2009 - Croatia - From Porto Levante to Zadar

June 2009

The last days are hectic.  I change the oil and the impellers on both engines.  It is almost impossible to change the impeller on the starboard engine without lifting it.  A friend that will remain unnamed says that he can do the change without lifting the engine, thinking that to lift an engine is a herculean task.  He does so, and a day later I go on a sea trial.

On the 5th Julia arrives from Australia and is wiped out after having been 36 hours under way.

On Sunday we go for a test ride with Giorgio and his companion Daniela.

In aviation they say that the first flight after an overhaul is the most dangerous one, but apparently this also applies to boats.  About half an hour later on the test run I try WOT (Wide Open Throttle) and the starboard engine overheat alarm and the exhaust high temperature alarm go off, practically both at the same time.  The raw water impeller must have broken because it had been mounted badly, due to the extreme uncomfortable position my friend was in.

Luckily another friend, Stefano, is also out with his boat and we are in radio contact and when the problem happens he plays mother goose to the limping duckling.

To go back to the harbor on one engine is "fun", especially doing the sharp left turn at the harbor entrance, with the left engine inop.

To back into my slip is out of the question, so I tie up alongside the outer wall, with the help of Stefano and his friends.


It is useless to cry over spilt milk so in the evening we have an "aperitivo" anyway.

I then change the impeller by lifting the engine, which is not that big of a job anyway.

I don't have to align the engine with the driveshaft since between the engine and the thrust bearing there is a CV (Constant Velocity) joint.

With the half lifted engine it is a good moment to clean the bilge..


...and then have a rest.


On the 8th Clara arrives, bringing the last items from home and the new chairs for the dining room.


We fill two shopping carts with food and after organizing our mess on the evening of the 10th are ready to go.


Thursday, June 11 2009

Finally, after months of preparations and adding equipment, the PH8 leaves it's home base, Porto Levante, for its first serious cruise.  No more overnight trips to Venice, but a serious cruise for, at least for me, a few months.

The plan is to visit Croatia, Greece and if possible Turkey.  But I have learned that the best plan is not to have a fixed, follow at all cost plan.  The fun is the unexpected (well, within reason) and to be flexible.

The cat is now well equipped.  It has radar, generator, water maker, a decent tender with a small crane to hoist it to the boat deck and a washer-dryer.  Conspicuously absent is an autopilot.  I had ordered a Raymarine autopilot in April from my electronics guru, Ken Englert of Maritime electronics in Marina del Rey, California, but  was told that Raymarine was not shipping since they had a software problem with their autopilots.  It is not my favorite idea to have to manually steer the cat for long periods of time, but the choice is to go anyway or wait for an indefinite amount of time.

In the late morning we leave Porto Levante and head for Chioggia, where we enter the Venetian lagoon.  The moment we are in the protected waters we drop the anchor and Clara prepares a lunch consisting of spaghetti with clams.

After lunch we pass Pellestrina.

At 16.40 we pass Venice, always a beautiful, breathtaking experience and a few minutes after we leave the Venetian lagoon, heading for Santa Margherita di Caorle about 20 miles up the coast.  The weather deteriorates, the sea becomes choppy and a big thunderstorm hits us with rain.  It is fun watching the rain approach on the radar but also a remainder that strong rain renders the radar practically useless. 

We arrive in Santa Margherita di Caorle at 19.10 and head for the marina, which is a few hundred meters up a river.  To my amazement two locks block the marina entrance, each about 7 to 8 meters wide, too narrow for the PH8 to enter, with its width of 6.8 meters.  Add a fairly strong current and since I had seen a coast guard station on the other side of the canal I call them on the cell phone asking where I can anchor or tie up for the night.  They give me the phone numbers of the marina, warn me not to anchor anywhere on the river and to call them back when I am settled.

The marina people then direct me to tie up in front of the right lock, ask for 50 Euros, which I am sure they put into their pockets since no receipt is forthcoming, leave the left lock open and wish us good night. 

Dutifully I call the coast guard and report that I am tied up.  They acknowledge and ask me to pass by to show them the boat papers.  By itself that would not have been a problem, but to get to the coast guard station I have to get to the other side of the open lock and then take a small ferry across the river.  I explain the situation, but the coasty is adamant.  He has orders from his superiors etc. etc.  Since the marina people had retired for the night I have to walk over two km to the other side of the open lock, take the ferry, walk another half a km to the coast guard station just to show my boat papers, which get dutifully photocopied to then be buried forever into some archive.  The coasty is extremely nice when I protest but orders are orders and he tells me that his superiors are curious to see the papers of the big cat.  That teaches me a lesson to contact authorities when not absolutely necessary. 

Luckily on my way back the ferry operator asks the driver of the only car they are transporting if he can drive me around the marina, which then saves me the long walk home.



Venice from a boat is a special treat.

In a way, Venice has become a sort of Disneyland.  Hordes of tourists and schoolchildren come for the day, clog piazza San Marco and the main streets, eat a sandwich or if they feel like splurging a piece of pizza and then leave in the evening.

The real tourists, that stay in a hotel and eat in the restaurants are a minority, but I can't blame the former considering that Venice is not exactly cheap. But to see all that tide of people from one's own floating condo is fun.  Then add that everybody on board has to watch out for the chaotic traffic of "vaporetti" (the small boats that act as buses), water taxis, other private boats, ambulance boats, small cargo boats etc. and the driving becomes fun.

Even the big cruise ships, on the way to their berths pass through the main canal, the canale della Giudecca.

Money talks, but I don't think that the water churned up by the cruise ships helps the preservation of Venice.

I am often asked whether you need a special permit to go to the Venetian lagoon and Venice.  The answer is no, as long as your vessel has either a number or a name that can be traced, so that the water cops can send you a fine.

The whole lagoon has a speed limit of 21km/hr, while some places have slower limits, down to 7km/hr.  And the limits are enforced.  I passed a local police boat measuring my speed with a laser gun, but taxis must be unofficially exempt from the speed limit because they always pass me.  It is curious that the speed limits are posted in km/hr, when everybody in the nautical world uses knots.

The famous Canal Grande is off limits to private boats and you must stick to the marked canals, since on the sides the water is very shallow.  You cannot anchor in the middle of canals, but you must find a tranquil spot where you don't hinder the traffic.  You cannot turn on the radar in nice weather.  I can understand that the inhabitants are worried to get microwaved, but how do you practice for a foggy day?

In spite of all this chaos or because of it I found that everybody is courteous and helpful.  In one occasion on a different trip I took a wrong turn and a taxi whistled and warned me before I could hit the under water mud bank .


Friday, June 12 2009

First thing in the morning we go up the river to refuel and add 1351 liters for a cost of 1500 Euros, which comes to 1.11 Euros per liter. 

An Euro is worth about US $ 1.40 these days.

This puts the cost of fuel at about US $ 1.55 per liter or US $ 5.87 per US gallon.

With 20/20 hindsight last night we should have tied up at the gas dock, a practice that is worth to remember in the future.

We then leave Santa Margherita di Caorle, following the coast with the intention to go to Trieste.  But abeam Grado we ask ourselves why go to Trieste.  Trieste is a nice, big town but seen from a boat?  So we change heading to Umago, the first big town in Croatia with customs.

At 12.40 we arrive in Umago which has a big marina in a protected bay and tie up to the customs dock, on the outside of the marina wall. 


After customs we tie up to a nearby buoy in the bay to pass the first night in Croatia.

When I am writing the crew list I naturally have to add Julia and so have to read her birth place and date from her passport.  On Facebook Julia had written that she was born in 1960.  Imagine my and Clara's surprise and amusement when her passport showed that she was born in 1954!


Entering Croatia

Having boated up to now mainly in the US and the Caribbean, I am used to the international customs procedure.

To enter Croatia is the same.  Hoist the yellow quarantine flag, berth at customs, take everybody's passports and go to the authorities.  There fill the crew and passenger list, hand everything first to the police then to the port captain together with the boat documents and pay 2,100 Kuna for the cruising permit, valid one year.

The cost of the permit varies according to the length of the boat and luckily they don't want to know the boat's width.

An Euro is worth about 7.10 Kuna, the Croatian currency.

The master of the ship must also have a valid boat driving license, even if none is required in the country the vessel is registered in.  In the US to drive a boat like the PH8 non commercially you don't need (yet?) a permit.  At least I never needed one to drive the PH7, my previous motorsailer.  In Croatia, if you don't have a permit, you must get one on the spot.  I don't know what it entails or how long it takes, but for sure I was glad to have my Italian permit, which was seriously examined.  The only comment was "Hmm, British boat, Swiss captain with Italian license and an Italian and Australian crew member..."

After that you take down the quarantine flag, hoist the Croatian courtesy flag and you can go anywhere, anytime.  Only if persons leave or come on the boat you have to go to the authorities and update the crew list.  I usually keep everybody's passport until they leave the boat.


Saturday, June 13 2009

We leave Umago at whatfor us is early (9.10) and follow the coast until the Cervar Porat village, where we arrive at 10.33 and anchor.

After lunch, we have the first swim of the year.  The water is a nice 21 degrees Centigrade.

Curiously, Julia does not join us.

After a long siesta we leave for Vrsar, where we arrive an hour later.

We are all eager to set foot on Croatia so I ask Vrsar marina over the VHF if they have room for (I was being bold) a catamaran.  Affirmative is the reply, in a good Italian, as long as we do not mind tying up alongside a pier, "all' Inglese", the "English" way, as it is called in Italy.  Flying a British flag I really cannot refuse the offer and tie up alongside.

The problem with tying up alongside is to get off the cat, with its high sides.  You can vault off and on from the stern platform, but it requires some dexterity, especially after happy hour.

I have a small platform that can be attached over the side, but then there usually is quite a high jump.

A neighbor suggests that I take the steps that the marina provides.  He even helps me to bring the steps to the cat, and that solves the problem beautifully.


The whole west coast of the Istrian peninsula is full of small bays and blue water.



The Vrsar marina is well protected by two islands.


When in the '70's I visited Porto Cervo in Sardinia every yacht had a vase of gladiolas on the aft deck, for everybody to admire.

So instead of gladiolas Clara buys a pot of basil, saying that at least the basil is useful when cooking spaghetti.

I absolutely agree.

Vrsar is a pleasant small town that was even appreciated by Casanova for the fish and the Refosco, the local vine

The restaurant in the marina is good.  Prices are about 10 to 20 % less than in Italy. We have a good dinner and after a few drinks for sure we are glad that it is easy to get back on board.

Back on board, Julia, probably inspired by the nudists she saw in the afternoon celebrates by showing for the picture her bra.


When last year Clara and I planned this cruise she insisted that at times and if she was needed at home she could leave the boat for a week or two.  She has an old mother and at times, like a good Italian mamma, needs to see her "bambini", even though they are over twenty and enjoy the absence of mamma.  On the other hand I cannot handle the cat alone when docking, retrieving a buoy and anchoring.  So we decided to have someone along that could give me a helping hand when needed.

My experience in the past with a paid crew had been disastrous and when Julia offered to come along, both Clara and I agreed.

Clara was a bit nervous at first, but after the first day Clara declared that Julia was "simpatica" and both agreed to give each other language lessons.  Clara would tech Julia Italian and Julia English to Clara.  Clara even went and bought an English Italian dictionary.

I never quite understood why Julia wanted to come along.  She more than once said that she was looking for an Italian husband, one with which she could spend 6 month of the year in Italy and the remainder in Australia.  Clara's remark to this statement was that in that case she really needed two husbands, but after all it was not our business.

She also wanted to have her daughter Danielle on board for a few days and then disembark in the middle of August and show her Italy. Add to that that she said that she liked boating and had been on boats  bigger than the PH8 and knew what boating life is all about. Which made more sense than the look for a husband story.

At this point both Clara and I are happy that it seems to work out.


Sunday, June 14 2009

Marinas in June, almost at the height of the season, are not really a bargain, especially for a catamaran.  I was pleasantly surprised that I had to pay only for the catamaran's length, not for its width.  Which makes sense, since I was tied up alongside and did not occupy two places.

At midday we leave Vrsar and anchor in front of the Valalta tourist village and marina.  Nothing special, except that the whole area is a nudist paradise.  Even in the marina you have to wear a "nudist" uniform, e.g. nothing.

All these nudist amenities are new to Julia and she is or pretends to be shocked.

"Oh my God, they really are naked!"


At this point I cannot resist to see Julia in a nudist village, among nudists.  At the same time it is a good moment to test the tender and the new electric outboard engine I had bought and tested only once in Porto Levante, before we left.  To make a long, frustrating story short, the outboard refused to work.  When I try to turn on the electric motor I only hear one or two "click" sounds and the alarm light comes on and nothing happens.  One hour later I realize that I do not have a tender, which is totally unacceptable.

So, instead of seeing a nudist (village) from close up, Julia has to make do with a beautiful sunset.


Monday, June 15 2009

While still at anchor near Valalta I contact with cell phone Torquedo Inc, the German manufacturer of the dead electric outboard.  After going through the usual stupid questions ("Are you sure the battery is charged? What happens when you try to turn it on?") the very nice technician comes to the conclusion, after hearing the "click" sound, that the motor is dead, kaput, and that there is nothing I can do.  And since they do not have a representative in Croatia, I have to give the outboard back to the store where I had bought it and they would fix it. I try to explain my situation and I go so far as to invite him for a few days cruise with us if he brings me a new outboard.  But it is an offer he refuses and I am left furious with a broken outboard and wondering where has German quality gone.

The next town is Rovinj, one hour away, founded by the venetians way back, with a nice ACI marina.

We have to go to a marina since I have to do something about the outboard since the idea of having to row an inflatable for the next months is not my idea of a pleasant cruise.


Having had the nice experience in Vrsar of not having to pay for the width of the cat I decline the offer of the marina attendant to take a regular slip on the inside but rather tie up alongside the floating pier, on the outside.

I don't mind his look of pity, thinking that I am not capable of driving the cat to the inside mooring spot.

After all, everything is better than having to pay double or whatever...

...even if this presents a tricky balancing act for Julia to get on and off the boat.  (OK, since the wind was blowing us away from the pier I had left the ropes a bit too slack...)

Luckily near the marina there is marine mechanic that also sells outboards and I get a 2.5 HP Tohatsu outboard for 680 Euros, less than half the cost of the German electric Monday morning lemon.  At times it does not pay to be environmentally conscious.

After lunch on board at the marina Clara and I go for a walk through the old town and even brave the steep streets paved with highly polished stone slabs to go to the top of the hill.

The narrow streets have the usual stores for tourists selling all more or less the same junk, pardon, memorabilia and so called art galleries that sell pictures you would not want to hang up in your garage.
We decide to buy in each town a magnet for the refrigerator, taking care to choose the least kitschy ones.

We also try to work out if there is some way to connect to the internet without it costing an arm and a leg.  Lo and behold we can buy a Croatian SIM card that works with my Vodafone mobile internet connector, or whatever those boxes that connect over the mobile phones are called.  A young lady in the store sets everything up on Clara's mini computer, I buy an additional 200 Kuna worth of airtime and we both think that we have landed in Internet heaven and can connect like at home.

Unfortunately there is a small problem:  the card does not compute how long you are connected, which is easy to time, but how many Megabyte of data you up or download.  Back on board I connect my laptop that runs Vista to the Croatian provider, check Clara's and my mail and then see how many Megabytes are left on the account.  A paltry 17 Kilobytes!  I had forgotten to tell Vista, Norton antivirus, Sony Vaio support and who knows who else not to automatically connect to the Internet whenever Internet is available.  Today most programs are worse than ET phone home and connect in the background and do their stuff. I don't really like it when I am at home and are connected to the Internet 24 hrs a day, but imagine when I am paying for the amount of data transmitted!  Anyway, we both downloaded our mail and now wow not to use a connection based on the amount of data transmitted and received.

Julia goes off on her own and comes back triumphantly with the same Croatian card we had bought, only it allows for half as much data as ours and did not have it connected by somebody in the store.  She is quite nervous since she absolutely has to connect to her bank in Australia to make some money transfers but somehow does not get through.  I do not want to get blamed for doing goodness knows what to her computer so suggest that she goes to the store we have been to do her bank business.  She comes back pacified with a mission accomplished look.


During the day it is quite warm and Clara finds a cool spot on the tender under the catamaran, between the hulls.


Clara and I have dinner in a quite nice restaurant along the harbor, but Julia prefers to go on her own so that she can have whatever she wants, since she is some kind of a health food fanatic.

Tuesday, June 16 2009

Before leaving Rovinj I go to the marina office to pay. 

"Since you are a catamaran you will have to pay 70 % more than the normal slip price", un unsmiling female tells me.
"But I lay alongside the floating pier and did not take up more space than a regular boat, therefore I don't have to pay the catamaran surcharge" I counter.
"The marina regulations say that catamarans have to pay a surcharge, you are a catamaran and therefore you have to pay it".

I try to reason with her.  I ask to talk to the manager.  I tell her that the communist days are long gone, that this is a stupid rule made by stupid people.  I tell her that from now on I'll avoid the ACI marinas like the plague, all to no avail.  Furious I pay up and leave the marina.

We continue our journey south, along the Istrian peninsula, throw a quick glance at Pula, a big town, find it too commercial, go on and have a look at the Veruda marina, a huge marina in a narrow bay, but after the Rovinj experience we continue a few miles to a big bay Soline Val Cacoia.

The Cacoia bay is big, with lots of boats anchored at its side.

Most boats are 10 -12 meter sailboats, many with Austrian or German flag.  A lot have Croatian flag, since sailboat charter is a big business.

We decide to anchor and spend the night here. 

Wednesday, June 17 2009

Around two o'clock in the morning Julia wakes me up stating that she has seen a sailboat pass very close to her window.  She is very nervous and I am immediately wide awake and we all go on deck.  The infamous "Bora" wind is hitting us with gusts of up to 37 knots and are swinging from side to side as an about 12 meter long sailboat is literally circling around us and two other boats.  In spite of all this wind their anchor chain is going straight down, obviously not only not holding but barely touching the ground.  A few minutes later the sailboat comes again towards us and we are ready with fenders.  On the bow of the sailboat a German speaking man, not overly concerned is continually saying "eine interessante Nacht", an interesting night.  He is either totally drunk or worse.  After having sailed past us I decide that it is time to move.  Our anchor is not holding very well since I we are anchored on the side of the bay among other boats and could not let out all the anchor rode needed.

To hell being nice and not anchoring in the middle of the bay.  It had been Julia's job to hoist the anchor the past days, but Clara sees that she is nervous and does it herself.  Clara thus takes the anchor windlass control and asks Julia to relay any needed information to me and light the anchor chain with the flashlight.  With the howling wind it is impossible to hear anything that is said up front and vice versa. Eventually the anchor comes up without a problem and with the GPS and radar I find a better spot in the middle of the bay, where I can let out a decent amount of chain.  For the rest of the night I stand anchor watch while the ladies go back to sleep.  This is the first time that the anchor and chain are put through a real test and now I feel confident.

With GPS tied to the electronic chart that shows the boat's movements and radar that keeps track of the other boats I always know where we are.

The picture on the left shows how the wind swung us from side to side, but the anchor was holding very well, since you have to imagine the anchor on the right of the blue boat symbol.

That's progress!

In the morning Clara tells me that Julia was so nervous that she could not keep the flashlight pointed on the anchor chain and that she got fed up, took the flashlight in one hand and the windlass control in the other pulled up the anchor without help from Julia.  It seems Julia does not have much experience doing things on a boat, but I don't mind as long as she is willing to learn.



Since we spend a lot of nights at anchor it is important that I can sleep a good night sleep without too many worries under normal circumstances (wind under 30 knots).

True to the American saying that when you go to a marina and people start laughing at your anchor, the anchor size is about right, I have two complete heavy duty anchoring systems.

The main anchor is a 55 kg Rocna anchor, with 100 m of 12 mm galvanized chain.

I am very happy with it.  So far it has never dragged and settles quickly.

The secondary anchor is an old Danforth type of anchor, with 20 m of 12 mm galvanized chain and about 80 m of 8 strand, 22 mm thick black synthetic rope. 

Originally I wanted to have for both anchors 100 m of chain, but desisted since it is not a good idea to have so much weight up front.

Anchoring is very much an exercise in compromise.  Anchoring gurus tell you to use minimum a  3:1 or better a 5:1 ratio of rode length to water depth. Which means that if you anchor in a water depth of 20 m you must let out a minimum of 60 m of chain, better 100 m.  These armchair anchoring expert have obviously never anchored in a small crowded bay where you could quickly become very unpopular if you follow their advice.


Thursday, 18 June 2009

After leaving the Valcacoia anchorage at 8.30 we proceed to a small island called Zeca.  In doing so we leave the Istrian peninsula and start navigating among the dozens of islands.  Croatia is really a boater's paradise.

On the way there we even sight two dolphins, but contrary to the dolphins in the Pacific and the Caribbean they ignore us.

Zeca is a small island  with a long beach and just one little house near the shore and on orchard behind, fenced in and covered with anti bird netting.  I wonder what they grow,  "maybe dope?" says Julia.  There is nobody we can see around the house so our question remains unanswered.

The water is a beautiful color and crystal clear and Clara and I lower the tender to go ashore.  Julia does not want to come.  What from far away looks like sand are actually small pebbles, worn by the waves.  They don't hurt your feet and make a peaceful, relaxing sound with each wave.  Just like those mood CD's with sounds of water.  In fact there are practically no sandy beaches in Croatia.  We don't really mind since we don't like to lie on the sand and get roasted.

With this beautiful water all around us I dive down to inspect the bottoms and props of the PH8.  The bottoms are nice and clean, but the props, which have not been painted with antifouling paint are overgrown with small barnacles.  They wipe off easily enough, but I am surprised how fast they grow.

It is one of the first times that we lower and then hoist the tender and we all go to what I call the boat deck to see how it is best done. Before leaving I had to make some last minute modifications, with the result that one of the deck sides is open to let the tender in and behind there is no solid rail, only some ropes.  Not the safest of places, considering that it is over 3 meters above the water level and if you fall you hit the lower deck before ending in the water.

The tender comes up and then has to be pulled and lowered into its cradle.  Julia gives a helping hand but by doing so gets too close to the unprotected back where she could fall if she slips or a rogue wave unbalances her.  Without many compliments I tell her to get away from there.  OK, Clara says that rather than speak I barked at Julia and she may be right, but I only meant to warn her.  Last thing we need is an accident, but Julia is very much offended,  so and tells me that she does not accept my tone of voice and that anyway she has been on bigger boats and knows what to do on board .  Clara is surprised at her reaction and says that she is "molto permalosa", which according to the dictionary translates as "very touchy", but in Italian it has a more negative connotation than just touchy.

We then proceed to Maracol bay, on Unije island and anchor for the night, among lots of other boats.

All these islands are crisscrossed by kilometers and kilometers of dry walls, built over the centuries.  A herculean task and I suppose they were build to keep donkeys, sheep and goats from running away but also mostly to put somewhere the stones collected from the ground.  Clearing the fields of stones lets more grass grow to feed the animals.

Julia does not eat dinner claiming not to feel well, so after dinner Clara tries to teach her an Italian card game in Italian and eventually Julia cheers up. 

Clara has a vested interest in Julia staying on board, since she wants to go home for two weeks at the end of July and after all that is the reason Julia is on board so she tells me to be nice to her.


Friday, 19 June 2009

In the late afternoon we arrive in Mali Lusinj, which looks like a very nice harbor and town.

We tie up Med style to the pier and enjoy the view of the town from the aft deck while drinking an "aperitivo".

Mind you, before settling down I asked the person in charge of mooring what they thought of catamarans in respect to fees.  I sort of beat round the bush, since I did not want to give him ideas, but he told me that for this harbor I was just a vessel 16.5 meters long.  Wonderful.

Even at night it is a nice place.


Saturday, 20 June 2009

In the mid morning the commander of the "Capitanija" tells every boat that a bad bout of Bora is expected for the afternoon and advises us to stay put.  He obviously does not want to have to send out one of his boats to rescue some incapable boater.

I quite agree.  The place is nice, we are safely tied up in the harbor and are not in a hurry.  And besides, Julia is again frantically trying to connect to her bank with the internet. 

In the afternoon, at four o'clock she finally manages to connect to her bank through a local "hot spot" sitting in a cafe in front of the computer store that supplies the service, with about two and a half hours if Internet time left on her computer.  She gets really livid when she discovers that her bank is doing some maintenance to their servers (it is four o'clock of Sunday morning in Australia) and will be back online in two hours.  Then, rather than not be able to connect again, she surfs the net for two hours and in the end manages to do in the last half hour what she had to do with the bank and is of happy again.

Clara and I are having a lot of fun watching the unfolding of the Julia soap opera.  I promise Clara not to aggravate the situation with some appropriate remark so I only tell Julia to "take it easy".

Well, Julia is only kind of happy again.  There must be some problem down under with her daughter and her nervousness goes on.  She does not come to dinner with us and does not look very happy.  I wonder if it is only because of the news from Australia.

While Julia is frantically busy with her internet problems, just as Clara and me are going to the market to see what edibles are available, the bad whether hits.   The wind gusts up to 30 knots and it rains.  Needless to say that we get thoroughly wet.  Fruit and vegetables are nice looking, good and cheap.  Not so the fish.  We had noticed that in the restaurants there was no fish selection to speak of and the little there was compared to Italy expensive.  Same story in the fish market.  There are mussels and clams galore, octopus and practically nothing else worth while. Isn't there fish in their sea?  Or do they export it all?  I never really solved the mystery.  Same kind of story for the wine.  The Croatian vine is mediocre and again, comparing price and quality to Italian vine, expensive.  Next time I go to Croatia I will fill the bilges with vine bottles.


Sunday, 21 June 2009

In the morning we leave Losinj and coasting along we enter Krivica bay.

It is a long, narrow bay with spectacular clear and blue water.

Clara had hoped that we could spend the night there, but there are six or seven other boats already there and besides anchoring you have to tie a stern rope to a tree that prevents you to swing and hit other boats.  Not an ideal situation, considering that the weather does not look quite settled.

So in the late afternoon we move on.  Julia as usual has anchor duty.  I had explained her the basics, that is that you must be careful not to overload the windlass motor and in that case stop and tell me, the driver, to move the cat and help the windlass by taking he strain off the chain.  I can see on the bridge from the amount of current the windlass absorbs if the motor is strained.  And since it is not strained and Julia is stopping frequently and I do not like being close to the rocky shore I tell her to speed up and make an appropriate gesture.

Julia gets mad and starts yelling that she has had enough of anchor duty, that she knows what she is doing and has been on bigger boats than this. I wonder if the bigger boats that she had been on were the ferries crossing Sidney harbor.

We leave Krivica bay and head for Artatury bay, which should give us shelter even should the whether turn nasty again.

At the entrance of the Artatury bay we see the beautiful sailing yacht "Maltese Falcon".

It is truly the most beautiful yacht I have ever seen.  Or so it should be, since it cost about 160 million dollars!


Built by the Italian company Perini Navi in Turkey the Maltese Falcon is 87 meters long.


To see this magnificent artwork I circle the boat and on the aft deck I spot a lone gentleman dresses in a blue blazer looking at us.  I open my arms and at the top of my lungs shout "beautiful".

The gentleman smiles and slightly bows his head in acknowledgement.


Monday, 22 June 2009

The whether has not improved, with wind gusting up to 30 knots, but we are securely anchored in Artatury bay, so we decide to stay put for the day.

Then, miracles of miracles, Julia agrees to go ashore with Clara on the tender.

We have lunch on board and drink some red wine and Julia, "In vino veritas" brings up yesterday's anchoring problem, saying that she did everything right, that according to me she does nothing right and does not know what to do while on a bigger boat that she has been on everything went well.  I more or less stay silent wondering what her duties had been on the bigger boat, since she does not even know to throw a rope ashore and panics when she has to tie a knot, in spite of Clara having shown her and she practiced for hours.

Clara showing Julia how to tie knots.

Another miracle happens in the evening: Julia comes with us to the local restaurant, where we eat surprisingly well.


Tuesday, 23 June 2009

The whether has improved and we decide to have a look at Susak island.  It is described as the only island in the Adriatic (and there are hundreds in Croatia) consisting of a 100 m layer of sand resting on rocks.  Big disappointment.  It looks like all the other islands, with an almost industrial looking small village.  We go around the island and continue in a choppy sea to the Ilovik island and anchor in Parzine Bay.

We have been spoilt with the sea temperature since with a water temperature is now only 19 degrees centigrade and we are not going for our daily swim.  Correction.  Clara's and my daily swim.  We have not yet seen Julia wet her feet.  Does she know how to swim, I wonder.

Clara goes ashore with the tender and takes Julia along.  Together they walk about 30 to 40 minutes to a small village, see the little that there is to see and walk back.

We move to a different bay, actually a channel in front of a village called Ilovik and tie up to a buoy for the night.


Clara makes some sarcastic remarks about Julia being tired.

And to think that she likes her.  I dread to think what she would say or do it she did not.

 Women can be quite catty and Clara is no exception.

In the evening we decide to eat at the local restaurant and invite Julia to come along.  She refuses, claiming that she is too tired and wants to go to bed.

The Buoys

All over Croatia, in front of villages there are a number of buoys.

You simply tie up to the one you fancy and in the evening a small local boat passes that collects the daily buoy fee, usually between 15 and 30 Euros.  The fee depends on the boat length.

An added advantage is that you can give your garbage to the boat that collects the fee.

If you decide to anchor nearby a field of buoys you can, but you still will have to pay the fee, unless there are no more free buoys. . 

I think that the buoy system is a good idea.  You contribute to the local economy and therefore villagers are more inclined to view you as an asset instead of a nuisance.  You don't have to worry whether your anchor holds, tears up the bottom or if you are going to hit your neighbor.  The buoys and the ropes to the standard submerged cement blocks weighing 700 kg seem to be well maintained. 

My only concern is that the buoys are usually fairly close to each other, which could make it interesting in a real blow.  I feel that a boat the size of the PH8 is about the maximum size that should use a buoy, all considered.

The bows of the PH8 are very high above the water level, so the only way to tie to a buoy is to approach it against the wind with the back of the cat and have somebody pass a smallish, light and long rope through the eye of the buoy.  I then slowly motor to bring the buoy to the front of the cat, while the buoy person at the same time walks to the bow with the rope.  The rope is then provisionally tied to a cleat up front.

I then take the tender (it usually gets launched anyway) and then tie the regular heavy ropes from up front to the buoy, one to the top, the other to the bottom of the buoy.

This gives me a chance to inspect in what condition the buoy rope is.

Afterwards I slack the middle rope so that it does not chafe against the anchors.

I keep the ropes fairly short due to the lack of room between the buoys.


Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Late in the morning we leave the Ilovik buoy and head for the east side of the Olib island where our guide book intriguingly describes the bay as a natural swimming pool.  In reality it is just a bay like any other, with a tiny harbor for local fishermen.  Without stopping we motor to the south tip of the island, to the Juzna Slatina bay, which although not praised, we find much more appealing than the swimming pool. 

The water feels warmer and I clean one prop from tiny barnacles.

In the afternoon we motor towards the island of Ist and tie to a buoy anchor in front of the village of Zapuntel

Clara, as usual takes Julia ashore to explore the village.  She comes back claiming that it is nothing to write home about but a restaurant looks inviting.

The villages are simple and do not offer much for tourists, but are clean and well maintained and usually offer a good restaurant or two.


The little harbors are mostly for the locals, clean and well maintained.

For yachts there is that wonderful institution of buoys.

As usual in the evening we invite Julia to come along with us to the local restaurant, but as usual refuses, saying that she will eat only a yogurt, since she wants to fast.


Thursday, 25 June 2009

We stop at Brguglje, attached to a buoy.

Clara and I have a nice swim.  The sun shines, the water is crystal clear, with a temperature of 20 degrees.  Actually on the surface for swimming the water temperature is probably a bit warmer since the water temperature probe is with the depth sounder, which is on the bottom of the cat, about one meter below the water surface.  I clean the other prop.

I ask Julia why she does not swim with these ideal conditions.

She answers "I only swim when it is forty degrees"
"but forty degrees water scald you" I say.
"I mean forty degrees air temperature" she says with a look of pity on her face , since I must be dumb to say such a stupid thing.
"Ah," I say, "but then you must rarely swim." Pause, "but do you know how to swim?"
I have been wondering all along. 
"I swam last year in Corfu" she volunteers "because it was so hot"
I think to myself that to have swam only once during the whole Summer in Italy last year does not put swimming at the top of her list of favorite things to do.
At that point, what the heck, I go on. "What was wrong with you yesterday, why did you fast?"
"I did not run yesterday, so did not burn any calories, so I fasted" she answers "when I am at home I run 7 km a day and sometime a Marathon."

Julia has spindly arms and legs, skin and bone, without one muscle showing.  Seven km a day?  But remembering the promise I made to Clara I shut up.

She spends the rest of the day shut in her cabin and only appears in the evening when I call her for dinner.  She appears, wrapped up in a blanket, looking like death warmed up, saying that she is not going to have any dinner. I ask her what's wrong.  She again starts complaining that she is not happy on board, that she does not know what to do and that on the bigger boat she was appreciated, etc.

"Don't bullshit me" I say and put an end to this conversation. I write on the boat log that I am really fed up with her and her problems.


Friday, 26 June 2009

Clara wakes me up saying that Julia will leave the boat today, when we arrive in Zadar.  We both expected this, but nevertheless Clara is furious since Julia had agreed to come with us and Clara relied on her to be able to go back home.

The marina of very big and after a bit of wondering what to do with us we are directed to the pier where the big boys are, which makes us feel very small.

It is always amusing to watch the crew of those mega yachts while we maneuver to our assigned spot near them.  They run around with tense faces and with big fenders to make sure that we don't even get close to them.  Once we are safely tied up their faces relax and become quite friendly.

I wonder if they do that with everybody or is it because they can see we are a metal boat and therefore can do a lot of damage to their glossy sides?  Or do I look so reckless?

The marina is on the mainland, while the old town is across the narrow harbor entrance, on a peninsula.  It would be quite a long walk from the PH8 to the old town, but luckily a small rowboat ferries people across for less than one Euro.

We call this ferry "Caronte", like the mythological rower that ferries the spirits of the departed across the river Styx to Hades.

Sorry, I don't mean that the old town is reminiscent of Hades, just the boating analogy somehow stuck me as appropriate.

The moment we dock in Zara Julia puts her suitcase into the kitchen and leaves the boat saying that she will look for a hotel and a flight to Ancona in Italy and asks me to give her passport.

Before I can give her back her passport I have to go to the police and or the capitanija to remove her from the crew list.  I tell her so and ask her to come back at five o'clock.  Miffed, she leaves.


The old town is surrounded by an old wall...

..and is full of tourists, stores that sell the usual stuff to tourists, a cathedral, some ruins  and the usual expensive boutiques that sell high-sounding brand clothes to the guys that take their mistresses to Zarat.

After all, if you are with your wife or girlfriend you usually don't put her wardrobe at the top of your list of important things to do during a cruise.  Of course I could be wrong...

But a mistress obviously has other priorities.

At five o'clock Julia is back and, surprise, with two policemen, a woman and a man.  The woman police beckons me to come ashore and then asks, with a dour, unfriendly face, what is that matter with Julia's passport and why I threatened to go the police.

I answer, with an equally dour face, that as captain (and captain is higher on the totem pole than whatever dourface is) I had to, according to Croatian law, go to the police or capitanjia to remove Julia's name from the crew list and so had to have her passport, which I now handed to the police woman.

The police is satisfied with my explanation, but Julia, who is listening and probably hoping that the police jail me for passport kidnapping starts to say that I am an arrogant bastard, that I put her suitcase outside the kitchen and did not help her to disembark.  Then all three leave.

The crocodile Dundee woman has turned into a touchy wimp.

Clara and I still don't know what really happened.  Was it because of her problems back in Australia, lack of a glamorous shore life looking for a husband, lack of sex or simply realized that boating life was not for her and did not have the courage to say so, or a combination of everything?

As a famous movie line once said "Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn".

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