Franko Kraljić, shipbuilder

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Franko Kraljić is the successor to a shipbuilding trade with a tradition spanning over 130 years. He is one of the few shipbuilders who still use traditional techniques of boat construction and restoration in the northern part of the Adriatic.

Name of Craft in the local language
Brodograđevni i tradicijski obrt Malinska
Type of Craft
Restoration and construction of wooden boats
Knowledge Holder
Franko Kraljić
Location, Website
Obala 9, 51511 Malinska, Croatia
Contact
franko.kraljic@ri.t-com.hr
Type of Business
Inherited, the fifth generation of a family business
Year of Establishment
1880 / 1999
Successors
No

Workshop and sales space
150 m2 (workshop)
Materials
Oak and spruce wood
Technology / Tools / Machines
Hand saw, chisel, scraper, wooden hammer, wood planer, brushes
Techniques / Processes
Manual and machine processing of wood, cutting, sawing, sanding, sealing, painting
Members / Employees
2
Apprentices
No
Education of the Craftsperson
Shipbuilding technician

Best-selling product
Kvarner pasara (traditional Adriatic wooden fishing boat)
Average time of production
Three to eight months
Average price per item
10.000 – 60.000 EUR (new boat), 35 EUR/hour (restoration)

Holder of the status of a traditional crafts of the Croatian Chamber of Trades and Crafts.

Franko took over the family trade in 1999, following in the footsteps of his father, Franjo Kraljić, and after completing a four-year vocational school for shipbuilding in Rijeka in 1993. With roots tracing back to Mate Lolić’s beginnings in Malinska at the end of the 19th century, Franko carries on the craft as the fifth generation in his family.

The bulk of his work revolves around the maintenance and restoration of wooden boats, while the demand for new constructions is rare. Despite the prevalence of plastic boats, he managed to uphold the tradition.

In addition to his daily work, Franko engages in projects that interpret and valorise the artistry of traditional wooden boat building, thus passing on his knowledge to younger generations.

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    The workshop is situated on maritime property in Malinska (island of Krk), Technical Museum Nikola Tesla Photo Archive, F15311

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    Franko and his father in the workshop, Technical Museum Nikola Tesla Photo Archive, F15306

The Malinska Shipyard is situated on maritime property in the Municipality of Malinska-Dubašnica. Originally located in a nearby park during the 1880s, it was moved to its current site in 1921.

Spanning 150 m2, the shipyard includes an indoor workshop and a covered terrace with a boat slip. Its location along the seaside promenade is particularly attractive during the summer, capturing the attention of tourists.

The workshop is equipped with old machinery and inherited manual tools for wood processing, with family photographs prominently displayed on the walls, bearing witness to the long tradition of shipbuilding in Malinska.

Building or restoring traditional vessels is a complex and time-consuming process that involves selecting materials, setting ribs and keel, shaping the superstructure, and finally equipping and painting.

This process can take anywhere from 3 to 8 months, depending on the size and level of equipment of the ordered boat. In his work, Franko mainly uses traditional manual tools, which are part of his family heritage. He uses newer electric machines, such as a band saw from the 1950s, combined machines from the 1970s, and newer circular saws, for rougher work. The most commonly used material is solid wood, typically Slavonian oak, mountain spruce, and local downy oak (commonly known as dub).

The boat’s construction is done according to templates that fully correspond to each part of the boat. Wood processing techniques and painting are carried out manually, following the traditional coastal method, while the construction of the boat’s hull involves a “contact” method of planking.

In 2002, Franko and Frane Kraljić spent 560 working hours restoring a wooden fishing boat (guc), which is now kept in the Technical Museum Nikola Tesla in Zagreb. The boat belonged to Croatian poet Mijo Mirković, better known as Mate Balota, and was donated to the museum by his son Ante - Tone Mirković in 2001. The process of restoring wooden fishing boat (Guc, TMNT 3370), Technical Museum Nikola Tesla Photo Archive, F15222, F15224, F15234, F15327, F15329, F15308

The main and most recognizable product of Franko’s trade is the Kvarner pasara, typically ranging from 4.20 to 5.20 meters in length. Additionally, larger pasaras with cabins and an advanced bow (prova motonave) have been developed and perfected in this shipyard. The characteristic features of a pasara include a pointed bow and a flat, “cut-off” stern. In the past, pasaras were highly popular and served for fishing and cargo transportation, whereas today they are mainly used for recreational purposes such as fishing, sailing, and rowing.