Turkish Gulets: An Information Overload

Gulets originated as the original fishing, sponge-diving and cargo vessels of the Aegean and Black Seas. They are generally, still made of wood and their construction methods have not varied substantially from the days of old. The word Gulet is a loanword from the Venetian word Goleta and was in turn a loanword from the French Goulette and the Spanish Goleta.

The original sailing Gulets rode low in the water, had a sharp bow and a rounded stern and a huge interior capacity that was used for either storing the catch or for transporting cargo. It’s worth noting that Gulets have traditionally been built away from the water in boatyards that are closer to the forests where the wood comes from. The shell is constructed in the mountains and then slid down to the water on skids using liquid suet (in the olden days) as a lubricant. The deck and interior fittings are then put in place.

Today’s more modern versions are still made of wood but they are not rigged so much for sailing as for moving guests and tourists along the beautiful Turkish Coast and other areas of the Eastern Mediterranean as far as Croatia.

They are also known as “Motor-Sailers” in the charter industry, since the modern versions lower mast height and diminished sail area cannot pull these heavy boats very strongly. Their sailing performance therefore leaves much to be desired so diesel engines have replaced the original huge sails and the rounded stern has given way to a squared-off stern design (Ayna Kic) that enables an additional extra-large aft cabin: The “Masters” cabin.

Gulets range in size from about 15m (50’) to 45m (150’) and have between 3 and 12 guest cabins that, in turn allow them to accommodate from 10 guests to 24 guests. There is one large cabin aft and a slew of smaller but comfortable cabins along the two sides of a long corridor that runs fore and aft down the middle. There is a large dining area aft, a sizeable salon and usually a nice seating area forward where guests can enjoy cocktails or a nice glass of wine in the evenings.

Many Gulets have air-conditioning but some do not, however the non-a/c versions can be quite comfortable since the wooden hulls have the effect of insulating the interior from the summer heat and allow guests to sleep comfortably during the night. Awnings are set up so guests can enjoy the shade during the hot summer months and protect the deck and the bright-work from the direct sunlight.

While the beautiful external design and silhouette of the Turkish Gulet has remained relatively unchanged through time, modern technology has been utilized for the engines, the modern navigation equipment, galley and interior accommodations. Most privately owned Gulets have ensuite bathrooms for every cabin.

Our guests find the overall Gulet experience extremely positive, the food is prepared fresh on board and can go from pretty basic to absolute gourmet cuisine. Turkish crews are attentive and efficient. Travelers and charterers however should be aware that there are several flavours of Gulet. Some are used for day-cruises from the main tourist ports of Bodrum and Marmaris. Others are rented by the cabin and have pre-set itineraries.

Finally there are the privately-owned Gulets that are chartered out to guests on a “whole-boat” basis. Usually with beautifully hand-crafted and hand-carved wooden finishing, beautifully varnished and maintained. THESE ARE THE ONES TO LOOK FOR. Your charter broker can find you a beautifully constructed, privately owned Turkish Gulet for a week or more long charter along the spectacular Turkish Riviera that can include Bodrum, Kekova, Marmaris, Antalya, Fethiye and of course Kusadasi, the gateway to Ephesus.

Guests can choose an itinerary that will allow them to visit some of the adjoining Greek Dodecanese Islands like Kos, Samos, Lesbos and Rhodes and especially Symi on the same trip. Additional expenses will be incurred however to procure the Greek cruising permits. We will be happy to assist you prepare a magnificent Gulet itinerary that will give you THE PERFECT TASTE OF TURKEY.