A Pearl from Above

Prvić, the island at the end of summer, the pearl of Šibenik archipelago.

We’ve told you everything about the amazing International Festival Creative Days of Faust Vrančić that happened on the first weekend in October on this peach of an island (if you haven’t yet checked it out, do it now – it’s fun, we promise) … we made kites with kids, we flew all sorts of flying monsters, we partied and laughed and talked deep into the starry nights – and, being a KAP club, minded our core business, kite aerial photography.

See two trilobite kites flying by the bell tower?

Prvić is incredibly beautiful from the air, and Kite aerial photography is perfect for capturing this pristine natural gem, sprinkled with old stone houses, churches, monuments, and sheltered harbors. A kite does not disturb that unique stillness of the Adriatic, a kite does not frighten animals, annoy people, crash the zen of the place.

The sheltered harbor of Prvić Luka. Notice a kite flying on the lower right, in front of the belltower.

Prvić is beautiful, its winds not so much. One reason for the winds being rather unsuitable for kite flying is that the smart people of Prvić built their town and the port in a sheltered bay, duh … So Prvić Luka, one of the two towns on the island, is not really a perfect kite flying place.

Vitković hill, the highest point on the island with its mighty 78 meters, is blocking the bora wind from the northeast and east (which is good, bora is (in)famously strong and gusty). The maestral from the west gets caught first in Donja Banda peninsula that disturbs it, and then it crashes into Viković, rises and creates a huge roll – a kite trying to rise with maestral encounters at least three turbulent layers and areas of counter wind (a “hole” where the kite suddenly loses lift). With the church tower and those tall cypress trees just waiting to eat the kite it’s quite exhilarating to get it high enough, safely bringing the camera above the island.

A trilobite kite above Prvić Luka

Jugo, the southern wind, brings rain, so it’s not really popular here. The one wind left, the north-by-northwesterner, is probably the least-hassle one, but with it the geography comes into play – it’s blowing more or less parallel to the coast, and the main square of Prvić Luka is wide along the sea, but narrow away from it. There is very little space; with the kite dancing and probing the wind layers the room for any prompt and/or substantial adjustment / rescue is small – too small for comfort.

Plus, it’s a festival – and the KAP kite has to navigate through many kite lines with huge inflatables on them (like the trilobite in the photo above), not caring one bit about the little Rokkaku climbing through.

Vodice and Tribunj on the mainland, seen over Vitković hill.

It’s actually interesting too see how different types of kites tackle the wind differently. In principle the kite lines should be parallel – after all, there is only one wind blowing in only one direction for all the kites, right? Well – no. The design of a kite does influence its behaviour in the air (though admittedly mainly in the vertical direction; for example a delta flies higher than a Rokkaku in the same conditions, and moving the point of attachment of the kite line to the bridle can make it fly higher or lower), but there are two main reasons for the kite lines being all over the place on a festival.

One is that no kite is made absolutely perfect. A bit heavier on the left, the ‘middle’ a bit off center, the fabric a little more stretched here than there – and the kite goes happily sideways. The other is that no wind is perfect, constant, laminar; wind is an unpredictable, turbulent mess that looks at us trying to compute it with utter disregard. Turbulence is one of the great unsolved problems in physics; if you manage to solve those darn Navier-Stokes partial differential equations describing the wind, you will get a million dollars and an eternal glory.

Turbulent layers, counterflows, wicked dance of the wind – they all conspire against a hapless kite aerial photographer; one does not know where to point the camera, as the direction of the wind at different heights can be very different … if the kite even reaches those heights and doesn’t get ensnared by those terrible kite-eating trees …

But then the kite breaks through the last turbulent layer and finally enters the smooth flow of the gentle Adriatic wind, 200 meters above the island, and a true paradise opens before the camera.

Šibenik archipelago is a wonderland of turquoise sea, blue sky, and hundreds of islands, some green with pines, figs, almonds, olive trees and grapevine, some white of stone; with old towns and villages chock-full of art history, history and archaeology.

Prvić Luka, Tijat island on the left with Kaprije behind it, Logorun hiding behind the kite line, Murter, and Kornati national park in the distance

Hundreds of islands are composing the idyllic archipelago. Some are quite large, some tiny; some dwell close to the mainland, some jut far out to the middle of the Adriatic. Žirje, Kaprije, Kakanj, Zmajan, Obonjan, Tijat, Zlarin, Logorun … and Prvić the Pearl among them.

Prvić has the word “prvi”, the first, in its name, and perhaps it got named after the purported Old Croatian god of spring, Prvin (so the Island at the End of Summer is also an Island of Eternal Spring). Its green hilly nature, its narrow winding streets, old stone houses, its serene ports and pristine beaches are beyond the usual beauty of the Adriatic – and so the whole island, the cultural and historic ensemble of Prvić island, is deservedly under protection of the Ministry of Culture of Croatia.

High above the eternal quarrel between the wind and the island a kite rests silently on the smooth flow of the Adriatic air, absorbing the immense views of the island and the archipelago. It gently sways (which is good, otherwise all the photos would be exactly alike), enjoying itself, dreamy and full of zen that only an October in Dalmatia can muster.

When we pull the kite down and check the camera – we never know what we got, and a lot of things can happen up there – there are gasps of two flavours: those of excitement and sheer awe, and those of envy. We see what the kite saw, but only as pixels, not with our own eyes; a simulacrum, not reality. Us humans, all the ingenious machines notwithstanding, still can’t fly …

Well, maybe we don’t have wings and will never grow them. But we have a second-best thing: kites. Those gentle giants fly up there with the birds and generously bring us, earth bound misfits, the views that evolution tried to withhold.

Thank you 🙂

Kite aerial photos shot under supervision of master KAPer Viktor, with Nikon P330 on The Original Blue Rokkaku made by Janez Vizjak of Dr.Agon kites.

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