Turkey's Lycian coast – Journey in Utopia for Australian Cruisers

Full moon over our mooring site - Lycian Yacht Rally
Maggie Joyce
Turkey already ranks high with Australian cruising yachties but the most sailed course is in the west between Bodrum and Gocek. The coast to the east of Marmaris offers another version of a fantastic story and the recently inaugurated Lycian Coast Yacht Rally, a Mariner Boating event, starts at the western end and finishes in the east at Antalya.

Christine Wheeler said, as she sat in the open air Salt and Pepper restaurant in Kalkan, 'I have to keep pinching myself just to be sure that I am not dreaming. Everything about this place; the people, the scenery, the history and the food is just perfect. I really wish I could find something wrong but I just can’t', she said in her Scottish brogue, almost unaffected by thirty years in Australia.

Race finish - Lycian Yacht Rally
Maggie Joyce

Tim Wheeler, a professional photographer, enhanced the rally experience with a series of workshops where people learnt about F stops, shutter priority, one third - two third composition, ISO speeds and a host of other hints to improve the prospects for the thousands of images ever seeing the light of day at the end of the trip.

At tiny Karacoaren, third time Mariner rally client Darryl Simmonds commented on the breakfast served at the restaurant of the same name during half time in the live broadcast of the AFL Grand final from Melbourne, 'That breakfast will go down as something really special for me.

Swannies game on Sports live - Lycian Yacht Rally
Maggie Joyce

'Normally we go to the AFL breakfast in Melbourne, have too many drinks and then fall off the trolley before the real game begins. It’s just amazing that we could sit in this tiny bay with just one restaurant, watch the game live at 7.30 in the morning and then have this amazing breakfast served at half time'.

This two hour passage offers a hint of what is so incongruous about Turkey as a cruising destination. It has a very traditional culture with strong Islamic beliefs, which you might expect would limit what is possible but that's not taking into consideration the Turkish people's even older tradition of tolerance and hospitality. In fact almost nothing is impossible and the people are tireless in their effort to please.

Race Day - Lycian Yacht Rally
Maggie Joyce

The Lycian coast of Turkey is a mixture of one horse whistle stops like Karacaoren and Ekincik and the likes of Gocek and Kalkan, which have forced their way into the tourist brochures but have done so without compromising their service and quality ethics.

In addition there is the Greek island of Kastelorizo, a mere one nautical mile from Kas. A different country, another language and of course the Christian Orthodox Church but the same ethics and values; with everyone sharing the same necessities in life.

Crew from Mornington lunching after walking the ruins of Kayakoy - Lycian Yacht Rally
Maggie Joyce

These days the Greek taverna owners even do their shopping in Kas because it’s closer and cheaper. The Turkish mosque in Kastelorizo has been converted intact into a museum to preserve the shared history of the tiny Greek island just off the big Turkish shore.

From a sailor’s perspective the only thing you don’t get a lot of along this coast is wind. The Meltemi blows in high summer but it’s too hot here then and the prevailing westerly weakens as you go east.


Photo workshop classroom in Sarsala - Lycian Yacht Rally
Maggie Joyce
So the Lycian Coast Rally made do with the thermally driven sea breezes when they prevailed and with a cool beer at the many swim stops when they did not.

Nobody came away from the rally experience, which was variously combined with pre- and post-rally excursions overland from Istanbul to Marmaris and to Kapadokia in Central Anatolia, with the similar impressions.

The rally crews moored in Sarsala - Lycian Yacht Rally
Maggie Joyce

All came away with a strong sense of having experienced a culture we could quite probably sit up and learn something from.

More information on the 2013 event from Mariner Boating Holidays – info@marinerboating.com.au .