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Cruiser's Profile - 7.9m Kayitsiz and no GPS

by Cruising Editor on 3 Oct 2006
Kayitsiz Ozkan with sextant BW Media
He’s Turkish, maybe in his thirties, unaffectedly charismatic, and he doesn't own a GPS. He is setting off to sail around the world single handed, in a boat that he built himself, which measures just 7.9 metres. His scraggy dark hair gives him the mischievous look of a naughty small child, but underneath there is a mature passion and dedication to the purest in first principle sailing traditions. His name is Ozkan Gulkaynak.

1. HOME PORT OF THE BOAT:
Izmir, on the western coast of Turkey.

2. SAILING BACKGROUND: When I was a child my parents had a country/seaside house 50 km from Izmir, a wonderful house, with high mountains behind, but right on the seashore – I loved the sea and the water, and wandered the shore for hours every day, poking in the rocks and examining the crabs and small fishes. There were boats in front of the house I remember, but my family only used them for fishing. I was a very curious child, and when I was four, a neighbour had left their sailing skiff on the shore – it was a Siesta class. It must have been left so that the mainsail was free into the wind. I climbed in the boat and pushed off from the shore. Suddenly there was a great noise of the sails flogging. I was terrified by the noise and didn’t know what to do, so I grabbed a rope in front of me to stop the sails violent movement and quieten it down. Instead of that, to my great surprise, suddenly I was off, sailing fast out into the Mediterranean. The thrill was instant – it was unbelievably exciting, the wind in my face. Exhilarating. Right there and then I fell in love with sailing. However, my mother and uncle had seen what had happened and came chasing me in one of the fishing boats.

3. OCCUPATIONS/LIFESTYLE BEFORE SETTING OUT ON THIS JOURNEY

I studied economics, and worked for nine years with an international transport firm. (Özkan is brief in this reply – no wish to elongate this conversation.)


4. YOUR ENGLISH IS VERY GOOD INDEED – WHERE DID YOU LEARN TO SPEAK SO COLLOQUIALLY?
I spent a couple of years in London – I was meant to be learning more about Economics, but I didn’t – instead I had a great experience of the English culture, worked in many many different jobs, and that’s where I learned to speak English more fluently. It was also a chance to do some more sailing in a very different environment.


5. YACHT TYPE AND DIMENSIONS, AND HISTORY IF APPLICABLE


The boat is called Kayitsiz, which is not easy to translate, but means something like Indifferent or Carefree or Detached. It is the sixth boat I have built now - it is 7.9 metres long, and developed from the Bristol Channel Cutter pilot boat. These were greatly used between the 15th and the 20th Century. Then Lyle Hess developed an 8-9 metre version, with a long keel, a champagne glass shape. Later the V shaped keel was developed – a sort of early winged keel. Yves Marie Tanton built three boats in this style, and I have developed my boat from this model. You see the long bowsprit. I have never raced, and don’t wish to – it’s the experience of going to sea that entices me, not the competitive aspects.


6. FAMILY YOU HAVE LEFT BEHIND:
Apart from my parents I have one brother who is ten years older than me – he is very settled and sensible (he says this with a smile). When I was 18, I told my brother that I wanted to sail around the world – he didn’t react very well, so I decided not to tell my parents.

7. DATE DEPARTED FROM HOME PORT
I left home this year on 10th July, and so have been sailing for just less than three months.


8. HOW DID YOU COME TO DECIDE TO UNDERTAKE THIS CIRCUMNAVIGATION, ESPECIALLY IN SUCH A SMALL BOAT?
Well, it has been a dream, passion, maybe an obsession for a very long time. I was inspired first, I remember, by the journey of Thor Heyerdahl and his Kon Tiki Expedition, and later by the story of a Turkish Sailor, Sadun Boro, who circumnavigated the world in 1965. Of course, at this time, I could only read what was available in Turkish, as I could not read English.

9. I KNOW YOUR JOURNEY IS IN THE INITIAL STAGES, BUT WHAT HAS BEEN THE HIGHLIGHT/S SO FAR?

Without a doubt, the highlight was the farewell that I was given by the town of Izmir – it was wonderful – even the Governor of Izmir was there to bid me farewell.

10. WHEN WILL YOU BE HOME?
I will be away for three years. You see, my friends are now funding me. A corporation, Abdi Ibrahim, who are the agents for Pharmaton in Turkey, had offered me a very generous sponsorship, but unfortunately suddenly they had a change in the leadership of the company and they reneged on the arrangement. My friends and supporters then came to me and said,
‘Here is a cheque – go and do the journey.’ When I insisted that I could accept no money from my friends, they said,
‘It is not just your trip any more, your trip belongs to all of us.’
When I still insisted that I could not take the money they had collected, they said
‘Look, just go. If you stay around here, we will have to put up with you and your frustration, so you are better to be gone, and it will be easier for us.’
After that I had no alternative. However, I think that three years is long enough for them to support me.

11. DO YOU HAVE ANY OTHER COMMENTS ON YOUR OWN TRIP?



Yes, I am doing the entire journey a minimum of technical aids. I will do my navigation with a sextant only. My steering vane has an autopilot attachment, and I have a CD player and a solar panel. I have cruising guide books for the various areas, and charts for all the oceans, but no GPS or radar. I have a VHF radio, which I don’t wish to use, and no SSB.

12. IN THIS ERA OF MODERN COMMUNICATIONS, WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS?
- Because the old traditional skills of the sailor are something to be treasured and not lost. How can you learn the habits of the sea, the meaning of cloud formations, the message of the winds, if you depend on instruments and dials to tell you these things? I want to come to know the sea as well as sailors of old, who sailed without any modern toys.


13. THE BOAT IS MOST UNUSUAL. TELL ME ABOUT BUILDING IT.



















I have mostly used old ways of doing things – you will notice that everything is from timber and brass. The auto helm or steering vane is an age-old design; very simple and effective, but not used any more in modern boats. You see here, I have built drawers into the ceiling for my tea glasses and coffee cups.

And here, this winch is an old one, pure brass, beautiful design.
Being the sixth boat I have built, as I said before, when I started this one I had firm ideas about what I wanted.
14. AND AFTER THE JOURNEY IS OVER, WHAT THEN?
Well, I hope that I will be able to write a book about my adventures and about off-shore cruising – in Turkish. In particular, I would like to write a book in Turkish about Heavy Weather Sailing.

Ozkan’s website, text in Turkish, is www.kayitsiz.com


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