple of large gulets, we heave-to with a swim line out while lunch is prepared. The water temperature is refreshing, as is Nicki and Sara’s excellent pasta lunch.

The wind picks up so we sail on a close reach for 90 minutes into the SW corner of Fethiye Bay. A bit of excitement is felt by sailing through a narrows between Domuz and Tersane, two small islands with steep sides and deep water. There are several nice anchorages in this corner of the Bay. We choose Tomb Bay based on Heikell’s description in his “Turkish Waters…” cruising guide; an excellent resource for this trip.

From our dock mooring, we can see a couple of small Lycean tombs carved into the north cliff of the narrow cove. While not on the grand scale of Caunos, it does give you the appreciation that it would be a lot of work to get oneself buried up there.

The mixed grill at the small waterside restaurant was delicious and a bargain at 430 TL for 8. The dinner stretched on. The dozen tables have crews from the yachts moored off the dock. We have a clear, starry night, good food and light Turkish wine – a very pleasant ending to our second sailing day.

Turkey Sailing Charter

Approaching Gocek Harbor, Turkey Sailing

In an open-sided shack next to the restaurant, the barber is setting up shop. Shave and a haircut, two bits. 20 TL purchases the crew a breakfast of one large round loaf of warm bread, one potato and one cheese large pancakes-like crepes and a huge slice of chocolate cake. These are wrapped in paper, still warm, for me to take back to Olivia. We enjoy this local treat as we motor the short distance towards Gocek Harbor.

Legend is that Icarus fell to the sea nearby. I was interested in something warm but not hot enough to clip my wings. There’s a small hammam located at the NW corner of the harbor next to Club Marina. I grab a taxi and speed past the cafes along the waterfront. Olivia’s crew fan out to explore the side streets of Gocek; a small, old town with an industrial ore shipping past. The six marinas in Gocek Harbor now serve a busy gulet “Blue Cruise’ population.

After the excellent 35 TL steam and massage, I was tempted by the many cafes but we had agreed on a two hour lunch stop. I pay the harbormaster the half-day rate plus electricity and water – a total of 35 TL.

It is a beautiful afternoon with the wind picking up so we tack between islands and across the bay towards Fethiye. Dan and Aynsley share the helm. Bob and John, our more experienced sailors, handled the sails. John rigs a preventer to ease any concerns as we turn downwind.

By late afternoon the decision is for a swim. With Aynsley at the wheel we round the SE tip of Kizel Island. The funneled wind shoots up to 12+kn and Aynsley scores the as yet uppermost speed. Olivia is beamy and heavy so needs a good puff to get her going! After a swim and lunch, off to Fethiye.

Turkey Sail Marmaris

Olivia (and our towels) at ECE Marina, Fethiye, Turkey Sailing

We managed a lot of sailing from Gocek to Fethiye. With the sun dropping, the marina tells us it is 60€ overnight so we poked around the small T-dock marina next door. It’s only 25 TL … but it’s full.

The outstanding shower and restroom facilities at the ECE Marina make it worth the expense. After a good, long sailing day we set out early for a stroll along the busy Fethiye harborfront. The docks are swarming! Lots of gulets stop in Fethiye and it is the largest yacht haven in the area.

A small restaurant with a balcony overlooking the harbor beckons us. The lamb is excellent, the beers cold. Deciding to enjoy Fethiye town a bit more, everyone is OK for a late departure tomorrow.

The Skipper’s Breakfast at the Marina Restaurant next to the showers cemented the decision to berth here. Hearty and delicious. I worked on my notes until Aynsley and Jules join me. Sara completes our breakfast party. Everyone is in high spirits and looking forward to a morning in town.

My hammam experience has others interested. Bob and Dan head out to find a hammam; Aynsley says she will: “check it out”. John is off to explore the Crusader’s Castle; Nicki is content to relax with a book on deck of Olivia.

The stragglers cross the gangplank and we prepare to set out. A good wind is on our nose so Aynsley and Jules man the fenders along our starboard side. We are open on the port side. Dan using a hand-held fender, walks along the rail to be sure there is not a bump.

We motor out of Fethiye Harbor into the Bay bound for Olu Deniz, one of Turkey’s best beaches.

Olu Denis, Turkey Sailing

Olu Denis, with Hang Gliders, Turkey Sailing

The 15nm sail around the SE tip of Fethiye Bay towards the cape of Yogun Burnu and Olu Deniz turns out to be the best conditions yet. Close to 20 knots of wind on our beam gives us 8+ kn with one reef in the main.

Dan, John, Bob, and Aynsley take turns at the helm. A great benefit of the double helm is the ease of
having a novice at the wheel – the skipper doesn’t need to hover over the nervous novice.

As we turn north into the bay the wind drops. We motor-sail around Yogun Burnu to the long sandy beach of outer Olu Deniz. The steep relief of the Babadag Mountains combines with the sea to create an updraft popular with hang gliders. Colorful kites soaring from the cliffside gently spiral down to the beach as we approach the anchorage.

Olu Deniz is one of Turkey’s gems. To the left of the outer beach, a spit of white sandy beach guards the entrance to the beautiful blue lagoon of Olu Denis: the ‘Sea of the Dead’. Unfortunately named, as the legend goes, from an incident where a father did an unsuccessful man overboard drill with his son in an argument about where to steer their craft in an unsettled sea hiding the safe harbor of Olu Deniz.

Olu Denis, Turkey Sailing

Olu Denis, Day Tripper Gulets,Turkey Sailing

Yachts are not allowed into the lagoon where the prettiest beach lies. Small craft will take you in. A local guy in a launch approaches and guides us into the protected NE side of Yogun Burnu. He is quite helpful, directing us where best to drop anchor aside a couple of small gulets and helps by tying our stern line to a jutting rock on shore. We pull the anchor rode tight for a modified med mooring.

Then we get the bite. He’s an ice cream salesman! Dove Bars for 8 TL apiece are not cheap but he was helpful so we buy four. Excellent day-end dessert worth every Lire. We swim and relax on Olivia to Bob’s shrimp dinner.

Ciflik_moon. Turkey Sailing

Ciflik moon. Turkey Sailing

The following day a lull holds through the morning. We motorsail back towards Marmaris with the crew enjoying sunbathing on Olivia’s large deck until the wind picked up to 7 kn so we put up sail into Ciftlik.

Dan takes the helm. He’s getting the hang of keeping the sails full and staying on course with the slight wind shifts. We pass Ciftlik Adasi, a small rock island at the entrance to Ciftlik harbor about 4 pm.

Nicki and Aynsley come back from the showers with a report on the restaurant and its menu. The long day has everyone in a festive and hungry mood. We enjoy crisp white wine with our
excellent prawn casseroles.

Marmaris Harbor the next morning to fill the tank. Bob brings us alongside the fuel dock smoothly. Once fueled, we head back out into the Bay.The wind picks up to 10 kn and we have a fine afternoon zigzagging the Gulf. Aynsley is keen for the helm, Dan is always ready and Sara gives it a try.

For a late lunch, we anchor in Turunc Buka, a small cove with a few yachts and a small restaurant. A final tasty late lunch is prepared courtesy of Nicki, Jules, Dan and Aynsley and we all have a refreshing last swim.