JANE SLADE meets two couples who prefer to be at sea than on land
The gentle whoosh of the wind and lulling sound of water kissing the sides of your boat as you doze off to sleep is quite a special experience after a day carving through the ocean waves.
And it’s one that people like Debbie and Mike Baker can’t get enough of.
The couple work as flotilla reps for Yildiz Yachting, a holiday company owned by Yorkshireman David Baxter and his Turkish wife Nuket, which has bases along Turkey’s Mediterranean coast including Fethiye near Dalaman airport.
Debbie, 52 and Mike, 61 came to Turkey nine years ago. They live full time on their 36ft yacht which they sailed out from the UK. Debbie is originally from Portsmouth and Mike is a South Londoner.
They were working for Gatwick airport security when they made the final decision to jump ship and choose a life on the ocean waves.
They want for little on their boat; they have a TV, cosy cabin and a kitchen equipped to cook a full Christmas dinner with all the trimmings.
Their boss David Baxter, is a qualified engineer. He gave up his job as a computer technician to work for Yildiz Yachting in Turkey and ended up buying the company.
He now charters 40 boats and organises flotilla holidays for sailors of all ages attracting a variety of nationalities.
“We like to think of ourselves as a high quality operator,” he says. “We offer a flexible variety of holidays from those where people can hire a yacht and sail where they want to flotillas where people can follow a route and meet up for dinner.”
You can even hire your own skipper if you are not confident of your sailing skills or do not have the right qualifications to captain your own ship.
“We are now looking to offer flotilla holidays for the over 50s and learn-to-sail weeks for older people who may want to spend their retirement enjoying time at sea,” he adds.
A yachting holiday is also a great way of trying out a boat if you are looking to buy and Baxter is the right person to ask for advice. “All our boats are well maintained and equipped,” he adds, “And measure around 40 feet which is the ideal length if you are looking to spend time at sea with friends and family.”
There is nothing like that sensation of feeling the sun on your back and the wind in your hair soaking up the sights and sounds as you coarse through the waves at a 30 degree angle. It is exciting and thrilling.
To us our yacht is like a second home. We spend three months a year sailing and just love the Turkish coast, which is quiet. There are lots of lovely islands to visit and uncrowded waters and bays.
“We would love to be at sea for as long as possible, we have no intention of moving into a house unless we had to through ill health,” adds Debbie Baker. “But living on board keeps us very fit as there is always something to do in between pulling on a rope and washing up!
“The countries we have moored in have been Spain, Portugal, Gibraltar, Baleric Islands, Sardinia, Sicily, Italy, Greece and Turkey.
“We love Turkey and Greece and we travel between the two regularly. Turkey is less congested than Greece which allows us more freedom in the beautiful bays and we don’t really have to worry about finding moorings.
“The people in Turkey are also very friendly, the sailing is fantastic; the Göcek area is our favourite area. We find the cost of living is lower in Turkey too.
“Living on the boat gives us a great social life in the summer and the winter which we would find this hard to give up. The health care in Turkey is excellent and very reasonable, there is no waiting like the UK. Mike has had a couple of operations and has never had to stay in hospital for more than a day.
“We are also in the fresh air all year round and because of the warmer climate especially in the winter time we are always out and about and keeping ourselves very busy so we are very healthy. The only things I miss are pork sausages and a bath!”
Retired businessman David Darby, 74, has been sailing around the Mediterranean with his wife Jane ever since 2001 when they bought their 44ft yacht and sailed it out from Southampton to Marmaris marina in Turkey.
David gave up motor racing to concentrate on yacht racing nearly 50 years ago and has not lost his love of discovering new bays and sleepy coves with beach-only restauarants during the summer months when he and his wife travel out from their home near Northampton.
I caught up with them on holiday with their daughter Nicola and her husband Jason and grandchildren, 18-year-old twins Isobel and Ben, pictured below on a dinghy making their way to the pebbly cove at Coldwater Bay.
“It keeps us fit,” David declares, “both physically and mentally. You have to be active on board.”
Sadly some friends who used to sail with them have been afflicted with illnesses such as Alzheimer’s, but David has made adjustments on board to help them.
“We have a dinghy lift and electric winches,” he explains. “To us our yacht is like a second home. We spend three months a year sailing and just love the region north of Bodrum to Antalya along the Turkish coast, which is quiet. There are lots of lovely islands to visit and uncrowded waters and bays.”
“My father lived until he was 90,” David adds. “I thought we would finish sailing when we got to 70 but I think we will carry on until we are 80 if our health allows.”
For those thinking of buying a boat he advises, “Get in some miles before you buy.” His yacht is registered in London. He pays £3,500 to moor it in Marmaris and reckons it costs him £8,500 a year to ‘run’. Rather less than maintaining a second home he reckons.
For more information on flotilla and sailing holidays in Turkey visit Yildiz Yachting
Price for a seven-night sailing holiday (August 2016) costs from £780 on a 32 ft, two cabin yacht, sleeping four people during the month of May. Price includes: Bed linen, laundry, cooking gas, marina fees at home port, electric and water at home port.
Obligatory extra: Transit log £75
Optional extras: Outboard £50 per week / Towel sets £5 / Wi-Fi £25 first week / Transfers from airport
Excluded: Flights, diesel, food and drink
Price for a seven-night flotilla holiday from £1,165 on a 32 ft, two cabin yacht, sleeping four people during the month of May. This works out at less than £292 per person.
Price includes: Transit log, flotilla fee, airport transfers, bed linen, laundry, cooking gas, marina fees at home port, electric and water at home port.
Excluded: Flights, diesel, food and drink
At least one crew member needs to have a RYA Day skipper’s license or equivalent and one other crew member should have a competent crew qualification or equivalent experience.
English speaking skipper can be provided at a cost of £100 per day plus food and own cabin.
Low season April, May, June and October.
High season July, August and September.