June 21-22, 2022
Cista Luka 42°35.39'N/18°13.40'E
Donje Čelo (Otok Kolocep) 42°40.872'N/18°00.206'E
Uvala Lopud (Otok Lopud) 42°41.272'N/17°56.368'E
The big picture
This morning, after a nice brekkie and a lovely phone call with our friends, Annie & Liam, who are still in New Zealand waiting for a weather window to sail north, we pulled up Awildian's anchor and headed north ourselves. We only need a teeny tiny weather window to travel these days, since we don't travel far.
Today, we had a few possible anchorages in mind, but we were planning to keep going until we decided that we wanted to drop the anchor somewhere.
We motored slowly along the coast, taking in the sights. Until we'd returned to Awildian in the anchorage after touring Dubrovnik, I hadn't realized that the patch of rusty red I'd been seeing in the distance was actually the roofs of the Old Town. It really wasn't that far from Cavtat.
Along the way, we passed reminders of the bloody Homeland War: Bombed-out husks of hotels perched along the shore of pretty Župa Bay at Kupari stood testament to the violence. These once-posh resorts, frequented by the upper crust of the Yugoslav Army, had been bombed by what the Croatian Homeland War Museum referred to in their exhibits as "the so-called Yugoslav Army" during the Siege of Dubrovnik in 1991.
After the hotels had been bombed, they were looted for any valuable items before being systematically burned floor by floor. In the spirit of "life goes on," the beaches in front of the ruins are once again packed with sunbathers and swimmers, who seem unconcerned by the stark backdrop.
Here's a link to some before-and-after photos of the hotels.
We motored close to shore as we approached, and then passed, Dubrovnik, affording some excellent views of the city and its walls and towers. It was fun to see them from "the other side." It certainly was an imposing edifice.
Hotel Belvedere, another bombed-out hotel closer to Dubrovnik
After our slow-motion cruise-by, we moved away from the coast and PUT UP OUR SAILS! Ok, so the wind was only 2-3 knots, but it was from behind us for a change, which meant that with our miniscule forward motion, the apparent wind was on our beam. We turned off the Things (Thing 1 and Thing 2, our Yanmar engines) and enjoyed about an hour of quiet (and very slow) sailing. We weren't in a hurry to get anywhere, so we had that luxury.
In the mid-afternoon we decided to stop at Donje Čelo, an anchorage at the northern end of Otok Koločep that had good reviews on Navily. ("Otok" is "island" in Croatian; you'll be seeing it a lot in this blog.) Koločep is one of the Elaphite Islands, a small archipelago just north of Dubrovnik that was named by Pliny the Elder (whom, you may recall, also wrote first-hand about the eruption of Vesuvius that wiped out Pompeii and Herculaneum - that guy got around). "Elaphite" comes from the ancient Greek word "elaphos" which means "deer." According to Pliny, there were a lot of deer on the islands; sadly, they're all gone.
When we pulled into Donje Čelo at about 1 pm, a few boats were already in the anchorage, leaving us only a couple of options for places to drop our own anchor. We dropped it in a large empty area, a good distance from a cement quay, which we assumed was probably a ferry dock. We wondered how often a ferry came. The answer is: frequently. There may no longer be deer on the islands, but there are certainly lots of ferries.
The ferry dock at Donje Čelo (not my photo)
After we had lunch, Eric went downstairs to take a nap. I sat on the back porch, writing and looking longingly at the trees on shore, where I hoped to take the dinghy in the morning to do some birdwatching.
The first time the big ferry came, it disgorged some passengers, picked up others, and then backed out on the other side of the quay from us to turn around. No problem (I thought). But on his way past Awildian, the captain gave me a very dirty look.
An f-ing ferry (not my photo)
About an hour later, the same ferry returned, docked, did the passenger dance, and backed up on the other side of the quay again. But when he passed by us this time - very close, I might add - he not only gave me a very dirty look, but he also blew the ship's horn, hollered something at me in Croatian and gestured vehemently. One did not need to understand Croatian to gather that he was telling us to clear off. Apparently, this big open space where we were anchored was his usual turning-around area, and he was not pleased to have a sailboat in it.
Not wanting to see how things escalated the third time the ferry came, I woke Eric up and told him the sad news that we'd have to find a different anchorage. There really wasn't a suitable spot for us in this one. I was peeved: I'd been looking forward to exploring the island tomorrow; also it was now about 4:30 pm, and we were pretty sure that anywhere we went would already be crowded. "F-ing ferry," I grumbled, a phrase that stuck for the rest of the time we were in Croatia, whenever we saw a ferry.
Consulting Navily, I found us a likely looking anchorage at the north end of Otok Lopud, another Elaphite Island, about 4 nm away.
We saw this along the way
Reported to be a wide, sandy bay, Uvala Lopud (remember, "uvala" means "cove") was in fact. But at 5:45 pm, it was already crowded with boats. Quite a few moorings also dotted the scene, further limiting our choices.
We had a heck of a time, finding a place to anchor that wasn't too close (by our standards) to another boat, or to the moorings, or to the swimming areas, or wasn't too shallow. Three times, we dropped our anchor, three times we pulled it up when we decided that it wasn't right. All the while, the sun was sinking lower in the sky, making it difficult for me to differentiate between sandy spots (= good) and weedy patches (= bad). At one point during this process, the metal thimble of the anchor bridle got wedged between the anchor shank and the side of the anchor slot, jamming the anchor so that it couldn't move. It took a couple of minutes, but Eric was able to wrench them apart. It was all quite a fiasco. Fortunately, we had our "marriage saver" headsets on, so while there was no yelling, I can tell you that there were plenty of quiet testy exchanges. Still, it was evident that today WE were the entertainment for the crews of the anchored boats. Some of them were even sitting on their foredecks with cocktails while they watched. I hope they enjoyed the performance; we weren't planning to have an encore.
Eventually we said "screw it," drove over to the mooring buoys, selected one, and executed a perfect pickup. At least we got that right! After our arrival rums, we floated the dinghy and drove to the dinghy dock at the restaurant that had supplied the moorings. We enjoyed a lovely dinner, which covered the cost of the mooring for the night.
Our waiter was a young man who said he was Serbian. I asked him how it is these days, for a Serb to be living and working in Croatia. He said, "it's fine, everyone gets along." That made us happy - and hopeful for the future. Things have changed since the days when the hotels were bombed.
The next day, another sunny hot summer day, we took our dinghy to shore and explored the tiny town. We strolled along the waterfront, with its charming old stone buildings. Two churches, a 15th Century monastery, a defunct and delapidated hotel, a small-boat marina with a ferry dock, several holiday apartments, a few restaurants, and three places to buy ice cream, made up the town.
Scenes aroud Lopud:
The school, old and new
The delapidated hotel
The Lopud Fire Department
At around noon, one of the restaurant staff came out to Awildian in the restaurant's launch and asked us, very nicely and with lots of apologies, if we would please leave the mooring to make space for the lunch crowd. We obliged, and as most of yesterday's boats had left the bay by this time, creating lots of room, we had no problem anchoring.
This was the first night of the Lopud Film Festival, and a big screen had been erected in front of the one swanky hotel. A poster on shore informed us that tonight's movie would be "Fargo." We also suspected that there would be fireworks at some point, as a small fireworks barge that had been tied to shore all day was now floating in the middle of the bay, with a couple of men on it.
The fireworks began at 11:30 pm. We'd been asleep but we got up to watch the show.
The next morning, we looked outside and saw this:
Garbage collection, Lopud style
The barge carried the truck to several small jetties along the waterfront, where rubbish bins had been set up. Men emptied the bins into the garbage truck, then the barge moved along to the next jetty. It seemed a good solution to the problem of needing a big truck to pick up lots of rubbish, in a town with a tiny waterfront street. Most likely, the barge then took the truck to the mainland to be emptied.
Later in the morning, we pulled up Awildian's anchor and headed out, ready to explore some more of Croatia's beautiful island anchorages.