“Kruising” the Kornati

After two relaxing days on the island of Ilovik, we decided to make another long push south.  Since we have never been to the island of Rava, we decided we would stop there for a night or two and then head into the Kornati National Park.  The winds were once again in our favor, at least in the beginning.  We managed a glorious 2 hour sail, silently gliding through the deep blue waters.  The only sounds were the hulls slicing through the water, the waves splashing against the bow, and the wind in the sails….so much nicer than the rumbling of the Diesel engines.  As the saying goes, all good things must come to an end….and so did the wind.  When the wind dies off here, it doesn’t just gradually recede, it abruptly ends….and so it did 🙁  We then spent the next 4 1/2 hours motoring along in the blazing sun.  Next thing we knew, the wind kicked up again!  Woo hoo!  So, out came the sails one more time.  Unfortunately, there was only about a half hour left before coming into a variety of small bays where we would stay.  Our journey to Rava had taken us 8 hours, and we were both ready to cool off with a swim.

As we motored past the first bay (Mala Rava), I immediately nixed that one.  It was extremely small and narrow and nearly full with boats on top of one another….yuck!  Pressing on.  We came to the next bay, and it looked a bit better.  The buoys were spaced a little farther apart and most of the boats had opted for one side of the bay.  We chose a buoy that we felt was ideal for us.  In front of us was a smaller sized sailboat with 3 people on board, and behind us was a powerboat with a couple on board.  This seemed perfect.  We tied up in our nice little spot in our small, quiet little “neighborhood.”  Have you hazarded any guesses at where this is headed?  Our first “oh shit” moment arrived with the arrival of the mooring fee collector.  He tells us it’s 360 kuna.  Are you kidding me???  Our most expensive fees have been around 240 kuna and for much nicer places.  They are charging us an extra fee because we are a catamaran.  This is a joke because we are only on one ball and not in the way of renting the nearby balls….just like everybody else.  Dan begins contemplating moving somewhere else.  The sun has already begun to go down, and I have no desire to drop lines and search for somewhere new (we don’t even know if it will be cheaper anywhere else).  The guy agrees to drop the price to 300 kuna (about $50), so we agree to stay.  As the sun continues to go down in the sky, our front neighbor leaves….NOOOO!  You are probably thinking, “what’s your problem?  You should love one less boat next to you.”  Well, we have quickly learned that buoys rarely stay empty.  Then our other neighbor left 🙁 Maybe it’s us….maybe we ruined the neighborhood 🤣 I’m sure you can guess what happened next.  Both boats were replaced by much larger boats with 7-8 people on board.  Wouldn’t you know, the one closest to us….about 15 feet away….and in constant view of our sitting/dining area, came roaring in with all 7 family members naked 🙄.  Before you think I am some kind of prude, I totally support people’s choice to run around naked….more power to you.  Out in the anchorages, or the mooring fields with lots of space between you and your neighbors, go for it!  Just not 20 feet from my dinner table.

After witnessing their youngest pee off the side of the boat for the umpteenth time, we opted for an evening indoors.  We closed up the boat, fired up the generator, and enjoyed a wonderful evening watching a movie in air conditioned comfort.  I forgot to mention, as we cleaned up from dinner, Dan put his spicy pork scraps on a hook and threw it overboard.  Since he was using a simple hand line and not a pole, we quickly forgot all about it.  When our movie ended and we were ready to head off to bed, Dan  headed out on deck to make his rounds and ensure everything was secure.  I was inside doing the same thing.  Next thing I know, Dan is yelling at me, “Robyn!  Quick!  Grab the bottle of rum!”  As I stand there completely bewildered at why he’s yelling for me to bring him rum (he already had his wine!), he yells to me again.  “Hurry!  I caught a fish and I need to put him out of his misery.”  Okay, my brain has now re-engaged, and I’m racing to get the rum out to him (we had learned many years ago that by pouring alcohol into their gills, the fish dies quickly and more humanely that stabbing his brain or squeezing his eyeballs into their sockets).  As the fish flopped on the hook and we made eye contact, I suddenly felt very sad.  Yup, here comes that vegetarian urge again!

Surprise dinner!

As you may have figured out, this place was a one and done.  We booked out of there earlier than normal.  As we continued down the shoreline of Rava, we discovered that the last cove had 4 secluded balls and beautiful scenery.  We made note in our guide so as not to forget this one.  We decided the night before to head to Telašćica National Park and Kornati National Park.  Both places are amazing, but if you don’t purchase park passes ahead of time, the price is substantially higher.  We also needed to decide how long to stay.  A 3 day pass is cheaper than a one day pass, and a 7 day pass is cheaper still.  This area is very expensive this time of year regardless of the savings 🙁  We decide to go for the 3 day pass and make the most of it.  We motor for the next 4 hours (yep, no wind) and arrive at the entrance to Telašćica aptly named Mala Proversa (Mala means small).  Oh my god!  There are boats everywhere!  Big boats, small boats, boats carrying hundreds of day visitors….all entering and exiting this extremely tight channel.  It is so narrow that there is no way 2 catamarans could go through at the same time.  I am filming this craziness while trying not to freak out.  Dan miraculously finds a hole in timing where a big cat has exited and a big tourist boat have gone through, and we slide through with nothing more than some small passing speedboats.  I think we both took a huge sigh of relief.  After a bit more cruising, we came into a large bay.  The front end near the restaurants was loaded with tourist day tripper boats….probably 10 or more.  From there the bay opened up with lots of buoys all nicely spaced to give everyone some semblance of solitude.  We once again selected a buoy farthest from the town and the commotion.  We planned to explore the sights here, but we would wait until all the tourist boats departed and it was no longer the heat of the day.  For now, it was swimming and sunning and napping.

As 5 o’clock rolled around, the crowded tourist boats had headed out, so we made our way into “town.”  From the dock, we walked to the salt lake to have a look around.  We wandered almost halfway around the lake when we came to a field of cairns (stacks of stone usually used to mark trails).  This looked more like a LEGO land of cairns.  They were everywhere with paths running through them.  They came in a huge array of shapes and sizes, and just beyond them, was the sea.  It was quite an interesting and majestic sight.  After exploring there for a bit, we wandered back and made our way up to the sandstone cliffs and their lookout points.  On the way up, we passed a multitude of trees that appeared to be holding signs (they had made fingers out of twigs).  Each sign extolled the importance of trees, and our responsibility to take care of them and replant them.  Ironically, these were all in English…..something we had never run into as of yet.  I hope there wasn’t a hidden message there 😉  When we reached the top, the views were breathtaking (and the sheer drops of 600 feet were terrifying.  I found myself getting dizzy just looking over the edge 🤢 After many photo ops, we headed back down.  Despite the lateness in the day, we were both hot and drenched in sweat.  We made our way back to the boat and immediately dove into the cool, clear water.  Afterwards, Dan set to work gutting last night’s catch while I cooked up some mussels in a garlic wine sauce.  We enjoyed our tasty treasures from the sea.

Seaside cliffs of Telascica Nature Park

Now that’s a drop…

Mysterious field of cairns
A tree with a message

The next morning, we dropped lines and began our move to the Kornati.  I can honestly say I was a little sad to leave this mooring field…..it had suited us well.  As we pressed on, we once again found ourselves in the chaos of summer sailors and tourists.  Given the narrowness of some of the channels, and the sheer volume of boats, we opted for hand steering over the auto pilot.  We passed a number of quaint little mooring fields, but Dan wanted to get deeper into the islands.  Eventually we decided on this very small mooring field just around the bend from the ruins of an ancient Venetian fortress.  We settled in for the afternoon and our usual routine of swimming and sunning.  Here, we had our own little aquarium under the boat, and they seemed to follow us everywhere we swam.  Our plan was to go back and explore the ruins later in the day, but it was so hot out, we decided the next morning would be better.

Fortress on high on the hilltop
If she only knew what was in store for tomorrow’s hike up that hill
Chasing sunsets…

So that brings us to today, and the conclusion of this post.  We got up, dropped the dinghy, and were on our way back around the bend by 8:30.  We pull up to this rickety, old, wooden platform where Dan wants to tie our dinghy.  Ummm, I’m not going to be able to climb up on that!  It sits quite a bit higher than our little boat.  Dan tells me I will be fine….just stand on the side of the dinghy and crawl up.  Oh sure, easy for the long legged, 6’4” man!  Let me get this straight….I am to stand on the rounded edge of the dinghy, while it bounces around in the water, and crawl up another 3 1/2 feet onto this rickety platform while NOT falling overboard and knocking myself out on the way into the water….oooookay.  Yes, all ended well as well as I am still here to write about it 🙂  We walk around the trail to this quaint little church before heading up the hill to the ruins.  We are standing at the base of this hill trying to figure out the best way up this rock terraced, barren landscape.  Let’s go hike to the ruins, he says.  It’ll be fun, he says.  He does not say I will now be scampering up rock faces and dodging a multitude of sticker bushes like a bloody goat!  And I know it’s like a goat because I’m following their little trail of nuggets the whole way up.  Of course we go the complete wrong way up (up the backside where it is very steep and a lot of climbing).  When we get to a particularly high rock ascent, I look around for a less steep approach.  Just as I am about to blaze my own trail, I look up and find myself inches away from a big cobweb holding a giant spider!  Yep, I squeal and scamper away cursing my husband as I am now forced up the very steep rock face.  Alas, we made it.  We wandered around the ruins and the spectacular views overlooking the water and the surrounding islands.  It is simply stunning.  While Dan takes some time out to fly his drone, I am bound and determined to find the “real” way up to this site.  I wander around until I eventually find a much more stepped pathway in the rocks.  As I continue to puzzle my way down the hill, I hear the drone far above me and know Dan is still at the top.  I continue picking my way down (quite easily this time) and before I know it, I am back at the church.  Dan is nowhere to be seen.  I wait, I whistle, I yell out his name….no response.  Eventually he appears, and I attempt to yell up the mountain how to get down.  He disappears again.  I wait and wait and wait.  I start to worry a bit, so I start back up the path (I am very familiar with the route up now).  Unfortunately, the higher I go, I lose sight of the fort and potentially Dan.  I go back down and climb to a higher perch on the other side of the church.  I wait, I whistle loudly, I yell for him repeatedly (yes, I know it’s a long shot that he might hear me).  I wait and watch some more.  Now, I’m starting to get a little freaked out.  It should not be taking this long.  So up I go again.  As I ascend, I am repeatedly yelling his name.  Next thing I know, a herd of sheep come scampering around the bend on the ledge above me.  Great….what if they startled him and he fell off the ledge and is lying unconscious somewhere! (Yes, this is where my ridiculous mind runs to).  As the sheep finish checking me out and scampering off, I hear my name being called in the distance.  As I make my way down, I see Dan standing at the dinghy.  Seriously?!  WTH?!  I’ve been worried sick.  Apparently he blazed his own crazy trail that was neither easy nor fun.  Either way, we both made it back to the boat in one piece.  Lesson learned….if you are going to separate, don’t leave your phone and water with your partner!

Church at the dinghy landing before the hike up
Venetian Fortress guarding the Kornati channel
Picking our way up the hilltop…

Abandoned movie set from a 50′ western

We returned back to Zoe and went for a quick swim after our very hot and physical adventure.  It was now time to make our way to our final stop in the Kornati.  We cruised down the channel for 2 hours to our next destination.  As we pulled in, two men sped over to assist with our mooring lines and ensure that we would be dining at their restaurant.  They said they would be back in a couple of hours with the menu to take our order…..and they were.  Although the prices gave us a gut check (we knew they would….we had already read up), I was very excited to have a night off of cooking.  We have been living quite frugally as far as making our own meals and not eating out, so we are both a little excited for this treat.  So much so, we are going to “dress up” for our evening out (mind you, we have been living in swimsuits with the occasional shorts and T-shirts for exploring).  Tomorrow, we will be heading for port where we will hole up for the next few days.  A really wicked storm is coming through this weekend so everyone is headed for safety.  This should give us some land adventures to share for our next post 🙂  We hope you will come along with us!

Octopus appetizer
Skarpina and Skampi Brudet over pasta

 

Our track this journey this far

 

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