Traditional Croatian motorsailers

Streamlined and elegant, wooden gulets originate from Turkey, where they were used for transporting cargo. In the 1980s, people in Bodrum began converting them into motorsailers for tourism. And since the early-2000’s, Croats have been buying them to charter on the Adriatic. We visited two traditional Croatian motorsailers also known as gulet to discover more.

Traditional Croatian Motorsailer Morning Star
M/S Morning Star in Croatia

Moored up in Sumpetar’s sleepy harbor, just outside Split, Morning Star (88ft; 6 cabins, sleeps 12) was handbuilt from wood in Turkey in 2008. Indeed like most Croatian traditional gulets, she has generous decks for dining and sunbathing. Also a saloon for eating inside if it rains, and cabins down below. Her heavily weighted hull makes her very stable. Definitely ideal for inexperienced sailors – and she has a motor plus two masts with full sailing equipment.

Sitting at a long dining table on the shaded aft deck, Ivan Trgo, whose family owns Morning Star, offers us slices of his mother’s delicious home-baked apple strudel. “Our family has sailed for generations,” he says. “We’re a crew of four – my older brother Domagoj is captain, Krešimir, and I are deckhands and waiters. Furthermore, we have a chef too.”

M/S Morning Star’s Cabins

Ivan shows us the cozy cabins, with oak wood interiors, plush cream carpets, round porthole windows opening onto the azure blue sky. Also en-suite bathrooms with massage-jet showers. “Sailing is the best possible way to explore the Dalmatian islands,” he says. “We provide an insider’s view of local life and have many return guests.”

Ivan’s perfect day? “We’d start in Pučišća with its old stone houses on Brač, and sail around to Rasotica Bay, where we’d drop anchor for swimming and snorkeling. We’d have lunch aboard, then sail to Hvar, serving cocktails on the deck, to moor up overnight in Stari Grad for dinner at a local restaurant”.

Most guests charter Morning Star for one-week round-trips from Split, calling at the islands of Brač, Hvar, Korčula, Vis, and Šolta, but routes are flexible.

Croatian Traditional Gulet Altair

Croatian Motor-Sailer Altair
Croatia Motorsailer Altair

Also in Sumpetar, we see another gulet-style traditional Croatian motorsailers, Altair (80ft; 6 cabins, sleeps 12), built here in 2008 and belonging to the Nazors. Owner-captain Dare Nazor, who leads a crew of four, welcomes us aboard with a platter of his family’s homemade pršut (similar to Italian prosciutto), cheese, and bread.

Like Ivan, Dare knows the local secrets of the islands south of Split and loves arranging various activities while sailing. Including fishing trips followed by barbecuing the catch. Although he generally does round-trips from Split, alternatively, he can sail from Dubrovnik to show you the islands of South Dalmatia, or take you north to the wild rocky uninhabited islets of Kornati National Park.

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