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Nava "Danica" Bark “Otac Niko” Mauzolej Bjelovučić


Janjina's Maritime Heritage

If we take a walk through Janjina and Popova Luka we can see by the architecture of some of the buildings that their former owners and residents were old sea captains and ship owners.

Foremost among them was the Bjelovučić family, which gave about 30 sea captains. The family had their maritime company called “Rođaci Bjelovučić” [Cousins Bjelovučić] that existed from the middle of 19th century to the year 1894. Their ships, at the time when Croatia was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, had mainly Croatian names. Some of the names were, “Mir” [Peace], “Tri kralja” [Three Kings], “Cvijet” [Flower], “Danica” [Day Star], “Vjeran” [Faithful], “Zvonimir”, “Ljubidrag”, “Ljubirod”, [all personal names], “Otac Niko” [Father Niko], “Mati Ane” [Mother Ane] etc. At the time of the Croatian National Revival they flew the Croatian flag at the front mast. Their ships sailed the Mediterranean and the Black Sea, Atlantic Ocean, and later, in search for work, all other seas. Records show that the *bark “Ljubirod”, captained by Pavo Bokanović of Popova Luka, was shipwrecked in the Torres Strait -- Australia in 1887; in 1893 bark “Vila”, commanded by Capt. Đuro Stanoš of Konavli, was abandoned off the North American coast; and in 1894 bark “Otac Niko” (Capt. Baldo Bjelovučić of Popova Luka) was lost in the Bay of Florida. Beside the Bjelovučićs other captains and share-owners of these vessels were from Bokanović, Čučuković, Jasprica, Kalafatović, Knežević, Miletić, Mratović, Škrabalo and other families of Janjina and Popova Luka.

We also find above-mentioned captain Baldo Bjelovučić, of Popova Luka, in charge of the *nave “Danica” and the barks “Mati Ane” and “Otac Niko”.

We find Captain Vlaho Jasprica in command of the bark “Vila” and the Captain Čučuković in charge of the bark “Tri kralja”.

Captain Antun Kalafatović was in charge of the barks “Mir” and “Vila”.

Captain Ivo Kalafatović was in charge of the barks “Ljubidrag” and “Otac Niko”.

Captain Miho Mratović was in charge of the barks “Vila” and “Zvonimir”, as well as the bark “Ljubirod” on which he lost his life in the waters of South America.

Captains Niko Knežević and Ivo Miletić of Popova Luka were in charge of barks “Janjina” and

“Mati Ane”.

Many more names of sailors and other crewmembers from Janjina and the nearby hamlets could be added to the list of those who sailed on these old square-riggers.


As we can see Janjina has rich maritime history, which cannot be ignored. This history is insufficiently researched and it remains a task for the younger generation historians who might be interested in it.
Quite often, in the works that document maritime history of East Adriatic we come across the pictures of sail ships that belonged to the Bjelovučić family, but the family is always said to be from Pelješac, Janjina is never mentioned. So this is the opportunity to emphasize that the family is from Janjina.


               Nave "Danica"
Built in Rockland, 1858.
Weight: 639 t.
Owner: “Cousins Bjelovučić.”
Captain: Baldo Bjelovučić.
Sold in Trieste, 1887.
Oil on canvas painting by B. Ivanković, 1887.
Dimensions: 72.2 x 43.4 cm (frame 2 cm).



For those who want to know more:

S. VEKARIĆ, “Naši jedrenjaci” [Our Sail Ships], 1997.

N. Z. BJELOVUČIĆ, “Povjesničke crte Janjine,” [Historical Lines About Janjina], Split 1922.

Pomorska Enciklopedija, II izdanje [Maritime Encyclopedia, Second Edition]


*Bark, and nave are types of sail ships.