I am on a Blue Voyage. It's a mysterious term, one I'd never heard a month ago. But as I stand on deck with the cobalt Aegean beneath me and the azure sky above, I can't imagine what else you would call one of these languorous sailboat trips through the coves and inlets of Turkey's southwestern coast. Blue Voyage—somehow the phrase itself feels romantic, peaceful, relaxed. On the other hand, as I glance around at this lovely boat that we're on, the Cassandra, it's very easy to imagine a more graceful word for her than gulet.
But if you're on a Blue Voyage, then you're most likely on a gulet. Gulets are traditional Turkish wooden sailboats—although these days they're often operated by tour companies, equipped with a variety of amenities such as stereos, air conditioners and cappuccino machines, and run by a crew that includes a private chef. They are gorgeous, exotic sailboats; they remind me of pirate ships or galleons. The Cassandra is 92 feet long and has three two-person cabins. Her three-man crew during my trip is Captain Ali; Bariş, the deckhand; and Gino, our energetic chef. The crew sometimes sleep on deck under the Turkish stars, and I decide that I will; the weather is too beautiful not to.
Lorrie Croze, who is also on board, is the key to all this: Her five-year-old travel company, Mediterranean Collection, was our source for the Cassandra. My friend Peter, who's lived in Istanbul for almost seven years, insisted I contact her. "I do a Blue Voyage at least once a year," he said. "Lorrie's gulets are elegant without being exorbitant, and she knows the best routes and the best cooks." She also, he said, knows more than anyone about great restaurants hidden along the coast—places you could spend months hunting for and never find on your own.