Ian and I decided to take a quick day trip to Split from our anchorage in Vinisce. This involved a couple a buses from Vinisce to Trogir and then from there to Split. All very easy to figure out. We arrived in Split around midday and headed to the old town. Here we wandered round taking in the sights.
It was of course very warm and we soon ran out of the impetus to wander round much more. We headed for a fabulous health food bistro Step by Step and ordered some yummy salads and ravioli.
Having re-fuelled we felt better and were able to summon up the energy to walk back to the bus station. The bus times worked perfectly for us and although we arrived back after dark there were no problems getting back to the boat.
In order to leave Croatia officially, it is necessary to complete some paperwork. First, you have to moor stern to the customs quay; then visit the harbour master who checks you have paid your cruising tax; then pay your respects to the port police who check your crew list and passports. It all takes quite a while especially when boats ahead of you on the quay are getting snagged on each other’s anchors and you, meanwhile, are having to motor round and round in circles whilst they sort themselves out. Hey ho!
So, we left later than expected to sail to Montenegro. There wasn’t so much wind and what there was, was predictably blowing towards us. We sailed some and motored some.
Whilst completing the engine checks this morning Ian noticed that water was leaking into the sail drive. It is not good when salt water gets in to those delicate gears and so we knew we had to find a yard to lift us out and replace the seal, etc. We contacted a yard in Dubrovnik to the north and one in Montenegro. The Navar Yacht Services Tivat in Montenegro offered a very good price to lift us out fix the problem and put us back in. We wanted to go there anyway so it made sense to head south.
We arrived in Zelenika where we had to check into Montenegro. This took some time and so we arrived at our chosen anchorage just as it was getting dark. We anchored in a bay south of Sv Marko island which used to be a Club Med Resort before the civil war and is now derelict. The holding was excellent and the shelter from the north also good.
We spent a couple of nights here prior to motoring towards the boatyard We met up with Tim, Katie and Molly on Monty B who run a day charter company around the Bay and who know lots of our friends from Marina di Ragusa, where we over-winter Linea.
We had an appointment for 1000h in the yard. The weather was perfect and we reversed into the slips with ease. Within an hour and forty minutes we were being lowered back into the water. Fixed again!!
For the next few days we explored the bay of Kotor. Its dramatic surrounding black mountains truly are remarkable. We headed north past two islands with churches on them and anchored in a bay at the mouth of a small river. Ashore we found an old mill building which still uses the power of the river water to turn the olive press wheel.
Next day, we motored past the church islands to get a better view and headed further into the bay down to the town of Kotor. We were able to anchor off in the bay well out of the way of the three visiting cruise ships.
Here there is a walled town rather like a mini Dubrovnik. We enjoyed an evening stroll around the town but were determined to come back early in the morning so that we could walk around in complete peace before the cruise ship passengers were disgorged.
On our return we found a fantastic market and met some guys who had just come back from harvesting mussels. We bought a kilo of mussels for tea for an astronomical 3 Euros.
After a couple of days here we moved back to Tivat because we had arranged to hire a car to explore further inland.
We had a good walk along the impressive promenade at Tivat, past the pristine superyacht harbour with its designer shops and along to the Maritime Museum. Here we happened upon a tour which was about to start around a Yugoslavian submarine. What an interesting half hour. The guide explained all about the submarine in impecable English and Italian. I even got to look in the periscope!
We met Bojan the car hire guy and picked up the car. First job was to get the gas bottle refilled which we did at an INA gas station close to the boat yard. We were then able to re-stock the larder at a huge supermarket. Jobs done we headed back to the boat.
We were up early next day and drove from Tivat to Budva on the south coast of Montenegro. Although the touristy Stari Grad old town was quite quaint the rest of Budva held little or no appeal for either of us and we couldn’t wait to leave. We drove up to Cetingje which is the former capital of Montenegro and is at a higher elevation and delightfully cool. The streets are largely pedestrianised and the buildings painted in various pastel shades. Its streets are lined with trees and there are many parks. The old embassy buildings are still there and fairly well preserved, housing a variety of museums. We enjoyed wandering round there for a couple of hours. It was very charming.
Next stop was the Lovcen National Park. The road continued to rise up the mountain side and the vegetation became increasingly sparse. There were pine trees and more rocky terrain. Such buildings as there were had a distinctly alpine look. Round the next bend we spotted a T bar and fields which are clearly pistes in winter.
We jumped out at the Visitor Welcome Centre but were rather underwhelmed at the total lack of interest in us or lack of any information about walking trails and so on. We accidentally came across a ‘Bare Foot Trail’.
Ah, we thought, this is more like it.. However, on closer inspection it was totally ruined and neglected. Such a pity because there was massive potential for any number of activities in this huge and beautiful park.
Further up the road we made a sharp turn to the left on a brand new road. Not even evident on Google maps. It led us down the mountain towards Kotor. It would have been impossible to get lost because we could see an incredible vista beneath us. Both the Kotor and Tivat bays were fully visible though the clothes. Cruise ships were dots below us. We could even make out Linea – a tiny speck far below.
We stopped for a bite to eat near the top of the mountain and it was surprisingly chilly sitting out on the terrace above the clouds – lovely.
We began to drive back down to Tivat, carefully negotiating 20 tight hairpin bends along the narrow road. Called the Ladder of Kotor. Many of the road-edge barriers had crumbled and I was at pains to point out (entirely unnecessarily!) to Ian that he needed to stay well away from the edge! We squeezed through impossible gaps besides cars coming up. Occasionally knocking wing mirrors. Even full length coaches were taking this hideously vertiginous route!
Soon, we were back at sea level and it was very much warmer.
We dropped off the car and went back to Linea. Later that evening Rob from Pablo Neruda came over and we shared a few beers with him. He knew a few people in common and it was interesting to chat to him about his travels.
Next day, we were going to head back to mainland Italy but first we wanted and take advantage of being able to buy duty free fuel at a bargain price of approx 60 cents per litre. In order to be able to do this we had to have a boat stamp. Hmm, we don’t have an official ink stamp so I set about making one by carving the boat name and registration number on a potato!
Thank you to Helen Peyton for her coaching in lino printing classes. I think I made a fairly good attempt. However, the fuel dock manager was not impressed by my creative talents and refused to let us have the duty free fuel. We had to move to another part of the fuel quay to fill up (still only 1.21 Euros per litre) and then move again to the customs quay to check out of Montenegro.
Finally, we had completed the official tasks and were heading out of the Bay of Kotor out into the Adriatic Proper.
Following our whistle-stop tour of Split only yesterday we left our anchorage really early to make sure that we arrived at the head of the queue for a spot on the town quay in Milna on Brac island.
We wanted to be there in order to meet Keira and Lucy who were coming into Brac on the ferry from Dubrovnik.
We tootled into the beautiful harbour area trying to identify a suitable gap. If we got it wrong we would potentially be paying marina prices, which are always huge, PLUS a massive August supplementary charge. This we wanted to avoid.
It certainly takes some persistence and just a little bit of good fortune.
First, we hovered around the quay
An official looking chap directed us to the marina.
I said that we want to go on the town quay.
He shrugged. Why, he asked.
I said that we preferred to be there. I asked him where we can moor.
He said to anchor off in the bay and wait til his colleague comes on at 1500h.
We anchored off as instructed.
At 1600h we are called and asked to come in alongside the quay.
RESULT! 300kn (about £28 including free (delicious) water and right in the heart of town.
Our patience and gentle insistence seemed to have paid off. In the marina we would have paid in excess of £100.
Later that evening we strolled round the gorgeous harbour to the ferry terminal and watched the maneuverings of the ferries with some awe. Keira and Lucy had safely arrived after a full on night and day in Dubrovnik.
I won’t go into great detail as Lucy has written a guest blog but will include a brief summary of our journey and a few photos.
Milna, Brac to Smrka Bay, Brac***Swam, explored the submarine pen, swam and chilled
Smrka Bay to Vis Town, Vis***Chilled, ran, swam, did military tour, saw Bohemian Rhapsody in the open air cinema.
Vis to Prizba Bay, Korcula***Listened to the third test. What a match! Chilled and swam.
Korcula to Ubli, U Kremena, Lastovo***Chilled, wandered around Ubli, hired bikes, cycled miles, explored Lastovo town, had lunch.
U Kremeno to O. Cesvinica, Lastovo***Chilled, quiet night, swam and girls went up the mast.
Lastovo Archipeligo to Korcula, U Badija***Sat out strong winds, rescued a dragging charter boat, walked round Badija island, went ashore to Korcula in the dinghy and set off for Kobas on the Peljesac peninsula.
Badija to Kobas nr Ston***Moored to a restaurant jetty, took on water, had dinner (fish and chips) expensive but fun as met the crew of the huge motor yacht Polauris, visited Ston and the Great Wall of Europe
Kobas to Cavtat, U Tiha.***Anchored off and found reasonable holding. Strong winds during the eve. Nice spot despite noise from shore. Dropped Keira, who cadged a lift to the airport with the chief electrical engineer on Eclipse (Roman Obramovich’s motor yacht).
A great time was had by all. We ate some gorgeous vegetarian food and Lucy’s speciality Overnight Oats and Chia Puddings, too! (See Pages for more detail about the kind of food we eat on board Linea)
Those of us that could, gathered at Kim Deane’s house in Leeds for the weekend of 15th August. The same weekend that Ed Sheeren happened to be in town doing a couple of massive gigs in Roundhay park.
Kim was very giddy about Ed coming to town so she invited him round to join us for a cuppa and a chat.
It was such fun to see Kim Deane, Sheena Cameron and Clare Hughes. Trish Willis couldn’t make it as she was supporting her son Jack as he competed for England in Hungary, and Anne Walker was on GrandParent duty.
We had time to go into town and marvel at the moderisation and trendiness of the city centre;
go to do a drive by of Brudenell Avenue; go up to Beckett Park to see the old Alma Mater; and have a constitutional around Roundhay Park.
Of course, we ate well and drank plenty and had such a giggle, naturally.
How can it be 36 years since we were all at college together? Seemed like yesterday!
After Paddy and Louis departed for Zadar we headed north towards the island of Molat. There is an anchorage on the east side of the island which is protected from south winds that were expected for the next couple of days.
We had a good sail up and were pleasantly surprised by the space available in the anchorage. The depth was 6 metres, the water clear and the swell non-existent. Perfect.
Next morning, we set off to walk across the island to the west side via the village
to the harbour of Lucina on the west side where the ferry comes into.
The harbour front was lovely and we enjoyed a chat with some Yorkshire Tikes (Rondy and Dave on Elise) who were proudly flying their white rose.
David and Rondy told us of the traumas that occurred here during the storm of the 2nd August (we were in Uglian with Paddy at the time) when six boats were washed ashore in the eastern anchorage. Trees were felled and all kinds of damage was done. Again, we realised how lucky we had been to be in a protected anchorage.
We left Molat and headed to Olib.
Again expecting south winds. This bay on the west side of Olib offers good protection. We anchored off near a de-commissioned mooring block and had a quiet couple of days here. We decided to walk across the island to look at the anchorage on the other side.
Setting off down a track bounded on both sides by dry stone walls with styles. Just like Yorkshire!
The main track petered out and soon we found ourselves battling through the undergrowth, brambles, bilberry twigs and overgrown trees and shrubbery in an attempt to reach our destination. After what seemed like an eternity, we burst out of the vegetation on to the main concreted path that leads between the two coasts; sweating, cursing, scratched, bleeding, with leaves in our hair and thorns, spikes in our skin.
Definitely beer o’clock even though it was only 1130h!
We heard about an intriguing sounding Donkey Festival
taking place on Dugi Otok some time in August so we about faced and headed south. We found a great anchorage north of Sali town and whizzed into Sali in the dinghy that evening, arriving in the harbour to be shrouded in wisps of smoke and clouds of cordite from the fireworks display floating off into the atmosphere.
The place was buzzing. We discovered that the following evening there would be a parade, donkey music and a donkey race. We were up for that.
The parade was led by the Old Timers (see pic) followed by a stream of men marching along blowing into cow horns. The noise produced was reminiscent of donkey braying and was accompanied by a beating rhythm created from clanking pieces of metal inside an old fashioned hot coals style of iron.
They beat their donkey tattoo all down the harbour front, sashaying in and out of each other in snaking lines.
It really was quite a spectacle, if somewhat limited in its dynamics, being essentially one note from the horn and one rhythm from the iron. However, what it lacked in musicality it more than made up for in volume. The great cacophony continued to reverberate round the harbour and everyone enjoyed the quirkiness of it all.
Next the donkeys came behind, being alternatively cajoled, tempted and bullied into following along.
One guy leading a donkey had carrots tucked into his belt.
Here we were fortunate to be sitting near a delightful Croatian lady from the island who had lived in California since 1967. She now come ‘home’ every year with here husband Tony who was the flag bearer of the parade.
Then came the donkey race…a mad dash round the harbour on the aforementioned donkeys. This was quite a sight to behold. Poor donkeys.
There was an out and out winner of the eight or so donkeys in the race and he was duly presented with a huge prosciutto ham. I don’t know what the donkey was given.
After all this excitement, we bid farewell to our new best friends and headed back to the boat.
In Murter once more, we refuel-ed, stocked up on provisions and water, did a stack of laundry and prepared for the next few weeks.
We met up with two Brit boats and had a boozy and very late night on Linea with Chris from Windependent and Miles and Bridget from Nirvana.
We then had a good sail south to Rogoznica from where I would be leaving Ian and Linea to pop back briefly to the UK for a reunion with the girls I used to share a house with on Brudenell Avenue whilst at Carnegie – Leeds in the 80s.
Next time, read about my weekend in Leeds and after that about our time with Keira and Lucy as we take in some of the southern Croatian islands.