History of Yachting in Turkey - Brian Giraud, 2010

I have noticed that many people believe the history of pleasure yachting in Turkey began in the late 1960’s. While this may be true for mass affordable yachting it is not true to say that the concept of yachting did not exist in Turkey earlier on. This misconception probably stems from the fact that for 20-30 years after the Second World war cruising the Turkish Coast was almost impossible and mired in burocracy. The Second World War itself caused a drastic reduction in the number of yachts in Turkey and most of them never reappeared (in Turkey at least) because of the unfriendly yachting environment that followed. During this period which extended to as late as the early 1970’s yachting was looked upon with suspicion and actively discouraged. As a result some people moved their yachts to Greece but most people gave up yachting altogether.

The concept of cruising for pleasure seems to have existed for some residents of Izmir well before 1900. Charlton Whitall kept a diary entitled “Journal of an excursion of ‘plaisir’” in which he describes a pleasure cruise undertaken by him in July 1830 on one of his ships during which he visits the Greek Islands of Tinos and Mykonos” (E.H. Giraud book ‘Days Off’ p.139). Interestingly he remarks that he is “not at all pleased with the excursion” - due to the weather - and that he is beginning “to reflect how excessively ridiculous it is to seek pleasure on board a vessel, after leaving such a place as Bournabat and such a house as mine”.

According to my grandfather’s (Edmund Haydn Giraud, owner of Oriental Carpet Manucturing concern of Smyrna, b. 1880, d. 1962) records the following yachts were owned in Turkey before the First World War (1908-1914) by the following people:

Steam yacht “Dragon” Mr T.B. Rees 140 tons
Steam yacht “Abafna” Mr Albert Aliotti 160 tons
Steam yacht “Sofia” Mr Ed. Spartali 140 tons
Yawl “Reseda” Mr H.F. Giraud 80 tons
Yawl “Marigold” Mr J.A. Sykes 65 tons
Cutter “Haydee” Mr R.J. Whittall 40 tons
Cutter “Biche” Mr Ed. Spartali 30 tons
Motor Cruiser “Melissande” Mr S. La Fontaine (Thornycraft built) 55 ft
Motor Cruiser “Nacoochie” Mr H.O. Whittall (Thornycraft built) 55 ft
Motor Cruiser “Sunbeam” Mr A. La Fontaine (Thornycraft built) 43ft
Motor Cruiser “Madge” Mr A. La Fontaine (Thornycraft built) 40 ft
Motor Cruiser “Butterfly” Mr D. Forbes (Thornycraft built) 35 ft
Motor Cruiser “Helen May i” Mr E.H. Giraud (Thornycraft built) 34 ft
Motor Cruiser “Elsie” Mr Edward Whittall (Thornycraft built) 25 ft

There must have been many other yachts beside these. Most of the ones in the list above were owned by friends of Edmund Giraud. Interestingly at least half of them were owned by shareholders of the Orental Carpet Manufacturers (OCM) - (La Fontaine, Spartali, Giraud, Aliotti, Sykes).

During the First World War most of the (foreign?) yachts were confiscated. Many were returned after the war in terrible condition. For example Helen May i was returned to E.H. Giraud “stripped of her motor and every particle of metal”.

However following the First World War yachting was still possible in Turkey (with the exception of 3-5 years after 1922) as shown by the list of yachts cruising Turkish waters between 1919 and 1940 (some of the names thanks to my son Mark’s research):

Motor Cruiser “Helen May i” Mr E.H. Giraud (Thornycraft built) 34 ft (Relaunched in 1919)
Motor Cruiser “Helen May ii” Mr E.H. Giraud (A. M. Dickie & Sons, N Wales) bought 1928 43 tons 55 ft
Motor Cruiser “Lady May” Mr E.H. Giraud (Philip & Sons, Dartmouth) bought 1932 130 tons
Sailing Yacht “Trold” Mr H. Giraud
Sailing Yacht “Lillias” Mr H. Giraud (William Fife, Scotland for America Cup) - further info:

Information about the last 4 yachts can probably be found in the Lloyd’s Register of Yachts. I am sure that with some research many more names and photos can be added.

 Note: If readers would like to assist in helping to build up this database, please contact the Brian or Mark Giraud through: briangiraud[at]gmail.com - markgiraud[at]hotmail.com.

1 Information courtesy of Martin Jennings, 2010: Valdora was built in 1931 and today has two masts (a ketch). A sloop has one. A yawl, just for the sake of confusion has two but the back one, the mizzen, is mounted “abaft” the rudder stock. The peculiarity of Valdora now is that her masts are relatively short. The sails however have a “yard”, which is a wooden pole which extends them above the mast making her a gaff rigged ketch. The photo appears to show a yacht with a two piece mast: that is the stumpy mast one has today with a permanent extension. return to main text

Glifada, Oct 1935. Latharna, Valdora, Icarus and Lady May.
Edmund Giraud’s boats, in order of: Helen May, Helen May II and finally in 1934 the Lady May. Later on Edmund also bought a small yacht for his son (Mark’s grandfather) Godfrey, called the Buraya, which Godfrey sold and replaced with the İnci, a boat still owned by the family to this day.
scan courtesy of Mark Giraud, son of Brian Giraud. further images

Noël Rees’s yacht, the Branwen, on which he sailed with his family from Italian-controlled Rhodes to Chios in 1940 to take up naval intelligence duties.