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Yachting World – Spirit Yachts

By Stef Admin On October 9th, 2010 in News & Events, Yachting Articles

The gorgeous Spirit 56, close cousin of the yacht that starred in the James Bond film Casino Royale, caused something of a stir in every harbour along southern Turkey.

Helen Bowley (Yachting World) and her friends found themselves the envy of all on this very special charterOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Article Featured In Yachting world 

You haven’t cruised the Mediterranean until you have done it in a £1 million yacht featured in a James Bond film – well, almost; it was actually the slightly smaller Spirit 54 that starred in Casino Royale, but who’s counting. The 56ft Spirit of Strangford was a beautiful boat that turned heads wherever we went along the coast of Turkey.

We chartered the yacht from Sail in Turkey, owned and run by Mark Foster and Stephanie Williams in Marmaris. This small, dedicated company have over 20 years’ experience and organised everything for us. We could depart on whichever day suited us and could book the yacht for however many days we liked.

Spirit of Strangford was the first 56 from the Suffolk builders of these elegant wooden classics. She was configured specially for cruising in the Med, with a bigger rig, electric winches and furling system, so was ideal for this type of charter. Down below are all the mod-cons you’d expect – ice maker, air-conditioning, stereo, huge generator – but also some you wouldn’t, such as a flat screen TV that rose up from the side panels at the touch of a switch. Very 007.

The three cabins suited our crew of six perfectly. However, the third ‘bunk’ cabin was definitely on the cosy side for the two tall men sharing it! Fine for a couple of children though.

The initial boat brief from ‘Stef’ Williams was enough for us to get by on our first evening after we joined the boat in Netsel marina – and probably enough for us to take in at one sitting – followed by a more thorough briefing the next morning.

Mark Foster insists on taking you out into Marmaris Bay before letting you go. All hoists and drops are run through and any final questions answered. This did a lot to still any last-minute nerves, especially as it became clear how effortless Spirit of Strangford is to sail. The electric winches allow a crew of two to manage her comfortably. To hoist the main, unfurl the genoa, trim the sheets or drop anchor, all you need do is press the right button. We didn’t even have to put down our drinks.

Leaving Marmaris, you can turn either left or right, each route offering a variety of bays and anchorages. We decided to head east towards Fethiye, where we would be able to stop at a busy Turkish town and enjoy some local (late night) hospitality. We would cover about 115 miles in total and being aboard a fast boat we were looking forward to it.

“It was a romping first day, with speeds clocking up to nine knots downwind. We were warned that we had to reef in anything over 12 knots

A strong south-westerly breeze called for a reef – we were warned that the large rig and generous sail area meant we had to reef in anything over 12 knots. It was a romping first day, with speeds clocking up to nine knots downwind. However, this stretch of sea suffers from a swell that made the crossing a little uncomfortable. Two of our crew, admittedly their first time on a yacht, felt a bit green. So it was with some relief that we arrived at popular Ekinçik about three-and-a-half hours later.

Most moorings in this area are stern-to with lazy lines and almost everywhere there is someone to assist you should you need it. Our first mooring was good to get out of the way – the price of the yacht still turning in our heads – but even better was our first experience of semi-celebrity.

There was not one day that our yacht failed to draw a small crowd on the quay: “How much did she cost? Where was she built? Which was the owner?” And because Sail in Turkey had not covered the boat in branding, no one could believe we’d chartered her.

Ekinçik is a very pretty bay, with all the necessary facilities – shore power, water, showers and a small shop for bare essentials. There is also an immaculate restaurant on the hillside, offering yachtsmen a superb view of the bay. The food and service was first-rate, but it was also very expensive. Turkey is not cheap. On average dinner with drinks would cost around £25-£30 per person.

Our third day took us further east towards the Gulf of Fethiye. The wind had dropped and we motor- sailed most of the way, taking in the vibrant coastline of southern Turkey, but once through a narrow gap in the headland, we found a near-perfect cruising area.

Skopea Limani is an area of small bays and inlets, with restaurants, tripper boats and locals selling anything from ice-cream to fresh fish from their boats. There are several islands and rocky outcrops, making for a sailing playground inside. In fact, if long passages were not your idea of fun, you could easily stay here for days, cruising from one bay to the next.

Our only problem was singling out a place to moor. With names such as Tomb Bay, Ruin Bay and Fathom Cove, it was difficult to decide. We eventually settled on Kapi Creek – won over by the small barber’s shop and massage parlour on the beach.

Wooden jetties run along the shore here, providing plenty of space for visitors to berth stern-to. There is also a small restaurant run by the larger-than-life Mohamed, who will do just about anything for you. The service, the food, the hospitality and surprisingly the price made this
a difficult place to leave.

You can also enjoy some of the best views of the region here, but not before taking a 30-40-minute walk to the top of the hillside.

After an exhilarating swim (end-of-May water temperatures meant we had to keep moving) in clear turquoise water, we slipped our lines and headed north. With a relatively short hop to Fethiye town, where we planned to berth that night, it made sense to make a lunch stop. We anchored in Deep Bay – which despite its name is shallow enough to anchor. There are no facilities, but there is plenty of space.

The prevailing winds here bend around the coastline, becoming more south-westerly, meaning we could enjoy some great reaches on our outbound route and none more so than the short journey from Deep Bay to Fethiye. With flat seas and full sail we were across the Gulf in no time.

Berthing options are limited at Fethiye. With the town quay full of tripper boats and fishermen, and another pontoon home to a Sunsail flotilla, most visitors park in the modern, and expensive, marina.

Facilities here are very good – there are plenty of showers, cafés, a supermarket, a newsagent – but we couldn’t help but feel a little ripped off. Before we had even tied up, there was panic that we would lose the forward cleat. A marina assistant had stepped aboard to ‘help’ us berth, only to tie off our mooring line at the bow and demand that we give the boat “more power” while going astern. Thankfully, he stepped aside and we took over. No hot water in the showers and a constant humming from someone sanding down their deck next door reminded us why it sometimes doesn’t pay to enter costly marinas.

But Fethiye itself is a lively Turkish town. Market stalls selling everything from traditional rugs to Turkish delight are only a short walk from the marina. There are plenty of restaurants and bars to choose from and you can also experience a traditional Turkish shave, which includes lemon juice and naked flames, or visit a haman (Turkish bath).

Leaving the marina was a lot less stressful than arriving and we were all in agreement to head for a quiet bay. From Fethiye you have the choice of heading back to one of the many bays in Skopea Limani, or sailing south around the coastline to a lesser-known anchorage called Cold Water Bay. We decided on the latter.

Even though this is an anchorage, locals will still come out to you in their tenders to help with shorelines or direct you to a good spot. Others will deliver fresh food, cooked fish, pastries or pancakes direct to your yacht. We could not resist the latter, and sat patiently on deck while the cook made up our order. Another boat, selling fresh bread and pastries, promised to return in the morning with breakfast.

The water here is crystal clear and perfect for snorkelling. There is a restaurant and a couple of showers ashore if you wish to use them, as well as two donkeys that were offered to us in exchange for the Spirit. I said we wouldn’t accept less than four!

We had a long, upwind, 40-mile passage back towards Marmaris, keen to cover the distance in a single trip and so allow ourselves an undemanding last day. The wind picked up to around 15-18 knots and, despite two reefs and a big ease on the main, we were still steaming along at eight knots.

Six-and-a-half hours later, and a little wind-swept, we arrived at the very smart and stylish Kumlubuku Yacht Club. The beach here is scattered with enormous ‘chill out’ cushions and beds shaded under reeds. Lights on the seabed illuminate the water by the restaurant and diners can enjoy a Chinese meal, as well as the usual Turkish fare.

We allowed ourselves a lazy morning, taking full advantage of the giant beds on the beach before heading back to Marmaris, a mere five miles away. It was our last chance to show off the Spirit 56 and we took full advantage of the bay’s four corners before motoring reluctantly into Netsel Marina.

This yacht is pure pleasure and looks sensational. It was a rare chance to sail something so special.

Stef Admin
Mark Foster & I formed Sail in Turkey in 2007 when we both realised that we could offer the ultimate sailing experience in the Countries that we love, Turkey & Thailand (2020). We are dedicated to delivering a friendly & personal service to our sailing holiday customers.
Stef Admin
Stef Admin

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about-usYachting Thailand is the trading name of Sail in Turkey Ltd, based in Boat Lagoon Marina on the beautiful island of Phuket, owned and managed personally by ourselves, Mark Foster and Stef Williams. Our sailing career started with Sunsail many years ago, after which we set up our own yacht charter company Sail in Turkey in 2007. New for 2020 is Yachting Thailand.

Personal, bespoke and unsurpassed service is what we promise and we have many testimonials from both yacht owners and sailors endorsing this. We endeavour to make the whole experience throughout as perfect as we can make it. Whether you want a bareboat, a skippered boat or day trip in Thailand, we can put together an itinerary to suit you and are always on call should you need us.

Sail in Turkey Ltd Registered in UK | No 9669544 2 Dibbin Close Weldon Northants NN17 3HZ UK    Email:    UK Office: +44 203 239 5466   Thailand office: +66887689747

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