Day 1 - Göcek - Siralıbük - Binlik Bay
Rather than drive all the way to Göcek, Fethiye-area residents Ruth, Paul and Zach boarded Arkadaslik early in Fethiye and we made our way to Göcek for the official start of the cruise. Conditions were a bit choppy and clouds were popping up everywhere, but bad weather held off for the 2 hour journey.
When we arrived in Göcek, Captain Oktay dropped anchor just outside of the busy harbour and we dinghied into town for various errands and to collect the other guests.
Bren and Roy, and Snizana and Yana, arrived safe and sound at the meeting spot in Göcek and we were all aboard Arkadaslik by 2:45, ready to head into the Göcek Islands to our first destination of the cruise. Chef Ozan presented his first creation of the journey - cheese rolls and a fruit plate - for snacking enroute. Drinks were served and everyone quickly settled into the rhythm of the sea. The winds were strong, so Captain Oktay selected a protected anchorage at Siralıbük.
Once anchored, Yana was the first in the water, and Snizana was a very close second. In short time, the paddle boards and kayaks were out too - and the youngsters were quick to master them.
A couple of hours later, we lifted anchor and made our way further south into the Göcek Islands region, looking for a calm and quiet place to spend the night. Binklik Bay was perfect for our needs! We dropped a l-o-n-g anchor (nearly 200 meters of chain) in the deep water and were secure for the night.
The crew worked together to prepare a late dinner of Sea Bream and all the fixings. (Chef Ozan was responsible for the mezes, and Captain Oktay manned the barbeque. Sue and Sailor Mustafa set the table and made sure everyone had enough to drink.)
It was a fairly early night as everyone headed to bed by 11PM.
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Day 2 - Binlik Bay - Dış Göbün - Ağa Limanı
Everyone woke early and hopped into the sea for an early morning cool-down swim. (Summer is definitely here - and the cabins were almost too warm for sleeping last night.) After some coffee / tea on the foredeck and a bit of time for sunbathing, Turkish breakfast was served on the back deck.
While the crew cleaned up the breakfast tables and performed boat maintenance, sunbathing and swimming were the order of the day.
Lifting anchor was a drawn-out affair in the 80 meter deep water. In shallower water, the anchor machine is quite capable of lifting the 120kg anchor and chain unassisted. But today, Chef Ozan had to provide a bit of manual assistance. Once the anchor was up and secured, we bid farewell to Binlik Bay and headed to our next anchorage.
We headed out of the protected Göcek Islands towards the next destination of the cruise, Dış Göbün, around noon, where we anchored next to "Golden Horn" (available for sale at 7.5 million Euro) and "MuMu" (available for charter, but if you have to ask the price, you can't afford her). Captain Oktay navigated Arkadaslik into a small cove, where the water was an unbelievable turquoise color - and so clear you could see down 20 meters or more!
We enjoyed a lunch of stuffed aubergine before retiring for naps on the sunbed deck on the warm, yet breezy, afternoon.
Around 5PM, we lifted anchor again and made our way to Ağa Limanı about 45 minutes away. The picturesque anchorage with lovely clear water is perfect - except for the bees / wasps. However, we made it through the evening unscathed and enjoyed a dinner of lamb and meatballs as night fell.
England and the Czech Republic were playing in the European Cup this evening, so guests and crew sat on the back deck to watch the match on Sue's laptop.
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Day 3 - Ağa Limani - Ölüdeniz - Gemiler Island
Captain Oktay raised the sails early to escape the bees and avoid the cross-winds that were predicted to arrive mid-morning. We made our way across the Gulf of Göcek to Ölüdeniz, where we ate breakfast beside the Blue Lagoon.
As everyone was enjoying the post-breakfast sunshine, the coast guard dinghy appeared and four young, armed and uniformed men boarded the boat - inspecting paperwork and making sure the boat was seaworthy and safe. Not surprisingly, everything passed muster and the men left the boat as quietly as they had arrived.
Our final destination of the day was historic Gemiler Island, where everyone lounged and relaxed from the strenous cruise activities thus far. (Fresh air and sea water can be exhausting!)
Tonight's dinner was a feast of barbecued chicken.
Because the cabins were warm, most everyone decided to sleep on deck this evening.
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Day 4 - Gemiler Island - Sarsala Bay - Bedri Rahmi Bay - Summer Bay at Tersane Island
If you had to pick an event-filled day on this trip, today was the day!
We left Gemiler Island early to avoid the predicted high winds and almost made it all the way across before the winds picked up and the waves started. By the time we reached the Göcek Islands (which are normally quite calm), the water was covered with white-capped waves. Fortunately, Captain Oktay found us a nice protected anchorage at Sarsala Bay, where we spent several hours watching a motoryacht and her crew struggle with basic boating tasks. (Karma was returned later in the trip, reminding us to be more understanding and helpful when we see others struggling.)
Once the winds died down, we relocated to Bedri Rahmi Bay for a bit of swimming fun before anchoring on the small stone deck to fill Arkadaslik's tanks with fresh water. This bay is named for a famous Turkish poet and author who popularized Blue Cruises in the area, and his fish painting has a place of honour on the shore.
We made our way to our final anchorage of the night at Summer Bay on Tersane Island via Hamam Bay and anchored near the same motorboat from earlier in the day. Young Sailor Mustafa was tasked with taking the ropes to shore with the dinghy and securing them for the first time ever. It was a bit of a hair-raising experience, but he managed to do the job and we spent the last night on board in the bee-free bay.
Chef Ozan's final dinner was a mega-feast of Adana Kebabs and all the fixings.
It was another hot night - perfect for sleeping under the stars.
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We ate an early breakfast and enjoyed last swims in Summer Bay before heading into the Göcek harbour to say goodbye to Yana, Snizana, Brenda and Roy. Karma hit as we were leaving the bay when we snagged the anchor of the motorboat from the day before. Slightly embarrased and very apologetic to the motorboat crew, we resolved the problem quickly and were soon underway towards Göcek.
But Karma wasn't done with us, tangling the anchor again as we reached the harbour and making it virtually impossible to anchor normally. Captain Oktay's years of experience allowed him to "park the boat" without the anchor so our friends could disembark. Goodbyes are always hard after a fantastic trip, and this time was no different. We hope to see everyone again some day!
Captain Oktay, Chef Ozan, and Sailor Mustafa fixed the anchor problem while Sue escorted Yana and Snizana to the car taking them to the airport. Brenda and Roy headed back home to Köyceğiz, and Ruth, Paul, and Zach stayed on board for the return journey to Fethiye.
The return trip to Fethiye was quick and uneventful, and we said our goodbyes to the remaining guests after anchoring in Fethiye harbour.
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It was a fun and relaxed trip with fantasic guests - a variety of ages, backgrounds, and languages. We were sad to see it end, and genuinely hope our paths will cross again!