We caught sight of our first gulet when we sailed into Bozborum harbour to check ourselves and A B Sea into Turkey for the first time on October 11th 2018.
They are a very distinctive looking vessel and some of them look quite majestic. The traditional gulets are either two or three masted wooden sailing vessels. However these days many gulets are not properly rigged for sailing and in an effort to reduce the amount of crew needed on board, diesel power is now almost universally used.
The gulets can range in size from 14 to 35 metres (46 to 115 feet) and are mostly built in the coastal towns of Bodrum and Marmaris, with construction taking between 9 and 12 months. Similar vessels can be found all around the eastern Mediterranean as far north as Croatia.
Although the historical use of the gulet was varied, today's gulets are mostly used for tourist charters of any duration from a day to a couple of months. It's a very big business but the season is quite short, generally 5 months from mid April to mid September and each 'winter' the gulets are hauled out of the water to spend time on the hard where they can dry out, receive maintenance and repairs or upgrades.
Enter stage left
And that's where we came in. We arrived in Kaş in late October 2018 and after being introduced to Ismail the owner of Smiley's restaurant and general fixer for anything a yachtie could need in Kaş, he arranged with the Kaş harbourmaster for us to moor in one of the now empty spaces usually occupied by a gulet.
The gulets don't all come out of the water on a set day, there are far too many of them for that to physically happen. The exodus, as we've observed, takes place at a leisurely pace spaced over a couple of months. This meant that we had a couple of gulets as neighbours during our first few months in the harbour.
The Turks are a friendly welcoming bunch, always happy to say hi and have a chat, so we got to know quite a few of the gulet captains. Four of they even came to our rescue the night of a big storm that was causing a huge swell to bounce through the harbour entrance and threatened to smash A B Sea against the quayside. You can read all about that in my blog #58.
It's our turn now
Not all of the gulets need extensive time out of the water and on the hard, so it wasn't until early March that our two neighbours got hauled out.
The growling sound of a big diesel engine being fired up right next to us was the first sign. We popped our heads up on deck and waved a greeting at the captain. He said he was getting hauled out the following morning and asked if we'd like to film it. Everyone in Kaş knows that we're the YouTube guys.
Never wanting to miss an opportunity to film something uniquely local I dashed below to grab our Sony and started filming the episode with him releasing his lines and hauling up his anchor to move to a holding position on the opposite quayside. The next morning I was up bright and early to film the actual haul out.
The gulet is named ilayda and she weighs 55 tonnes (60.6 tons) fully loaded and as I approached the harbour ramp I could see two tractors with thick steel lines attached to a long submersible trailer patiently waiting as the gulet slowly motored herself forward over the trailer until she bumped to a gentle stop. Then with a shout the gulet applied full forward power, the two tractors applied full reverse power and slowly all 55 tonnes of ilayda slowly emerged from the water.
Then the whole show came to a juddering halt. Both of the tractors wheels were spinning on the still damp ramp from the previous night's rainfall and simply couldn't get enough traction to haul her out.
The decision was made to lighten the load by 2 tonnes by emptying the fresh water tanks. That took some time. Eventually all engines were fired up again for attempt number two. Sadly the result was only more spinning wheels and burning rubber.
Bring out the big guns
An hour later a third land based monster was brought into the mix in the shape of a big yellow JCB. That much grunt finally did the job and the gulet was up the ramp and everything except the small blue tractor was unhooked. The two tractors dispersed along with the onlookers and the driver of the small blue tractor expertly reversed ilayda the 300 metres (984 feet) to her chosen position nestled amongst the other gulets which were at various states of repair and painting.
She'll stay there until the work is done and just in time for the beginning of the summer season all of the gulets will be placed back into the water and that will signal the time for us to leave Kaş and begin our summer sailing journey.
What's the plan?
Once the final three big jobs (more about them in a future blog) have been completed on A B Sea we're heading to Kekova, just 4 hours to the east of Kaş where we'll spend a week at various anchorages. This is what's called a shakedown cruise to make sure that everything is functioning properly and to get Aannsha and I back into the rhythm of living at anchor and everything that involves.
If there are no issues we'll sail back west and anchor for one night in the bay next to Kaş marina where the following morning we can empty our black water tank and fill our diesel tank. Then we'll spend however long it takes with favourable winds heading north along the Turkish coast all the way up to Istanbul.
After visiting Istanbul for a few days we'll check out of Turkey and head west to check into Greece. We plan to visit a friend in Thessaloniki on the Greek mainland then spend summer zig zagging our way slowly south through the Greek islands of the Aegean.
That's the plan but we all know that things, especially plans, can change a lot when you're living on a yacht.
Annual engine service
A big job got crossed off the 'to do' list this week as Aydin the mechanic came on board to service the main engine. For a boat job it went fairly smoothly. The engine oil was replaced, the oil and fuel filters were replaced. The air filter was clean so we left it as it was. The alternator belt was replaced, it was near the end of its lifespan and has now been put into the last resort 'emergency use' only box.
The impeller that pumps seawater into the heat exchanger was found to be missing one of its little rubber fins so a new impeller was installed. The missing fin is probably now residing inside the heat exchanger and as it's a big job to take that apart that job will have to wait until we haul out next winter for antifouling.
The fuel sample was nice and clean, just a few very small bits of grit from inside the fuel tank were found at the primary fuel filter and there was no evidence of any water contamination.
All in all it was a big step forward towards our departure day, which is only a week or so away, so there's a palatable air of busy excitement on board A B Sea as time ticks inevitably forward.