Experiencing the Turkish Riviera aboard a ‘ScicSailing’ boutique cruise
We are in a new era of travel, where the greatest luxury is not only tranquillity, privacy, and personalised attention, but also wellness. The privilege to enjoy and truly experience a destination in a healthy, safe, and nurturing way, without meeting the crowds, writes Andrew Forbes (@andrewaforbes) for The Luxury Editor.
ScicSailing Yachting & Cruising
To capture the real essence of the Aegean and the glorious unspoilt Eastern Mediterranean, then few ways of travel can compare with being on the water. Over the past 5 years I become a convert to boutique sailing cruises offered by ScicSailing, a travel business that has for decades, fine-tuned the art of experiential travel on this spectacular part of the Mediterranean coast.
A sailing cruise aboard one of their traditional ‘gulet’ yachts (fully crewed, so you can just lie back and relax) offers the freedom to discover the delights of the Turkish coast without meeting the crowds. Instead it’s a discreet, intimate way to travel, perfect with a group of friends or for a multi-generational family holiday.
With ScicSailing, expect to have your senses intoxicated by the beauty of the Turquoise Coast; the flavours and aromas of the superb regional cuisine; and the charisma of the local people.
Yet I warn you; a week doesn’t feel nearly long enough! It’s a seductive holiday where you are lulled by the warm breeze and the inky blue waters of the Aegean. Relaxation embraces every cell of your body. You instinctively unwind, and enjoy the moment, leaving your mundane worries onshore.
Land & Sea
Although it’s a yacht holiday, there are plenty of opportunities to leave the deck sun beds and head out on hikes, picnics, outdoor adventures and even for some chic retail therapy or lively night out at the sophisticated ports along the Turkish Riviera.
From my different trips over the past few years, I have so many recollections. Unforgettable excursions to destinations like Ephesus; sailing by an ancient underwater city, it’s foundations and ruins visible through the translucent water; pulsating party nights in sparkling ports; and gourmet dining in beautiful Bodrum.
Yet often the most lasting memories are the magical moments created or curated for us by the superb crew – and of course for me, most of these were all about foodie experiences on board or ashore!
One of the finest ScicSailing experiences is to eat breakfast at a local’s home. Leave the yacht early, whilst the morning air is still cool, and be driven inland past Byzantine villages, through rural landscapes of olive, carob, and fig trees, where the air was aromatic with sage, rosemary, thyme, and oregano. My favourite is at the ‘Poet´s House’, a creative, bohemian home where the host welcomes you with a warm smile, and a table laden with food. Expect a generous breakfast meze: baskets of Bazlama flat bread, perfect with the Menemen, a breakfast dish of eggs, peppers, and spices. Turkish tomatoes; plates of cheeses; and scarlet roasted peppers, drenched in olive oil contrasting with freshly chopped cucumbers. Homemade relishes and rich dark local carob syrup filled saucers; sage honey dripped from its golden, waxy comb. The room was filled with the aroma of strong Turkish coffee – what a delight for the senses!
Dreamy Mediterranean Lunch
I also recall how one day we’d gone ashore for lunch. It was the middle of the day and the bright sunlight was making the pristine water in the bay sparkle. As we walked from the timber jetty onto the shore we were greeted by the smell of wild oregano and rosemary, together with the light scent of jasmine.
In front of us, shaded by olive, pine and fig trees was a long wooden table, set for an alfresco lunch and laden with a classic Turkish mezze, served in vintage dishes. It was just so quintessentially Mediterranean! In the distance we could make out the dark blue silhouette of a small Greek island, whilst nearby, anchored only a few metres away, was our home for the week, the 28 metre, twin-masted ScicSailing yacht, called ‘Nemesis’.
Long, leisurely lunches like this at a private yacht club on a sparkling cove are what make a ScicSailing cruise so special.
Magical Evening BBQ
One evening you can also expect an elegant beach picnic under the stars, prepared for by the friendly crew. Silver hurricane lamps are hung from twisted pieces of sun bleached driftwood illuminating low tables on the beach, set with china and glassware that had been ferried to shore to create a magical supper.
At the water’s edge the captain and his chef will barbecue meat skewers, to be accompanied by freshly prepared Mediterranean dishes of smoked aubergine, white bean humus, Turkish salads, and local cheeses.
It is fair to say that even with the stunning scenery, Mediterranean weather, rich history, and relaxing environment, food certainly is one of the highlights of the sailing cruise. Thankfully, all onboard snacks and meals, drinks and cocktails are included. Authentic Turkish dishes are freshly prepared by the chef, who before each feast explains the menu.
Once you take to waters of the Aegean, you have privileged access to hidden coves, secluded bays, private picnic spots and tiny yacht clubs that are almost unreachable by any other means. It’s private, personal, intimate – everything we demand in this new era of travel focuses on well-being.
With a crew of four, and up to sixteen guests (exclusive charter is ideal for friends or family, or if you’re looking to meet like-minded people then you can book on a canon charter basis).
The ambiance is friendly and relaxed aboard thanks to the professional yet highly attentive crew.
In addition to the Captain, the three sailors not only crew the yacht but also look after guests. One is the chef, the other the steward, whilst the third takes care of house-keeping, maintaining everything ship-shape.
Double or twin cabins are certainly compact, but all eight have a private ensuite bathroom with shower, washbasin and W.C., air conditioning, and small windows offering views during the day of the intensely blue sea and unspoilt coast, or star filled skies by night. There are also 6 cabin yachts in the fleet.
The generous teak decks of these timber ‘gulet’ schooners provide enough space for each guest to find their special spot; whether it’s tanning on deck, reading a book seated close to the bow, chatting at the bar or snoozing on the sofa in the wheelhouse.
Days are as solitary or sociable as we wished; and with multiple sun loungers and two kayaks and water skis onboard, the days are as active or lazy as one could wish.
Each morning, after an early swim in clear bay waters, and a breakfast of fresh fruit, crusty bread, Turkish cheese and freshly prepared eggs, the captain rings the bell in the wheelhouse, announcing the daily briefing. With his navigation charts unfurled and spread out across the outside dining table, this is the regular invitation for guests to help plan the day’s cruising ahead; a flexible itinerary that includes plenty of special and authentic experiences to be enjoyed onshore and at sea throughout the cruise. Activities include onboard cooking demonstrations, onshore lunches, or dinners, as well as guided tours of some of the impressive Roman and Byzantine archaeological sites that litter the dramatic coast.
Each yacht in the SCIC Sailing fleet is an authentic Turkish ‘gulet’ sailing yacht. Each with elegant lines, immaculate decks, and impressive rigging. The focus is on ‘chic’ cruising through the wondrous blue waters, close to Turkey’s unspoilt south-western coast. ScicSailing maintains the essence of classic blue cruising since they are one of the few fleets that continue to genuinely sail, instead of continual motoring. Once experienced, it becomes clear that nothing can substitute the feeling of freedom one feels when the motor is off, and the yacht catches the warm wind.
For further details, visit the ScicSailing website to download the ScicSailing Sailing Cruise Journal, full of photography and facts.
The ScicSailing sailing cruises are 1 or 2 weeks, from Saturday to Saturday.
Individual sailing cruise 1 week per person including breakfast/lunch/5 dinners/all snacks in-between and all drinks including alcohol is priced from from € 951.00 to € 1071.00