Sunday, August 26, 2007

Catamarans are a good choice if you want more spacious common areas and stable sailing. We hired a bareboat Belize 43 catamaran from Sunsail (888-350-3568,, a large international charter company that let us sail out of Marmaris and return the boat in Gocek.

GETTING THERE: A number of airlines fly between the Washington area and Istanbul, including Lufthansa, Delta and Northwest. Round-trip flights are currently running about $700, with restrictions. Turkish Airlines has service from Istanbul to Dalaman (from as low at $118), where ground transportation is available for Marmaris, Gocek and other points along the coast. There is also a vast network of intercity buses in Turkey; Sunsail can help organize ground transportation and transfers.

WHEN TO GO: Since Turkey is popular with Europeans, August is high season; you'll find it less crowded but still warm if you sail in mid-season -- just before or after high season. For this year, Sunsail's high season is July 29 to Sept. 1; mid-season is May 20 to July 28 and Sept. 2-29; low season is Sept. 30 to May 19.

THE SAILING: Our boat had a main cabin with galley and dining area, as well as an outdoor table. Below deck, there were four small double-bedded cabins accessed by stairs; each had a tiny bathroom with a marine pump-toilet. Two single cabins without bathrooms were accessed by portholes from the deck above -- a far less pleasant option, likely intended for crew.

Sunsail provides a book full of details on moorings, restaurants and other services for boaters throughout the sailing area. There's no lack of enterprising restaurateurs catering to yachties, but be warned: Prices can be as much as double what you'd pay for similar fare in less remote restaurants. We enjoyed cooking our own food (supplies purchased in Dalyan and from boat vendors) or noshing on gozleme, stuffed pancakes prepared and served from vendors' boats. Sunsail will also stock your boat with (rather pricey) foodstuffs you can order in advance. Beer is plentiful and reasonably priced; wine is also available, but expensive relative to quality.

The mid-season rate for a comparable seven-day bareboat rental is $3,990; a Sunsail skipper is $170 extra per day; a Sunsail cook is $150 extra per day. There is a $405 surcharge to drop off a Marmaris-based boat in Gocek. Other boats rent from $1,540 to $7,630 per week, depending on boat size and season.

DAY TRIPS: Even if you're a landlubber, you can take a day trip out of Fethiye to visit sights in the Gulf of Fethiye for about $17; book through a local hotel or travel agent. You can also join a "Blue Voyage" (inspired by the title of a Turkish book), on a gulet, a traditional Turkish sailing ship. Before Lunch Boat Cruises (011-90-535-636-0076, has a good reputation and offers four-day cruises with meals from about $255 per person.

Our full-day trip up the Dalyan River cost about $172 (divided among seven people) for a motor-powered boat, including pilot and a boy (who spoke minimal English) who guided us through Kaunos. We arranged the trip the night before at the Ekincik dock, where tour boat touts visit arriving sailboats.

OTHER CHARTERS: Another international charter company, the Moorings (888-952-8420,, offers a similar 43-foot bareboat catamaran priced at $8,385 for a seven-day rental in mid-season. For this year, high season was July 14 to Aug. 24; mid-season, May 17 to June 6 and Aug. 25 to Oct. 19; low season, June 7 to July 13 and Oct. 20 to May 16. With this company, all boats must be picked up and returned in Gocek.

INFO: Tourism Turkey,877-367-8875, -- G.K.

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