The final two weeks of our 2016 cruising season has provided us with some of the best sailing since we bought Exotica three years ago.
Saturday September 10th. saw the departure of Terry’s sister Margaret and Lizzy and Tony Dyson, our final guests for the year.
We left Pula the next day after doing three loads of washing.
A washing machine on board is a wonderful luxury and has made this kind of lifestyle possible. It is cleverly hidden under the chart table seat so is totally inconspicuous but instantly available. Some marinas have launderettes but they require the correct coinage and the instructions are often incomprehensible. We had a very frustrating experience in Wiemar returning after two hours to find our wash still dry and covered in soap powder because we omitted to press the right button to release the water.
Our departure from Pula was not without some annoyance, we discovered a fender had fallen off in the night and drifted away. Had a good look around Pula Harbour on our way out but it was gone. We then sailed south down the Istrian Peninsula in a pleasant sailing breeze, passing the start of a 50 yacht fleet of racing boats, then motored into the delightful bay at Medulin which is at the very southern end of Istria. The anchorage was open but very good holding and now so quiet as by mid-September the Italians and huge charter fleets have all gone, leaving a handful of sailing yachts, mainly Austrians and a few Germans. It is a matter of great surprise that there are almost no English speaking boating people in the northern Adriatic as we consider this to be one of the best cruising areas in the Mediterranean.
We continued south, rather slowly under sail easily making our appointment with the swing bridge through the canal at Osor – which separates the island of Cres from Losinj. This bridge only opens twice a day, 9am and 5pm. Again we were a source of amusement for the local tourists. We re-visited Sonte bay on west coast of Cres where there was only one other boat anchored. We are told that in the height of the season this bay is jam packed with anchored craft. In the evening after dinner we sat in the cockpit and listened to Rossini’s Stabat Mater from the Edinburgh Festival with a full moon shimmering on the water. Internet access in Croatia is superb and a signal seems to be available even on the most remote islands which not only permits us to access radio and television but also regular and up to date weather forecasts which makes voyage planning so easy.
We pottered further south towards our goal of Zadar, half way back to Split, found another excellent anchorage on the island of Molat. Again plenty of space to lay down 40 metres of chain and ensure a good night’s sleep.
Anchoring is easy whereas picking up a mooring can be hard work and stressful, particularly when they have a stern line as well. We made a right hash of it the next day on the tiny island of Rava in the tiny village of Marinica, with a well reputed restaurant. As many do, they provide a mooring free provided you eat at the restaurant. Suffice to say it took about an hour, a line under the rudder and three dives by Terry before we were settled. It would have been very embarrassing but I don’t think anyone noticed.
We did eat at the Restaurant – Keko and the food was excellent. The only other diners were, believe it or not, another English couple and we joined them only to find that we had much in common as they had lived in both Bermuda and Hong Kong – very much part of our history. It was a very pleasant evening. They left the next morning and we will likely never see them again.
The wind was favourable so we sailed through the islands and ended up in Murline at the very north of the oddly named Uglian Island. Again we picked up a mooring which, which thankfully didn’t have a stern line, but on close inspection with a snorkel would be dubious in a blow, however it was a soft and peaceful night.
The next day we reached our planned destination for this trip, the city and port of Zadar, one of the largest on the mainland coast of Croatia.
The weather forecast were beginning to point to a period of bad weather and high winds, particularly from the North east – the Bora, so we headed early for a marina but were turned away from the main one in town it was charter boat turnover day.
Thankfully we found a place in Marina Borik a little north of the old town, much smaller and a tricky docking with the wind increasing.
Zadar is a pleasant old town with the standard history of occupation and destruction over the centuries by Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Venetians, Turks and finally Italians. It was also comprehensively shelled in the war with Serbia in 1991. However, it has been well restored and has plenty of ruins and churches to explore.
There is also an interesting sea organ – a series of pipes set into a seafront jetty which emit a variety of wailing sounds caused by the action of the waves.
Close to the sea organ is a huge circular disc consisting of multiple solar panels which power up during the day and after dark provide an interesting light show as well as all the waterfront illumination.
We spent a couple of nights in Zadar as the weather changed from warm and summery to cool and autumnal and then headed back north towards Veruda where we have decided to winter Exotica.
This trip gave us some of the best sailing ever, we stopped and picked up mooring buoys at Ilovic.
We then joined our friend Marino in Unije where we tied up alongside him in another delightful bay, after failing to come to grips with yet another stern line!
Finally on Wednesday September 21st we returned to Istria with a cracking sail in 25 knots of breeze averaging over 8 knots most of the way.
After 4 days cleaning , packing and stowing Exotica is now on the hard stand in Marina Veruda for the winter. Sitting beside a Dufour 45, Howzat, owned by another RSYS member.
Rather than spending our last night on board on the hard standing we treated ourselves to a luxury hotel overlooking the marina. It is a few months since we slept in a bed ashore.
So this is our final blog for the year. It has been an excellent season but very different from previous ones. Exotica was berthed in Venice for over two months while we flitted off for a couple of music festivals. We had 45 sailing days, total distance travelled was 1077 nautical miles, 23% of those under sail. Much more than in previous years. The boat went very well and we spent less time this year waiting for workmen to come and mend things.
We have no firm plans for next year but there are still very many islands and mainland harbours and anchorages to explore in the Adriatic.