with Chris and Joy
September 9, 2015
We awoke to rain, thunder, and lightning on August 17. Although we were on a schedule to get to Split to meet friends, we decided to stay an extra day in Montenegro to wait for better weather. But by 10:00AM the sky was mostly clear so we changed plans, again, and kicked into "leave the dock" mode.
Tenaya was in a berth twenty feet from the Customs dock at Porto Montenegro but we needed to go out of the marina and around to the opposite side of the dock, the Customs' side, to clear-out. Then we were off to Croatia.
Misty clouds hung in the mountains that surround the Bay of Kotor as we left in one knot of wind. It picked up to 10 knots from the southeast once we were outside and in the Adriatic Sea. At 1:30PM it was 24 knots on the nose and raining. When we reached Cavtat, 30 miles north of Porto Montenegro, the wind had shifted to the east, dropped significantly, and blue sky was peeking through the clouds.
Recent unsettled weather, our deteriorating holding tank valves, and descriptions of changeable and sometimes fierce winds, encouraged us to stay in marinas as often as possible. Call us lazy, but now that we're back in Europe and coastal cruising, we're happy to back Tenaya into a berth, step ashore, and not worry about her.
42 34'.91N : 018 12'.79E
Cavtat is the southernmost port of entry in Croatia. It's a picturesque town 5.5 miles south of Dubrovnik. The Customs dock is on the town wall with room for five boats, give or take.
It was full when we arrived so we floated in a holding pattern. When a space opened up, we moved into position to drop the anchor and back down. The official waved us off, said to let the big, old, wooden sailing boat that arrived after us go in and we could have the next spot.
It's a good thing I wasn't allowed off when Jim went to check-in because I spent most of the hour fending off the outgoing and incoming boats. Perhaps the harbormaster took pity on us because he pointed out a spot to anchor for the night and wouldn't take our money.
Once Tenaya was settled and secure in 19 meters, we paddled ashore to buy Croatian SIM cards and get some kuna, local money. The next morning we motored up to Dubrovnik.
ACI Marina Dubrovnik
42 40'.23N : 018 07'.34E
How cool it was to arrive in Dubrovnik aboard our home! We skirted behind an anchored cruise ship and made our way to the opening in the wall with no intention of going into the small, crowded harbor. We ooh'd and aah'd as Jim steered past the watery perimeter, into the bay, and down to the marina. In the end we'd traveled 13 miles from Cavtat to our berth.
It's a 20 minute ride into Dubrovnik from the marina. The bus filled with more and more people until it reached the main gate and disgorged us into a square crowded with overheating bodies.
Jim and I headed to the top of the ancient wall that surrounds the old town. The views are fantastic from the marble walkway. We took our time and about a thousand photos of the buildings clustered below and the shimmering Adriatic beyond. All but a handful of the structures that were damaged or destroyed during the 1991-1992 war in this former Yugoslavian tourist town have been repaired.
After visiting the Maritime Museum, we had a delicious dinner at Oyster & Sushi Bar Bota Sare. It was our 23rd wedding anniversary but we hadn't remembered at the time.
42 57'.53N : 017 08'.16E
The sky was cloudy, the sea was slight, and the wind only topped 7 knots twice during our 51 mile trip to Korcula Town, the hub of activity on Korcula Island.
We pulled into the ACI marina which is located in the historic old town. Shaped like a long rectangle, when two 40' boats are facing each other, there is a gap of about 25' between their bows. Yep, it's tight. We arrived at 2:40PM with enough room to med-moor easily. Later it involved bow thrusters, lots of gear changes, roving fenders, hollers, bumps and smacks. Like a dog with menacing teeth, the oversized anchor on Tenaya's nose warned them to stay away from us.
Old Korcula Town is walled and has narrow marble walkways lined with shops that sell all kinds of souvenirs and wine produced on the island. Guess what we bought?
Vela Garska Uvala
43 11'.05 : 016 24'.44E
We'd planned to make the 65 mile trip to Split in one long day, but the charter captain moored next to us in Korcula suggested we stop at Hvar. When we reached Hvar Town at 2:00PM, a cruise ship was anchored off and the bay was packed. We continued on to Vela Garska Uvala, a small bay shaped like a three-fingered fluke.
There were two spots open where we could anchor and tie to shore. We chose the easier one. As we got into position to drop the anchor, a large wooden, tourist-filled, old-style sailing boat came around the bend. With their long bowsprit towering above, I asked the crew if they'd like that spot. "That would be nice," he said, "we're pretty big."
There was a lot going on in the eastern finger - mooring balls, a restaurant, and several little boats scattered about - so we dropped the anchor clear of the other boats and backed down into the vacant middle finger. Jim tried to keep the stern from blowing down but I had a hard time paddling the windward line to the rocks.
The guy from the big boat zipped up in their tender to help. He pulled the line to shore, crawled up the sharp limestone with bare feet, and secured a loop with a bowline while I watched. When I thanked him, he thanked me for giving them the spot. That was nice because we both knew that tonnage wins. After his help, it was easy to tie the second line.
The wind blew in the 20s that night but we were snug as a bug in a rug.
ACI Marina Split
43 32'.7N : 016 24.1E
We arrived in Split on a Sunday afternoon. All the charter boats were out for the week and the marina was deserted and quiet. Quiet is hard to find in charter land.
Our friends, Chris and Joy Lombardo, came aboard the following day, August 24, to sail up the Croatian coast and across the Adriatic to Venice. Joy had never sailed. Chris sailed a few times but has read all the Patrick O'Brian books. He's got the lingo down!
There was wind the day we took off. Not in the direction we were going - but no worries - we weren't going far. Jim and I rolled out the sails for the first time in weeks and Chris took the helm. He was a natural. And maybe because he spends a lot of time around fast cars, he quickly figured out the fastest point of sail and held it there.
We've med-moored a lot this season so felt pretty comfortable approaching the town wall at Sibenik. That was stupid. It didn't go well.
Med-mooring is tricky because you drop the anchor in front of where the boat will rest, but when the wind is blowing (we had a crosswind) you've got to be quick to keep from blowing down.
Our prop-walk kicks our stern to port - not where we wanted to go. It took a few tries to get close enough to the wall to give the dock guy a line and get the tailed line to the mooring. Chris secured our sternlines as I tied the mooring line off at the bow. It was on the leeward side which wasn't ideal.
When Jim backed down to make sure all slack was gone, our windvane came too close to the wall. We loosened the stern lines and tightened the mooring line several times. Eventually another dock guy said to let the leeward line go completely and ease the windward line as far as possible. Then motor forward and tighten the mooring line. That had never occurred to us.
It worked perfectly. I'd left the slack of the pick-up line on deck so it didn't sink. When Jim put Tenaya in reverse to check our distance from the wall, it caught in the prop.
By now the dock guys thought we were pretty lame. While they waited for us to ask for help, I changed into a swimsuit, put on my snorkeling gear, got a knife, and went over the side. Sad to say, I've got this chore down. The line was wound tightly and wedged into the space between where the shaft exits the boat and the remains of our old rope cutter.
The not-so-clean water was choppy from wind and traffic. My breath-holding skills were out of practice but I was determined to get the line off. Between breaths I cut sections and tugged. Finally I got a big chunk out and asked Jim to fire up the engine and go forward just a tad. Out spit the rest of the line.
I think the dock guys were surprised we'd handled it by ourselves. One returned with new line to replace what we'd ruined and Jim offered to pay. The guy said to just buy him a beer.
43 44'.05N : 015 53'.41E
It was a bouncy 45 mile ride to Sibenik with 10-15 knots on the nose and full sun. Sibenik is part-way up a river that leads to the Krka National Park. It has a charming medieval quarter, narrow walkways and all. There are several churches including the Cathedral of St James, a UNESCO World Heritage site. On the apses are rows of sculpted faces of early patrons. They look down on the living and appear as caricatures - some regal, others dopey or dazed.
43 48'.9N : 015 55'.3E
Taking Tenaya up a river is exciting because, well, we don't do it very often. Jim steered while Chris moved around the boat, camera in hand. He's a professional photographer so the best shots on this page are his. We passed floating mussel farms and went under a bridge that looked to be the exact same height as the top of our mast.
When we reached Skradin, the small town by the entrance of Krka National Park nine miles from Sibenik, we parked Tenaya in the marina and headed over to the ferry that takes people up into the park.
Krka National Park
The Krka River runs through limestone hills. Calcium carbonate from the limestone attaches to the moss and algae and eventually solidifies, creating travertine walls where the water pools. When these overflow, they cascade into lovely waterfalls.
An interpretive loop takes visitors through the trees, along the river, past caves and through an old water mill before ending back at the big pool which is the only place swimming is allowed.
43 54'.93N : 015 09'.26E
Again we motored. Sheesh. 47 miles on a smooth sea under the blaring sun. Thank goodness for the bimini and the shade it provides.
We passed the barren yet popular Kornati Islands to reach Luka Telascica, a large natural harbor. It's a National park and offers excellent shelter. It's a pretty area with green hills and skin-tearing limestone rocks ashore.
Chris was keen to go up the mast. Being a climber, he was used to our back-up safety - a jumar and steps - that Jim rigs on a separate halyard. While he was up there Joy and I took the dinghy for a spin and to take some photos of him taking photos. Later she went up too. Our electric winches sure make it easy.
The next morning a market boat come by. How cool is that? Fresh jelly rolls for breakfast!
44 05'.07N : 014 59'.32E
As we traveled up a channel between the plethora of islands off the Croatian coast, I spotted a place that looked interesting. The chart showed an anchorage behind a round island that was surrounded in light blue which means shallow water. There was a narrow, deeper gap between the small island and the larger one. Maybe we could go through? That might make for some great shots. We motored in to have a look.
Chris suggested going up the mast and filming Tenaya going around the island. I hopped in the dinghy to get it out of sight. He got some great footage and photos!
We anchored before realizing we could do an overnighter to Rovinj, 92 miles north and our jumping off point to Venice. The weather was calm and clear, and... there was a supermoon!
At 4:35PM we raised the anchor and motored north. The hazy sky made the simultaneous sunset and moonrise glow red, orange and yellow.
As the sun dipped towards the horizon, Chris hung over the edge with his GoPro on a gimbal. It didn't allow for the waterproof housing, got wet, and died. But the last frame was fantastic!
Joy and I were on watch when the sky began to lighten. Wondering if Chris would want to see, she went below to wake him. In his sleepy stupor he took this gorgeous photo of the sunrise. Behind him, the full moon was setting in a pale mirror image.
ACI Marina Rovinj
45 04'.6N : 013 38'.10E
This has to be one of the best views from a marina we've ever had! Tenaya was berthed across the peninsula from the old town of Rovinj. Colorful buildings clustered together and cobbled streets climb the hill where the church of Sv. Eufemija stands like a sentry above. For a small fee it's possible to climb the 60 meter wooden belltower to enjoy the spectacular view.
We left the marina at dawn on September 1 and motored over to the Q dock to check-out of Croatia. The police are supposed to be there 24/7, but when Jim went to the office, nobody was there. They came just before 7:00AM and cleared us out first.
I can't tell you what happened on the trip across to Venice because I slept most of the way. Jim stayed on the helm and Chris and Joy took turns keeping him company. The logs says he unrolled the jib to help our speed as we had 11-15 knots from the southeast for a couple of hours. Then the wind shifted to southwest and died. Crossing the shipping lanes he saw a couple of boats on AIS but nothing to make him change course. Easy peasy.
Before we entered the channel to come into the Venice Lagoon Chris hung the Italian courtesy flag an the Quarantine flag.
We passed the Lido, a long narrow island separating the lagoon from the Adriatic and followed the channel until the tender from the marina met us and led us through two canals to our berth.
We had such a good time with Chris and Joy aboard. Two nicer, humbler people would be hard to find. Thank you, Chris, for letting us see the world through your lenses, and for your generous instructions and explanations. We can't wait to see what you put together from this trip!
Vento di Venezia Marina, Certosa I.
45 26'.16N : 012 22'.42E
We hit the jackpot on this marina. Certosa Island, where Vento di Venezia Marina is located, was run by the military until a decade ago. Now it's a park with gravel paths through the trees and grass, with goats and a family of black and white cats. There is a small hotel, restaurant, and snack bar so we can have cappuccinos in the mornings and espressos while doing the laundry.
Thanks to the vaporetto (water bus) that stops every 20 minutes, we can be in Venice in less than 10 minutes. What a great place to spend the month of September!