Dragutin Žic, Alfa and Omega of Nautical Tourism: How the First Marina on the Adriatic came about

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by paul,

The love of Dragutin Žic for the sea and ships is tied to an old bracera (coastal cargo vessel) which he sailed in his youth, and now its ribs adorn the lobby of the Kanajt hotel. Thus came about the recognisable emblem of the Punat marina, made by Slovenian photographer and designer Sergio Gobo, as Jutarnji List wrote on July 11, 2017.

I used to sail it on the Adriatic with my wife and the kids when they were little. It was a bracera built back in 1880, named Božji Dar (God’s gift), but in 1945 the authorities forced a name change to Božidar (male name),” Žic recalls.

But it all began much earlier, during schooling which took a full 21 years as it was burdened with all sort of “curricular reforms.” After the first eight years, he enrolled in the high school in Senj. They had three months of classes, and for nine months they had field work in the Punat shipyard.

“When we completed that school, we were craftsmen. I was a ship’s mechanic and I fixed engines all over Punat. But to enrol into college, I had to go to Rijeka and complete the entire technical naval engineering high school and after that I went to Zagreb to college. When I finished that, it was 1970 and I was already 29. Then I worked for 18 years in the Punat shipyard which gave me nine years of scholarship, so I had to pay them back double.”

And this is where the conception of nautical tourism in Punat and Croatia took place.

“Some Jew, Americanised, married in Germany, asked in 1962 at the Zagreb Fair where he could order wooden ships for his Adria Motor Boat Club from Mannheim. They told him to go to Punat where they made wooden ships. SO he came in 1963 to Punat and ordered three at first, then another four ships. I was employed in the shipyard in 1964 and I worked on those ships. They were of the pasara type (fishing and cargo vessels), seven metres in length and two and a half metres wide, designed by Darko Dujmović from Baška Voda. They had a Torpedo engine with three cylinders, a copy of the Volvo engine. Torpedo then also produced the Aran engines for cargo ships, named after Aleksander Ranković, and they were excellent copies of the Deutz engine. When the ships were ready, members of the Adria club came and sailed them. Those pasaras were practically the first charter boats in Croatia.”

At the time no one knew what charter was, or a marina,” Žic recalls. “When I came to the Commercial Court in 1978 to register a marina, they asked me – what is it? I told them: we keep ships, domestic and foreign. SO what shall we put in the registration? And then we wrote ‘services in naval transportation,’ later adding – for marinas. Now we belong among ‘entertainment and sporting services.’ To this day it’s unknown which ministry is relevant: transportation or tourism. Everyone makes their own decisions about the same things,” says Žic and continues his story on the birth of Croatian nautical tourism.

“When we made those boats for Adria Club, we had no place to keep them. The owner went to the Rijeka Port Authority and asked where they can keep the boats during winter. They told him Bakar was the best port. When the first Bura came along, it nearly smashed them. He returned to Punat and said he would never go back to Bakar. And that year he kept them with Jakov Žurić near the shipyard, as the shipyard had no place to keep them. Then the shipyard made a 100 metres of concrete seafront…,” Žic recalls.


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