2009 - Zadar - Tremiti Islands

 

Saturday, June 27

After Julia left us, Clara and I have to change plans.  Clara wants to go back home for a while, since after a few weeks away she gets homesick, wants to see her sons, mama and friends. A typical Italian woman.

I cannot continue alone on the PH8.  We both had hoped that Julia would work out, but there is no point in crying over a wimpy Julia.  I have to say goodbye to my plans to go to Greece and Turkey, so we decide to cut our visit to Croatia short and in a few weeks head back to south Italy and find a nice, safe place where I can stay by myself on the boat until Clara decides to come back. 

Well after midday we finally leave Zadar, not because we slept late, but because I have to change the generator oil.  Doing these maintenance chores the fact that the hulls are entirely devoted to equipment and I did not tried to squeeze in a head or a bed really pays off.  Changing the generator oil is straightforward without many contortions.  And since the generator is below the sea surface also the ambient temperature is nice.

We follow the coast until the marina Dalmacija, situated in a well protected inlet and is the biggest marina of Croatia.  A lot of German and Austrian boats make this their home base since Zadar is well connected and the prices are not exactly cheap but neither exaggerate if you make a yearly contract.  Croatia and the Croatian government realize that their coastline is a precious touristical asset and try to encourage it to the maximum.  I am even told that there is a waiting list to get a berth in the marina.

Orr goal is to eventually reach the Telascica natural park and then the Koronata national park.  Se we head towards the narrow passage between the Ugljan and Pasman islands, an approximately 20 minute passage.  Suddenly the port side starts to vibrate so badly that I have to shut down the engine and continue to the Prolaz Zdrelac passage on one engine.  Fortunately there is no problem to run on one engine, as long as you don't have to maneuver in tight corners.  Before the passage there is a calm bay and I dive down to see what has happened.  Nothing that I can see.  I start up both engines and the vibrations have stopped.  Something must have gotten stuck in the propeller and then freed itself. 

Prolaz Zdrelac The passage is quite narrow for the PH8, especially with the heavy equipment working on one side.  Fortunately the water is very clear so it is not a problem to stay in the middle.

A few minutes after the passage we see two dolphins but they ignore us.  I interpret the presence of dolphins a welcome sign that the waters are not polluted. 

 

Knez We then proceed on a north west heading towards the island of Iz and the village of Knez, where we take a buoy for the night.

The buoy for the night cost us 160 Kuna or about 22 Euros.  As an added benefit the boat that collects the fee also takes away our garbage, a welcome service.  And they only ask for the length of the moored buoy and nor its width. :)

The village does not offer any special attraction, but it is pleasant and clean, like all the villages we visited so far.

In the evening we go to the local restaurant apartmani Knez Maliz.  The people that run the restaurant are very friendly and are the same that collected the buoy fee.  .


 

Monday, June 29 

Knez was so peaceful and the water so clean  that yesterday we decided to spend an additional day relaxing and catching up with the unending chores that a boat offers.  After all we are on a cruise and not on a race across Croatia.

Map of tourist boats We head south towards the Mala Proversa passage, on the south east side of the Dugi Otok island.  Our destination is Telascica, the natural park with the salt lake.

Zadar is a popular starting point for excursions to the Telascica and Coronati parks.  So we pretended to be interested to take a cruise and had the crew of one of the cruise boats show us the highlights of their cruise on their map, which gives a good idea of the area.



 

Malaproversa passage
The Mala Proversa passage is quite narrow, well marked and a beautiful experience. 

 

2009 06 29 in navigation
The day is hot and muggy, the sea is very calm, with no wind.

We run with both engines at 1660 RPM and the GPS tells us that we have a SOG (speed over ground) of 9.3 knots, burning between 20 and 22 liters per hour of fuel for both engines.

Boating could not be more beautiful.

 

Sestrica lighthouse
Instead of heading straight for the Telascica park we take a small detour around the Sestrica lighthouse, presumably on the Sestrica island.




 

Mir anchorage
A bit after midday we tie to a buoy in Mir, on the island of Dugi Otok and in the Telascica park, a strategic spot from where to visit the salt lake.

The water is incredibly clear.

 

Salt lake map
The map shows the bay of Mir where we are moored to a buoy and in the background the salt lake and on the right of the salt lake the high cliffs.

Way in the back is the Koronati park.

 

Towards the salt lake
On the way to the salt lake..

 

On the way to the salt lake 2
This small hut was built without using any cement, or at least I cannot see any.

 

Salt lake
The setting of the salt lake is beautiful.

 

Cliffs by the salt lake
The cliffs west of the salt lake.

 

Supermarket 1
Another nice feature of Telascica is the very convenient supermarket...

 

Supermarket 2 
..that does home delivery.

The cost of the buoy is 120 Kuna (17 Euros) and includes the natural park fee.

 

Tuesday, June 30 

While getting ready to depart a "Capitania" (coast guard) boat comes alongside and inspects our papers.  They are very corteous and professional and find that everything is OK. 

Telascica park


To further explore the Telascica park we then head towards Magrovica, on the northern end of the bay. 


It is fascinating how different the various islands are.  Some are almost barren, while others, like the one near the salt lake, are very green with pine trees.

I don't know if this is due to the soil, the microclimate or if it was the destroying nature of man.  Probably a combination of everything.
 

Swim at Magrovika
Before proceeding south eastwards towards the Koronati island and natural park we swim in 23.4 degrees, crystal blue water.

So far I find the Telascica park one of the most beautiful spots of Croatia, mainly due to its diversity.

 

Koronati park
After leaving the Telascica park we enter the Koronati park.

George Bernard Shaw said of the Koronati "On the last day of the creation God desired to crown His work, and thus created the Koronati islands out of tears, stars and breath".

The park consists of 86 big and small islands.

On the main island of the Koronati park, Incoronata, there are a few very small villages like Kravijacica, which must host a motor yacht convention the day we pass.  "Birds of a feather, flock together", comes to my mind.  On the whole motor yachts people are not great fans of anchoring out, in spite of having multi million dollar yachts equipped with everything.

Koronati park  

This is the biggest village of the Koronati islands, Vrulje, continually inhabited only in Summer.  A few places for small boats in the marina, a few buoys and a mini market for basic necessities.

 

Koronati park Robinson house
You can even rent a house near the sea for little money to spend a "Robinson" holiday , away from it all.

We try to get a buoy in the bay of Lavsa, but are asked to leave since we are really  too big for the small, crowded bay.

View from Zakan


We continue and end up anchored in the south bay of the Zakan island.  No space problem here, but in spite of all the space or most likely because of too much space I end up to anchor satisfactorily only on the third attempt.  Once too close to the shore, then too far away from the small marina.

 

Clara on the Zakan mountain
After anchoring we go ashore and climb the nearby hill to get a view from above.  Breathtaking.

On the way down we have a look at what is described as the biggest restaurant on the Koronati islands.

It looks very inviting and indeed our expectations that evening are fully met.

To anchor in the Koronati park you must pay the park fee, which comes for the two of us to 400 Kuna, about 56 Euros.  Well worth it if this insures that the park remains uncontaminated.

What else is there to say about the Telascica and the Koronati park?  It is one of the most beautiful cruising grounds, wild enough to give you a feeling of adventure (don't underestimate the wind that can blow suddenly and quite viciously) yet close enough to civilization in case of dire necessity.  My only regret is that it is not a year round warm cruising ground.

 

Wednesday, July 1

Wash day in Zakan Even in a beautiful place like the Koronati park it is sometimes necessary to take care of some basic chores.


 

Murter
It is time to get back to civilization and we und up in a small town called Murter, in a big, well protected bay where we anchor and decide to spend a few days.


 

Restaurant in Murter
Murter is full of tourists, souvenir shops and restaurants.  The first night we have dinner in an outdoor pizza restaurant on the main tourist drag.  I eat probably the worst spaghetti of my life, overcooked and in an undescribable milky sauce.

So the next night we find a delightful restaurant right on the water edge and have a delightful dinner.




We spend the next few days in Murter.

The port engine muffler has developed a leak, so I have to dismount it, close the hole and remount it.  Everything is quite straightforward, but keeps me busy and dirty for a few hours.

Before leaving Murter we take on 7000 Kuna worth of fuel, which costs a bit less than 7 Kuna per liter. I don't want to take on too much fuel, since there is no point in carrying around unnecessary weight.

 

Saturday, July 4

We leave Murter and our goal is to reach the Krka river falls .

Jadria
The entrance to the canal that leads to Sibenik must have been a very strategic place in the old days, considering the fortifications.

 

Entrance to Sibenik The canal with Sibenik in the background.


 

Sibenik
Sibenik is an industrial harbor town, unfortunately with its share of what I call ecomonsters, horrible buildings, remnants of the communist rule.

 

Up the Krka river
The Krka river up to Skradin is wide and at least 8 meters deep.  In Summer the current is about 0.5 knots, the water temperature a nice 24.6 degrees.


 

Skradin
Skradin is a nice old village (it was founded by the Romans), very touristy, with a big marina.  Unfortunately it is an ACI marina, belonging to the same company that charged me 70% more in Rovinj because I am with a catamaran. 

So we anchor opposite the town.

Even mega yachts come as far as Skradin.
If you are in Croatia with a boat, this river trip is a must.

 


Skradin

Skradin 2

The village square and one of the old, narrow streets. 

CB and PH
PH and friend

There are quite a few nice restaurants with good food.

I have no idea who this guy was, but Clara decides to take this picture of me anyway.

 

Towards theKrka park You are not allowed to go past Skradin with your boat. 

To visit the falls you must take a park boat for the half hour ride.

 

Kirka park map
The falls are many and quite spread out.  A path lets you get very close and walk around them.

 

Krka falls 1 Krka falls 2

The Krka falls have two more claims to fame, besides being impressively beautiful.  The last Austro Hungarian emperor Franz Joseph was very impressed by them, so much that they built a belvedere for him.  Then this was the site where one of the first electricity generating plants was built in the last decades of the nineteenth century.  And, as the Croats proudly remark, it opened a few months before the one at the Niagara falls.

We finish the tour around midday and take a park boat with "Ecodiesel" written on the side to go back.  As the boat leaves we start smelling a kitchen smell, as if somebody fries food.  Since it is lunchtime we think that the crew is cooking lunch, but then we realize that the frying of lunch takes too long.  Then it dawns on me: it is the ecodiesel, obviously recycled from frying oils, that we smell.  If ecodiesel will be used more frequently, it will be difficult to keep a diet with all that food smell around.

Skradin anchorage While at anchor we purchase for 120 Kuna (16 Euros) a 24 hour WiFi Internet connection from Miro.

Miro operates a small business in the ACI marina providing internet access and taking photos of incoming mega yachts.  He is very friendly and with quite a knowledge of  computers.  Talking to him he tells me that he had just bought a new Dell computer, but insisted to have Windows XP.  The bad name of Vista has reached even this remote corner of the world.  Shame on you, Microsoft.

One calm night we come back to the cat and notice that the sailing cat near us is shining a flickering light on its main sail.  Intrigued we take the tender for a closer look.  The eight occupants are enjoying the latest Pirates of the Caribbean, projected on to the sail.  A wonderful idea.

 

Not being in a marina we are running out of water.  I don't want to start the watermaker in fresh water, so since the river water seems clean and gets oxygenated in the water falls, I fill one tank with it.  We immediately notice the difference when taking a shower, since the water is quite "hard" and soap does not lather very much.

 

Wednesday, July 8

Clara is getting homesick, so in the midmorning we leave Skradin and head for the island of Vis, our jump off point for Italy, across the Adriatic.

From Sbernika it takes 4.5 hors to the entrance of the Vis harbor.  The water is quite choppy and we proceed at 2400 RPM, resulting in a SOG speed of 12.6 knots, burning 30 liters of fuel an hour.

Vis harbour
The town of Vis is very pretty and uncontaminated.  No wonder, since under the communist rule the island was off limits since it was considered of strategic importance.  For what I cannot imagine.

In 1866 the famous battle of Vis was fought in waters off the island, between the Austro Hungarian and the Italian navy.  In spite of being inferiorly equipped with partially old wooden boats, the Austro Hungarian navy won, prompting the admiral to say that a navy of wooden ships and iron men defeated iron ships and wooden men.  The Italian admiral was later tried for treason. 

The anchoring fee is 100 Kuna, about 14 Euros.

 

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Today is going to be the first long crossing for the PH8, about 60 miles and out of sight of land.  Nothing to worry about, the whether is beautiful and the sea is calm, but first we take on 1152 liters of fuel.  The fuel costs 6.95 Kuna/liter or 0.96 Euro/liter, a saving of about 10 % over Italy.

To leave Croatia is straightforward.  In less than one minute a Capetanija person in a small office puts his stamp on our papers and tells me to go to the police for their blessing.  Should nobody be in the police station call a tollfree number.  He obviously knows the habit of the police and when I call the usual gruffy Croat tells me to wait, that somebody would come.  About twenty minutes later I walk to the small, squalid police office and to my surprise  find a very good looking, young, blonde and smiling policewoman.  Unfortunately it takes her less than a minute to clear us out.  I would not have minded to spend more time with her, but she is also very efficient.  What a change from the dour looking and acting policewoman in Zadar!

Since leaving Porto Levante the engines have run about 62 hours, while the generator a whopping 147 hours, which reflects the fact that most of our time we did not stay in (expensive) marinas.

I don't really know how much fuel we used, since I have not yet devised a way to measure how much fuel is in the tanks.  My way of checking the fuel is to open a tank hatch and then estimate the amount of fuel left in the tanks. 

Vis harbour catamarano

We leave the Vis anchorage at 11.12 together with a sail catamaran with 8 young men and one woman on board.  I had to take a picture of it so that one of Clara's friend could fantasize of being the only woman on board. 

Lighthouse Stonecica at 11.34

Leave Croatia at 12.00

 

Towards Tremiti Islands

You can see from Clara's face that it is necessary to go back to Italy and let her go back home so that her Italian mama instinct can take over.

She is actually steering the cat with the remote control since we don't (yet) have an autopilot.

I have ordered and paid for the latest Raymarine autopilot, but Raymarine had some problems with the software and I am  backordered.

To manually steer a boat in the middle of nowhere, without any references on the horizon, only a compass or the electronic map interfaced to the GPS is perfectly feasible but no fun.  Actually in a way I find manually steering in these circumstances more dangerous than let the autopilot do the job.  After having manually steered for some while and gone brutally off course a few times you become so mesmerized looking at the compass that you neglect to intelligently look outside and at the radar screen.

Approaching Tremiti island

At 18.00 we approach Tremiti island.

 

Tremiti harbor

To go to the south side of the bay between the two islands we have to slalom among dozens of moored boats.

The catamaran, any catamaran, can turn on its own length thanks to the two, wide apart propellers.  But it is fun to see the astonished (and at times terrified)  faces of people who don't know this feature of cats.

 

Finally, at the very end I find a vacant buoy and I ask a sailboat nearby what is the procedure here with buoys. "Just grab any free one" is the answer "it will cost you about 20 Euros".

Sure, just as we have gone through the whole mooring procedure and with the tender in the water, an unpleasant local with a tourist boat comes yelling that we have taken his buoy and that we must move.  Fortunately another very pleasant local tells me to take his buoy for free, since he will not be using it.  The new buoy is of course on the other side of the harbor so that I have to go through the hoist tender, slalom course and buoy tie up procedure again.  All this makes me miss the straightforward buoy management of Croatia.  And introduces me to the dichotomy of South Italy.  Mostly very warm and generous people, interspersed with some unpleasant guys who just want to take advantage of you.  Well, after all the mafia is a south Italian invention.

In the evening we walk up the steep hill towards the village and have dinner.  I don't want to make a scene, but I am really mad at Julia, Clara and Italian mamas for having had to change my cruising plans so brutally.  I am doubly mad because the cat behaved wonderfully and everything was as good as they come.  So I drink lots Italian wine to drown my sorrows.

 

Croatia and Croats

Croatia and all its islands is a beautiful cruising ground, whether you are motoring or sailing.  The country has realized that boats and boating is an important sector of their tourism industry while at the same time trying to preserve as much as they can of unspoilt nature.

The place is clean, and if you follow their few rules nobody bothers you.  We got checked by the coat guard, but it was efficient, courteous and painless.  Also entering and leaving the country is easy and fast, with many harbors that provide the custom service, especially in Summer.

While tourist villages and towns can be lively, don't expect to find glamorous places with topless starlets like Porto Cervo or Ibiza.  The place is for serious boating, you don't go to Croatia to see and be seen.  Incidentally, since the north of Croatia is fairly close to Austria and Germany, there are quite a few nudist beaches and villages, even a "nude" marina.  This is not because Croats are more open minded, but because in the old days the communist government realized that nudists were a good source of income.

There a quite a few marinas, usually well equipped and with prices comparable to south Italian marinas, but I am no expert since I prefer to anchor out anyway, especially since I am allergic to pay 70% more than a regular boat, even when I don't use more space than a monohull.  The buoy system I find very good and an excellent value.  I don't know how good buoys are in a real blow with a boat the size of the PH8, since the stone to which the buoys are attached weighs only 700 kg.

Good restaurants are a bit less expensive than in south Italy, but don't get suckered in to eat pasta with lobster sauce.  The price rapidly reach astronomical levels.  An acquaintance of mine went to Croatia with a boatload of 8 people and all ordered pasta with lobster sauce.  The bill came to 620 Euros.  You can almost say the same for fish.  Not quite as expensive as lobster, but comparatively, unexplainably expensive.

In Summer the whether is usually good.  You can get the usual thunderstorm and a few hours of strong wind (up to 35 knots), nothing too serious for a serious boat.  Autumn, Winter and Spring are a different matter, especially for the northern part, where the Bora wind can blow at 80 knots or more for a few days.  You can always find shelter in a bay of an island, but you would still feel the wind blowing down the hills.  During my (unfortunately) short stay we got hit twice with winds up to 35 knots for a few hours.

Last but not least the Croatians.  Frankly I don't understand them, and I don't mean the language, now that almost all the young people speak various levels of English.  I mean their, for lack of a better word, attitude. They are closed, not very talkative, almost gloomy.  Not unfriendly but different.  I still don't know if it is in their genes or if it is due to decades of communist rule and various wars.  In restaurants waiters are a bit better, obviously because their livelihood depends on trying to be friendly.  The north of Croatia is worse than the south and you can almost sense how far south you are by the attitude of the natives.  Of course there are exceptions and I met a few of them, but I can count them on my fingers.  I find that the best course of action is to be how you usually are and not to worry.    Enjoy the many beautiful things the place has to offer and smile.  After all, it is their problem.

 

2010-01-27
2009 tappa 2.htm