For the past 40 years or so, Turkey has been growing and developing as a yachting destination. Here, where East meets West, you can explore 10,000 years’ worth of history down the longest coast of any Mediterranean country – a stunning 5,200 miles (8,400 kilometers).
These shores have seen the rise and fall of a kingdom’s worth of history books, with fantastic ruins from the Roman and Ottoman Empires as well as the Mediaeval age. This is the place where Cleopatra wooed Mark Anthony; the site of ancient Troy. The “Turquoise Coast” of Turkey is just a stone’s throw from Greece, yet this is Asia Minor – a secular Muslim country with a rich heritage quite unlike any other.
And if the historic sites ashore aren’t enough to tempt you, among Turkey’s other attractions are its relatively quiet waters. The luxury charter fleet operating here is still relatively small, although demand is increasing. In recent years, regulations for foreign yachts have been considerably eased, cruising permits are cheap, yachts can lay up here for lengthy periods and there are an increasing number of well-serviced marinas that can accommodate superyachts.
With 116 of Turkey’s 20-plus marinas listed in Boat International Media’s Superports (available on Dockwalk.com), it’s clear there are excellent facilities for large yachts along both the Ionian and Mediterranean coasts. The major cruising grounds are centred out of Bodrum, Gocek and Marmaris on the southwest “corner” of the country. Bodrum is the liveliest town on the coast; its 15th century crusader castle presides over a harbour bustling with bars and restaurants. A lot of small-yacht charter companies and traditional Turkish Gulets operate out of this port. These elegant, beamy craft are a good choice for an owner or charter guest who desires the look of a traditional sailing yacht while not having to stint on accommodations. In 2007, Silyon Yachts constructed the 41-meter wooden Queen of Andaman in Turkey, a modern take on the Gulet (now on charter in Southeast Asia).
Farther north lies the Bay of Marmaris and the approaches to Istanbul. Almost cut off from the Med by a narrow strait, the waters here are usually as still as a lake. Istanbul itself offers hundreds of marina berths and shipwright facilities. This fascinating city, where Europe meets Asia, is also the gateway to the Black Sea. Compared with the Med coast of Turkey, relatively few yachts venture into the Black Sea due to its lack of natural anchorages and limited harbour space. There is talk of developing more marinas here, but to date, it’s lagging behind the other coasts of Turkey.
One area that has not been slow to advance in Turkey is the building and refurbishment of superyachts. RMK Marine, based in Tuzla Bay close to Istanbul, has massive facilities. It’s currently working on a Sparkman & Stephens 52-meter ketch, as well as Oyster’s new range of Dubois 100-foot and 125-foot superyachts (the first hull is due to launch next year). Turkey is still a relatively cheap place to build yachts while having the advantage of being right on the Mediterranean, with a long history of shipbuilding expertise to hand.
The Turkish coasts have long been a popular sailing destination for smaller yachts; now, with everyone being a little more price-conscious, they are growing in popularity with larger vessels due to the great value they provide for the money. With stunning cruising grounds, this unique country is bound to tempt ever more superyachts to head East for a taste of the Orient.
Check out www.kesit.com/bvoyage and click on the “marina” tab for details of visas, permits etc.