“The Gulet was one of the most beautiful boats among the many that populated our seas in the age of sail.”
“La goletta fu una delle piu belle imbarcazioni fra le tante che popolavano i nostri mari all’epoca della marina a vela.“
“Vele Italiane della Costa Occidentale” by S. Bellabarba and E. Guerreri
published by Hoepli in Milan in 2002.
A cargo and fishing ship of the Mediterranean, the gulet has survived in the Eastern Med up to our days, and Bodrum is certainly the center for having a gulet built. Her lines have always attracted many a boat designer, including, for example, the famous British design house of Laurent Giles. Nevertheless, none of these boats come close to the flair achievable through the legendary shipwrights of Bodrum.
- • However, not all glitter is gold, and so is with the gulet.
There are many items to be considered before and during the construction and also while owning a gulet. I have highlighted but a few of the relevant points below:
• Traditionally the Bodrum Gulets are made of “pine on pine”, utilizing the red pine (Pinus brutia Ten.) popular in our area. This is inherently not a very durable choice of wood, causing gulets to rot, particularly in the badly vented aft quarters. Shipwrights are more and more resorting to exotic woods like “khaya” or “sapelli.” But even these woods cannot be used throughout the boat, certainly not in keel, stems, frames and stringers; these must be made out of more suitable timber.
• Since almost no “crooks” are available any longer, the frames and the stems are now usually laminated. However, as the planks are still caulked in the traditional manner the resulting “hybrid” is not a satisfactory construction and consequently, the gulets may turn out to be humid and at times leaking boats.
• Another matter is the use of galvanized iron nails, iron bolts and coach screws; bronze and copper are unheard of. The ferrous elements have a life expectancy of, say, ten or fifteen years. In fact, even before this period, the owner is forced to “refasten” the planks and, where and when this is not possible, to accept a leaking, “softened” boat.
• In recent times, in order to squeeze in more and more paying passengers into the boats, very unsightly superstructures and unseaworthy flaring ends have been added to these beauties.
I could continue this list with many more items.
We would be pleased to assist and advise in the design and supervision of the construction of the finest of the traditional sailing boats here in Bodrum. We can confidently assure that you will end up with a jewel impressing, next to yourself, anybody with a heart for sea and sail.
Not everything that glitters is gold: Gigantic ships they are, yes, but poorly laminated and with already cracked wood, ferrous fasteners, a steel ballast keel envelope, rusting heavily, primitive painting…..already before launching. Therefore please contact us for our services fashioned in accordance with the CE standards and provided through the supervision of naval architects.
Gulets at anchor in front of St. John’s Castle
Further gulets in front of the Tepecik Mosque in Bodrum. Note the strongly flaring bows.
Gigantic wooden ships under construction in Bodrum
Photography and text by Yusuf Civelekoglu