Falkuša – Vis
A falkuša is a traditional fishing boat used by fishermen from the town of Komiža. About 7-8 metres in length and 3m across, the falkuša’s distinctive feature also contributes to its name, two removable wooden side strakes called ‘falke’, which protected the boat out in the open sea, and were removed to ease the fishing process. There are a couple of beautifully restored falkušas in Komiža today, available for charter and a chance to relive those voyages of yesteryear.
Betina, near Murter, is another famous home to traditional wooden shipbuilding, in the form of the gajeta from the 18th century. A solid cargo boat with Latin sails, it was used to transport goods to other islands and along the coast. This famous vessel is honoured every year in Betina with an annual wooden ship regatta. There is also a wooden shipbuilding museum in the town, where local families have donated a number of artefacts. The business runs in the families here.
Another famous home of the gajeta is the island of Korčula, whose shipbuilding traditions are thought to date back to Illyrian times, while the earliest written records date back to 1214. No wonder Marco Polo found it so easy to go travelling!
Batana from Rovinj
Batanas are flat-bottomed boats protected by UNESCO due to their longevity and traditional construction method. They can still be seen around Rovinj today. This is the reason why the Batana House Eco Museum was established, but you’ll get to know them best if you take a ride. Or two, three!
Also known as Brazzera, these typically single mast sailing boats are the most common on the Adriatic coast. They were so popular that the Austro-Hungarian fleet register had 800 of them listed from Dalmatia to Istria. There is debate about the origins of the name, which some claim is derived from origins on Brač, while others say the name refers to the use of oars using manual power (in Italian “Forza di braccia”). The most important truth is that they are a delight to see!
Condura Croatica (Nin)
With its famous saltpans and the world’s smallest cathedral, Nin has plenty to offer tourists, including its own boating heritage. The Condura Croatica fleet had their heyday in the 11th century, and it was rumoured that King Tomislav had some 20,000 rowers on Conduras at his disposal in Nin. You can visit one of these at the Museum of Nin Antiquities.
Widely used throughout the entire Adriatic region, the Leut was both a fishing boat and a coastal freighter, with a speciality for bluefish fishing and the use of the ‘trat’, a net attached to the stern which was pulled out of the sea at the appropriate moment.
Once the mainstay of coastal shipping, this wooden freight ship dates back to the 15th century when it was used as a Dalmatian-Venetian merchant vessel, taking its name from ‘trabacca’ or tent, after the boat’s sails. Slow, reliable, and made of oak and larch, a typical trabakul was 20 metres in length, had two masts and a large rudder, and a crew of 10-20 ‘trabaccolos’.
The best ship of its era, the Dubrovnik Galijun’s (English galleon) prime time coincided with the golden age of Dubrovnik, from the 16th – 18th centuries. Solidly built and extremely flexible, the Galijun was used for long merchant voyages, as well as a warship when required. An essential part of the Dubrovnik fleet, which brought such wealth to the city.
The largest sailing vessel in Dubrovnik from the 14th – 17th centuries, the Dubrovnik Karaka was used mostly for cargo, and was a sign of the quality of Dubrovnik shipbuilding. The city had a booming shipbuilding industry of karakas and galleons, with the name ‘Argosy’ becoming synonymous with a quality trading vessel, even being referred to by Shakespeare in The Merchant of Venice. A boat, Dubrovnik, and Shakespeare? This just screams romance!