Everyone who meets Marko Mrcic falls in love with him, no matter who they are. His smile is contagious and his enthusiasm for his boat, his work and his country is admirable. If all boat captains were like Marko, the charter industry would run smoothly at all times.
Marko has been the proud owner of the Gulet Libra for eight years, and was a skipper on catamarans and other boats ten year before that. Libra is a typical Turkish gulet that is a common sight along the Dalmatian coast.
These boats are ideal for charters, as they are equal parts motor and sailboat and generally have tons of room both above and below deck. Libra is a more traditional gulet than those that were built in recent years, but it adds to her charm. She is 34 metres long (112′) and can sleep up to 12 guests in her six cabins.
Marko said that it was “love at first sight” when he set eyes upon Libra. “When I saw Libra and it’s beautiful lines, lots of space on deck and beautiful middle lounge area, at that moment I knew she was a perfect boat for charter,” said Marko.
Marko always has three additional crew onboard, including a chef. The team he had when I was onboard offered impeccable service throughout the charter. Nikola, Marko’s brother, was first mate, and these two worked seamlessly together. In fact, Nikola and Marko are co-owners of the Gulet Libra.
Antonia Buktenica is chief stew and has worked for Marko for several years. She always seemed to know what you wanted before you yourself even knew.
Antonijo Misicin, the chef, cooked up amazing dishes that incorporated the delicious Croatian olive oil with fresh ingredients and made me want to never leave. He cooked up everything from beef bourgignon to fresh fish as well as preparing deliciously light salads of lentils and fresh yoghurt.
“For me it’s important you have ambition to learn from me and my way of work, and that you’re a really, really kind person,” Marko said. “Those two things are most important to me,” he continued.
All the crew worked seamlessly together and they really seemed to genuinely love and respect one another.
One big, happy family
“We really are like a big family. It’s the best part of our job,” said Marko.”We always help and support each other. Croatian maritime history is really long and on every island people, fisherman and sailors, we are always helping each other. We learn that from childhood. It’s normal for us.” He continued.
Which definitely seemed to be true, not only among the crew on the Gulet Libra, but between the captains and crew on the other boats as well. Maybe it is because a lot of the gulet charter boats are owner operated, or maybe because Croatians understand the true definition of camaraderie. Whatever it is, it makes for a truly enjoyable charter experience where you feel more part of a family than a charter service.
At every port, Marko offered advice on where to go to eat. He was always more than happy to talk about the good and bad parts of Croatian history (their history is long and therefore has many parts), and he always had this genuine air of being so happy to do all of it.
“I really like my job and I’m still not sure which part is the best,” he said.”I like boats, sea and interaction with people.”
Not your average gulet
While some of the other, more modern gulets may provide more luxurious layouts and electronics, the experience you get on Libra gives you this true feeling of authenticity: both in service from her crew and her being a truly traditional yacht.
She is not all old school: she does have some of the typical accessories that guests look for, including paddleboards, skis, snorkeling gear and fast Wifi.
And what you receive in terms of a stellar crew is incomparable. I looked at the guestbook and it contained pages upon pages of glowing compliments towards Marko and his crew. It was easy to see just how much everyone enjoyed themselves by the descriptive lengths they went to in order to express their gratitude.
“I’m trying to make Libra the nicest and most popular wooden sailing boat on Adriatic,” said Marko. I would say he is definitely on his way.