With a legacy dating back to Ottoman times, the craftsmanship behind the revered Gulet boats is something that is intrinsically intertwined with the history of the Bodrum Peninsula. Masters of the art have handed down their skills to new Gulet-makers in the region for generations. And most boatyards stay within the family.
While the Turkish ship industry experienced some rough years during the European financial crisis, things have started to shape up. More orders are coming in and one of the shipyards in Bodrum even ordered the biggest travel-lift in the entire East Mediterranean to expand its business. The CEO of that company, Mr. Erdem Agan, explains in an interview with Monocle magazine why they really didn’t suffer much from the recent crisis.
“We are a 50-year-old company, we have seen so many difficulties in the last half century,” he says. “It’s not a game.”
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Like most other family-run Gulet-makers in Bodrum, Erdem Agan continues the heritage from his father. He is now the fifth generation to run the company. At another local shipyard, Mr. Orhan Dinc explains what happened after the worst crisis years, and how buyers shifted from Western Europe to Central Asia.
“We’re busy again,” he tells Monocle. “My team is innovating the wooden yacht, not just building traditional gulets. We’re looking to Russia, to Kazakhstan. We just went to Dubai and we’re going to Azerbaijan in November. We want to expand and build bigger boats.”
But let’s get back to the Gulet. It’s truly a magnificent yacht, with sweeping lines and impeccable wooden details. And while Orhan Dinc might look for new avenues to sustain his family business, we sincerely hope that he stays true to the ancient tradition of Gulet-making.
Image credit: Snapshots from Monocle's video report.