Thursday, October 17, 2013

A turquoise holiday: dreaming beyond blue

Unnamed Bay near Ekincik
There is something very special about the colour blue. It is so very calming and yet extraordinarily exotic - think lapis lazuli.

A sailing trip is the idyllic dream vacation because there is nothing more serene than navigating the blue hues created in the spaces between the sky and the sea.

However, I recently joined a yacht rally in Turkey, and it simply ‘blue’ me away.

The Turkish yacht rally was a gem, like the green-blue, aquamarine turquoise which is named after the French word meaning ‘Turkish’.

Turkey, despite its distinctive red flag, features a lot of blue. There is the fabled Blue Mosque in Istanbul and the ubiquitous nazar, the brilliant blue eye-design pendant to ward off the evil-eye.

The turquoise yacht rally I joined travelled along the coast between Marmaris and Anatalya, a route sometimes known as a ‘blue cruise’ from the Turkish phrase mavi yolculuk and a book of the same name.

The fleet comprised just six boats ranging from 40’ through to 53’ with crews of all types: old and young (blue-rinse to blue fingernails), old salts and young Turks.

Now normally, planning for a sailing cruise can be quite onerous exercise: finding charter companies, finding spaces, negotiating contracts, providing sailing experience, peopling the boat, provisioning, etc. Then there is planning the cruise itinerary which will generally require knowledge of the physical geography and weather, tides, wind and so forth.

By contrast, yacht rallies I discovered to my delight, are a breeze! Exactly as sailing should be. Someone else has done the hard work and there is someone there to help when need arises.

Once you have signed up, the only planning you have to do is dream. And no matter how hard you dream, it is but a watered-down and washed-out version of the reality.

The 15-day itinerary provided a wide variety of too-fantastic-to be-true spots from pretty ports like Gocek through to tiny anchorages in unnamed bays.

My favourites were the numerous little bays featuring a single isolated restaurant dedicated to serving the ‘boaties’ moored at their rickety docks or anchored in their bay.

Yacht rallies also offer a more social aspect. While one boat makes for a cruise, two or more make for more social opportunities.

More importantly perhaps, two or more yachts make for a race! Every other day, a race was scheduled. Nothing too serious, rather more like a twilight series. Just with more sunshine, warmer weather, and predictably, more smiles!

Post-mortems to races were conducted in a strictly social manner over G&Ts (Bombay Sapphire of course). Just my style of racing!

On the other days, rallyers could take tours or go exploring on their own. Turkey is famed for being the country that bridges the east and the west. Ruins of Greek, Roman and Byzatine empires lie in literal layers everywhere, both above ground and underwater.

Other extraordinary features of the region include Lycian tombs carved into cliffs, loggerhead turtles and their nests, mudbaths, and hikes up mountains and into gorges like the “hidden city” of Saklikent.

Blue Grotto, Kastellorizo
One particularly spectacular feature of this tour was the 'blue grotto' on the Greek island of Kastellorizo (just two miles from Turkey). Inside the cave, the boat hovers in an iridescent blue ether lit from below. Swimming in the blue Gatorade water is a fitting way to complete this out-of-world experience.

For those craving more urban environments, all the towns and cities offered authentic Turkish baths (hamams), markets and shopping.

If all the choice is overwhelming, there is the opportunity to stay on board to swim and snorkel in the warm, sparkling sapphire water just off the stern of the boat. When is the last time you could say with a smile that you did five swims in just one day!

If Turkey is not your cup of coffee or doesn’t float your boat, Mariner Holidays offer yacht rallies in various places around the world (Caribbean, Croatia, France, Greece, Italy, Malaysia, Scandinavia, Tahiti).

Unnamed Bay near Ekincik
Of particular interest for the more serious racers is a one-design series in Croatia.

You could simply turn green with envy at reading all of this – or you could start planning and dreaming for yourself. 

Recent research shows that even planning a holiday can help you escape the blues.

Start dreaming in blue. Better yet, make it turquoise. 

words: Stephen S Holden
His favourite colour? Is blue! Like almost 50% of everyone else in the western world as it happens!

photos: Peter Kovesi & Stephen Holden

yacht rallies: Mariner Boating Holidays
-        1300 131 724


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I have sailed in a
"Gulet" along that coast, that is the lazy way, they are old fishing boats converted to carry 6 - 8 guests with a captain,cook and boy to look after you. A fabulous area with beautiful view, blue & turquoise seas, Still remembered as one of our best holidays. Joey Freeman