CROATIA/HRVATSKA, NEAR TROGIR 43:26.37N, 16:10.70E
Dobar dan (Good day) Croatian is not like any language you have ever heard!
Our last webdiary came from Dubrovnik, on 8 June, we had just checked in and got a 3 month cruising permit. There is a lot of bureaucracy and charges for cruising include a tourist tax for people sleeping on board. For us, nearly NZ$1,000. The marinas are also very expensive, NZ$200 and more per night. There are rangers collecting anchoring and mooring fees at some places, though with over 4,000 bays in 100 miles of coastline, there are many free places to anchor. The weather has been wonderful, sunny and hot, and we have swum 2 or 3 times every day. This is cruising life at its best.
10.6: We anchored in Otok (which means island in Croatian) Zaton for 3 nights. Kiwi friends, June and Pat bought ‘Antares’ a year ago, and we were excited to see them at Veli Zaton bay. We met their kiwi friends, John and Robin on catamaran ‘Panthera’. The next day we motored a few miles to Otok Lopud in Uvla Sunj bay, and the following day we motored to Otok Sipan and swam at Sudurad village (which had 2 ruined castle towers), then motored to Slano, on the mainland, for a night, where we provisioned at the mini-markets.
13.6 We had a lovely sail to Otok Mljet, where we anchored at Polace, this bay has a large ruined Roman palace. Mljet is a reserve, so we paid a fee which included a bus and ferry ride to the nearby Benedictine monastery on an island in one of the 2 lakes inside Mljet. Legend says that Odysseus spent seven years on Mljet, captivated by the nymph Calypso. We went together with the crews of ‘Antares’ and ‘Panthera’. That night we all had drinks together on ‘Panthera’, and learned about their ipad applications for stars and charts. On 15.6 Consie’s twinsister Feyona texted to say that our mother had survived 5 hours of openheart surgery. That day we motored round to Pomena bay, also on Mljet with thunderstorms and lightning in the distance.
16.6 We sailed from Mljet island to Lastovo island, anchored in Skrivena Luka, another reserve, an ex-military island, where we had a quiet night. The next day we motored round to Ubli, where we dinghied into a minimarket, then motored on to ex-naval base, Jurjeva Luka, between the islands of Prezba and Lastovo. 18.6.11 we motored to yet another bay between Lastovo and Prezba islands, Mali Lago, with pine trees down to the water, a few houses around the corner, out of sight. A ranger came to collect dues each evening.
19.6.11: We set sail from Lastovo in a brisk breeze of 20+ kts across to Korčula island, some 21n.miles with a small fleet of charterboats racing with us. This is where Marko Polo and my friend Karen, who owns a fish-shop in Auckland, come from. Many New Zealand fishmongers and vineyards are owned by Croatians. We anchored in Lumbarda bay, and went ashore to the supermarket to get fresh bread, fruit and vegetables. As the shop was a few steps away from the dinghy, we also bought Croatian beer and wine. We had fresh Squid, so we did not try out any of the 27 restaurants ashore, though we were practically sitting in them on the boat. We had a quiet night, but woke up with a wind change so took up the anchor and settled down across the bay in front of a stone sculptor’s house, where we stayed another night.
21.6.11: We motored round to Ulva Luka bay, near Korcula town, where we saw ‘South Wind’, the 45m superyacht that Gilbert used to work on (how we wished he was there) Keir took us to dinner in a local restaurant near Marko Polo’s home. The following morning Bobbi and her cousin Richard (both from America) arrived by bus from Dubrovnik, but Richard’s bag did not arrive, and was delivered the next day. We motored to nearby Otok Badija, a monastery, for a walk and anchored for the night, then went back to Korcula to collect the bag, and to check in at the Harbourmaster’s office. After a walk around the gorgeous walled city, and a peep at Marko Polo’s tower, we motored to Loviste bay, on the mainland.
Bobbi and her cousin, Richard settled into life aboard, she is a vegetarian and he a gourmet cook. Bobbi had brought me the exact same Taste of Croatia cookbook I had been planning to buy, it was written by her friend Karen Evenden in Ojai, California, who had lived aboard in Croatia for some years! It is no hardship to be a vegetarian in Croatia, the vegetables are wonderful: eggplant, zucchini, olives, juicy red tomatoes in little market stalls. And the fruits: gorgeous apricots, nectarines, plums, almonds, walnuts, figs, lemons. Bobbi and Richard brought us a wonderful bag-full of local specialities: grappa, fig jam, olive paste, olive oil and salami, cheese, figs, cookies and wine. Hvala (Thankyou). Tiny drops of all these ingredients turn a bland meal into a Croatian one. They also have a secret herb mixture, called ‘vegeta’ which is added to most dishes. Lavender and Rosemary grow by the sides of the roads, and are added to most recipes. As you all know, I am a fast cook rather than a gourmet cook, but I have tried a few new recipes, including squid, and am thinking of testing whether it is true that a couple of corks tossed into the cooking pot with octopus really do make it more tender.
24.6.11 we motorsailed to Scedro, where we had arranged to meet up with kiwi friends Jo and Chris, who were chartering 49ft ‘Mirta’ for 2 weeks, with their young on board, Kate and Gareth, and Tom and Julia. We had drinks together on Mirta, and Bobbi and Richard made a squid, pasta and vegetable dinner, but we had an unsettled night, as a Bora (strong wind) came in at 1 am. Jo and Chris left, as their anchor did not hold in the strong winds. After breakfast we weighed anchor, and sailed in bullets of wind 20 to 30kts, to the Pakleni islands, where we anchored in Ulva Vinogradisce, on Otok Sveti Klement, a popular and crowded anchorage, where we swam and had dinner. There was a large wedding ashore, with loud music until 2am. Feyona texted that Consie’s brother Jan and wife Carolyn had arrived in Sydney, a boost for their mum, recovering from openheart surgery. Feyona and Bonnie are with her every day.
27.6.11 We motored to Hvar, a lovely old town with large fort on top of the hill. We walked around the ancient streets and bought provisions at the supermarket and fresh produce market, including delicious smoked figs, recommended by Jo on ‘Mirta’. We heard that Prince William and Kate were on a large power boat, ‘Lucky Me’. That night we motored to another of the Pakleni islands, Marinkovac, and anchored at Uvala Stipanska. The next morning we picked up a huge old fishing net in the anchor, we kept the ropes and threw away the stinking net. We sailed across to the island of Vis, and our famous photographer friend Chris came and took some photos of us sailing in the blue Adriatic water! After walking around Vis, we sailed back to Uvala Stipanska, where we met up again with ‘Antares’ and ‘Mirta’, and had a late night together. The next morning we had a ‘book swap’ a very important liveaboard activity, becoming less vital now that many have kindles and ipads (as we do). We are always happy to get a couple of good books. Afterwards, we said goodbye and motored to Luka Tiha, a quiet bay near Starigrad on Otok Hvar. The next morning we motored 2.5 miles to tie up to a buoy at Starigrad, settled by the ancient Greeks 3,000 years ago, they called it Pharos. We walked around the ancient town, with archaeological sites in churchyards and gardens. We later motored back to quiet Luka Tiha again for the night.
1.7.11 We set off motoring to Brac island, settled for 2,000 years, where we anchored at Ulva Lucice and walked around 6km to the harbor town of Milna and back, and that night had dinner at the small restaurant ashore, delicious food. If you want to try the famous local ‘Peka’ speciality, you have to book 4 hours in advance! Meat and vegetables are placed in a round, covered roasting dish made of metal or pottery and placed in an open fire. The following morning Richard said he was feeling seasick, and asked if we could put him and Bobbi ashore at Milna, so we motored 4nmiles round to Milna and left them at the busstop for Split. We motored 9nmiles on to anchor at Stracinska, on Solta island, taking a line ashore, moving to another bay the next night, with another unpronounceable name: Maslinica. There are thousands of islands, and most are only a few miles apart, so on 3.7 we motored another 10 nmiles to Veli Drvenik, near Trogir, where we will go tomorrow to drop Keir off to catch his flight home.
The tourist brochures show the water as being very blue, this time the brochures are right, the water is so clear you can see fish on the bottom at 20 metres, it is impossibly blue, we have been using our desalinator. The islands are quite barren, very stoney, and we often come across ancient olive farms, now abandoned, with a bombed farmhouse nearby. Many of the beaches are nude beaches, and the sign FKK on the beach means you have to be nude! Many people on boats are nude (usually the people who should not be), and we have come across many huge fat Germans parading around nude. Germans seem to be the main charterers, though we have seen more kiwi boats in Croatia than in the whole previous 6+ years. I have so many amazing photos of seaside towns that I can hardly decide which ones to include in this log.
Keir returns to Scotland on 4 July, and then we will be meeting up with our Danish friends Tuxen and Inger, who are cruising on a luxurious gulet around Croatia. Next week Roland’s cousin from Washington, Caroline and her husband Duncan, are joining us for a few days of cruising, and after that our friend David, who lives in Antigua and Scotland, is coming to cruise north towards Venice. Our young are joining us in Venice for Consie’s big birthday, we can’t wait to see them; Consie’s twin Feyona will be in Sydney with her own children and grandchildren for her big birthday. An RCC contact in Venice says he has already organised a birthday cake with candles for Consie!