Making Wooden Boats to be a Cultural Asset?

By , 21 Jan 2019, 15:55 PM Lifestyle
Wooden boats a cultural asset in Montenegro Wooden boats a cultural asset in Montenegro Private archieve

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The Department for the Protection of Cultural Goods has accepted the initiative to establish the protection of assets – making wooden boats.

The Shipbuilders Workshop "Bokovac" pointed out that the conditions for further steps - the application of regulations for the protection and determination of the value of the goods - have been obtained.

Radomirka-Lala Bokovac from the workshop, which has been making wooden boats for decades, says that by insight into the legal documentation on cultural assets and heritage, it has been established that for the good "construction of a wooden boat" no valuation of cultural-historical value has been done so far. She stressed that the adoption of the initiative is a strong wind in the back "both to us and to all who deal with traditional shipbuilding".

"The production of wooden boats possesses the required traditional values, as evidenced by the preliminary results of the research findings. This act is of great significance for us and our decades-long work and effort in traditional wooden boat making, which is now for the first time valued in the right way. In our Shipbuilders Workshop, persistently, with love and much denial, practically without the right and sufficient assistance, we preserve and maintain the ancient knowledge and skills of the old craftsmen, shipbuilders, boatmen, and sailors. There are few of us in Bar, Kotor, Tivat and Herceg Novi, as well as beyond the borders of Montenegro" said Bokovac.

In March last year, three "baranka" - wooden boats with sails "born" at the Shipbuilder Bokovac workshop were sailed for owners from Abu Dhabi. 

This was the first export to Arabia of a domestic final product made in Bar, not only in this era, and as was previously announced, the boats were produced by shipbuilders from Bar - Nenad Neno Bokovac and his father Pero.

"A wooden boat is a miracle for the culture and tradition of a naval country if that is properly valued. They need to be maintained, we have a few models, it is the national treasure of the state, and the history and the future of maritime affairs. Everything started with these wooden boats, and everything will end with them," says Nenad.

During construction, the builders use mulberry, mulik, acacia, and add some teak and mahogany.

According to Nenad's words, the mulberry is very easy when it is dry and strong and durable, so is mulik and thus the ships can easily last for almost a century.

Lala, Nenad's wife, points out that hand-crafted ships can be the bearers of the Montenegrin identity in the tourist sense and economic progress, and above all serve in the preservation of the tradition.

"The country without tradition is empty, people are reflected in the culture and tradition of their own country, and the main driver and push for tourism is culture and tradition, which are the things Montenegro is most proud of. Because of this, the act of accepting the initiative is a big step towards protecting small wooden shipbuilding, regardless of the origin area of a ship, a tradition that unfortunately becoming extinct on the Adriatic," said Bokovac.

The five-year-old wooden boats of Bokovci sparkle in the summer in front of the Hotel Regent in Porto Montenegro, where they are seen by passionate sailors from UAE. They were impressed by the boat's performance, so they came to Bar, where they were thrilled to see that Bokovci ships are traditionally built without epoxy resins. They ordered three "baranka" which have their mark. Pero and Neno say they do not know exactly how many boats they have repaired, but they point out that, not just in Bar, all the wooden ships went through their hands.

Neno says that the oldest boat which he repaired was "Markisa" anchored at marina Bar - which was 118 years old.

"The quality of a wooden ship in relation to plastic and metal is its stability on the sea, safety ... But its maintenance is difficult and expensive, so you do not have to take a wooden boat if you do not like to work on it. It is not just said that a man with a wooden boat is happy twice - the first time when he buys it and the second when he sells it," says Nenad Bokovac. He explains that there are two meanings of the word kalafat (shipbuilder), which is used both in Italy and in Croatia.

"It's the master who puts the tow between the boards, and the other - that's the chief master. So, that is my father Pero who started the ship-building in Bar in 1965, and today he supervises all the works on wooden boats and is dedicated to this, for someone a craft and for others -  art. Kalafat (shipbuilding) is a special type of carpentry, but it cannot be executed by only a carpenter," says Nenad.

Text by Radomir Petric, on January 20th, 2019, read more at Vijesti

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