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What is a gulet?
A gulet is a traditional looking pine wood boat that originates from Turkey. Built of white, red and black Aegean pine, gulets can take between nine months to two years to complete. Traditionally the timber must be felled during a full moon, where there is less likehood of worm, and felling is best in the summer months, when the timber is full of sap. The gulet is a word borrowed from the French goelette and the Italian word goletta, and it describes the schooner rigging rather than the hull shape. This means two masts of almost equal height, a mainsail, mizen and a jib or three, plus the ability to hoist a spinnaker. A variant on the gulet is the square stern allowing for a broad rear cabin (usually called a master cabin) with windows looking out on the sea. The modern history of gulets began at the end of the 19th century with the arrival of Cretan refugees who brought their boat building traditions to Turkey. The Aegean and the Mediterranean coasts of Turkey emerged as a sailing destination around the 1950s. The Elfin, a 33 foot London built motor sailer was the first boat ever to have sailed from Izmir along the Mediterranen coasts of Turkey entirely for pleasure.
Turkey is the largest gulet market in the world with over 3,000 gulets. The gulet cruise concept also originates from Turkey - 'Blue Voyage' , a term coined by the famous writer Cevat Sakir Kabaagach. Once described as 'Where emerald earth meets royal blue waters, there is a place where one can truly find a connection with the heavens', the Turkish shore is home to some of nature's most spectacular scenery. Over the years, the concept has been carried over to Croatia and today there is a small fleet of gulets in Croatia. In a nutshell, gulets offer accommodation similar to a hotel. All cabins are en-suite and include everything you would find in a hotel room: a double bed, linen, towels, a hair dryer, a set of toiletries, reading lights and AC. The cabin configuration includes a master cabin, a double cabin and a twin cabin. Depending on the group dynamics, you can select a gulet with twin cabins if you have teenagers on board, or if you are a group of couples you might consider more 'diplomatic' gulet with all double cabins. Gulets offer a perfect setting for a good night sleep. The melody of waves blissfully breaking below the gulet's bow, a slight rocking movement of the gulet, plenty of fresh air, comfortable mattress, environmentally and ecologically friendly materials used for the construction of gulet cabins all make a gulet holiday a perfect escape to re-charge and reinvigorate.
The second best feature on a gulet is a beamy sundeck. The sundeck is normally split between the foredeck where is the main sunbathing area usually fitted with the sunbeds, this area is considered as 'your own portable private beach'. The Dalmatian coast offers a series of pristine bays and untouched isles and is home to some of nature's spectacular scenery. You are literally on a treasure hunt to find your own perfect swimming bay. The Adriatic Sea is the cleanest sea in Europe, the sea cannot be more blue than in the Adriatic, in some bays is so clean that you see the sea bottom with a naked eye. Opposite the foredeck is the aft deck. Normally fitted with a large dinning table and a crescent shaped sofa behind. The sofa is the most popular spot on the gulet, it offers unobstructed views and it is also the area with the most balanced boat movement. Gulets are also equipped with a wide selection of water sport from a water ski, Jet Ski, super popular SUP boards, kayaks, water donuts and more. Traditional gulets are actually motor sailers and use power for cruising, whereas ketches and schooners are called 'sailing gulets' and often combine sails and power. For example, Kavira II is a sailing gulet that uses sails and power.
A typical day on the boat starts with a breakfast consisting of oats, eggs, pastry, yogurts, fresh fruit, teas and coffees. Lunch is always followed by a traditional sweet pancakes or gelato. Just when you think you cannot eat more, the epic sunset takes its place on the horizon and the view makes it hard to resist a refreshing drinks with some nuts! Croats are very serious about the quality of food they eat. Frozen or processed food is to be avoided at any cost, you will not find many fast foods on the Dalmatian Coast. Another contributing element is the Adriatic Sea, being the cleanest in Europe, it is rich in fish and locals are spoiled with the choice. Adriatic fish are classified as “white” or “blue”. The latter are the oily fish, including mackerel, tuna, bonito, sardines and pilchards, while the white fish are meatier, and include grouper, bogue, dentex, john dory, hake and sea-bream. Although much emphasis has been placed in recent years on the health benefits of “blue” oily fish, the “white” fish which used to be scarcer in the Adriatic hence more expensive. In addition to delicious fish, the Adratic is famous for one more delicacy - fresh oysters. David Farley from BBC made a journey to Mali Ston in 2015 to sample the local oysters. He loved it so much that he suggested the Adriatic oysters should not be served with the lemon but enjoyed plain due to their divine taste. Lastly, there are also traditional meals served in the local taverns. Do not be put off with a scruffy looking tavern with the plastic white chairs -some seasonal taverns will serve you the best fish and vegetables from the owner's back garden. Try the local slow cooking (under the clay bell) meal called Peka. It can be meat or fish based, both version are so delicious.
The gulet season starts in May and ends in October. The usual wind during the summer season is Maestral, the best wind for sailing. The breeze usually picks up in the early afternoon. This is a must experience if you are on a sailing gulet. You have a choice of joining the crew or enjoying the thrill of sailing from the comfort of your deck lounge. We work with the top skippers and Captains in the Adriatic who are happy to teach you a few bits about sailing or let you sail the boat under their supervision. If you happen to be on a sailing yacht, do not miss the opportunity to sail, it is a thrilling experience. Behind the steering wheel you become one with the boat and you feel every movement, the wind that stirs the sails, the water splashing underneath wanting to change your course, the horizon ahead of you that serves as a guide and an enormous amount of freedom. Something magical happens and you become a pure bliss and happiness.