The legendary beauties of Bodrum... Bodrum Gullets (Bodrum type schooners)

Listening to everything about the sea is a distinct pleasure from someone who knows it and lives with it. In this edition of our magazine, we approached the harbour with “Bodrum Gullet” and we listened to the generation, whose roots are extending to the sea, about the legendary "Bodrum Gullet".

Erol Agan, known as "the father of gullet "; Yucel Koyagasioglu, an architect, writer, boat designer, captain and instructor of maritime and sailing; and Hasan Demiroz, a marine gullet master and lover of the sea, shared their passions, dreams and thoughts about gullets to what they dedicated their lives with us.

Gullets are sailing boats with a dipper gourd shaped nose, watermelon (round) sterns, wine glass shaped mid-post, long furling and usually with ketch riggings. Not every boat is a gullet. The area of use is different for each. Their characteristic features, harmony with the sea and fighting tactics differ from other wooden boats. Today, ketches, mirror sterns, tirhandils and schooners are all called gullet by those who do not understand the difference between them.

In Turkey, wooden yacht construction started in Bodrum this is why a Bodrum Gullet is stronger and has a different aesthetic. A Bodrum Gullet is different from other geographical ones with the aspect of the sternpost, the geometry of the buttock, the dipper gourd shape of the bow, the difference in the sheer line called blinker, the ceiling placed above and the type of centreboard for suiting a blue voyage. While million-dollar yachts wait in the waters for the weather conditions to get better, gullets go on like turtles least wise. Even though the water goes over the gullet, it keeps going as it is a sailor. The Aegean's water has the most dangerous wave type. The waves hit once, then hit twice in a row then it repeats. The gullets, which are designed in the form of a wine glass, do not feel the wildness of the sea.

The history of Gullets:
There are various types of Gullets as English, Italian, and French.

Gullets had emerged from the form change of the Xebecs in North Africa. All Mediterranean Italians in World War I dominated them. Italians started to make gullets in the 1860s. In 1962, an able seaman Ziya Usta initiated the first production of the Bodrum gullet, which was based on the examples from Greece. Gullets are boats where the rear sail pole is longer than the front pole. Typical features of the Bodrum Gullet are the round stern, grill seating on the stern called sun deck and the dipper gourd shaped ship-nose, which extends forward. It developed much more over time. The apprentices of Ziya Usta, Erol Agan, Junior Ziya and Ethem Mehmet, have progressed much in this profession. The first made gullets are called Heyamola (shanty) by Ziya Usta and Balik (fish) by Erol Agan. As they were manufactured for fishing, they did not have any cabins and they were 18 metres tall. They were extremely big for that period. Apart from them, the biggest wooden boats were Tirhandils 7.5 metres long. The first gullets had a scoop aft until 1986. Yucel Koyagasioglu

“Designing a gullet has never been easy. It requires self-dedication, hard work and rigour. Since the boat to be built is a "Bodrum type of gullet", which is famous for its invincibility and beauty. Its name should be known for being durable against the famous Mediterranean waves and harsh winds. It must offer comfort, which feels like home. While its workmanship attracts the attention of people, it should move across as graceful as a swan.” Erol Agan

I left primary school on a Friday in 1961, left my school bag on the side, and started working with Erol Agan. I have been working on the boat since that day. “No profit without good reputation” we say, we do not reduce the material in order to build it on the solid basis. We used to start at 8:00 in the morning and continue until the sun went down in the summer days. If you ask me, I do not know if I am a master. There is no mastery in this job. There are more skills for each day. Maybe, this job is over and we are the last generation. According to me, the boats called Balık (fish) and Elpenor were the most legendary gullets. Balık in 1970 and Elpenor in 1974 ditched onto the sea. Hasan Demiroz

The gullet that impresses me most is Erol Agan's "Balik". The other one is Elpenor. The Balik is legendary, but Elpenor is a boat with character.

The Bodrum Gullet was adopted with the transformation of the fishing boats we called "trata" in the 1960s into blue cruise boats. Since the Ottoman period, wood yacht production has been made especially in this region. Bozburun, Marmaris, Fethiye and Antalya are the manufacturing places that later joined the fleet but the history of this business in Turkey began in Bodrum. Already the navy yard is in Bodrum. The world's oldest female admiral is Artemisia the first. That means Caria had already had a great fleet. It is understood that the boat productions were made in this region, from the shipwreck of Uluburun. Prior to 1960, Bodrum was not a known place and it had limited livelihoods such as sponge, fish and citrus. For this reason, tirhandils were mostly adopted then and started to be produced due to their manoeuvrability. Troll and trata boats are bigger. They drag the bottom of the sea and lift the hunt. When these boats started to navigate blue voyage, they turned into gullets. However, Greeks still call them trata, as they were transformed from trata. Erdem Agan

I am the owner of Elpenor, the most legendary gullet in Bodrum. The manufacturing of Elpenor took a year. Elpenor has been in the sea since 1974 and since then it has been having guests in the blue waters of France, Spain, Italy, Croatia, Greece and Turkey on blue voyages. A gullet is the most pleasing boat to me. The Bodrum Gullet is very different in terms of style and durability. What is more, as it is closer to the sea, it allows you to enjoy the sea more. Hakan Dizdar

In 1986 I moved to Bodrum and firstly I built the mirror stern gullet called "Meteor". In 1975 with the tourism effect, people began to sell their lands and buy gullets. With the blue voyage, the gullets began to evolve. There was a wrong impression with the first gullets as they could not be under sail. It was a wrong impression, as gullets are sailing boats. When I first came to Bodrum, I had 5 gullets completed at the navy yard. I made a mirror stern for a nobleman. Now, that boat navigates on the Maltese offshore.

Bodrum is the centre of wooden boat making today. Sea vessels used to identify with wood in people’s dreams. From the poorest to the richest and most ornate ones, all the boats were made of wood. Then fibreglass boats were invented. Machines, not human hands, made them. This means that; you had a boat the same as mine, someone had a boat the same as yours and 30 thousand people had the same type of boats. Sailors realised that they had lost their lovers. Then they covered the fibre boats with wood at least to make them look like their ex-loves. Yucel Koyagasioglu