Sailing Turkey

Turkish Coasts
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Turkish coasts

Sailing in Turkey means cruising along the many gulfs and bays of the much indented Turkish coastline. It is also a journey back in time, with a plethora of archaeological sites, castles and temples that reflect its importance in ancient and medieval times. Especially the south-west coast - roughly speaking the stretch of coastline from Izmir via Kusadaşi, Bodrum, Marmaris, Fethiye and Kaş to Antalya - is an ideal cruising ground.

This stretch of Turkish coastline is usually divided into four different yacht charter areas:

If you wish to charter a yacht and would like independent advice on reliable charter companies in Turkey, please see my yacht charter or gulet charter pages.

Turkey abounds with archaeological ruins dating from the dawn of civilization, inhabited by various Anatolian tribes, conquered, and occupied by Persians, Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Ottoman Turks, and finally establishing independence in the 1920's under Ataturk.
The library at Ephesus - Sailing holiday Turkey Sarcophagus - Sailing holiday Turkey Submerged houses - Sailing holiday Turkey
Besides the rock tombs and sarcophagi, most relics are of Greek and Roman origin. Many of the ruins are just part of the landscape, not fenced off.

Crewed yacht charters or Gulets

Besides marvellous options for bare-boating, many sailors will appreciate the luxury Gulet cruises or Blue Voyages. Although these sailing holidays lack the privacy of a bare boat, you will be pampered and nurtured by your own captain, chef cook and hostess. And so it should be on your luxury crewed charter!
These gulet holidays known as Blue Voyages or Blue cruises originate from the time that Cevat Sakir Kabaagacli - a political writer- was exiled erroneously to Bodrum.
The judges who sentenced Cevat Sakir to a number of years in the remote port, knew nothing of local life, which as Sakir discovered, was heaven on earth. He settled down and started writing stories about the town and its locals - in particular, the fishermen.
On his regular outings with fishermen, he gradually got to know the various coves and bays near Bodrum and introduced this rich fisherman's life to visiting writers, scolars and artists from Istanbul. Sakir's tours became famous and were given the name "Blue Cruise"...
For independent advice on Gulet companies (private charters or cabin charters) please see my gulet charter page.

Best ports in Turkey

The Hisarönü Gulf south of Bodrum - around the Knidos cape that is - is home to quite a few very spectacular harbours: Cross the Gökova Gulf either via Kos port (use the marina) or the Mersinçik anchorage (in good weather conditions).

Religion in Turkey

The minarets, covered bazaars, the exotics smells and of course the fairy tale palaces of the sultans, all instill the feeling of travelling the orient in a country that is not only foreign but also harbours a predominantly moslim population. Islam means submission or one that submits himself, in arabic.
Moslim means the same but is a Persian word.
Yet, it is very important to realize that the Turkish state is not Islamic, but rather secular and enlightened, with much more separation between state and religion than in for instance the USA. It was the father of all Turks - Atatürk - who diminished the influence of the islam and transformed Turkey into a modern and western orientated country, even embracing the Latin script (with some additional diacritical marks, see below). Although 90% of the population is Moslim, most take a very pragmatic role toward their religion and are not regular visitors to mosques and don't pray as often as is dictated.

Turkish Language

Ottoman Turkish was originally written in Arabic script, but was converted to Roman letters in 1928. The Turkish alphabet contains 29 letters. There are 8 vowels and 21 consonants, and the letters Q, W, X do not appear, yet there are 6 unusual pairs of minuscules and capitals: Sailing holiday in Turkey
Dotted I İ Breve G Ğ
Dotless i ı Breve g ğ
Diaeresis O Ö Cedilla C Ç
Diaeresis O ö Cedilla c ç
Diaeresis U Ü Cedilla S Ş
Diaeresis u ü Cedilla s ş
There are four back vowels (a, ı, o, u) and four front vowels (e, i, ö, ü). If the vowel of the first syllable of a word is a back vowel, succeeding vowels will normally also be back vowels; similarly front vowels follow front vowels. Exceptions to this rule are mainly in words of foreign origin and then, in general, suffixes follow the vowel in the last syllable. This is known as the rule of vowel harmony.
Suffixes are used when words are declined to indicate their case, and to give additional meaning. These normally follow the rule of vowel harmony. A few nautical examples:
Posessive -ı, -i, -u, -ü Gökova Körfezi = Gökova Bay, from körfez = bay
Posessive -sı, -si, -su, -sü Marmar Adası = Island of Marmara, from ada = island
Plural -lar, -ler Adalar = Islands
Adjective -lık, -lik Kayalık = Rocky, from kaya = rock


Generally stress is laid equally on all syllables of a word. Letters are pronounced as in English with the following exceptions:
c [dʒ] As “j” in “jealous”
ç [tʃ] As “ch” in “chop”
ğ [j] Between to front vowels, as “y” in “yet”
ğ [ː] Between to back vowels, not sounded, but preceding vowel is lenghtenend
ı [ɯ] As something between “i” in “big” and “u” in “bug”
j [ʒə] As “su” in “pleasure”
ö [ɜ] As “u” in “urn” or “ea” in “earth”
ş [ʃ] As “sh” in “shop”
ü [u] As “e” in “yew” or in the French "tu"
er [eər] As “air” in “fair”
ey [eı] As “ai” in “pain”
ay [aı] As “i” in “mine”

A handy list of Turkish phrases for your sailing holidays or blue cruises in the Turquoise waters of Turkey.
A selection of Turkish terms found on charts and in nautical publications.


There are several flights each day Istanbul-Bodrum and Istanbul-Dalaman (which is the airport for Göcek (30 mn), Fethiye (60min+ and Marmaris (90 min).) Milas-Bodrum airport is 40 mn from Bodrum harbour.

Important reading

Enjoy a blue cruise on a gulet motorsailer.
The Provisions onboard (bareboat) charter yachts.
Selecting your charter yacht.
Catamarans vs monohulls.
Wind roses for Turkey and Cyprus.
Sailing between Greece and Turkey.
Swimming or snorkelling: seawater surface temperatures

Further reading: Indispensable books about (sailing in) Turkey.

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3 April 2019
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