It's hard to imagine a time when there were no superyachts in sight and when the schooner dominated the seas as the most prominent type of vessel. The beautiful schooner had nothing to do with leisure and entertainment for centuries: it operated as a highly-reliable commercial ship, mainly for coastal trade and fishing.
This particular type of wooden ship is also an intricate part of America's boating history. By the 18th century, it had become the number-one ship in North America. Its main advantage? Unlike ships with square-rigged sails, it was perfectly equipped to handle the different types of winds associated with coastal sailing. It also had a shallower draft to operate smoothly in shallow waters. Maneuvering was also easier, so even a small crew could get the job done.
The classic schooner is essentially a keeled vessel with two masts, typically between 30 and 100 tons. Over the decades, its design continued to evolve (one of the most notable transformations was the addition of a diesel engine), and it eventually gave birth to another type of successful sailing vessel, the clipper. The clipper is a hybrid between schooners and three-masted ships, which became the emblem of American sailing in the 19th century.
In the eastern Mediterranean, schooner-like vessels are known as gulets, from the French word for schooner, gouelette. Turkey became one of the main builders of two-masted sailing ships, with Bodrum and Marmaris as the central building hubs. In the 20th century, the Turkish gulets were mostly used in tourism, carrying guests on short-distance routes in the Aegean region.
Turkish gulets are known for their elevated elegance and old-world glamour. Traveling onboard a gulet is like immersing yourself in the past while still enjoying all the luxuries you'd expect from a modern yacht.
Ofelia seems modest in size compared to today's mammoth yachts. At just 34.4 meters (114.8 feet), it still offers generous accommodation for up to ten guests. Soyaslan Denizcilik designed it with the beautiful attributes of classic wooden yachts.
The staterooms include a large master suite, one VIP room, two double-bed cabins, and two twin-bed cabins. The crew headquarters is comprised of three separate cabins that can accommodate up to six people.
The interior style is what you'd expect with a classic wooden boat, revealing an abundance of mahogany paneling throughout and a nautical-inspired theme in shades of dark blue with white. The beautiful open-space salon features a generous seating area and tables that can be joined to create a large dining table.
It boasts the latest entertainment systems, good connectivity onboard, multimedia players in each cabin, and a home theater system in the main salon. Having operated as a popular charter yacht in the Mediterranean for most of its life, it also comes with plenty of water toys.
Twin Cummins engines propel it at 11 knots (12.6 mph/20.3 kph). It promises a remarkable range of more than 2,000 nautical miles (3,700 km) at an economical speed of nine knots (10.3 mph/16.6 kph). Despite its considerable age, this modern classic schooner claims to still be in great shape, thanks to careful maintenance and a recent refit.
One thing's for sure – classic beauties such as Ofelia will never go out of style. The Turkish sailing yacht just found a new owner, who paid €3 million ($3.2 million) for it. Compared to today's sailing yachts, that's a bargain. Plus, the unique atmosphere onboard a classic wooden yacht is priceless.