Sadly, our time in the Kornati came to a quick end, and it was time to get moving to the mainland and the safety of a marina. Our VHF was beginning to bark warnings about the impending weather (something it has rarely done since we got here). Dan and I are pretty diligent about tracking weather multiple times a day from 4 different sources. Why so many sources, you may be wondering. Here’s a shocker….they rarely match one another in their predictions. We take in all the information and will err on the side of caution.
As we rounded the islands into the open sea, the weather was already rearing it’s ugly head in the form of rough and choppy seas. The winds weren’t too bad yet (only about 15 knots), but we were definitely beating into it. Not only were we hobby horsing, rocking and rolling, we were both being doused in spray from the bow (that’s a new experience on this boat). We were both grateful to finally be pulling into the marina. Help arrived on the dock, and we got the boat snuggly tied into her berth. Knowing what was coming, we ended up with 6 points of the boat tied off. There are a number of charter bases here in this marina, and it was charter turnover Saturday. This means the majority of the boats here should be heading out of the marina for the first day of their charter…..but nobody left! I felt bad for them. You pay quite a bit of money to charter a boat, and the last thing you want to do is sit on it stuck in the marina.
Up to now, we’ve shared all the fun and crazy adventures of our new cruising life. But you know better than that 🙂 With the fun comes a fair amount of work, and sometimes it can be grueling work (like when you have to try and fix something that has broken out in a remote area). When you’re stuck in port, that is a great time to take care of chores. After pounding through the waves, our entire boat was coated in a thick layer of dried salt. Task number one was scrubbing her down. Zoe has an amazing amount of surface area to scrub down, and it takes quite a bit of time and effort. Then comes laundry. We are very fortunate to have a washing machine on board (most boats don’t). The down side is that it is teeny tiny, so one load at home turns into 4 loads on the boat. Then there is the fun of air drying your dainties on the lifelines (lines that run the length of each side of the boat). Welcome to the Beverly Hillbillies from America! Needless to say, I do my best to do laundry at dusk 😝 Lastly is cleaning the inside, putting clean sheets an the bed (a nightmare of a task in and of itself), filling the water tanks, and re-provisioning the groceries. See? It’s not all paradise 🙂
Unfortunately, I promised you land adventures but those didn’t really pan out. As the wind howled and the clouds built up, Dan and I headed for bed once our chores were complete. True to Croatian form, we were awoken by earth trembling thunder and blinding lightning at 4 a.m. Before I really understood what was happening, Dan had every floorboard in our hull pulled up because our bilge pump had gone off several times (this is what pumps any incoming water out of the hulls of your boat thereby keeping you from sinking)….no, it’s really not that bad. They are a lifesaver when things go bad, but most of the time they run on occasion, in the background, keeping the extra moisture and water out of your boat. I had not really heard the bilge, so I assumed Dan was “sleep working” (yes I mean working…not walking). I get up and ask some questions, assist where I can (although still not sure this isn’t some sleep induced haze that he is in). In the end, he ended up finding a small water pressure leak which was quickly dealt with. The remainder of our morning is pretty tough with the pouring rain, thunder and lightning. The next day is a shocking contrast to the extreme heat advisories we have been under for the last few weeks. It is a chilly 65 degrees. Despite being in the protected marina, the wind is howling, and we are all dancing around in our slips. Dan and I decide to walk the dirt road that runs from the marina all the way around to the next town, quite a ways away. Our primary goal was to get a view of the open sea and see what was happening out there. As soon as we rounded the bend, the sea was a turbulent mess of whitecaps and the wind threatened to blow you off your feet. We saw some beautiful little coves and a really cool lighthouse. Our best discovery, totally by accident, were these odd bunkers built into the hill and very well hidden by the surrounding forest. We explored a couple of them, and our best guess is that they were ammo bunkers used during WWII. This country has some amazing historical landform treasures from WWII. We eventually made our way back, watching as more and more boats raced into port.
As I said, we failed to deliver on our land ventures to share with you. We looked at taking a cab to the nearest town of Primošten, but it was pretty expensive (we had already been there once before and the weather was not great). We looked into getting a rental car to go exploring, but they were outrageously expensive. In the end, we opted to continue doing some work around the boat (like upgrading our American flag and pole) and working on various other tasks. OH! I finally made some salsa! I know that sounds dumb, but it is nearly impossible to find salsa here. I have also learned that Croatians do NOT do spicy. I was clever enough to pack a big bag of dried, spicy chile peppers from home. My biggest problem was the inability to find cilantro here! Apparently, Croatians do not like cilantro and everywhere I looked…no can do. I won’t even try to explain the looks I got when I asked for cilantro. What I did discover later is that it is called coriander! No, I still could not find it. The best I could manage was to find a seed pack and plant my own! If I’m lucky, I’ll have one batch for salsa before we head back to the states (but I doubt it). My next problem was scallions! Seriously?? I can’t begin to tell you how many places I have looked to no avail. By chance, we were walking back to the boat from our flag purchase, and the little pop up fruit/veggie stand had a small bunch. By the time we walked by, she was loading up her car. When we showed her what we wanted, she sweetly signaled to us to just take them. So, armed with everything I needed (except frickin cilantro) I made a big batch of salsa. It was fabulous, and Dan was a super, happy camper.
Tuesday, we finally made it out of the marina (3 days later). We were quite surprised at the number of charter boats still staying put. Did they know something we didn’t? We knew the wind had died down considerably but had left behind some nice sized swells. Off we went and continued our journey south. We had some chop and swells in the beginning but nothing overwhelming. We attempted to sail at one point, but after cruising at a whopping 2-3 knots, we gave up and motored. We had several different anchorages in mind after our 4 hour journey. In and out of various coves we went. There are no mooring fields in the area we are currently sailing which means the anchor and I are going to have a battle of wits yet again. In and out we cruised….too many boats for us to fit, cove too narrow, cove too deep to set an anchor….you name it, we encountered it. It was getting later in the day, and we were both beginning to feel defeated. Were we going to be forced to anchor in some less than desirable place (for safety) and have to take turns doing an anchor watch all night? An anchor watch is when you take turns staying up for a specified period of time to make sure the boat is safe and the anchor doesn’t drag. If it is not your turn on watch, you are suppose to sleep….yeah right! We opted to try one more cove that supposedly had mooring lines if you were willing to eat at their restaurant. If this failed, we would be forced to head back to the last marina we saw, about an hour back from where we came, and where they wanted $170 euro to tie up. Let me get this straight, you want me to pay you $170 euro to tie my boat to your concrete wall??Oh hell no! This last shot HAD to work! We rounded the corner to our final shot at a cove and things did not look good 🙁 A boat had just come in ahead of us, and things already looked tight. One of the workers dinghies over and asked us to wait 15 minutes while he made sure everyone was in their right place. He worked with people to shank down their lines, moved a few boats around, and eventually told us to go over and pull up the line across the little bay. Whew! Stress test number two came as we watched two more boats stream in. We have heard countless horror stories of boats being kicked off their line to accommodate larger parties (more mouths to patronize the restaurant). Since we are only two, EVERY boat had more people than us! A boat like ours came in with 8 people on board! So far, as I write this, he has accommodated everyone and not asked us to leave. We will have to do the obligatory dinner at their restaurant, which we know nothing about, but I will keep you posted. We ask how much for the dinner, and he says 250 per person. I hope he means kuna! It is a prix fixe, several course, fish dinner for 1/2 the price we paid in the Kornati….so I guess that’s a good start.
Okay, that was totally amazing! We dinghied into the small dock, climbed a bunch of stone steps, and arrived at a beautiful terrace overlooking the bay. Up first was a tasty shot of homemade grappa and a piece of dried fig with nut. We then sat down at our table for two on the edge of the terrace. We enjoyed a great conversation with a German couple who were at the table beside us, swapping stories and places to go. Next came a lovely appetizer that consisted of some sort of tuna pate, some salted anchovies, and assorted vegetables. We quickly noticed that the appetizer was directly tied to the entree you ordered (we had ordered the fresh grilled fish while our table neighbors ordered the meat….their appetizer was completely different). Next came a simple salad followed by a platter of two big Orada, blitva (a mix of Swiss chard, potato and garlic) and grilled veggies. It was fabulous! Afterwards, we had a choice of a type of crepe or something similar to a flan (we opted for that since we had never had it before). The dinner was incredible and the price was amazing (it included being tied up in their bay). You know it can’t be all sunshine and roses right? This had to be too good to be true. Haha! We ordered one bottle of wine with dinner and it cost more than the price for one multi-course dinner! Yikes! Guess we should learn to stick with water……bwahahaha….I don’t think so! We were so enthralled with this bay, and our desire to explore it (plus now we wanted to try the meat dish), we asked to stay another night. So tomorrow, we will swim and SUP and play in this beautiful bay. Tomorrow night, we will go back to the restaurant for their lamb peka. It’s funny, the German couple said they might stay another night, so they can try the fish dinner that we had 🤣 So for today, all’s well that ends well, and tomorrow we shall begin again. After that, it’s off the the ancient city of Togir to pick up our next set of visitors.