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2020 was deeply frustrating for those many couples planning to get married as their plans kept being altered by ever-changing COVID regulations. Legions of boat owners also found their racing and cruising plans frustrated.

One local couple managed to resolve both issues concurrently by holding their wedding celebrations on board the family gulet in Turkey in October 2020, creating an event which will live in the memories for all the participants for a long time.

The happy couple on the stern of gulet ‘Salamander’.The happy couple on the stern of gulet ‘Salamander’

A gulet is a traditional Turkish sailing vessel with voluminous, luxurious accommodation and great stability, hence an ideal holiday for a mix of sailing enthusiasts and those more apprehensive around boats. And contrary to common opinion, gulets do indeed sail when the wind direction and strength are suitable. Typically all the large cabins have their own bathrooms en suite, and there are many relaxing areas both on and below deck, in and out of the sun. Imagine the comfort and service levels of an excellent boutique hotel but with the scenery constantly changing, going where you choose, and loaded with paddleboards, kayaks, sailing dinghies and snorkelling gear.

Juliet Cooke from County Antrim and her boyfriend Alex were in Northern Ireland from their base in Edinburgh to collect a car when they were accidentally but fortuitously locked down in her family's holiday home on Strangford Lough. They arrived in late March, ended up staying for six months, and became engaged there in April.

The initial plans for a sizeable wedding at the holiday home in 2021 were soon abandoned as it became clear that the future for weddings was no less certain than the present, and much smaller weddings were the only alternative to an indefinite postponement.

Juliet's parents suggested using their beloved 26-metre Turkish gulet 'Salamander', which they have run as a successful fully crewed private charter business for some 17 years. Although they usually are fully booked for 26 weeks a year with family groups of up to 12 guests from all over the world celebrating significant birthdays, anniversaries or just enjoying the turquoise waters in the Aegean, there were inevitable unexpected gaps in 2020 season as travel advice kept changing, and several groups of guests had to postpone their voyages on Salamander. A suitable gap for wedding celebrations suddenly emerged!

Turkish gulet Salamander coming alongside gulet Aganippe in preparation for the wedding ceremonyTurkish gulet Salamander coming alongside gulet Aganippe in preparation for the wedding ceremony

Despite a common misconception, it is not legal for the Captain to marry a couple on board his ship in most countries, so a modified plan was hatched accordingly. Alex and Juliet were able to get married in accordance with the prevailing lockdown regulations in Northern Ireland with a small church wedding for just the two families, followed by an outdoor champagne reception. One week later, the ever-tightening regulations would have prevented this happy event taking place!

Toasting the arrival of the wedding coupleToasting the arrival of the wedding couple

Then on to the main event. Three weeks later they held their wedding celebrations in Turkey for over three days. 'Salamander' housed the Cooke family and a 30m gulet, 'Aganippe', which is also offered for private charter by Salamander Voyages, was used by Alex's family and a few friends. 'Salamander' was fully dressed for the wedding in bougainvillaea and greenery. Both gulets were moored tightly alongside each other in a quiet bay for the ceremony, which included vows, readings and even a couple of hymns. The participants were on the aft deck of 'Salamander', and the guests alongside on the aft deck of 'Aganippe'.

The Bride emerges from the gulet saloonThe Bride emerges from the gulet saloon

After a champagne reception, both boats motored to the delightful small village of Cokertme, where a restaurant had been prepared with the dining table on the beach and dancing on the balcony. The superb food was provided by the two gulet chefs, who occupied the restaurant kitchen for the evening.

Wedding dinner table dressed for action ashoreWedding dinner table dressed for action ashore

The guests came from all over the UK and Ireland, Turkey and even Serbia. Inevitably the different nationalities wished to display their prowess at their national dancing after dinner, and even a nearby forest fire did not disturb the celebrations.

The bridal walkway with both private charter gulets anchored offThe bridal walkway with both private charter gulets anchored off

The happy couple then set off on a smaller gulet for a short honeymoon while the guests slowly meandered back to Bodrum for their flights home. Ryanair's direct flight from Dublin to Bodrum was a real boon for the Northern Irish guests, who then did 14 days of quarantine buoyed up by very special memories. Salamander Voyages' claim of 'probably the safest place in the sun' was indeed well made.

Waiting for the wedding guests at Orhan’s restaurant in CokertmeWaiting for the wedding guests at Orhan’s restaurant in Cokertme

The restrictions of lockdown were the inspiration for a truly memorable wedding celebration

Salamander Voyages is happy to assist other couples wishing to get married away from the vagaries of Irish weather in the sun in southern Turkey, as well as their more normal fare of providing private groups of up to 12, with wonderful voyages of discovery in the sun with exquisite food on a highly inclusive basis. They offer a small number of different carefully selected gulets to match groups of different sizes. They even offer one specialist gulet in Turkey which can comfortably accommodate a private party of up to 22 guests. Prices start from around €1200/head excluding flights.

Salamander Voyages also offer gulet charters in Montenegro.

If you want to know more about private gulet holidays in Turkey or Montenegro for up to 22 guests visit the website at www.salamandervoyages.com or please call Tessa on +44 7887 874886

Tagged under
With less than a week in service on the Larne-Troon port route, the ro-ro freight ferry Norcape has replaced the European Mariner which is reportedly sold to Turkish ship-breakers, writes Jehan Ashmore.
The Norcape (1979/14,087grt) entered service on 17 July and she brings an increased freight boost capacity of 125 trailer units compared to European Mariner's (1977/5,897grt) 53 trailer units. She departed Larne for the final time five days earlier, on her delivery voyage to Izmir in the eastern Mediterranean.

Prior to her arrival on the North Channel, Norcape had been laid-up in Liverpool since February 2010 after the former B+I Line vessel (MV Tipperary) was replaced by European Endeavour on the central corridor route to Dublin. As of this week the ro-pax freight vessel which has been running in a freight-only mode will now carry motorists likewise to her route fleetmates Norbank and Norbay.

With the departure of European Mariner from the Irish Sea, she follows a trio of former Stena Line freight-ferry sisters which were made redundant since the closure of the Belfast-Heysham route late last year. It is believed the sisters Stena Seafarer, Stena Leader and Stena Pioneer have been sold to Russian interests to serve in the Black Sea in connection to the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.

The sisters were renamed, Stena Pioneer became Ant 1, Stena Seafarer is the Ant 2 and Stena Leader is the Anna Marine. They departed Belfast Lough in mid-June to Sevastopol in the Ukraine under the Moldovan flag and with a port of registry in Giurgiulesti.

Published in Ferry

The Half Ton Class was created by the Offshore Racing Council for boats within the racing band not exceeding 22'-0". The ORC decided that the rule should "....permit the development of seaworthy offshore racing yachts...The Council will endeavour to protect the majority of the existing IOR fleet from rapid obsolescence caused by ....developments which produce increased performance without corresponding changes in ratings..."

When first introduced the IOR rule was perfectly adequate for rating boats in existence at that time. However yacht designers naturally examined the rule to seize upon any advantage they could find, the most noticeable of which has been a reduction in displacement and a return to fractional rigs.

After 1993, when the IOR Mk.III rule reached it termination due to lack of people building new boats, the rule was replaced by the CHS (Channel) Handicap system which in turn developed into the IRC system now used.

The IRC handicap system operates by a secret formula which tries to develop boats which are 'Cruising type' of relatively heavy boats with good internal accommodation. It tends to penalise boats with excessive stability or excessive sail area.

Competitions

The most significant events for the Half Ton Class has been the annual Half Ton Cup which was sailed under the IOR rules until 1993. More recently this has been replaced with the Half Ton Classics Cup. The venue of the event moved from continent to continent with over-representation on French or British ports. In later years the event is held biennially. Initially, it was proposed to hold events in Ireland, Britain and France by rotation. However, it was the Belgians who took the ball and ran with it. The Class is now managed from Belgium. 

At A Glance – Half Ton Classics Cup Winners

  • 2017 – Kinsale – Swuzzlebubble – Phil Plumtree – Farr 1977
  • 2016 – Falmouth – Swuzzlebubble – Greg Peck – Farr 1977
  • 2015 – Nieuwport – Checkmate XV – David Cullen – Humphreys 1985
  • 2014 – St Quay Portrieux – Swuzzlebubble – Peter Morton – Farr 1977
  • 2013 – Boulogne – Checkmate XV – Nigel Biggs – Humphreys 1985
  • 2011 – Cowes – Chimp – Michael Kershaw – Berret 1978
  • 2009 – Nieuwpoort – Général Tapioca – Philippe Pilate – Berret 1978
  • 2007 – Dun Laoghaire – Henri-Lloyd Harmony – Nigel Biggs – Humphreys 1980~
  • 2005 – Dinard – Gingko – Patrick Lobrichon – Mauric 1968
  • 2003 – Nieuwpoort – Général Tapioca – Philippe Pilate – Berret 1978

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