Paddling across Atlantic
It was a few years ago when Croatian war veterans Werner Ilic and Martin Cruickshank and his sister tried to cross the Atlantic. But bad weather started, so they had to return to the same point five times. After crossing two-thirds of the ocean, the storm broke their rudder and they could no longer steer the boat.
“This is not good,” the duo thought, and then a wave came over them, filling the ship with sea that flooded their electronics. There was no other option, they had to give up so they called for help to the nearest ship which arrived in 7.5 hours and picked them up. Their ship, according to the rules of the sailors, was sunk not to disturb other ships floating in the Atlantic. They failed, but the desire for this feat remained alive.
Meeting G2 heard this story directly from Werner Ilić, a Croatian war veteran who has now embarked on a new adventure with the aforementioned Scotsman Martin Cruickshank.
“So far, representatives of only 31 nations have crossed the Atlantic Ocean, and Croatia is not among them. It was a thorn in Martin’s side so he called me:
“Let’s go, Werner, across the Atlantic in January!” We’ve been preparing for 11 months and now we’re moving, “Werner laughs. They have started this exhausting journey with Martin last Saturday, on January 15. The date is symbolic.
They left Velika Gorica for Spain, where they are expected to board on January 22. They want to start rowing from the island of Gran Canaria around January 25, all the way to the northern part of Africa where they hope to catch the current that will take them to the Caribbean Sea. Their ultimate goal is the Martinique island in the Caribbean.
“If we were going on a straight line, we are burning about 6,500 kilometers, but no one is paddling on a straight line, because there are waves, so the trip will be a little longer. We calculate that we will cover the whole trip in 90 days, maybe 10 days more or less. And then we will put our holy red-white-blue flag with the coat of arms on the mainland. That flag is built in blood, tears and suffering. We will unfurl our flag to the pride of our people” Werner told us.
These two veterans of the Homeland War will dare to go on an extreme adventure, for which they have been preparing for a long time, thinking of the smallest details. They are confident of success.
“This will be a carbon-free venture, completely green, because we have to take care of the environment and Mother Nature,” says our interlocutor. And these are exactly two important messages sent by this brave duo – care for the environment and patriotism.
“Patriotism is a privilege that should be lived every day, not only when it suits us. We also want to send a message to Croatian veterans and soldiers of the elderly population that it is never too late to make dreams come true! Our country was created when many told us that it is impossible to have our own army, homeland, democracy. This is a feat, but no matter how difficult it may sound, it has never happened that a Croatian soldier or defender did not do his job, so we will succeed, “Werner tells us, literally bursting with joy and enthusiasm.
“When you run into a seven-meter wave, you should do it without panic. When a storm strikes that lasts a day, two or three, you have to stay calm because after a storm the sun always comes. It has to come, and then you have to breathe and move on”, says Werner.
He is not afraid of a back pain, but is looking forward to success and says: “We have become a bit of a nation that is described through Croatian grief and depression. But we believe that for one bad news we certainly have nine good ones and we have to start looking at it that way. We are champions, and we will prove it once again! “, concludes Ilić!
Written by: Katarina Dimitrijević Hrnjkaš (Meeting G2)