Great Sailing and a Few Storms

July began with another north easterly storm known as a bora.  Exotica was comfortably berthed in the secure marina at Veruda but once it had blown through the two of us set off again into the islands of the northern Adriatic Sea.

Exotica anchored in Cres on a calm night

Our first stop was the island of Cres (pronounced Tres) where we anchored in the harbour of the town.  It has excellent holding as we were to discover on return a few weeks later.  Here we were joined by our friend Marino in his Beneteau 36.

Marino’s Beneteau 36, Homeless, sailing out of Cres

Cres town, an ideal haven in a bora

Exotica safely tied up in front of the motor boat, in Mali Losinj. The next bora blows

The next day another bora was predicted so we made an early start and had a great sail with the wind behind us all the way to the well protected bay of Mali Losinj.  We had been here before and it is always nice to enter a familiar marina when the wind is blowing a bit.  We arrived quite early and then had the pleasure of watching the charter boats parking when the wind had really blown up.

Unusually rough water at Mali Losinj town quay

Calmer the next day

Superyachts take shelter too

In the morning Terry had a Croatian haircut, the backstreet barber that he found was rather overenthusiastic and left him completely shorn.  It will take at least a month to improve.

Battery driven air tank

We left at midday and had another excellent sail to one of our favourite bays on the island of Unije where the clouds parted, the wind dropped, the sun came out and perfection reigned. Here Terry tried out the hookah dive system, basically an air pump and a long hose with a scuba mouthpiece.  One can’t dive more than two metres with this set up but it would be enough to inspect and fix problems under the boat with the propeller or bowthruster.  Once tested it was put away and hopefully never used again.

The intrepid diver

Vila Bled

Then it was back to Veruda, which has become a bit of a home port, where we hired a car and set off on another opera trip.  This time to Munich with a stop for the night in Bled, a very picturesque lakeside resort in the north of Slovenia.  Much favoured by the aristocracy of the Austro-Hungarian empire as a summer resort it was also the retreat of President Tito, the long term dictator of Yugoslavia.  His palace has been turned into a hotel and this is where we stayed.  I

View of Bled Island from our room

The ballroom at Vila Bled set up for a wedding

Murals of Yugoslav resistance fighters during WW11

Enough to frighten any bride

Tito’s study with original furniture

Truly fine dining at Vila Bled

It is a monument to post war communist luxurious living and has some of the most astonishing wall paintings in the ballroom.  However, the view from our room or the restaurant were spectacular.

By chance the Bled Music festival was taking place and we had the great good fortune to stumble on a wonderful cello ensemble in the local church, all young people and so talented.

Alter of St Martin’s Church

Ornate Last Supper

Even though we got last minute tickets at the door we managed to sit in the front pew. Proud teacher in the background

The cellist on the left is exceptionally talented

Bled Castle and St Martin’s Church with a magestic backdrop

Vila Bled’s lido

Perfect day to row to the tiny tear-shaped Bled Island with the Assumption of Mary Pilgrimage 17th century Baroque Church. Legend says the temple of antient Slavic goddess, Ziva, once stood here 9th to 11th century

Vila Bled from Bled Island, there are hardly any motor craft on the lake, rowing rules

Friday night in Munich old town, a wedding reception in square with flame thrower











On to Munich to join our friends Maria and Jϋrgen to see The Magic Flute and Tannhaϋser.

Hawking tickets outside Munich Opera

Bayerische Staatsoper

Curtain call for the most lavish production of Magic Flute








The Magic Flute production was 40 years old and thus very beautiful with no expense spared in terms of costume and scenery.  One of the characters in the piece is Monostatos, who is supposed to be black, this tends to be a problem these days but not in Germany where not only was he blacked up but all his henchmen as well.  Some American ladies sitting next to Julie were outraged.

Saturday in Munich, Viktualien Markt is the place to be, the best fish restaurant in town. Note the Croatian hair cut!

Steinway Haus, Munich

Sunday, our friends invited us to a piano recital of winners of a classical and jazz competition at the Steinway Haus in Munich, a rare experience.

Rubenstein Saal, set up for the recital

Elegant Steinway showroom

With Maria and Juergen

The production of Tannhaϋser was new this year and like so many in Germany these days was very weird but the music and singing superb.

A red carpet affair, but we didn’t see any stars we knew

Tannhauser for the people unlucky enough to have tickets inside








Back on Exotica on July 11th. we set off again mainly motoring in a northerly direction as we wanted to get to the island of Krk, the largest of the Croatian Islands.  We stopped off in Cres at a favourite anchorage where there were a number of boats at anchor already.  We found a comfortable spot and were securely dug in.  Just as it was getting dark there came a huge thunderstorm with flashes of lightening, a mighty wind and rain driving so hard it was impossible to see.  We didn’t even have time to put waterproofs on it came so quickly.  We had the engine on and motoring slowly into the wind to take the strain off the anchor when suddenly a yacht appeared dragging its anchor and bearing down on our port side.  We managed to fend it off and it appeared that it was a lone sailor down in his cabin and unaware of what was taking place.

Fortunately these storms only last about twenty minutes, although it feels longer and once it had abated we re-laid our anchor further away from rogue yachts.

Rounding the northern point of Otok Cres, we’ve seen it from the land, at last good enough weather to sail

We have always wanted to round the northern point of Cres so this lull in the weather enabled us to do so, then south to Marina Punat 2nm from Krk town.

Pretty town of Punat on Otok Krk

Sitting out another bora, what better way than watch the Gentlemen’s Final

Huge Marina Punat

Funny so many European boats have English names, we like this one!

Narrow, shallow entrance to Punat, 0.0mts under the keel as we leave

Confused sea in 20-25 knots, thankfully behind us, a great 38nm ride

Yet another bora was due so we stayed for three days to let it blow through. It was forecast to remain strong in this part of the Adriatic, we had a 20-25 knot run south to the safe haven of mooring buoys in Ilovik.

Even in Ilovik the bora causes waves

We do occasionally go ashore

Ilovik again, our safe haven

As we re still unsure where to over-winter Exotica we sailed south of Zadar to Biograd na Moru, a mainland town heaving with tourists. A nice marina, but I suspect we were put off by the masses.


Kaciol Restaurant in Biograd, fabulous food but no Aperol or Campari, Istra Bitter had to suffice

It’s so much fun to have the time to visit places we have liked the look of on previous cruises, so to Otok Iz, a delightful bay with azzure water and a fee collector who was charming, a rare occurrence!

We really wanted a night at anchor and headed for U Artaturi on Losinj until we heard another thunderstorm warning, so back to Ilovik’s safe mooring buoys.


Oh dear, back to Ilovik again. VHF thunderstorm warning so this is our safe haven



Still no storm but a threatening sunset

At 1am it rained and there was some lightning, a disappointing storm!

We have spent many nights at anchor in the bay next to Marina Veruda but were floored last night to find they now charge! There must have been 100 boats anchored, the Italian and German holiday time, so they would have made a tidy sum.IMG_7595


Now back in our home port,Veruda, we leave Exotica for a couple of weeks and drive to Tuscany for a chamber music festival.


Venice, Stockholm And Back To Croatia

Exotica spent exactly a month in Venice.

A rainy Saturday in Venice, perfect for Museo Correr. Shame about the poor bride in Piazza San Marco

Venetian war ship








Sally and Antony Jeffrey’s group visit Exotica

Salon in La Fenice, a superb evening of Berlioz with Italian Radio Orchestra










Views around our quiet corner of Venezia. Sant Elena marina

Chiesa Sant Elena. A notice of “no tourists” when a service was on!

Quiet neighbourhood of Sant Elena


On our way to Stockholm



However, from 23rd. to 31st of May we were in Stockholm staying in the Grand Hotel with the European Opera HAT Tour where we enjoyed another Ring Cycle this time with the Swedish National Opera Company and the great Nina Stemme as Brünnhilde. It will be remembered for the vocal strength of the cast rather than the production.

View of the Royal Palace from our room in Grand Hotel, Stockholm

Drottningholm Theatre, oldest working theatre in the world, 1766. Electricity added in 1902.still performs 2 operas each year.

Drottningholm Castle, home of Swedish Royal family

Royal palaces of Sweden are very gracious








Queue for the Vasa museum was enormous so we opted for the Spirits museum next door!

I’ll give it a go










Nobel museum, Old Town

Ornate ceiling complete with clock

The Royal box at the Swedish National Opera. Sadly empty, the Royal family only like ballet

The Vasa sank into silt in 1668 and was raised in 1961. 95% of it was still intact. It is a fine museum.

It’s no wonder the Vasa sank in 1668 after only 1.3 nm, there is very little ballast








1500 boats row from San Marco to Burano then back via Cannaregio during Vogalonga, a 30nm rowing regatta. Their first corner was at Sant Elena, much to the amusement of the boaties in the marina

Just click on the arrow to see the boats barging round our corner.  (It takes a little time to load.)

Lunch with Rachael and David McLean on Grand Canal


Rachael and David McLean joined us on Exotica on our return to Venice





Czech pavilion at Biennale, Swan Song….my favourite



We devoured the Artes Bienalle…..from the sublime to the ridiculous…..

Pantyhose full of sand….art at Biennale!

More Biennale art


An inauspicious entrance to Musica a Pallazo for La Traviata

and attended Musica a Palazzo performance of La Traviata. Each Act performed in a different room of the rather “tired” Palazzo Barbarigo Minotto. It was, however, a very gracious evening, sipping Proscecco overlooking the Grand Canal and full moon at interval.

A night at the chamber opera

The view sipping while Proscecco











Coincidentally other Sydney friends were also in Venice and we met them for dinners alongside the Grand Canal.

With June Donsworth on the Grand Canal.

With Annie and Graham Ross-Smith, a great place to fill our wine cellar.









Stampiere Bosso

We needed some new business cards and found an original printing business in a tiny lane in Cannaregio. The charming owner was the son of the son who founded the tiny shop and nothing has changed. Same printing machines, same type set. He boasted of orders from all over the world, nothing digital and no website. Well, we thought, they must be great. And so they were but so was the price. As we had printing on two sides of the cards it was double the price agreed. They are unique but a lesson in “lost in translation”.

A storm brewing















The weather was very kind to us for most of the time we were in Venice but on Wednesday June 14th. there was a huge storm with a massive wind and heavy rain.  This delayed the arrival of our next guests John Studdert and Dennis Mather who finally found us in the dark after being diverted to Verona.


La Fenice before L’Orfeo

On Friday June 16th. we were lucky enough to get four tickets to the opening night of Sir John Elliot Gardiner’s Monteverdi 450-year festival with a production of L’Orpheo, generally considered to be the first real opera, at La Fenice. It was a sensational night. We were doubly lucky because there was a general strike all over Italy on this day and so there was supposed to be no public transport – which may have accounted for a few empty seats – however we managed to find the only ferry working which just happened to stop at our jetty.  This saved us a long walk and a soaking, in our best clothes, as there was a very heavy shower shortly after we returned.

Seats in a box









Right above the stage









Damien Hirst’s Treasures of the Wreck of the Unbelievable were in Punta della Dogana and Pallazzo Grassi. Their enormity and historical accuracy was at times very believable

The Collector!


Videos of proposed discoveries!

His imagination is awe inspiring







One wonders how they got this statue into Palazzo Grassi









Farewell to Marina Sant Elena and Venezia



The next day – June 17th. we had a brilliant sail back across the Adriatic Sea to the little Croatian town of Rovinj, where after clearing customs we picked up a mooring buoy and had our first swim of the season.


Sharing the narrow entrance with a line up of cruise ships entering Venice

Return to Croatia, sunset at Rovinj








Smoked salmon omlette in Uvala Vognisca on Otok Unije with Dennis and John


A second really good sail south to Pomer for a night in a marina, followed by two nights at anchor on the islands of Unije and Losinj respectively.

Finally, we returned to Pula for Dennis and John to ferry back to Venice and thence to London, while we await our next guest and depart once more for the islands of western Croatia.

Roman Arena from Marina Pula

Jules Maxwell joined us in Pula

Ship building cranes lit up at night in Pula

Colourful cranes through the arena arches

Jules charming the prosciutto seller

Pula markets, favourite place to shop

Orada for dinner, quite delicious



We motored most of the way to Otok Cres, where we got the 5pm swing bridge at Orso, between Cres and Otok Losinj. We’d used the bow thruster while waiting for the bridge but by the time we anchored in Uvala Soline it would only make a whirring sound


4 camponiles of Rab


The passage to Otok Rab, new territory for us, was a sublime sail.

There is an excellent anchorage to the west of the harbour, with good holding and sky blue water. Perfect for swimming, now the water temperature is 25C Julie is happy to jump in!

Arrival on Otok Rab


Astoria Restoran,Rab recommended by my dentist, Simone, in Vienna.




Plans to go the Krk were changed as a storm was brewing.



Marino told us to shelter in Ilovik from this strom

An hour before we had been swimming a bright sunshine

An hour before we had been swimming a bright sunshine

60 knot winds had the boats thrashing around. Thankfully very secure mooring buoys

And the next morning!









Another terrific sail back to Uvala Vognisca on Unije

Back to U Vognisca, cocktails on the foredeck on a perfect night

Prostitutes Pasta aka tuna and veg. After 4 nights at anchor supplies were getting low








This is truly one of our favourite anchorages

Our week was curtailed as another storm was forecast and the helm wanted to get into a safe harbour before it hit, having no bowthruster. So we returned to our home port, Marina Veruda. Farewelled Jules, had the guys fix the boat and now sitting out yet another storm.

Postscript: Health report

Terry survived the cold he brought home from Stockholm. Julie’s teeth are holding up and finger nail slowly growing out. It’s not a pretty sight!