Drifting to Dubrovnik 2009
20 September 2009
Some photos already in gallery, especially of Roman Pula.
Aqua Blue was relaunched at Nautec Marine in early July. In the cool calm early morning of Sat 11th I refitted the battened mainsail before breakfasting in Marino's cafe and settling my bar bill. After chaining my bike under another boat I motored out of the Timavo river singlehanded and raised sail to cross the Bay of Trieste at about 6 to 7 kts, in a light northwesterly, the hull bottom being very clean, and the feathering Kiwi prop is of most benefit in these conditions.
I nosed AB into Umag at tea time and moored at the end of the customs quay to officially enter Croatia. After I'd specifically obtained 1000 Kuna, the harbourmaster refused to issue a new vignette since the existing one still had over a month to run. I then picked up a council mooring at the third attempt, not easy on my own! A trip ashore was foiled by more work being required on the dinghy oars, but tinned chile con carne hit the spot.
It was cold at dawn again and well covered I overslept, in fact I sleep better on board than at home! Various jobs kept me in harbour till 11.30am whereupon motorsailing south in very light winds brought AB to anchor in Lon bay just south of Rovinj. The new red ensign was flying very high on the old Loran aerial. I actually baked a tinned pie in the camping oven for the first time, a technique I need to improve! It gave me to energy to walk up to the Basilica and back.
Various jobs again till 11.30am including reconnecting the HF aerial. Which almost immediately had me in contact with the UK maritime net Bill G4FRN on 14303khz, and then others on 14156Khz. With the now doubled up windlass battery I can just manage transmissions without starting the engine. I also installed the new (bargain basement) A65 chartplotter in the cockpit. I then struggled to lift the Rocna anchor which may have been fouled on a chain shown on the harbour chartlet, but I managed to motor it out from underneath whatever it was. I was able to sail south this time, unusually with the dinghy in tow while I experimented with the chartplotter. The screen is rather small and not so visible in direct sunlight as the adverts claim, but it gives you something to do in the cockpit, at the expense of distracting your lookout, saving a certain amount of racing between the cockpit and chart table. The anchor went down in Pula inner harbour by 5.30pm, near the vast amphitheatre started in Claudius' reign and taking forty years to build. I also toured the other Roman remains, fortified by steak and eggs on the balcony of the market restaurant. The slanted Hercules gate 45BC and the Arch of the Sergians 29BC are much photographed! From a bar above the amphitheatre you can watch aerobatics by flocks of Swifts formation flying round the almost completely preserved walls.
I was charged 88 Kuna at anchor in the morning and the harbourmaster shooed AB further away from the customs pier to a spot just north of the boatyard. Jobs on board all day, including repainting some of the non slip in the cockpit and on deck. Then a taxi to Pula airport to meet Stella who is first out of the baggage hall. A return taxi to the small supermarket by the splendid Hotel Riviera and back onboard by 8.30pm for a good chicken curry out of a bag no less. Stella had ordered them over the internet from Bart Spices Ltd. Wonderful washed down with a bottle of Croatian red wine!
We added Stella to the crew list at the nearby harbourmaster, before more supplies and then a cool beer in the bar overlooking the Arena again, a great spot. After motoring out of the huge harbour we tacked south, at first in a fresh southerly. The wind died though as we approached Kamenjack the most southerly point of the Istrian peninsula. I had to use the cockpit foghorn to awake a motoring yacht intent on ramming us, it's kept at hand all the time nowadays! With Stella asleep we motored up to Medulin and anchored in the shallow sheltered bay just north of the town. Ashore for a walk and a good cheap fish platter washed down with a red from Veneto, Istria is very Italian! We listened for a while to a concert outside the church on the hill, after climbing up in the sticky heat, before returning to the millpond anchorage.
With Stella tailing my harness I used the mast steps three times in the calm morning to reeve the spinny and staysail halliards. We then exited Medulin bay and sailed in a light northeasterly wind to Unije, before motorsailing up to Artaturi bay on Losinj for an early stop mid pm. Although soon we had to let out more scope in a fresh northwesterly which scoured the anchorage till dusk. Still getting to grips with the A65, it doesn't like sharing a battery with the autopilot. Good meal ashore in restaurant Ana which has improved at a still reasonable price. Stella watches "Hidden" with Juliet Binoche while I fall asleep reading the Spectator.
Stella had always wanted to visit Susak so we motored across to anchor in the shallow north bay by 10am. We climbed to the church, admiring the many houses being renovated by Yanks from New Jersey according to the vineyard owner. After tasting his great Susak red wine we bought two litres for 50 Kuna, only hoping it was from the same barrel. Descending to the harbour and beach for a cold beer (onboard fridge troublesome), and some good shopping, smoked ham, sausage and cheese, we then lunched onboard cooled by a SE breeze, it was 92F in the cabin! Later we motored over to Ilovik and picked up a buoy in the channel by 4pm. We lazed and ate on board only disturbed by a large wooden schooner who alarmed me by lying across the wind and current, eventually colliding with a nearby yacht!
Gale force winds and thunder squalls arrived at breakfast, not really forecast either, and we spent all day bouncing on the buoy, which was not really far enough from the entrance. I distracted myself with maintenance and managed to bring the fridge back to life, although I wasn't so successful with the large solar panel, corroded connections as always. In the evening we made use of the boat taxi (called on VHF 17) and had an island walk followed by a good tuna meal in a waterfront restaurant. Spent some time photographing Swallows nests at little above head height in the village centre! Taxi back and then "Man Trouble" with Jack Nicholson and Ellen Barkin, not one of his best, altho I can't take my eyes off Barkin's Brando nose!!
The usual dawn calm returned in the morning leaving me hoping there will be some wind this week, after the previous day's blast. We tidy up and motorsail south to Ist for a lunch spot, encountering on the way in a briskly sailed Farrier F27 tri "Samax". A couple have four teenagers on board, and the boat was trailed from Holland to Slovenia for a two week holiday!! Pm we sailed slowly under drifter down and up into Molat, picking up a buoy behind the island in the huge bay off Brgulje. But not before I have to jump in with a carving knife to remove the drifter furling line from the prop!! Eat on board listening to the BBC World service, which seems to be broadcast for more hours on a Sunday.
Away at reasonable time on Monday morning we have to motor most of the day in no wind down the east side of Dugi Otok, diverting into Zaglav where we easily fill with fuel and water. We then continue to Luka Telascica, picking up one of the last buoys at Mir, in the National park. A basic meal ashore was accompanied by a loud generator although enlivened by the resident donkeys. A kayaking party arrived, and then pitched tents, they must be fit! Having gained a buoy for which you only have to pay once we stayed another day. It was good enough for Edward VIII and Mrs Simpson to honeymoon here! Jobs on board and then pm we trekked to the salty lake for a dip with the ever present donkeys. The views from the vertiginous seaward cliffs are worth a climb too.
Passing through Vela Proversa with less than 5ft under the hull we broad reached in light winds to ancjor in Prvic
harbour for a good meal and wifi on the waterfront in Hotel Maestral. Followed by sailing "round the corner" to Shallow sheltered Vinisce bay, a great wide anchorage, now with a small marina as well and two good restaurants. After a morning's combined maintenance at anchor we continued to Trogir, anchoring in the murky water right under the cracked mediaeval tower. We had a very good meal in a small courtyard restaurant and stretched our legs admiring the architecture over the bridge on Ciovo. I was later awoken from dozing in the cockpit by a dolphin swimming round the boat! The rapid exhale/inhale is such a characteristic noise.
on Sat 25th July Stella bade me farewell at the bus station on her way to Split airport. I braved hypothermia in the Konzum supermarket before returning to Aqua Blue and motoring west to anchor in cleaner water off Marina Agana. The overnight northeasterly was fresh enough for me to move AB to the north cove nearby. And I awoke to forest fires blazing in the hill above Trogir, being bombed with seawater by no less than five yellow flying boats. Pm I moved east to try Razetinovac cove for more maintenance before returning to Trogir anchorage under Kamerlengo castle again.
I was at Split airport early in the morning to meet Eddie and Katrina and their daughter Freya, who were all onboard by 10am! Morning sightseeing in the heat was concluded by omelettes and cold beers on the waterfront. We then returned to Vinisce for afternoon siestas and swimming for the jet lagged! I moved to the rear cabin on my own and slept happily under the tiller.
We sailed slowly to Lucice on Brac and paid 150Kuna for one of the mooring buoys laid in 100ft depth! More swimming and maintenance before a walk ashore revealed uninspiring restaurants so we returned to AB where I rustled up a lamb curry from the ships canned stores. In the morning a fresh northwesterly sped us to Vis in time for a siesta in Rogacic bay before moving to anchor just west of Kut (off the internet cafe!). Eddie and family explored mediaeval Vis town and I joined them later for a good meal on the verandah of Vista Club midway between Kut and Vis. It's a great spot and we stayed another night. Eddie and I amused ourselves by dismantling and cleaning the Honda carb for very little improvement.
After our "day off' we had a long day motoring most of the way to Korcula town in a flat calm. Much photography as we whizzed past the sailboarders and the peninsula town, before anchoring in Luka bay. Nearby was a beautiful Freydis 46 cat with a diver down clearing their ground tackle, and another Catana cat too. We paid 150kuna and stayed onboard. However we explored Korcula thoroughly in the morning and lunched under the trees on the terrace, great views. After siesta onboard we returned again in the evening and had a good meal in a restaurant just outside the city gates.
The following morning we continued to Polace lagoon in the national park on Mljet by 3pm and swam in the heat. We paid our fee, which again is for more than one night, and ate well in restaurant Antika, who gave us some water. We awoke to a freshening southeasterly. Eddie and Katrina went for a long walk up to Montokuc for great views of the west end of Mljet. After lunch the family also had the energy to visit the monastery by minibus and boat, while I swung round Polace being joined by many other yachts. I even laid the Fortress too. We ate onboard and watched Blade Runner (again), I never tire of it!
We awoke to a glowering sky and much lightning on the Peljesic mountains. More yachts came in and as I tidied up and commenced recovering one anchor, the park rangers came by and told me to stay put!! That's a first! However some blueing up occurred by 1 pm so we left and motorsailed to Sipanska Luka in what I suspect was a "suckers gap"! We had a good meal on the quay but another thunderstorm chased us back to the boat, where we watched "Belleville Rendezvous". I only stayed awake by standing up! Ashore exploring again in the morning, Eddie was asking many questions about the various large delapidated houses. Back onboard for an early lunch, clouds were building and rain threatening so we stayed all day, it's a relaxing spot, although open to the northwest and we had a popply night as the pressure rose thankfully.
An early departure brought us round to Sudurad on the south side of Sipan, a walled town Eddie enthused over. Later we ran down to the highly visible bridge north of Dubrovnik and proceeding past Gruz we sailed up the river to the marina. Humphrey Truswell was waiting on the quay and we found a vacant berth up the river by the boatyard. Where we received conflicting advice from the marineros and strangely reception sent me away!! Still we had a good meal in the marina restaurant and there's a pool.
Ediie and Katrina and Freya explored Dubrovnik most of the day before returning to the marina pool. I was hailed by a new marinero who pointed out the resident harbourmaster for new crew check in, meaning we do not have to visit Gruz. I returned to reception who were annoyed because I was "not in the computer". Eventually I paid a staggering 1600kuna for two nights including a 70% multihull surcharge. Although of course we are barely wider than the gin palaces and they never double up berths anyway. However the place has a lot of facilities including internet, laundry, pool and two restaurants and is most convenient for crew changes although this can also be accomplished much more cheaply in Cavtat. In the early evening we sunk a bottle of cold white wine in the cockpit and E+K+F were away by taxi to the airport. Humphrey and I ate in the restaurant where David Meadway found us, meaning our northward crew was now onboard.