Life on a small boat limits what you can do in some respects, but in others, it is liberating. The sea teaches you what you can and cannot do. It lets you have your own way up to a point, and then lays down its own terms. Learning to live with the sea is like unravelling the secret of life in many ways.
One of the most enjoyable occupations on a blue cruise is cooking fish which you have caught yourself. For my part, I believe that eating frozen or tinned food and pasta at sea is shameful. If your boat has the right equipment then you can spend your time fishing.
The pioneers of the blue voyage were two famous Turkish writers, Cevat Sakir Kabaagacli (better known as the Fisherman of Halicarnassus) and Sabahattin Eyüboglu, and their circle of friends. They set out in a fishing boat from Bodrum to explore the shores to the south, beginning with the Gulf of Gökova, aiming to seek the roots of Anatolian Turkish culture in the ancient settlements of this part of Ionia.
The Gulf of Gökova, the ancient Kerameikos, is still the first stage on the Blue Cruise, and indeed there is so much to see here that there is no need to go further at all.
To explore the Gulf you set out from Bodrum, the one-time fishing village which was originally discovered by Turkish intellectuals. Those who remember its former untouched state decry the changes, but it remains just as popular with foreign and local holidaymakers.
If you plan to cruise in the Gulf of Gökova alone, it is better to begin with the
southern shore and return to Bodrum along the northern coast. At the southwest extremity of the gulf is the most delightful bay in the region, known as Mersincik (Datca) after the village here. Surrounded by a steeply sloping shore, the bay is protected from winds. It has a narrow sand beach, and fresh water is available here.
Between Mersincik and Körmen (Datca) is a place where steep cliffs plunge down into the sea, whose depth here is between 50 and 100 metres. At the end of September and in October this is the place to see shoals of tuna fish.
The last stop in the area is Körmen (Datca), and since it is a
considerable way to the next anchorage, you should replenish your stores here.
The bays of Büyük Çati and Küçük Çati (Datca) lie to the north of the narrow isthmus of the Datça Peninsula, and provide fine sheltered anchorages. Between these two bays are numerous tiny inlets, each uniquely lovely. This is also an area with spectacular views and perfect for walking.
Your stopover the second night is Bördübet, which Rod Heikell has dubbed Amazons Cove. Here pine trees grow right down to the shore. From Bördübet sail first west and then northeast to reach Yedi Adalar or the Seven Islands. Despite
the name, however, there are actually more than seven. This is one of the loveliest parts of Gökova, with thick pine woods and abundant fish.
To the east is the boomerang shaped Kargi Bay, well wooded like so many of the bays of
Gökova. Grey mullet is the most common fish in the waters here. I do not recommend staying the night, however. Instead, choose one of the anchorages at Yedi Adalar or the deep inlet known as Ingiliz Limani (English Harbour). The latter is one of the most interesting places in Gökova. Each time you go there you discover another small cove, a tiny semicircle of land, which sends the rest of the world fading into insignificance. You will feel as if encapsulated in the cosiest, most private room
in your own house.
When you anchor in the bay of Sögüt, a calm almost circular basin, go ashore to discover the remains of a tiny castle amongst the trees. And if possible, wait around to watch the spectacular sunset from here.
The group of islands known as Şehir Adalari or Kedrai is one of the places, which should not be missed. You will be enchanted with their natural wonders, first and foremost the beach known as Cleopatra's Beach, famous for its strange large grained sand. The story goes that Cleopatra stayed here with Anthony, and the couple loved the place so much that Cleopatra had shiploads of sand brought from Egypt to create the sandy beach which was all that was wanting for complete perfection.
From Şehir Adaları sail past Gökova - the village which gives its name to the gulf - and Akbük to Ören, where the ruins of the ancient city of Ceramos are to be seen. Next carry on to Cökertme, a tranquil spot to spend the night if you do not want to sail any further that day.
After passing Orak Island and the bay of Kargacik you reached Kara Island, famous for its hot sulphur springs which pour from the mouth of a narrow dark cave. Here you can wallow in hot mud and visit the ruins of what are thought to be a temple. Known in antiquity as Arconessos, this island is just two kilometres from Bodrum.
And so I come to the end of my abbreviated blue cruise guide. I have only been able to mention a few of the many bays and inlets of the Gulf of Gökova. Most cruises last a week and sometimes ten days, which is plenty of time to discover other bays and other islands.
A journey to new places is also a journey into ourselves, and for that the blue
cruise is ideal.