Sailing in Paradise

BLog for John & Julia Freeland sailing in Mary Ann II

31 May 2013 | Nevis
30 December 2011 | Bridgetown Barbados
30 November 2011 | Mindelo, St Vicient, Cabo Verdes
13 September 2011 | Lazarote, Canaries
31 July 2011 | Croatia
07 July 2011 | Sardinia
30 June 2011 | Italy
31 March 2011 | Greece
15 March 2011 | Intaly
31 December 2010 | Lefkas Greece
11 November 2010 | Ithica Greece
10 October 2010 | Corinth Greece

Greetings from Italy and Croatia

30 June 2011 | Italy
June 2011

Greetings from Greece, Italy and Croatia,

Whilst waiting in Corfu for an elusive Sirroco wind from Africa to carry us to Croatia we hatched a new plan to work our way up the Adriatic Coast of Italy as far as Vieste, (on the spur of the boot.) and then cross on the more common north-westerly winds to Croatia. The weather did not proven ideal and several times we joined the local fishing fleet to wait out the strong wind. We spent one day in the small port of Molfetta being buffeted onto an ancient limestone quay in a gale and then getting a proper deluge, only to then have a quiet night tucked between trawlers.

We creped up the Italian coast mostly with contrary winds spending a couple days in Otranto, one in Brindisi, Bari and a few in Molfetta. All these towns have gorgeous medieval areas next to the port surrounded by the less scenic but ubiquitous concrete three and four story flats. Shops are small with only the slightest hint of brand name penetration and being Italy there are eight clothing stores for every grocer. In one fishing port, when we were buying two extra large boat fenders, the chandelier gave me a stainless steel pocket knife with his shop's name embossed on it as a souvenir and another shop owner walked out into the driving rain to show us the way to another shop. The fishermen were also very helpful and friendly. We were chuffed to to have a lovely three course meal for two with a liter of local wine for 20 euro's. We keep toying with the idea that when we're a bit too long in the tooth for sailing then Southern Italy would perhaps be just the right doce vita for two old sailors. Oh, but that time is years off. Our last port of call in Italy was Vieste with a lovely medieval walled city, several light houses, a large stone pinnacle, an ancient fort, beautiful limestone cliffs and lots of pizzarias. Of course as soon as we had made all the 'north'ing we needed then the north wind totally fizzled out but I can think of worse places to get stuck.

Croatia was billed as being very expensive, onerous bureaucracy, and with a steady stream of anchoring fees. None of this has proven true, although there have been numerous harbours which charge, we have found lovely anchorages without any fees. After about two weeks we've paid a total of 6 euros in anchoring fees and bought one reasonably priced meal at a restaurant with free moorings for patrons. Two of the islands have only been opened to tourist for only ten years. Lastovo has changed from a military outpost to a national park and was not only lovely but had fantastic walking trails. Vis was a British base during WWII and there is a British military cemetery which dates to the Napoleonic Wars. We dinked into a submarine pen built into a hillside (déjà vu of Das Boot) and traipsed through a tunnel system of gun bunkers similar to those in Normandy. The towns are mostly built of beautiful Korcula limestone with the ubiquitous red tile roofs. Shops are somewhat sparce, which may be a left over of a socialist economy but the lack of glaring commercialism is, I find, more refreshing than inconvenient.

Croatia has a thriving charter boat industry but with numerous coves, nooks and crannies we rarely feel very crowded. The waters are very clear due to islands cutting off the silt from the coastal rivers; 30 to 40 feet visibility is not unusual. There are a great deal more fish in the water than in Greece, which is I believe is in direct proportion to the number of fishing boat. The Croatians don't seem to hold to the Greek maxim: "that if it swims; eat it." I recently splurged and did a diving trip on a wreck. It was an American- built steam ship from the 1880's that sunk in the thirties. The highlight was feeding several massive conger eels about four feet long and the diameter of my calf. We also did a short trip to a sea cave which is lit by an under water opening such that in the morning, the light in the cave comes from the floor in a gorgeous deep blue. Julia also got to see her first ever live snake in the wild - two small and harmless (garter-like) snakes

Hvar felt like a taste of Venice. The Venetians colonized many of the Adriatic islands and once they had built a commanding fort overlooking Hvar's harbour the town managed to repell the Turks repeatedly. The main town square was once a canal and one of the main shopping areas is converted from shipping warehouses. The town's picturesque character is also enhanced by the absence of cars (another similarity to Venice.) The beautiful white marble stone from the area was used in building the American White House. Next week we're off to Diocletian's Palace in Split. Croatia is proving a nice blend to quiet, remote and picturesque coves with plenty of lovely medieval architecture and even a splash of Roman and Greek ruins. The reputation of Croatia as one of the best cruising grounds anywhere is proving accurate but of course the real secret to enjoying the boatie life is to become a bit enamoured with every place you go.

We been meeting many cruisers along the way and swapping advice on anchorages and nice spots. We plan to spend another month here and then make dash for Gibraltar and the Atlantic.

Fair Winds,

John, Julia and Murphy.

Vessel Name: Mary Ann II
Vessel Make/Model: Westsail 32
Hailing Port: York
Crew: Julia Freeland
After have spent the past two years sailing the med and then crossing to the Caribbean, the cruised 6 months in the windward islands, then 7 months in the UK. We're now back in Grenada getting ready to cruise the Leeward Isles. [...]

Who: Julia Freeland
Port: York