About me and my idea:
The first time I sit in the kayak was in the summer of 2011. Next summer I did my first sea kayaking expedition with my friend. It was for 47 days passing all 47 inhabited islands in Croatia. In total covering around 1000 km in a single kayak in the summertime. A year later I started to work as an adventure guide. Mostly I was guiding multiday self-supported sea kayaking tours in the Adriatic Sea. In autumn 2015 I came to the idea to kayak to all lighthouses in Croatia which were built in the 19th Century. As I had to work during the warm part of the year I decided to realize my expedition in the winter part of the year. The second reason for the winter expedition was more rough conditions on the Adriatic Sea. Original idea was to kayak the circle route from Split all around the Adriatic Sea in the territory of Croatia which is around 2000 km. Because of unstable weather conditions in the winter part of the year, I planned to realize my expedition for 3 months. As I started later than I had originally planned, I had to divide my lighthouse expedition into 3 separate expeditions. The main reason why I had to expand my lighthouse kayaking expedition was my obligations as a fulltime working adventure guide. Instead of one big expedition, I realized my dream in two winters and became the only person in human history who had kayaked to all lighthouses in Croatia from the 19th century.
In the winter of 2019, I made a circle route of 1070 km in Dalmatia. I visited 32 lighthouses which were built on the mainland and additionally the small remote islands in the open sea. The expedition lasted for 57 days in which 41 days I was paddling. In the winter of 2020, I had easier paddling in the area of Istria and Kvarner. This time I was paddling in less open Sea as the lighthouses are situated in less remoted islands. To visit 24 lighthouses I had to paddle 480 km in the North Adriatic Sea. In 24 days of expedition, I was paddling 17 days. The cherry on top of my lighthouse expedition was paddling to Palagruža archipelago. Palagruža is the most remote island in the Adriatic Sea which is closer to Italian than the Croatian mainland. Palagruža's expedition was in May of 2020. In 14 days of expedition, I was paddling for 8 days in which I passed 340 km from which was 300 km of open Sea. Except for realizing my dream to kayak to all 57 lighthouses in Croatia, this expedition had a goal to promote sea kayaking as a fantastic recreational sport in Croatia which is an amazing destination for Seakayaking.
The Island Odyssey – Lighthouses in Croatia is a unique multidisciplinary project. Three months solo sea kayaking expedition, which was solo created, self-supported, and all documented by myself. The idea of kayaking to all 57 lighthouses in Croatia came in late summer of 2015. I want to have an adventure like I had in 2012. That summer I spent 47 days to kayak to all inhabited islands in Croatia. That was my first big sea kayaking expedition when I was just a newbie in sea kayaking. Now I'm an advanced sea kayaker so I needed something more adventurous but also beautiful and unique. Kayaking to all lighthouses in Croatia is a perfect idea as they are unique cultural heritage which is located on very remote islands in the open Adriatic Sea. My working season is from April till November so I decided to realize my expedition in the winter part of the year.
Two winters I postponed my expedition but finally in the winter of 2019, I've started kayaking to all lighthouses. Original idea was to kayak the circle route from Split all around the Adriatic Sea in the territory of Croatia which is around 2000 km. I was planning to realize my expedition in 3 months because of the unstable weather in the winter. Because of the start in late January, I had to divide my expedition into 3 separate expeditions. The main reason was the obligations to my job as an adventure guide. Instead of one big expedition, I realize my dream in two winters and become the only person in human history who paddled to all lighthouses in Croatia which were built in the 19th century with a kayak.
The first expedition was in Dalmatia, winter 2019. I made a circle route of 1070 km in Dalmatia, Croatia. I visited 32 lighthouses which were built on the mainland but also the small remote islands in the open sea. The only lighthouse which I didn't visit that winter in Dalmatia was Palagruža, the most remote island in Croatia which is divided with 44 km of open Sea from the Sušac island. That winter I've paddled for few minutes on 30 knots Bura wind with gusts up to 60 knots. I've also paddled for almost two hours on the open Sea with 20 knots sidewind and waves which were around 1,5 meters high with whitecaps. I postponed kayaking to Palagruža lighthouse because of few reasons. The main reason was 44 km paddling on the open sea without sight of the island and any support boat in case of emergency. Instead of Palagruža, I've paddled to island Vis from Sušac which is 40 km of open Sea so that was a perfect example for Palagruža. After I finish successfully Dalmatian expedition I was very proud of myself as I experienced solo winter sea kayaking in the Adriatic Sea which was an amazing adventure with lots of new experiences and getting lots of knowledge in the sea kayaking.
The second expedition was in the north part of the Adriatic Sea. I've started to kayak on the most south point of the Istria peninsula. My route had a shape of number 6 in which I made a circle in the Kvarner area and finish kayaking on the most northwest point of Istria where is the oldest working lighthouse in the Adriatic Sea, Savudrija lighthouse which is continuously working from 1818. This expedition lasted for 24 days.
This time I started in the middle of January 2020. I've paddle 480 km in 17 days. This expedition was less dangerous as I made a decision that I won't go kayaking on the Sea when the wind is stronger than 15 knots. The main reason for that decision was being responsible for solo kayaking and fewer worries for my family when I'm crossing some open Sea channels.
Third and final expedition of the Island Odyssey – Lighthouses in Croatia project was Palagruža island. This expedition was most challenging because I had to paddle from Split to Palagruža and back to Split. My route was 340 km long in which is around 300 km of the open sea. I was waiting for the Palagruža challenge for 15 months. At the end of May 2020, I finally made my dream come true. The first day was a test to stay in the kayak for 52 km. 20 knots wind in my back made me fail the test as I stopped on the lighthouse Ražanj after 3 hours of paddling. Two hours later the wind was easier, around 10-15 knots so I've continued to Stončica lighthouse. 2nd day of paddling was Stončica to Sušac island. It was 49 km of paddling in which is 40 km of the open sea. This day was so nice and calm that I took a swim in the middle of the channel.
The final part of paddling to Palagruža was a 44 km cross from Sušac to Palagruža island. I've started two hours later than I planned just because I didn't want to paddle on 2 meters waves on my side with whitecaps. As the wind drops down the first 3 hours the waves were around 1-1,5 meter on my right side. Later with time, the Sea was getting calmer. Island Palagruža is 100 meters above Sea level which means it's impossible to see it from the kayak on the distance of 44 km. From my experience with and normal (clear) visibility, an island that is 100 meters above sea level is possible to see from the kayak from the distance of 35 km.
For navigation, I didn't use GPS, either the compass. Nautic chart was my only navigation item, like in the time when the lighthouses were made. My navigation (bearing) was depending on the angle between Sušac lighthouse and police radar tower. 1,5 hours I was paddling in the direction of Italy where the horizon was just Sea. The moment I notice the lighthouse on Palagruža island was amazing. My bearing was correct but to that small point on my horizon, I had 6 more hours to paddle. After 7,5 hours I was on the most remote island in Croatia, Palagruža.
I was very happy and proud of myself on the way how paddling lasts shorter than I expected so getting back to Split (mainland) I decided to do in a long way. From Palagruža I didn't go back to Sušac island which is the closest island. This time I decide to kayak to Lastovo island which is 62 km open sea crossing. The wind was less than 10 knots from my left-back so it was quite calm. After 9,5 hours of paddling to Lastovo island, I finally get off the kayak. That was my longest sitting in the kayak and biggest crossing and distance to paddle in one day. When I came to Split and finish my kayaking expedition I become the most popular Croatian sea kayaker. Not all the people in Croatia know my name but a lot of people heard about the guy who visit all lighthouse in Croatia with a kayak.