It's quite possible that you spent a few days of your life aboard or at least dreamed of those days. This is the story of such a day, yet a quite different one; the story of life and love that has lasted forever in this region. This story is told through the materials of which the ship was made, the ways in which it was created, and its roles throughout history. This is the love story of its captain who feels the ship as his darling mistress. This is the story of its enamored passengers after they touch the wooden deck with their feet and grasp its ropes with their hands. When ship sails are finally hoisted, it is clear why people, like ships, can only work wonders when their sails are filled. This is a day when you might encounter new horizons, sense new challenges. All one has to do is surrender to navigation, joyfully and with faith in the good sea.
Navigate you must, for if you do not, life is not worth living – those were the famous words the Roman military leader Pompey used to call on his officers to travel towards Rome in freight ships regardless of the threatening storm. Although they tried to talk him out of it due to imminent danger, he said: “Navigare necesse est, vivere non est necesse!“ Sailing, voyaging, teaming, navigating – this remained eternal.
Some 2500 years ago, the first inhabitants of Hvar also had to navigate to reach its shores and establish the first settlements. Followed by the scrape of oars in oarlocks and lateens
on the mast, their calloused hands brought them from the distant Pharos to the shores of Hvar. They fell in love with its beauty, warmth, peace. They found a new home.
In times long past, the people of Hvar preserved a tradition of the sea; they were born, they lived and died with the sea. The sea connected generations living on the island in a perpetual chain. The sea and the island. They sailed the sea as well in traditional sailboats such as the pasara, guc, bracera, trabakul, batana, galijun, galija… From island to island, from day to
night, from birth to death. The busy hands of the island builders worked diligently to make a live boat out of live wood, a boat to weep in, to revel in, to sing, drink, and sorrow in… To live in.
They say that the heart of the builder beats between the ribs of the boat, of the man who gave it life and closed the gateways of the sea in order to keep the boat afloat and provide the seafarers with safety, rescue amidst storms and the angry sea, the joy of morning calm, and the smiles of the ones waiting ashore for their loved ones to return. The love the builders put into the building can be compared with the love a parent feels for his child, ready to sacrifice his life in order for it to sail calmly and happily, proud, persistent, and steadfast.
Today, two thousand years later, one must navigate again, but to celebrate life, to express passion for the sea, the new, undiscovered, blue infinity that welcomes its explorers, travelers, the curious, its new lovers full of expectation and passion with always a new smile.
The builders and wooden boats have been replaced by automatized shipyards and plastic motor boats that provide plenty of comfort and safety to their crews, but the heart that beats in every boat the goes out to sea has been preserved in tradition, engraved in every wind-beaten, salt-ridden wrinkle on sailors’ faces.
In order to revive a part of the past, feel the power of the sea, hears its breath whistling in the sails, inhale the spray of water lifted in the waves, maybe even close your eyes for a moment and imagine yourselves as those who saw the shores of our island from a distance a thousand years ago… we’ll take our wooden boat, the same one our grandfathers used to sail in, loosen the bollards, lift the lateen, tie the ropes, and let the wind fill our sails. And once our heart becomes one with the heart of the wooden boat, beating together, we’ll see before us images of times past, the faces of sailors and seafarers, the quiet of the calm and the thunder of storms, libecchio, and tramontana, and a chest hiding stories and secrets of boats will open to anyone who wants to discover them.
In this rapture, we will sail to all parts of the world, to the horizon and beyond, without borders and free from fear, surrounded by the sea luring us with its blue, the boat that keeps us safe, and the love that binds us together.
After all, navigate we must.