We proceeded down the Southwest Coast to the Bodrum Peninsula where the Mediterranean meets the Agean. ln Bodrum I began my exploration of Turkey's underwater life.
We drove through the steep mountain ranges and at intervals caught glimpses of the a which seems to stretch to infinity.
On the outskirts of Halinarnassu (Bodrum) as it was called in the 4th century BC. the birthplace of Heredotus, where the tomb of King Mausolus was built in the 4th century and considered another of the seven wonders of the ancient world), we began to get a feeling for the town.White washed, sun bleached houses dot the lush green hillside where orange and tangerine orchids grow. Boats in the harbor appear as miniature models bobbing up and down, fanned by the gentle warm breezes.
On the other slope we caught a glimpse of new high rise apartment houses and villas of modern design. These were a sign to us that our little secret was no secret. Bodrum has been found and has started to develop into a major tourist center. Yet as we became more familiar with it, our fears were slightly calmed, for it is a community of artists that dwell here.
Motif Dive Center was the facility I chose to dive with. They offer a dive stay package in a comfortable, hotel right on Gumbet Bay. The Antique Theatre Hotel was highly recommended to me, and as the car pulled into the driveway, I knew I had chosen correctly.
The Hotel is perched high on a hill with a panoramic view of all of Bodrum. Rooms are approached by sun washed, Stucco steps with bougainvillea in all their glorious color running along the sides, giving off a wonderful scent. My room was comfortable and large, with adequate bath, and air conditioning. The windows were shuttered against the mid-day sun. I opened mine and discovered my own terrace awash in plantings.
The view from my window was postcard perfect. I could take in all from my private little terrace, the guest rooms on separate levels, the turquoise pool, beautiful small villas fitting snugly in the lush and colorful ledges and the calm bay with all matter of vessels from fishing boats to luxury yachts.
The 15th century medieval castle of St. Peter, built by the Knights of Rhodes and now the Museum of Underwater Archeology lay in the distance.
After unpacking I met Catherine Woods, a delightful Canadian lady from Motif Divers, who hecame a good friend. She checked my certification card, log book and medical form and told me about the center and our schedule.
Every diver in Turkey is covered by insurance which is rolled into the price of their dive. No one is allowed to dive or get their tank filled without presenting a recognized certification card and log book. They cannot dive without a guide.
All divers and snorkelers are picked up and delivered to their respective hotels free of charge.
The next morning, bright and early, Catherine was at the hotel in the minivan. We made our way to the Bay of Gumbet where our ship the Viking was docked. She is a 55 foot replica of the ancient ships. A woody, built in 1986 and to my eye, more of a yacht than a dive boat. Simply, she is beautiful, comfortable and roomy; adequate for a day's outing or long charter.
These Bodrum built Gullets are exact replicas of the ancient ships except for the modern amenities of galley and head. They are built locally at one of three yards which have been in existence for centuries. The ships have pointed bow, broad beam and rounded stern, making them especially comfortable. During the Gulf War when tourism was off they sold for $8,500.
The Viking leaves her berth at 10 A.M. and returns at 4:30. The site dived or snorkeled depends on sea conditions. There are numerous sites on the Viking's roster.
After reaching the site, the vessel is moored, the dive plan given and divers and snorkelers from all corners of the globe suit up. The ratio of diver to guide is 1 to 4. There is a lead guide and a follow up guide.
One of the great features of the yacht is the ladder Zeki (part owner) de-signed. It is stationary so a diver can enter the boat fully equipped (sans fins of course).
We moored that day off (Karaada) BIack IsIand which is about 1/2 hour from Gumbet Bay. There were small swells and the visibility was 75 feet.