Trying on a new sail for size

We’ve covered some distance again this past 10 days or so. Though with target deadlines almost complete – now all outstanding is to take final possession of contents of the container in Rijeka. Thus finally allowing the pace to slow down a few notches to the leisurely cruiser lifestyle variety.

After crossing back from Venice to the Croatian customs clearance port of Umag, we have jaunted in and out of several ports. Including the hip and ready-to-start-pumping holiday village of Porec and the magnificent peninsular of Rovinj (pronounced Rovin) where centuries old stone and stucco buildings clung to every last available rock. We pulled up alongside Brijuni Islands – once the personal summer island retreat of former Yugoslav leader Tito – where a grumpy too-early-in-the-season-for-that harbour official demanded 100 euro before we drop an anchor. We promptly opted against that idea and sailed off on a solid six-hour square reach around the top of the Istria Peninsular taking a direct hit on the island of Cres (pronounced Tres).

BELOW: overnight anchorages at Rovinj and Porec

First night anchored at Cres Island was in a rocky bay near Osor under the haunting watch of a crumbling church ruin. Dad had initially wanted to anchor a stone’s throw from the ruins. But thankfully – and as always a lesson learnt – the wind swung unexpectedly and unfavourably through the night when a thunderstorm brushed by us. The chain swung full circle on its anchor, so we ended up with that front row seat view after all. Had we anchored any closer to shore in the beginning, that would’ve been the boat’s hull dragging on the rocky seabed, not just the chain.

On the uninhabited west coast of Cres Island, dad, Mike and I partook in an exciting little expedition in the tender through a 30-metre long blue grotto. First appearances was an inaccessible entrance to the cave – see small opening on right hand side of first photo below – forcing us to lie in the bottom of the boat at times while pulling along the low ceiling as we eased our way inside. At the end of the low entrance tunnel we found ourselves in a high vaulted cavern. In the blinding darkness, crystal clear water was illuminated with an impossibly electric blue daylight stream at the far end of the cave. It radiated from underwater, somewhere outside along the beach, yet it was impossible to identify the source later when we exited the cave. There were multiple occasions that I’d asked the guys to turn back, and the sheer look of terror on my face in the last photo encapsulates how I was feeling being claustrophobic in the total darkness. I admit afterwards that it was exhilarating and a privilege to see, but in the moment I was a pure coward. I don’t know exactly at what point fearlessness and spontaneity crept out my life – think it was sometime after leaving Whistler, Canada and moving to city life in Sydney – but I hope it returns quick smart!

Mum has been thoroughly enjoying her sister Robyn’s company. Our Aunty’s trip to Croatia was a treat to herself in celebration of her 70th birthday later this year. The sisters prefer to split off when we hit a new port and can potter together for hours in shops, markets and gelato bars. This was in place of poor mum being dragged around at our break-neck power-walking speed to visit another pub, marina, chandlery or nuts and bolts store!

I’m sure I’ll soon tire of taking photos of sunsets and rising full moons, but the latter are just better remembered as a photo rarely justifies their magnificence. Yet we will never tire of watching a spectacular closure to each and every day on the water. Each sunset has been unique from the last.

DSC_0887IMG_2853IMG_2851Whilst hitting a few minor delays as the shipping container was cleared through Croatian customs in Rijeka, for four nights we were contently anchored in a deep protected harbour at Cres Town on the island of Cres. The slowed pace allowed the opportunity to continue with more tweaking and repairs around the boat.

The guys have been fine-tuning the pole and pulley system for raising and lowering the tender onto the boat’s bow – as next week the trike will take its place on new custom-made stern davits. Ropes have been end-for-ended to give new life to those that were well-used and worn only on one end. And there was another resourceful use of ropes and halyards to lift Mike perpendicular up the hoisted foresail in the boson’s chair. All was in effort to attach new cat tails (indicators to show when wind flow in the sail is at maximum efficiency).

We also recently found an accessible, empty piece of land ashore to layout and analyse the mechanics of the largest sail in our sail wardrobe – a near-new Parasailor.  Whilst looking complicated, it’s actually simple to rig and manage when raised. Once the sail is hauled aloft, its oversized sausage-shaped sailbag opens swiftly from the bottom upward via a long lanyard pulled from the fore-deck. Once free, it immediately balloons to catch light to moderate winds on a downwind sail. Despite a few minor hitches – and learnings – its first flight was a success. There were a few cheers! Next time we raise the Parasailor, we’ll capture both the opening and in-built repacking of the sail on Go Pro. It’s an impressive system. The sail carries the branding Refresco – Herbert’s (the previous German owner) softdrink and juice bottling company. So we’ll continue to fly the flag for his company whilst we cruise around the Med!
At the time of this post we are currently berthed at ACI Marina Icici on the mainland, near to Rijeka. We’ll spend the next few nights here while custom fabricated items for both the new solar panels and lifting arrangement for dad’s trike are installed (more bright ideas poached from our innovative comrade Frank on DominoS). The system will hold the trike and three brand new 250-watt solar panels which once installed and wired-up, will significantly enhance our ability to avoid running our 11kVA generator on an almost daily basis.But that work is worthy of a post all its own – so will leave you here and wish you a brilliant Sunday whatever plans are in your diary… as mum and dad like to say… “it’s five o’clock somewhere!”



  1. Anonymous says

    Gday Darlings, Great photo’s and story line. Winter approaches in North Queensland so all is well here too(just been up the mangrove creeks around Cape Gloucester for 3days and eating sweet mudcrab). Can’t wait to see some action photo’s of the ultralight and its onboard stowage!! Regards, Daz and Janet

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