We had arrived in the afternoon and a day earlier than expected to help sail the falkuša for the of the feast of St. Christopher. There was a special dedication of a new statue of St. Cristopher being presented by the city of Prauge, the Mayor, and Deacon from the church. Two falkuša had come to Prague earlier that spring, and the city wanted to return the favor and honor the Komižan people. The speeches, and the music, and the atmosphere, it was all amazing. The crews of falkuša were to carry the statue to the center, and at night the boats set lights on the rigs and hulls and performed a light ballet that sent the crews scrambling in maneuvers with strings of LEDs that seemed to get tangled in everything..
This had been on a trip to Komiža, on the island Vis, during the summer of 2017. During that time I was able to meet and interview Ivan Kuljiš, the son of the original owner of Vinka, the boat the Adriatic Maritime Institute has been restoring for the past 3 years. Vinka is a vessel of particular pedigree, being one of the few remaining boats built in Komiža before the second world war. The vessel type is similar to the falkuša for which Komiza is famous. Called a borka, obviously lingua franca in origin, borka, or barka, for small boat. The borka accompanied the larger gajeta for fishing in Palagruza. The Komiska Gajeta was up to 10 meters, while smaller and more maneuverable, the borka was under 8 meters and was used to fish from the coast, pull traps and run nets.
Falkuša crew during the dedication
Mr. Kuljiš remembered many things about the boat when his family was owners fifty years before. Now 84 years old Mr. Kuljiš fished with another gentleman from Komiža, Tonko Gruje. Captain Grujealso 84, was running the falkuša named Komiža~Lisboa the previous night during the water dances. As young men they would go together to Palagruža to fish lobsters from Vinka. Sitting at the table with these two men was a deeply moving experience, to hear stories of the adventures they had on the islands, and see the way their eyes lit up when they talked about those far away times.
Vinka, the name came after his sister, Vinka, who was born a few years before the boat was built in 1937. Regretfully, Mr. Kuljiš’ sister had passed away a few years earlier so we did not get a chance to meet. We will continue to sail Vinka the boat in her memory as an honor to the Kuljiš family.
After some time, three summers of hard work, we finally got the rig up and the sails on her so she could spread her wings. It was the first time that Vinka has sailed since those days some fifty years earlier when Captain Gruje and Mr. Kuljiš fished the spiny lobster for peoples Christmas feasts on the remote islands of Palagruža.
This is not the first time Vinka has had a new life. Sometime in the mid 50s, Vinka had an engine put in and then was sold to a family from the island of Drvenik Mali in the early 60’s. thats where the story will pick up again some years later in this small port on a winter’s afternoon.
To Be Continued:
Please enjoy some of the photos below of Vinka’s summer fun.
In the boat yard in Betina
Mile ‘Pile” Jadrašić our master boat builder
Building the Tiller
Knot tying program with the Betina Museum of Wooden Shipbuilding
Sail Making Workshop with Dustom
Stepping the Mast