Julie returned from her successful trip to Sydney, where she was caring for her aunt, on August 5th having been away for two weeks. Terry had Venice and Exotica all to himself.
The very next day we finally left Venice after over 2 months on Certosa Island. We headed north against choppy seas and windy weather, as it was hard on the nose we had to motor for seven hours, finally arriving in Marina Sant Andrea, a very quiet marina 4nm up a canal in another large and shallow lagoon. This is just about the most northerly place in the whole Mediterranean.
We had chosen this marina as we needed to have somewhere to leave Exotica for a week as we had a trip planned to the Austrian Tyrol where, having hired a car at Trieste airport, we drove over the Dolomites by way of the Plockenpass, steep and narrow and requiring about a thousand gear changes in a small manual car.
Our destination was the Dolomitengolf Hotel where we joined our friends Maria and Juergen Luders. They are keen golfers and have come here for many years to play on the beautiful 27 hole golf course. It is an amazing place, a valley surrounded by the mountains of the Dolomites close to the town of Lienz. Despite the awesome ranges on all sides the golf course is almost completely flat and beautifully maintained with lush grass. Terry bought some golf shoes, hired some clubs and played every day of our stay. Julie utilised the gyms and the pools.
Juergen drove us to glimpse the highest Austrian peak, Grossglockner, 3,798m. It was a freezing 1C from the lookout point but worth the chill as the clouds parted to give us a spectacular view of the peak and glazier.
We returned to Exotica on August 13th and after a day for cleaning, restocking and washing we set off across the Adriatic again, stopping briefly in Piran, Slovenia, to check out of the Shengen zone of the EU and then the few miles to Umag, the most northerly port in Croatia, to visit the police and pay the sizeable sum which allows the boat to stay in Croatia.
Over the next few days we made our way south on the western Istrian peninsula, stopping on a mooring in Porec and another one in Rovinj, where we had previously stayed in the marina on our way to Venice. During the night there was a very impressive electrical thunderstorm from the west and a fierce gale blew up from the NE. It didn’t last long but we were grateful to be on a reliable concrete block.
Since then we have cruised through the islands of the northern Adriatic. For three days we were storm bound in the small town of Cres, capital of the island of that name. This was during the passage of a bora, a very strong north easterly wind which funnels down from the Dolomite mountains to the north and roars down the east side of the Adriatic. It can come suddenly with high winds and large seas. Fortunately forecasting is very good and one has warning so that we know when to head for a safe port.
The bora may blow fiercely but it brings clear, blue skies so we hired a (yet another tiny manual) car and explored the islands of Cres and Losinj by land. There is a very narrow, treacherous road up to the clifftop ancient town of Lubenica. From there we were nearly blown off looking down at the huge seas, very glad we had chosen to remain landlubbers that day.
We have also been lucky to have joined Marino Skoko with his 36 foot yacht Homeless. Marino is a friend who comes from Istria and knows this part of the world intimately. He also spends the seven European winter months in Sydney.
Over the past week he has led us into beautiful harbours and anchorages such as Ustrine on Cres Island, then through the tiny canal at Osor where a swing bridge opens twice a day, the passage of the boats affords the days highlight for the holidaymakers. We anchored for the night at shallow, quiet bay of Sonte and then sailed all day, for a change, including a delightful narrow passage between two islands at Ilovik.
Finally the idyllic bay, Luke Svet Ant, on Silba and the tiny harbour of Susac. This island is unique in this part of Croatia, they say it was a meterorite. Instead of rocks and soil it’s vegetation is bamboo, holding fine sandy mud hillsides together. Much of the island is covered with vines which produce an exceptionally good Sauvignon Blanc and a very smooth red.
We returned to Veruda, booked our winter berth, washed the salt off the boat, re-provisioned and collected our next guest, Angela Bush. We are now cruising more islands, harbours and anchorages in the northern Adriatic in blue skies and pleasant end of summer temperatures.