Bodrum Gulets from Past to Present

The story of gulets - the special soul mates of those who love the sea - goes back to ancient times. Encountering these sailboats which seem to have sprung from some enchanted legend, one can't help falling under their spell and dreaming of getting to know them better. The name gulet has the same root as the French "goélette" and the Italian "goletta", and going further back, stems from "galliot" ( a two-masted Dutch trading ship) and "galleon".  

 From Pirates to the Aristocracy: Gulet

Gulets can be traced back to the Carian period. These boats with two sails were used by pirates in particular. They were used as workboats in the 19th and 20th centuries, while today, in the hands of Bodrum's skillfull craftsmen, they have become  luxury blue cruise yachts, and are increasingly in demand all over the world as homes for people who can only be truly free at sea. In their new incarnation, these wind-powered sponge diving, fishing and cargo boats of old are now equipped with modern technology, cabins with every comfort and spacious sun decks; and are renowned for how they perfectly complement the Aegean bays they frequent - the two making a charming picture together. Today's gulets make blue cruises even more enjoyable.   

 Bodrum’s Legendary Gulet Builders

If you were to journey back in time to 1964 and visit the harbours of Bodrum, you might be surprised not to find any sailboats resembling the gulets of today. In the green area next to the marina which is now used as parking space, you will find the former boatyard of those days, containing mainly ruined old sponge and fishing boats, their prows decorated with fish or bird symbols. On Meyhane (Tavern) street today, unfortunately you will no longer find any of the small mechanical workshops which used to fill the street. If you could have watched the carpenters and master craftsmen in the boatyards, one would have particularly impressed you with his skill - Ziya Güvendiren or "Ziya Usta". Beginning as a village carpenter and later turning to boatbuilding, this pleasant man has produced many boats, trained the craftsmen of today, and generally gained much for Bodrum.

Ziya Usta trained under Mehmet Uyav, known as  “Nami'nin Mehmet”.  Mehmet Usta had a very interesting life, and is known for building the gulet “Ege Gülü” (Aegean Rose) in 1958, the first of her kind built in the area. Today's renowned master boatbuilders “Fenerci (Lighthouse Keeper) Mehmet” also called Mehmet Usta of Güllük, and Çolak Erol (Erol Ağan), were apprenticed to Ziya Usta. Çolak Erol founded the shipyard area in İçmeler, and his Bodrum gulets are works of art; unique and spirited, as if from the hands of an ancient Greek sculptor.

 The Influence of the Female Form on Gulet Building

The techniques developed by Ziya Usta are still employed. Today's masters all agree that building gulets is a matter of inspiration. Let's conclude with the words of esteemed gulet builder Çolak Erol, “My place was where Yetti Gari is today. I used to sit at the cafe opposite and watch the attractive tourist women go by.  I drew inspiration from them when designing the kıç ( meaning "buttocks/rear end", and also "stern") of gulets.  And frankly, no one can build those gulet butts quite like I can.”