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How the company Pržina, founded in 1997, came to introduce Fortuna, the first gulet to be used in private chartering on Croatian waters, is a legend in its own right. The founders of the company, Tonči and Mirna Torić, still run the business and we spoke with Mirna regarding her beloved company and the amazing story behind it.
“It has taken twenty-two years to build up the business,” Mirna explains, “After the war which lasted four years, we had to start from the ground up. This including applying our experience and passion to the business, building up important relationships with guests and clients. And making full use of their good word of mouth which has helped our business to grow and establish itself as a brand.”
The timeline of the events leading up to the creation of the business Pržina, reads like something out of a fairytale. Mirna explains that her husband Tonči was born in 1966 and raised on the island Vrgada which is the gate of the Kornati archipelago. He grew up in a family of seamen in a community of people who raised their families at and on the sea.
He finished Naval School of Marine as a mechanic and later earned a Yachtmaster certificate. In 1989, at the age of 23, he opened a small restaurant near the beach of Vrgada. When the Croatian War started in 1991, he joined the military forces and served for two years, in 1993 he accepted a job as the captain of the gulet Pokora, based in Lignano Sabbiadoro.
“It was here where his love for these kinds of ships was borne,” Mirna explains, “As far as my own story, I grew up in Zadar and spent my weekends and vacations on Vrgada with my grandparents who lived there. My father died when I was three and my grandfather’s house was my second home. He was a seaman who had sailed the seven seas. So, I fell for a seaman myself, and joined Tonči on the yacht as a hostess. In 1994, we returned home to Croatia and were married.”
Again, Tonči was to join the Croatian Military Forces until the end of the war. In 1996 he resumed his private business and even opened a second restaurant. He and Mirna were blessed with a big family, having their first daughter in 1995, a son in 1996 and another daughter in 2000. She explains that life and business was good, however, in the spring of 2002, during a random visit to Marina Dalmacija in Sukošan, both she and her husband fell in love with what would be their first gulet.
“We bought it within a week!” she exclaims, “And our new life began. After four very successful years of yacht charter with our first yacht we decided that it was time to upgrade to a bigger and better one.”
S/Y Fortuna was, at the time, famous as one of the best made gulets in Croatia. It is actually designed for sailing in strong wind and boasts luxurious interiors and quality construction. It soon became a part of the Torić family. She is a motor sailing vessel that provides accommodations for up to twelve people offering the one-of-a-kind experience of sailing on a 33m traditional wooden vessel. Combined with the beautiful region of the Dalmatian islands, a location enriched with natural beauty and historical heritage, it is a perfect combination.
“To this day Tonči and myself sail together and it seems we have passed our love for the sea to our children as our son has entered the Naval academy,” Mirna says.
TYING THE KNOTS
Like knots in a rope, Mirna and Tonči understand the importance of relationships and have very strong ties with their business partners who have worked with them for many years. Likewise, they keep strong relationships with their clients, operating with a family oriented and flexible methodology that reflects their priorities while at the same time maintaining a professional attitude.
“The same goes for the strong relationships we have built with our co-workers,” she adds, “This is based on mutual respect and hard work and is the foundation on which we continue to build our business and grow together as a company.”
According to Mirna, learning and being open to new experiences is a never-ending process. They are constantly learning and moving along with new trends and ideas, to her this is a continuous process without a time frame or scale and for a business to be successful it needs to be as natural as breathing.
“Our business stance has always been a reflection of our traditions and roots, in which we are very proud,” she explains, “As the world around us changes and technology continues to fast forward, we wish to give our clients the feeling of simplicity and to have them value and cherish this piece of heaven we call Dalmatia.”
The war destroyed the economy and the tourism industry in Croatia. At the time this meant that Mirna and Tonči had to decide what they were going to do. Mirna says that life and the war has taught them to appreciate what they have and their good fortune. While they could have taken another route, they stuck with their passions and in so did their part to help re-earn the trust of global tourists and travellers to Croatia.
“As such, this is not just a business but an enduring part of our lives,” she says, “It is productive and successful because we’ve been able to connect our love of sailing with our enjoyment of interacting with people.”
Theirs’s is a five-man crew consisting of a captain, chef, deck hand, chief stewardess and logistics controller. Mirna reveals that they are all required to have necessary certificates and specific training. Recruited locally they have been the steady crew for many years.
“Having a crew that functions well together is critical,” Mirna says, “Amongst one another they need to have a good relationship because this business requires lots of mutual respect, understanding and hard work. This is certainly the case for all businesses, but our business is one that involves being out on the open seas, so our crew needs to be able to work together under all circumstances.”
Each trip lasts seven days. The gulet travels along the coast of the Adriatic Sea but mainly in the region of Dalmatia, Croatia. The clients are given several options and according to their desires Mirna and Tonči create the most appropriate and rewarding route. They only sail with Fortuna and the tours between Zadar, Split and Dubrovnik are all tailored.
The stay involves two meals a day, breakfast and lunch (dinner is an option), four hours sailing each day, and during the evening free time in different towns. Everything is worked out according to their client’s preferences and they can also help organize offshore excursions and guided tours.
Mirna tells us that what sets them apart from others is the knowledge that they have of their sailing territory and the history of their region. Additionally, their excellent cooperation with onshore partners and local providers of different services means that they can provide the best tailored trip to their clients.
“Fortuna has seven spacious cabins with their own facilities such as bathrooms and air conditioners,” Mirna says, “And each cabin is styled in an appropriate nautical décor.”
The crew is at the guest’s full disposal for the week of the tour and included in their service is two meals a day, breakfast and lunch which the chef also tailors according to their client`s tastes.”
Fortuna is equipped with lots of water toys such as two-seater kayaks, two paddle boards, a banana boat, snorkeling gear, skis, and fishing gear. On the upper deck is the sun bathing area with sun beds and appropriate towels. Along with the yacht they have a separate dingy with an outboard engine for a variety of water sports and transports. On the stern is the dining area which can be opened or closed for intimate dinners and social gatherings. Sails are fully functional, and the professional crew is always ready to set them up.
“There is nothing quite like seeing Fortuna with her sails open,” Mirna reflects, “It is definitely something to look forward to.”
THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND
Guests are recommended to bring appropriate clothing, sunscreen, swimming gear, insect repellent and medication. If there are any queries about any of this Mirna and Tonči are available to answer any questions.
TELEPHONE NUMBER: +385 91 760 9397
PRICE: MAY/SEPTEMBER: 1786,67€
Price includes accommodation, 2 meals, drinks, port fees
Reservations are for minimum 10 people and maximum 12.