Kapetanova ruta falkuša

This is a story about a small fishing world on a small Adriatic island
whose oldest monument is not the stone, but a word.

For hundreds of years, the Vis archipelago offshore fishermen
lived without a noticeable change in their way of life
defined by the laws of the sky, sea and wind.
This fishing world, on the very edge of the Adriatic insular front,
has set the work principles as its own fundamental ethical norm.


The špurtenjaca (fishing crew) usually had five crewmembers and was able to survive in the rough open sea only under the condition that every crewmember of the company strove to give to the community more than he expected others would give. The crewmember wasn't just a worker but the partner in the venture, where the company's maximum effort was expected, and each individual was equally valuable because he was irreplaceable. Šputenjaca is the fishing unit that includes a boat, fishing tools and a crew. When gajeta was set up for fishing after a long sailing to the offshore posts (fishing positions), its falks (side strakes) were removed and it was transformed from a sailboat to a fishing boat carrying all the required fishing tools. The crew had to be well acquainted with preparation, repairs and maintenance of the fishnets, navigation and sailing skills, meteorological conditions as well as fish behaviour and fish processing (salting).
In addition, an extremely rich vocabulary, oral tradition and literature, toponymy, traditional weather forecast, orientation by the stars, culinary skills and various types of craftsmanship have been developed: coopering, oars making, sailmaking, rope making, blacksmithing, shipbuilding...


Prima – it is a position for the most skilled oarsman – the crewmember who rowed at prima had to be the most skilled because he was keeping the boat headed in the right direction.
Srida – a position for the eldest oarsman – drug, the crewmember who rowed in the middle and he was usually the eldest and the most skilful member of the crew, the deputy captain.
Trastan – a position for the youngest oarsman – the crewmember rowing in this position had a special duty to clean the fish before salting, to carry it on the boat and to cook for the crew. Usually, he is the youngest and the most inexperienced company member, called also moli od trastana (the trastana boy).
Katina – a position for the strongest oarsman rowing at the front. If necessary, he had to row faster to prevent the waves from slowing down the boat.
Svićor – a position where svićor, the captain, the untouchable authority of a five-man crew, stands facing the crew in the front with the bow at his back and rowing with a small oar. During a short rest, svićor would place the rock under his head in order not to fall asleep so that a storm wouldn’t find him unprepared. Everybody obeyed him and he did not need to say the same thing twice. If it hadn't been the case it would not have been possible to do all the hard work that today is almost unimaginable.

BRUŠKIT (a draw for fishing positions) AND FISHING POSTS

Before fishing svićors (captains) had to do a draw for the fishing posts. The numbers were drawn from a hat and each number had its post (fishing position). The place for drying fishnets was also drawn.

The great bruškit – it was the official draw at the beginning of the fishing season to decide in which order the companies will go from post to post.

The little bruškit (moli bruškit) – was an unofficial draw for less attractive fishing posts around the islands of Vis, Biševo and Svetac.

The vacant post bruškit – a draw among the crews that came to the fishing position which wasn't a part of the great bruškit (the main draw), or it was, but its owner hadn't come to the post yet, or he came after 10 pm. Only the crews that reached the post before sunset had the right to draw for the vacant post.
The whole bruškit – when a single crew had the exclusive right to fish in one position.
The best fishing positions where around the islands of Biševo and Svetac (St. Andrew) and close to the towns of Vis and Komiža.
Around the island of Biševo, the fishing positions were namely: Balun, Mezuporat, Porat, Potok, Nevaja, Ploca, Lenga, Tresjavac
In the bay of Komiža: Kupinovac, Utlica, Pizdica, Staro Pošta, Nova Pošta, Mlin and Gusarica.
Around the island of Vis: Boci, Zokamice, Trovna, Okjucina, Novo Pošta, Stenjalo. Smokova, Rukavac, Ravnik, Srebarno, Trovna, Stiniva, Taleška, Pritiščina and Ploca
Around the island of Svetac (St. Andrew): Slatina, but rarely...
During the sardine fishing season often more than 500 fishermen from Komiža used to invade the rough cost of Palagruža. The ruthless competition among them, most impressively demonstrated by the regatta from Komiža to Palagruža, had never questioned the unwritten law of solidarity among competing companies. Solidarity was essential for survival, and it was based on reciprocity and mutual respect.


For centuries Saint Nicholas the Traveller watched over fishermen, consecrating their dangerous work and hardship and his stick gave them hope, leading them through stormy seas and returning them safely back to their homes and families. By word of mouth, the knowledge was passed down from the old generations to those who were just beginning to acquire the first experience at sea. The entire knowledge essential for survival was preserved in the memory of those who devoted their whole life to the sea.
Laughter should be mentioned too. These fishermen laughed at others but also at themselves. In this fisherman's world, the dominant form of oral literature is facenda - a humorous story about everyday life. It preserves the language richness created by many generations of oral narrators. Facenda brings together the community, treasures its collective memory, builds its value system and connects the living and those living on in the memory.


Cicibela was the name of the last falkuša from Komiža and after it had capsized in August 1986, a millennium-old tradition of fishing in Komiža symbolically ended but also marked a very unique beginning of an interdisciplinary, scientific adventure of the Croatian maritime heritage on which Joško Božanić and Velimir Salamon embarked. Joško Božanić is a linguist and author, preoccupied with language and oral tradition of his native island of Vis and Velimir Salamon is a naval architect and a professor at the University of Zagreb.
The reconstructed gajeta falkuša named Comeza-Lisboa is a result of their extensive research work. It was born from the ashes of the falkuša sacrificed to the protector of the fishing village of Komiža on the Saint Nicholas the Traveller on 6th of December 1997.
Organised in a cultural organisation named Ars halieutica they have been largely contributing to research and international promotion of the Croatian maritime heritage. In addition to the activities organised by Ars halieutica, another association from Komiža, named Palagruža started a series of workshops with the aim to preserve traditional knowledge and skills.
josko bozanic"We only had to construct a boat as a vessel of collective memory of an insular and organic community at the turn of the millennium. The time to come will most probably not require such knowledge or it will not have the time to remove the lid from the chest of memories of a miniscule world on an island on the very edge of the Adriatic insular front. Nevertheless, we will construct that box, that chest, that boat in order to be able to sail the time of a world located in-between three volcano tops." 

Joško Božanić, published in Jadranski Halieutikon
pinoToday, there are three replicas of gajeta falkuša in Komiža. After the initial project with Comeza-Lisboa (owned by Ars halieutica), another gajeta was born in 2004 and named Mikula (owned by Tomislav Kličko). Palagruža followed ten years after that and joined that very unique couple. It is co-owned by Pino Vojković and Alternatura Tourist Agency.
Pino Vojković, born in Komiža and the captain of the third gajeta, was involved in the process of revitalisation of the boat since the very beginning. He was also the youngest Comeza-Lisboa crewmember at the 1998 Lisbon World Exhibition and he also took part in the construction of the second replica – the Mikula falkuša. As an honorary member of Comeza-Lisboa, Vojković participated in a host of international exhibitions, festivals and regattas. Fascinated by the tradition and gajeta falkuša, he initiated the construction of the third replica.
Every year, the crew of the Palagruža gajeta takes part in regattas of traditional boats.
In 2015, Palagruža was the winner of Rota Palagruzona, and captain Pino Vojković also won the first place sailing on Mikula in 2011 and 2012.
Currently, Pino Vojković interprets the experience of gajeta falkuša with the status of a cultural good through the tourist offer of the island of Vis.

ALTERNATURA putnička agencija d.o.o.
Hrvatskih mučenika 2, 21485 Komiža, Hrvatska, HR-AB-21-060191881
telefoni: +385 21 717 239, +385 91 945 8003;
email: alternatura@alternatura.hr

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