2018 – More Adventures on Exotica

A dull and wet day in Venice on Exotica and so a good time to embark on the blog for 2018.  If you read this do please make a comment at the end as we like to know that we are not broadcasting to empty ether.

A long wait on Auckland tarmac

Our 2018 season began on April 17th, flying Air NZ to Vancouver via New Zealand. The trip made somewhat longer when we sat for two hours on the tarmac in Auckland waiting for the hold to warm up for the transportation of fifty thousand New Zealand bees to Canada. Crew and passengers became increasingly restless at the delay and we arrived in Vancouver very late and a number of people missed their connections.  We will never know if the bees made it to their destination alive.

Designer kitchen

Our son, Edward, and fiancé, Charmaine, had just moved into their duplex in the tiny ski resort Sun Peaks. Complete with babbling brook at the bottom of the garden which was thick with snow slowly melting in the cold but sunny days of our wonderful eight day stay, some of the time spent, in overalls, painting their basement.

1328 Burfield Drive, Sun Peaks

Ski runs in view from the balcony

 

 

 

 

 

Snow melting on roofs

Sundowners “at home”

 

 

Ed and Terry

The Lord Nelson pub, Brightwell Bidwell with Caroline Curnock, Penny Narbrough and Jilly Thornton. Old HK friends

 

A week in UK, staying in Princes Risborough with Terry’s sister. Lunches with friends and an entertaining evening at the Duke of York Theatre for The Moderate Soprano, a delightful play telling the story of Glyndebourne’s beginning.

Bermuda lunch at Angel in the Fields, Marylebone

The Moderate Soprano

 

Story of Glyndebourne

You never know what the traffic will be like on the M25, so we allowed four and a half hours before our flight from Heathrow to Frankfurt, normally a forty-minute drive from Princes Risborough. All was going splendidly until the M40 meets the M25. An accident happened only minutes ahead of us and there we sat in our hire car, stationary, for two hours discussing the logistics of getting another flight and thence to Karlsruhe, without our tour group. By the skin of our teeth we did make the flight, extremely frazzled.

Schloss Karlsruhe, now a museum

Act 1 was so effective it gave us false security for the rest!

The first of our three Ring Cycles this summer was with Travel for the Arts in the quiet town of Karlsruhe, near Baden Baden. It is dubbed the Diversity Ring. Four different directors for the four operas. We are told they had a meeting in Iceland to discuss the production, but this was patently a waste of time. These young men had little respect for Wagner, the audience or the cast. Their aim was to get a reaction, no matter what. In that they succeeded, at the end of the first act of Gotterdammerung one of our group was heard to boom “RUBBISH”, with good cause.

 

 

Too many sliding doors in Act 1

 

Ride of the Valkyries was on flying motor bikes, all with parachutes, terrific.

The opera Wahnfried , confronting and powerful tale of Houston Chamberlain’s influence on the Wagners after Richard’s death. Composed by Israeli, Avner Dorman. Conductor Justin Brown.

Katharine Tier as Erda, far right

 

 

 

 

Gotterdammerung. Norns and Rhinemaidens characterized as the three previous directos trying to get the Ring to give back to the Rhinemaidens during the entire performance. So the nine female roles became two, Waltraute was the director of Rhinegold!

Final curtain call

 

We dressed up for the orchestra, conductor, Justin Brown and the cast!

Heidi Melton and Katharine Tier

 

Musically the standard was exceptional and we were delighted to have dinner with Katharine Tier, the Australian mezzo soprano, who sang Fricka, Erda, Waltraute, First Norn and a Rhinemaiden in Gotterdammerung. The star of the show we thought.

 

Day tour to Heidelberg

Impressive catholic cathedral, Heidelberg

Quirky “Holy Spirit” in the cathedral

Ludwigsburg Schloss, built 1718-1733, untouched by wars is perfectly preserved

Our first visit to Strasbourg

Most ancient houses are restaurants now

Strasbourg

Strasbourg cathedral

Exotica re-launched in Marina Veruda May 15

 

We flew to Pula on May 14th finding Exotica had been very well cared for over the winter. A couple of days to commission the boat and then we did the 70 nautical mile passage to Venice on the 18th in very good time, albeit motoring across a very calm Adriatic. Spotted one dolphin and two turtles.

Dawn leaving Veruda May 18th

The new carbon fibre passerelle

Our adventure begins

Sunrise over Pula

 

And so now a month in Marina Sant Elena. Very good engineers at this marina who diagnosed and fixed a fresh water leak in the bilge. Some sun, some rain but we are in Venice…

Always exciting entering Venezia Lagoon, Terry hoisting Italian courtesy flag

Distinctive lighthouse

 

It takes a good half hour to motor up the channel being careful to stay within the marker buoys.

Settled in Marina Sant Elena

The fly in the ointment, a fresh water leak. We seem to spend our life sopping out bilges. Thankfully traced to the anchor locker shower which must have frozen during the winter.

Two days of persistent rain, so pleased we have a month here!

 

 

 

Final Days for the 2017 Cruise

Return to Veruda and the end of the 2017 cruise.

On September 1st.  the weather knew that Autumn had arrived and for the last three weeks of our cruise on Exotica we had plenty of wind and rain and the temperature cooled significantly.

Julie dashed into a supermarket as this “hurricane” hit. It lasted an hour but there was more to come

Not much point having towels out to dry with this storm approaching

 

After our final guests left us in Biograd Marina we stayed put in our berth for three days with all lines doubled as the wind and rain lashed the whole area.  We were snug and comfortable and happy to stay below and read a book rather than battle with the elements outside.

At last the charter boats have ventured out of the marina to enjoy what is left of their weeks holiday

Rarely are the islands of central Adriatic seen so clearly. Dugi Otok the largest

 

Our plan had been to spend another few days making our way slowly back to Veruda where we are leaving the boat over winter, it started well with our first night tied to a restaurant mooring buoy in the town of Iz Mali.

 

 

Calm evening on Restoran Baroni’s buoy in Uvala Knez, Iz Mali

Whilst on her row around the bay Julie noticed a “boxing kangaroo” flying from the backstay of a Dufour 405, Songbird has also been cruising the Med for the last five summers. Keen racers from Freemantle, their boat has specifications to win! We are always pleased to meet up with, and rarely find, other English speakers, Sharanne and Stuart were certainly entertaining dinner companions.

SE wind brought an uncomfortable swell into the bay overnight

A brisk sou’easterly blew up overnight causing lumpy conditions on the calm waters of the previous evening, we sailed north to the sheltered bay of Zapuntel on the northern side of Molat Island, more aquamarine water and very sheltered from the increasing SE winds.

 

We never did get ashore in the proected bay of Uvala Zapuntel, Otok Molat

We planned to sit out the next blow here, however, on the morning of Friday 15th. September, we woke to the sound of the bilge pump working.  This means that water was getting into the boat, something we do not want.  Examination under the floorboards revealed a leak of fresh water from the hot water system.  Not a major problem but we couldn’t contemplate staying in a nearly deserted bay without it being fixed.

Sad to have to leave Molat after only one night but clear sky and a following sea

We decided to curtail our cruise and return to Veruda straight away, about 60 nautical miles.  There was a brisk sou’ easterly right behind us so to reach our destination we motored, reluctantly. Our guru, Marino, said there were huge winds and seas in the south of Istria, so change of plan, we headed for a marina, and boatyard, in Mali Losinj.

 

Hmm, where did that appear from

From nowhere nasty, black storm clouds appeared to the north east and with them a strong bora hit us. We escaped the storm but the winds increased to 28 knots making berthing in Losinj untenable.

It’s much nicer weather where we have come from

Thank goodness we have 100HP engine to escape the storm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When is it time to hoist the sails??

Another quick change of plan, we headed again for Veruda.The latter part of the trip was a wild ride in 15-25 knots across the open sea of the northern Adriatic with fully reefed sails, wind and swell on the beam and spray over the decks.  It was very exhilarating but we were glad when the wind eased a little as we entered the marina so we could dock without too much trouble.

 

Safely in Marina Veruda the rain stopped for enough time to wash but not to dry on deck

Standards seem to be dropping on Exotica

 

Dinner cooked in the oven helped to dry the laundry

The DJ doesn’t seem to like that song

 

 

We then had a week to prepare Exotica for the winter, it was cold and wet for four days, our only respite was a very jolly evening with the crew of Johanem., a boat we had met 3 years ago in Porta de Roma. After an excellent meal at Boccaporta we seven adjourned to Exotica where they pretty well emptied our cellar and we raucously sang 60’s songs while Terry acted as DJ!

An amusing Scot

 

 

 

and his delightful wife

Exotica being lifted

 

 

Thankfully, the last three days were sunny so we could use our beloved washing machine, pack a dry headsail and put Exotica to bed and were quite happy to bring the 2017 Cruise to an end.

 

Amazingly clean bottom after 6 months in the water

On the hard near Johanem

 

 

 

Exotica’s winter home, farewell.

Stats for 2017:

Days on board 115, in Venice 30, sailing days 53, distance travelled 1249nm, engine hours 158, guests 8

Autumn colours in Hyde Park

 

 

Exotica was lifted onto the hard standing on Saturday September 23rd. and we flew to England that evening for 10 days visiting family and friends.

First Bermuda reunion of the week at the charming Grenadier Pub in Belgravia

Endless Islands

Crisscrossing the Central Adriatic. Red = Julie and Terry alone. Black = Margie and the Dysons.

During the last two weeks of August we had stunning weather, we made the most of our middle Adriatic cruising the islands off the Zadar coast, they are endless. There’s not much anchoring here, the locals have found a source of revenue by filling beautiful bays with mooring buoys for which you pay various amounts and there’s usually a konoba or two at the head of the bay with a simple painted board “Fish, Meat, Calamari. Grilled”. They have a huge wood fire out the back and all meals are cooked there. Wine is red, white and if you’re really lucky, rose, sold by the half or full litre.

 

Primosten is a beautiful town, included in the buoy fee is water from the dock, perfect time to wash the boat and clothes!

 

 

We sailed south to Primosten, where we’d had nights in past years, then discovered mainland bays heading north.

 

 

 

Uvala Mirine, not in any of the sailing books so very quiet anchorage

As we entered the bay of Mirine we saw huge, ugly jellyfish, the first this summer. The locals assure us they are benign but there is no way we would enter the water with them. Inside the bay Sunday day trippers were lining the shore and happily swimming, thankfully the jellyfish were leaving as we arrived. There is an impressively well-preserved fortress wall from this bay over a hill to the next. It was built in the 15th C to keep out the Turks and in later years acted as a barrier for plague victims. A very sound anchorage with no facilities, heaven.

The Wall of Ostrica

Truly impressive

Exotica at anchor

Sharing the town quay with super yachts. St James’s Cathedral dome

Sibenik again, this time by yacht and tied up to the town quay next to super yachts. We rarely park in such public places but there is something special about being right in the centre of this spectacular city at the foot of the World Heritage St James Cathedral, reputedly the crowning architectural glory of the Dalmatian coast. Juraj Dalmatinac, a Zadar native, was appointed to increase the size after 10 years of Venetians architects from 1431. The Gothic-Renaissance style is built entirely of stone from the islands of Brac, Korcula, Rab and Krk. The world’s largest church built entirely of stone without brick or wooden supports. Finally finished in 1536.

Another fine sunset in Sibenik

Not quite the dining we had when last in Sibenik but the only white on the menu was an indigenous grape from Skradin an excellent drop

Early morning walk in Sibenik

The captain awaiting his breakfast

Farewell Sibenik

 

 

 

 

 

 

Entering Uvala Hiljaca , Otok Zut on a hot and windless day

Our aim is to find water like this

 

 

The island of Zut has two sheltered bays with restaurants providing free mooring buoys as long as you eat in their establishment. We had a night in each. Uvala Hiljaca had aquamarine water and an excellent restaurant.

 

Restoran Trabakul offers free mooring buoys if you eat here

View from our table

Trabakul Dagger, meat lovers heaven

Another bay, another restoran. Luka Zut with more rustic Restoran Bain

So looking forward to his Hake in spicy cream sauce, a hit!

Marina Dalmacija again to collect crew, not too happy about weather forecast

Whoops, doesn’t look good

The calm before the storm, always from the west

An eerie sunset

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After the storm a day to let the weather settle so sightseeing in Zadar, Land Gate, 1543, features Venetian winged lion

 

Come September there was a ten degree drop in temperature just in time for our first guests since June! Terry’s sister, Margie, and Lizzy and Tony Dyson.

 

 

 

 

After anchoring in Vela Luka the girls dinghy expedition found this quirky konoba, the only settlement in the bay

Driftwood roofing and bikini top decor

 

The weather report for the week had been dire but each day saw the sun appear, we could mostly sail and spent each night either at anchor or on a mooring buoy.

Instead of placing a bottle of water on the table they plonked a full bottle of slivovitz down, before we even ordered our drinks. It would have been rude not to drink it!

A makeshift jetty, popular with local motor boats

 

 

 

 

 

 

Took the right path this time in Uvala Stupica, so made it to the fortress on Otok Zirje, Exotica the only navy boat in the bay

 

We re-visited many of our favourite bays and islands, cooked on board or sampled more “Fish, Meat, Calamari. Grilled”.

 

Byzantine Fortress Gradina from the reign of Justinian (527-565) played an important strategic role when he regained borders of Roman Empire from the Ostrogoths, who were ruling Italy and Illyricum at that time

Magestic

Sisters-in-law after the climb

Lizzy and Julie awaiting the best calamari of the week in this simple konoba

 

 

 

 

 

A surge in the tiny Zlarin harbour, once the seat of the Bishops of Sibenik. Also the home of coral jewellery, 10 divers have a license to collect the burnt orange coral found in the Kornati islands

Exotica on mooring buoy at sunset

 

 

 

 

 

After a terrific 25nm sail from Zlarin we returned to U Hiljaca and Restoran Trabucol. Talked into sharing this Scorpion fish for 5, at vast expense. Garlic sauce and rosemary an amazingly delicious combination. Note the mouth!

Girls dinghy expedition to the somewhat shabby Vrgada town to choose one of the two restaurants for Julie’s birthday celebration!!

Moet in the sunset….hope all birthdays are this good

A simple restoran, but great view and excellent service

Crew photo

Margie and Terry. They really do calamari well in Croatia

Our last supper, at Restoran Kaciol in Biograd. The meal just as good as it was on our last visit here. Julie’s fillet steak, rare, with truffle sauce was spectacular

 

 

It was not until the last day our 700 litres of water ran out. The first time we have missed the “out of action” watermaker. Guess it’s what everyone does when they’re camping, bathe in the sea and no hair wash for a week!!

 

 

Having waved our guests off at Marina Kornati, Biograd, a strong sou-easterly dried the four loads of washing, safely hung in the cockpit rather than the foredeck, before the next bout of westerly storms bombarded us for 36 hours. It’s cooler here than Sydney now….time we came home!

Our crew has returned to UK and we are safely tied up in Marina Kornati being bombarded with SE gales then westerly storms. Julie only just made it to the supermarket when this one hit!

High Summer in the Islands of Croatia

 

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.

Wanderings of Exotica in August 2017

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.

Gathering storm in Ilovik

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.

Storm comes closer, boats arriving would not find shelter at this late stage

Never anchor on a lee shore, our life buoy nearly blown off, Homeless crewless!

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 crew limping back from Nezerine

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.

 

 

Marino’s boat Homeless at the end of the rainbow

Exotica returning to Rab.

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.

Johanem cruising in company

 

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 returned to Sv. Ante on island of Silba, one of our favourite spots. Terry made an ingenious wasp trap, there must have been 50 of the little devils drunk on marmalade!

It’s rare to see the mountains so clearly but the bora clears the skies and it’s a fine sight

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Exotica sheltering from the next bora in marina Dalmacija

 

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.

 

 

Beach Club, Marina Dalmacia.

Julie chose to walk to Sukosan to find a supermarket, and was not pleased when it proved most unsatisfactory and then had to walk all the way back, Marina in the far distance!.

 

 

 

 

 

The square in the Old Town of Sukosan, had some charm.

Sunset, Uvala Soline, Pasman Island.

 

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.

Most mooring buoys are large solid balls which bump into the bow when the wind drops overnight. This bay used fenders quite successfully.

More crystal clear water in Uvala Soline, Pasman.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Soline 1 Restaurant. Table next to us had the bulldog.

She did clean it.

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.

 

Still waiting for the fish – orata.

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.

 

 

 

Following night  we cooked on board in another stunning anchorage – Vela Luka.

It’s always washing day when we get to a marina… Tribunj.

 

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.

Old Town of Tribunj on a grey day from the hilltop chapel

The chapel.

 

 

 

Inside – Good Friday Cross

Graveyard with a view.

 

 

 

Psalms and prayers are said at each of the 15 tiny chapels on the path to the hilltop chapel on Good Friday procession at Tribunj.

Sunset over Tribunj.

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.

The fijord-like waterway leading to Skradin and the Krka waterfalls from St Michael’s fort, Sibenik. We’d crossed the impressive bridge in the distance, coming from Tribunj

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.

Sibenik. St James Cathedral.

They don’t take much notice of Health and Safely at the side of this building overlooking the Cathedral.

 

 

 

Pelegrini Restaurant

View from the table.

 

 

 

 

Spicy gin and tonic and citrus G & T with a splash of raspberries for the ladies

Egg foam – surprise underneath – snails.

Farewell Tribunj.

Look what was spotted another Senta.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Uvala Stupica Vela on Otok Zirje, the furthest SW off the Sibenik coast. Clearest water yet!

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.

 

White rock gives sparking water

and it’s 25.7 C

 

 

 

Julie mastering the outboard. At last

Restaurant at the end of the bay.Very good pork chops

 

 

 

Uvala Stupica Vela – Zirje Island. Every buoy taken by 4pm

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.

 

Two Weeks of Music in Tuscany

Sitting in a beautiful bay on the Island of Pasman in hot sunshine, quiet as most of the boats here last night have left, seems an excellent time to update the clarkesailing blog.

A trip to Umbria and back again

From Biograd on Tuesday 18th. July we made our way north to Istria again via a couple of islands where we anchored or took up moorings.  After a long days motoring we were back to Marina Veruda which is becoming somewhat of a second home and where we have now decided to leave the boat for the winter, out of the water, as we did last year.  We were off for a two week holiday from the boat in Tuscany and Umbria.

21/2 hour traffic jam before Croat/Slovenian border. We followed this semi for ages, then saw him again near Treviso after we’d stopped to change driver

The trip did not start auspiciously. Our car, a rather large Skoda, arrived promptly at the marina and we set off to drive to Bologna in northern Italy in high spirits.  This satisfaction was somewhat dashed by the queue of cars at the Slovenia border.  It took us two and a half hours in the heat of the day to crawl 5 kilometres to the checkpoint where the passport examination was cursory and took about thirty seconds.  Our satnav took us through tiny roads in Slovenia in order to avoid paying fifteen Euros for the road toll.  Once on to the fast autostrada in Trieste we were beset with heavy rain and thunderstorms.

We passed this one way corner 3 times before finding our hotel after 9 hours driving,  tempers were frayed

Arriving in Bologna we found our hotel was in the old town and down the narrowest streets which completely confused the satnav and us.  In desperation we parked the car and Julie walked to the hotel.  Even getting the car into the tiny garage was a mission.  So a journey that should have taken four hours took more than nine and we were well over it. Thankfully, the hotel was charming.

But it was worth it, our balcony overlooking the courtyard where an excellent breakfast was served at Porto san Mamolo

Bologna is such an elegant city

 

After a brief walk around Bologna we embarked on the two and a half hour drive to Siena.

 

 

 

 

 

The Clarkes are heading towards Florence, that must mean another storm

They’ve been praying for rain in most of Italy, only we could bring it

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reception, dining, kitchen. The chef prepared our eggs but had also cooked delicious cakes and pastries. They’d only been open for 3 weeks and were attentive beyond measure

We have had trouble in the past trying to find a park in Siena and Julie thought it would be possible to drop our bags at our “hotel” before leaving the car in its parking spot one and a half kilometres away but of course it was within the city walls so our satnav took us on impossibly tiny roads and the only way to find it was to ditch the car and walk.  Once we had done this we found ourselves in a quaint B & B, Casatorre dei Leoni Dimora Storica, in a converted palazzo run by two sisters-in-law, obviously doing it for fun rather than profit.

Most of the furniture in this elegant B&B are family heirlooms, father is a great collector

Beautiful Siena

 

We met our friend Deborah Humble in the main square where the Palio takes place and had an excellent meal in a basement restaurant off the tourist trail.

 

 

 

 

 

Villa Della Geggiano through our gate

After a morning provisioning in Siena we three left for Villa della Geggiano about five miles north east where we were staying for two nights.  This is a huge house, the summer residence of the Roman Bianchi Bandinelli family since 1547, however, the current Count made it his home in 1991. The family found it impossible to keep the villa unless they could make it a “going concern”. His father, a Communist, had given most of the families land and villas to their workmen after World War 11, so now they have to rent the land back from them for their farming!.

The heir apparent gave us a tour of the villa, not surprisingly, this is the Blue Room

And the Gold Room where Pope Pius Vl, slept when he fled from Napoleon. Came for 2 weeks and stayed 3 months

 

 

It is in remarkably good condition having survived a number of renovations and even an earthquake in 1811.  The 18th. century frescoes, painted for the wedding of his ancestor in 1724, still survive as the house is so thickly built that in summer it is cool and in winter not too cold, as the Count informed us, it is however, noticeable that the Countess now lives in Rome. For anyone who is in or visiting London they have a restaurant of the same name in Chiswick which we have booked in September.

The towers of Siena can be seen in centre beyond the kitchen garden

5 star accommodation nestled into the Villa’s garden wall

 

After negotiating the usual tiny, dusty tracks of Tuscany we were led by the owner to our accommodation, a newly built stone cottage on the side of a hill within the grounds which has all the modern appurtenances and is extremely comfortable.  Here we were joined by Bruce Caldwell who found it far more easily than we did in his taxi from Bologna.

Storm clouds cleared for a perfect concert outdoors

A thunderstorm in the afternoon threatened the Linari Concert but by evening the skies cleared and the chamber concert given by the Nash Ensemble, based at Wigmore Hall, could be held on the garden stage at the villa.  The audience of about 100 sat on the lawn with their backs to the house.  It could hardly have been a more perfect venue to listen to Mozart, Schubert and Dvorak under a full moon.

Alfresco dining set up under the beauty of the Villa

Nash Ensemble, the flamboyant cellist is Adrian Brendel, Alfred’s son, delightfully charming.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The garden stage from the villa, farmers are suffering from the terrible drought

Lunch at our Hotel Vannucci

 

 

From Geggiano we drove into northern Umbria where we stayed for nine days in Citta della Pieve, one of the multitude of walled hilltop towns so common in Tuscany and Umbria.

 

 

Hotel Vannucci

Delights of Citta della Pieve on the border of Tuscany and Umbria

 

 

 

 

 

 

The tiniest street, known as the kissing street.

 

 

 

 

 

 

All the building in Citta della Pieve are built with the same brick

and have ancient motifs next to the front door denoting who had lived there

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A narrow, steep dirt track led up to Castelluccio, La Foce. The first concert of the 29th Incontri in Terra di Siena

 

From here, together with Debbie and Bruce, we attended the Incontri di Siena chamber music festival, driving to five different locations in houses, castles and churches to hear a variety of ensembles from two pianos, string quartets, a solo mezzosoprano and the highlight, the Mendelssohn Octet played in a castle courtyard. That week all of southern Europe experienced severe temperatures, we sympathized with the performers in 40 degree heat.

 

Husband and wife pianists, Alessio Bax and Lucille Chung played Mozart, Piazzolla, Lutoslawski and Rachmaninov in the castle courtyard

The drive to Pienza was spectacular

 

 

The only downside was that our accommodation was nearly an hour away from most of the venues which meant too much driving on narrow, winding roads at night.

Pienza is very beautiful, however rather over-run by tourists

Chiesa Del Triano in Montefollonico the venue for the third concert

 

 

 

 

The Escher String Quartet and Alessio Bax

View from Montefollonico

 

 

 

 

 

 

The last 2 concerts were held at the courtyard of Fattoria La Foce. The owner, Benedetta Origo, showed us the magnificent garden followed by dinner around the pool

Her parents bought the derelict villa in 1924, bringing work, education and medical assistance to this poor region.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The original villa was extended over the years

The garden is still a labour of love

 

 

 

 

 

 

Joshua Bell was a guest artist playing Mozart, Kraggerud and Mendelssohn

The tiny Chiesa San Sebastian in Penicale, Umbria

 

On a rest day we drove to Panicale, another charming walled hilltop town overlooking Lake Trasimeno. This town has been smartened up and hosts some lovely little apartments with spectacular views.

 

 

 

San Sebstian by Perrugino

Perugino was actually born in Citta della Pieve in 1450 but changed his name for Vannucci to Perugino when we went to study in Perugia.

Perugino 1450 – 1523

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It all happened here

Sadly, also while trying to find the exact spot of Hannibal’s victory over the Romans at Lake Trasimene in 217 BC, the car backed into a tree badly scratching the plastic bumper and denting a light.  Interestingly we had just read in the Daily Telegraph about hire car firms ripping off people who had accidents so we were prepared for an argument with the hire company, however, they were very reasonable and what they charged us for the damage seemed fair enough.

Terry was keen to visit the sit of the Hannibal’s defeat of the Roams on our day touring Lake Trasimeno

Lots of details at the site, but was it worth it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Castle

 

Our return drive, with a night’s stop in the charming hilltop town of Asolo in northern Italy was quite smooth and we only had a five minute wait at the border.

 

 

View of Asolo from Queen Cornaro’s Castle, dating from 10th century, Caterina, Queen of Cyprus and took up residence in 1489

Rooftops of Asolo….the Clarkes have brought another storm

 

 

 

 

 

 

Storm brewing over Asolo from our balcony at Barone d’Asolo B&B

and after the storm

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cathedral of Sant Maria Assunta

Dating from the 5th-6th century

 

 

 

 

 

 

Known as the “city of a hundred horizons”

Closed on Monday….we have a habit if visiting towns on Mondays, you’d think we would learn.

 

 

While we had been away the excellent team at Veruda had treated the decks for us with the special nano preparation we use so that Exotica now looks in perfect condition for another voyage into the islands of the Adriatic.

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.

IMG_7560

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.

IMG_7584

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

IMG_7587

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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

Hmm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!

Return to Exotica 2017

We recommence the clarkesailing blog for our fifth season in the Mediterranean.  It is hard to believe that we have been doing this for so long.  If you read this please do leave a message at the end to prove that we are not transmitting this to an eternal void.

Dinner at Char and Edward’s

We left Sydney on April 17th, a 13-hour flight to Vancouver on Air Canada to visit Edward and Charmaine. They’d had a lot of late snow; the ski season had closed that weekend so it was a deserted winter wonderland on our arrival in Sun Peaks. The boys played golf, we met the builder who’ll construct their duplex this summer, even got Terry into an IKEA for a couple of hours.

View from hotel window Sun Peaks

Nicer on a sunny day

 

 

 

 

 

 

Their block of land, nice view!

Dinner in Vancouver

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Overways family evening

 

England also turned on snow flurries during our 4-night visit. Julie had a day in London, lunch with Lois Grassi, delighted in Giulia’s renovation in Holland Park and met daughter Chloe.

 

 

 

Thence to Vienna, our first Renaissance Tour, 12 days of opera and concerts. The first two of the Vienna Ring were performed on consecutive nights but then a week before Siegfried and another three days before Götterdämmerung made for a rather disjointed Ring experience.

Schloss Hof en route to Budapest

Schloss Hof garden

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4 horned goats in Maria Theresa’s zoo

Budapest Opera

 

However, four intervening nights in Budapest treated us to a wonderful chamber music recital in the Solti Hall of the Liszt Academy, a superb performance of Werther and a controversial Elektra at the Hungarian State Opera House.

 

Hungarian State Opera House

The upstairs bar

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chain Bridge from Buda side

Chain Bridge from Sofitel

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gerbeaud Coffee House

Gerbeaud for lunch and shared a cake

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Schloss Estherhazy

 

Between Budapest and Vienna is the Esterhazy Palace in Eisenstadt. Built in 1364, restored by Count Esterhazy in the 1660’s in baroque and classic styles. Joseph Haydn served as music director for over 40 years. It is only recently that the last of the Esterhazy dynasty died at the palace.

Music hall, however, Haydn did not perform here

Silver Estherhazy family tree

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapel where Haydn wrote and performed

Estherhazy chapel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On our return to Vienna, Julie had to seek emergency dental treatment, on a Saturday evening, having put up with pain for 5 weeks. There was only one dentist open in Vienna, so a taxi ride to the Prater, into a dodgy building to find a small, shabby waiting room full of suffering Viennese. There was one dentist, one nurse and one receptionist. One room with two chairs. The dentist had been working since 9am and looked exhausted. Four other patients were treated in the other chair during Julie’s treatment, not once did the dentist wash her hands between patients. The receptionist took the x-ray, a bad start. After much drilling and some packing there was some pain relief and an invitation to return on another day. More pain so a real dentist was located but 3 days later, she re-did the Saturday job and found another tooth needing root canal therapy and a third requiring a filling, so yet another appointment, with her colleague. Thus three dentists, three teeth and three appointments with strict instructions to avoid eating on that side.  However the pain is now gone and we just hope these temporary measures will last until our return.

To add further insult to injury Julie managed to close the car door on her right index finger. (We have a photograph but won’t show it.)  Later still she fell off a ladder getting on to the boat and now has an enormous bruise in her thigh.  And this is supposed to be fun!

During the last five days in Vienna we saw the St Petersburg Philharmonic at the Musikverien. A programme of Prokofiev, Shostakovitch and Stravinsky. The acoustic in this hall is quite perfect. Sadly, the Eugene Onegin at the Vienna Staatsoper was a disappointment.

Vienna Staatsoper, if you don’t have a ticket you can watch from here

Bryn Terfel had pulled out of the Vienna Ring, to the disappointment of most, however we were delighted with his replacement in Walküre and Siegfried. The Pole, Tomasz Konieczny, was powerful as both Wotan and the Wanderer. In fact, Act 1 of Siegfried with Stefan Vinke as Siegfried and Wolfgang Ablinger-Sperracke as Mime was electrifying. Even the production was cleverly conceived in that Act. Sadly, Petra Lang is no more a Brünnhilde. She did make an epic effort in Götterdämmerung but we would not attend another of her Rings.

Cast list

Opulent City Liechtenstein Palais

 

 

 

 

Truly magnificent

From Vienna we returned to Marina Veruda on May 11th. to find Exotica in very good shape having been well cared for by Bole Yacht and she was relaunched on May 12th.

Exotica in Veruda

There were a few minor problems, including some leaks in the fresh water system, almost certainly caused by frozen pipes during this particularly cold winter, despite the fact that all the water had been flushed from the system, some patently remained.  However, everything else was in order and we were able to set off to the north as planned on Tuesday May 16th.

 

 

Re-launch

In a better condition than this time last year

We had an excellent sail intending to spend the night in Rovinj.  Imagine our surprise when arriving in the harbour to discover that the marina had completely disappeared under a building site.  Since we needed to get ashore for some provisions we decided to keep going north and finally arrived in Porec, another charming Venetian style coastal town where we found the Restaurant Aba for an excellent meal.

Arriving in Porec

Entering Venezia Lagoon from the Adriatic

The next day after the usual delays and excursions caused by customs and police for leaving Croatia we made the 57-mile passage across the northern Adriatic again to Venice.  It was a delightful day, warm and sunny but with only a light breeze from the north east so we had to assist the sails with the motor.  It was mid-afternoon when we arrived in Marina Sant Elena where we propose to stay for a month.  This is a quiet marina on the furthest eastern edge of Venice but with very easy access on foot or by ferry to the whole of the city.

Marina Sant Elena

Grand Canal

Osteria Ae Sconte with Sally and Antony. Sydney friends on their musical tour to Venice

During our stay in Venice we are planning a week in Stockholm for yet more Wagner opera, friends to stay on the boat and then sailing through those islands off the Croatian coast which we have not yet explored.

Little Distance, Great Sailing.

Track of final cruise for 2016

Track of final cruise for 2016

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.

The wonderful washing machine.

The wonderful washing machine.

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.

The Osor Canal

The Osor Canal

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.

Mooring buoys looking benign. Note the telecom tower.

Mooring buoys looking benign. Note the telecom tower.

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.

Restoran Keko - Vela Rava

Restoran Keko – Vela Rava

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.

Buoys at Murline - Uglian Island.

Buoys at Murline – Uglian Island.

 

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.

Fuel wharf at Zadar - no room at the inn.

Fuel wharf at Zadar – no room at the inn.

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.

Marina Borik with Exotica squeezed into a berth.

Marina Borik with Exotica squeezed into a berth.

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

Ruins at Zadar.

Ruins at Zadar.

 

 

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.

Salutation to the Sun at Zadar. A huge circular solar panel which illuminates strangely after dark.

Salutation to the Sun at Zadar.

 

 

 

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.

Ilovic awaiting a storm.

Ilovic awaiting a storm.

 

 

Ilovic - after the storm.

Ilovic – after the storm.

This trip gave us some of the best sailing ever, we stopped and picked up mooring buoys at Ilovic.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unije - rafted up.

Unije – rafted up.

 

 

 

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!

 

 

 

 

The final sail returning to Istria.

The final sail returning to Istria.

 

 

 

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.

 

 

Nearly there.

Nearly there.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Only a few hours later - calm in Uvala Soline.

O Only a few hours later – calm in Uvala Soline.

Lifting out

Lifting out

 

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.

On to the mobile cradle.

On to the mobile cradle.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Resting place for the winter.

Resting place for the winter.

Night of luxury - Park Plaza Histria.

Night of luxury – Park Plaza Histria.

 

 

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.

 

 

 

Marina Veruda - from the hotel.

Marina Veruda – from the hotel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

The Tale of Two Cruises

September 16th, 2016.

countrymap

Two cruises in the Northern Adriatic

Angela certainly chose a spectacular week to join us on Exotica. An early flight from Leeds meant we could leave Marina Veruda at lunchtime in blue skies, we ran under full sails in not much wind, anchored in good time for a swim after the 16nm passage to Otok Unije in the beautiful bay Potkujni.

Sheltered Potkunja with sandy bottom

Sheltered Potkunja with sandy bottom

Blue fish in aquamarine water, Otok Unije

Blue fish in aquamarine water, Otok Unije

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Otok Ilovic was supposed to be a treat to eat out, after carefully studying the internet we chose the second best restaurant, or so we thought. It wasn’t a good start when the  grumpy waiter gave us the wrong starter, which we agreed to eat anyway, but a plate of anchovies floating in vinegar did not impress. How could they manage to ruin Pasta with Prosciutto and Truffle? It sounded delicious, but the meat was salty gristle rendering it inedible as was Terry’s pork loin, Istrian style we were told, dried and salty! We were grumpy when our uneaten plates were cleared and a huge bill arrived…would we like some Grappa?….no thank you. The TripAdvisor review said it all.

 

Sheltered mooring buoys in Luke Svete Ant on Otok Silba

Sheltered mooring buoys in Luke Svete Ant on Otok Silba

 

You never know when the NE Bora will blow but leaving Ilovik we were surprised by the 15-25 knots giving us a speedy beat with reefed sails to this idyllic bay on Silba. Angela and Julie rowed ashore and walked the rocky path to the delightful village, there are no cars on Silba, as with many of these islands. Dinner on deck listening to the Proms was magical.

Silba donkeys

Silba donkeys

Ist, mooring buoys in the south bay

Ist, mooring buoys in the south bay

 

There are so many islands in the northern Adriatic one is spoilt for choice. We often set out for one and end up at another, as happened when we found the town of Ist, on the island of the same name. There we were treated to suckling pig on the spit, delicious.

Lone church high above Ist

Lone church high above Ist

The suckling pig

The suckling pig, Konoba Maestro

 

Happy diners

Happy diners

Mali Losinj, a charming town

Mali Losinj, a charming town

 

 

There is always a fly in the ointment, though, the generator chose to conk out in Ist, so we needed a night in a marina to charge the batteries and fill up with water.

Angela's last night in Uvala Paltana on Marino's mooring buoy

Angela’s last night in Uvala Paltana on Marino’s mooring buoy

Pula's Roman Amphitheatre

Pula’s Roman Amphitheatre

 

Our  crew change was to be in Pula so we sailed back to Istria and entered the historic, huge bay. The marina nestles under the Roman Amphitheatre, from the reign of Emperor Claudius (AD41-56), today it is the sixth largest and best preserved in the world.

 

Terry’s sister, Margie, and Lizzy and Tony Dyson joined us for 7 days. We had hoped to go back to the islands but a bora was forecast all week so we sailed north. The planned swim after picking up a mooring buoy in Rovinj had to be postponed when we saw jellyfish under the boat, they are rare in Croatia, we have only seen them on a couple of the north coast bays.

Porec marina, a tight squeeze

Porec marina, a tight squeeze

We hadn’t been ashore when we stopped at Porec in August. With storms looming it was a good destination as the historic town has great charm. The marina, however, is extremely tight to steer 49′ boat into!

Badly damaged during the second world war it has been carefully restored, however, many Venetian style buildings, medieval houses and palaces have survived. The Christian Basilica built by Bishop Euphrasius in the 6th century has magnificent Byzantine influenced gold mosaics. Art historians consider these to be of greater value than those at Ravenna.

Euphrasiun Basilica, Porec

Euphrasiun Basilica, Porec

Gold mosaics

Gold mosaics

Basilica campanile, Porec

Basilica campanile, Porec. 150 stairs

Tony and the bells

Tony and the bells

Porec marina from the Campanile

Porec marina from the Campanile

Storm over Porec, a day for sightseeing

Storm over Porec, a day for sightseeing

The monks knew how to live

Sculptured gardens in Bishop’s Palace

 

 

 

The fine views over Porec old town. The Bishop’s Palace, they certainly knew how to live.

 

City walls

City walls

Sunset over Vrsar marina from the old town

Sunset over Vrsar marina from the old town

 

An exciting sail 10nm south to Vrsar, a large marina which was full when we tried to visit in August. The hilltop, fortified town has Illyrian forts and four ancient churches. From 983 to 1772 the castle belonged to the Bishops of Porec. Casanova is reputed to have frequented Vrsar back in the day!

Sunset Vrsar Sept 7th

Sunset Vrsar Sept 7th

Lizzy and Margie watching the sun set from one of the sculptures in the Sculpture Park, Vrsar

Lizzy and Margie watching the sun set from one of the sculptures in the Sculpture Park, Vrsar

A faster boating experience than our usual

A faster boating experience than our usual

 

 

Julie’s birthday, the 8th, we took a high speed taxi 6nm up the Limska Draga Fjord, the inlet was formed when the Istrian coastline sank during the last Ice Age, allowing the sea to rush in and fill the Draga Valley.

Local oysters and mussels

Local oysters and mussels

 

 

 

 

 

Famous for fish, oyster and mussel farming.

 

 

More seafood at Trost restaurant that evening

More seafood at Trost restaurant that evening

At anchor in U Soline

At anchor in U Soline

 

Exotica sailed beautifully with reefed sails in an easterly 15-25 knots, 25nm from Vrsar to Uvala Soline, just south of Marina Veruda. A night at anchor for the crews last night.

 

 

Sisters-in-law in Soline

Sisters-in-law in Soline

Time to see the historic city of Pula before a late night flight back to Gatwick.

Temple of Augustus,

Temple of Augustus

 

 

Temple of Augustus, the only remaining building from the Roman Forum was reconstructed after a bomb hit it in 1994.

Franciscan Monastery

Franciscan  Monastery, still housing two monks, is a fine example.

 

Cloisters

Cloisters

Now on the final 2 weeks cruising these spectacular islands, to Zadar and back.

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