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A gulet (Turkish pronunciation: [ɡuˈlet]) is a traditional design of a two-masted or three-masted wooden sailing vessel (the most common design has two masts) from the southwestern coast of Turkey, particularly built in the coastal towns of Bodrum and Marmaris; although similar vessels can be found all around the eastern Mediterranean. Today, this type of vessel, varying in size from 14 to 35 metres, is popular for tourist charters. For considerations of crew economy, diesel power is now almost universally used and many are not properly rigged for sailing.
There are differing opinions about the history and etymology of gullet which took the Turkish name "gulet" from the Italian word guletta. There is still controversy on whether it originated from the schooner, which has long been used as a sweeping net, trawl net or sponging vessel in Turkey in the Aegean and Mediterranean shores, and as a freight vessel in the Black Sea; or it originates from the fishing vessel guletta (gouëlette or goélette in French), that has come up with the evolution of the word galea or galeotta for the old Italian naval vessels or "goleta" in Spanish. Others have argued that it resembles the American gullet used in ling fishing in the Greenland banks, or the clippers carrying goods from India or Australia to England in the periods of colonization.
The origin of the Bodrum type schooner vessels falls to a nearby date, to the beginning of the 1970s. These types of vessels have come up as a result of the need to carry tourists, who have come in numbers to the Aegean region and especially to Bodrum and Marmaris at the end of the 1960s, to nearby bays. The first samples of the vessels called the Bodrum gulet are seen in those years with the addition to meet that demand of chambers and seating on the back of the deck to the chamberless gulet used in fishing or sponging till those years.
The Turkish word gulet is a loanword from Venetian gołéta (modern Italian goletta), itself a loanword from French gouëlette (present-day spelling goélette), meaning "schooner". The French word is probably related to goéland, meaning (and etymologically related to the word) "gull", ultimately of Celtic origin.
Boat construction in Bodrum
The boat construction in Bodrum is not a process that started solely with the construction of Gulet. A long construction process has been there starting from antiquity times to the Ottoman times (although with certain interruptions) due to the geographic and historical position of the place. The insufficiency of the war hardware such as cannons and shells for the war vessels built in Istanbul within the structure of the main docks founded in the period of Fatih opened the search for new production facilities in the second half of the 18th century and new shipyards have been constructed in various regions at the end of that century. In the shipyard opened in Bodrum together with those in settlements like Sinop, Gemlik, Rodos, Fatsa and Amasra, galleon construction was started in the beginning of the 19th century.
Galleon construction in Bodrum was interrupted in the middle of 19th century, however the boat construction continued for use in fishing, sponging and especially for commerce with the islands (till the years 1935-1936). Construction of Bodrum type Gulet started to meet the demand in parallel to the development of tourism in the beginning of the 1970s. This development caused the growth of the boat construction sector as well and especially the successful schooner examples made by the local boat masters increased the interest in such types of boats.
Bodrum type schooner
As the schooner construction methods in Bodrum are observed, it is seen that the basic construction approach has not generally been subject to great change. Other than the use of electrical equipment, laminated materials, high power engines and similar high technology products, the schooner construction starts with the construction of the iron spine and continues with the use of traditional weights. The only dimension that changed in the weight usage is the use of heavy metals in the vessels constructed with high quality using high technology instead of stone used as weight material in the traditional method. Although the essence of the weight changes, the spine still filled in with the traditional method form the basis of both the balance of the vessel and the construction of the ribs, frame and curves.
In schooner construction, the frames are placed from the head to the end, the board form is created with the measure of the eye, the side coatings are handmade and the shell is finished. The finishing of the shell is one of the most important stages where the tradition is kept for both the traditional/local boat masters who do the construction without a plan and almost all of whom have learned from the famous master Ziya Guvendiren of Bodrum as well as the constructors who produce according to international standards like RINA or Lloyd's Register. With the finishing of the shell, the construction of the deck and the chambers is completed after the celebrations that symbolize the “seamanship” of the wood.
The schooner, the construction of which takes 9 to 12 months according to the method employed, is launched to the sea over skids oiled with melted suet. The schhoners constructed in shipyards away from the sea, sledged through narrow straits with the help of skids and brought to the shore make up scenes that in turn make Bodrum matchless.
The Bodrum schooner that is pulled on land for maintenance each year continue sailing in the Aegean and Mediterranean seas with its aesthetic silhouette gained with its large back deck, spacious chamber design and low board.
The preliminary doubts on the seaworthiness of the Bodrum schooner and the claims that it is a vessel type “bulky, unable to speed, not suitable for setting sails” and “traveling only with the engine power” have disappeared with the boats that are built in the last 20 years and have proven themselves in the Bodrum Cup Wooden Yachts Races. The investment approach to boat construction has changed in time, construction of other types of boats other than Gulet have started and this sector specialized from boat design, materials, construction techniques and construction teams have turned into one of the most important economic sectors in Bodrum.
Gulet Charters in Turkish Riviera
Turkish riviera is the name for the southwestern coast of Anatolia which hosts the endemic red mediterranean pine forests and turquoise color waters for a great sailing holiday. There are many gulet charter companies such as Gulet Escapes with offices in the UK and Turkey, Bluestar Yachting, Barbaros and Akasia Yachting that provide gulet cruise services for tourists and generate an income for the local economy. Some big charter companies also operate along the Greek and aegean coast which sometimes reach as far as to Croatia.
- Osman Kademoglu; Denizlerin Guzelleri; Duran Kitap, Istanbul 2000
- Avram Galanti Bodrumlu; Bodrum Tarihi; BOSAV Yay. Ankara 1996: 78-79
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