The first small boat engines came in between the two World Wars. The sails and oars slowly started to vanish from the traditional wooden boats and it was during the seventies that boat engines completely expelled the other ways of boat propulsion.
In the old days getting to Kornati was a project. Whole families from island Murter would wait for the perfect weather conditions so they could sail to their oversea properties in Kornati archipelago. They needed to be skilled sailors, using the traditional lateen sail and 4 to 5 long and heavy oars. In the old photos you can often see women paddling and men steering the “Gajeta”.
Our traditional 7 meter boat called “Gajeta” is the symbol of Kornati collective memory.
Gajeta was considered almost like a part of the family and basically every house in Murter had their own boat.
It was more a cargo than a fishing boat, used to transport people, olives, wood and even kettle from Kornati to the mainland.
During the nineties people from Murter gathered and started to revive the traditional way of lateen sailing and wood boatbuilding. They organized the first lateen sail regatta in Murter and the movement quickly spread throughout our Archipelago.
Today nearly every village in the area has their own lateen sail regatta, a festival of traditional boats and island culture.
The peak of the movement happened couple years ago with the opening of the Betina Museum of Wooden Shipbuilding. In this permanent exhibition you can find out everything not only about our sacred boat – Gajeta but also about the people who were building and using them. Definitely worth a visit.