From our ‘holiday’ in Tuscany we returned to Exotica and after a day of household chores we left Marina Veruda to explore the islands of the central Adriatic.
We learnt a lesson on Wednesday August 9th. after 44 nautical miles of mixed sailing and motoring we arrived at our destination at 3 pm only to find every one of 66 mooring buoys occupied. Late July and early August are high season around here and Italians, Germans and Austrians flood in with their boats and charters. So, the anchorages, marinas and buoyed areas, which at other times are freely available, tend to be filled up by early afternoon. Thus, the rule is, if you want to get in, you leave early and arrive early.
On this particular day in Ilovik, our usual safe harbour when storms are predicted, we anchored with some difficulty at the end of the channel, however, when the southerly storm hit the anchor held and the lee of the land gave us shelter from wind and sea, not the most comfortable night, but it was free.
We returned to one of our favourite bays, Uvala Sonte on the island of Cres to rendezvous with our Croatian friend Marino and his crew. After a gentle 16nm run in sou westerlies, it was delightfully calm and warm but we made the mistake of anchoring close to Marino in shallower water than we normally would. Even though there were ominous dark clouds gathering in the west Marino and his crew set off in his diminutive dinghy across the waterway to the nearest town to explore while we stayed on board. Shortly afterwards the great black cloud produced an enormous storm. It came roaring over the hills of Losinj from the west with lightning, thunder, driving rain and winds gusting to 45 knots. Boats were buffeted by the wind and the seas, we had our engine on to take the strain off the anchor. At times, the depth under the keel was reading 0.2. Then instantly the strong wind whipped around from the NE, at least moving us into slightly deeper water. Normally, that would be the end of the storm but within half an hour there was another blast from the west, knocking smaller boats on their sides. Fortunately, both anchors held securely but it was an anxious time.
Marino and his crew returned in their dinghy three quarters full of water and lucky to be alive. We then both reset our anchors in deeper water and had an excellent dinner party on board Exotica.
Friday August 11th. saw us set off again for the thirty-mile trip to the island of Rab where we had agreed to meet Juliet and Nick Mason-Jones on their yacht Johanem. We first encountered them in the marina at Ostia outside Rome three years ago and have kept in touch and followed their progress around the Mediterranean. It is surprisingly difficult to arrange to meet another boat as you tend to have different plans and the weather may also interfere.
However, we spent two delightful days sailing in company until they set off north towards Pula and we continued our travels south.
For the next few days we explored the islands, anchoring or picking up mooring buoys, the only “fly in the ointment” has been the plague of wasps this year, no flies or mosquitoes.
We had a couple of nights in the Marina Dalmacija at Sukosan, one of the largest in Croatia, an excellent place to collect guests from Zadar airport.
A terrific run under headsail took us around the south of Otok Pasman. The bay we’d hoped to spend the night was full. Hadn’t we learnt our lesson, don’t arrive at 3pm. Luckily, 6nm further up the west coast was an even nicer bay, with plenty of empty mooring buoys.
We liked it so much we stayed for 2 nights. There were 2 restaurants at the top of the bay and we were assured by a very nice, however naked, German lady on the next boat that Soline 1 was the pick of the two. They had come into that bay especially.
Terry ordered chops and Julie fish, which we watched being cleaned and ready for the BBQ. Sadly, Grandma (presumably the cook) had forgotten to put the fish on, after a litre of the white wine, waiting, a dog fight where a bulldog at the next table attacked a Cavalier King Charles puppy, the fish arrived. It was, in fact, delicious but had a deleterious effect later that evening.
Yet another Bora was forecast at the weekend. The strong north-easterly wind which comes roaring down the length of the Adriatic from the Alps. It is a good time to be well tied up in a Marina and so we made for the marina at Tribunj on the mainland just north west of the large town of Sibenik.
We’ve mentioned before that, despite the area being full of yachts of all descriptions and countries there are hardly any English speakers around. So, we were delighted to see on the quayside a Beneteau Oceanis 55 with an Australian flag and a home port of Sydney. Deb and Col McKeith, live only a few miles from us in Sydney and have been travelling almost the same route as ourselves over the past few years, so we have much in common.
We all took a taxi, during a windy day, to Sibenik for some sightseeing of the castle and cathedral and then managed to get a last-minute cancellation at the restaurant, Pellegrini, which is reputed to be the best in Croatia. It was a degustation menu, five dishes from a choice of twenty-five and excellent. Compared to the average konoba where the choice is meat or fish it was spectacular. By and large, Croatian cuisine is a little disappointing but this was in a class of its own.
The cold winds abated, the sun returned, our new friends headed north and we set off to the islands off the coast of Sibenik. We are currently sitting in a bay at the south end of the island of Zirje. It is half past eight in the morning and already the sun is hot and it is time for a swim in the crystal clear water before breakfast. No wasps here but no internet connection, which is unusual even in the islands.
Our next appointment is with Terry’s sister Margaret and Lizzy and Tony Dyson who we will meet near Zadar. We hope the good weather continues for them.
It is hard to believe that there is only another month to go for this season’s cruise.