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What Is a Tirhandil?

A Tirhandil is a traditional Turkish sailing vessel, renowned for its robust design and graceful lines. Originating from the Bodrum region, these boats are crafted for the Aegean and Mediterranean's unique conditions, offering stability and speed. With a history steeped in maritime culture, the Tirhandil's legacy sails on. How has this ancient craft influenced modern boating? Join us to explore its enduring legacy.
K.C. Bruning
K.C. Bruning

A tirhandil is an ancient type of sea vessel. Vessels of this type are commonly referred to as the workhorses of the Aegean Sea, as they were originally used for fishing, sponge diving, and trawl netting. Now the boats are less common, and when they are built, it is primarily for recreational purposes. First built in the Marmaris region of Turkey, they are the oldest known sailing craft to have been in regular use on the Mediterranean. These sailing yachts are still most commonly seen in the region from which they came.

The boats tend to be narrow, with matching ends that hook up in a distinctive beak-like manner. In ancient times, they had both sails and a rudder so that oars could be used when the wind was low. Modern tirhandils also have engines. A typical tirhandil has several different sails. There are the head, bow spirit, and lateen sails. In addition to these there are also one or two masts.

Man with hands on his hips
Man with hands on his hips

The recreational version of the tirhandil is not as popular as the traditional fishing boat. This is primarily because there is limited space for accommodations below deck and less deck space near the back of the craft. Compared to similar boats, there are few craftsmen who continue to make this kind of sailboat. Despite these limitations, modern versions of the boat often have enough space for at least small living and sleeping quarters. They continue to be admired by many due to their strong sailing ability and distinctive appearance.

Other ancient wooden sailing craft that are similar to the tirhandil include the caique, also known as the kaik, and the perama. Caiques were also traditionally used for fishing and are often painted bright white. Peramas are bigger and were originally used primarily as transport ships. Of these three ships, the tirhandil tends to be the least popular in modern times.

Tirhandil boats are also often compared to gulets and ayna kics, two other kinds of wooden sailboats commonly seen in the Mediterranean. Gulets are also light and narrow, but tend to have a wider stern. The ayna kic has a square-shaped stern. While the tirhandil is believed by many to be a superior sailing craft, the gulet and ayna kic are generally easier to build and sail and are thus more common in modern times. Like the tirhandil, gulets and ayna kics are now primarily marketed as recreational boats.

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