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ADDITIONS TO THE BLOG as of April 2017: Shamal and her Crew being Mum and Dad are in the Cayman Islands * Should you want to contact us, you can do so by clicking on the Contact Us tab below. * PLEASE subscribe to the Blog, so that new posts are emailed to your inbox.



17 October 2012

Croatia No 2


Hello Again

 
First many many thanks to all who have written of late to keep us up to date with what has been happening with you.  Love getting your news.

 
Well a few more miles have been covered and lots of interesting places have been visited since our last letter went out.  We left you in Split – Middle Croatia.  From there we sailed towards Trogir, stopping off for a night in a delightful bay towards the north western end of the Island of Ciovo.  This was the first time since arriving in Croatia that we were able to anchor in sand – wonderful holding.  We could see the anchor well dug in at 11mt.  The water temperature was 27.7 degrees so swimming was a must.  Then it was on to Trogir. Here we were to wait for Wendy and her boat ‘Selinaris’ who had sailed into the Red Sea with us.  She was dropping off a crew member and picking up another, both who were also on that Red Sea trip, and with whom we wanted to catch up with again. Kerry from Wales. This time he had his wife Pam with him, they were leaving the boat, and Wendy’s partner John joined the boat.  It was a fun catch up time.


 


Trogir old town is built on a small Island which is joined to the mainland by a walking bridge, and a car bridge and road which also join it to the Island of Ciovo.  First settlements here date back to around 380BC.  Again medieval houses, churches and the narrow streets and a wide seaside promenade lined with ice-cream parlours, restaurants and pizzerias make this town another big tourist attraction.  Our first night here we anchored a short distance from the town in the channel on the west side.  The town quay is for supper yachts and ferries.  There are two marinas but we try to avoid these as they are very costly for us here in Croatia during the summer season.  The Split one which we used for one night only, cost us $NZ 195 ( Euros 125 ) including power and water!!!!!!!  So the boat got a really good wash down I can tell you. As I said we were anchored in the channel along with a few others.  Around 17.30 we had a visit from the Port Authority asking for 150kn ( $30 NZ ) to anchor there for the night.  No we said, but he was very nice about it and directed us to an anchorage a couple of miles away which turned out to be much better as the water was much cleaner –we could swim - and we had the advantage of visiting other bays and coves in the kayak and tender during our five day stay there. We also had another good old thunder storm while there with the usual incredible lightening show which you seem to get in the Adriatic.  We had a 50ft motor launch anchored close by who was having trouble holding, so we were pleased when he moved further out into the bay.

 
We motored out of Trogir with Wendy and John on ‘Selinaris’ with thunder and lightning ahead of us but it was a warm 27 degrees c. and the sun eventually came out.  We stopped in yet another delightful bay, this time on the Island of Zlarin for a swim before continuing on to the St. Ante Channel which leads into Sibenik.  At the entrance to the Channel is the Fort of St. Nicholas.  Alec was having a ‘day off’ visiting old ruins, so I took the tender ashore to explore the place. Built around 1540 it is an example of military architecture as it was often used as a prison.  Quite impressive, and definitely a place I would not like to be held in. 

 
The following morning we continued up the Channel passing submarine pens built into the cliff, which would have been built in Tito’s time.  The channel opens up into a bay in which the city of Sibenik lies, 2nm from the sea.  We then followed the Krka River for approx. 4nm where it opens into a large lake, crossed that and continued on up the river where it now becomes quite narrow and twisting in places until you reach the town of Skradin.  We were now about ten miles inland.  Skradin is another delightful town which sits just outside the Krka National Park.  We anchored the boats in a small cove just opposite the town where swans appeared out of the reeds to be fed.  This was as far as we could go due to low bridges and waterfalls ahead, so we went ashore where you take a local water taxi up into the Park. Off we ventured along with a million other tourists.  The rain was hovering around the hills again but that did not put anyone off.  Arriving at the Park Headquarters you leave your water taxi and enter on foot, pay your entrance fee, then it was off to visit Skradinski Buk – a set of impressive waterfalls which cascade over 17 steps.  Above the falls it was into another boat – in the rain which was falling quite heavily now -on an upper lake to visit the Monastery of Visovac, founded in 1445 which is on an Island.  Very pretty and very isolated, but still affected by the wars that have raged through the country over the centuries. Once at the Island the rain stopped and we were able to visit the monastery and gardens.

 
We spent the night back in Skradin having a lovely meal ashore with Wendy and John as we were to head off to different places the following morning.  Once back down the river and out to sea we head off to the top of Murter Island dropping anchor in Hramina Harbour.  We had only been anchored for an hour when there was a sudden change in the weather again.  The Bora (N.E. wind off the mountains) started blowing again.  The anchor held fast this time but we still did not get much sleep that night.

 
It was in Murter we brought a ticket to enter the Kornati Islands National Park.  People rave about this area and it is very popular with the sailing community.  They are a chain of mountain peaks which sit above the water some 11nm off the mainland and consist of over one hundred Islands and Islets.  OK we had better include them on our itinerary.  Once, a long time back when the Venetians ruled the area,  the Islands were covered in rich vegetation, but around the end of the 19th century the inhabitants of Murter brought them  for grazing their sheep and goats.  The shepherds deliberately cut down trees and burnt the vegetation to increase the grazing areas.  So today all you are left with is a bare, arid, stony, impoverished landscape!!  Yes there is some beauty in that, BUT!!!  Alec’s comments are if you stuff up the land, no worries, just turn it into a National Park and Charge people to see it.  OK may be a little harsh as there are lots of places to anchor, the swimming is in crystal clear water, but you can’t fish there, and you can’t just go ashore and walk about anywhere, that can only be done on designated paths.  I am still glad we visited, and the Park wardens gave us two nights there for the price of one.

 
Another plus was that we were able to ‘sail’ out to the islands, and two days later we were able to ‘sail’ on to our next destination.  We had been doing a lot of motoring over the past few weeks due to lack of wind.  So next stop was the Island of Ist.  We had only gone 31nm but it was hot and time for a swim.  In the morning the winds had died again completely.  The sea was like glass with dolphins playing in the bay. We upped anchor and headed for the Island of Losinj.  We motored into the harbour and found Wendy and John in the marina with ‘Selinaris’ out on the hard and being covered for the winter.  Wendy was going home to England as it was the end of her sailing for the summer.  Our Season was far from over.  We were unable to anchor in the harbour as it is too deep and again we were staying well clear of marinas, but just outside the harbour was a lovely sheltered inlet where we dropped anchor.  The weather forecast for the next couple of days was not looking the best so we decided to hold on here while it passed. It was now the beginning of September and there were not so many tourists about.  Alec and I took our bikes ashore here and rode into the town.  A pretty place which belonged to Venice for many centuries when maritime activity was at its height as it has such a safe harbour.  We stopped at a café and ordered at latte each.  Out they came – two hot milks!!!  Latte here is milk, I forgot to add the word coffee after it.  We live and learn.  They were returned topped up with the coffee!

 
While visiting the town the winds really started to increase, so the 10k ride back was done in record time.  I have the smaller bike with tiny wheels so had to peddle twice as hard. I could hardly get off it when we arrived back!!  There on the beach we found our tender – not where we had left it.  We had left it tied to the concrete pier.  We soon discovered that in the wind the rope had worn through till it broke, so someone had very kindly pulled it up on the beach for us.  We arrived back on SHAMAL just on dark very wet but all safe and sound.  Alec proceeded to wash down our bikes when the thunderstorm starts.  We were sheltered in our bay but winds were gusting up to 40kts and the seas were rough.  Quite a few boats came into the bay to anchor that evening.  Again our good old Rocna anchor held fast.

 
The following evening after a rather stormy day Alec saw a small tender with a buoy attached heading out to sea.  No one was going after it so he said one good deed (someone pulling our tender ashore) deserves another.  So we lower ours into the water and off he goes to retrieve it.  By the time he gets back it is now dark and too late to take it ashore so we tie it to SHAMAL for the night.  The following day a guy arrives out about mid-morning to claim it.  He is using an even smaller tender to tow it back.  When that doesn’t work Alec and I take it to the beach with ours.  He is a German and with his one or two words of English ask us to meet him that evening at a local Restaurant.  This is the third boat Alec has rescued this season.  The first a million dollar catamaran in Malta, and he gets a thank you, second a tow for some Greeks who have run out of petrol, and he brings them back in, and he gets a thanks, now third, a cheap wee tender and we get a beautiful dinner and make new friends. We invite them out to SHAMAL the following morning for coffee.

 
So after another five days in port due to strong winds and big seas we head out of Losinj.  We still have strong winds but for once they will be in our favour as we cross Kvarner Channel to the Istria Peninsular.  As we head out into the Channel we find we are the only boat for the first hour or so out there in the short sharp seas but we are sailing along at a good 7 – 8kts.  Then we notice boats are crossing from the other side towards us so we can’t all be mad out there in those conditions. We had breaking small waves of between 1.5 -2mts but SHAMAL was skimming along and not banging into it as we were on a beam reach.  We had left at 7.30am and by 1.30am we were anchored in Pula Harbour – on the southwest coast of Istria.

 
Unfortunately the entrance into Pula is not one of grandeur.  First you pass the end of a huge breakwater which is in a sad state of repair.  The outer basin of the harbour greets you with abandoned buildings of the military era when Tito was in power.  Graffiti is now all over the walls – see photo .  As you move into the inner basin you are overwhelmed by a strong smell of sewage. We have heard that the city is working on that problem!!  It is one of Croatia’s larger cities and has been continuously occupied for 2,300 years. Really felt the sewage problem might have been around for a while.  But on a more positive note it is well known for its rich Roman Architecture, the most famous being the remarkably well-preserved 1st century amphitheatre.  As you sail into the harbour it is clearly visible standing out in its full grandeur.  It was originally smaller but enlarged in 79AD for gladiator fights.  It could hold 23,000 spectators.  Today it is still used, but for concerts and the Pula Film Festival is held here. We wandered around taking in this site along with many other Roman ruins.  One thing that did stand out, was at the bottom of one of the old cities streets is a huge ship building yard.  It looks as if the ships are sitting in town. 

 

Alec decided he did not want to spend a night anchored in Pula harbour, and that he had seen a nice little bay on the way in , so we upped anchor – or should I say I did.  It is my job to go up front a raise the anchor.  Oh dear!!!!  I messed this one up big time.  We got it up alright, but I left the lock in place while I did it.  Somehow I managed to lock the anchor in a position where it could not be raised any more, or dropped again.  Bugger!!!!!  An hour later after motoring around in circles while Alec worked on it we finally left the inner harbour.  He had to rope the anchor to the boat, take the shackle off the anchor with much difficulty as it was so-ooo tight, and then replace it with a new shackle.  It would have been easier to cut a link out of the chain but it was locked in to tightly that he could not even get the chain off the sprocket.

 

Next day we sailed past the Brioni Islands.  They are just outside Pula and were the summer residence of Marshal Tito.  There are 14 Islands in the group and it is now a National Park.  You can land on just one of them but need to rob the bank to do so.  A yacht our length must pay 200 Euros a day to do so during the months of July and August – high season.  In May June and September it is only 130 Euros a day.  Forget it, I will take my pictures as we sail past!!

 
Our next and northern most stop off in Croatia was the town of Rovinj.  Originally it was an Island Port built by the Romans, but in 1763 was joined to the coast by filling in the channel.  Again another beautiful old town. The cathedral sits on the highest point.  It has an interesting history.  Named the Cathedral of St. Euphemia.  Euphemia  was a teenage girl who in AD 304 was fed to the lions by the Roman Emperor of the time, for being a Christian. The Saints remains are housed in a sarcophagus inside the church.  The town belonged to Venice from 1283 – 1797 and many Venetian buildings can be still seen today. Again it has the narrow cobbled streets.  It is still very much a fishing port, and we were amazed at the number of small boats moored in the harbour.  In places they were 4-5 deep. We picked up a mooring buoy for yachts, which are laid on the southern side of the town in the sheltered cove of Lon.  Just opposite our mooring was a pine clad peninsular which Alec and I decided to walk around one afternoon.  Off we headed following a bike path which was along a very pretty shore line.  Just before dark Alec said we should take the inland route back as a short cut.  We found the short cut took us right through the middle of a ‘naturist’ holiday park.  Over three hours after we set out we found our way back into town.

 
After three nights in Rovinj and now being the 20th September, we felt it was time to move on.  We were heading for Venice.

 
So enough for this newsletter.  Croatia has been built up on a wealth of History so hope you don’t mind the History Lessons.

 
Love to you all

 
The Admiral and The Commander

 

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