~The Great Watermelon Voyage~
Each summer the enterprising students from Kastel Lukšić, a small town outside of Split, Croatia, participate in a real cargo-carrying voyage through the islands and back to their home. For the second year in a row, the Great Watermelon Voyage will help preserve maritime and ecological heritage in the coastal communities throughout the islands, though this once in a life time opportunity to carry cargo using the power of the wind. This year we have teamed up with the Dolphin Dream Society who has created a replica of the historic cargo vessel that was used in the islands to carry good to and from the mainland. Gospa od mora, Our Lady of the Sea was built to perform this very task, in this very place, she is an indigenous vessel in her native waters. Dolphin Dream Society is a non-profit organization dedicated to the development of ecological and ethical awareness as well as positive action in the protection of the national heritage of the Adriatic Sea, coastal area and islands. The Voyage takes them to the agricultural center in the Neretva Valley where they will load this traditionally rigged sailing vessel full of one of the largest, most abundant, and delicious crops in the region, the watermelon. Then they will set sail toward their hometown to sell watermelons in a fundraiser for the Maestral Home for Children.
The voyage will take place as a traditional sail training and environmental education program for these young adults aboard Gospa od mora which is a lateen rigged replica of a cargo boat who’s design dates back to the 17th century. During the trip, they will learn the arts of seamanship, the ways of the stout old ship, the natural and social history of the islands, and help their community with proceeds of the voyage.
The students will learn the leaderships skills they need to sail the boat, an awareness of the issues involved in marine ecology, and coastal communities that in turn will help them become to become leaders on the mainland as well. During the 10 day voyage, students from the home will be responsible for all aspects of handling the working vessel including the loading and securing of the cargo and navigation underway, and documenting the trip. This gives students a real life experience that stays with them for years to come. Not only do they help to sail a classic ship up the coast and have an experience of a lifetime, they will also benefit their communities by helping to raise money for the home. The voyage takes them from the south through the islands to the River Neretva, then they will sail north returning to Kaštela Bay.
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