The American Migration South

We arrived back in our home port on Wednesday night. Our goal over the next few days was to get Zoe cleaned up and re-provisioned (stocked with food and supplies) for our journey south. We have a new set of visitors joining us in Split in two weeks, so we needed to get Zoe ship shape after our last guests departed and prepare for our 10 day trek south. Split is a 160 mile sail south from our home port, and most of our days and nights will be out in remote areas (by choice) where we will need to be self-sufficient with food, water and fuel.

Provisioning, in and of itself, is now quite an adventure. Luckily, we have finally figured things out, and although not easy by any means, we are getting much more efficient at this process. As you will recall, we no longer have our rental car so everything we do is on foot or by bicycle. The area of the island where we live has 1 “supermarket” (picture something 1/4 the size of an American supermarket). I have come to hate going here (and not because it’s a 3 mile ride uphill, in traffic, on narrow roads) but because it is ALWAYS packed! And NEVER has more than 2 registers open (if you’re lucky). So Dan and I have gotten very clever in our shopping ways (I guess you could say more like locals and less like tourists). The day after we got back to port, we rode our bikes into town to the local fish market. After our time on land, we were craving some fresh fish. We picked up a couple of yummy Brancine and a Rumb fillet (flounder, we discovered) for making Ceviche (one of our new favorite meals…..but unknown to Croatians apparently). We then went next door to get some locally grown limes, tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, and avocado. On our way back to the boat, we discovered the butcher shop. We found some amazing treasures here too! Bye, bye “supermarket”! We ended up doing this trek again the next day in order to be prepared for our departure. So here goes Dan and I, on our folding bikes, riding to 4 different places and loading up these big duffles on our back to haul back to the boat. Then we get to ride through a gauntlet of people inhabiting the pathway that lines access to the water. It is quite the adventure!


Once back to the boat, I began vacuum sealing our haul of amazing fish and meats. We have 2 small refrigerators with those tiny little freezers you see in a dorm fridge, so space is at a premium. At this point, we make sure we are all set to depart tomorrow (Sunday). We will have a couple of last minute tasks to do in the morning, and we will be on our way.

Vacuum sealer…great way to make use of limited fridge space

Sunday (today….check it out! I’m real time blogging now!) we cut lines (no, not literally). It was relatively calm in the marina, but we still had a small audience who came to watch us depart. We are the ONLY Americans and American flagged boat in the marina, one of the very few catamarans, and even fewer catamarans to see depart the marina. Fortunately for us, it was an uneventful departure (our favorite kind)! Once in the channel, the remnants of the Bura were in full effect. With 20-25 knot winds and some rolling seas, we were able to sail about 10 miles of our 40 mile journey. Sadly, the wind then died down to nothing and we were forced to motor the remaining distance. This also meant hours in the blazing sun with no breeze for relief 🙁

Originally, we had 3 separate bays in mind to moor for the night. Each one we cruised by was loaded with boats and far to tight for our girl. At that point, we opted to continue on the the island of Ilovik. We knew there were a lot more mooring balls here within a wide open channel. Believe it or not, Dan has family here too (yes, they are everywhere) 😂 He has an Aunt and Uncle who own a restaurant here. We are hoping to pop in and say hi tomorrow morning. It is very high season here, so a visit tonight would not be a very good idea. Anyway, we got Zoe tied up and quickly dove into the crystal, clear water to cool off. After a beautiful sunset and great dinner on the grill, we are enjoying a quiet evening on the water. I’ll be back tomorrow with our next escapades 🙂

The days voyage
Sunset over the mooring field

Today, we opted to just stay put. We had spent 9 hours making our way south, and unfortunately had a very sleepless night. There was not a lick of wind, and the night was very still. This translates to a very hot and sweaty night below deck despite all the hatches being open 🙁 The first thing we did upon getting up this morning was to dive into the very crisp and clear water surrounding our boat. It was refreshing and picturesque. What better time to add a chore! It had been several weeks since we scrubbed down the undersides of our hulls, and since we were already in the water….why not?! Despite the workout out of trying to scrub underwater, while staying afloat, and moving down the length of the boat, this is actually a quite entertaining chore. Not the scrubbing part…that’s gross! Not only are you scouring off this slimy stuff, there is all kinds of “things” growing there attached to the boat (I’m not even going to think about what’s there!) At this point, you may be asking yourself, where is the entertainment? Well, we have discovered that bath time for Zoe means feeding frenzy for the fish. So as we scrubbed, hundreds of fish followed us around every inch of the boat, sucking up all the “goodies” we were dislodging. They stuck around for the scraps from our breakfast, and every time we approached the back of the boat, the swarmed out awaiting any new treats. It was like swimming in our own personal aquarium.

Scrubbing with a hungry audience
Aquarium below the boat


As the day heated up, and swarming bees descended upon us, we decided to dinghy ashore to see Dan’s family. Since his Aunt and Uncle have retired from running the restaurant, it was a long shot that they would be on the island today. As luck would have it, they were! We spent the next few hours visiting with them over beers, prosciutto and cheese. It was great to just relax and have nowhere to be. Tomorrow, we will continue our journey south on another very long passage. Soon, we will be entering the islands of an amazing national park. To quote George Bernard Shaw, who visited in 1929, “On the last day of creation, God desired to crown his work and thus created the Kornati Islands out of tears, stars and breath.”

Ruins of a Venetian fortress as a backdrop

Adventures on terra firma

Well, I epically failed at writing my blog in real time this go around.  In my defense, Dan had our days racked and stacked….so here we go!

We had a number of activities planned that began on the mainland of Croatia and ended with us dropping Jacob and Brianna in Trieste, where they would make their journey to Venice and then onward to the U.S.  On Sunday morning, we all walked the mile to the city center of Cres to catch the catamaran to Rijeka, on the mainland.  The ferry was suppose to leave at 9:20.  Apparently, this was not a hard and fast time as the ferry did not arrive until 9:50.  We quickly boarded this cattle car of the sea for an hour and a half ride to the mainland.  We then trekked uphill for awhile to find the rental car place.  The car company upgraded our car to a nice size SUV type which you’d think would be awesome, but in this land of extremely tight roads, small parking spaces, and curves only big enough for one small car….this was more of a curse than a blessing.  We started our journey at the ancient Roman citadel of Kastav which had breathtaking views of the Adriatic and island of Cres.   

Kastav, known as Castua in Roman times

Earlier in the week, we had made arrangements to go visit more of Dan’s family on their farm.  This was on the Istrian Peninsula of mainland Croatia where Dan’s mom had grown up.  We drove through the lush, green countryside where the farm was located.  After a few failed attempts, we finally found the right property (it’s not like there are street signs, you know) 😂.  As has always been the case, the family rolled out the red carpet and spoiled us rotten!  After warm hugs and greetings, they ushered us to the house where we shared a toast of their homemade brandies.  We then went out onto the upstairs patio that overlooked their farm and the beautiful valley floor.  They brought out their own homemade wine from grapes grown right there on the farm.  Then came the homemade prosciutto (butchered and cured right on the farm) and homemade cheese.  This has always been the best prosciutto I have ever had.  I have never liked it anywhere else I’ve had it due to its fatty nature and slimy quality.  Their prosciutto is similar in texture to a hard, dry salami….amazing.  Next came a cabbage salad, tomato salad, mashed potatoes (you guessed it!  All grown right there on their farm).  The star of the show….roasted lamb….slaughtered earlier that day and also raised there.  Talk about your true farm to table experience!  We were in heaven!

After the meal, we went for a walk around the farm.  We wandered through the ruins of the house Dan’s mom grew up in which currently is used for various things.  One room contained a number of hanging pig legs being dried and cured for prosciutto.  We met the cows, the pigs, two orphaned baby ducks, the lambs and sheep, and the chickens.  We wandered through the cellar where the wine vats were fermenting the wine.  It was such a cool experience for us urban dwellers.  After this tour, we strolled their property and down to their vineyard where we learned about the different grapes they used for making wine.  We then sampled the various grapes, straight from the vine.  After that, we wandered to the “swimming hole” that Dan and his cousins grew up playing in.  From there, we were shown an area of their property where infamous black truffles can be found.  Black truffles sell for upwards of 1000 euros per kilo and are found using pigs or specially trained dogs.  When they found out how much I loved truffles, they graciously brought out their truffle hunting dog and puppy in training.  Next thing I know, I’m being handed about 6-8 beautiful truffles to take home with me!  It was such an amazing day of laughter, experiences and love.  It was a sad moment when it was time for us to go….but we were due to meet with another of Dan’s cousins back in Rijeka (about an hour from the farm).  After a long, exhausting day, we found a little apartment to rent and crashed for the night.

Truffle puppy!

The next day, we made our way to the medieval hilltop fortress of Buzet (which also happened to be the truffle capital of Istria).  We spent the evening wandering the ancient walled fortress and taking in the amazing views.  We then decided to head to Motovun, another ancient walled fortress.  Dan and I had been here once before and fell in love with the place.  On our last visit, my truffle addiction began.  We had enjoyed a beautiful sunset, overlooking the valley below, while enjoying a bottle of wine and plate of truffle cheese.  When we arrived, it was immediately noticeable that things had changed.  No longer could you drive to the top.  You had to park at the bottom and take a shuttle bus to the top.  Needless to say, the place was packed 😢  As we wandered the fortress, we noticed that every table at every restaurant along the wall was reserved.  My happy place was quickly disappearing.  We headed to an area where you could actually walk along the ancient wall, only to discover that turnstiles had been erected!  And, of course, ticket sales were closed for the night.  What happened to my wonderfully, romantic place?!  I was so sad.  We headed back to our quaint little family owned hotel in the fortress of Buzet (6 whole rooms).  It was a wickedly toasty night and then the raging thunderstorms rolled in.  As you can imagine, none of us got a whole lot of sleep.



Once we all got moving the next day, we headed to one of Croatia’s biggest truffle producers before setting out for Trieste.  We had stopped in the day before, but it was too close to closing to do the tasting.  The very nice woman told us to come back the next day, and we would be shown an amazing tasting experience.  She did not lie!  It was phenomenal.  In the beginning, we were the only 4 in the place.  She began by showing us the black truffles and explaining how they are rated for pricing.  I showed her mine and asked for advice in keeping them safe and tasty until we returned to the boat.  She then showed us a replica of a white truffle that had been found there weighing in at a hefty 3 pounds!  If I remember correctly, she said it fetched an amazing 3700 euros!  The white truffle (which I had never tasted up to this point) is VERY expensive because it is only found in 3 places in the entire world (Istria being one of them) and only from September to January.  The first thing she brought us was a truffle infused beer.  It was okay, but none of us really cared for the taste.  Next, she brought out a tray consisting of bread with white truffle dipping oil, 6 rounds of bread each topped with a different truffle product, 3 types of truffle cheese, and a truffle sausage.  Of course I liked almost everything 😜 The final part of our tasting involved sweets.  We sampled a white truffle infused honey brandy and a black truffle infused cherry brandy.  Oh YUM!  We also tried some cookies, fig jam, honey, and chocolate….all infused with truffles.  It was such an incredible experience!  Then it was shopping time…..poor Dan….he knew it was coming.  I walked out with 8 different products and recipe dreams for everything!

Truffle producer in Istria
Top section – white truffle infused olive oil with bread
Middle section, from left to right – White truffle cream, Minced white truffle, Porcini mushroom white truffle cream, minced black truffle, black truffle sauce, black truffles and olives and tomato sauce with truffles.
Bottom section – cow truffle cheese, goat truffle cheese, sheep truffle cheese and truffle sausage.
Dessert truffle sampler
Truffle beer (meh) with replica of multi thousand dollar white truffle

We made our way to Trieste which took about an hour.  The worst part was the border.  I crossed this border several times in April and was the only car going through!  Today, we sat in line for about a 1/2 hour.  We decided to take the kids to the Piazza Dell’Unita D’Italia (this has been in existence for 700 years).  We enjoyed some yummy Italian coffees before making our way to the train station where we would part company.  We got the kids onto the train to Venice (they would have that evening and the next day to explore Venice before catching their flight home).  Dan and I then began our journey back to Croatia and Zoe.  We opted for a really nice scenic drive we had discovered once before.  This also contained a tiny, little known border crossing.  Guess what?  We were they only one there!  We got back to Croatia about 8 that evening and decided to get a room in Opatia for the night.  Opatia is a seaside, luxury tourist town on the Istrian riviera.  We strolled the boardwalk that evening until the crowds of tourists overwhelmed us, and we retreated to the quiet and solitude of our room.

Trieste square

The following day, we had to return the rental car by noon and then kill 5 hours until time for the catamaran to take us back to our home on the water.  We were both more than ready to get back to Zoe and some much needed relaxation (well, that would come after the chores).

So here we are, enjoying a quiet evening in the cockpit.  We have been hard at work getting Zoe prepped to head out on the sea again.  Our plan, weather permitting, is to set sail in 4 days.  We will be heading far south on this adventure where we will be picking up new visitors in the city of Split.  We are planning to take a week to 10 days to get down there where all new adventures await.  If all goes well, we may head to Montenegro once our visitors depart us.  We hope you will stay with us as this adventure unfolds!

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Underway to Pula to pick up visitors

I decided to change things up a bit and try to live blog as we go. It won’t be posted as it happens, but I’m hoping by writing as things are happening, I won’t have to keep asking Dan if I am remembering things in the right order 😝 So if my tenses (yes, once a teacher…always a teacher) start to switch back and forth, you’ll know I fell behind. Well, that is my story anyway, and I’m sticking to it!

We set out today around 11:00, and it was a veritable traffic jam! Apparently we all decided to leave the dock at the same time. Our goal was to fuel up before heading out, but that was an epic failure as well. There were at least 6 boats waiting in line for the fuel dock! If you’ve never done it, sitting in a line/holding pattern on a boat is NOT fun. Since we still had over a 1/2 tank of gas in each tank, we headed on out. Our destination today was Medulin or Pula on the mainland peninsula of Istria. Dan’s son, Jacob, and niece, Brianna, were flying in to visit us for a week, and we needed to be in Pula to pick them up. As it turned out, Jacob’s flight had a mechanical problem which forced it to cancel (which meant Dan spent several hours, in the middle of the night, scrambling to rebook him). Anyway, we got well underway, and traffic thinned out dramatically. The seas were calm and the wind was light, but we hit a patch that allowed us an hour and a half (of our 7 hour journey) to actually sail. The saying here in Croatia is that you either have too little wind or too much. Needless to say, our journey took quite a bit longer than expected.

We had decided to moor in Medulin tonight. The guidebook proclaims that this amazing bay of coves and anchorages was a place you would want to spend a week exploring. HA! Maybe if you enjoy living in a zoo! As we entered this huge bay, every square inch of it was packed from shore to sea. Tents and campers were racked and stacked on every open space of shoreline. We dodged parasailing tourists, jet skis, kayakers, SUPers, powerboats, sailboats, hobie cats….you name it, we were dodging and skirting it. The waterway was as full as the shore. It was awful!!! We pulled into the mooring field, and I felt ill. It was a tiny field of balls surrounded closely by the land which housed a carnival and lots of restaurants and hang outs. That wasn’t the worst part! As I have mentioned, Croatia has been (and still is) under an extreme heat advisory. The air was completely still and blistering hot. But here is the best part! Instead of the beautiful, turquoise waters we’ve had in the islands, the water here was a greenish brown (gag). And the deeper we got into the bay, the brownish foam on the surface got heavier. Ummmm, hell no! There was not one person swimming off their boat, which is how everyone wiles away their days in the mooring fields. That was a big, neon sign right there! We once again entered the gauntlet and headed out. This time, we headed to a mooring field outside of Pula. As we came into this bay (another hour later), my sense of dread once again escalated. If dodging the chaos was bad last time, this was 100 times worse! The entrance to the mooring field was a very narrow channel where we not only had to dodge other boats, but swimmers and SUPers crossing the channel without even looking for boats! Don’t worry….all has not been lost….as we came into the mooring field, it opened up nice and big, with quite a few balls open for the taking. We picked one we felt the best about, and got ourselves tied up…..and yes, we magically ended up back in nudie land….haha.

So here we are, sitting in this quiet and still mooring field, darkness has descended upon us, and we are waiting for Brianna’s arrival. She is due to land in Pula, will take a cab to a restaurant at the end of the bay, and Dan will dinghy in to pick her up and bring her back to the boat. Our plan is to stay in the bay tomorrow but maybe move to a better ball as we see which boats leave. Jacob is scheduled to arrive tomorrow night, and then we will make our way back to Cres the next day. Tomorrow I will add any highlights we encounter to this post. If you are growing weary of sailing posts, stick with me. We are about to take to land for a few days for some new adventures!

We decided to spend another day on the ball here in Pula. We spent the day swimming and SUPing, eventually heading across the channel for a beer at a local beach bar. By the time we got back to the boat, we dove in for a swim in order to cool down. I kept feeling something brush against me in the water, but whenever I looked, there was nothing there. After a bit of floating around, Dan decided he wanted to practice learning to dive. So with Brianna and I in the water coaching, we laughed hysterically as Dan’s dives looked more like a frog leaping from a lily pad. His last dive had finally begun to show some signs of improvement, and as he stood on the swim step, perfecting his form, he promptly announced that there were a bunch of jellyfish swimming around the boat (and our exit route OUT of the water!) I scrambled to the ladder, using my arms to forcefully move large amounts of water out of my path. We guided Brianna to the SUP which she quickly jumped up on. Next thing we knew, these large brown jellyfish came drifting by (the previous ones had been somewhat small and clear in color). These were the size of a saucer with hundreds of dangling tentacles. Brianna decided to try and video some of them and even brought one up on the board with her using the paddle. Needless to say, we all decided swim time was over! Given how many people were swimming in the bay, and no one seemed to notice them, I decided to look them up. I soon learned that the translucent ones were non stinging….whew (especially since I’m pretty sure that is what kept brushing me in the water). According to google sources, the scary brown looking ones do not have harmful stings to humans. I cannot confirm this as NONE of us were willing to test this out.

When jellyfish attack!

This evening, we decided to dinghy to shore and Uber into the city of Pula. Ironically, the Uber turned out to be the hardest part of this whole process! After climbing up the hill to wait for our Uber (15 minutes out), he eventually cancelled at the last minute. Grrr. We ordered another one. Once again, after waiting in the sweltering heat, they cancelled again! We decided to try one more time….and this time we took off on foot to the nearby town where it appeared our Uber driver was dropping a fare. We trekked further up the hill and around the bay (about 2 km) just in time to see the back end of our Uber driving away. Fear not! He had turned around and came back. We finally got our ride. We arrived across the street from the ancient Roman Arena. We wandered around this majestic, ancient arena taking in the historical site. The arena is still used today for concerts and various other venues. As a matter of fact, the World Cup was televised in the arena on a giant screen with 20,000 in attendance. I can only imagine what a sight that was to behold. From there, we waded our way through the throngs of people ending up at the Temple of Jupiter. Having once been a teacher of ancient history, I absolutely LOVE seeing historical sites from ancient times. Luckily, hailing an Uber to go back to the boat was much easier. The tough part was the 10 minute dinghy ride back to the boat in the pitch black while avoiding the obstacles of mooring buoys strewn about the bay.

Ancient Roman arena, built first century AD
Worlds largest collection of ancient Amphorae, found in Pula

Temple of Jupiter – Pula
Downtown Pula

So that brings us to today. We opted to bug out early…ok, semi-early. Dan and I got us underway by 8:30. Unfortunately, our late arrival to the boat the night before, and our semi-early departure from the mooring field meant we missed the fee collectors. For all I know, we may be wanted criminals now 😬 Anyway, our departure was another episode of collision avoidance between the early morning boaters, randomly anchored boats, SUPers, and swimmers. I won’t elaborate on the giant luxury yacht that bore down on me, refusing to alter course, requiring me to drastically alter course and surf their wake in the gentlest way possible. There was not a lick of wind and the seas were flat as glass. We pulled into the island of Zeča 4 1/2 hours later. Sadly, our little bay (only 3 of us in it a month ago) was filled with about 15 boats 🙁

This is an anchorage, so I’m back to the battle ground with my Rocna. We head to the outskirts of the bay, but I am not happy with the ground….it’s rock and sea grass. We decide to take our chance (Dan’s choice) and drop. With absolutely no wind, we wait. Dan decides to go into the water and see what’s happening. The anchor has not even spun around properly, so I back the boat up just enough to spin it around while he watches through the water. He tells me it has dug in behind a rock. SWEET! We set an anchor alarm to ensure we don’t drag, and we swim and play all day, never moving. Toward the end of our day, I swim out to the anchor with Dan so I can see how it’s set (he had told me the anchor was 1/3 dug in behind the rock). What I see is an anchor resting in a channel between two rocks! What 1/3 he was seeing, I have yet to figure out. The good news is our chain had settled around another rock and our anchor (and the chain) had not budged in many hours. With an extremely calm and quiet night forecasted, we felt pretty secure for the night. Unfortunately, I cannot claim anchor victory with this half ass ground lay…, anchor 0 – Robyn 0… least until we do battle once again. I shall master this damn beast! Tomorrow, we will make our way back to the marina and begin some land based adventures! Stay tuned!

Water in the Croatian Islands is so clear!

Sunset dinner in the Cres Marina

Video of our day anchored off remote uninhabited Croatian Island
We spent the night anchored off an uninhabited island

Exploring the islands of Northern Croatia

Welcome back! In our last post, we were sadly saying good-bye to the island of Silba and continuing to make our way south. We headed out quite effortlessly despite a very full mooring ball field (summer high season is definitely in full swing!) July was high season for the Germans and Austrians to visit Croatia, and August is peak season for the Italians and Slovenians. Europeans definitely know how to do vacations….their people get the entire month off! But I digress….

Our next port of call was the town of Brbinj, about a four hour sail away. As we sailed along, we cruised past a submarine bunker used by the Germans in WWII. We pulled in closer to have a peek, but there were quite a few boats anchored, leaving very little room for us. Plus, the wind direction was not optimal (blowing us on shore), and I’ve been struggling with our new anchor 🙁 Lucky for you, we have been to one of these bunkers on a previous trip, and I remember every cool aspect about it. First, these concrete caverns are build deep into the side of the mountain, well hidden from sight. During our last visit, we swam deep into the bunker which was both eerie and super cool (literally and figuratively). As we swam in, the water got chillier due to the lack of light. The other interesting thing I noticed was the little bit of sea life living in there was albino. After exploring the depths by water, we walked the small cement walkway into the depths. We came upon a door and of course HAD to explore. As we walked into the dark corridor, we shined our flashlights around taking in every detail. It’s hard to describe the feeling of walking through these hidden tunnels once occupied by German Nazis! After a long, meandering trek, we came out of the bunker very close to the entrance yet quite hidden away. We do want to go and explore these bunkers again, but we will wait until it’s a little less crowded (and we can share more detailed pictures).

We continued on our way until we arrived in Brbinj. A large, semi-empty mooring ball field opened before us, and we were super excited to have such seclusion during high season. We picked the most isolated mooring ball we could find and settled in. By now, we are getting better and better at picking up the mooring ball in one shot. Dan is learning his new role at hooking the ball, running a line through it from each side of the boat, and then cleating each line off. I am learning my new role of coming up on the ball, in the precise spot, and then keeping this big girl on her mark regardless of what the wind and water are doing. Once we got her all settled in, it was time for our usual post sail swim (or should I say float) and our celebratory Karlovačko beer. We had an awesome view of the quaint little town and decided we would explore it the next day. On a side note, Croatia has been under an extreme heat advisory for about a week now. This makes time in the water a necessity (basically our only partial reprieve from sun when you are on a boat 24/7).

A large ferry came in 3 times a day which caused a few rollers through the bay but nothing uncomfortable. We also had a steady wind which helped keep things cool. A few boats came but very few stayed. How was this possible in the busiest month of the year?! I certainly wasn’t going to complain. This was paradise in my book! Dan, on the other hand, began to ponder what everyone else must know that we did not. Silly man! Just enjoy the solitude. As planned, the next evening we took the dinghy over to town. Our guidebook said there were 3 restaurants and a couple of markets. We wandered over to the other side of the island, where we had read there was another mooring field, as well as a small dock you could tie up to. There was not a lick of wind on this side of the island, and the water was still as glass. And guess what we found? All the missing boats! Racked and stacked! No thank you….I preferred my slice of solitude. Plus it was blistering hot on this side since the wind was blocked. We headed to the one restaurant on this side (it looked and smelled really good) only to find out they were booked solid. The waitress said they could maybe get us in around 9:30 or 10:00! Ummm, I don’t think so. We wandered back to our side of the island where the other two restaurants were located. We wandered by one little restaurant that looked rather busy and decided to proceed to the last one. Many tables had reserved signs on them, but no one was in the restaurant. It was still a little early by European standards (7:30 I think). We ordered a pretty basic and uninspired meal, and it tasted about as inspiring. A complete and total disappointment (and overpriced to boot). As a matter of fact, I gave a wandering kitty some of my meal. After dinner, we headed back to the boat to settle in for the evening. Tomorrow, we would be on the move again.

We decided it was time to begin making our way back north and back to port. From Brbinj, we took a short hop to the town of Veli Rat. We cruised through the first bay disappointed to see all the boats racked and stacked. So, we headed out towards the marina and a quiet little mooring field outside of a tiny little bay. Once again, we found ourselves blissfully alone. This island was home to the tallest lighthouse in the Adriatic and a short 20 minute walk from the little bay. We hopped in the dinghy, tied up to shore, and headed down the road to the lighthouse. It was quite busy with cars and people on this island, and the lighthouse sat next door to a very large camping area where people were stacked on top of one another (not my idea of a fun way to camp). We wandered around the lighthouse which was an awesome sight. We marveled at how rough the open sea was on this side of the island (a direct shot to the coast of Italy). As we made our way back along a different route, we stopped in the little camping market to see what they might have available (at this point our provisions were getting a little low). We opted for some varieties of cheese and salami and were super excited to find mussels….something different from our usual fare of chicken, turkey or čevapi (a type of meat sausages eaten with a red pepper and eggplant relish). We got back to the boat, and it wasn’t long before the guy came by to collect the mooring fee. This one was by far the most expensive one we had (about $47). Needless to say, we only stayed a night. Weather forecasts were calling for a Bura (very strong winds and potentially dangerous sea conditions) so we decided to get closer to home and tuck into a protected bay. This meant a 7 hour day of cruising, our longest one yet.

We opted to head back to the island of Unije to ride out the storm. We were familiar with the mooring field, and the bay was fairly well protected from the high winds that were forecasted. We spent 7 long hours under the blazing sun making our way to a Unije. As we made our approach (around 4 p.m. which is quite late for us), we noticed a huge amount of masts in the first mooring field and quite a few in the anchorage. With the storm approaching, we preferred to be snug on a ball rather than trusting our brand new anchor (well, it was more my lack of confidence in getting this new beast of an anchor to dig in). Handling the anchor has always been my job, and I have always been very good at it. I instinctively knew when to snub it and when to pay out more chain. I felt totally in tune with the anchor and the boat. Recently we upgraded our anchor to a beefy 72 pound Rocna. King of the anchors! But it has been kicking my butt and draining my confidence. Don’t you worry, I will win this battle, but close quarter anchoring with a big blow coming in is not the time to practice. At this point, Dan and I both admit to each other that we have knots in our stomachs. If our little known mooring field is full also, we will be forced to continue to home port which is another 4 hours away. This would mean arriving home at 9 p.m. and having to dock Zoe for the first time just the two of us (and in the dark and in the wind)…..ack! As we came around the point to our little mooring field, we whooped with joy. It was virtually empty! We quickly tied up (we have now gotten super proficient) and… guessed it! Time for the celebratory swim and beer (after 7 hours in the blazing sun, we are both quite pink).

We spent the next 2 nights here listening to the wind howl and rocking around, blissfully happy to be back in our wonderful little bay (which was shockingly empty compared to our stop here at the beginning of our trip when every ball was taken). We had been out for 12 days and were feeling a little homesick for our marina (it is a beautiful place only a mile from the city center, and the people here are amazing). We check the forecast which says the Bura should be dying off by 11. We decide to head out at 9 figuring the Bura will be gone by the time we come into dock four hours later. You are probably wondering where we get such precise and amazing forecasts. We are now wondering that too. As we made our way home, we were beating straight into the wind which was howling. The seas were somewhat tumultuous but manageable. Unfortunately our 4 hour journey took 5 1/2 hours (but hey! At least we didn’t end up on Gilligan’s Isle!) and wouldn’t you know, the wind did NOT die down. We now had new knots in our stomachs. First time docking this big girl with just the two of us. Since Dan has to drive the boat, that leaves me to scamper around securing all 4 corners of the boat. The back end requires throwing a line to the dock (while keeping it out of the water so as not to foul the prop) and then hooking a sand line which you then pull as your scamper to the front of the boat and tie off. Remember the awesome marina we are living in and the great people? Well those wonderful marineros were on the dock to assist, and one even jumped on board to secure one side of the boat while I did the other. These guys are our heroes, and we love them to pieces!

So here we are, safe and snug back in our berth. Unfortunately that meant a very un-fun, hot day of washing down the boat, doing laundry, cleaning the inside of the boat….and just basically getting her back in tip top shape. We arrived here Saturday afternoon and will be heading out again on Tuesday…..this time to the north. For now, I got my fix of hobotnice salad at (octopus salad), we hit the ribarnica (fresh fish market), local produce stand, and pekara (bakery) for some amazing fish dinners. And we are currently sitting on deck listening to music blast from the city center after a spectacular fireworks show in honor of Croatian Victory Day (Independence day).

Here is a short video of a few parts of our day coming back to port during the Bura wind:  Zoe during the bura

Victory day fireworks:  Fireworks!

First solo sail on Zoe

We received a phone call from the marina staff informing us that we had mail. Whenever they have called about mail, it’s always been official and serious. This time was no different. We both received letters from the health ministry, and of course we were unable to read them. Dan quickly sent a picture to our friend who explained to us we were required to go the ministry of health and purchase Croatian health insurance. Now mind you, we had already purchased travelers health insurance that included evacuating us out of the country in an emergency. No one said anything about having to buy Croatian insurance. But wait! It gets better (of course it does)….not only did we need to buy insurance for the remaining 2 1/2 months of our visa, but we had to pay for the year leading up to our entry in the country! We weren’t even living here! Are you kidding me??? Needless to say, we spent 2 days running around trying to get that squared away and figuring out where to even go. And, like everything else here, you cannot take care of everything in one place (payment in one place and paperwork in another). I believe that we are the most highly insured people on the planet now 🙁

With that all squared away, we raced to the ferry to make our way to the mainland since it was time to return the rental car. Life was about to get really interesting. We spent the day running around doing errands and buying those last few things for the boat. We returned the car and then had to figure out how to get from the airport to the ferry and then from the ferry back to our boat. After wandering the tiny airport trying to figure things out, we finally opted for a bus to a beautiful little town called Omišalj. This was a ten minute ride, and then we would have to wait for 4 hours for the next bus that would take us on the ferry and drop us in the city center of Cres. From there it would be 3/4 mile walk to the boat. Yeah, that was loads of fun. I want my car back! We had a weather system rolling in the next couple of nights, so we used that time to work on the boat and get her ready to head out once the storm passed.

One of our first projects was to replace our transducer which was no longer registering boat speed. This turned out to be one of those “you’re kidding me” tasks. I say this because it requires you to pull the transducer out of a hole in the hull of the boat. What is on the other side of this 2” diameter hole? A whole lot of water!!! This means you have to quickly pop it out, while water comes rushing in, and shove a special plug in the hole to keep from sinking your boat. And we didn’t just do it once. Nope, we did it twice! Once to take the old one out, clean it, and test it. Broken. So the second time was to put the new one in. Needless to say, we did not sink our boat and successfully completed our first repair job.

Our next task was to fill our propane tank and buy groceries (don’t forget, we are now car-less). The worst part of this task is that you have to drop the tank before 10 and pick it up after 2 (at the camp, which is no where near us!). So off we go, on our folding bikes, each armed with a big duffle on our back. It was a 2 1/2 mile ride (no big deal) with a very long ascent uphill (that WAS a big deal). I was super excited knowing I would get to make the ride there one more time today! We hit the grocery store, loaded up our duffles, and headed back to the boat. Chores were done, boat was ready, and our plan was to head south the next day. This would be our first handling Zoe with just the two of us. Similar to airplanes, take off and landing are the scariest parts….the stuff in between is a cake walk.

We headed out late morning while the winds were relatively calm. I scampered from one end of the boat to the other releasing all four lines and making sure they were clear of the props. We easily slid out of our spot for a clean exit….whew! We had a great day of wind (more than we expected) and hoisted our main and Genoa. We glided along at a peppy 8 knots most of our journey. We had a little bit of chop, but I managed to make us coffee and brunch without injury to myself or setting the boat on fire 🙂 As they day went on, the winds died down (as they typically do), so in came the Genoa and out came the big gennaker sail. Dan was a happy boy getting to play with all his sails! We arrived at the island of Unije about 4 1/2 hours later and proceeded to a very crowded anchorage. After one failed attempt at anchoring in very tight quarters, we agreed to ditch this area for a much more relaxed mooring field. Definitely a much better choice! We spent 2 wonderful nights here swimming, relaxing, and SUPing around the bay. The time came for us to venture on to our next destination….the island of Premuda.

We said goodbye to our beautiful bay and sailed our way to Premuda. Again, this was about a four hour sail. We pulled into the mooring field and attempted to grab a mooring ball. The wind was strong and the current and swells made this nearly impossible. Up until now, we have really struggled grabbing a mooring ball. The tie point is at the bottom of the ball, and they have them strung so tight that you can only lift the ball up a few feet. We are very high up from the water making it incredibly challenging for me to hoist the ball up under pressure and run the lines through….my arms are just not long enough even laying down and leaning over the edge. We decide it’s time to try something new. I will be at the wheel and Dan will grab the ball at the back of the boat, run the line through, and as the wind moves the ball to the front he will walk the line up and tie it off. We already tried this with me at the back, and once again I came up short in getting the ball high enough to run the line. The role reversal went really well. We now have a new piece of learning under our belt. We headed into town as we were running low on cash and didn’t think to stock up before we left. Here is another fun fact….many of the islands only take cash AND do not have banks or an ATM on the island! Uh oh! We read in our guide book that the post office will act as a cash dispenser. Our book said the post office on Premuda was open from 2-4. It was now 3 o’clock so we hustled to shore and headed out in search of the post office. The sun was high overhead and it was blazing hot. Wouldn’t you know, the post office was located up a very long road…and I mean UP! We arrived at 3:30 only to find out the hours were 10-12….my heart broke 🙁 We headed back to the boat sad and defeated. Not feeling really impressed with this place so far. We spent an incredibly rough night pitching around in the rolling sea. If we didn’t have our sea legs before, we definitely would now. For the first time ever, things fell off the shelf (that’s how bad we were rocking). The next day we decided to hell with this and headed out of there.

Our next stop was the island of Silba. We found a beautiful little bay with only a few boats. We proceeded in, chose our ball, and took our stations….me at the helm and Dan on the back of the boat with the hook and our mooring line. Success! We finally landed it in one try! It’s the little accomplishments that bring us such great joy…haha. According to our guide, the town was a one mile walk from the bay, and we were promised an ATM, some markets, and some restaurants. We headed up the trail which was well shaded in the trees (luckily I did not notice the bazillion large spiders hanging from many of the trees until we were headed back!) We arrived in a beautiful little town with gorgeous villas and YES! that beautiful ATM right next to a market. We quickly replenished our cash (in case it ran dry) and wandered around taking in the sights. We found an amazing little restaurant for lunch (I thoroughly enjoyed my octopus salad) and wandered some more afterwards. Before heading back, we hit the bakery, a fruit and veggie stand, and the market. We happily made our way back to the boat proclaiming our love for this little piece of paradise. Definitely spending another night here! We spent the next two days SUPing around the two bays, swimming and relaxing. We also enjoyed a front row seat to the total lunar eclipse….which was spectacular. Tomorrow, we will continue to make our way south (but I will be very sad to say goodbye to Silba). Remind me next time to tell you about the 360 degree views of naked people….I’ve run out of places to avert my eyes and seen enough naked strangers to last me a lifetime. Oh! I forgot to mention the naked Italian lady who swam over to our boat to tell Dan about the great pictures she took of our boat and would like to share them with him! I bet I have your attention now, huh? Until next time…….

Robyn getting the new transducer ready. Note the hull plugs ready in case of problems!

Church bells gonging like crazy…..

Unije mooring ball field

Fruitless and rolly visit to Premuda

Goat path from anchorage to town….about a 25 minute hike

Charming town of Silba
Octopus lunch…Yum!!

Ancient pirate lookout tower
Our girl under a full moon
Aquarium under the boat
Real time position on the web

Becoming a resident


It’s a funny thing (okay, not at all funny when you are up to your neck in it), but government red tape is essentially the same every where you go.  We are now proud boat owners with our boat docked in the Mediterranean.  Our dream is to spend 5 or so years sailing all the amazing places located here.  This part of the world is a sailor’s paradise. For me, I get to explore a variety of countries with amazing histories, architectural styles, and varied cultures.  I love to see how other people live and want to experience it first hand.  I’m here…..this should be pretty easy, right?  

Here comes the fun.  As an American citizen, we are only allowed to stay 3 months, and then we must leave for 3 months before we can return.  Hmmmm, that’s just not going to work for me.  So let me take you back in time a little bit…..

For those of you who may not know, Dan’s parents are first generation immigrants from Croatia.  This makes it possible (in theory, anyway) for Dan to become a dual citizen.  For the last few years, Dan has spent countless hours pouring over websites, Internet forums, and various other sources to see what paperwork is required and the steps we need to take to accomplish this task.  He spent months acquiring all the necessary paperwork from his parents to prove their connection to Croatia.  Enter red tape, crazy challenge number one.  When entering the U.S., the spelling of their names (first and last) were “Americanized” thereby no longer matching their original Croatian paperwork (birth certificate, etc).  Dan had to now find and/or file legal paperwork to prove that the different spelling of the names did in fact belong to the same person.

Of course this was just the beginning of the problems.  Our next hurdle came when establishing Dan’s identity.  All of Dan’s identifications (passport, driver’s license, etc.) listed him by the formal version of his name.  Unfortunately, his birth certificate named him using the very casual form of his name.  Nope, we have no way to know this is the same person!  Seriously?!  Dan had to then file legal paperwork to formally change his name on his birth certificate so that all his documents matched.  Another challenge conquered!

The next challenge was for me.  In order to establish my identity, and connection to Dan by marriage, we had to have a foreign apostille attached to my documents.  This required original documents being sent off to a place that notarizes documents on an international level.

Dan and I went back and forth between the decision to apply for full citizenship or just a resident visa.  We attended several local consulate visits where his paperwork was analyzed, and we were told what additional things we either needed or needed to do.  On our final visit, the consulate representative misunderstood Dan’s status (having both parents from Croatia) and told him he needed to take the history exam.  He told us to take the exam and head over to the coffee shop to complete it (and reminded us to take our phone….wink, wink).  Message received.  The exam was only 15 questions, but they were 15 very long questions written all in Croatian.  Sweat began to bead on our brows….yep, we were in big trouble.  We quickly divided up the test and both began to google translate the questions.  At this rate, it was going to take us 2 days just to read the test.  The guy told Dan he passed, but it would be much easier to apply in person when we got to Croatia.  Oh how wrong he was!

So fast forward to my solo trip to Croatia.  As you will recall, Dan had 1 week here with me to try and get done as much as possible before he headed back to the states.  My residency was number one on the list since I would be here a month and a half before we returned together, which would blow up half of my stay allowance (and you know how fast bureaucracies work!)  We headed to the police station with a good friend who would translate for us.  We filled out the applications (in Croatian….which meant everyone around us was watching our friend write out our statements so that we could copy them onto our application).  After waiting in line for over an hour, it was our turn with the now highly agitated lady who has been yelled at by numerous people before us.  She looked at our paperwork, threw it back at us and told us it was no good.  Dan and his sister are listed in his father’s will as the owners of the house (the address we were using as our reason for being in Croatia).  Here was the rub….the apostille we had done on our marriage certificate was now more than 6 months old and no longer valid.  Okay, no problem.  Our friend explained that I was named as joint owner of our boat, which resides in the marina, and I would be living there.  Nope!  No good!  We already told her we were living in the house and can’t change our story.  We walked away frustrated and defeated.

You don’t really believe that, do you?  We were very frustrated, but we regrouped and re-strategized.  At this point, we have gone from the mainland of Croatia to the island of Cres where both the house and the boat were residing.  Prior to leaving our friend on the mainland, we completed new applications using our boat as our legal residence while overseeing the renovations of the house.  By doing it this way, I no longer needed to show a legal connection to Dan because we were both on the title to the boat.  Ha!  We got this.  One small hitch (come on, you saw that coming), we were required to have a translator with us at the police station which was a 45 minute drive to another town on the island.  Our contractor and his family to the rescue!  His daughter called her cousin who agreed to meet us at the police station the next morning.  As we began the process again, new complications arose.  Of course this was not going to be a one shot deal!  Silly me for being hopeful.  It took a great deal of conversation and explanation with the marina agents to convince the woman that we were in fact living in the marina on our boat.  Next problem, the contract had Dan’s name on it and not mine (they only issue the contract to one name).  No biggie, he was still owner of a home, so we’d just switch the marina contract to me.  Oh, and the contract was in English, and they wanted it in Croatian.  Off we run, back to the marina (45 minutes away).  New contract printed and signed, and we once again raced back to the police station (adding to the challenge was the fact that they are only open until 1 p.m. each weekday).  Wait!  We have another complication….the marina did not stamp the contract!  Doesn’t matter that we have one already in their possession with a stamp (Croatian authorities LOVE official stamps on things). This would require yet another trip back into town 🙁

At this point, all of our paperwork has been submitted, and we wait.  A couple of weeks later, 2 very official letters came for us at the marina.  Shockingly (no…not really) they were written in Croatian.  I politely asked the lady at the marina reception to tell me what the letters said.  She explained that we had an appointment at the police station, for an interview, in one week and we were not to miss it or our visa would be denied.  Holy crap!  Dan was already back to work in the states, but we were both required to be there.  I quickly called Dan and explained the situation.  Dan pretty much dropped everything and arranged a quick trip back out over the 3 day holiday weekend.  We also decided that he and I would travel home together rather than me flying home alone 3 days later.

Dan made the very long and painful journey back out to the island just in time for our appointment the next day.  Now, a new problem has arisen (bet you thought a happy ending was close at hand).  Our first translator was not available, and neither were the few other resource people we have relied upon.  Just when we thought we would be standing on the street corner pleading for someone to translate for us, our contractor’s daughter came through for us again, and her friend agreed to translate for us.  We spent 2 hours going through the paperwork and making statements which were translated into Croatian.  In the end, we were told that several of our documents needed to be translated into Croatian and all of this had to be submitted within 10 days.  Mind you, we are flying home in two.  The outline of dates was very tight for the next few steps, and we were basically told that if we missed any of the deadlines then we were dead in the water….game over.

Our wonderful new friend scrambled to make a number of phone calls to get our last pieces of paperwork translated.  Sooooo, there is one official translator on the island (of course you can’t just have anyone translate the papers….that’s not official!)  Here it comes….the translator was out of the country for the next 3 days….At that point I thought I was going to cry.  Our friend calmly told us not to worry.  She would take the papers to the translator, pick them up, and then deliver everything to the station on the last day they were due (thereby buying us maximum time before we have to come back again).  She also ran us over to the small photo shop to get our pictures done ahead of time so that we would be ready to go.  We were told we would receive a letter of approval, and we would have 8 days to appear back at the station to finalize the process.  Are you kidding me???

We anxiously waited as each step of the process and deadline came and went….so far, so good.  Our friend took care of everything, and now we had to wait for the official letter.  The lady who had processed our papers had given us a rough idea of when to expect the letter (which would go to the marina….not the U.S.)  As the date drew near and we had received no news, we decided to go ahead and book another very quick trip out to Croatia.  

The first thing we did when we arrived was to check for mail….nothing!  We checked again the next day with a different person working in reception.  She told us that a letter arrived 5 or 6 days ago, but the postman would not leave it because we were not there.  OH NO!  The lady in reception was kind enough to call the police station and explain the situation.  The person at the station did some checking and told us to come right away.  We raced down to the town (remember, 45 minutes away) where the poor woman had to fill out all our special forms by hand…again (apparently this was what was in the letter).  We raced next door to the post office to buy a series of official stamps (yep, we are back to that whole stamp thing) to go on our documents.  Now we were racing the clock, and our hearts were pounding.  So close, but you know how that goes.  We submitted our stamps, our pictures, our fingerprints (and our first born, if need be)…..and we were finally done!  Our official residence cards would arrive at the police station for us to pick up in 3 weeks.  Success!  So 3 months of our 6 month visa was used up on completing the process….but we are now official and legal…woo hoo!

On a side note, I arrived back in Croatia a week and a half before Dan and raced down to pick up our cards on Monday.  After all, the way this had played out, I was terrified they would send the cards back if we didn’t come get them when they arrived.  Was this a smooth process?  Of course not!!!  They would only give me mine.  He needed to come in person.  I told her when he would arrive to pick his up, and she was very put out that he was not coming the next day.  I explained to her he would be arriving from America over the weekend, and we would come first thing Monday.  She curtly told me okay and sent me on my way.  I can’t WAIT to go through the renewal process!  NOT!  But I promise to spare you that story 🙂

The much awaited approval
Headed to the police station to finish this thing!

Our location:


My First Solo Trip in a Foreign Country

I have been an airline brat my entire life.  Growing up my dad was a pilot, so our family traveled quite a bit.  I have always been fascinated by different places, cultures, and ways of life.  So no great surprise when my soul mate walked into my life and also worked for an airline.  We traveled extensively (thanks to me no longer being a stubborn teenager who never wanted to leave friends or boyfriends…dumbass!)  The key was we always traveled together, and Dan handled everything!  I just got to show up and enjoy!  No stress or scary stuff for me…I could always trust that Dan had everything under control.

I like to think I’m pretty independent and adventuresome in my own right, so when we decided we were ready to redo Dan’s ancestral home, I was no longer working and so the natural choice was for me to go to Croatia and oversee the work.  I would also be tasked with getting our new (to us) boat set up and ready for adventures.  Sounded pretty good….I could handle this, right?  As planned, my wonderful husband made all the arrangements which would include accompanying me to Croatia and spending a week getting me squared away.  “You can drive a manual, right?” He asks.  “Ummm….I guess.  My first car was a manual, but I really haven’t driven one in probably 25 years.”  I figure it’s no problem….kinda like riding a bike, right?  Except, I have NEVER driven in a foreign country (never mind an island that has steep cliff drop offs and crazy winding roads that in America are considered one lane, not two).  Okay, feeling a little queasy from the stress, but I got this….right?  Oh, I forgot to mention the ferry that I have to drive the car onto and get myself off of like something out of the starting line up of a NASCAR race.

On your mark….get set…GOOO!

Prior to leaving for this trip, we loaded up 6 large duffles with clothes, kitchen items, and boat things we have acquired over the years (careful to ensure that no bag is over 50 pounds).  We also pack up 3 large boxes with more household goods and things to furnish our boat (shopping is immensely easier in America).  We Fedex’d the boxes 2 weeks before our departure to a receiving facility in Trieste, Italy (Croatia did not have this available and would’ve charged a 25% tax on whatever we brought in).  We figured everything would arrive while Dan was still here so that we could drive together and pick up the 3 fifty pound boxes.  Can you guess where this is going?

My back hurts looking at this picture     

Dan and I scrambled, fast and furious, to try and accomplish as much as possible before he had to leave me to return to work.  Keep in mind, we now own a boat that is wired for 220v which means none of our household appliances would work on the boat.  Finding the creature comforts I am use to in America meant trips to a ridiculous number of stores (and odd looks when they had no clue what I was looking for).  For example, I was looking for new bedding.  They do not understand “queen” sized.  Sheets and blankets are labeled by size in centimeters!  I am out shopping armed with the knowledge that I have a queen sized bed, I don’t even know where to begin with sizes in centimeters!  And, they do not do top sheets here.  It is a bottom sheet with a duvet on top.  Needless to say, I brought sheets from the US 🙂 While we did get an incredible amount accomplished, it was not everything 🙁

As I said goodbye to my husband for my 1 month solo run, I naturally (for me) felt a little apprehensive (okay, a lot apprehensive) and very lonely.  Although I didn’t know anyone or have anyone to talk to, everyone was very friendly and helpful to the crazy American who could only speak English.  

We got notice that two of our 3 boxes had arrived in Trieste which meant  I had to drive alone to Trieste.  It’s a 30 minute drive to the ferry, a half hour ferry ride, followed by a 2 hour drive to Trieste, crossing 2 borders.  Uh yeah, I’m a little freaked out!  I find my ferry time, work backwards with my time, and begin my journey.  I decide to spend the night in Trieste in the hopes that the 3rd box will arrive the next day, and I don’t have to make this drive again.

I’m ready for my big adventure!  I head out making my way to the ferry.  What follows is a recap of an earlier Facebook post about the scariest drive of my life:

“It’s been a wild 26 hours!  Went to the ferry at the farther end of the island.  This requires driving a narrow road that winds along the top of the island and without a guardrail between you and a 1000 foot plunge to the sea.  Normally not a huge deal, but yesterday the island was engulfed in fog.  I could not see more than 2 feet in front of my car.  I watched the white line like it was a life line and drove 12 mph, praying anyone else driving was being as cautious.  You are probably wondering, as any seasoned driver would, why didn’t you pull off the road and wait?  Well, here is a Croatian fun fact….there is no such thing as a shoulder here on the island.  Rarely you might find a tiny pull out barely big enough to fit a very small car (and remember, I can’t see what lies beyond that white line).  Then I hit the old road, no more white line, so I watched the dirt edge.  Eventually I came upon some large flashing lights and discovered a cement truck stopped in the road.  I stopped behind him and waited.  After a bit, I decided to get out and see if he spoke enough English to tell me whether to go around him or stay put.  At that point I see head lights emerge and someone starts yelling in German.  I understood 1 word (trajekt), but it was the word I needed.  Ferry traffic was coming up the hill so stay put!  Once clear, the truck began moving again.  I was completely content to sit behind him (safe barrier, right?). He pulls aside and waves me to pass…noooo 😞

Whew, survived that ordeal.  The drive through Slovenia and Italy was painless and beautiful.  And then I hit Trieste…ack.  Total chaos and me trying to find the place that has our shipped boxes and close parking since each box weighs 50 pounds.  I think I may have pissed off some of the Italians with my driving. Ordeal complete…yeah me.  Off to find the Airbnb Dan booked for me in this little hillside town.  Perfect.  Out of the city and off the beaten path.  I wind through tiny little one way streets and dead ends (which you don’t know ahead of time) and have to back down them.  After repeated, failed attempts the owner walks to a corner I am now very familiar with and guides me in.  I think I will stay a few days since we are waiting for one more box to clear customs.  Nope, could take 3 or more days to clear before being delivered to Trieste.  So back to the island I go.  And I have several days to fret over making the drive into Trieste once again 😥”

So needless to say, I had to make one more trip to Trieste.  This time, no fog, I knew exactly where I was going, and I left early enough to miss the chaos of lunch hour traffic.  Yeah me!

Well, I survived my solo month and actually learned to enjoy it.  The winter storms on the boat kept things interesting (including preventing me from sleeping) but in the end, she looks great and very livable.  Our next few trips out here brought more bags as we shuttled goods, so I am looking forward to the day that I am no longer unpacking stuff!

Story of buying Zoe Part 2

After Zoe’s successful haul out, papers were signed and she was quickly returned to her berth.  Our new friend, Oliver (Zoe’s owner) broke out a wonderful bottle of Champagne, and we toasted our deal.  It was a quick celebration as Dan and I needed to hustle back to the airport (about an hour away) to catch our flight to Madrid.

We landed in Madrid with plenty of time to catch our connection back to the US.  As we sat in the lounge, the shock of the whirlwind weekend began to wear off only to be replaced by the overwhelming feeling of the many hurdles we needed to navigate our way through in a ridiculously short period of time.  As we discussed the many things that we needed to do to ensure this deal went through, snow had begun to fall.  I can’t say I have ever seen or heard of it snowing in Madrid.  The longer we sat there, the flakes became very large and began to fall at a much more rapid pace.

The time came, and we headed to our gate and boarded our flight.  I’ve never seen anything like this in this part of Europe….the window on the plane had begun to accumulate snow!  No problem……everything appears to be under control.  The plane door closes, and we begin our taxi.  We are a bit behind schedule…but hey, that’s the nature of the beast.  As we sit on the tarmac waiting for our turn to take off, the captain comes on to inform us we have been put into a weather hold and needed to be de-iced.  We sat waiting for our turn to be de-iced, and the snowstorm continued.  Four hours later, we are informed that they have run out of de-icing fluid, and we have to return to the gate.  Uh oh!  Our tight timeline has just gotten a little tighter!  We are all told to deplane, and our flight cancels….noooooo!

We scramble to find a hotel and attempt to regroup.  The next day all is good, and we make our way home.  At this point, by the time we land, Dan and I are racing to get to the bank before they close so that we can wire the money to finalize this transaction within the time it needs to be done.  As you will recall, this deal needed to close in an unheard of period of time.

Now mind you, we are 8 hours behind where all this is happening.  This becomes a huge complication in communications and ensuring everything is running according to schedule.  Our first major complication hits when the Coast Guard did not accurately translate that the owner was using his sister’s address as a point of contact.  They insisted that she was also an owner in the boat and that she needed to relinquish ownership via notary.  Our owner is in Tunisia, his sister is in France and not readily available to sign away ownership that she doesn’t actually have.  After both sides scrambling, and a great deal of stress and emotional upheaval, we acquire paperwork that is acceptable to the Coast Guard.  Hurdle number one, overcome.

Our next HUGE hurdle, was simultaneously transferring title and bill of sale at the same time as the money.  This means, we have released our funds strictly on pictures of seeing the official title and bill of sale express mailed to the title agency.  Yikes!  There was no time for anything other than a leap of faith.  We had spent many hours with Oliver and had a very good feeling about our relationship with him.  I think he struggled greatly to understand our American nature of distrust in unfamiliar territory.  Our greatest fear was receiving an empty envelope, but we had to maintain our faith in human nature.  We were not disappointed!

Then began the waiting game of getting Coast Guard documented after being a foreign flagged boat.  Remember, our baby is still in Tunisia (complete with travel advisories).  We wanted her out and out quick.  It took weeks for the Coast Guard to process title paperwork so that Zoe could be released and sailed into international waters.  Paperwork finally cleared….whew!  Now to get her moved.

We hired an Italian crew, from a UK company, who headed to Tunisia to pick up our girl and safely (hopefully) deliver her to a marina in Croatia 20 minutes from Dan’s ancestral home.  The great part was that we could watch her progress through a maritime app and track her route.  The downside was we were able to see whenever weather was foul and seas were wicked, which was often during this time of year, which forced them to pull into port, slowing progress.  Just outside of her arrival point, she stopped transmitting…..seriously???  It would be another 3 weeks before we were able to get out here and lay eyes on her once again.  At that point, I spent the next month living on her and turning her into our island hopping, country exploring home.  I was busier than I have been in a long time with no time to get bored or lonely in a foreign country where I don’t speak the language or really know anyone.

Once our tracking system is up and running again, we will provide a link where you will be welcome to follow us wherever we go in the world.

Break out the bubbly…we have a deal!
Enjoying the moment
Tunis Airport at the start of a long trip home
DHL office in Hammamet Tunisia. A critical step in the process.
There the documents go…


Zoe finally leaving Tunisia a few weeks later. She has a transponder that updates near real time so we could track her journey.

How we felt in the weeks between visits…. 🙂


Story of buying Zoe

Love at First Sight

As the years passed, our vision of our dream boat changed, shifted, and evolved. What started as a 46 foot monohull, eventually morphed into a catamaran.  We came close to pulling the trigger on a purchase many times, but it just didn’t make sense.  Being landlocked and Dan’s limited vacation time just did not make it feasible to own a boat.  So we waited…and dreamed…and prepared.

When we reached the point that Dan considered retiring, we started combing the ads.  No rush….we still had lots of time.  Boats came up but none sparked that fire inside me.  It’s a lot like buying a house.  When it’s right, you just feel it down to your soul.  This was an important purchase, and it had to be just right.

One day, Dan was scanning the Facebook Lagoon owners group (dreaming) and up popped Zoe.  He was super excited….me, I was a little more reserved.  I had grown tired of looking at boats that just didn’t  feel right….or they did and they sold immediately.  Dan walked me through the pictures, and now I became very excited.  It was priced to move and move fast.  There was already a potential buyer coming to see it….noooooo!

We waited with baited breath to see if the owner would accept our offer (contingent on seeing the boat, a survey, and a sea trial).  What ensued over the next few weeks was an emotional rollercoaster, filled with highs and lows.  Here is where the story gets interesting….

Zoe was in port for the winter in Tunisia.  Tunisia?!  I’m not sure I even know where that is!  Zoe was priced for a quick sale because the owner decided to open a boutique hotel in Morocco, and the proceeds of this sale were funding that deal.  Wait, it gets better.  He was under a tight timeline or his deal would fall through and there would be no sale of the boat at this great price.  This meant we had to see the boat, do the survey and sea trial, commit to the contract, and the boat HAD to fund within a couple of weeks.  Impossible!  We were booked on a flight to Madrid and then on to Tunisia that weekend.  Everything was arranged to take place on Saturday and part of Sunday with us flying home that day.

When traveling to places unknown to me, I typically do a scan for travel advisories.

I found that Tunisia was partly ISIS controlled, and the state department warned against Americans traveling there.  Are you kidding me!? After an unsettling ride from the airport to the marina, through a bombed out town that reminded me of pictures of Iraq, we arrived at our hotel and made arrangements to meet Zoe’s owner.  Fortunately, the marina was several hours drive east of the troubled areas.  

She was everything he had said, and the pictures were actually true to what we saw.  We loved her.  Our host rolled out the red carpet, allowing us to spend hours on Zoe.  Visual approval….success.  Now for the survey and sea trial.  The next day we spent a grueling 8 hours as our Tunisian surveyor went through the boat with a fine toothed  comb.  Surveyor gave her a big thumbs up….great condition.  Next came the sea trial.  In the very tight marina, the skipper wrapped the prop on the sand line.  We had to pull the boat back into her slip (playing bumper boats as we went) and try to find a diver to cut the line away.  Now mind you, we are scheduled to fly out in a few hours.  The owner is freaking out that we’ve come this far and now the deal is going to fall through.  A diver is quickly found, prop unwrapped, and off we go.  We only had limited time to sail, but that’ll do.  Out we went, hoisted the main, unfurled the jib and let loose the huge gennaker….now, we were even more in love.  We still had time for the all-critical haulout.  This is where they lift the boat out of the water so the surveyor can inspect the hulls for damage or other issues that would otherwise be unseen.  Crawling around underneath the almost 24,000 pound boat, hoisted high in the air, was interesting to say the least.  But at the end of the day, Zoe was in tip-top shape.   

Gut check time.  Are we doing this?  Is it really happening?  Our life savings was on the line, and we had one shot to get this right.

We signed the deal and got scrambling.  Paperwork had to get moving so money could move, and money wasn’t going to move without a clear title and bill of sale.  So, you have two Americans in Tunisia using a Croatian boat broker, buying a Dutch flagged boat from a Frenchman, needing to reflag her American and up to Coast Guard regulations, and get her moved out of Tunisia to Croatia.  Here is where the hurdles really began…but that is a story for another day.

Diver needed!
Haulout to inspect the hulls
Signing the contract papers



Happy couple at sunset…our dream boat

Haulout of Zoe as part of the pre-purchase survey


We are a couple of recently retired intrepid explorers hoping to travel this earth by land and sea.

We are starting the journey in the Mediterranean on a Lagoon 400 S2 sailing catamaran.  We think this is the ideal adventure platform as it is a proven circumnavigator and small enough to be handled by two people.   Our boat is named ZOE, which is Greek for life.  Something we are trying to live to it’s fullest!

Our favorite quote, attributed to Mark Twain:

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

We’re sure going to try.   If you are interested to see how this journey into the unknown unfolds, please subscribe using the form on this page and you will get an email whenever any new blog entries get posted.  

And feel free to comment…we love to read them!