Istanbul and Bodrum, Turkey
Summer 2011

Hello Brian,
George Bass forwarded your email to me since I am living in Bodrum and might be able to help you. He and I have worked together underwater since 1969. However my own degrees are in physics so I am much better on Pythagoras and Pi than I am on ancient or modern hulls.
But our local craftsmen have been building wooden boats for much longer than I have been here and our shipyard now has an international reputation. So probably I can help you find someone from the ‘old school’ still around, although they probably won’t speak English.
So if you do decide to come to Bodrum let me know when and I’ll be happy to try to find you a few contacts.

Best regards,
Don Frey

The next morning I fly to Bodrum where my search can begin in earnest. 

I find this hull by the side of the road between Yalikavak and Genusuluk (ancient Myndos).

On my first full day on the Bodrum peninsula I drive along the coast looking for the barn-like structures in which non-commercially built wooden boats are often made over the course of years as money, materials and labor become available. I have seen these buildings before but cannot remember if they are common or if I have allowed one distinct memory to grow into many. Bolstered by the luck of finding a deteriorating boat opposite a carpenter’s shop I begin looking at every stack of wood I come across, often taking my eye off the road longer than advisable. Within less than an hour what in Istanbul seemed unlikely begins to take on a feeling of clear possibility, though I still have not seen what I believe to be a tirhandil, in or out of the water.

Coming across a small(2.58m) wooden dinghy lodged in a pile of what appears to be scrap wood in front of a cabinetmaker, I stop to look at it and am told it is for sale. 

I agree only half-seriously to come back the next day after initial gestural descriptions of my plan to cover it with cement seem insufficient. I ultimately settle on an explanation that I am interested in using it as a garden planter.

I continue to Bodrum’s main shipyards, where boats of all description lay apparently abandoned among the enormous sheds in which the mega-yachts for which Bodrum is increasingly known are built. Among these is the dilapidated hull of an old 9-meter fishing boat – still not a tirhandil. “For Sale” is painted across the transom in fading whitewash. 

As I leave the shipyard, I come across two boats under construction. At last I have found the double-ended, almost bloated form of the tirhandil. The contrast between the structure outlined by the steel frame of one and the smoothly articulated form of the resin-coated wood of the other is striking. 

I have been thinking for quite some time how the frames used to support an eventual cement cast might be integrated into an existing boat’s hull. I decide what I already know: I will have to make a prototype using the dinghy still lodged in the woodpile at the cabinetmaker’s.

The next day is spent investigating the availability of materials as I wait for the small boat to arrive. 

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