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What Is a Gulet?

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  • Written By: Soo Owens
  • Edited By: Susan Barwick
  • Last Modified Date: 12 September 2016
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A gulet is a traditional Turkish sailing vessel. The ships are wooden and have two masts, the main mast at the front of the ship, or the bow, and the other at the rear, the aft or stern. Gulets are mostly employed by the tourism industry off the coast of Turkey. A gulet is classified as a sailing vessel though some people find it less expensive and more enjoyable to power the craft with an engine in lieu of a sail.

The gulet was initially designed as a tourist vessel. A broad-beam wooden frame layout was selected to allow for a roomy deck and interior. The length of a gulet varies, but generally falls between 50 feet (15 meters) and 108 feet (33 meters). Smaller vessels are capable of storing little more than the necessary equipment, offering passengers a rustic, less extravagant ride. Larger gulets are designed with luxury in mind and have been outfitted with air conditioning and other amenities.

The five- and six-room gulets are the most common configurations, but they can feature as few as three rooms or as many as 12. Rooms are usually intended for occupation by no more than two people. Many gulets have rooms with private toilets. The more luxurious models often include a private shower. The crew, regardless of the vessel's size, is usually limited to three members who sleep in the lazarette, a private room, at the bow.

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Three areas comprise the communal space — the stern deck, foredeck, and main cabin. The foredeck is generally used for lounging in the sun while the stern deck provides protection from it. The stern deck usually features a long row of cushioned seating and a structure that provides shade. A number of activities, including meals, are carried out in the main cabin where there is no need to worry about the interference of weather.

Most gulets have transitioned to motor power, usually diesel, which offers increased reliability over sail power. Some vessels have adopted a completely motor-powered configuration. The majority, though, continue to employ a combination of sail and diesel power. Properly rigged masts allow the ship to sail when wind patterns are favorable while relying on diesel power the rest of the time. This allows the gulet to continue its tour regardless of the winds.

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