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The First BLUE VOYAGE By Rowing

ROWING TO THE ANCIENT HARBORS

Rowing

The Origin Of Blue Voyage

In the 1950s gulets were sea vessels used by fishermen, octopus hunters, and sponge divers long before gulet tours in Turkey became popular. It all started when Cevat Şakir Kabaaağaçlı, who was known as Fisherman Of Halicarnassus, a Turkish writer of novels, short stories, and essays, as well as being a keen ethnographer and travelogue, invited a bunch of intellectuals to explore the Turkish coast by sea. They hired a fishing boat called Macera (Adventure) for their quest and their captain was Kabaağaçlı’s friend, octopus hunter Paluko. Their boat had no freshwater, modern toilets, and proper cabins, which was a bit rugged for the sophisticated urban guests who were painters, writers, poets, and politicians. Apparently, they all took the challenge to pursue their curiosity and sail to deserted coves to hike off the beaten path, and learn about the myths and ancient civilizations of Anatolia.

Sabahattin Eyüboğlu, a Turkish writer, essayist, translator, and film producer, becomes the regular of these trips and he invents the name “Blue Voyage”, which later becomes the trademark of gulet tours in Turkey.

And finally, Azra Erhat, a Turkish author, archaeologist, academician, classical philologist, and translator, a pioneer of Turkish Humanism becomes the first woman to join these adventure tour lovers and writes the famous book Blue Voyage.

Since 1997, Hike'n Sail Turkey operates tours honoring their spirit. We sail the ancient coasts, reach the antiquities, and explore mythological landscapes on foot, on kayaks, and on bikes. The only difference is the posh accommodation, modern plumbing, and culinary delights prepared by a chef on board.

Inspired By The Masters

During the COVID19 pandemic, I and Ruth Marr were having an online conversation. Ruth Marr is an old friend, an avid rower, and the founder of Rowing The World, a Canada-based adventure tour operator. We were both tempted by the idea of putting together an itinerary combining the rowing experience with the unique Blue Voyage along the Turquoise Coast. Below is the story of this enchanting trip that we loved in the fall of 2021.

İSTANBUL

The trip started in legendary Constantinople. We rowed our boats in the Golden Horn and to the Prince Islands like Jason & The Argonauts did thousands of years ago. We enjoyed the history and cuisine of İstanbul and explored all the cool spots in the city.

Like every successful trip, a rowing trip requires experience and expertise. In that respect, we gathered the best outfitters and the rowing trainers in their field. Thanks to Sena Hisarlıoğlu and Yalçın Özcan of Vira Rowing Club, for their contribution in İstanbul.

GOLDEN HORN

Golden Horn

Golden Horn

PRINCE ISLANDS

Prince Islands

Prince Islands

BODRUM

Bodrum, the ancient Halicarnassus, is one of the major harbors of antiquity and home of the Mausoleum, one of the wonders of the ancient world. One of the enchanting ancient harbors to row in Turkey. Our host in Bodrum was Halicarnassus Rowing Club and its president Celal Gürsoy. Celal Gürsoy was born in 1950 and dedicated his life to the sport of rowing. He has bronze, silver, and gold medals in international competitions, wrote 2 books, and worked as a licensed rowing trainer in Germany and Turkey. He is a leading figure in rowing in Turkey and he has introduced rowing to Bodrum and recruited 700 people in 2 years. He and his crew made this trip possible. Arım Arıman, Savaş Kavuncu, Selim Karakaş, and Ömer Olgun, provided the technical support to make our journey safe and enjoyable. It was so much fun to row with the members of the club and swarm the homemade dishes and a tasty BBQ with them. Our activities were not limited to rowing, exploring antiquity, and enjoying the culinary delights of Turkey. We also experienced enticing activities to move our spirits, such as body percussion (thanks to Ayşe Akarsu, who is a member of the famous Kekeça Percussion group and instructor) and yoga.

And the Bodrum gullets docked in the old harbor.

Coffee Break Under The Aegean Sun

Body Percussion

BLUE VOYAGE ALONG THE DATÇA PENINSULA

The last and the best episode of this journey starts in Datça. The Datça Peninsula is an 80 km-long, narrow peninsula in southwest Turkey separating the Aegean Sea to the north and the Mediterranean Sea to the south. Knidos is the ancient port that marks the tip of this peninsula. Knidos was an important commercial center, the home of a famous medical school, and the site of the observatory of the astronomer Eudoxus. Cnidus was one of six cities in the Dorian Hexapolis and hosted the Dorian games every four years. The famous statue of Aphrodite sculpted by Praxiteles in the 4th century BC was standing here. 

We transferred the boats to Datça and started our beach to beach "blue voyage" by rowing. The weather was perfect, and so was the group. Every day, we reached the next destination by rowing, pulled the boats on the beach, had some rest and had yoga, had great conversations over several glasses of wine watching the sun going down,  enjoyed delicious meals, cheered and sang, and danced until we retreated to our rooms. And finaly, we arrived Knidos ancient harbor as the ancient sailors did. 

Starting off

THE ROWERS DANCE

End Of An Epic Journey

We are doing it again!

Here we go. We are running this trip again in October 2022 again with Rowing The World. Let the good weather and the calm seas be with us. 🙂

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