Cruising Croatia

Dick and Irene Craig
Mon 1 Jun 2009 14:37

We spent a terrific weekend at Omisalj, on the island of Krk, in Croatia.

Arriving in the bay soon after 1pm, we met up with some friends who are also doing the World ARC. They live in Slovenia and keep a racing boat in the marina here. We went for a sail on their boat, tacking up and down the bay until the wind finally disappeared altogether. They took us, by car, further into the island. The scenery was so beautiful, so green, with surprisingly, a great many deciduous trees. We drove along roads with grape vines on all sides, as far as the eye could see, until we reached a bodega and bought some wine to help replenish our stores.

That evening we ate with our new friends, at their weekend house. After a sumptuous meal we walked around the town admiring the wonderful architecture. Most of the very old houses have been refurbished to their former glory. There are still a few left, waiting for a new owner to renovate them sympathetically.

Next day, we spent several hours discussing and demonstrating the various pieces of equipment already fitted on our boat. The boat which they have purchased for the circumnavigation is currently in Sweden and will need to be fitted with a lot of new toys before it leaves Europe. It was useful therefore, to be able to look at some of the options, which were actually being used on a daily basis.

In return, we were shown on the chart, the most attractive places to visit and the best anchorages to use. With a bora forecast for the end of the week, there is nothing like local knowledge, when it comes to finding a safe anchorage.

Then, after lunch, they were off, back to Slovenia. We look forward to meeting again in Las Palmas.

On Monday, we moved on from Omisalj and made passage to Punat, just 2 miles east of the capital of the island, also named Krk. The only wind we encountered was that which we generated ourselves as we motored along through a flat sea, dodging the fishing pots.

We anchored just behind the tiny island of Kosljun, which is in Puntarska Draga, a large landlocked inlet. There is a Franciscan monastery, on Kosljun, founded in the 12th century, which houses a museum and a library, which contains old manuscripts and books.

The temperature guage was registering 35.4º at 5pm and the water was warm and refreshing.

We didn’t leave our anchorage next day, until after 11am, making passage to Uvala Sv. Funija, a large bay, immediately to the west of Rab town, on the island of Rab.

The island of Rab is separated from the mainland by the Velebitski Kanal, where the bora blows violently, causing the east side of the island, presumably like so many of the islands that we have passed, to look barren. The west side of the island, again, like other islands we have passed, is green, wooded and fertile.

The trip took just over 4.5 hours. An hour before we were due to arrive at our anchorage, a huge dolphin jumped right out of the water, startling me. Before long it was joined by a mate, then 2 smaller dolphins, with others making up the chorus 500 metres away, both forward and aft, starboard side. We were treated to an amazing performance of somersaults, synchronized swimming and high jumps from the water, leaving a body length clear between the sea and the dolphin. This spectacle lasted about 15minutes before we left them behind us.

We had planned to move on but with the bora now expected to manifest itself later in the day, we moved across to the other side of the bay, to reduce the fetch, when the wind , forecast to reach 50mph, blew from the north east. Dropping an anchor, we spent the day bobbing around in the hot sunshine on the blue water.

A couple of small day boats anchored nearby and at one stage, one of them started to drift towards us. There were a number of local boats tied up to the rickety pontoons, with only 8 boats, including ourselves, at anchor in this huge bay. We watched the electrical storms all around us and listened to the howling wind but were well protected.

Thursday morning, we moved to Rab town quay, where we tied up alongside, then went ashore for provisions. Generally, we have found that the meat is good and inexpensive but that there is not always a good selection of fruit and vegetables, which are expensive.

Rab was an attractive town, popular with tourists.

We managed to sail most of the way to our anchorage, not mentioned in the pilot book but identified on the chart as U.Slatinica on the low lying island of Olib.

This was the first clear water that we have encountered on this trip and although the weather was cooler than we have been experiencing and the water cooler than in the previous bay, it was wonderful to be able to swim, watching the fish.

The bottom of the bay was hard sand, covered with a lot of what looked like sponges. We were surrounded on 3 sides by green, heavily wooded, gentle slopes with what looked liked a rocky beach at sea level. On one corner there was an open fronted brick or stone hut, protected from the sea by a wall. Half way along the same side of the bay, near to the top of the slope, stood a small, white church. A dry-stone wall, which ran round most sides of the bay, was in various stages of collapse.

Stopping here was not part of the original plan but as we had been sailing, there wasn’t really time to reach Molat before it was almost dark.

A couple of hours after our arrival, the wind changed direction but the swell still came from the same direction, making the anchorage uncomfortable. This sorted itself out after an hour or so but by 10pm, the wind was getting stronger. At 1am it was less than 10knots.This was unusual as the wind tends to go down by about 8pm, sometimes a little later.

By 5.30am the wind was blowing 25knots. We switched on the engines, raised the anchor and left the bay, making our way towards Molat.

The wind was force 8 and gusting 9. Dick stayed on the fly-bridge and Caroline and I stayed below. Such was the ferocity of the wind and the size of the seas, we didn’t feel that it was safe to even take down the anchor ball.

Traveling at a top speed of just over10knots, though sometimes with the wind head on, we didn’t achieve more than 4knots, we arrived at our new anchorage about 8.15am.

This weather hadn’t been forecast. The bora had been and gone before we even left our anchorage the previous day. The forecast had shown no wind at all.

About 8.30am, the Navtex reported belatedly, the possibility of storms in this area. They had been in receipt of this information yesterday but it hadn’t even been reported until we were already experiencing it.

We spent a very lazy day on the boat eating lots of comfort food to counteract the trauma of the previous 12 hours.

Next day, although the temperature is now down to mid 20º’s and we are thinking of putting the duvet back on the bed, the sun is shining and the seas just a slight ripple. There is no wind of course. It has all been used up, I hope.

We move to Molat town, in the next bay and make to tie up alongside. A local tells us that we can’t stop there but once we explain that we are only going ashore to buy some wine, he gladly takes our lines. In lesAs than 10 minutes we are on our way to a cove, named Vodenjak, on the island of Iz.

It is just enchanting. There is a small island about half way across the cove. It is possible to walk from Iz to the small island but you would get your feet wet walking across the very shallow, sandy, reef. The water is the very palest blue, with trees and shrubs growing to the edge of the water.

Below: Rab old town, where we sat out the bora about 750metres from here