Wednesday, 7 July 2021

Ribafish Returns for RokOtok as the Father and Son Love Story Continues

 July 7, 2021 - One of the most moving stories about a father's promise to his son adds a new chapter to its pages, after a year on hiatus from the pandemic. ''Ribafish'' has started in Brodarica the second stage of the heartwarming project RokOtok, in memory of his son Rok.

After last year's break caused by the pandemic, this weekend started the second phase of the famous praiseworthy project RokOtok, a cheerful summer swimming and educational marathon Domagoj Jakopović Ribafish launched two years ago in memory of his prematurely deceased son Rok. ''Ribafish'' decided to fulfill the promise he made to Rok: that he would visit all 50 Croatian inhabited islands. But he also fulfills the promise he made to himself that he would swim to all our islands and hang out with the children and educate them.

"When I swim, he is with me and it's easier that way. RokOtok is dedicated to my son Rok and when the body can no longer and when the brain can no longer, there are emotions, I swim for him. I promised him that we would visit all 50 islands together and with this, I am trying to fulfill that promise", said Domagoj Jakopović Ribafish on Saturday, a few moments before the start of the second stage of the RokOtok project.

ribafish-2.jpg

Domagoj Japoković, better known as ''Ribafish'', last Saturday in Brodarica before starting the second stage of the RokOtok. (Dusko Jaramaz/PIXSELL)

RokOtok received an award from the Ministry of the Sea, Transport, and Infrastructure for its contribution to the promotion of maritime culture, and was named the most beautiful story of the summer of 2019. This year, the story goes further. The second of the three phases of the project began on July 3 at 9 a.m. with departure from Brodarica for the island of Krapanj. This year's planned stage will be about 60 kilometers long, will connect 17 islands, and finally end on July 27 at 6 pm in Ugljan. After reaching the island, Ribafish will convey to large and small residents of the islands of Šibenik-Knin and Zadar County why it is important to protect nature and the environment, will organize beach cleaning, and an interactive and stimulating search for "treasure". Educational games in nature have also been designed to raise awareness of the problem of spending too much time in front of screens and mobile phones.

When this project was launched two years ago, not so many positive reactions were expected at the locations it swam to. In the first phase, he swam all the planned sections in the length of a hundred kilometers and connected 17 islands. On some of these islands, he was not even experienced, and somewhere he was greeted like a rock star.

In the first strokes of this year's route, Ribafish was accompanied by Dubravko Dudo Šimenc, a celebrated member of the water polo team, in a dual role. Not only are they friends, but Šimenc was also there as a representative of the Croatian Tourist Board.

The first two stages of this year's venture were organized in partnership with the associations "Tatavaka" and "Together for Krapanj" which, together with the City of Šibenik and island tourist boards, launched the initiative "For an archipelago without plastic". The successful project "Zlarin without plastic" is spreading to other islands, and Domagoj Jakopović Ribafish becomes an ambassador and supporter of this initiative.

ribafish-1.jpg

The section from Brodarica to Krapanj with Ribafish was swum by about sixty people, and about 120 kids gathered at the reception on the beach in front of the Spongiola Hotel. (Dusko Jaramaz/PIXSELL)

At dawn, Ribafish from Krapanj continued towards Zlarin in the company of Tonći Lokas, and upon arrival in Zlarin, they were greeted by about seventy children. On the third day, Ribafish swam to the island of Prvić, the island of the visionary Faust Vrančić, where he was greeted by about fifty children, and on Tuesday he swam a very demanding section from Prvić to Kaprije.

Ribafish invites all residents of the islands of the Šibenik and Zadar archipelagos to join it this summer in another edition of RokOtok, but also to adhere to the epidemiological measures set by the Croatian Civil Protection Headquarters. He tells everyone to stay in nature as much as possible, to protect it and not to further "injure" the only planet that allows us blue skies, green grass, clear water, and fresh air.

The second stage of the #RokOtok project was supported by many sponsors, the Zadar County, and the Croatian National Tourist Board. More information about the #Rokotok project, plans, and activities, the second stage, or volunteering and promotion, can be found on the official website of the association.

Source: Turističke priče

 For more, follow our lifestyle section.

Wednesday, 14 April 2021

Support RokOtok Project by Purchasing Towels from The Fosen Blue Collection Line

April 14, 2021 - The beautiful towels from the Fosen Blue Collection line by the RokOtok project will connect children with seventeen Croatian islands! 

Ribafish reports, by purchasing this special line of towels in Konzum stores throughout Croatia, you are helping the success of a summer educational adventure that was designed together with the Let's Swim and Learn campaign in cooperation with Wib Solutions, a company that creates socially useful business projects.

The new summer adventure begins on July 3, when a cheerful and brave team from Brodarica will set off for the seventeen new inhabited islands of Šibenik and Zadar archipelagos. The plan is to connect one island and the coast with your hands, educate children about medicinal Mediterranean plants, clean the beaches, play, laugh, swim and learn together.

"Projects like RokOtok are a slow return to life for me. Through swimming, we promote sports and a healthier life, in lectures we talk about the importance of ecology, caring for the environment, the importance of talking to children and parents, and we end it with organized games, cleaning the beaches and distributing gifts. Funds from the sale of the towel line will be distributed to materials for cleaning the beaches, arranging them, buying adequate gifts such as an interactive map - coloring books of Croatian islands for all participants and donations to the needy," said Domagoj Jakopović Ribafish.

The pastel blue, pink, green, purple, and white shades of the Swim and Learn towel line come in three attractive sizes, are made of pure cotton, and remind us every day of togetherness, helping each other, and loving children. Funds raised by the purchase of towels, which can be found in Super and Maxi Konzum stores throughout Croatia from April 1, will be donated to the RokOtok Association for support in swimming around the island and continuing to hold children's educational and environmental workshops on the beaches of our beautiful coast.

"Encouraged by the very idea of ​​the RokOtok association, their wonderful projects aimed at the healthy and active development of children through sports, education, and ecology, we set out to design this campaign. I believe that together we will help in their further activities in another, for all of us a very challenging year. 

The RokOtok Association was founded in 2019 by Domagoj Jakopović Ribafish with the aim of promoting a healthy and active life for children and preserving the Croatian coast and islands. During the first summer, 35 members of the Association swam to 17 Croatian islands and organized 18 educational lectures attended by more than 2,000 children and parents. This praiseworthy story was then declared the most beautiful story of the summer. Total Croatia News has been following this undertaking with numerous stories, including doing an amazing interview with Domagoj two years ago. In 2020, the project was on hold because of the pandemic, so we're looking forward to following it again this year!

It is nice to know that Konzum has also recognized the one-year efforts of the Cleaning Bears team to make nature cleaner. So, until May 5, you donate one kuna to each purchased ecological bag to help in further development and operation, and you will also receive a kuna for every purchase with it.

“So, it's a win-win situation in four counties - we will connect forests, sea, and rivers! Join us now or better yet, start the action in your place. Clean, clean! #jednamanje."

For more about ecology in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Tuesday, 11 February 2020

RokOtok 2020 Plan for Swimming Between Croatian Islands Published

February 11, 2020 - One of the most amazing projects in Croatia in 2019 is to be continued as RokOtok 2020, just like Domagoj Jakopović Ribafish announced after successfully finishing the first leg of his mission.

We followed Domagoj's story last summer, and we encourage you to read more about it if you missed it before. To summarise, Domagoj Jakopović Ribafish, a Croatian blogger and online personality decided to swim between the 50 inhabited islands in Croatia, in order to commemorate the life of his beloved son Rok who passed away tragically at the age of 12 (and who was in love with the Croatian Adriatic sea and the islands).

In 2019, Ribafish managed to connect the 17th southernmost Croatian inhabited islands by swimming. After this accomplishment, he went on to talk about the RokOtok project in schools and libraries all over Croatia and promote his project with various events (and also host a TV cooking show). Domagoj received an award given by the Ministry of Maritime Affairs,Traffic, and Infrastructure, for his promotion of maritime culture. 

And now, Domagoj is getting ready for this year's "season" of RokOtok 2020: swimming between 17 more inhabited islands in Croatia. Domagoj announced on his Facebook page that the route has been finalised, the boat has been rented, the crew is almost completely finalised too, he has supposedly hit the gym in order to get ready... Here's the route for RokOtok 2020:

 

July 5: Brodarica – Krapanj (port) – 0.2 nautical miles – 370 m

The welcome on Krapanj is expected at 10 am, and 2 hours are planned to be spent with the children (same goes to all other islands) 

July 6: Krapanj (Western Port) – Zlarin (Bay Vodena) – 1.7 nm – 3148m

Welcome on Zlarin at 10am

July 7: Zlarin (Vela Oštrica) – Prvić (Lovrenčevića Cape) – 1.5nm – 2778m

Welcome on Prvić at 10am

July 8: Zlarin – Kaprije 4,5 nm. – 8334m

Welcome on Kaprije at 6pm

 

Rest day

 

July 10: Kaprije (SE entrance to the Channel) – Žirje (Cape Muna) – 1,7nm – 3148m

Welcome on Žirje at 10am

July 11: Kaprije – Murter 2,8nm – 5185m

Welcome on Murter at 10am

Rest day

 

July 13: Murter – Vrgada 2,3 nm – 4259m

Welcome on Vrgada at 10am 

July 14: Vrgada – Pašman 2,2 nm – 4074m

Welcome on Pašman at 10am

 

Rest day

 

July 16: Pašman (Artina) – Ugljan (Cape Zaglav) – 0,1nm – 200m

Welcome on Ugljan (Kukljica) at 10am 

July 17: Ugljan (Kali) – Ošljak – 0,5nm – 926m

Welcome on Ošljak at 10am

 

Rest day

 

July 19: Ugljan (Northern Cape) – Rivanj – 0,2 nm – 380m

Welcome on Rivanj at 10am 

July 20: Rivanj – Sestrunj – 0,4nm – 750m

Welcome on Sestrunj at 10am  

July 21: Sestrunj – Zverinac – 1,3nm – 2407m

Welcome on Zverinac at 10am  

July 22: Ugljan – Iž (next to Dumboka bay) – 1,7 nm – 3148m

Welcome on Iž at 10am   

July 23: Iž – Rava – 0,9nm – 1670m

Welcome on Rava at 10am  

 

Rest day

 

July 25: Rava – Dugi Otok – 0,4nm – 750m

Welcome on Dugi Otok (Veli Rat) at 10am 

July 26: Welcome in Sali at 6 pm 

July 27 Dugi Otok – Kornat – 1,25nm – 2315m

Welcome at 10am

 

Rest day

 

29.07. Ošljak – Ugljan (Preko) – 0,5nm – 926m

Welcome at 6pm

 

 

(It's still not known if Ribafish's new companion, the adorable Dživo, will be joining him on the boat this year. We'll report when that crucial info becomes available.)

Monday, 12 August 2019

Rokotok 2019: Domagoj Jakopović Ribafish on Croatia's Most Heartwarming Project

August 12, 2019 - It is, quite simply, the most heartwarming project in 2019. TCN catches up with Domagoj 'Ribafish' Jakopovic after the successful completion of Rokotok 2019.

He was the 48-year-old guy who made this 50-year-old guy cry.

An inspiration for thousands of kids on Croatia's islands this summer. And he is only just starting. 

rokotok-2019 (3).JPG

The tragic and premature loss of his beloved 12-year-old son Rok caused pain which is unimaginable to any parent, but rather than wallow in self-pity, Domagoj 'Ribafish Jakopovic decided to try and turn his tragedy into something positive, while honouring a promise he made to his son. 

Not having the money to take him to Disneyland, Ribafish promised Rok that they would visit all 50 of Croatia's inhabited islands together. At the time of his untimely death, father and son had visited just 8 of them. 

rokotok-2019.jpg

Having scattered Rok's ashes near their favourite beach so that Rok was with him in the Adriatic, Ribafish came up with a plan to fulfil his promise. With Rok beside him in the Adriatic, he would swim between all 50 islands over three summers, the first leg this year from Kolocep to Ciovo. On every island, he would meet local children and talk to them on the importance of nature, ecology, spending time as a family. On each island there was a treasure hunt, and each child promised to read the free gift of Ribafish's book with their parents on his conversations with Rok. You can learn more about the project in my initial article on Rokotok 2019.

It is now a couple of weeks since Ribafish completed the first stage by swimming to Ciovo. Now a little more rested and back in his Zagreb apartment, he kindly agreed to another TCN interview with his thoughts on RokOtok 2019, as well as looking ahead to RokOtok 2020.

rokotok-2019 (8).JPG

  1. It has been a few days since you completed RokOtok 2019, for which congratulations. You have had a few days to reflect on your achievement. How do you feel and was the experience different to your expectations?

Thank you very much, I'm very grateful to everyone who saw this as something nice and valuable, so they followed our journey, as you did. It's difficult to do anything without the coverage of the good journalists... I'm sitting in my apartment in Zagreb, waiting to have an MRI of my shoulder to see how it can be fixed, writing reports for our sponsors, preparing a press conference... I miss the swimming, the adrenaline, the effort, the joy, and the children. And no matter how hard and gruelling it was, the whole thing on the boat and around it got under our skin. I'd love to rest, but I need to find another job and prepare the second season of the #RokOtok project.

rokotok-2019 (9).JPG

  1. How do you even prepare mentally and physically for something like RokOtok?

There were two options in my head: the first one was to continue working for 20 hours a day and withdraw into the alcochol and my depression, and destroy completely myself and everyone around me. The other option was to attempt doing something good for other people. I decided to do the second thing, so I quit my job and took on a fight with bureaucracy, sponsors and people overall. I didn't really have time to think about the physical preparations, but in the last 30 years I've tried either swimming or going to the gym every morning before work. Succesfully, more or less?

rokotok-2019 (15).JPG

  1. There were so many highlights. Can you pick out a few special moments?

Three days before we need to get going towards Dubrovnik we started getting together the gifts for children, the flags, the swimsuit, and the final documents. Nobody in the team is sleeping anymore. Everything is late, we can't seem to stand on our feet - even on glassy ones. But there are no feet whatsoever, the project is up in the air, there are people wishing the project would fail just so they could tell everyone later "I knew it, I told them, if only they listened to me..."

rokotok-2019 (12).JPG

But, we get 500 kilos of gifts and boxes into the van and start towards Dubrovnik. And we forget that we need to pass the border, without any paperwork for the gifts. So, every customs officer can stop us and give us a hard time, if she or he is having a bad day.. Somehow we pass the border, jumping with joy, and I remember I don't have - the swimming trunks. We run, we buy them, get stuff out of the van, into the boat, the boat is late, we can't sleep because we're so nervous, in the morning there are 10 TV stations, 50 journalists, I put on the wrong t-shirt, don't put on the vaseline, we get going 10 minutes before the police arrive... But, we get going.

rokotok-2019 (11).JPG

So, there, that second, after three months since I came up with the idea until the start of the project that came by in a trance-like state, that was the highlight of everything. We did it, man, we started, we started something in Croatia in three months, without being in a political party, without a single kuna to our name, something positive and kind... And then things really started, 2000 children on 17 islands, with the culmination on Čiovo, where there were 300 people, more than when the national football champion comes to Čiovo!

rokotok-2019 (16).JPG

  1. What was the hardest part and why?

Physically, the pain in my shoulder, while we were beaten by 3,5-meter high waves, the wind was blowing at 26 knots and there was a nasty current between Mljet and Korčula. But, swimming for 6 hours with rests, the doctor, the lifeguard, the captain and the rest of the crew - you can do anything! Mentally, the desperation when you realize that people don't do their jobs, which makes you helpless. All that, until other, wonderful people appear and everything somehow manages to fall into place...

rokotok-2019 (5).JPG

  1. You touched and inspired thousands of people along the way (including me!). Can you tell us a little about the little event you did with local kids on each island. What was your feedback from them?

When the idea of RokOtok first appeared, I thought that the kids of around ten years old would come to the beach to meet me, so I came up with the story for that age group. But already on the second island I saw that parents with toddlers, 1 or 2-year-olds came, as well as some 15- or 16- year old teenagers - some of them had more impressive beards than I have! And it was difficult to teach them all, explain to them everything I wanted to such a diverse group, so that was quite a mix. I have experience teaching, I was both an elementary and the high-school teacher for four years, but this was really demanding.

rokotok-2019 (7).JPG

Luckily, mostly everyone laughed, participated in discussions of ecology, why we can't throw trash into the sea, how to maintain our islands, why it's difficult to live on the islands during the winter, how to improve connectivity, which are the biggest and the highest Croatian islands, why you should talk to your parents, how to play in the nature more and better, why you should read... But the best part was when we went on the treasure hunt. I can talk for hours, but still this was the best of everything. In the end, we'd all hug, take photos, I'd sign their books and they made me promise I'd come back to their island one day.

rokotok-2019 (2).JPG

  1. RokOtok 2020 is almost a year away. How will you prepare for that? There must be a lot of bureaucracy and planning.

First I need to have that surgery on my shoulder, recover and then start swimming. Trust me, I'm a bit tired now. Having an association (udruga) in Croatia is not an easy thing. You need to have about a dozen people who will dedicate a lot of their time to it, and do a very good job, because the bureaucracy here can't wait for you to make a mistake so they can take your money. I hope that this year we'll get started a lot stronger, tougher, come up with better games for the children on our events, put together even better gifts, and I might even write a book describing the first part of my journey. I think it will make people laugh a lot...

rokotok-2019 (1).JPG

  1. And finally, RokOtok was inspired by the tragic loss of your son and your promise to take him to all 50 of Croatia's inhabited islands. What do you think he would have said to his dad after he reached island 17, Čiovo, the last part of the first year of this amazing 3-year project?

"Dad, I'm hungry..." Just kidding. I don't know. If I was a psychic, I'd be playing the lottery. Rok was a wonderful kid, typical for his age, he knew what he wanted and if he were here now I wouldn't be swimming around the islands, rather I'd be conquering two or three with him, during our days of vacation together. I don't know how he'd be developing, but I think he would love physics and chemistry, he'd be reading a lot and we'd spend the vacations happily, travelling around with smiles. I don't know what he would say about this, but I hope he's proud now and that he's bragging around. It's misguided to talk about that, since I miss him so much, and since I'd give a million islands to have him around for one more minute, so I can hug him again.

rokotok-2019 (14).JPG

It's irrelevant, my dear Paul, completely irrelevant... You need to live on, although one half of you fights it and just wants to give up. It's a horrible feeling, and that's why I can't wait for the new RokOtok 2020, to pick up where I left off and talk to children how important it is to love life and each other, learn, travel and explore. Hold your fingers crossed for us, that we manage to do everything on time, get everything together both financially and organisationally, that we have a hundred people swimming and 5000 people welcoming us. That'd be awesome. Yes, let's have a beer, I owe you one!

Learn more about the RokOtok project on the official website and please contact them if you would like to financially support the most heartwarming project in Croatia as Ribafish prepares for RokOtok 2020. 

You can also follow the latest on Facebook.

And, in case you missed it (or want to watch it again), it was a great honour to catch up with Ribafish last month as RokOtok hit Jelsa. It remains my favourite TCN interview ever. 

Monday, 12 August 2019

RokOtok 2019: Domagoj Jakopović Ribafish o Najpozitivnijem Projektu Godine

13. kolovoz 2019 - Radi se, vrlo jednostavno, o najdirljivijem projektu 2019. godine u Hrvatskoj. TCN ponovno je razgovarao s Domagojem Jakopovićem Ribafishom, nakon uspješnog završetka projekta RokOtok 2019.

On je četrdesetosmogodišnjak koji je rasplakao ovog pedesetogodišnjaka.

Inspiracija tisućama djece na hrvatskim otocima ovoga ljeta. A tek je počeo.

rokotok-2019 (3).JPG

Tragična i preuranjena smrt njegovog voljenog sina Roka u 12. godini njegovog života izazvala je bol koju niti jedan roditelj ne želi niti zamisliti, ali umjesto da se utapa u samosažaljenju, Ribafish je odlučio pokušati pretvoriti ovu tragediju u nešto pozitivno, a istovremeno održati obećanje koji je dao sinu.

Budući da nije imao novca da ga odvede u Disneyland, Ribafish je obećao Roku da će zajedno posjetiti svih 50 hrvatskih naseljenih otoka. U trenutku Rokove prerane smrti, otac i sin "osvojili" su ih samo 8.

rokotok-2019.jpg

Nakon što je rasuo Rokov pepeo uz njihovu omiljenu plažu, tako da je Rok s njim stalno u Jadranskom moru, Ribafish je smislio plan kako održati svoje obećanje. Uz Roka s njim u moru, plivat će od jednog do drugog naseljenog otoka u Hrvatskoj, kroz tri ljeta, a prva je etapa bila ove godine od Koločepa do Čiova. Na svakom otoku susreo se s domaćom djecom, razgovarao s njima o važnosti prirode, ekologiji, provođenju vremena sa svojom obitelji. Na svakom otoku bio je organiziran i lov na blago, a svako je dijete obećalo da će sa svojim roditeljima pročitati poklon koji su dobili od Ribafisha - njegovu knjigu o razgovorima s Rokom. Saznajte više o projektu u mom prvom članku (na engleskom jeziku) o projektu RokOtok 2019.

Prije desetak dana završio je posljednju etapu ove godine doplivavši do Čiova, Domagoj se odmara u svom zagrebačkom stanu. Pristao je za TCN podijeliti svoje misli i dojmove s RokOtoka 2019, kao i planove za RokOtok 2020.

rokotok-2019 (8).JPG

  1. Prošlo je nekoliko dana otkako si završio RokOtok 2019, na čemu ti iskreno čestitam. Imao si par dana da razmisliš o tom uspjehu. Kako se osjećaš, je li ovo iskustvo bilo u skladu s tvojim očekivanjima, ili ipak drukčije?

Hvala ti puno, hvala svim ljudima koji su shvatili ovo kao nešto vrijedno i lijepo i to popratili poput tebe. Bez kvalitetnih novinara je danas teško išta pošteno napraviti... Sjedim u stanu u Zagrebu, čekam magnetsku rezonancu da vidim kako mi se može popraviti rame, pišem izvještaje za sponzore, pripremam press konferenciju... I fali mi plivanje, adrenalin, napor, veselje i djeca. Koliko god teško i naporno bilo, nekako nam se sve to na brodu i oko njega uvuklo pod kožu. Htio bih se odmarati, ali moram naći novi posao i pripremiti drugu sezonu projekta #rokotok.

rokotok-2019 (9).JPG

  1. Kako se uopće čovjek mentalno i fizički pripremi za nešto poput RokOtoka?

U glavi su mi postojale dvije opcije: prva je bila da nastavim raditi 20 sati dnevno i povučem se u alkohol i depresiju te uništim do kraja i sebe i sve oko mene. Druga je bila da pokušam napraviti nešto dobro za druge ljude. Odlučio sam se za ovo drugo, dao otkaz i krenuo u borbu s birokracijom, sponzorima, ljudima općenito. Na fizičku pripremu nisam stigao misliti, ali zadnjih 30 godina pokušavam ili plivati ili ići u teretanu svako jutro prije posla. Manje-više?

rokotok-2019 (15).JPG

  1. Čini se da je bilo toliko sjajnih događaja. Možeš li ti istaknuti nekoliko posebnih trenutaka?

Tri dana prije polaska krećemo sa skupljanjem poklona za djecu, zastava, plivačkog odijela i zadnjih dokumenata. Više se ne spava. Sve kasni i nikako da postavimo sve na svoje noge. Makar i staklene. Ali nema nogu, projekt je u zraku, neki ljudi žele da projekt propadne samo da mogu poslije govoriti „Znao sam ja, lijepo sam im govorio, da se mene pitalo...“.

rokotok-2019 (12).JPG

Ali trpamo 500 kila kutija u kombi i krećemo prema Dubrovniku. I zaboravimo da moramo prijeći granicu bez papira za poklone. Dakle, svaki carinik nas može zaustaviti i zezati, ako ima loš dan... Nekako prolazimo granicu, skačemo od sreće, sjedamo na ručak, a ja se sjetim da nemam – kupaće gaće. Trčimo, kupujemo, istovarujemo, brod kasni, ukrcavamo, ne spavamo od nervoze, ujutro dolazi deset televizija i pedeset novinara, ja oblačim krivu majicu, ne namažem se vazelinom, krenemo deset minuta prije dolaska policije... ali krenemo.

rokotok-2019 (11).JPG

Eto, ta sekunda kad sam nakon tri mjeseca od ideje do početka projekta proveo u nekom transu, to je bio highlight svega. Krenuli smo, čovječe, uspjeli smo pokrenuti nešto u Hrvatskoj u tri mjeseca, a da nismo u stranci, bez ijedne kune, nešto pozitivno i lijepo... I onda je sve krenulo, 2000 klinaca na 17 otoka, s kulminacijom na Čiovu gdje je bilo 300 ljudi – više nego na utakmici nogometnog prvaka...

rokotok-2019 (16).JPG

  1. Što ti je bilo najteži dio i zašto?

Fizički, bol u ramenu dok su nas tukli valovi od 3,5 metra, puhao vjetar 26 čvorova i još nas nosila gadna struja između Mljeta i Korčule. Ali 6 sati plivanja s odmorima, doktorom, spasiocem, kapetanom i ostatkom posade – sve se može! Psihički, očaj kad shvatiš da ljudi ne rade svoj posao i da si praktički bespomoćan. Sve dok se ne pojave novi, divni ljudi, i sve se nekako posloži...

rokotok-2019 (5).JPG

  1. Dotaknuo si i inspirirao tisuće ljudi na svom putu (uključujući i mene!). Možeš li nam malo bolje opisati to druženje s djecom na svakom od otoka? Kakve su ti bile povratne informacije (i emocije) od njih?

Kada se rodila ideja o RokOtoku, mislio sam da će na plažu doći djeca od desetak godina, pa sam smislio priču za taj uzrast. Ali već od drugog otoka, došli su roditelji s djecom od 1-2 godine, pa sve do teenagera od 15-16 godina – neki su imali jaču bradu od mene! I bilo je jako teško podučiti sve svemu što sam im htio reći i objasniti, tako da je to bio jedan veliki mix. Imam iskustva u predavanju, bio sam učitelj u osnovnoj i srednjoj školi 4 godine, ali ovo je stvarno bilo zahtjevno.

rokotok-2019 (7).JPG

Srećom, uglavnom su se svi smijali, sudjelovali u raspravama o ekologiji, zašto ne smijemo bacati smeće u more, kako treba čuvati naše otoke, zašto je teško živjeti zimi na otocima, kako treba poboljšati povezanost, koji su najveći i najviši hrvatski otoci, zašto treba pričati s roditeljima, kako se više i bolje igrati u prirodi, zašto treba čitati... Ali najbolje je bilo kad se krenulo u lov na skriveno blago. Džaba ja pričao satima kad je ovo bilo najbolje od svega. Na kraju bismo se izgrlili, slikali, ja bih im se potpisao na knjige i obavezno morao obećati da ću se jednom vratiti.

rokotok-2019 (2).JPG

  1. Do RokOtoka 2020 ima još skoro godinu dana. Kako ćeš se za to pripremati? Sigurno će se trebati mnogo baviti birokracijom i planiranjem.

Prvo moram operirati rame, onda se oporaviti i početi trenirati. Malo sam se umorio, vjerujte mi! Imati Udrugu u hrvatskoj je jako teška stvar. Morate imati desetak ljudi koji će tome posvetiti puno svog vremena, i to odraditi jako kvalitetno je birokracija ovdje jedva čeka da pogriješite i da vam uzme novac. Nadam se da ćemo ove godine krenuti puno jače, čvršće, smisliti bolje igre za djecu na eventima i skupiti još kvalitetnije poklone, a ja bih mogao napisati i knjigu s prvog dijela putovanja. Mislim da ćete se jako smijati....

rokotok-2019 (1).JPG

  1. I za kraj, RokOtok je inspiriran tragičnim gubitkom tvoga sina i tvojim obećanjem da ćeš ga odvesti na svih 50 hrvatskih naseljenih otoka. Što misliš da bi ti on rekao, kada bi vidio da je njegov tata "dohvatio" i taj sedamnaesti otok Čiovo u zadnjoj etapi prve godine ovog fantastičnog trogodišnjeg projekta?

“Tata, gladan sam...” Šalim se. Ne znam. Da sam vidovit igrao bih loto. Rok je bio prekrasno, klasično dijete svojih godina, znao je što hoće i da je sad tu, ja ne bih plivao po otocima nego s njim osvajao dva-tri godišnje tijekom naših zajedničkih dana. Ne znam kako bi se razvijao, ali mislim da bi volio kemiju i fiziku, puno čitao i da bismo naš godišnji odmor proveli veselo i nasmijano putujući okolo. Ne znam što bi rekao na ovo, ali se nadam da je sad ponosan i da se pravi važan. Iluzorno je pričati o tome kad mi toliko fali i kad bih dao milijun otoka sam da je još minutu tu kraj mene da ga opet zagrlim.

rokotok-2019 (14).JPG

Nebitno je to, moj Paul, totalno nebitno... Treba živjeti dalje iako se polovica tebe tome protivi i jednostavno želi odustati. Užasan je to osjećaj i zato jedva čekam novi RokOtok 2020., da nastavim tu gdje sam stao i pričam s djecom koliko je bitno da vole život i jedni druge, uče, putuju i istražuju. Drži fige da sve posložimo na vrijeme i posložimo se financijski i organizacijski te da pliva 100 ljudi i dočeka njih 5.000. To bi bilo divno. Vidimo se na pivu, dužan sam ti!

Saznajte više na web stranici projekta RokOtok i molim vas, donirajte ako želite financijski pomoći najdirljiviji projekt u Hrvatskoj, dok se Ribafish priprema za RokOtok 2020.

Projekt možete pratiti i na Facebooku.

Ako ste slučajno propustili (ili želite pogledati ponovo), bila mi je čast s Ribafishem razgovarati kad je RokOtok stigao do Jelse. Ovo ostaje moj najdraži intervju za TCN. (na engleskom jeziku)

Tuesday, 30 July 2019

He Did It! RokOtok 2019 Completed as Ribafish Swims to Ciovo. Congratulations! (VIDEOS)

July 30, 2019 - The most heartwarming project on the Croatian coast comes to a successful conclusion as Ribafish swims into Ciovo for the end of Rokotok 2019. 

One man. 

One promise.

Twenty-four days.

Seventeen islands.

Thousands of lives touched in a positive way. 

No need for words from me (if you are wondering what I am writing about check out RokOtok by Ribafish: The Most Heartwarming Project in Croatia in 2019). 

rokotok-ribafish-ciovo.jpg

We salute you, Ribafish!

And the rest we leave to videos of the last swim today to Ciovo. 

The arrival. 

And the last hundreds of lives to be touched during RokOtok 2019. But keep following the project for RokOtok 2020.  

 

rokotok-ciovo.jpg

 

Monday, 29 July 2019

Welcome Heroic Ribafish at RokOtok Finish at Okrug Gornji, Ciovo Tomorrow!

RokOtok, the 2019 edition will come to an end on July 30, 2019, as the phenomenal Ribafish arrives on Ciovo as part of a 3-year mission to honour a promise to his son. Be there!

I am still laughing. And crying. 

ribafish-ciovo.jpg

What a guy! As I wrote in a recent article, RokOtok by Ribafish: The Most Heartwarming Project in Croatia in 2019, I met a guy a few days ago who changed my life a little at the age of 50. As he has been changing and inspiring the lives of thousands of others on Dalmatia's islands on a very unique project. 

(I REALLY encourage you to watch this interview)

Not having the money to take his son to Disneyland, Ribafish promised his son that he would take him in time to all 50 of Croatia's inhabited islands and discover their country instead. Father and son had done 8 of the 50 islands when son Rok tragically died, aged just 12. 

People deal with loss and pain in different ways, and Ribafish decided to channel his energies in a positive direction. After sprinkling Rok's ashes in the Adriatic near their favourite beach, he decided to honour his promise to Rok and swim between the 50 inhabited islands of Croatia over three summers, with 17 islands in this, the first year. With his ashes in the sea, Rok would be constantly by his side. 

rokotok-ribafish (5).jpg

But Ribafish went a little further with his RokOtok project. At every island, he gathers the children (from 30 to over 100) and talks to them about the environment, the importance of family time and nature, away from gadgets. There is a treasure hunt and each child receives a free copy of the book he wrote about conversations he had with Rok, which he asks them to read. It is a wonderful touch, and my kids were not the only ones who came home inspired by this man. 

RokOtok, the 2019 edition will reach its 17th and final island tomorrow, as Ribafish swims from Drvenik Veli to Ciovo. A superhuman effort, and  I am sure it will be quite a party. 

rokotok-ribafish (1).jpg

The Ribafish welcome party will take place at Lucica Toc, Okrug Gornji, Ciovo at 18.00, so if you are anywhere in the area, go and support this man and project. 

I doubt there will be 550,000 people turning up as there were to welcome home the World Cup winners in Zagreb last July, but there should be, for the achievement is on the same level for me. 

Swim well, Ribafish, and thanks for touching so many hearts. 

You can follow the RokOtok project on Facebook

++++

rokotok-ribafish (4).jpg

Full disclosure - My article about Ribafish and the RokOtok project was supposed to be about his swim as far as Jelsa, as a friend of mine is in the support crew and asked if she could write an article. That was days ago, but I will publish it below to pay tribute to those - and many others - who have helped make this project a success. In the words of Gorana Gytha Galic (written around the time of the Jelsa arrival):

As you know, from previous TCN articles about the Rokotok project, here is a brief summary of islands so far connected.

The adventure started on July 6 from Dubrovnik and the first island with the Rokotok flag was Koločep.  Other islands which have been connected are Lopud, Šipan, Mljet, Korčula, Lastovo, Šćedro, Hvar, Vis, Budikovac and Biševo island.

The hardest swimming part was between Mljet and Korčula. There was a bura wind which blew between 18 and  20 knots and east Kurenat between 0.8 knots. Waves were between 1.50 to 3 meters. It took about 6 hours to swim the destination between Mljet and Korčula. That was the longest and hardest stage. Another long stage was between Hvar and Vis which took 5 hours.

The boat which is following Ribafish on his adventure is sailboat Bavaria 46 named Mango.

The captain of the boat from day one to day 17 was Lovre Uroda, who has a great spirit of adventure. From day 17 onwards the substitute captain is Dominik Perkovic.

The support crew had a couple of changes through the adventure. From the beginning to the end with Ribafish is head of organisation Kasandra Draganić. The medic in charge of Ribafish’s health from Dubrovnik to Šipan and from Korčula to Hvar was Marija Štanjel. Lifeguard on the board from Dubrovnik to Korčula was Ivan Jurić from Red Cross Dubrovnik. The cameraman who followed Rokotok from Šipan to Hvar was Igor Bogdanović.  

The medic from Šipan to Korčula island was Ena Kurtić. Todor Jurjević is lifeguard from Red Cross Dubrovnik and he was part of the crew from Korčula to Lastovo.

On Hvar, Ana Štanfel joined as a new medic, as designated lifeguard Nikola Stračárová joined from Red Cross Split and Gorana Galić as an assistant around the boat and activities. 

rokotok-ribafish (3).jpg

On each island, Ribafish and Rokotok were greeted by approx. 30 to 200 children. After Ribafish talked to children about the ecology and importance of speaking and doing activities with their parents, they went on a  treasure hunt and afterwards, gifts were given to the children.

Islands yet to be connected this year are Brač, Šolta, Drvenik Veli, Drvenik Mali and Čiovo island where a big party will be organised for Rokotok at Okrug Gornji. At Čiovo island many people who support the Rokotok but couldn’t participate will join Ribafish and Rokotok event.  Island Čiovo is the last island this year to be connected with Rokotok. The journey continues in Summer 2020.

And a little more info from Brac to Solta:

The guys who followed Ribafish today were members of the waterpolo veterans club, Stari As: Stanko Mašković 1981, commander of  HRM rocket ship ( zapovjednik raketne topovnjače HRM) ; Hrvoje Barbir 1984, magister of IT;  Marin Burič 1983, tour guide; Ivan Jurić 1995, lifeguard.

It took 16 mins to cross the channel between Brač and Šolta, it could be faster but currents didn't allow, and there was a lot of traffic in the channel. For safety reasons we were followed by HGSS boat.

Friday, 26 July 2019

RokOtok by RibaFish: The Most Heartwarming Project in Croatia in 2019

The incredible RokOtok swimming marathon hit Jelsa on July 24, 2019 and had TCN in tears. Here's why.

He made me cry four times within 24 hours of our first meeting. Grown men - he 48, me 50.

And that was without mentioning the number of times I cried with laughter. And they were many. 

And - yes, I have to admit at the tender age of 50 - he changed me in the one hour we were together. 

And he is changing and influencing many, many more people as he embarks on the most heartwarming project in Croatia this year.  

ribafish-rokotok (4).jpg

Full disclosure. I had no real idea who this blogger Ribafish was until a few days ago. I knew he was a popular blogger and was much loved, and so there was probably some instinctive jealousy due to that, but for some reason, Ribafish was off my radar. When Kolegica Iva asked if she could write an article about his incredible project to swim to the 50 inhabited islands of Croatia, I agreed immediately as I was in the middle of something else. 

And then a friend messaged me to say that Ribafish was coming to Jelsa next and I could meet him if I wanted to. So we scheduled some cold ones and an interview at 19:00 a few days ago at The Office. 

With a couple of hours to go before our scheduled interview, I decided to find out who exactly WAS this Ribafish, and what intelligent questions could I ask?

A man who had me crying tears of pain and laughter just a few hours later. 

ribafish-rokotok.jpg

I read Iva's article to get up to speed - what on earth was this RokOtok project about anyway?

And when I discovered the background, I REALLY wanted to meet him. We met on the square at The Office, and I think we even hugged, before taking a celebratory photo at the Aslej Instagram attraction. 

And then we talked, and the tears started to flow (internally during our interview, externally the next day).  

ribafish-rokotok (1).jpg

For Ribafish's project is both emotional and full of positivity, injecting hope, support and family unity with his wonderful project. A project for all generations. 

As I understood from Iva, Ribafish suffered a terrible tragedy recently when his 12-year-old son, Rok, died. While Rok was still alive, Ribafish told Rok that he did not have the money to take him to Disneyland, but he could take him to all of the 50 inhabited islands of Croatia - natural beauty and natural living. They had visited 8 by the time of Rok's tragedy. Ribafish decided that he wanted to fulfil his promise to his son, whose ashes he spread in the waters of their favourite beach on Korcula. 

ribafish-rokotok (5).jpg

And so the project RokOtok was born. Over a period of three summers, Ribafish would swim between the 50 inhabited islands, 17 this year and next, 16 in the final year. At his side the whole time would be Rok, whose ashes are in the Adriatic with him. 

The swim was one thing, but at every destination, Ribafish would meet with local kids and their parents and talk of the need for better understanding between parents and children, the importance of the environment, and the healthy benefits of spending more time with family and nature and less with gadgets. His message is simple, genuine and heartfelt. 

ribafish-rokotok (3).jpg

So why did I cry four times within a day of meeting him, in addition to laughing out loud several times during our meeting? I REALLY encourage you to watch the video interview below, the best TCN has done so far - and that had nothing to do with TCN. 

My first internal tears were when he told me about the circumstances of the death of his 12-year-old son. I have a lovely daughter who is the same age. Unimaginable what he went through. 

My second internal tears were when he talked of his time with his son and those special moments - had I done the same for my girls? Shamefully, no. I needed to become a better parent. 

My third internal tears were when I asked him about his favourite spot and favourite memory, and he talked of that and his determination to honour his promise to Rok. 

And the fourth real tears came the next day. 

I am blessed with a truly wonderful wife and two incredible daughters, as well as the best punica in Croatia. I am not the best Dad in the world, but also not the worst, but I am pretty liberal, and I am grateful to my wife and her mum for the way our girls have turned out. 

I don't insist on many things in the household, but I came back from my time with Ribafish, and I insisted that the girls go the following morning when Ribafish would be talking about the things mentioned above. I saw the look in their eyes - here we go, Dad has met someone again... 

But they went as I requested, and they apparently came home enthused and inspired, the same way I had been. One daughter explained how impressed she was not only by the quality message, but also by the fact that Ribafish had one way of talking to the kids and one to the adults. That is when I cried a little externally. Here is a humble and simple man dealing with his pain, but providing so much positivity and healthy messages for all generations. An agent of change.

He changed me a little, as I am sure he has changed many, many others. 

And long may it continue. 

Learn more about the RokOtok project on the official website where you can donate to support it. Or follow the latest events on Facebook

Search