Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Çalış boat co-operative so much more than a water taxi service

One of the Çalış water taxis
One of our favourite things to do is to catch the water taxi to Çalış from Fethiye harbour in the early evening so that we are in Çalış in time to catch the sunset. We love the trip across the bay, it's a wonderful opportunity to view a different perspective on the beauty of Fethiye surrounded by the mountains.

Leaving Fethiye in daylight ...............
We then enjoy a leisurely meal before catching the water taxi back to Fethiye for a nightcap before catching the dolmuş back to Uzumlu. It is delightful to glide down the Çalış river in the dark before approaching Fethiye lit up for the night across the bay.

............. and returning to Fethiye at night on the water taxi
But up until this year although we had been on boat trips from Fethiye, we had never set out on one of the Çalış boats. However, in early April a friend of ours had family staying and organised a boat trip for them and we were invited to go along. Being early in the season the boat that we were meant to go on, was actually not ready, so another of the Çalış boats stepped in and we set off on Ali Tuğsat's boat ALİS 1.

Ali told us that this was his first trip of the season and the lad that was with him was on his first day at his new job, being trained by Ali. Completing the crew members was Ali's mum who comes along to do the cooking, and as we left Çalış 'Mum' disappeared down into the galley to prepare the food.

We had just cleared the first island and settled into the trip when Ali came to ask if we would mind if he helped another boat that had broken down. He explained that the Çalış boats were run as a co-operative and they all looked out for each other. Of course we didn't mind. There's nothing like a bit of drama on the high seas!

Stuck out at sea awaiting help from a co-operative member ..........
So we went straight to the boat which had ground to a halt in the middle of the sea, and needed to get to a point where the fitters could get on board to fix it. Tow ropes were thrown and tied and we towed the boat to a cove where the fitters were already waiting by the time we drew in and they quickly boarded the boat and had it mended in no time at all.

........... being towed in for assistance
We were glad to get in the cove because in honesty it was a tad on the chilly side out at sea in early April. But there in the sheltered cove the sunshine soon warmed us up, and a couple of us even dared to have a dip in the sea - albeit a rather quick one, the water was fairly cold!

There are beautiful coves to see, which is not possible other than by boat
Ali's English is excellent and he is a fervent supporter of football - Fenerbahçe in particular. He told us about the Çalış boats and how they are run as a co-operative. Each of the Çalış boats have to take turns in being the water taxi, but outside of that they do day and evening trips, both publicly and they are available for private hire. After each boat takes it's expenses for diesel and food costs etc. the rest of the money is shared. So if any boat is not required on a particular day, they are still being looked after by the other members of the co-operative. It is a very good system and really seems to work well for them.

More of the Çalış Co-operative boats
Then it was lunchtime and 'mums' food was served. Wow! What an excellent cook. We have been on many boat trips before and we are usually served with either chicken or fish, salad, bread and pasta salad, followed by fresh fruit. This food was in the premier league let me tell you. With some lovely and unusual Turkish home cooking, it was like having lunch in a Turkish home rather than a standard boat barbecue. Unfortunately I was so busy eating that I didn't manage to take any photos of the food. Highly, highly recommended. Well done 'mum'.

Ali Tuğsat skipper of the boat ALİS 1 and his super cook mum
The rest of the trip was very enjoyable and relaxing and we finished off by passing close to the island in the bay on the way back to Çalış, which for nosey people like me was a wonderful opportunity to have a closer look at the Island.

We were able to have a good nosey at the probably super expensive properties on the island in Fethiye bay
We were so impressed with Ali, his boat and especially the food that we immediately booked it again for our family to have a sunset cruise the night after our wedding in May, and guess what, we were his first sunset cruise of the year. So two firsts on ALİS 1 this year.

Again we had an excellent trip with superb food. Unfortunately when we moored up to watch the sunset the clouds came over and we couldn't see it. But that didn't detract for one minute from us having a brilliant night. Ali put music on and we drank from his well stocked bar, and partied the night away.

Here we all are setting off on our sunset cruise. A motley crew if ever there was one!
Actually it was mostly me that did the partying! Ali's boat has a system that you can connect an ipod or phone to and one of our sons put on some rave music, I even danced to that! I was the only one who attempted to dance to Zorba the Greek as well! In my defence after the stresses in the run up to our wedding day it was the first time I could really relax and let my hair down in a long time. I think the family forgave the mad woman in her 50s partying the night away!! Thankfully there are no photos, that I am aware of anyway!

We finally docked back in Çalış around midnight and fell onto the dolmuş that we had hired to take us all back to Uzumlu. I bet some passers by wondered why an Uzumlu dolmuş was driving around in Çalış!

Having done both the day and the evening trip on ALİS 1, I would never by choice use any other boat in the future. Ali was a fantastic and amenable host, and as for 'mum's' cooking wow,wow,wow! Can't wait for the next trip, we highly recommend his boat.

Private hire of the Çalış boats this year is 35 tl per person for the day cruise including all food but not drinks. 25 tl per person for the sunset trip again including your meal but drinks to be paid for. These prices are for the first ten people (minimum charge) after that 35tl and 25 tl respectively. Ali's boat will hold 27 people and is a lovely boat not yet two years old, with sun deck and cabin. It is a great idea to hire it privately for family and friends to enjoy a tailor made trip.


  1. 2 weeks in turkey ...hired this boat and this was the highlight of the holiday so much we hired it for the second week his mums food was fantastic ..AAAAAAAAAAAAA...great captin and great company ....his mums food is second to none x

    1. Totally agree with all of your comments. Only Alis 1 for us now.