We left Marina Kastela with few regrets. It had been recommended to us as a good place to overwinter the boat but we were somewhat disappointed by the lack of attention to the decks although we had been promised they would be cleaned regularly while we were away. However, the work on the antifoul and the anodes was attended to in good time and once we had the major, professional clean we were ready to go.
So on Monday May 16th. we set out to sea again and bade a less than fond farewell to Kastela.
We thought we had checked every system but 300 metres from the dock, when Julie pressed the button, she found that the autohelm, which steers the boat for us on the course we set, was not working. There was considerable consternation but we couldn’t face the prospect of returning to Kastela so decided to steer by hand. This, for a long journey, is decidedly tedious as any lapse of concentration sees the boat veering off course.
The first day we made 30 nautical miles to the little harbour of Primosten where we picked up a mooring in some swell but the wind dropped and had an excellent night.
This was the last stop on familiar territory, as the following night we were in the little port of Sali on Dugi Otok, one of the innumerable islands and rocks which we passed through on our journey north towards Istria.
During the night Terry had a brainwave and recalled that we have a remote control for the instruments which we have never used and which might bypass the autohelm control box. He jumped out of bed and put it on charge and to our joy and relief it worked.
So much so that the next day we did over 50 miles to Mali on the island of Losinj. A day of brilliant sunshine but no wind so it was a long motor.
That night the wind came up out of the south and blew quite strongly. This was perfect for our final trip of this passage as we were headed north-west and so set off quite early despite the reservations of the marinero who felt that we were being foolhardy. However, once he saw Julie’s skillful manoeuvre away from the dock he complemented her and waved us goodbye.
Before the wind Exotica sails best with headsail alone and so we had a great ride in up to 25 knots of breeze touching 9 knots of speed at times. It was bitterly cold though, so grateful for our thermal hats!
It was early afternoon when we arrived at our destination for the next week or so, Marina Veruda, a couple miles south of Pula, the largest city on the Istrian peninsula in the north of Croatia. Here we had been booked a berth by our friend Marino Skoko, a shipwright who, like us, divides his time between summers in Sydney and his native Croatia. He kindly organised for his friends to be ready to undertake some of the maintenance required to get Exotica looking beautiful and working well again.
So far we are delighted by the work done. Unlike other parts of Croatia, it appears that when workmen here say they will come they actually do and complete the job on time.
So the excellent Eddie has been putting special nanotechnology surfacing on the teak decks and Elvis (yes – really) has refurbished the sprayhood.
Meanwhile we have hired a car and investigated Pula, with its impressive Roman arena and the hinterland of Istria, where we have found hill top fortress towns and castles with blacksmithing exhibitions.
We plan a few more days to finish the work, held up at the moment by some heavy rain, and then will be on our way further north before crossing the Adriatic again to Venice.