A strong north-wester is blowing, Bill!
Hark! Don’t ye hear it roar now?
Lord help ‘em, how I pities them
Unhappy folks on shore now!
It brings us freedom, adventure, and calmness. We laugh, we cry, we fear, we admire. Underneath the blue sky, sailing is alliance with nature. Nature is more powerful than us. We harness its forces to our best ability and it can be a wild exhilarating ride. Then there are quiet moments that etch themselves into our memory, where seas and skies provide moments of pure beauty.
Stepping away from the land is like stepping away from the world you know. A sailor’s joys are as simple as a child’s, Bernard Moitessier said. And what is better than return to your childhood and be a child again.
Croatians were and are sailors since long ago. We are mentioned as fearless pirates back in 642. We were known also as successful shipbuilders. Already at the time of Prince Vladislav (821-835), the sources mention a strong navy. Thanks to the maritime power of Croatia, prince Mislav of Croatia (835-845) enabled Venice to establish control on the Eastern Adriatic. The King of Croatia and Dalmatia Petar Krešimir IV (1058–1074) expanded its kingdom “on land and on sea”. In his deed of donation to the convent of Saint Krševan in Zadar in 1069, it is stated that he donates the island of Maun situated “in our Dalmatian sea” (in nostro dalmatico mari). The Duke of the Croatian Royal Navy Rusin is mentioned at the time and the fact that the very title of Duke could be borne only by governmental dignitaries is proof of the navy importance.
During the period of personal union with Kingdom of Hungary, the Croatian coast fell under Venice and its naval power deteriorated. But this is the time when the fleet of the Republic of Dubrovnik, which kept its independence, started to rise. The size of the Fleet of Dubrovnik in 1800, together with fishing ships, was 673 clippers. 255 of them were bigger ships that sailed outside the territorial waters of Dubrovnik. The total number of transatlantic clippers was 230 ships. The Republic had its consulates in over 80 cities. At that time Dubrovnik had about 7,000 seamen, shipbuilders, shipowners and members of other maritime professions.
It is obvious that sea and ships are part of our history, but also our present. Sailing in Croatia is a trend, which is no wonder considering that you can experienceover a thousand islands, innumerable coves, bays and beaches. The old-towns will have you feeling as though you have stepped back in history, and the quaint fishing villages will make you forget about the crazy pace of the outside world. But, what is most important, sailing, no matter is it in Croatia, or somewhere else, will give you that special feeling that you are becoming a friend with nature, wild nature. The best sound ever. The sound of silence under the sky and above deep, deep sea.
“hark, now hear the sailors cry,
smell the sea, and feel the sky
let your soul & spirit fly, into the mystic…”