A crash course in shipbuilding as an investment in an important tradition of Korčula
For the second year in a row, Port 9 resort is hosting a highly commendable workshop of far-reaching significance for the local community of Korčula and its people. Without ships, living on an island would be impossible. They were built using wood, powered by rows and wind, i.e. the combined force of man and nature. Hard-working islanders were well aware of the fact that this effort and knowledge held the key to securing their livelihoods. How much do today’s children know about it and are they losing out on the experience of creating something? This workshop enables schoolchildren to experience first-hand that tools used by their great-grandfathers can be put to use to make something tangible. In the end they can get on a boat which is several metres long and set sail in the vast sea. Driven by this exciting idea, Davor Mihalić, an ardent enthusiast who fell in love with this line of work eight years ago and the man behind this educational programme, points out that children as old as 4 or 5 can already start using machines and understand the logic behind how boats and ships are built. Five boys and five girls ranging from fourth to eighth grade of elementary school achieved excellent results as they took part in this rather complex yet very interesting programme. Building a modified model of Korčula pasara and learning all of the ship’s building elements in just 5 days is no mean feat. The children point to ship parts, describe their function and name them (keel, ship frames, etc.) without any difficulty whatsoever. They are just as skilful when it comes to using different tools ranging from jigsaws to grinders. In the beginning the curriculum includes mathematics and drawing, i.e. designing. Still, setting sail and feeling the sea on a boat they have built themselves is something that makes these children first and foremost, but also their parents and friends, feel inexpressibly happy and proud. Words cannot convey the joy of watching how playful the children get. While incessantly asking for new assignments, they make the final preparations for the ship to be launched, tie the well-known sailor knots and mount the mast. Davor also points out the boats make excellent grounds for children with any type of motor skill impairment. This is because the level of concentration required for all the small things that make living on a boat possible is much higher when compared to other life conditions. For centuries, Korčula was famed as one of the best shipbuilding locations in the Mediterranean, so this workshop acts as one of the more important ways of preventing a part of original and rich cultural heritage from fading into oblivion. The five-day programme of the workshop “Stolart” gives participants an opportunity to learn about traditional Croatian shipbuilding and its role throughout history. As far as the workshop’s practical part is concerned, participants assemble the ship parts they have built themselves to make a final structure and get ready for painting. The boat is coated and painted with finishing colours. Additional equipment such as sails, ropes, etc. is mounted on the painted boat and everybody is getting ready for the launching ceremony which is followed by a corresponding entertainment programme. Words cannot describe how happy and exhilarated the children were when this project drew to a close. When we asked them if they would take part in the next year’s workshop, we got a loud and unanimous:” Yeeeees!” There is no need to ask any further questions. We eagerly await the next summer when a third boat will be constructed thereby giving Port 9 its very own small and brave fleet. Building upon Korčula’s renowned shipbuilding of past times, we wish them all the best in the years to come.