The bracera was – as it can be read in Slobodan Simič Sime’s monograph Traditional Istrian Vessels – a traditional cargo ship used all over the Adriatic Sea and the Mediterranean Sea. In the Northern Adriatic, braceras transported coal, sand, wood and other building material, as well as crops. In recent decades, they have been used for tourism purposes.

The origin of the word “bracera” is not entirely clear. Some researchers connect it with the Croatian island of Brač, others with the fact that it could be rowed by oarsmen or, in other words, propelled by hand (Italian: “con braccia”, by hand). It is also difficult to determine the exact origin of the bracera itself and its predecessors. Judging by its construction and shape, it could be argued that first braceras were built in the 17th century.

Bracera Meja
The bracera Meja is considered an Istrian Bracera, which differs from the Dalmatian Bracera in shape and size, as well as partly in purpose. According to Uroš Hribar, the curator for technical heritage of the Sergej Mašera Maritime Museum in Piran, braceras from Istria and the Kvarner area were, as a rule, longer, had a higher tonnage, and were used exclusively for cargo transport. In contrast to Dalmatian Braceras, they were never used for fishing. Istrian Braceras are characterized by the massive and strong construction typical of cargo vessels. They have a rounded prow and stern and a very box-like central part of the hull, which gives them a large cargo storage space. Already before the Second World War, the first internal engines were built in, as a result of which sails were no longer used.

The bracera Meja was built in 1926 in a shipyard in the Croatian town of Mali Lošinj. Made of wood and painted with a shade of blue typical for this type of boat, it is 14.50 m long and 4.70 m wide. It is currently used for excursions and tourist purposes and can accommodate up to 52 persons. Its gross tonnage is 20.18 tons. The boat is propelled by an 8361M16 Iveco Aifo diesel engine with a power capacity of 107 KW, produced in 1990. Until 2021, it was owned by Fredi Gorjan. Its current owner is Ambrož Jakop.