By: Blonde Two
It’s no secret that I like sleeping outside. In fact to celebrate my 50th birthday year I successfully spent 50 nights sleeping outside (or at least nearly outside). The jury is currently out on whether I will go for sixty nights in my sixtieth year but this summer I’ve just had an outdoor sleeping experience that I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to beat.
I spent a week sleeping on the deck of a Turkish gulet.
Before I get into the wonderful details, let me explain the sleeping arrangements. A gulet is a beautiful traditional Turkish boat. Ours had stunning wooden cabins with comfortable beds. It also had a table big enough for twelve and plenty of lying around mattresses.
But we didn’t sleep in our cabins.
Which is kind of crazy because they were lovely, and I’ve never had a cabin before. However, Turkey in July is a very hot place. Even with a sea breeze, the temperature in our cabins was far too hot for anything approaching comfort.
But the deck was lovely and cool.
Not only that, the deck had stars, and a mast, and shooting stars, and the sound of lapping waves, and the gentle rocking motion of the Mediterranean.
So twelve of us slept on it all together.
It was a wonderful inter-generational communal experience. Those of us who were middle-aged usually gathered our bedding and headed to the sleeping deck first. There was chatter, and laughter, and oohs and aahs at the stars. Once we had dozed off the teenagers arrived like a giggling litter of puppies. They were so funny and good-natured, we all usually woke again to laugh at them. Then, as quiet fell, it was the turn of our seniors. At 70+ both of them were determined to join us on deck and negotiate the complications of low beds, several gins and early-morning wake-ups. They too got us laughing.
But there was also plenty of sleeping.
I think lullabies and rocking cradles must have been invented by sailors. I can honestly say I’ve never felt so relaxed and peaceful. Despite the heat, the occasional biting creature and the unusualness of the situation, I had some of the best outdoor night sleeps I have ever had.
Don’t ask me which type of sleeping bag I used.
Because I didn’t use any sleeping bag. For the first couple of nights, on the advice of an experienced gulet dweller, I slept inside an single duvet cover. After that I slept underneath it, or sometimes on top of it.
I know! It was that warm!
It was so warm in fact that each early morning brought a fairly heavy dew. Something that occasionally necessitated a light blanket but also drew me up to the deck after my only super-hot night in the cabin.
It’s the only time I can remember in all my camping years that a damp bed was something to look forward to.
So what was the highlight of my gulet sleeps in Turkey?
There are so many options. It could have been the gentle motion of the sea, it could have been the swing of the mast against the Milky Way, it might have been shooting stars almost every night, or perhaps my wonderful companions.
Those are all highlights but there was one very special moment.
It was on my first night. Our crew had pulled the boat a little way offshore to make sure we had a bit of breeze but we were still close enough to land to see a few lights. We were surrounded on the other sides by mountains. I woke at dawn, just as a pale orange light started to shadow the sharp tips of the mountains and reflect off the dark blue sea. Just as the haunting ezan or call to prayer went up from the mosque.
I looked around. We were all awake but all lost in our own thoughts.
It was a moment that will stay with me always.
If you fancy a holiday that involves swimming in turquoise waters several times a day, eating delicious local food and sleeping on the deck of a beautiful wooden boat, I can thoroughly recommend a Turkish Gulet cruise. Our cruise was on Nirvana 2, we sailed from Selimiye near Marmaris (flying into Dalaman) and our crew couldn’t have looked after us better. It was a week of utter relaxation and bliss.