Gullet Alaturka & Assortment of Strange Bedfellows

Trip Start Jan 28, 2012
Trip End Jan 28, 2013

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Saban Tree Houses Kumluca
Read my review - 5/5 stars
Alaturka Blue Cruise

Flag of Turkey  , Antalya,
Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The word 'Gullet' sounds like the name of a knife cut you might do along the belly of a fish, but it is the unattractive Turkish name of a large wooden sailing vessel. This was another unrequited dream to cruise on the Mediterranean Sea in a large wooden boat. Having heard of some dodgy sailing experiences with modern day pirates, tall on promises and short on delivery we wanted to do our homework and check out the boats before committing to any voyage.
We arrived in Fethiye and went down to the port with the gullets all lined up on a dock, unfortunately there seemed to be some guards at the entrance to the dock. Using the theory of if you act like you should be in a place most people will believe it (theres nothing that looks more guilty than a nervous person) we persevered. So when the guards attention was focused on another individual we sauntered through the gate, I was looking at the boats thinking the coast was clear until Mel called me back saying they wanted to see our identity cards, after the appropriate apologies we left the dock, boats unseen.

The next day when we were talking to a sailing company everyone was excitedly talking about the filming of the new James Bond movie, the rumour was that the new movie is set in China but the Chinese refused permission to film there, so some of the scenes were being filmed in Turkey. In fact they were shooting right here in Fethiye today and the day before with full security for a sailboat scene at the docks, the very dock we had walked onto the previous day. My mind wandered to what I would have thought seeing a short sailor with squinty eyes and pursed lips and thinking "that Turkish sailor looks remarkably like Daniel Craig I wonder if anyone has ever told him that".

So having done the Lycian walk, to relax we organised a 4 day gulet cruise down the coast to cover the walk we had done and travel further on, finishing at the town of Demre. This time we would be lying on our backs on deck getting a suntan and sipping on cold Mojitos laughing at the poor filthy backpackers doing it tough on the trail!

Our beautiful boat was called the Alaturka she could hold 16 passengers but for this trip there would be 10. We were a mixed bag two women travellers from New Zealand Janet and Mary (Mary had done the hippy trail from Kathmandu to London back in 1968 in a Ford transit van with 7 others); George and Denise from NZ and their son Jeremy (a professional rugby player playing in the UK); his girlfriend Kate who had recently been working in Abu Dhabi as a personal trainer, Katie an attorney from Kansas in the US and Emily also from the US who was going to do social work internship in Jordan. Janet said it all when she said “I was so happy to find there was no whinging Englishmen on board”.

It was truly great being on board that boat with relaxed down to earth people, lazing around on deck in the sun, swaggering around deck with Mojito in hand channelling Aristotle Onasis and not wondering what the poor people are doing, watching Jeremy and Kate at the front of the ship doing their best impressions of Leonardo and Kate’s Titanic scene.
Mel, myself, Katie and Janet took up an option we had to go paragliding over the Mediterranean. We landed on a beach signed some legal papers, although they wouldn’t let me consult my lawyer first and were taken up the steep road to Baba Dag the mountain we had previously walked under on the trek. It looked big from the beach but as we drove up the winding track it became clear that we were driving up to the top which is about 2700m. My hands became clammy as we drove through the cloud bank out the top and still climbed upward, thoughts of the warm sunny beach were driven out of my mind as we noticed snow banks on the side of the road we were now ridiculously high up. We got out of the car and into the crisp air and took in a view of the steep drop all around, before we had time to flee, I was bundled into a nylon jacket type seat, strapped onto somebody I’ve never met before and promptly forgot his name (it doesn’t matter if anything goes wrong I’ll only shout one name), given a mouthful of important instructions to remember (what was that middle one again?), the parachute ‘wing’ filled and caught air, I remembered to keep running downhill even if ‘you think we’ve taken off’ my pilot took off but he was much shorter than me, I was still running with my big boots leaving the paved area and skittering over the scree slope (this is normal isn’t it?), then we were up. It was an amazing view tempered with not trying to focus on the fishing line thin nylon ropes holding me up from certain oblivion. I then saw Mel circling above me on a thermal and we followed the same lazy circles around each other before sliding down the mountain and towards the blue sea and sky merging. Mel disappeared far out to sea on a slow decent and I circled towards the beach, my pilot shouted to me “do you want to try some tricks?”, which is the professional way of saying, ”I want to have some fun are you a chicken shit, girls blouse?” so saying the only possible thing I answered ‘sure’ instantly he hollered a shreek of YEEEHAAA and we whipped into a spiral decent, like a show ride, sideways first and then what seemed more like an over and under, sky, beach, sky, beach, sky, beach until they blurred together………….. hmm sometimes girls blouses do have more fun…………

 Back on board, the moment had come! I had been carefully biding my time on board for days waiting for the right moment. The captain was distracted momentarily and left the wheel to discuss something with the cook to the left of me. Smoothly I stood up and carefully took the wheel, this is how mutiny’s happen Matey, she’s my ship now! Sensing that I did know something about steering boats he let me ‘have my head’ (or was frightened that I might bite his arm), after cruising a while along the coastal inlets I asked where we were sailing to and he answered (truly I kid you not) “its a place called Pirates Cave”, OH YES children fairies do exist and boys can grow up to be pirates!

Days were filled with a morning dive off the boat and swim into crystal clear, mouthwash blue turquoise water followed by large breakfast setting and a cruise to some other glorious setting, another swim followed by lunch drinks and a cruise / sunbake to another setting to watch an impossibly gorgeous sun set followed by a dinner of fresh fish and a night cap and a sleep below deck in your own cabin, with a framed sepia photo of an 1800’s sailing ship in full sail as the last thing you see before your lulled to sleep by the gentle motion of the ship moving on the flat Mediterranean Sea. Surely we’ve overlooked something, a calculation gone astray,  some pact made, some debt to be payed, surely there’s some penance some hidden cost for all this…..but try as he may nothing came to mind, the sky was clear, the seas were calm, just suck it up and enjoy the moment sunshine!
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Denise & George on

Love it - you two could write a book when you have finished your travels.
We had -3 this morning so our Mediteranean cruise is a warm memory. I have had 200 photos printed which I will arrange in albums with all the bits and pieces I collected on the holiday.
Glen - Geo has purchased a box pf EFES here in Blenheim, the liquor store are getting it for him... So when we drink it all the memories will flow, no doubt.
Take care have fun and look forward to hearing more

Kath on

The days are short and the temps are dropping here but "lovely photos of you two sunning it up in the Med!" I say through gritted, jealous teeth. Looking very fit and relaxed. We, too, have been having aquatic experiences - Damos spent a relaxing Saturday afternoon fixing the toilet last weekend - the natives there speak a colourful language!

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