Apologies for the time between posts, but we’ve been on the move and have covered some distance these past few weeks. There’ve been a few hairy days – in my opinion as usual – with wind around 25-30 knots across the beam and waves up to two metres throwing occasional green water over the bow and spraying us in the face on the upper deck. Then a few days later, when rounding the Istria Peninsular, we punched through a short three metre ocean swell for a few hours where the horizon constantly disappearing in and out of view as the bow headed skyward before falling back again to face the next set of oncoming rollers. While Dad and Mike were both thoroughly enjoying the ride, there were several white-knuckle hours for me – and no doubt mum – but I’ve said it before and with each new set of conditions experienced I’m becoming more comfortable in my salty-sprayed skin.
Those of you who know mum will be impressed to hear she’s made it through those days exceptionally well, with maybe the start of a queasy belly on the roughest of days – but definitely NO seasickness! It has been a huge confidence booster for her early in the trip to realise that she’s capable of more than she had built herself to believe. Thankfully every lumpy leg of the passage was generally followed by a couple of glassed-out days where motoring was the only option, a welcomed breather as mum and I ease our way in.
We spent our first night at anchor in a secluded bay off the island of Dugi Otok. A mountain goat hike up and down the craggy rock landscape allowed a superb vantage point for photos. Other overnight stops included some much-appreciated free early season berths alongside Primosten and the stuck-in-a-time-warp town of Olib (population 150). Next stopping at costly marinas in Punat on the island of Krk and Pula on the Istria Peninsula – with the backdrop of a first century Roman Amphitheatre only marginally smaller than its more famous cousin in Rome. Staying in marinas and quaysides where we were often tied right alongside the town’s esplanade – whilst convenient for access and facilities – can become very expensive. Serene and protected (free!) anchorages will be sought after as often as possible moving forward if we are to keep within a manageable travel budget.
We stopped a night in Rijeka and tied up quayside in a prime waterfront position on the edge of the industrial, Austro-Hungarian influenced city come shipping port. There dad met with the customs agent who will assist with clearances when his shipping container arrives next week. Following our Rijeka visit we are now the proud new owners of three complete sets of Scuba-Pro diving kits – thanks to Robert at Diver Sport Centre who went above and beyond to source the gear we needed quickly before our departure. Our boat already had its own Bauer dive compressor, which for dad being an ex-Clearance Navy Diver was a major selling point on this particular Lagoon. The ocean temperature currently sits at a chilly 12-14 degrees, but soon enough we’ll break the gear out of its shiny packaging to discover Croatia from another level. The water temps should rise to the mid 20s by end of summer.
A minor milestone this past week was taking my first jaunt in the Boson’s chair 60 feet up the mast – a typical task for any repairs that need to be made to the running rigging or sails. Pleased that I didn’t feel an ounce of fear or increased heart rate and look forward to the next time when I can capture some less-jerky head cam footage from the Go Pro for another video edit. Dad himself took a trip skyward recently to recover a lazy-jack line that we’d accidentally let go.
During our travels up the coast, dad started us on some formal navigation training. This opened with explanations of the difference between Mercator and Gnomic projections used in early chart making, where distance was measured from on a chart and why, before starting to take position fixes by both Latitude and Longitude and by ranges and bearings. Or the importance of handing over the watch correctly as to who “has the ship” and was then responsible for taking fixes and keeping us out of harms way. All the electronic gadgets in the world are amazing, but lose 12V power and it all dies, so one must to be able to navigate without all the modern stuff. As dad declares “floggings will continue until both morale and performance improves!”
Below photos include overnight stop in Umag, the northern most Croatian entry/exit port and its million dollar sunset views accompanied by beers and wines costing the equivalent of a bank-breaking two and three dollars each.
Apart from several hundred miles of sailing and motoring – which makes a weary sailor at day’s end – we’ve again been productive as we progressively get the boat set-up to the live aboard level we seek.
Unfortunately we’ve had intermittent faults in our Raymarine navigation system since the agents in Split removed the base modules to amend the ASI (Automatic Ship Identification) and VHF Radio emergency identification system to show our Australian ID details. Dad is absolutely blown away by the service the Raymarine techs have provided, including giving us loan units while they repaired the faulty units and shipped them ahead, to see the next port’s technician pretty well standing on the wharf to greet us. And all done under warranty following the initial job in Split. If you are ever in Croatia and your Raymarine gear was in need of attention – you know you can expect the most professional service from Antarktika D.O.O.
After completing our first (thankfully stress-free) customs clearance out of Croatia, we crossed 40 nautical miles almost directly west to Venice Lagoon, Italy. Before setting out on this beeline trip over a week ago, I was nervous that this would be an area of the Adriatic where we’d likely get knocked around, being so exposed. But it could not have been more opposite – the ocean was completely glassed out for the entire six-hour journey, motoring the entire way. On arrival to Venice Lagoon, dad casually cruised the catamaran up the entire entrance channel, past St Mark’s Square, dozens of gondolas, ferries, sleek water taxis and even a mammoth cruise liner being assisted by tugs to its berth, before turning around and repeating the trip, our big Aussie flag flying proudly. It was an extraordinary experience few other Lagoon 440s would have likely made, especially under an Aussie flag.
The customary changing of host country flags from Croatian to Italian.
After an unseasonably cold spring in Europe, the weather gods have worked in our favour this week with warmer weather and sunshine forecast. It’s been reaching 20 degrees, which is perfect timing for our first visitor Aunty Robyn (mum’s sister) who arrived at Venice’s Marco Polo airport on Monday. It was Mike and my third visit to Venice and second time for mum and dad – so it was a treat to watch Aunty Robyn’s expression as her first taste of Europe was a few sunny days in the inexplicably magical canal lined isle of Venice. We’ve also decided no pasta-based meals are to be cooked onboard this week – whilst in the land where pizza and pasta was perfected – no point trying to replicate the best in the world.
This post is already well overdue – so more Venice photos to follow in the next update. Ciao for now!