SET THE SAIL For a
"Just like when you saw the first swallows after a long, long winter - that's how I felt when I saw your beautiful sailboats in the harbour."
This is what a waitress from Cavtat told us after three years of war. And she cried. With joy...
Sailing for a unique project
"Mirno More" is no longer just the greeting of sailors of Dalmatia (meaning: "peaceful sea"), but also synonymous with the largest international sailing project for socially disadvantaged children and young people -
the “Mirno More Peace Fleet".
In 1994, the Austrian media reported on the war in the Balkans for the third year in a row. Large regions of the country were destroyed. The tourism and with it also the sailing or sailing holidays in the great regions had come to a standstill. Christian Winkler, then 35, had worked in Murter during Yugoslavian times - but he lost his job in 1994.
His contact with the then numerous Bosnian refugee families in Vienna gave him the idea of setting up a reconciliation project for and with children from the various regions of former Yugoslavia. And so the first “Peace Fleet Mirno More" set sail in 1994 - with three sailing boats and 17 Croatian, Bosnian-Herzegovinian, and Serbian children. A single Austrian boy was also on board. "Together on one boat" was the motto, and the children took the opportunity to throw resentment and prejudice overboard on those days on the sailing boat.
A socio-educational week at sea for children and young people
from over 30 nations
The project began as an initiative of Austrian private individuals to provide traumatised children from the war zones of former Yugoslavia a chance to forget their often dreary everyday lives while sailing. The aim was and is to promote tolerance, inclusion, and peaceful coexistence. Currently, up to 1000 disadvantaged young people from over 30 countries participate on board each year in this sailing holiday. During the week of sailing, participants learn how to deal with each other peacefully and make friendships across ethnic and social borders. And all this in a relaxed environment on a sailboat.
Since 1994, the project of this peaceful sailing holiday has been growing and developing continuously. The Peace Fleet, now sails twice a year in Croatia, thus enabling socially and economically disadvantaged children and young people as well as mentally or physically handicapped adults to take part in a week of sailing experience with a socio-educational background. The Peace Fleet is now the world's largest social education sailing project for disadvantaged children and young people. In 2010 the project was honoured by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in a personal reception.
In the founding year, 17 children participated on three sailboats, since 2008 more than 950 international participants have been sailing through Dalmatian waters on approximately 100 sailboats for more peace and tolerance. Every year, the anticipation of the entirely voluntary members of the organising team is unbearable, because the beaming eyes of the children make all the preparations and all the hard work throughout the year worthwhile.