ALDEBRAND PETRINA (Veli Lošinj, 1842 – Iquique, 1906)
The most famous captain of the golden era of the Lošinj Sailing Navy who, at the age of 24, became the youngest captain in the history of the Lošinj fleet.
The first time he ever boarded a ship was on the brigantine “Armonia” as an assistant cook. The ship was commanded by his father, Anton Petrina, who came from the renowned Veli Lošinj maritime family Petrina. After passing the test required to obtain a ship master's license, at the age of 24 he became commander of a Trieste schooner called Carita, which transported ammunition and weapons to Mexico for the benefit of Tsar Maximilian. On their return voyage they were caught by a hurricane near Cadiz. The ship sank together with its rich cargo and precious items intended for Tsar Maximilian's beloved residence called Miramar. Fortunately, Petrina and the crew managed to survive.
In 1877, at the beginning of the great sailing ship crisis, he assumed command over the sailing ship “Esempio” and tried to avoid the crisis by finding less sought-after markets. He sailed on the Esempio for 15 years, mainly between England and the Cape of Good Hope. After serving as commander on the steamship “Miramar”, in 1902 he became commander of the sailing ship “Contessa Hilda”, with which he achieved record speeds in the maritime world of that time, crossing the distance between Glasgow and Fremantle (Australia) in 106 days, and the distance between the South African Port of East London and the Chilean Port of Iquique in 56 days.
He demonstrated his extraordinary seafaring skills during his last voyage to Chile in 1906, when he set a record with Contessa Hilda for the fastest voyage ever made from an Adriatic port to Chile (from Trieste via the Cape of Good Hope to Taltal in 94 days). The Chilean newspapers of that time praised him as a hero and
he was awarded a Golden Cross of Merit with Crown by the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy for his long and successful maritime navigation.
He looked more like a weathered sailor than a captain. He was of medium built and had chunky cheeks, a thick moustache and mellow, watery eyes. The sailors loved him dearly, worshipped and praised him, for he sailed the oceans for 54 years. He could rarely be seen with a sextant in his hands because he let his officers deal with astronomy. During meals, he would ask for the chart to be brought to him, and then take a pencil and note the approximate position of the ship, close one eye and use a knife to mark the direction in which the ship would sail for the next 24 hours.
He was also extremely musically gifted and constantly played the harmonium, both in stormy and calm seas. He had a pleasant baritone voice and would often sing to his crew, as well as at captain charity concerts and balls held in East London and Rio de Janeiro.
Despite all the harsh and exhausting years spent on board various ships, he managed to be a caring father and husband. His wife, Marija Stuparić, to whom he was married for 32 years and had four children with, often accompanied him on his voyages, so two of their sons were born on board a ship. When he was about to celebrate his triple anniversary with his family and friends (50 years of navigation, 40 years of serving as captain and the 55th crossing of the Equator), Aldebrand Petrina died of a heart attack on board Contessa Hilda, just before entering the Port of Iquique, where he was later buried. According to the existing records, he spent only 13 months with his family on his native island.
Captain ANTONIO HRELJIĆ (Mali Lošinj, 20 July 1887 – Trieste, 3 October 1957)
He was known as the most beloved captain of the Kozulić family on whose ships he served as commander during his long career and also set a rare record. In 1936, despite strong winds and sea currents, he crossed the distance from New York to Boston on the ship “Saturnia” in only 17 hours and docked in the port without any help from a tugboat. All the local newspapers wrote about this great accomplishment.
He was 16 when he boarded a ship for the first time, the barque “Istro” commanded by his father, Captain Michele Hreljić. When he was 25, he became commander of the ship “Federica”. At the beginning of the 20th century, he revealed his skills and experience while commanding twin steamships “Vulcania” and “Saturnia”.
One of the most touching stories of the Lošinj maritime history took place under his command. One of his friends, also a captain, who had not seen his own brother in 40 years, was on board the ship under Captain Hreljić’s command. During the voyage, the said captain found out that his brother was on board the ship “Vulcania”, which “Saturnia” was to encounter on the same route while sailing the Atlantic. When they spotted their twin ship, Hreljić made a dangerous manoeuvre and got so close to the other ship that, in doing so, he defied the laws of physics according to which two masses will start attracting each other within a common mass. Instead, Vulcania stopped and the brothers exchanged greetings. Hreljić thus demonstrated rarely seen manoeuvring skills and his daring manoeuvre remains, even today, a topic of conversation among the sailors of Lošinj.
ANTUN (ANTONIO) BUDINIĆ also known as ANTIGO (Veli Lošinj, 18 March 1714 – Veli Lošinj, 5 November 1791)
The first famous captain from the Budinić family who rose to fame on account of the heroic maritime accomplishments he made while serving as captain in the Venetian Merchant Navy.
At the age of 27 he became captain of the merchant sailing ship (pulaka) “Madonna dello scalpello e S. Antonio di Padova”, which he commanded for 27 years (from 1742 to 1769). In 1753, sailing on the route from Zadar to Kotor, he saved the state ship “Adria” that had run aground. Thanks to Antigo's agility and courage, all the goods from the ship were saved, for which Governor Lorenzo Moro rewarded him with 4 ducats.
While transporting weapons, tools and food from Venice to Corfu on the same ship, on 15 September 1757 he had a confrontation with two pirate ships in the waters near Zakynthos. After six hours of fighting, severe crew losses and substantial damage, the pirates retreated.
After he stopped sailing, he dedicated himself to promoting his native region and was elected procurator of the municipalities of Cres, Osor and Krk.
At the age of 30 he married Margarita Bonicelli with whom he had seven children: five sons (all of them sailors) and two daughters. It is interesting that, before he got married, he had changed his family name from his father's, Guslomanić, to his mother’s, Budinić. He died in Veli Lošinj at the age of 77 and his remains are preserved in the presbytery of the Parish Church of St. Anthony the Abbot.
PETAR JAKOV LEVA (Veli Lošinj, 1769 – Veli Lošinj, 1879)
He was one of the most famous Lošinj captains because he was the first commander from the eastern Adriatic who sailed round the Cape Horn. He did so in 1834 on the brig (a type of sailing ship) “Ferdinando V Re D’Ungheria” for the benefit of the Austrian Lloyd. He was also the first sailor from the Austrian Empire to initiate trade relations between Trieste and Chile. He was equally successful when he participated in supplying the allied army during the Crimean War against Russia in 1854.
He was a big animal lover and was interested in zoology, so that in 1827 he was thrilled to transport a giraffe from Alexandria as a gift from the Viceroy of Egypt to the Emperor of Austria. Afterwards, he also transported several animals from the Andean Region of Chile to the Vienna Zoo, for which he received recognition from both the Emperor of Austria and the Viceroy of Egypt.
He was married twice. With his second wife, Marija Budinić, sister of Captain Marco Antonio Budinić, he had as many as ten children, five of which became captains. He was also known as the most elegant Lošinj captain as he was very handsome, tall and slender. He and his lovely wife were considered the most beautiful married couple of the Lošinj maritime community in the middle of the 19th century.
He comes from the renowned Veli Lošinj family Leva (De Leyva) that originated from the Spanish Galicia. In appreciation of their maritime, trade and war accomplishments, the eastern cape of the entrance into the port of Veli Lošinj, where the port light is situated, was named Punta Leva.
„EOLO“ AND CAPTAIN CELESTIN ANTUN IVANČIĆ
Captain Celestin Antun Ivančić (? – 1878), born in Mali Lošinj, started sailing already as a boy. He sailed for more than 30 years, but none of his voyages can compare to the heroic endeavour he performed in 1813 with the Austrian brigantine “Eolo”. Loaded with coal, he and 12 crew members headed for Trieste from Cardiff, and during their voyage received word that a war between France and Austria had started. Near the island of Dugi Otok the ship and its crew were captured by three French war ships and escorted to Venice, from which it headed for the French port of Toulon. Near the island of Lastovo, Captain Ivančić and what was left of his crew took advantage of a stormy night, attacked the armed French guards and captured them barehanded. They were also helped by the deck master and managed to capture a French officer staying in the captain’s cabin. The next day the Captain sailed into the Dubrovnik’s port of Gruž, where he turned over the captured Frenchmen and returned to Trieste. For this act he was given the greatest award for maritime merits - the honorary silk flag with the Emperor’s eagle and the inscription Fortitudini Navali (Maritime Courage). Ivančić is the first and only Austrian Navy seafarer who received this award.
The brave captain lost his life in 1878 on the Lošinj sailing ship “Proserpina” that disappeared during the storm in the middle of the Atlantic, sailing from New York to Bordeaux. The books of the Parish Church of St. Barbara in Kostrena recorded, in an old Croatian coastal jargon, only the words “...zgubil se” (...he got lost).