All posts by Sarah

From Trogir to Sibenik

The lovely anchorage at Vinisce.

For our week with Paula (my best woman!), we were to be blessed with fair and calm weather.  We decided to take small hops up the coast to Sibenik, from where we could visit the renowned Krka Falls.

Ian, Paula and Me

After a slow start on Paula’s first morning we set off to explore Old Trogir a little and buy some last minute provisions. (Loo paper). We left the quay at about noon and had a short sail across to Vinisce Bay, which is a fantastic anchorage. Shallow, with facilities ashore, there is loads of room to swing and not worry.

We enjoyed a pleasant evening there listening to the rather strident and raucous band noise from a nearby event.  But, luckily it didn’t go on late, this being Croatia, that kind of nonsense seems to be frowned upon.

We set off the following morning for an almost perfect sail north.  We tacked into the wind and made great progress.  We arrived at our next anchorage and after a quick survey decided that it wasn’t good enough for us.  We motored to plan B’s location a little further in.  This bay is a large hammerhead shaped bay north east of Rogoznica town. 

rpt

We chose the east end of the hammerhead and anchored comfortably in sand.  There were holiday homes ashore but no other facilities.  A short dinghy ride into Rogoznica was worthwhile.  It is a lovely town and we enjoyed a cocktail and some local wine whilst watching the sun set. 

The following day we sailed about 15nm to Mirine Bay which is a deserted bay with shallow water and a sandy bottom.  There is an impressive defensive wall that strings across the headland so this bay is often referred to as Wall Bay.

We had a very quiet night here with, perhaps, two other boats.

The next day, we made our way to an anchorage

that was not listed in our pilot guide but which we had heard about from friends on Otoka.  A stunning spot tucked in behind an island fort at the mouth of the Krka River and surrounded by pine trees, a beach and an isthmus connecting the root of the fort to the land.

We shot into Sibenik

in the dinghy and had a wander around the pretty town. Then, we swam, chilled and took a walk across to the fort.  The following day, we set off up river for only the second time since departing Portugal.  We motored for a while and then managed to sail downwind until we approached the first road bridge.  As it is an arching bridge with 26m air draft at its highest point we put the head sail away and aimed for the centre of the arch under motor to make sure our 20m mast plus aerial easily passed beneath.

We sailed for a while across the huge lake and then motored the final section of river until we reached the jetty of Konoba Smokvic where we had booked to spend the night.  We swam in the fresh water of the river which was beautifully chilly and marvelled at how much less buoyant we were than in salt water.

That evening, we went to the restaurant to eat.  Soon after, Alice and Ian Daggett arrived to surprise us.  They had landed in Split that morning and were heading up to Plitvice Lakes in their hire car.  They had booked a hotel nearby and decided to join us for dinner.  How adventurous they are as there is only a dirt road access to the restaurant.  We had a wonderful evening with them.

Me, Paula, Ian, Alice and Ian D in Skradin.

Next day, we dinghy-ed up to Skradin early and bought tickets to go to the National Park of Krka Falls.

First, you take a river boat up river and then walk around a beautiful circular path and wooden walkways, weaving through fifty shades of green. . 

We decided to extend the trip and caught the 11.09am (Croastian precision) taxi boat up to Roski Slap waterfalls further up river.  There was glorious scenery all around and it was utterly quiet and deserted. In the midst of all this nature there was an island originally created stone on stone by the sheer hard labour of Franciscan Monks many years ago.  Now, the man-made island has a huge monastery, church and beautiful garden. Living here now are a handful of novice monks and a guiding priest.  There was an interesting museum too, but for me the gardens and attending butterflies were the most special part of the place.

We continued up river and arrived at the gorgeous Roski Falls and grabbed a quick, refreshing swim and a picnic lunch.  We had the chance to look around an interesting flour mill.  Totally water driven and in full working order again.

All too soon it was time to return.  We all had a little snooze on the way back.  We had walked at least 12km in the heat and humidity and we were in need of refreshment!

We were glad to be back on Linea to cool off and share a couple of beers and ‘interesting arguments’ with Goran (and Ian!!) from the restaurant.  We went up to Skradin in the evening to meet Alice and Ian after their day at Plitvice and also spotted Gary and Shillini on Sarasi, new CA friends we met in Rogoznica.

Next day, we motored back to Sibenik, we stopped off to buy some mussels from the mussel farm in the river and then I whizzed Paula ashore and we sorted out her bus trip back to the airport.

What a lovely week.  Some great sailing, a little exercise, some swimming, sights and scenes.

Next time, read about our stormy week with Alice and Ian!

Carry on Croatia

Old Town Quay Trogir

So far we remain very impressed by Croatia. There are beautiful islands, pristine waters and stunning coves. There is interesting history and stunning churches, buildings and monuments. The sailing has been good and there are loads of free anchorages so living is relatively cheap.

We were very much looking forward to visiting Old Korcula town as we had heard so much about it. What worried us was how we go about visiting without it costing us an arm and a leg. After much research and advice from fellow cruisers, we decided we would anchor a couple of miles away and zip in in the dinghy. We visited couple of times and one evening we attended a farmers’ market. It was a very low key affair with mostly wine, tomatoes, olive oil and lavendar on sale – but pleasant enough. We bought some red Crno Suho Vino Plavac Mali and a white Petrusac made from Posip grapes from this characterful guy with a splendid moustache.

Next day, we did a drive by the monastery so I could take a decent pic. Here is the Franciscan Monastery of Badija.

After our Vrnik anchorage, we were heading for Loviste on the tip of the Peljesac Peninsula. We made the journey in good time and anchored off. It was a huge bay with good protection from wind and swell. We took the dinghy ashore and found a nice quiet village with supermarket, post office, bars and restaurants.

Next stop was Scedro Island and then we made the jump to the archipelago of the Pakleni Islands which look like a series of joined up epiglottises!

The Pakleni Islands.

We headed for an anchorage but it was so incredibly busy with day trip boats from nearby Hvar. It was noisy and unpleasant and there was a lot of swell from the boats buzzing about like mosquitoes. In the morning, we were getting too close to a boat behind so we decided to leave. However, the wind, once we were outside the protection of this anchorage, had really got up and we battled and bounced into it for a couple of hours. Then we had a fantastic sail northwards with three reefs in the sail.

It being a Sunday, we passed some one hundred and fifty charter yachts heading south on the first day of their week’s charter. We were the only boat going north – it was like dodgems! A lot of the charter boats were over-powered and struggling with too much sail. We were glad to have only a tiny bit of sail out. We arrived on Brac and anchored in a still and calm bay east of Milna, Uvala Lucice (middle bay) It was all peace and quiet. We tied back to the shore and stayed there for a couple of days.

After a further stop in an anchorage (deserted) on the south coast of Solta island we made our way to Ciovo to the north and anchored off a lovely camp site. Then onwards to Trogir. I had booked us onto the town quay there so we could fill up with water and pick up crew.

Despite the searing heat bouncing off the quay and the buildings, we had to crack on with all our jobs and Ian had to go to the dentist for what turned out to be root canal treatment. He is feeling much better now.

We had a little time to wander round old Trogir, which is beautiful before it was time to catch a bus to Split airport and pick up Paula.

Next time, read all about our lovely week bobbing up the coast to the north to reach the fantastic Krka National Park.

From Crotone to Croatia

Thunder clouds heading south and away!

We continued to hop along the coast of Southern Italy and made it as far as Brindisi.  The thing about hopping along the coast to arrive at a destination some way off is that it means you are doing very long days and when you arrive you have no energy to go off and explore. This means you probably need to stay at least two days to be able to see any of the places you stop at. Each time you anchor it is necessary to lower the dinghy into the water and reverse the process when it is time to go – so its a bit of a pain.

As it happens, we have only managed to go ashore in Santa Maria di Leuca and Brindisi.

In Brindisi, we moored stern to the quay in a fab location by the Appian Way steps; the boat was thoroughly put to bed; we had completed our log updates; changed into our shore clothes and even applied a little lippy (Just Sarah!), we were just getting ready to disembark – so some considerable time had elapsed…when an official in a Brindisi to Corfu Ragatta 2019  T-shirt showed up and told us emphatically that we couldn’t park there.  Grrr! Where was he when we came in??

So, we headed off again, this time to the marina.  We were tied up securely by about 7pm.  After sorting out the paperwork with the office (all in Italian!) and getting ship shape we decided on a pizza supper in the marina restaurant.  (42 Euros per night, laundry, more sinks at various heights and showers and loos than I have ever seen in any marina, friendly marineros and staff, just a bus ride out of the main town.)

Our plan was to carry on up the east coast to Vieste and then a short 50 mile hop across to Croatia. By now we has spent a lot of time motoring and looking at the weather for the next five days we would be doing a lot more motoring, we decided that the best possible chance of sailing to Croatia would be the following day.  So plan A was abandoned in favour of a crossing direct from Brindisi. The following morning whilst Ian sorted out an issue with the batteries and filled up with water, I headed to the mini market to stock up on supplies for the thirty hour crossing to Ubli, Lastovo, Croatia.

We managed to sail all day and all night and then motored the remaining 30nm when the wind died to 6 knots. 

En route we saw a couple of pods of dolphins and some big fish swam with the boat for about an hour. 

Now that we have given up fishing after the fishing line debacle in Syracuse, we see fish! I could practically have scooped them out with a net! Typical!

Lastovo is absolutely GORGEOUS! We found the check – in process to be smooth and efficient. The people were lovely. The place is spotless. We hired bikes from Dado at Rentacarlastovo and he brought them right to us. We enjoyed a big day cycling all round the island although we did find 5km of up on a gravel road in 35 degree heat quite a challenge!

We arrived back about 1800h in time for a refreshing beer with our new friend.

We didn’t even mind paying the National Marine Park fees of 200Kn/night. That’s about £25.

After three days we had a great sail north to Korcula and a pretty anchorage on the east side of an isthmus. Then the following day we managed a nice motor/sail east and round to an anchorage south of Korcula Town.

We have been here three days and its going to be hard to leave. We are in a fab, safe anchorage. It is only a short dinghy ride to Korcula. There is a pleasant breeze. The water is crystal clear.

Now, THIS, is what I signed up for!

Setting off to Croatia

A map of the south east corner of Sicily showing the main places we visited.
Marina di Ragusa is just out of shot to the west.

On May 17th we were ready to head off towards mainland Italy (and from there to Croatia) with Angela and David.   We were escorted out of the narrow canal from the marina because during the winter the waves had transported an entire nearby beach and deposited it all around the mouth of the marina entrance!  A dredging operation had created a new channel with least depths of 3m, so we were fine.

We motored-sailed for a while and then noticed that the rev counter was flicking about or not working at all.  This had occurred before and the consequence then was that the engine would not restart! So, regretfully, we decided to head back to MdR to get the problem fixed once and for all. 

After a discussion with the manufacturers of the alternator and chats with various friends around the marina, we decided that dampness had affected the rev counter and all was well. Phew!  Unfortunately, we had no more chance of sailing before the Heanes had to leave.

Keira and Sam arrived back after their week of touring the East of Sicily.  We grabbed some bread and filled up with water and were off once more: Heading east.

We hopped down the South Sicilian coast, stopping in; Pozzallo, Porto Palo and Marmamezi before arriving in Grande Harbour, Syracusa. 

Keira and Sam braving the chilly and slightly dubious waters of Grand Harbour.
Day Skipper practice.

We stayed here for a few days exploring the city of Ortigia and visiting the market and our favourite restaurant.

Ortigia, Syracuse.

However, it is never plain sailing with us it seems. On the way in to Grande Harbour we managed to snag a fishing line round the propeller and our BRAND NEW sail drive/gear box started to let in water!  To add insult to injury, it was our own stupid fishing line!

Ian retrieving as much of the line as possible from around the propeller shaft.

After some  investigation and further challenge for my (poor) Italian, we found a yard that could lift us out and awaited the arrival of the Volvo Penta engineer.  This gave us more time to explore this great city and its bustling market. Keira and Sam had to depart but we hope they will be back in September.

Linea in mid air!

Salvo from Sud Yachting in Comiso arrived on Monday morning and we were lifted, washed, fixed and returned to the water in record time – three hours only.  Fantastic!  Antonio and his father in the boat yard near Lakkios Marina could not have been more helpful and kind.

The wind was favourable for a departure to the main land on Wednesday 4th June 2019. We decided to leave at 1600h to take advantage of the brisk southerly wind. Our first hop – 90nm to Roccella Ionica would take around 18 hours. We flew along for the first few hours at a spanking 7.5kn.  We arrived about 0930h the following morning in the marina which meant that we had time for a snack, a nap and an explore by bicycle of the nearest town.  It was a beautiful setting for a marina with a 3km bike track into the village. A railway line direct to Rome and all mod cons. Laundry was 4 euros a load so we cracked on with some jobs too. A bit pricey at 60 Euros per night in early June but it was worth it.

Flat calm. My kind of sailing!

The following day we completed another 70nm hop up to Crotone to Capo Rizzuto which is an extensive marine reserve and enjoyed a peaceful evening there with wafts of pungent juniper drifting over the water.

Ian going off to check the anchor.

Having gone through the long winded and nonsense application form on line, which required not just a picture of my passport but a picture of me, my place of birth, in Italy, my address in Italy and my tax code in Italy….all of which I made up….We managed to book a mooring buoy in the marine reserve.  The idea being that the sea bed does not get damaged by anchoring.  

There are tiny designated areas for anchoring but no coordinates, so it is difficult to know if you are in the right spot.

When we arrived in early June there were no mooring buoys in sight, despite the fact that I had just paid 20 euros to reserve one for the night! 

Striped like a flag… sky, cliffs, sea.

We anchored off!  As all the other yachts had done. 

Start of Season Four 2019

One of the many boat preparation jobs. Re-greasing the winches.
Ian, June and me chatting to Erin on What’s App.

After our long and busy winter season in the Alps, we were happy to be returning to the UK to stay with Ian’s mum, June, for a while.  Especially as she had given us a bit of a fright the week before, having been admitted to hospital!  Now, she certainly seems to be on the mend and back to her normal routine…so that was a big relief.   Whilst there with June, we had a lovely video chat with Erin in Australia, the ease of which June marveled over.   It was good to see Erin and to hear that she has been making progress on the job front and is enjoying life in Melbourne.

Alice astride the Essex policeman’s motorbike on Tour de Yorkshire Day.

We squeezed in a couple of wonderful days in ‘The Shire’, watching the Tour De Yorkshire fly past and enjoying one of Mr Brennan’s fine pizzas cooked to perfection in his new pizza oven, in only 50 seconds!  Now that is a HOT oven!  On the Bank Holiday Monday we had a lovely day at Alice and Ian Daggett’s with lots of friends from around the Dale.  It was such a wrench to be leaving so soon.

Our return coincided with June’s birthday, so we were able to have a lovely evening out with most of the family to celebrate.

On the 8th May we woke at ridiculous o’clock to catch our flight back to Catania, Sicily and then to the boat which has been in Marina Di Ragusa all winter.

She had survived well, although she was covered in a sprinkling of fine orange dust which had blown up from the Sahara. 

We began the process of rebuilding her ready to sail away.  Re-threading the lines and halyards; putting on the sails (freshly laundered…I kid you not…they smell lovely); cleaning and polishing everything; greasing the winches; replacing the spray hood and bimini; (that word again, Michelle Firth!!).  Busy, busy, work, work!

Ian’s chipped tooth.

We had a minor accident in those first few days, whilst Ian was trying to retrieve some batons from the boom.  Keira and I lent a hand and pushed the recalcitrant baton down the boom towards Ian.  Unfortunately, his front tooth was in the way and the result was that he lost a chunk off the corner of his tooth.

Like new.
Water feature.

A quick trip into Ragusa (and a chance for Keira and I to nip to see the old part of town) to dentist Dr. Aldo Miano and half an hour later it was all rebuilt! Cash job only.

The Cathedral of San Giovani.
Outside the P.O.
The first view of Ragusa Ibla.
Then a quick detour to the wine merchant; Fratelli Mazza for a few supplies.

During this jobs week, Keira cracked on with her studies for her Day Skipper Qualification.

It was lovely to catch up with friends who had been in the marina all winter. We also enjoyed a Fiat Cinque Centi rally. The weather was very unsettled during this time and we had cold, very windy and cloudy days with little sunshine.  Most unusual for Sicily!

Just a few Cinque Centi!!

The Heanes arrived on Sunday the 12th May.  There were still jobs to do (thanks to David for cleaning the fenders…they are like new!) and, since the weather was unpleasant, we decided to stay put in the safety of the marina for a bit longer.  

Delicious meal at Marisco
Bonus Whist Results.

There was a great deal of Bonus Whist to be played. And the delay in MdR meant that we could sample a spectacular fish meal at the Marisco restaurant and one or two of Burger Art’s delicious burgers. Almost as good as a pitta gyros! Eventually, it was time to leave and start the 2019 adventure………off to Croatia.