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Sailing Turkey’s Turquoise Coast

In our November magazine we featured a story from Katie Burgess about the challenges of chartering during COVID-19 — “I truly believe that everything happens for a reason …” With many international borders closed, Turkey was where Katie and her family ended up for their three-week charter.

I will start this off by admitting that this charter was one of the most challenging to book. I booked three completely different trips in the end; two were canceled, and ultimately we landed in the beautiful country of Turkey — literally the only country we were allowed to enter as US citizens without a medical certificate or requiring a COVID-19 test. I truly believe that everything happens for a reason, and want to share our newfound love for Turkey with other sailors wishing to charter and go sailing. Feeling the wind in our sails, and being aboard, was exactly what we all needed. In the end, it doesn’t matter where we are, just that we’re together as a family on a sailboat.

The Burgess family
It’s all about the ‘who,’ not the ‘where.’ Katie, her husband Lyall and their two daughters are happy to sail almost anywhere, as long as they’re together.
© 2020 Katie Burgess

The Sunday before we were set to fly to Greece, we found out that we were banned from entering the EU. Luckily Dream Yacht Charter (DYC), with whom we own a Dufour 382, also has a base in Turkey. By some miracle, we were able to change our flights to Istanbul and secure an open yacht for the same three weeks in Turkey. Four days later we started our three-day, six-flight journey from Hilo, Hawaii, to the base in Göcek. We had little time to research the area, but were intrigued after our brief investigation of the area’s great sailing, beautiful beaches, ancient ruins and history, and protected anchorages. After a long journey, we arrived in Istanbul and took a domestic flight about an hour and a half south to Dalaman Airport. A short taxi ride away, we finally arrived at D-Marin Marina in Göcek. It was about 5 p.m., the breeze felt amazing, and we proceeded to unpack and settle into our new home, a 2019 Jeanneau SO 389.

Morning on the Turquoise Coast
Butterfly Valley turned on its best for the family’s arrival.
© 2020 Katie Burgess

We decided to take it easy the next day and stay in the marina for another night so we could properly provision at the nearby grocery stores and simply relax after days of travel. Masks are required in Turkey, so we had to wear them in our airline transits as well as in the streets, and in all shops. Once on the boat, or in the more remote anchorages, they were not necessary or required. D-Marin is seriously one of the cleanest and most accommodating marinas we have been to. I would have swum off the dock, the water was so clean! All of Turkey, for that matter, in the ocean and along the beaches. I was thoroughly impressed. Besides its cute little promenade and town, there is an exclusive club at D-Marin that has a perfect white sand beach, loungers, and a restaurant on the water. It felt super-posh and was a nice treat after all our travel.

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