Turkish Evil Eyes

By Carolyn Shearlock © 2014 • all rights reserved

The story behind the Turkish Evil Eyes on Barefoot Gal. We want to keep that bad juju away!

Barefoot Gal has three Turkish “evil eyes” on her, plus more on the key chain for the engine. We’ve gotten some questions . . .

Despite the name, the eyes don’t DO evil; they’re to protect you and your stuff from “evil,” bad luck or as a woman I met in Turkey put it, “bad juju.” In the spring of 2002, we spent 6 weeks in Turkey – 3 traveling by land and 3 on a crewed charter. We saw Turkish eyes when we were traveling by land, but they were just EVERYWHERE on the boats we saw. There must have been 20 or more on the 50’ boat we were on.

It was during that trip that we decided to get a cruising boat and cruise full-time. And so we bought a Turkish Evil Eye to put on whatever boat we’d get. The first thing we did to make Que Tal “ours” was to put the eye on the tip of the bowsprit.

During the years we owned Que Tal, we were within 50 miles of the eye of a hurricane 5 different times. Our only damage? A couple of popped fenders and a bit of damage to our rub rail (that’s what a rub rail is for, right?). Two other times, we were anchored near other boats that went on the rocks in weather that popped up overnight, yet we were fine.

Coincidence, or the power of the eye? Sailors are known to be just a tad superstitious . . . and we’re not about to take any chances.

Barefoot Gal now sports three eyes – one on the bow of each hull, and one watching over our drive leg (known to be a little cantankerous on Geminis). They’re no substitute for maintenance and prudent seamanship, but we’ll take all the help we can get to keep “bad juju” away.

Want to know more about Turkish Evil Eyes?  Here’s the best description I’ve found.

And since I’ve been asked where we bought ours – we got them on Amazon. And yes, they were the first thing I bought for our new boat.

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  1. Good idea! Think The Bootlegger needs one too!!

  2. we really wanted to go to turkey on a big trip this spring……gonna give it a miss….i’m bummed.

    • Yeah. I understand. We went to Turkey in 2002 as a substitute for a trip we’d planned to Morocco that would have been 4 months after 9/11. The Moroccan company cancelled a few weeks after 9/11. Our plane tickets could be credited towards another trip, but not refunded. Couldn’t decide where to go instead. Traveling in Baja (when we should have been in Morocco), we met a cruiser who just raved about her time cruising Turkey. So we went and had a ball. The next summer, after buying a cruising boat and crossing the Sea of Cortez to Baja, who’s the only other boat in the first anchorage we’re in? Funny how things turn out . . . maybe you’ll end up with a similar story.

  3. Thanks for posting where you got these. Perfect for us and for friends as well. Another question though, the link shows it’s being hung by a rope/string? On your boat it appears to be stuck on the hull. Which way is yours?

    • Cut the string off, used 4200 to attach to the hull (use blue tape to hold it in place until the 4200 cures, otherwise it’ll slide down). If you look closely, you can see the hole for the string. In all of Turkey, I don’t think we ever saw them without string holes (or rope holes on the really big ones).

  4. I travelled in turkey as well have have the eyes everywhere too 🙂

  5. Stephanie Kutluğ thought of you two

  6. The eye is also used in Greece, most things Turkish and Greek are similar but dont mention it to either country! They make a great necklace too!

  7. My most treasured gift that is always with me is a “coin” or poker chip, given to me at a boat christening, a Greek eye (same thing) that says on the back “life isn’t about waiting for the storms to pads. Its about learning to dance in the rain.” The edge says: “there is no bad weather. Only poor clothing choices.”

  8. We will have to get one right away. We have had our allotment of bad luck already!

  9. And here is one off the few that live on the Grumpy Fish:))) bought this in Israel, couldn’t resist its shape:)

  10. I have them on our boat, and as we aren’t cruisers yet, on my vehicles too. Maybe they’re genuinely helpful or maybe they just ease superstitious me. And they’re beautiful.

  11. We keep one on our boat, it’s been doing a great job against bad juju!

  12. One of my Christmas ornaments

  13. I thought they were Greek We sail in Greece and all the tourist shops sell them.

  14. I made a bracelet with many, many eyes

  15. Carol Watson says:

    I was always told that the bad luck was caused by the unconscious envy of another person. Since the symbol is pretty much universally known in the Middle East, seeing the bead makes the envious person conscious of the envy and breaks the cycle.

  16. Rebecca was given one by the owner of a Kebab restaurant in Martinique. We still have it hanging in our galley.

  17. Apparently Evil Eye Charms are more effective if they are given to you as gifts. We have several hanging up around Our Southerly 49, Distant Shores II, that we were given to us by local friends when we were cruising in Turkey. Paul even has a small sticky one on his computer .

  18. We LOVE these, have so many aboard – they just keep showing up 🙂 I love them.

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