TO CROATIA -
The shorter '98 and '99 seasons
were spent cruising the East Coast of the United States to Maine and
Nova Scotia and preparing for our Atlantic crossing in
Since 2000, we have cruised from Portugal, Spain, The Balearics, Corsica, Sardinia, Tunisia, Sicily, the west coast of Italy, The Ionian Islands, the Gulf of Corinth, the Aegean Sea, the coast of Turkey and back through the Greek Islands, up into the Adriatic Sea and the Dalmatian Coast and into Italy, where we left DOVKA just west of Trieste, for this past winter.
June 14, 2005, Flag Day in the U.S. and Our First Stop in Croatia
We left Hannibal Marina in
Monfalcone, Italy, at noon on Monday and the windless, overcast day
became sunny and the wind came up from the SW at 20 knots. It was a
glorious first sail of the season, with the rail under and spray flying,
especially nice after three and a half weeks delay in the marina to
install the new engine. BUT now we are underway.
June 15, 2005, Official Entry into Croatia
He was with us last year, but left us in Brindisi, one overnight sail short of the "Promised Land". We celebrated with cappuccino in a café overlooking the harbor and then left to find a swimming hole at Uvala Soline, just south of Pula, still on the Istrian Peninsula.
June 21, 2005, Full Moon in an Uninhabited Bay
Every morning we have begun with brisk, refreshing wake up swims, to get us started, then some great day sailing on the flat water between the many greens islets and islands that make up the Dalmatian Coast. And pretty much every evening we have had quiet anchorages for our leisurely meals in the cockpit, when it has not been too cool.
Sid, and Fil, arrived together at Hannibal Marina mid May to install a new engine which had been shipped from the States. I arrived two weeks later. Ten days more and we finally were ready to go with the new engine and DOVKA in reasonable shape.
During down days at the marina, while waiting for engine parts or the Volvo mechanic, we fit in short trips to the surrounding countryside. We spent a day driving the Italian Carnian and Dolomite Mountains, where the peaks and vistas had to compete with the wildflowers. Another day we repeated our wonderful drive of last fall to the Julian Alps of Slovenia and on to Ljubjana. On yet another day, we traveled by train to Venice.
We liked Ljubjana, the capital of Slovenia. It felt like a seedy Prague without the hoards of tourists. The spectacular mountains did not disappoint us either, but we were champing at the bit to get the boat going.
One evening, while at the marina, we invited a German couple from the Black Forest, who were readying their boat for an around the world cruise (meaning they had even more work to do than we) to join us for dinner. They reciprocated by inviting us aboard their Halberg Rassy 42, NUKA'LOFA , for a "Schwarzwald-Vesper" and cold German beer. Otherwise we, three, were pretty much a self contained social unit in the Italian marina.
We anchored off one of our favorite spots to revisit the little jewel of a walled island-city of Trogir, shopped in the marvelous open air market, and got haircuts in the same shop we went to last year, before heading out to uninhabited bays again.
Then we sailed west to the island of Vis, famous for its vineyards, and anchored off one of its two small villages. An Austrian HR352 (sister ship to DOVKA) named SINBAD, with whom we have communicated by email, but never met, sailed in and anchored next to us.
The people we meet from many different countries, as well as the culture, history and sites of the different places we stop, are a big part of our cruising, along with the sailing.
We spent several days in
company with our new Austrian friends, and that has really made us feel
as if we are back in the swing of things. It is harder here in Croatia
to meet "cruising folk" so when we do and we seem to connect,
it is very special.
July 3, 2005, One Year Since Our Arrival in Croatia
Last week, the wind continued to slacken and go south, bringing some humidity and heat. We continued south also, to the island of Korcula, where we were able to anchor off the western end and found ourselves at the mustering point for some sort of water celebration (which turned out to be part of a local celebration for a patron saint).
Rowing sculls, many small
motorboats and a party boat with a Dixieland Jazz band playing Sousa
marches all milled around us before they headed off for the harbor of
Vela Luka about a mile away. We enjoyed their rendition of "Stars
and Stripes Forever", with which they serenaded us as a prelude
to our Fourth of July. Later in the evening, the little fleet returned
in a little less orderly fashion.
Dubrovnik turned out to be a good city in which to replace our glass windshield which we had destroyed several days earlier when the gibing preventer caught on the open window blowing the glass into smithereens. Glass shards everywhere on deck and in the cabin below and we always go barefoot!
Finding a replacement window turned out to be another positive cruising experience with several busses, wrong turns, and nice people willing to assist, especially the ones in the plexiglass store. For once a problem easily solved and we are whole again, protected from sea spray and wind in the cockpit.
And now on the Fourth of July weekend, we sit in Okuklje, a rare, all weather harbor on the northeast side of the beautiful island of Mljet. We are surrounded by steep hills studded with silver olive and green pine trees.
Yesterday we hiked to a tiny little church with a magnificent view of the wide channel between Mljet and the mainland, where the granite and brown mounds of serious mountains in the distance seem to roll out of the flat land which itself seems to rise abruptly from the sea. The vistas are those one sees on calendars and postcards. And the sensation sitting outside the church, soaking this up, I dare say, was more spiritual than anything inside the church could be.
We have just returned from another hike with spectacular views. The pleasure we felt with the lack of manmade structures to be seen (except heeled over sailboats out at sea), or manmade sounds to be heard, was palpable. The rustling of the trees in the wind, escalating to a low roar when the gusts arrived, and the insects in the bushes were the only sounds bombarding us. We were treated to a display of a group of beautiful small yellow, green and orange butterflies, who seemed to follow us as we walked. They emphasized the intensity of color surrounding us in sea, sky, land and, even insects.
Whether it is the lovely
weather, or our familiarity with the winds and the harbors, or just
our attitude, we are enjoying Croatia much more, so far this season,
than last year when we arrived in a heat wave at the height of the season.
There are lots of boats, but there are lots of little bays and we may
be more adventuresome than we were. Whatever, so far, we are happy to
17, 2005, Fires and Farewells
One of them, NOAH, we had cruised with last season in Greece and Croatia. We had totally missed their Fourth of July party by being on the wrong side of the island! But it was nice to catch up with them as they were heading south and back to Turkey.
On the morning of July 6th, we smelled an electrical fire and found that a circuit board had burned up and fried our voltage regulator and alternator. Some jury rigging with a spare alternator kept us going until we got into the marina in Split three days earlier than planned in order to make repairs.
Entry into the very busy harbor of Split was quite exciting with 20 plus knots of wind, two ferries and a humongous cruise ship bearing down on us as we quickly got the mainsail down.
Again, we were able to find a shop capable of rebuilding the alternator between Friday afternoon and nine on Saturday morning. So after only one day and several hundred dollars, we were able to split from Split with our newly rewound alternator and head out for the weekend to meet our German friends, from the Italian marina, on NUKA'LOFA, as they commenced their circumnavigation.
We pulled into the lovely cove of Lucice on the island of Brac, and picked up a mooring next to an American Halberg Rassy 46. We had a mini HR rally and a celebratory dinner to send Helmut and Renata off around the world, in style.
Split also has one of the most spectacular Roman ruins we have yet seen: Diocletian's Palace. This was a military fortress, imperial residence and fortified town built by the emperor Diocletian for his retirement in the early 4th century. This 31,000 square meter area still houses apartments, shops, cafes and restaurants and is home to about 3,000 people. The palace substructure (basement halls) was not discovered until unearthed by bombs in WWII and, as a result, is almost totally intact and a magnificent example of Roman construction. We were wowed.
A return to the island of Vis and a motorscooter ride around the island highlighted its vineyards and magnificent views. We had the roads to ourselves and detoured to climb a few of the seemingly endless steps on the path that continued up the cliffs to what was billed as "Tito's Cave." We took the sign's word for it and enjoyed the view halfway up. No Germans were after us as far we knew and we did not need to emulate the Partisans.
Once again we were struck by the rock walls and huge mounds of rock piles everywhere. We surmise that the walls are for erosion prevention, water retention and wind breaks and the piles a place to put all the rocks that must be dug up to cultivate anywhere. These rock piles and walls are up and down and all around every mountainside, no matter how steep, on absolutely every island, no matter how small, that we have passed or visited.
Carol and Ted departed on Friday, after a great visit, leaving us alone this weekend for the first time this season. We are decompressing and contemplating some significant boat chores.
Suddenly, we are surrounded by cruising boats, three of whom are Australian, two of whom we met last year. We are anchored, once again, off the old walled city of Trogir.
We came for my monthly haircut. This time I brought my Croatian-English dictionary so I could say "malo, malo" (literally, little, little) meaning don't cut my hair too short. And for the internet café, since we finally have time to update this website for all of you who have voiced complaints about no material for 2005.