Istanbul boat parties

ist map

Istanbul is surrounded by water: the Marmara Sea, the Black Sea, the Bosporus, the Golden Horn.  As a result, there is a lot of water traffic.  There are a lot of different kinds of boats, from tankers to ferries to small boats.  Amazingly, the Bosporus is relatively clean, considering the traffic, since there are two strong currents.  One current flows down from the Black Sea to the lower Marmara Sea and the other one flows up due to the different salt content.  For several years I went to or hosted boat parties and here I want to share some of them, spurred on by photos of a recent boat party I saw from my friends on Facebook.  It made me very envious!

First, let me tell you how to rent a yacht or small or large boat in Istanbul.  Probably you can find them online, but if you go to where the boats are, you can find a kaptan and a boat.  The price went up over the years, but it cost anywhere from 700 to 1000 lira.  We brought our own food, including meat or fish to barbecue, as most boats had a mangal, a grill.  There was always lots of great food.  We also brought our own music on a memory disk, as otherwise it would be Turkish pop. I had a collection of blow-up air mattresses and tubes, which was great for the smokers…  People often rent boats for parties and weddings, which are often in the evenings, so day rentals work well.

tekne fal

I went to a boat party with some people in 2004.  It was a little strange, but since we were on the water, it was still very nice. The boat party started with a Roma woman who read our fortunes– the usual love, money. travel. i spent money, travelled, and did not find love on this trip.

sultan kayik2

a copy of a kayik, once used by the aristocracy to get around. now for rent

buff guys2

showing off on a neighbouring boat

funny boat

traffic on the bosporus

mystery gate

an old bunker

kanlica for yogurt

we stopped in at Kandilli for its famous yogurt

yogurt time

arriving at carters 3

carter at his place (just the apartment on the lower left, btw, in case you were wondering…)

In 2005 I rented a small yacht and filled it with friends.  We stopped by my friend Carter’s place, though he was unable to come with us.  However, it was very cool to stop by on the water. The kaptan was very nice and let us take turns driving the boat. molly kaptan Luckily, unlike most of Istanbul, there was little traffic.  We stopped in a bay near an Ottoman garden ottoman garden   ottoman garden 2and then went on to Buyuk Liman, where we encountered a sunken boat that people were trying to raise. sunken boat    Along the way back one of the air mattresses flew off the boat and was retrieved by a small boat.  By then we were far away from it and did not try to get it back.getting it   getting the air mattress


stefan and bayram in karakoy as we were waiting for the others


karakoy wild life

Two years later, we rented another boat, but that was the day that the cross Bosporus swim was happening, so the Bosporus was closed and we were not able to go up it.  Instead we went to the Princes Islands and went behind Burgaz Ada. IMG_1379It was actually not as nice, as there were a lot of jellyfish.  There was some discussion as to whether they would sting or not (no decision) and we just tried to avoid them.  They tend to live in quieter and dirtier water, so I was not impressed.



huswyin kaptan. we used his boats for a few years

However, we had a good time anyway.

These are Celal and Bayram narrowly averting tragedy.





charlie and luke

charlie and my son luke

My son had come to live with me in 2008 and he was just about to go back to the States, so the boat party was a few days before he left.  Once again we went up the Bosporus, a motley crew of his friends and mine.  It was a great day.

collecting at karakoy

gathering at karakoy

gaye and bruce

gaye and bruce


ciragan palace, now a fancy hotel

high dinner

high dining

mosque in ortakoy

the mosque in ortakoy

rumeli hisar

rumeli hisar, across from carter’s place

picking up carter

picking up carter and friends

mother and son

mother and son

cevdet and molly

unimpressed cevdet

feet first

luke jumping

on the way down

on his way

pensive bruce

pensive bruce and skyline of the old city


almost home


nancy karen marcia

My old friend Nancy and her friend Marcia visited the next summer, so once again we rented a boat and headed up the Bosporus.  By then I had opened my café, but I closed it for the day and off we went.  Nancy is a great dancer, so on the way she taught Deniz a few moves.SL370286


merve buying fish at the karakoy fish market, which sadly was recently bulldozed by the city

yali renovation

this was a historic school, supposedly burned down by the mafia to make parking

SL370283SL370290      we were here


vicki and laura

In 2013 I hosted two boat parties.  The first one was so fun, we had to have another!  And these were the last ones.  We went up again to Buyuk Liman and were shocked to see that the new bridge construction was taking place there.  A lot of debris had fallen onto the small beach and the whole thing was ugly.  This is one of the government’s new boondoggles.  However, in spite of that, we had fun both times.


the ortakoy mosque under renovation


the egyptian consulate, one the home of an egyptian prince. it is known for its art deco decor


rumeli hisar


anadolu hisar, on the asian side


this grand red place is supposedly haunted


this apartment building recently sold for a few million dollars. it would have been a cool place to live, except for the bridge


bosporus homes, once derelict, now very expensive


yenikoy, home of several churches. this one is greek orthodox.


german summer consulate


tarabya hotel in what was once terapia. i used to see it from my window when i lived in tarabya. there has been a hotel here since 1880s, though not always this building


i lived way up this valley


once a genoese castle


new bridge european side


new bridge asian side


arun darcy eric






It is wonderful to see the Bosporus from the water.  There are so many palaces and yalis (summer homes) and ancient structures, all with stories to tell.  If you don’t rent a boat for a party, at least take a ferry  up to Sariyer in order to see it all.  I remember our boat parties with great nostalgia.


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