One of the hot topics at the Marmaris Yacht Charter Show this year was that Turkey's charter offering is becoming increasingly attractive to the wider charter industry. Not only do the regulations compared to elsewhere in the Mediterranean make Turkey more accessible and yacht-friendly, but Turkish-built boats and their crews, which have previously been perceived as not to superyacht standard, are catching up in terms of quality. TCR speaks to Cemel Yada, chief officer on board S/Y Clear Eyes, about the evolving industry in Turkey.
 
“Due to the beautiful nature that is here and the places there are for yachts to explore, the yachting industry in Turkey has grown very fast,” explains Yada. “As the growth started, the boats caught up a little bit but the crew didn’t. But over the last few years the government has decided to pay a lot of attention to the education of yacht crew.”


 S/Y Clear Eyes. Image courtesy of Ocean Independence.

As a result, Yada explains there is a strong learning culture building among many Turkish crew. “The crew are being pushed because if you cannot improve yourself, the Turkish yachting industry is improving itself so fast that even if you don’t do anything, you are still going backwards,” he says. “So the crew are constantly improving and while they used to get held back by the language barrier, now around 95 per cent of Turkish yacht crew can speak fluent English.
 
“Educationally the quality is also improving; there are new schools opening and the students are not only getting a really good knowledge base, but they are learning the manners of a seafarer. This aspect is a really important thing for us and most of the yachts here realise that too. So the crew are learning how to behave like yacht crew in school so they do not have to go through training when they get on board.”


"The crew are constantly improving and while they used to get held back by the language barrier, now around 95 per cent of Turkish yacht crew can speak fluent English."



Yada also points out the growing strength of the Turkish charter in terms of Turkish-built boats. “The standards are getting much higher,” he adds. “Eight years ago the quality of the boats wasn’t good - most of the yachts didn’t have a hydraulic system to operate the sails but now most do. It is improving and every year we get new boats delivered that are exceeding the limits of the gullets. On the charter side we can say that gullets are not very well known by the western Med and the Americas. When we were in the Caribbean with Clear Eyes, everyone was amazed, because nobody expects that much space on a sailing yacht.”
 
The benefits of cruising within the Turkish region are also numerous. “In most of the EU countries you have to pay something between 20 to 25 per cent VAT based on the charter fee,” Yada explains. “In Turkey you don’t so this is a huge attraction for clients. On the other side, the cost of the food and beverage and berthing fees attracts owners to Turkey. Just as an example, if you pay 1000 euros in Porto Cervo for a night, in Turkey in December you can stay for a month. There are also lots of cruising grounds around Turkey and Greece – it makes the perfect harmony – there is some kind of unwritten contract between the Turkish and the Greeks.”