Southbound through Croatia
Here is a link to the animation showing our entire trip,
with a few photos.
Southward in Croatia
Below I've given you some more details and photos about each place we visited. Each one merited a blog entry of its own, but, sadly, they'll have to share this one.
Zadar to Lumbrak
After picking up our friend, Sharron, from the ferry dock in Zadar, and exploring the city for a bit, we headed south, back the way we'd come, and anchored again at Lumbrak. As before, the anchorage was packed with boats when we arrived in the afternoon, but by evening, only three remained to enjoy the placid water.
In the morning, Sharron and I took the dinghy to shore. She went for a run and I went birdwatching.
When we reconvened on the beach an hour later, a naked man was standing near our dinghy. Then he turned and walked along the beach toward us. That was a bit awkward. Both of us kept our eyes on his face and smiled when he passed us.
The forecast called for thunderstorms in the afternoon, but by the look of the sky, the weather was going to arrive in late morning. We took the dinghy back to Awildian, lifted his anchor, and got underway.
Lumbrak to Uvala Stupica Vela (Otok Žirje)
The rain started as we left Lumbrak. Lightning accompanied us for the entire trip, often spearing down closer than we'd like, followed by loud thunder. Fortunately, our helm station has an enclosure, so whoever was keeping a lookout could stay dry, because the rain fell in buckets. We followed the storms in real time using the Weather Radar function on Windy.com (it's nice having internet all the time), so we could see where they were forming and drifting. We knew we were in it for awhile.
When we arrived in Uvala Stupica Vela, a small cove dotted with dozens of bright orange mooring balls, Sharron pitched in to help with snagging and tying us to one of them. It was intimidating, to be out on the front of the boat, picking up a mooring with lightning spearing down nearby, but the three of us worked together well and got it done quickly. Once Awildian was secured, we enjoyed some hot chocolate.
The mooring balls were owned by the little restaurant in the cove, so we made reservations for dinner.
By dinnertime the storms had passed, the sky had cleared, and everything was calm and dry. We tied our dinghy to the small quay at the restaurant - Konoba Stupica GRILL FISH WINE - and perused their menu, written on a chalkboard. It didn't take long: there were three kinds of local fish, a pork dish, and a beef dish. Sides were a mixed salad or a potato salad. We enjoyed a really nice dinner with local wine, and pancakes stuffed with nuts and honey for dessert. After that, we sampled some Croatian grappas infused with either dark cherry (višnja) or walnut (šokac).
The next morning, a man came by in a little boat, with bread and pastries for sale, which we enjoyed for breakfast. Afterwards, we climbed the hill behind the restaurant to explore the ruins of a 6th Century Byzantine fortress. It was fun to wander around and over and through the stone walls, and enjoy the view of the sparkling Adriatic Sea.
Uvala Stupica Vela (Otok Žirje) to Vinišće
We sailed today! It's rare that there's enough wind for us to sail, but today we did. We anchored near the town of Vinišće, which lies at the head of a narrow inlet on the mainland. We enjoyed a lazy afternoon and then in the evening took the dinghy in to explore the small town, which extends along the waterfront at the head of the inlet.
Vinišće to Split
Today we motored to Split, and dropped our anchor in a wide open bay on the "back" side of the city. From there Eric, Sharron, and I could dinghy into the marina, and walk or take a bus into the old part of town, where Diocletian's Palace is located. We spent a couple of days exploring the Palace on our own, and also as part of a very small paid tour (just the three of us). Split's old town is an amazing place, well worth a visit.
When the time came for Sharron to continue her travels by air, we dinghied across the bay to Marina Kastela, and after a lunch of yummy čevapćići (small sausages) in a tiny restaurant, she caught a taxi to the Split airport.
Eric and I stayed in Split for several more days. We caught up on housework and boatwork, listened to the cheers and songs from the nearby soccer stadium when the Hajduk Split team played, and one day we caught a bus to Trogir, the old town at the other end of the bay.
Trogir is a fascinating old city, with thick stone walls, fortresses, and bridges. Even the ride to Trogir was interesting: along the coast road are seven small harbor towns, each originating from a castle "kaštel" that had been built by a rich family in the 15th or 16th Century.
Note the date
Split to Omiš
Our next destination was Omiš, which is one of our favorite places in Croatia. Lonely Planet says this about the little town: "The legendary pirates' lair of Omiš has one of the most dramatic locations of any town on the Dalmatian coast. Situated at the mouth of the Cetina River, at the end of a picturesque canyon, it's backed by sheer walls of mottled grey rock topped with craggy peaks."
During their heyday in the 12th and 13th Centuries, pirates plundered ships and terrified crews all along the Dalmatian coast, spotting their quarry from lookouts constructed on high cliffs,
We anchored Awildian in clear water to the south of the river,
View from the anchorage
and took the dinghy into town. After finding a place to tie the dinghy,
we climbed up to and through one of their lookout fortresses,
walked through the quaint town,
The sign says that it's forbidden to tie your boat to the bridge.
and explored the river by dinghy.
High overhead, a bridge was in the process of being constructed. The roadway was being extended out from tunnels on each side of the gap, and would eventually meet in the middle, where they would be joined.
The bridge has since been completed. We'd love to take a drive across it!
Here are links to a couple of short videos showing the construction of the bridge.
The bridge being built
The nearly-finished bridge
With its stunning mountains, quiet river, beautiful anchorage, and pirate hideouts, Omiš has a lot of appealing qualities. What is not appealing however, is its (deserved) reputation as a "bora accelerator." You may remember that a bora is a strong N or NE wind that blows down the sides of mountains along the eastern shore of the Adriatic Sea. Often, these are forecast. In some places, though, the terrain accelerates the wind. As we found out, Omiš is one of those places. While the forecast predicted a night of light wind in the anchorage, we were blasted by 30 knots all night long. Two nights in a row. Our anchor held fine in the sand, but I don't sleep well when we're anchored in wind like that.
Omiš to Vrboska
Our next anchorage was near the town of Vrboska, on the north shore of Otok Hvar, around the corner from Starigrad, where we'd visited earlier. We dinghied over to an American boat, Orinoco, in the anchorage with us and learned from Ken and Pam, its crew, that the only approved place to tie a dinghy is in the town itself. So we followed them into town, tied our dinghy and went exploring.
Vrboska has the usual quaint white stone block buildings, but it also has a series of arched bridges over the stream that runs through town.
After walking through the town, we crossed the largest bridge, walked up a hill and across the main road, down a dirt road through some trees, which ended at the edge of a beautiful, rocky cove with clear water. What a find!
Vrboska to Lovište
We enjoyed several quiet days in Lovište, relaxing on the boat and exploring the small town.
Lovište to Uvala Račišće
Uvala Račišće is a long, narrow inlet on the east coast of Korčula island, near the town of Lumbarda. Several comments in Navily mentioned that the small restaurant (Konoba Gavuni) on the shore of the inlet had tasty, inexpensive food, and a dessert that was not to be missed: vanilla ice cream topped with roasted pumpkin seeds and pumpkin seed oil. Even the contributors commented that it sounds terrible, but tastes really good. So we had to give it a try.
I can report that yes, the food was tasty and inexpensive, the wait staff pleasant, and the vanilla ice cream with pumpkin seed oil was out of this world! We have since kept a supply of pumpkin seed oil on Awildian, and even bought some for our family in the States. It can be used in other foods as well as for a topping for ice cream.
One day we walked into Lumbarda. Neither of us was particularly impressed with this town, which seemed kind of dumpy and not very interesting.
Uvala Račišće to Prožurska Luka
Our friends on Orinoco had told us about this great anchorage on the north shore of Otok Mljet: Prožurska Luka, so we decided to check it out. The harbor is split into two lobes by a small peninsula; both have mooring balls. Several rocky islets guard the openings of the lobes, so there is very little wave motion inside. We entered the smaller of the two lobes, and swung through the anchorage. It was behind the mooring field and at 60 feet was deeper than we wanted to deal with, so we picked up a mooring, which was owned by the restaurant on shore, Marijina Konoba.
In the late afternoon, a young man, the son of the restaurant owner, came by in a small boat to take our dinner order. Because he came a couple of hours before dinner, we were finally able to order peka, a Croatian slow-cooked dish that everyone raves about. We really enjoyed it!
A few hours after we arrived, a small sailboat came into the mooring field - under sail! This is very unusual. The woman at the helm seemed calm and confident; her male partner was on the bow. He dropped the anchor, then swam to the mooring ball and tied their boat to it. We were impressed. Later, on our way to dinner, we stopped by their boat, Venus. We met Kerstin and Andi, friendly Germans who had sailed their 21-foot boat down from northern Croatia, with the goal of sailing her all the way to Greece (which they did). Over the next couple of days, we had fun playing music together on Awildian during a shattering thunderstorm, we shared meals and stories, and built a friendship.
Prožurska Luka to Čajkovići (on the Dubrovnik River)
We passed under the iconic Franjo Tuđman Bridge over the Dubrovnik River on a Friday afternoon. Motoring along the river on the back side of Dubrovnik, we passed old churches and new buildings, and a big marina, before eventually arriving at the wide spot just before the ACI marina, at the town of Čajkovići, which was the anchorage. That evening's entertainment was watching the return of hundreds of charter boats, each of which had to fuel up before entering the marina. The line they made was more than a half mile long.
The next day, we took care of some boat jobs - visiting some chandleries, carting our propane tank to the INA and having it filled, buying some groceries - but we also found time to explore the river with our dinghy. It wasn't as wild or as long as the Cetina, but we saw some ducks and found a waterside restaurant where we enjoyed lunch.
Čajkovići to Cista Luka
We returned to our first anchorage in Croatia, which was also our last. Andi and Kerstin anchored near us, and we enjoyed some more fun times in this beautiful spot.
Clearing out in Cavtat
Awildian and Venus cleared out of Croatia on the same sunny morning in early September,
and headed south to continue their adventures in Montenegro.