Gulet is a word who doesn’t actually exist in the English language, especially in the United States. “Gullet” is worse, it is explained as to be the Turkish equivalent of the French’s goelette. “Goelette” is the French word for schooner, a type of vessel I will describe here in a future post. Anyway, this sort of boat got its place in the world’s editing encyclopedia, the Wikipedia.
Now, almost every ship you are invited to charter in Turkey, in what they call “Blue Voyage”, is such a gulet. The “official” Wikipedia definition states that “a gulet is a traditional design of a two-masted or three-masted wooden sailing vessel 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. This type of vessel, varying in size from 14 to 35 meters, 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. A Turk, even an owner of such a wooden boat, will tell you that a gulet has a rounded stern, like the one in the above picture.
They will tell you that the gulet in the picture below is a ketch, and that is the difference between ketches and gulets. A ketch is any sailing craft with two masts, be it wooden, composite, fiberglass, carbon or laminate built. Laura Dekker’s Jeanneau Gin Fizz is a ketch too. Guppy is a 12 meters sailing boat without a separate generator, but it has two small motors with alternators for batteries recharging.
Twelve-fifteen years ago, I read in a Turkish Airways magazine, a story about wooden boat building in Turkey. The article presented Bodrum as being the only authentic place where one can order such a gulet. More than that, only one yard there was the real deal. A certain master builder has been noticed by some journalists, and they presented his version as being the only one. This guy had a waiting orders list spread on more than eight years. A boat could be built in eight to fifteen months, depending on different factors and materials. He claimed that his boats were equipped only with Rolls Royce motors, and the price was between $200-250k.
I can certify that Bodrum is not the only place where one can order a wooden gulet to be built, and the price can be downed to $40-50k with motor included. It always depends with whom you deal with. I knew a guy, a master builder who could deliver two boats per year, working at the structure and hull only with a helper, and for the cabins he contracted different carpenter teams of two to four. Another thing I noticed is that work is less and less perfect, with pricing going higher and higher every year without being really justified. Business changes and as far as I’m concerned, there isn’t such a craving for these gulets anymore.
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