A native of Bodrum, I was born in 1971 to a family of seafarers and sponge divers for three generations.
On the southwestern corner of the Anatolian peninsula, my small town of Bodrum was far from any major throughway, populated by tangerine growers and sponge divers. As the first visitors started arriving, in mid-70s, they were greeting by a warm hospitality, offered a place on the table and a roof over their head for the night. By the1980s, Bodrum was 'discovered,' and regular influx of tourists started to change the face of the town, right before my very eyes.
At 10, I was spending all my school breaks carrying tangerine cases from the orchards, helping my mother run her small bed and breakfast, and working at a small technical engine and yacht services company learning diesel engine repair. Over the summers, I was picking up jobs at hotels that started popping all over Bodrum. From a dishwasher to head waiter in one season, I was learning the business as fast and furious as I could. By the time I was 15, I started working as a deck man with my captain dad who had by then transitioned out of the sponge business and into yacht tourism. I worked through the ranks for 4 years.
At 19, I was conscripted into the army and was sent to the Southeast region of Turkey. As luck would have it, the first Gulf War had just started and I served as a commando for 18 months with the Turkish armed forces in the Turkish border regions with Iraq. Life in the combat zone was relentless, unforgiving and truly character building to say the least.
Upon finishing my military service, I returned to Bodrum in the July of 1991. That same year, in what I still consider to be the best decision I have ever made, I started working at what was then the most knowledgeable captain and the best equipped yacht in the business, 1991-92 as a professional sailor, 93-94 as a cook. As soon as I felt ready both in training and in experience, I entered and passed the various qualifiers and acquired my captain's license at the close of 1994. From 1995 onwards until 1999, I worked as a captain on yachts of various capacities and sizes.
I took over the captainship duties in the yacht, Levent Kaptan I, in year 2000, quickly followed with partnership in 2007 and sole ownership in 2015. For the last 15 years, Levent Kaptan I has become my home, my life, and an extension of me in body and in soul. Every year, I hand pick the crew and only work with the best in the business and always try to hire local. I pick deck boys from well-established captain schools in the area, who receive school credit through their apprenticeship on the boat. I train and monitor the cook throughout the season and hand pick the freshest ingredients all through the cruise. My greatest joy and wealth is to invite you into my home and serve you. In my 20 years of experience, I vouch that this the best vacation with your family and friends that will leave you with lifetime memories.
At gullet Levent Kaptan I, my crew and I are waiting to serve you.