History of boats: Gulet Sailing

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Here’s everything you always wanted to know about gulets (but were too afraid to ask). Just kidding. There’s nothing scary about gulets at all (although maybe they do look a bit like they’re out of Pirates of the Caribbean). We love our gulets, here at Zizoo. They’re perfect for groups of 10-15 people, although they often accommodate many more than this, making them the ideal vessel for sailing in large groups and celebrating events such as weddings. Gulets have been around for some time, and their history is a fascinating one.

Gulet sailing Turkey

Basic facts about gulets

The word ‘gulet’ originates from the Italian word guletta, which in itself is a loanword from the French gouëlette, meaning “schooner”. Gulets are two-masted or three-masted wooden sailing vessels, originating from the southwestern coast of Turkey. The towns of Bodrum and Marmaris are best known for their sailing history, and the production of gulets in particular. In its capacity as a boat construction centre, Bodrum is famous throughout the world. Sea trade in the area has encouraged shipbuilding from antiquity thorough the Ottoman Empire period to modern times. The original purpose of the gulet was for fishermen and sponge divers to transport their catch, as well as for traders to move goods from marina to marina.

Sailing with gulet

Image by Gulcan Acar

The construction of gulets picked up significantly again in the 1970s, when a spike in tourism resulted in more demand for sailing in Turkey than ever before. Since then, gulets have become an iconic symbol for Turkish sail-related tourism with thousands sailing the Mediterranean and Aegean seas in gulets every year. From antiquity until now, the production process hasn’t changed much – gulets are still built using traditional techniques (by the plank-on-frame method). Of course, gulets have changed significantly in terms of interior (one word: JACUZZIS) and sturdiness, but sailing in one remains an authentic and unique experience.

Gulet sailing

Today, these Turkish-built wooden yachts combine the beauty of traditional craftsmanship with contemporary construction mechanics, allowing for cruising holidays done in comfort and style.

Gulet sailing today

Gulets remain a popular choice among sailors today. The Turkish Riviera (which covers the southwestern coast of Anatolia, with its pine forests and pristine waters – the perfect setting for an idyllic sailing holiday) and Croatia are the two main areas where sailing with gulets is most common. In Croatia, the most gulets can be found in Dalmatia, the country’s most southeastern region. One of the biggest gulets we offer on our website sleeps 54 guests (!) – it’s ideal for larger groups and events. It’s located in Olbia, Italy.

Interested in sailing boats? Have a look at some of our previous posts, such as this one on catamarans and this one helping you choose the right sailing boat for your trip. Happy sailing!