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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A Little Golf And Then Back To Croatia

 

Julie returned from her successful trip to Sydney, where she was caring for her aunt, on August 5th having been away for two weeks.  Terry had Venice and Exotica all to himself.

Julie delivered from the airport directly to our berth by Emirates water taxi, with storm threatening.

Julie delivered from the airport directly to our berth by Emirates water taxi, with storm threatening.

The Dolomites from Isola Certosa, Venezia

The Dolomites from Isola Certosa, Venezia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The very next day we finally left Venice after over 2 months on Certosa Island. We headed north against choppy seas and windy weather, as it was hard on the nose we had to motor for seven hours, finally arriving in Marina Sant Andrea, a very quiet marina 4nm up a canal in another large and shallow lagoon.  This is just about the most northerly place in the whole Mediterranean.

Leaving Venice after a two month stay.

Leaving Venice after a two month stay.

We had chosen this marina as we needed to have somewhere to leave Exotica for a week as we had a trip planned to the Austrian Tyrol where, having hired a car at Trieste airport, we drove over the Dolomites by way of the Plockenpass, steep and narrow and requiring about a thousand gear changes in a small manual car.

Dolomitengolf course, spectacular.

Dolomitengolf course, spectacular.

Even JC was tempted to learn golf at this superb resort

Even JC was tempted to learn golf at this superb resort

Our destination was the Dolomitengolf Hotel where we joined our friends Maria and Juergen Luders. They are keen golfers and have come here for many years to play on the beautiful 27 hole golf course.  It is an amazing place, a valley surrounded by the mountains of the Dolomites close to the town of Lienz.  Despite the awesome ranges on all sides the golf course is almost completely flat and beautifully maintained with lush grass. Terry bought some golf shoes, hired some clubs and played every day of our stay. Julie utilised the gyms and the pools.

Juergen, JC, Maria & TC Grossglockner lookout

Juergen, JC, Maria & TC Grossglockner lookout

We hate the cold, it snowed on the way up to the lookout.

We hate the cold, it snowed on the way up to the lookout.

 

 

 

Juergen drove us to glimpse the highest Austrian peak, Grossglockner, 3,798m. It was a freezing 1C from the lookout point but worth the chill as the clouds parted to give us a spectacular view of the peak and glazier.

 

Clouds part to view Austria's highest peak

Clouds part to view Austria’s highest peak

Maria and Juergen could interpret the wine tasting in German

Maria and Juergen could interpret the wine tasting in German

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Idyllic Austria. Dolomitengolf Resort

Idyllic Austria. Dolomitengolf Resort

The 4 nautical mile channel from Marina Sant Andrea through Laguna di Marano. Northern-most tip of the Med.

The 4 nautical mile channel from Marina Sant Andrea through Laguna di Marano. Northern-most tip of the Med.

We returned to Exotica on August 13th and after a day for cleaning, restocking and washing we set off across the Adriatic again, stopping briefly in Piran, Slovenia, to check out of the Shengen zone of the EU and then the few miles to Umag, the most northerly port in Croatia, to visit the police and pay the sizeable sum which allows the boat to stay in Croatia.

Re-visiting Piran in Slovenia to exit Schengen. Dreaded party boat on right.

Re-visiting Piran in Slovenia to exit Schengen. Dreaded party boat on right.

Storm brewing over Ronvinj

Storm brewing over Ronvinj

Over the next few days we made our way south on the western Istrian peninsula, stopping on a mooring in Porec and another one in Rovinj, where we had previously stayed in the marina on our way to Venice.  During the night there was a very impressive electrical thunderstorm from the west and a fierce gale blew up from the NE.  It didn’t last long but we were grateful to be on a reliable concrete block.

Inner harbour in Cres town

Inner harbour in Cres town

Exotica safely tied up in shipyard marina, Cres town, while Bora howled for 3 days

Exotica safely tied up in shipyard marina, Cres town, while Bora howled for 3 days

Since then we have cruised through the islands of the northern Adriatic. For three days we were storm bound in the small town of Cres, capital of the island of that name.  This was during the passage of a bora, a very strong north easterly wind which funnels down from the Dolomite mountains to the north and roars down the east side of the Adriatic.  It can come suddenly with high winds and large seas.  Fortunately forecasting is very good and one has warning so that we know when to head for a safe port.

Car rental on Cres, there was considerable stress on the track to and from Lubenica!

Car rental on Cres, there was considerable stress on the track to and from Lubenica!

Two large yachts braving the stormy seas between Cres and Istria, taken from our vantage spot high above in Lubenice

Two large yachts braving the stormy seas between Cres and Istria, taken from our vantage spot high above in Lubenica

The bora may blow fiercely but it brings clear, blue skies so we hired a (yet another tiny manual) car and explored the islands of Cres and Losinj by land. There is a very narrow, treacherous road up to the clifftop ancient town of Lubenica. From there we were nearly blown off looking down at the huge seas, very glad we had chosen to remain landlubbers that day.

JC nearly blown off the cliff at Lubenice

JC nearly blown off the cliff at Lubenica

Paltana Bay at Banjole, Marino's home port

Paltana Bay at Banjole, Marino’s home port

We have also been lucky to have joined Marino Skoko with his 36 foot yacht Homeless.  Marino is a friend who comes from Istria and knows this part of the world intimately.  He also spends the seven European winter months in Sydney.

Goose-winging behind Homeless past Otak Ilovik

Goose-winging behind Homeless past Otak Ilovik

Following Homeless through Osor canal, with cheering onlookers.

Following Homeless through Osor canal, with cheering onlookers.

Over the past week he has led us into beautiful harbours and anchorages such as Ustrine on Cres Island, then through the tiny canal at Osor where a swing bridge opens twice a day, the passage of the boats affords the days highlight for the holidaymakers.  We anchored for the night at shallow, quiet bay of Sonte and then sailed all day, for a change, including a delightful narrow passage between two islands at Ilovik.

Otok Silba, idyllic bay. Protected from Bora

Otok Silba, idyllic bay. Protected from Bora

Otok Susak, tiny harbour surrounded by hills of bamboo covered sandy mud

Otok Susak, tiny harbour surrounded by hills of bamboo covered sandy mud

Finally the idyllic bay, Luke Svet Ant, on Silba and the tiny harbour of Susac. This island is unique in this part of Croatia, they say it was a meterorite. Instead of rocks and soil it’s vegetation is bamboo, holding fine sandy mud hillsides together. Much of the island is covered with vines which produce an exceptionally good Sauvignon Blanc and a very smooth red.

One of the few sandy beaches in Croatia, Susak. Exotica is the highest mast.

One of the few sandy beaches in Croatia, Susak. Exotica is the highest mast.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Susak town with vineyards covering a third of this sandy island

Susak town with vineyards covering a third of this sandy island

Marino and Terry on Isola Unije

Marino and Terry on Isola Unije

 

We returned to Veruda, booked our winter berth, washed the salt off the boat, re-provisioned and collected our next guest, Angela Bush. We are now cruising more islands, harbours and anchorages in the northern Adriatic in blue skies and pleasant end of summer temperatures.

A Short Trip to Slovenia – Then Back to Venice

We returned from our Wagner extravaganza in England (six operas in eight days – a serious indulgence) on the same flight as Sara Pennells and Ruth and Mick Donnelly.  With them we had a splendid week.

View from the campanile at Santa Maggiore - Certosa, where Exotica is berthed is in the distance

View from the campanile at Santa Maggiore – Certosa, where Exotica is berthed in the distance

 

One day for some sightseeing in Venice and then on Thursday July 7th. we set off to cross the Adriatic to Trieste, some 50nm.

For once we actually got some sailing, with a good strong breeze.  True to form it was right from the direction we wished to go.  Nonetheless we hauled in the sheets and beat to windward going at 8 knots with the lee rail under.  We enjoyed this for about two hours until the wind died and so the motor was on again and we could point the boat directly at our destination.

IMG_4676Trieste is a very elegant, fascinating city with a colourful past.  For long a mortal enemy of Venice, it was subsumed into the Austro-Hungarian empire and was the base of their fleet in the Mediterranean.  After World War 1 it was annexed by Italy, who claimed it after World War 2 but it was only in 1954 that the Allies ceded the city to the Italians.

Tram ride to the top of the mountain

Tram ride to the top of the mountain

 

Over a couple of days, we explored Trieste thoroughly including a fascinating tram ride up the adjacent mountain which turns into a cable car half way up and reverts into a tram again at the top. There are said to be excellent views of the city but somehow we failed to get off at the panorama station.

 

 

Dining on the waterfront. Sara Pennells, Mick and Ruth Donnelly

Dining on the waterfront. Sara Pennells, Mick and Ruth Donnelly

We also did one of the world’s worst walking tours where the guide was supposed to do half Italian and half English, but somehow she forgot about the English and would give a twenty-minute history lesson in Italian and then tell us to look it up on the internet.  She even answered one of Julie’s questions in Italian.  Since it was by no means a free tour Julie marched into the tourist office and complained….sadly, was not offered a refund.

A peaceful anchorage in Slovenia

A peaceful anchorage in Slovenia

 

 

From Trieste we left Italy for a few days in Slovenia.  The coastline of Slovenia is very short with only three harbours but pleasant inlets where we had one night at the most comfortable anchorage.

Piran - the main square

Piran – the main square

 

 

 

 

The harbour at Piran.

The harbour at Piran.

 

 

 

 

 

Our last night was in Piran, a small harbour and town where we tied up to the quay against a big old wooden yacht.  After exploring the town and climbing the campanile we dined at a waterside restaurant and turned in before an early departure the following morning. Unfortunately, the yacht alongside was rented out to party people after the pubs closed, they played a radio, talked, smoked and drank on deck until 5.30 in the morning.  As we were leaving the harbour Terry gave them a blast of invective but they were unrepentant. We again managed to sail a considerable  distance on our passage back to Venice, it was a real thrill to actually sail into the Lagoon.

Palladio Redentore Church

Palladio Redentore Church

All decked out for the occasion.

All decked out for the occasion.

The temporary bridge.

The temporary bridge.

The fireworks.

The fireworks.

 

 

 

July 16th. in Venice is the feast of Redentore when Venetians celebrate the end of the plague in 1577.  They build a massive bridge of barges across the Giudecca Canal across which people walk to the church for the religious services and there is much partying and merrymaking.  In the evening there is a fireworks display and our marina laid on a special feast at the restaurant followed by a boat to take us to watch the fireworks over the city.  Sadly, the meal was a disaster and the boat laid on for the yachties was not a smart launch but a rough barge with a trestle table and bench seats.  Nonetheless we had a grand view of the fireworks on a chilly but clear, still night. Coming from Sydney we think we know something about boats in a harbour and fireworks but this was an amazing scene with more craft of every description than we have ever seen, 4000, we were told. The fireworks display was nearly an hour long and spectacular with the backdrop of Venetian domes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The next day, Sunday, we set off to Tuscany for the Linari music festival at which our friend, Deborah Humble, was performing.  This is a delightful chamber music festival held in amazing private houses and churches scattered through Tuscany and centred on the tiny village of Linari.  We stayed in a rather strange B & B on the industrial outskirts of the weirdly named Poggibonsi and, having hired a car in Florence, were able to travel easily to the various venues, all in Chianti.

Your own private castle in Tuscany.

Your own private castle in Tuscany.

 

Rehearsal in the courtyard.

Rehearsal in the courtyard.

The first concert was held on a private estate. A vineyard and beautifully renovated stone house with a watch tower from the middle ages.  The concert was held in the unroofed courtyard.  Fortunately, it was a warm, clear night.  Good news for the Steinway.  The concert was Brahms and Beethoven with our diva singing the Wesendonk lieder for us Wagnerians.

This festival favours young musicians and we were delighted to meet renowned Australian pianist Jayson Gillham, who is performing with the Sydney Symphony in October.

Siena Cathedral

Siena Cathedral

Wagner's inspiration.

Wagner’s inspiration.

 

 

 

 

 

On one day we drove to Siena.  Here we visited the Duomo with it’s bizarre black and white marble decor and astonishing marble pictures on the floor.  The inside of the Cathedral is said to be the inspiration for the Hall of the Grail in Acts One and Three of Parsifal.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

View from St Appiano

View from St Appiano

The church of St Appiano

The church of St Appiano

 

 

 

The second concert we attended was in the small church of St Appiano, high on a hillside overlooking a Tuscan valley.  The ancient church was packed, mainly with expatriot Dutch and British people currently living there.  The theme of the evening was the violin and we were treated to some amazing virtuosity both on the violin and the piano.

Morgen

Morgen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The encore was a rendition of Morgen by Richard Strauss with all the performers on stage.  Tremendous.

 

St Sebastian.

St Sebastian.

 

Terry’s favourite pastime in art galleries and churches is searching for depictions of St. Sebastian.  In many years of seeking them out one of the best is to be found in the tiny church of St Appiano

 

Just as we were packing up to leave our B & B and return to the boat Julie received a call to say that her Aunt Muriel, to whom she is most attached, had fallen in a shopping centre in Sydney and sustained a serious head injury and was in hospital.  Julie decided to return to Sydney and so our plans to leave Venice were put on hold.  The only flight she could get at short notice was in First Class which got her to Sydney within a couple of days, and in considerable comfort!

Fortunately, her aunt is on the mend and has been discharged from Hospital and Julie expects to return to Exotica on August 5th.  In the meantime Terry has had a very quiet time on his own in this pleasant, if somewhat remote marina.

When Julie returns we plan to leave Venice for another harbour further north where we will hire yet another car and join our German opera friends for a week of golf in Austria.

La Serenissima

Exotica has been comfortably moored for four weeks in our quiet marina Veneto di Venezia on the tranquil island of Certosa less than twenty minutes from the heart of Venice.

High tide

High tide

Low tide

Low tide, spires of San Marco in the distance

 

Every day we took the 4.1 vaporetto into San Marco to visit a couple of the hundreds of museums and churches adorned with Titians, Veroneses, Tintorettos and Canalettos.  It is not surprising to learn that there are 314 named painters of the Venetian school.

 

Venice with a View group in the the fresco salon Laconda San Barbaba

Venice with a View group in the the fresco salon Laconda San Barbaba

For six days we were lucky enough to join a group of music lovers from Sydney spending a few days in Venice before moving to the Bach festival in Leipzig.

Shouldn't the gondolier be concentrating on steering!

Shouldn’t the gondolier be concentrating on steering!

Boarding at Hotel San Barnaba, Duodorso

Boarding at Hotel San Barnaba, Duodorso

 

With them we had some special occasions including a gondola ride, not normally something we would do, but this one was rather special with a brief stop at a canal side hotel’s boat, to take on board two bottles of prosecco and some nibbles.

Five star gondola experience

Five star gondola experience

Vivaldi devoted most of his life to this famous church and orphanage for children of the poor

Vivaldi devoted most of his life to this famous church and orphanage for children of the poor

We also had a specially guided tour of the Pieta and particularly memorable was the night time visit to the Basilica, where, as darkness fell, they turned on the lights to illuminate the amazing golden frescoes on the ceiling.  Despite being a Roman Catholic church all the architectural influences in this building come from the orthodox religions further east.

 

The tide rising in Palazzo San Marco

The tide rising in Palazzo San Marco

There are 7 domes in San Marco

There are 7 domes in San Marco

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

San Marco at night

San Marco at night

20 Euro Aperol Spritz at Hotel Cipriani. Room start at 1,400 Euros!

20 Euro Aperol Spritz at Hotel Cipriani. Rooms start at 1,400 Euros!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cipriani launch

Cipriani launch

Worth the cost of the drinks for this sunset from the Cipriani launch

Worth the cost of the drinks for this sunset from the Cipriani launch

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Private collection of Murano glass

Private collection of Murano glass

Hair cut at this extraordinary Venezian salon

Hair cut at this extraordinary Venezian salon

 

 

The weather has been pretty perfect so far, cool with the occasional shower, so good for sightseeing. It  has started to warm up but one is not tempted to dive into the lagoon, however!

 

8 Euro meal Osteria Bea Vita

8 Euro meal Osteria Bea Vita

Linea D'Ombra

Linea D’Ombra

to fine dining, thanks Richard and Vicky

 

 

 

 

 

Scary wine list!

Scary wine list!

Doge Palace on right and prison on left, from the Bridge of Sighs

Doge Palace on right and prison on left, from the Bridge of Sighs

With our friends, Vicky and Richard Franklin, who joined us on board for four days, we visited the Doge’s Palace and had a spectacular lunch at Linea d’Ombra restaurant overlooking the canal.  They are bridge players so each evening, once the sun had set, we sat down to play cards.

 

 

Opulance in the Doges Palace

Opulance in the Doges Palace

Stuart Skelton starred as Tristan at ENO

Stuart Skelton starred as Tristan at ENO

Thursday June 23rd we flew back to England for 12 days for a feast of opera. A momentous day for Britain, the shock referendum result  to leave the European Union greeted us on the morning of the 24th. The country has remained in turmoil, the journalists having a field day and the politicians at loggerheads but it has not affected our exceptional Wagnerfest!

Quintessential Glyndebourne, before a sensational Die Meistersinger

Quintessential Glyndebourne, before a sensational Die Meistersinger

Taxi to The Ring Cycle at Festival Hall

Taxi to The Ring Cycle at Festival Hall

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Opera North's semi-staged Ring production

Opera North’s semi-staged Ring production

The Fielding Private Hotel with Royal Opera House in background

The Fielding Private Hotel with Royal Opera House in background

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Ring with Marilyn and Richard Plummer and Margie Jones

The Ring with Marilyn and Richard Plummer and Margie Jones

Family time at Phee's renovated cottage

Family time at Phee’s renovated cottage

 

 

 

We return to Venice on July 5th and  plan to sail to Trieste and the coast of Slovenia.

And So To Venice

 

Exotica from Istria to Venice.

Exotica from Istria to Venice.

Our stay in Marina Verdura was a great success.

We had all the jobs done on the boat quickly and efficiently and found excellent workmen who came when they said they would and finished the job on time and on budget.  So different from those in Kastela.  Exotica now looks as good as she ever has with beautiful decks treated with Nano teak technology and new windows in the sprayhood we can actually see through.  We even managed to have the cockpit cushions dry cleaned successfully. Unless we find anywhere better I suspect we will be back there for the winter.

Skipper up the mast

Skipper up the mast

View from aloft.

View from aloft.

Even Julie took her annual trip up the mast to fix the flag halyard.

So after midday on Friday May 27th we set off north, past Pula and through the Brijuni Islands from where Marshal Tito used to rule the old Yugoslavia and entertained heads of state and film stars.

Rovinj

Rovinj

 

 

Our destination was the small port of Rovinj, yet another harbour with a hilltop, fortified village and a church at the top.

St Euphemia - ordinary from the outside.

St Euphemia – ordinary from the outside.

Baroque splendour within

Baroque splendour within

The Church of Santa Euphemia at Rovinj.

Rovinj from the Immigration dock.

Rovinj from the Immigration dock.

 

Early the next morning we were alongside the police dock to clear customs and immigration since we were leaving for Italy and though Croatia is in the EU it is not a Schengen country.  However, the formalities were minimal and we were on our way back across the Adriatic quicker than we expected.

 

Early morning leaving Croatia

Early morning leaving Croatia

 

It was a pristine day but no wind meant that we had to motor all the way to Venice.  We did try the sails on a couple of occasions but we wanted to arrive in the Venice lagoon in plenty of daylight since we felt it might be tricky to negotiate the narrow and very busy waterways in any but the best conditions.

 

The approach to the Venice lagoon.

The approach to the Venice lagoon.

 

It was very exciting to enter one of the world’s top maritime destinations and follow the line of piles watching the chart and the depth sounder.

 

 

 

 

The narrow canal at Certosa.

The narrow canal at Certosa.

Luckily we could contact the marina we had booked earlier in the year and they sent a marinero in a dinghy to guide us up the incredibly narrow and shallow canal with every imaginable craft rushing by in both directions and tied up along each side.  Julie, at the helm, maintained her sang froid and moored the boat, as always, in an exemplary fashion.

We then sat down to toast our arrival with a prosecco, although shortly after finishing the bottle we decided to move to a different mooring a little closer to the main yard.  This was done with even more aplomb.

Venice and Certosa

Venice and Certosa

 

 

 

 

St Mark's Square with a few people.

St Mark’s Square with a few people.

So Exotica now sits in a dock on the beautiful and tranquil island of Certosa, a mere 15 minute vaporetto ride from St Mark’s Square but a million miles from the hordes of tourists who flock there.

We have been here for twelve days and are finding our way round the city, although one still gets lost in the labyrinth of lanes we are beginning to feel a bit like locals who assure us they, too, sometimes get lost.

 

 

 

The Australian Pavilion at the Architecture Biennale

The Australian Pavilion at the Architecture Biennale

 

Of course we have done the tourist route, such as the Architecture Biennale, where the Australian Pavilion housed a large swimming pool to emphasise the importance of water to the Aussie way of life.   Also multiple churches, museums and glass factories.

 

 

Murano is an island famous for the production of Venetian glass.  Every street and canal on the island is lined on both sides by shops selling the product.  We were on a mission to buy Julie some earrings to match a Murano glass necklace bought some years ago in London.  Despite the massive profusion of glass artifacts of every conceivable kind it took us 17 shops before we found a match.

We were fortunate to be there on the one day a week that the School of Glassmaking provides an exhibition of the art. There were six massive furnaces full of molten glass pouring out amazing heat into the working space.  Nonetheless the skill of the glass-makers shaping this red hot molten material is most impressive.

From this

From this

To this

To this

 

Also there are plenty of charming restaurants down side streets and in small piazzas where the food is excellent and not outrageously expensive.

The best restaurant so far.

The best restaurant so far.

 

We have been joined for five days by Robert Mitchell with whom we attended an opera at La Fenice, a relative rarity by Mascagni – L’Amico Fritz as well as much other sightseeing and some excellent meals.

 

 

 

Our most recent trip has been to the Palazzo Vendramin, one of the most beautiful on the Grand Canal. IMG_4262Here in a chamber on the first floor Richard Wagner died on 13th February 1883 and the whole apartment has been turned into museum with multiple original artifacts of his life and times. It is the home of the Venice Wagner Society and one of their members conducted our very moving tour.  Unfortunately there are no pictures allowed as the Palazzo is now the Venice Casino and they forbid photography throughout the whole building.

We will remain in Venice until June 23rd when we return to England for an extravaganza of Wagner opera and plan to take Exotica away from this beautiful place in early July.

North to Istria

From Kastela to Pula.

From Kastela to Pula.

We left Marina Kastela with few regrets.  It had been recommended to us as a good place to overwinter the boat but we were somewhat disappointed by the lack of attention to the decks although we had been promised they would be cleaned regularly while we were away.  However, the work on the antifoul and the anodes was attended to in good time and once we had the major, professional clean we were ready to go.

So on Monday May 16th. we set out to sea again and bade a less than fond farewell to Kastela.

Leaving Kastela - before discovering the failure of the autohelm.

Leaving Kastela – before discovering the failure of the autohelm.

We thought we had checked every system but 300 metres from the dock, when Julie pressed the button, she found that the autohelm, which steers the boat for us on the course we set, was not working.  There was considerable consternation but we couldn’t face the prospect of returning to Kastela so decided to steer by hand.  This, for a long journey, is decidedly tedious as any lapse of concentration sees the boat veering off course.

The first day we made 30 nautical miles to the little harbour of Primosten where we picked up a mooring in some swell but the wind dropped and had an excellent night.

Exotica nestled among the charter boats at Dugi Otok.

Exotica nestled among the charter boats at Dugi Otok.

 

This was the last stop on familiar territory, as the following night we were in the little port of Sali on Dugi Otok, one of the innumerable islands and rocks which we passed through on our journey north towards Istria.

 

 

 

During the night Terry had a brainwave and recalled that we have a remote control for the instruments which we have never used and which might bypass the autohelm control box.  He jumped out of bed and put it on charge and to our joy and relief it worked.

So much so that the next day we did over 50 miles to Mali on the island of Losinj.  A day of brilliant sunshine but no wind so it was a long motor.

That night the wind came up out of the south and blew quite strongly.  This was perfect for our final trip of this passage as we were headed north-west and so set off quite early despite the reservations of the marinero who felt that we were being foolhardy.  However, once he saw Julie’s skillful manoeuvre away from the dock he complemented her and waved us goodbye.

25 knots of wind and look - no hands!

25 knots of wind and look – no hands!

 

 

Before the wind Exotica sails best with headsail alone and so we had a great ride in up to 25 knots of breeze touching 9 knots of speed at times. It was bitterly cold though, so grateful for our thermal hats!

The course of "Endless Summer" does not always run smooth

The course of “Endless Summer” does not always run smooth

 

It was early afternoon when we arrived at our destination for the next week or so, Marina Veruda, a couple miles south of Pula, the largest city on the Istrian peninsula in the north of Croatia.  Here we had been booked a berth by our friend Marino Skoko, a shipwright who, like us, divides his time between summers in Sydney and his native Croatia.  He kindly organised for his friends to be ready to undertake some of the maintenance required to get Exotica looking beautiful and working well again.

So far we are delighted by the work done. Unlike other parts of Croatia, it appears that when workmen here say they will come they actually do and complete the job on time.

Eddie removing the old decking oil.

Eddie removing the old decking oil.

 

 

So the excellent Eddie has been putting special nanotechnology surfacing on the teak decks and Elvis (yes – really) has refurbished the sprayhood.

 

 

 

Roman Arena at Pula.

Roman Arena at Pula.

 

Meanwhile we have hired a car and investigated Pula, with its impressive Roman arena and the hinterland of Istria, where we have found hill top fortress towns and castles with blacksmithing exhibitions.

 

 

From the Roman walls of Motovun, northern Istria

From the Roman walls of Motovun, northern Istria

Playing the anvil on Wagner's birthday - May 22nd.

Playing the anvil on Wagner’s birthday – May 22nd.

 

We plan a few more days to finish the work, held up at the moment by some heavy rain, and then will be on our way further north before crossing the Adriatic again to Venice.

Start of our Fourth Season in the Mediterranean

Welcome, Dear Reader, to the return of clarkesailing.com as we embark on our fourth year of journeys on our beloved Exotica.  If you are still with us by the end of this post do please leave a message, just to let us know that we are reaching our audience and not broadcasting to an empty ether!

 

Our time since leaving Australia has been far from unalloyed pleasure.  Ten pleasant days in England with Terry’s sister were spent with him getting over a cold.  Thence, to Leipzig for the Ring together with a large group of friends from both Australia and Germany.  However, we both caught a nasty intestinal virus and first Terry and then Julie went down with D & V sufficiently bad as to make us miss some of the performances.  Julie was particularly unwell and only managed to stagger, at the point of death, to the final act of Gotterdammerung.

Fortunately we were both just fit enough to make the plane to Split where Exotica has been wintering on the hard.

Exotica's winter berth. Note the tie down webbing.

Exotica’s winter berth. Note the tie down webbing.

Our first look at the boat was somewhat of a shock, the saloon and cabins were pristine, dry and clean but the decks were a mess.  Five months of Croatian wind and rain, some containing Sahara sand, had lain a thick layer of brown dirt on the gelcoat and faded the teak to a splotchy brown.

The filthy decks.

The filthy decks.

After 6 moths ashore Exotica goes to sea again.

After 6 moths ashore Exotica goes to sea again.

 

 

 

Despite this, after a couple of coats of antifoul paint on the keel, we were ready to launch and Exotica took to the water on Friday May 13th.

Motoring away from the boatyard.

Motoring away from the boatyard.

 

 

 

 

We drove round to the marina where the next day a young Croatian, whose name I ashamed to say we failed to ascertain, worked non-stop for seven hours washing and scrubbing and polishing until the superstructure of the boat was almost as good as it used to look.  Now it just remains to treat the teak decks, a job we are leaving until we arrive in Pula a hundred miles north.

We have spent our first night aboard, packed all the cupboards, stocked the pantry and fridge with food, hoisted the sails and checked all the electrical and other systems.

Tomorrow we set out for the north of the Adriatic and the next adventure.  We plan to sail through the islands of Croatia and spend some time in Pula having a little work done before heading across to Venice for the month of June.