Back to Brac 2010
23 November 2010 | Adriatic
July/August 2010 Adriatic sailing.
Back to Brac.
I resumed the never ending refit of Aqua Blue at Nautec Marine, Monfalcone in late June. Stella later joined me and we reeved the last few halliards together before exiting the Timavo river into the Gulf of Trieste on the 8th July. We motor sailed to Pirano snapping away as we rounded the point, before anchoring off the customs sheds at Bernadino. One conceals a supermarket and there's a garage just behind. The other contained a temporary art exhibition. A bar and band ashore did not keep me awake!
In the morning we bussed round to Pirano to see the walls and cathedral, plus the best ever iced coffee in the very attractive town square. Back at Bernadino we peeked into the Chinese exhibition in the old salt warehouse. Then we motored past Portoroz (no anchoring!) and continued round the most northwesterly point of Istria to enter Croatia at Umag. Where we were shamelessly relieved of 1330Kuna for a cruising permit and 650kuna for tourist tax!! Leaving the customs quay we ignored the marina and picked up a council mooring. Stella cooked listening to a Polish trio and some Schubert, we didn't go ashore.
We were hailed in the morning by Lucian Comoy on a nearby yacht, who had been unable to rouse us the night before! Lucian maintains a sailing website for Croatia and gives advice via ybw.com pen name Metabarca. An Austrian cat with a lattice mast from Lepanto marina in Monfalcone was nearby too. I used the indispensible mast steps to refit the windicator before we set off south again in light free winds to Lon bay south of Rovinj. A few more jobs at anchor, then we headed ashore for the good walk round to the town, eating well in restaurant Delphin on the front. The basilica Sv Eufemia was open for a change, Stella was pleased to get in this time. Texts from our daughter who was gapping in Canada gave piece of mind as we enjoyed our separate travels.
We had the usual slight difficulty in raising the anchor in Lon Bay, not quite sure why, there'd been no wind overnight. We had to motorsail down past Pula to Kamenjack, the most southerly point of Istria. The light southwesterly held so I raised the gennaker and we drifted across to Unije, rounding the north point to anchor at the calm shallow head of Vognisca bay, just as the light was going.
After a leisurely start in this relaxing spot, we managed to reach up the west coast of Cres before the wind died to a very light southerly. Pausing briefly for a swimming lunch in Zaglav bay, we then motored across to Cres town to anchor south of the small port, well north of the marina. Had to pay 100 kuna for the privilige, but the sheltered bay was worth it! I managed to choose an indifferent restaurant but it's an interesting historic town, like so many in Croatia. Unusually for the Adriatic it was quite hot all night 80F, but we were now up in the Kvarner gulf, which has a bit of a reputation for summer heat and winter boras!
Ashore early we further explored the old town and stocked up, I couldn't resist buying fig and walnut jam, which Stella later managed to make at home in September! Recovering the anchor I briefly left the helm in reverse, forgetting the power of the Kiwi prop and nearly backed into another yacht! Won't do that again!! We motored north with a helpful current and rounded the top of Cres under a thunderstorm. Then managed to slowly sail south down the west coast of Krk to anchor in Torkul for the night.
I rose early for maintenance in the cool morning anchorage. Stella set of in the kayak to explore the shallows. At midday we motored round to Krk town to anchor in the east bay right under the impressive castle walls. We walked the historic town in the heat but the Basilica had shut at 1pm! We returned to the shade of the bimini and pottered round to Punat entrance which reminds me of Chichester harbour! Passing inside Kosljun island with the centreboard raised, we anchored and rowed ashore to visit the Franciscan monastery with it's museum and church. I particularly wanted to see the Ptolemaic atlas. It's a pleasant walk round the island. The temp was still 90F during dinner, we left Greece to get away from these temps! We also started the many episodes of "John Adams", the second President of the US.
Back to Krk town in the morning to re-anchor under the Frankish castle. Quickly ashore by the convenient steps and gate, we visited the Cathedral of the Assumption with it's Roman columns and 1478 silver altar. Also next door is the Church of St Quirinas. Brief shopping and much snapping, it's a photogenic place! By mid morning we were motoring south and continued to Rab, passing the four campaniles on the headland to anchor off Palit. After dinner onboard we walked over the headland to fashionable Rab town ( there are fast ferries from Rijeka), for iced coffee in an old Venetian loggia. The campaniles were open till 10pm.
We rose early and pottered round to Rab harbour and managed to get the 25ft wide tri onto the fuel quay. Persistence and patience is required to cope with the queue jumping! Four hours motoring took us to Silba where the northwesterly Maestral thankfully returned. Continuing under sail we rounded Ist and anchored at the head of the shallow bay, ignoring the field of moorings, allegedly provided because of poor holding. It was great to have the breeze back although it was still hot at 89F. After a late siesta we had great Maialino di Spiedini (spit roasted piglet), in a restaurant run by the harbourmaster. The Zadar ferry spends the night on the quay and we discussed taking it at 6am, maybe another year.
Mist in Ist, pouring through the deckhatch, greeted us in the morning, we could barely see the next boat! Quite unusual here, as confirmed by the restaurateur now in his day job uniform. It burned off by ten am though and we headed south under motor and then sail in a light westerly to reach Zut. Where you can anchor off the shore just east of the marina, although I resist taking a stern line ashore unless it's absolutely essential.
We motored southeast till the midday northwesterly allowed us to sail into Kakan island anchorage at Potkucina, for a swimming lunch. Later we reached over to Prvic to anchor off the Hotel Maestral, whose wifi we then used to skype with our daughter, currently in Montreal. Their restaurant also serves a good steak, it's one of my favorite spots in the Adriatic. An after dinner walk north across the island brought us to the harbour of Sepurine, past many tastefully converted old houses, some with Housemartin and even Swift nests. There was an old Piver tri in the harbour, it had obviously received lots of TLC. A very fresh northeasterly blew all night, I was thankful for the Rocna and chain, although on this multihull it's nylon after only 80ft !
In the still windy morning we ran downwind under genoa alone almost to Rogoznicas. After a light patch a fresh northwesterly returned and we continued east down to the Drevenik islands. Passing between them under now full sail we then reached north, with the heavy old bus touching 9 kts on the GPS before passing through the narrow entrance to Vinisce bay. Motoring up to the shallow end, I laid out 100ft in 10ft of water and slowly the wind started to go down. Restaurant Mastrinka served a very good Fegato under its thick green canopy.
At anchor all morning, Stella helped me to reseal various deck leaks before I rewired the fridge yet again, cool beer is essential! During the afternoon we drifted east along the north coast of Solta before a light southwesterly breeze, to anchor in Bobovisce on Brac. Our very shallow spot in the north arm was free, centreboards are so useful! Two teenagers turned up and asked for 67 kuna, we were surprised it wasn't 150!
At 7am Swallows were using the rigging to feed their young leading to much digital photography! We had to shoo the last few away as we exited the harbour. Commencing our clockwise circumnavigation of Brac we passed Sutivan to anchor outside the swimming beach buoys at Supetar. Stella set off in the dinghy to visit the Petrinovic mausoleum. Onboard I was surprised to receive an email from my brother in NZ, on the "free" Blackberry acquired via a Telegraph offer, although they seem to be available on the Vodaphone website too. With "Passport" the cost of staying in touch with worldwide family is acceptable. We continued to Splitska where the western arm is nearly all cordoned off for swimming, but we picked up a free buoy just north of the charming village in the eastern arm. Amazingly there were two Farrier tris here! The Dutch skipper of Skater the F31 told me he had spent two nights on the wall, and had trailed his tri from Holland to Zadar!!
The northwesterly arrived and blew straight into the port but it's tenable in good weather. We left though and motorsailed east to enter Pucisca, identifiable by the huge entrance quarry. The wide entrance channel nearly a mile long leads to a welcoming harbour surrounded by impressive architecture, all in the local white stone, made famous by the White House in Washington DC. Plenty of space on the north quay and water and electricity for a pricy 220 kuna/night. There were no other yachts on this wall though and only two in the inner harbour on 21st July! Nearby was an internet cafe and a post office, with an aircon supermarket at 100yds, very welcome in the current heatwave. We also had good meal on the terrace of restaurant Lada (means donkey apparently!). I rang NY to confirm the arrival of our daughter.
With Pucisca exceeding our expectations, we had a "day off" despite the cost of the second night on the wall. Stella even went back to work in the intcafe, before more sightseeing, but siesta beckoned in the late afternoon, it was 90F in the cabin with three fans on! Fortunately the harbour is clean enough to swim in. As the sun approached the rooftops, sightseeing recommenced. Pucisca was the highlight of our trip really, but the harbour is apparently very uncomfortable in a Bora, which blows very strongly in this area, so choose a settled period for a visit. I suspect that's why there are so few yachts here.
The following day we motored round to more sheltered Uvala Luka with it's restaurant, which was too crowded really. Nearby Povlja is another possible overnight stop, but this whole area is a Bora hotspot!. We then continued around the east end of Brac and motorsailed across the Hvarski canal to Vrboska on the north coast of Hvar. A forecast front made me decide against Jelsa which is open to the north, so we anchored on the soft sand in the open bay of Vrboska entrance. There was a still smoking burnt out gin palace on the beach!!
After a calm night the wx fcst prompted an early start. We motored over to photograph Bol and Zlatni Rat sandspit, but the frontal cloud ensured we continued tacking west, under cutter rig in the rising wind. Stella spotted the Hermitage monastery as we passed the Blaca anchorage, we'll revisit next year. We screeched through the gap between Brac and Solta, strangely finding no wind on the north side, although big thunderheads were building behind Split. Returning to Bobovisce we laid two anchors, inside a Polish Commanche cat. Another huge cat "Ocean's Seven" followed us in.
The strong overnight southwesterly started to abate in the morning and we accepted Maya the shop owners offer of a taxi ride to Supetar. Where we admired the church with it's mosaics and a font on a Roman capital. Strangely there was a new statue to Mother Theresa opened by Martin Sheen! The small harbour has limited space for yachts. We returned via Lovisce from where you can walk back down to Bobovisce. We ate in the small Konoba before returning to Aqua Blue's cabin for the penultimate John Adams, as the boat swung to a now rising northeasterly.
After a blustery night Aqua Blue was lying to the Fortress I had previously tossed into the shallows. After relaying the Rocna to the northeast as well we spent a lazy day really, just limited sightseeing and photography. Recovering both anchors the following morning we had a blast sailing across to the Kastelanski gulf where the wind immediately dropped and we just hove to in light rain for lunch! We then dropped anchor off mediaeval Kastel Gomilica just west of the huge marina that contains the charter yachts, to walk the occupied walls. We stopped again to visit Luksic which has two Kastels, one upgraded to a modern library and one still in private ownership where we were invited to tour the gardens. There's a sad story of two lovers, very Romeo and Juliet. Back onboard we motored past Kastels Stari and Novi, continuing west to anchor just east of Trogir bridge very close to the bus station.
In the calm hot morning of 28th July, we were soon ashore to visit the impressive cathedral which is now being extensively cleaned. There were the usual huge gin palaces on the fashionable quay. After a tour of the cloisters and more iced coffee in the heat, we returned to AB for Stella's bags and she conveniently took the bus (no 37) to "Split" airport, it's only 10mins form Trogir! I returned via the Konzum (supermarket) to an empty Aqua Blue to laze away the afternoon under the bimini. The friendly harbourmaster's lads in their RIB found me and relieved me of 150 Kuna, they're only doing their job and they remember the tri from year to year.
I was going to stay at Trogir doing maintenance, despite the cost, but on Fri 30th a rising easterly under frontal cloud made the anchorage uncomfortable. I recovered the Rocna with some difficulty singlehanded even with the helm operated windlass, since weed was jamming the hawse pipe necessitating trips to the foredeck, and later arrivals had reduced the manouvering room. I then tacked east under the self tacking staysail and reefed main, to anchor off Spinut north of Split, where I was later joined by several other yachts. We all swung around during two thunderstorms during which two yachts dragged. One unattended right into the locals pontoons although miraculously it missed various concrete blocks. Another yacht dragged his CQR right past AB and I emptied my gas foghorn awakening the sleeping German skipper, only feet from the rocky breakwater! He was grateful! I'd also laid our Fortress again in a "bahamian" moor. The gusts in the thunderstorms come from unpredictable directions.
The following morning the wind was fcst to return to the northwest, so I motored round and spent the weekend anchored in Split off Diocletians palace. Maintenace was combined with sightseeing. The old town is an incredible jumble of the Roman and mediaeval, most of it still occupied! Diocletian's mausoleum is being cleaned and now shows the white Brac stone. The view from the later campanile is worth the climb for the cool breeze and view.
Strangely on Monday morning the harbourmaster's launch arrived and ejected all twenty yachts at anchor. He must have shares in the marina!! I motored west into the gulf again and after a swimming lunch just west of Arbanija on Ciovo I re-anchored off Trogir bus station, just in time to collect Humphrey, who's been crewing on AB for most of thirty years!
We now needed to return north but first we had an increasingly fast sail to Vis, I'm fond of anchoring at Kut on the east side of the large harbour. Then we headed to Hvar, avoiding the very crowded town harbour and spending the night in what I call the "lagoon" at Marinkovac. Back to Vrboska we headed up the fjord like harbour, which has a very shallow quay on the north side, ideal for multihulls. My sister was holidaying on the island with her family and we spent the weekend on the quay, grateful for their hospitality. Humphrey also helped me renew two more saloon windows, I hope to make AB waterproof again!
On Monday 9th August we did set off north and had a good sail west to pass again between Brac and Solta. This time the the westerly increased further and we were well reefed in building seas by the time we reached Necujam, so diverted in to the large bay and anchored in one of the side coves. In lighter freeing winds we then managed to regain Prvic not least for the Hotel Maestral wifi which enabled us both to book our return flights from "Trieste" airport. The hotel would be a very good place to book in some less than keen sailing friends and Humphrey spotted that there were many swifts nesting under the eaves. Despite the late start next morning we had a good sail in a SW wind to Landin on Pasman, I enjoy sailing into the wide bay under the self tacking staysail to anchor past the buoys. We were still charged a modest 88 Kuna. The water was only 69F, a long cold winter apparently!
We then just drifted north in a very light westerly and picked up an early buoy in the north cove Lucina at Brbinj on Dugi Otok. There's a basic restaurant run by a matronly type who serves surprisingly good rump steaks, and our compliments to the chef finally produced a beaming smile. On Friday 13th August the fan belt snapped as we were passing Molat, although the Yanmar happily chugged along of course. We picked up a buoy in Mljake in the Prolaz Zapuntel channel and replaced it during a swimming lunch. Continuing in light airs we made the mooring buoys off Olib town in light rain, under a what I call a Spielberg sky, with distant lightning. Observing the trim of the boat I began to suspect there was water in the aft third of the stbd float. The supposedly epoxied inspection hatch will have to be removed.
We visited the castellated tower built as late as 1700 against Turkish pirates. Then a long slow sail closehauled in rain for the last two hours brought us back to Unije, although we picked up a buoy in Maracol this time. In fact it rained half the night, the north Adriatic often experiences european rather than mediterranean weather. We walked over the headland to the town on the south side, where some yachts do spend the night. A fresh southwesterly back in Maracol turned out to be just katabatic, round the north of the island we found we had to motorsail over a slop all the way to Medulin by only 3pm. So we rounded a very bumpy Kamenjack inside passage to anchor in the alarmingly coloured water of Paltana. Indifferent pizza ashore but great ice creams now we were back in Istria.
After a quiet night and a mild fcst we were surprised to find up to two metre seas and a NW5-6 outside. We reefed down and pressed north and were going well running along the very short seas, but we were not going to clear the Brijun islands and the offshore tack would have been grueling, so we turned right and shot into Pula, it was quite rough at the entrance. We managed the jybe round the sunken breakwater and shot into the large outer harbour with the seas breaking over the low wall to our right. Amazingly a large dolphin appeared swimming upside down under the bows, we were both in danger of breaking the harbour speed limit! The wind carried us right through the large outer and inner harbour to anchor off the boatyard, with the impressive amphitheatre in plain view, which we closely admired in the evening. Pula's another great spot for Roman remains, altho the harbour should not be swum in! The wind piped up again on our return to the boat and we were thankful the Honda was working, altho we got rather wet.
A light westerly allowed a slow sail to Porec to claim one of the last buoys off the marina. The ancient Basilica with it's mosaics is worth a visit, as is the mac only internet cafe! I considered taking the high speed wave piercing alloy cat Prince of Venice to that city for the day, but we continued to Umag to clear out of Croatia in 30mins. It's much quicker when you're not emptying your wallet! We continued round the headland to anchor off popply Bernardino in a southerly and revisited Pirano. Then we spent a night in the open anchorage off Koper which was a new and interesting stop, being Kapodistria a Venetian administrative centre for over 700 years, with again impressive architecture.
The midday Maestral ensured departure and we spent one night anchored in Monfalcone commercial harbour just outside Hannibal marina, whose good restaurant we made use of. We attempted the same the following night but the coastguard, who keep their boats in Hannibal, evicted us. Fortunately there was a spare berth on the Lega Navale pontoons, with another good restaurant in more modest surroundings. I didn't appreciate being evicted from both Monfalcone and Split anchorages, I hope this isn't going to spread!!
However on Sunday evening the 22nd August we were welcomed back into Nautec marina back up the Timavo river by Karl the Austrian manager. His friendly staff had craned out AB within 48hrs and there she rests for another winter.