The Twelve Hour Nightmare From Hell

I am jumping ahead of myself to share a story while it is still fresh in my mind (which it is because it is hard not to keep reliving it).  I will get back to our regularly scheduled adventures (of the fun kind) soon.  Unfortunately due to the nature of the story, there will not be an abundance of pictures (and none from what you would probably really like to see as it unfolded).

On July 24th, we left our anchorage in a beautiful bay on the island of Lopud.  We set sail earlier than normal in order to get to our final stopping point in Croatia where we would clear customs and immigration and make our way to Montenegro.  As we traveled down the coast, we briefly hovered outside the beautiful city of Dubrovnik and it’s magnificent ancient walls in order to take pictures from this unique perspective.  From there we continued our way down to the town of Cavtat.  It is in this town that you have to clear out of Croatia before continuing on to Montenegro since they expect you to get out of their waters by the fastest means possible (and they watch you on radar to make sure you do!). We arrived by late morning, found a spot we liked for anchoring, and dropped the hook.  We spent several hours swimming and hanging out… problem.  Later we took the tender into town to see about clearing out with the harbor master before going to the customs dock in the morning.  It took us a bit of wandering around to finally find the harbor master who then informed us that we could not check out with them the day before but needed to tie up to the customs dock on the day of check out and then come see them before clearing customs and immigration.  From there, we wandered over to find the customs dock and office in order to be more efficient in the morning.  The dock requires you to med moor (drop your anchor out in front, get it set, back up to the wall and then tie your back end to the wall).  This looked like all kinds of fun since the wall was only big enough for two or three mega yachts or 5-6 normal size boats.  The wall also curves slightly pretty much insuring the strong possibility of crossing anchors with someone.  We returned to the boat feeling pretty good that we had a full understanding of the procedures for tomorrow.

Bucket list moment sailing past the Ancient walls of Dubrovnik
One of the best maintained walls from the ancient world in existence

We spent the rest of the day swimming and hanging out with friends who had joined us 3 days earlier.  As the evening rolled around, the bay became very rough with swells.  We spent the next several hours pitching around, sometimes a bit violently.  By nightfall, the swell had really died down and the winds had begun to pick up.  We headed to bed around 10:30 and did a final check of several forecast models. 

Sunset over the Croatian archipelago from the Cavtat anchorage. Looks calm right?
25 knot gust….oh how we missed those as we were blasted with 40 knots plus a few hours later

All looked well.  The wind continued to pick up, causing the boat to creak and groan.  Dan checked our anchor alarm regularly to ensure we were safely hooked in and not dragging.  At about 1:15 a.m, we heard a rather loud bang, and almost simultaneously, the anchor alarm sounded.  We were dragging at a very fast pace.  We scrambled on deck just as someone in the anchorage started blasting their horn and another person yelling to us.  The wind was howling at 30-40 knots and we were within a few meters of hitting a trimaran that had been anchored in the same vicinity.  Dan quickly fired up the motors, and I ran to the front to start getting the anchor up.  The water in the bay had breaking waves from all directions.  The entire by was a buzz of activity as nearly every boat had broken free and were scrambling to avoid either other boats or the shore.  We later learned that a 50 foot catamaran had actually hit another boat when he dragged.

With the engines gunned in forward gear, we managed to avoid hitting the boat we had come so close to.  We motored around trying to find a place to re-anchor in the pitch black.  The water churned violently and sent spray up as the wind blew across it.  I will forever be grateful that our friends, Tim and Aline, were there to help us.  While Dan drove the boat, we made several attempts to anchor but could not get it to set for more than 1/2 hour or so.  Despite using spotlights to find land masses and obstructions in the water, it was impossible to see what lay underneath us each time we dropped the anchor.  Each time the anchor was pulled back up, it required both Tim and I to use the boat hooks to stab through the weed and clay that caked the anchor.  Aline kept the light wherever we needed it and scampered back and forth between Dan and I to relay messages (the wind was shrieking so bad that neither one of us could hear the other despite yelling as loud as we could).  While all this is happening, many other boats are doing the same thing.  Everyone circling around, trying to avoid other boats, and find a safe place to get anchored.  We were reaching the point of giving up and just heading out to sea to motor around until daybreak.  We made one final attempt (this was now our 4th or 5th) and dropped the anchor.  We let out 150 feet of chain (well over the 7:1 storm ratio) and waited anxiously.  It was now 4 a.m.  Tim, Dan and I sat in the cockpit for some time waiting and watching.  So far, so good.  Tim eventually headed down to bed to try and get a little sleep.  Dan and I opted to stay up on deck as the wind was still gusting in the 20-30’s.  Around 7 a.m., I headed down below to try and get some sleep and Dan slept on deck.  We weren’t taking any chances this time.  Unfortunately, it was one of those times when there was no possibility to try and capture this on video given the speed and danger of the situation as it unfolded.  To put a little humor into a situation that still has a little traumatized….I will never again sleep in a nightshirt while at anchor.  As it should be, the situation was all about protecting the boat and the people on board.  Unfortunately, in winds this high, my stupid nightshirt left me regularly flashing the entire anchorage as it threatened to blow completely overtop of my head.  Now, here’s the stuff MY nightmares are made of!  Hopefully, everyone was too busy with their own situation to notice 🤦‍♀️😬

After a short two hours of sleep, I rousted Dan so that we could get moving over to the customs dock and get ourselves checked out.  We had wanted to be there right at 7 a.m. when the harbor master opened, but after last night….that wasn’t happening.  We hustled to get underway and rounded the bend to join a number of boats already circling and waiting for their turn at the dock.  Now mind you, we are all on boats, so there no “line up” and you have to rely on the courtesy of others to respect who has come before you.  Yeah right.  As in land life, some people just don’t care if it’s their turn and will happily cut you off to take their place ahead of you.  To add to the fun, the wind gusts were still high and blowing on our side (this makes for a real good time trying to anchor and tie up…..especially when you are coming in next to a multi, multi million dollar yacht with full crew…..ugh.  Instead of giving you time to get yourself tied up, the other boats are coming in on top of you which severely limits your maneuverability!  It took us 3 attempts to get the damn anchor set and finally secure ourselves.  Poor Dan was dealing with all this chaos on 2 hours of sleep!  We finally got settled, and Dan was off to take care of all the legalities.  Ironically, that part went really quick and smooth.  I give a huge shout out to the harbor master staff and customs/immigration staff for their helpfulness and pleasantness, but their docking situation SUCKS!!!  They need a bigger and less chaotic customs dock given the amount of traffic that is forced to check in and out of this location…..or at least let the boaters anchor and come in!  Afterall, no one even looked at our boat.

Everything was done, and it was time for us to get going.  Of course, that did not come without it’s fun as well!  I told you it was a 12 hour nightmare!  Several of the boats that insisted on racing in and not letting others get settled first managed to cross their anchor chains.  This required a person on one boat to swim his anchor and figure out how to move it off of someone else’s without dislodging the other guy.  When the next guy went to leave, his was crossed as well.  Since we had come in before all of these boats, we waited for them to untangle since they were surely all over top of ours (remember that crosswind….our anchor was no longer right in front of us).  The harbor master ended up boarding this one big power boat (this guy had been a total ass….trying to cut everyone off and throwing his hands in the air when the harbor master signaled him to stand down until we all got settled) and made him lift his anchor and move off the dock so the rest of us could leave free of his anchor.  At this point, we are ready to move very quickly to avoid any collisions due to the gusty conditions.  Right as we are about to release the final line, a family on a paddle boat cruises in front of us waving!  EVERYONE on the dock was yelling at him to get out our way NOW!  We luckily extricated ourselves from the mess without incident.  We were finally under way to Montenegro with a big sigh of relief.  At this point, I was ready to say good-bye to Croatia.  As I mentioned before, we are still somewhat traumatized by the whole experience, but we have talked through it numerous times with our friends who helped us every step of the way, and some new friends who had been in the anchorage with us (turned out they were the ones sounding the horn to get everyone up….we will forever be thankful to them for that).

Cavtat – southernmost port in Croatia. And the jumping off point for Montenegro
Customs Quarantine dock -AKA “Q- dock”

Anyway, we have learned a great deal from the experience and how to better prepare ourselves in the future.  This is the worst weather situation we have experienced out on the water.  With warning, we always head for the safety of a marina.  This came out of nowhere for us.  We have slowly been restoring our faith in our knowledge and abilities and appreciate the friends who have helped us process the trauma of the experience.

Free To Chase Sunsets Once Again!

We are finally back on the move!  Here is a semi-quick recap of what has transpired with the boat.  The solar arch was fabricated and installed, solar panels installed and wired, new stern light wired up, new lithium battery bank installed, super powerful inverter installed, and everything wired up to some super fancy controllers (don’t you love my technical terminology?!). Our poor electrician spent 7 very long days (including a Saturday) working on this intricate system.  We had also been talking about changing out our propane stove top with induction.  We have never been a big fan of having propane inside the boat for safety reasons (it also makes the boat very hot when cooking).  We decided we would save that project until the winter since we had already overloaded our electrician.  Fate had other plans for us.  Doesn’t it always seem to go that way?  A day after we decided to postpone installing induction, we had a propane leak inside the boat!  The worst part is that we had the boat all closed up and were inside with it so we didn’t pick up on the smell.  Fortunately Dan stepped outside to check on something and immediately smelled it when he came back in the boat!  We quickly scrambled to throw every window, hatch and door open to start airing out the boat.  As you may or may not know, propane is heavier than air and therefore sinks to the lowest point possible.  This is particularly scary on a sailboat because the lowest points are in the hulls, below the water line, with no ventilation.  We made sure every electrical system was shut down, opened up all the floorboards, and placed battery operated fans into the hulls.  Needless to say, I was completely freaked out.  Nothing like sitting on a bomb in the water!  That settled it….tomorrow we would start the process of putting in an induction stove top.

Since we had been talking about induction for quite some time, we had already looked at a number of options and done quite a bit of research.  Since we were stuck in a city right now, it would be a good time to purchase one.  Once we are back in the islands, there is no shopping for things like this.  The good news is that Dan is finally learning to trust his wife’s instincts and not cut corners.  Unfortunately, he has had to learn this the hard way a few times!  When you cut corners, your wife is not happy.  Then you end up replacing what you bought with what your wife wanted in the first place and you are BOTH blissfully happy.  Yes, I say both.  Almost daily, Dan remarks on how much he really loves our new gangway (the one I wanted in the first place instead of the moving wooden plank!). Long story short, we got the nice induction top.  So after completing this HUGE electrical system upgrade, our wonderful electrician wired in my induction top (bye, bye propane inside the boat), added an electrical outlet to our cabin, and rewired our water maker (the original owner cut the lines when the water maker broke so that no one would accidentally turn it on).  I have to say, the boat looks amazing and the systems are running flawlessly.  We fill our batteries with solar power and make our own water.  The only reason to come to land now is to refill food.  We figure we can stay out on the water for 4-6 weeks at a time before needing to touch land!  Woo hoo!

This is one heck on an electrical upgrade! But it unlocks unlimited off the grid living…
Our electrician hard at work…
Installing solar panels on a custom stainless steel arch
Cutting a larger hole for our new induction stove
Much better!

Let’s get back to the fun stuff….adventure on the high seas!  On July 11th, we finally cut lines from the marina in Pula (one day before our month long contract expired).  This put a serious dent in our cruising season since we MUST be out of Croatia no later than July 29th, or we are illegal.  There had been quite a few storms and wind over the last few days, and things were still quite gusty when we pulled away from the dock.  This was an adventure in and of itself.  The channel was somewhat narrow and across from us sat a line up of large boats waiting to take tourists out to some of the sights (so we had an audience to boot!).  The marina was full on our pier, so we were all squished in tight to one another.  The last piece of the challenge was the huge, 50 foot power boat they put to the left us (the direction we were headed).  On top of all this, every boat has front mooring lines which means each side of your boat is tied to a bow cleat (on the front) and goes down to the sea floor where it is anchored in to concrete on some other mechanism.  These run off the front of the boats at an angle, so you have to be careful of those or they will wrap your prop and then you are really screwed.  Don’t forget the gusty wind that I mentioned earlier.  I was a nervous wreck (that’s what I do), but my very competent husband extracted us beautifully and even got some nods from the seasoned tour boat captains.  You may be wondering why on earth I’m nervous if he’s the one driving???  Well, I am the one running from one side of the boat to the other with a boat hook and sometimes a fender to keep us from smacking into any other boats (me keeping a 25,000 pound boat pushed off of anything else sounds like a losing battle, don’t you think?). As I said, thanks to his docking/undocking skills I did not have to do anything except give verbal cues for distance and obstacles in the water.

We were finally set free!  We had many, many miles to go in order to get to the southern part of Croatia.  We have not yet done an overnight passage (this is where you take shifts round the clock), and neither of us felt like we wanted to jump right to this just yet.  We decided our first stop would be the awesome town of Mali Losinj on the island of Cres.  The winds were up and in the right direction for once, so we were able to sail most of the way there.  We also did our first sea trial of the water maker and had success!  After 8 hours, we were tied up to a pier in the heart of town.  We wandered to my favorite little specialty shop to load up on truffle products (cheese and jarred truffles) along with some awesome local grappas and prosciutto carved right off the leg.  We had a wonderful, traditional dinner of sea bass and blitva (a mixture of Swiss chard, garlic and potatoes) at a local konoba and then, spent the evening visiting with our contractor (from the house), and two wonderful young ladies who befriended us last year while acting as our translators in order to obtain our long stay visa.  Tomorrow would be another early start and a long day of chewing up miles.

Happy hour with our translators…

Next stop, July 12th, was the island of Dugi Otok and the town of Brbinj.  Once again, the wind gods were smiling upon us, and we were able to sail most of the passage carrying a boat speed of over 1/2 the wind speed (that’s a really good thing).  After 7 1/2 hours, we arrived in the beautiful bay and tied up to a mooring ball.  There were very few boats in the bay providing us with the quiet isolation we had been seeking.  We hopped in the water only to discover it was super cold!  I did not last long before I was back out and on deck.  Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it) Dan decided to check the anodes on our props.  These protect our sail drives for stray electric currents in the marinas.  Since we had spent a ridiculous amount of time in marinas up until now, they were very badly degraded.  Having to replace sail drives is an outrageously expensive endeavor, and one we did not want to have to encounter.  Dan did his best to try and replace the first one, but soon discovered he needed 3 hands to hold the two pieces and screw them in around the prop (oh yeah, this is all under water).  Since it was getting late, we decided we would work on this tomorrow before we headed out.  That night, I tossed and turned all night scheming on a solution to help Dan with the anodes that did NOT require me to get in the water 🙂 Yes, it was that cold.  Wouldn’t you know, the next morning brought a wicked storm.  We had gusty winds, pouring rain, thunder, and of course nasty lightning.  It was looking like we would be spending another day in Brbinj.  I ran Dan through several of my very brilliant solutions to how I could help him without coming into the water (Fear number 1:  The anodes are very heavy and if I drop them, they are not retrievable. Fear number 2:  I have to hold my breath and hang out under the hull and somehow communicate that I need to go up for air while still holding the anodes in place).  Yes, this is the stuff that keeps me up at night!  Anyway, the storm had passed by late morning, and we set to work replacing the anodes.  You’re probably wondering which brilliant solution we opted for?  We tied fishing line through one set of holes on each piece.  I lowered the line to Dan and kept the weight of the anodes off of them through the line.  This allowed Dan to secure the other screw into the hole of the two pieces with no risk of them dropping to the bottom of the bay.  Once secure, he cut away the fishing line and secured the second bolt.  Have no fear, the fishing line stayed secure in my hand and did not get left in the sea :). With that task done, we decided to get a few more miles south and left the bay that afternoon.  Next stop:  Vodenjak on the island of Iž.

Sacrificial saildrive anodes that protect expensive underwater parts.

They say that boat ownership is nothing more than fixing your boat in exotic locations.  I am beginning to understand the truth in that.  Our next stop was a quick 2 hours away.  The seas were choppy after the storm and the wind was on our nose, so no sailing today.  We pulled into this cute little mooring field and quickly tied up once again.  Places were starting to get much busier the further south we got, and this was no exception.  It was now July 13th.  We had never been to this bay before and were very tempted to stay one more night but alas, we felt the need to keep getting south.  I forgot to mention that we have friends coming in to Dubrovnik on the 22nd which is still a fair distance from us at this point.

Brbinj, island of Dugi Otok
Dan at the wheel in his happy place
Flying our big Gennaker and enjoying the winds in the right direction for a change

July 14th, we cut ties bound for the island of Žirje.  The morning began sunny and calm (like being on a lake), so there was no sailing in the morning.  By the time the afternoon winds kicked up, we were once again under sail at a nice clip of 7-8 knots.  We also had our first dolphin sighting in the distance.  In the past, we have had them surfing off the bow of our boat.  We have not yet had that this year :(. By the afternoon the winds had kicked up some white caps and things were getting quite gusty.  After 5 hours of travel, we pulled into the mooring field only to find it completely full.  This was not a good feeling.  It was only 2:30 in the afternoon and every single ball was taken.  We quickly decided to head to the bay of Primošten (another one of our favorite places) on the mainland of Croatia.  This was about a 2 hour motor away.  As we headed out of the bay, we had our 2nd dolphin sighting.  This time they were much closer.  Unfortunately, the little buggers are quick, and we did not get any good pictures.  As we arrived in Primošten, our hope was to grab a mooring ball (never been a problem) but our back up plan was the anchorage close by.  There were 2-3 foot swells and very gusty wind in the bay, so we really preferred to moor (it’s a little more sheltered inland than the anchorage).  Wouldn’t you know, every ball was taken AGAIN!  Where were all these boats coming from???  As we hung out just outside the ball field contemplating our next move, the sea gods smiled on us yet again!  One boat dropped their ball and headed out.  Needless to say, we took off like a bat out of hell to secure that free ball.  No other ball became free that night which forced a number of boats to leave or go anchor.  It was a bit of a rough evening as we pitched around in those 2-3 foot swells for several hours, but we didn’t look near as rough as the big power boats around us that were rocking side to side at 45 degree angles!

Sunset over Primosten, Croatia

The very next day, we were on the move again (this was getting tiring).  Our next stop has been one of my very favorite places, so I was busy angling on how to get Dan to spend 2 nights there!  There is a bay on the island of Šolta that is tucked deep in and surrounded by these sheer rock cliffs.  Not only is it pristine blue water, but the sounds of nature and the views are amazing.  Oh, and there is a family run restaurant on the top of the hill, at the head of the bay.  The food is amazing.  If you eat dinner there (highly recommend booking ahead), your mooring ball is free.  We ate there a number of times last year, and I knew exactly what I wanted this year!  We tied up to our favorite spot, in a more isolated spot in the bay, and went for a swim.  Our pre-order for tonight:  Lamb peka!  The restaurant offers a variety of meat and fish dishes which must be ordered ahead of time.  Everything is locally sourced by them and is super fresh.  I had Dan talked into doing two nights here so that I could get my fix of lamb peka and then octopus peka the next night.  When we went to make arrangements for the 2nd night, they told us that was their day off!  NOOOOOO!  They did say we could stay in the bay for the night on the ball which we happily did.  The next day we hung out and relaxed and did a nice, long snorkel of the bay.  We swam through a variety of fish “nurseries” from the smallest looking fish (smaller than a tadpole), through some babies, teenagers, and some bigger guys.  A curious Orada followed us around for quite a bit.  It was a great afternoon, and my wonderful husband agreed to spend one more night so that I could get my octopus fix.  Sadly, a captained charter boat came in, and they bumped us off our favorite buoy.  However, the mooring guy did put us on a buoy at the base of the sheer cliff in a gorgeous little cove.  As boats continued to pour in, the crosswinds were getting quite strong which makes for some tense, nail biting moments as you watch them try and tie up.  It wasn’t long before there was no more room at the inn.  They began turning boats away.  Once again, dinner did not disappoint.  This was a special treat for me.  We had been logging very long days and moving every day.  We also eat on board the majority of the time in order to save money.  Which means I do a lot of cooking.  I was very grateful for this multi-day rest and two fabulous dinners made by someone else 🙂

Slow cooked octopus peka. Yummy!
Dinner with a fabulous view. Our moored boat is over Robyns shoulder in the distance
Boats racked and stacked and waiting for dinner!
Cliffside views right from the back of our boat
Zoe moored for the night in our favorite spot

That bring us to today, July 18th.  Since we took such a long break, we have some miles to make up.  We dropped lines early this morning (very few in the bay were even up yet) and set off for the island of Lastovo, 7 1/2 hours away.  We are now the furthest south (in Croatia) that we have ever been on a boat.  We are now reasonably close to where we will meet our friends in 4 days.  Our plan is to bounce around the islands and national parks down here, pick up our friends, show them some southern Croatian sights before we all head out to Montenegro!  Since this is getting a bit long, I will leave you here, and we will catch up again real soon 🙂

Land ho!

We are taking a small reprieve from life on a boat to share some of the spectacular inland sights that can be found in this region of Europe.  The architecture and rich history found in this part of the world never ceases to amaze me.  We arrived in Pula around 7 pm on June 12th.  As we came in, they told us they had a special place for us….hmmmm….that could be good or bad.  It quickly became evident that it is all about perspective.  While we have a great view of the ancient colosseum from our boat, we are also in a very tight channel with large tour boats across from us and the street directly behind them (this translates to constant boat traffic in and out in front of us and a great deal of road noise).  Since the city is also right across the street, we are also subjected to really loud music until the wee hours of the morning (and not good music!).  It’s going to be a long month 🙁

Back through the narrows to the ancient city of Pula.
Zoe in her berth. We are pretty much the only catamaran here and stick out!

The following day, our arch fabricators came out to re-measure Zoe for the framework they are building to hold the solar panels.  We were then hit with the bad news that it may take them up to 2 weeks before they would be ready to install.  We wanted so bad to be out of the marina and in the islands that we could taste it.  So, we decided to make the best of a bad situation.  We concocted a plan to head out of Croatia by car and explore some other countries while we waited (this also had the added benefit of giving us more time on our visa within Croatia since we would be “tapping out.”) That Sunday, we made sure Zoe was tightly secured in her slip and ready for the impending weather system that was coming in while we were away.  We hit the road toward our first destination, the capital city of Ljubljana, Slovenia.

Three hours later, we arrived and headed off on foot to explore the old city.  As has been the case in most cities we have visited, it consisted of ancient stone buildings, magnificent churches with their bell towers, and a castle sitting high up on the hill.  This city also had a beautiful river that ran through it and bridges that took you from one area of town to the other.  After wandering the cobblestone alleys drinking in all the sights, we settled on this wonderful little restaurant along the river.  As we often do (when it’s offered) we opted for the chef’s tasting menu which did not disappoint!  We decided it was time to find a place to stay for the night (yes, we wing it quite often….sometimes it works out great and sometimes it doesn’t).  On our way back to the car, the impending storm I mentioned earlier reared it’s ugly head, and we were caught in a downpour of giant, pelting drops of rain.  We ran for cover and waited for it to let up at least a little bit before racing the rest of the way to car.  Dan found us a highly reviewed little apartment on the edge of town and off we went.  We struggled to find the place since it was tucked up in a pedestrian zone and not visible from the main road.  Luckily the owner signaled us from the road and guided us to the place.  Remember how I mentioned that winging it was sometimes hit or miss?  Well this was a miss.  The place was nice, but the bed was hard as a rock and there was no air conditioning which meant it was sweltering hot.  We tried to sleep with the windows open, but it was ridiculously loud all night long.  Needless to say, neither of us slept well and were no longer happy campers.

Wonderful Ljubljana
My best “be a dragon” pose. Needs work.
The dragon bridge. They like dragons here….
Ljubljana castle high over the city.

We wanted to continue our journey to other countries since we had been to numerous cities in Slovenia on different vacations to Croatia.  Our next stop was Budapest, Hungary about 5 hours away.  Once again, we were winging it :). By the time we arrived in the city, it was rush hour and traffic was horrendous.  It was also getting late, and we were both tired.  Dan ended up finding us this awesome boatel on the Danube River.  We quickly went to check in to this adorable mini river cruise boat (but it no longer “cruises”).  We had a great little room with porthole views of the beautiful parliament building, downtown skyline, and the river rapidly rolling by us (the Danube has quite a current running).  We decided we were too worn out to explore, so we headed to the market for some finger foods and opted for a mattress picnic in our room.  Tomorrow would be a big day of exploration.

Our “boat-tel” on the Danube
Our room on the former river cruise boat
Can’t beat the view from the room!

We got ourselves moving the next morning and headed out on foot to explore this magical place.  This was going to be a walking tour, and a pretty long one at that.  Our first stop took us high up a hill followed by an endless amount of steps.  Here we arrived at a place called the Fisherman’s Bastion.  This bastion features pointed towers and turrets that look like something right out of Disneyland.  It was quite a sight to see.  From there we headed down to the Chain Bridge and crossed over the Danube to take in the views of the Buda Castle which dominates the landscape on one side of the Danube.  Once again, I will give a quick synopsis of the sights and let the pictures show you the beauty that is Budapest.  Next stop:  The Hungarian Parliament building. This neo-Gothic, neo-Romanesque, neo-Baroque structure is one of the main tourist attractions in Budapest, and it is quite a sight to see.  It dominates the skyline of other side of the Danube, and is just as amazing lit up at night as it is to see during the day.  From there, we wandered into a park area with a fun and interactive fountain in the square.  Behind it stood a controversial memorial to the victims of the Holocaust.  The monument depicts Hungary as the Archangel Gabriel being attacked by a German imperial eagle, and the critics say it absolves the Hungarian state and Hungarians of their active role in sending some 450,000 Jews to their deaths during the occupation.  The photos, relics, and letters surrounding the monument invoke chills and are quite sombering.  As we continued our walk through the city, we happened upon a bronze statue of Ronald Reagan….definitely wasn’t expecting that….so of course we had to pose with him 🙂

Fairy tale land
Fisherman’s Bastion
Chain bridge
The Hungarian Parliament building. Quite an impressive sight.
Guards circling a flagpole over and over and over…
A picture with the Gipper….his role in ending the Cold War is appreciated here.
Controversial memorial to the Nazi takeover of Hungary

After 6 1/2 miles of walking in the heat, Dan and I were exhausted.  We still had a fairly long way back to our hotel, so we decided to take a couple hour river cruise and see the sights from the comfort of a boat with some champagne in hand.  Needless to say, that was quite a bit of fun, and we got some great pictures of things we might not have gotten the chance to see.

Danube river cruise, champagne in hand
Budapest Castle
So many sights along the Danube in Budapest.

Our plan at this point was to spend one more night and then head to Slovakia for a night and on to Vienna for a night or two.  Yep….best laid plans and all that.  I swear, our entire adventure this season has been plans written in the sand!  We got a call from the distributor of our solar panels, and he needed us to meet him the next day to pick them up.  Seriously????  This meant an early departure from Budapest and an 8 hour drive all the way back to Croatia!  Ugh!!!  We were disappointed to have to cut our inland exploration short but excited to finally have one piece of our boat upgrades in hand.  Unfortunately, when we finally met up with the guy, he had the wrong panels.  Ironically, this was probably a good thing because I am pretty sure they were not going to fit into our car!  Since he brought the wrong ones, he wanted to do right by us and actually delivered the right ones all the way to the boat.  That was a huge help!  

Too bad these weren’t the solar panels we were looking for…

At this point, we have been in the marina for 3 weeks.  It seems every day something is delayed.  Contractors tell us they will be here and then they no show without a word.  Guess some things are a problem no matter where in the world you go.  On a positive note, as I finish up this tale, our solar arch finally got installed today and all our new batteries, switches, and parts are on board.  Our electrician is scheduled to arrive tomorrow (fingers crossed) to install the solar panels, wiring, and batteries.  Once that is done, we will once again be on our way and hoisting our sails!

It’s finally here! This entire pallet is for us… Big electrical system upgrade coming up….
But first, we needed solar panels. This is our installer pulling a monkey move 8 feet over the water.
1300 Watts of solar panel goodness. Should be enough to cover our daily electrical needs at anchor
Nighttime view from the boat of the ancient Roman Ampitheatre