Wednesday, October 25, 2017

More of Croatia and Into Montenegro

Hi all Sue here

Well its that time of year again and we are starting to head to our winter berth in Roccella Ionica, Italy.

In August Vikki and Courtney came out for a holiday. I wasn’t sure how Courtney would take to swimming off the back of the boat as she hasn’t done it before and that deep water can be a bit daunting!! No worries she loved it, getting her out of the water was the problem!! We all had a great time Kayaking, swimming and sunbathing, my daughter actually managed to read a whole book whilst she was here needless to say I didn’t. What are Nanny Boats for but noodling around!! Courtney said this has got to be a regular date now!!

DSC_3957 (720x1280) DSC_3973 (1280x720)
Nanny Boat & Courtney Family Fun

After they left we then met up with our friends off Purrr again for a few days of socialising before making our way back down to Split where my sister was joining us.

IMG_0189 (1279x1280) P8250037 (1280x960)
Chilling on Purrr Krka Fort

We did a bit more exploring on the way. Krka Fort was an interesting place, free to look around and pretty abandoned. Surprised the Croatians havn’t made it more of a tourist thing and started charging. Then we took a trip up Guduca River and anchored all on our own, very peaceful.

P8260058 (1280x960) P9060076 (1280x960)
Guduca River Anchorage (Krka) Trogir Old Town

Trogir Old Town is lovely and I wish we had been able to spend more time here. Caroline joined us here and so did Purrr and Puff. Caroline and I had a day exploring the Old Town with a view to come back at the end of her stay to do some shopping but it didn’t happen as the weather wasn’t right. I’m sure Chris was just telling us that!!

P9060093 (1280x960) P9060096 (1280x960)
Sisters Travelling in Style Convoy up the River

The 3 boats all went out for a really nice meal to a very quirky restaurant which involved a dinghy ride up a river. Alright going but coming back in the dark was very entertaining as it was very shallow in places and I was imagining all sorts swimming around in those grasses!!

P9060115 (1280x960) P9060119 (1280x960) (1280x960)
Night Out with Friends The Old Mill, near Trogir

it was a very good night with great friends and the owners were very friendly. Mind you I dont think they get many customers arriving by dinghy at the back entrance. The weather was a bit mixed for Carolines visit and we had more than our share of thunderstorms but we didn’t let it stop us from having a good time.

P9150020 (1280x960) P9170028 (1280x960)
Split Walled Town Hailstorm at Split

After Caroline left we had a couple of days exploring Split with Purrr and my favourite day was spent on a park bench people watching whilst drinking beer from an off licence that Chris and Charlie kept popping to for more supplies. It was such fun just watching the holiday makers and locals go by.

While anchored at Split we had a huge thunderstorm with winds well over 40knts and torrential rain, that was all bad enough but then it was hailstones the size of marbles battering the boat and making the sea look like it was alive. The hailstones only lasted about 5 minutes but the storm seemd to last for ages, it was probably the worst we had all summer but at least it was in the daylight.

P9240035 (1280x960) P9280058 (1280x960)
Through the Woods on Mljet Ready for the Walls of Ston

The weather is cooler now so it was time to start our hiking again. The woods around Mljet were a good place to start, not too hilly and some lovely views over the lakes on the south side of the Island. Then we tackled the beautiful Walls of Ston, amazing views and not too bad going up but a killer on the knees coming down all those steps. The walls stretch for about 2km across a narrow peninsula between Ston and Mali Ston and rise up to about 180m above sea level, a very impressive construction and still in very good condition generally.

PA030087 (1280x960) PA080096 (1280x960)
The Grand Hotel, Kupari Risanski Fjord, Montenegro

On our way to Cavtat to check out of Croatia we stopped at Kupari. Here there is a bay of abandoned Hotels, aftermath of the war. They will be demolished one day to make way for a new development but then all history will be lost. Quite a spooky and sad place towalk around. The Grand Hotel is the oldest and actually has a preservation order on it but looks as if it might fall down before that happens.

PA100118 (1280x960) PA100131 (1280x960)
The Walls and Forts of Kotor The Ladder of Kotor Path

Now checked in to Montenegro and the serious hiking begins!! The walk up the walls to Kotor Fort are quite a challenge and glad we didn’t have to do it in the summer months. Best to pick a day when there aren’t many cruise ships in to do it as it can get quite busy and the steps are very precarious then!!

PA110019 (1280x960) PA110032 (1280x960)
Falling Trees!! Vrmac Fort

Our second hike was up to Vrmac Fort. Steps at the beginning are a killer but after that there is a really good path that meanders up through a forest gradually. As always I was following on quite a way behind Chris when I heard a noise like a shot gun, as I stopped and looked around there was another loud crack and a tree came crashing down inches from Chris!! Not a breath of wind that day so why it fell we don’t know. I know my place, I will keep well back from him!! The Fort itself is very well preserved and if you take a torch you can climb in and explore. I wasn’t too keen on this but in we went and it was very eerie inside. Going up the spiral stone stairs in the dark was the worst, knowing that there might be bats or even worse rats lurking. I am such a wuss at times!!

PA110052 (1280x960) PA170031 (1280x960)
View From Vrmac Fort Kotor Fjord From the Top of the Ladder

Our last major hike in Montenegro was up to a Dam way above Kotor Fort, 600m up and 11km. Won’t bore you with too many pictures of the views but they were stunning and well worth the slog. Shame pictures don’t always reflect things as we see them. It was breathtaking up there, literally.

PA170046 (1280x960) PA170038 (1280x960)
Up In The Mountains The Ladder Pathway

We had lunch at the top of the Fjord by the Dam. didn’t stop too long though a we didn’t think our legs would work again if we did!!

PA170064 (1280x960) PA170058 (1280x960)
Church Ruins Looking Inland

Well that’s all for now, our summer sailing season is over. We will resume the blog in the Spring and will hopefully include lots of pictures of Tuna that we are going to catch on our passage to Roccella over the next few days. You can all stop laughing now!!

Sue & Chris OUT xx

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Visitors and Friends in Croatia

After my visit back to the UK at the end of June Caroline and Richard flew back with me to spend 3 weeks on Nimrod. As usual it was all go go go and a lot of fun.

P7020021 (1280x960) P7020035 (1280x960)
Rich & Caroline on Board Fiery Skies in Punat

We spent a few days chilling, planning hikes and sightseeing trips and we also sat out a horrendous thunderstorm. Unfortunately the boat in front of us lost their anchor and ended up across our bows. So we have some damge to repair over the winter, Chris says its all cosmetic and it could have been a lot worse!! They incurred a lot more damage than us. We then made our way down to Krk, let the hiking commence!! Thunderstorms are quite common in Croatia so we are getting a bit more used to them now, this was the 4th or 5th of the season. They are still something to be wary about and this storm gave us 40knt winds and driving rain that felt like hailstones, as usual it happened in the dark just to add to the excitment. At least they are normally shortlived and this one lasted for less than an hour.

We made our way around the bottom of the Istrian Peninsula and after a couple of days we arrived in the large sheltered anchorage at Punat on the Island of Krk. A gentle walk from the anchorage took us to the main town of Krk where we explored the old town, found the Tourist Office to get a walking map and a cafe for refreshments. The walk back along the coast and through the woodland was very nice.

P7020004 (1280x960) P7020014 (1280x960)
Krk Town Krk Harbour

This year we decided to join the men on their “Boys Hikes” and the first one we did was listed as a black hike. The hardest one to do!! Think they may have been trying to put us off!! The hike started from the Vela Luka anchorage and climbed steeply up to about 350m. It was 12km over some dificult terrain that led us down to some nudist beaches then back up through a gorge. We even encountered a couple of nude hikers!! You wouldn’t have wanted to trip on those rocks, Ouch!! We also came across a beach for dogs, they didn’t have any clothes on either!! By the time we got back the water had all run out and it was now very hot so a pit stop at the beach bar was needed before going back to Nimrod for a swim.

P7040080 (1280x960) P7040085 (1280x960)
Krk River Canyon Vela Luka Anchorage, Krk, From the Top

From Vela Luka we headed South to Rab and another nice sheltered anchorage adjacent to the main town. The old town of Rab is very pretty with many churches, plazas and cobbled streets and well worth a visit. Near the anchorage we also found a restaurant that did amazing steaks served by lovely friendly staff.

The wooded peninsula on the West side of the anchorage has many walking trails so we had a pleasant 10km walk through the woods and past the small beaches and coves on the seaward side, all pretty flat so much easier than Krk!!

P7060005 (1280x960) P7060014 (1280x960)
Woodland Path, Rab Anchored in Uvala Fumija, Rab

From Rab we headed to Molat for a night before going up the river to Krka waterfalls. It is about 10nm up the river and once past the main town of Sibenik near the entrance it is a very tranquil trip. You could easily spend a week or more just exploring the river. The town of Skradin is as far as we can take Nimrod so we anchored opposite the town in picturesque surroundings with swans and cygnets coming to be fed.

P7120033 (1280x960) P7120044 (1280x960)
Krka River Falls Krka Valley

The whole area is a National Park so you have to pay to get in, about £25 each but that did include the boat ride from Skradin up to the main Falls and back again. The scenery around here and the power of the falls is just stunning, it is all so beautiful, the pictures don’t do them justice.

P7120059 (1280x960) P7120065 (1280x960)
The Upper River Krka Upper Falls

The main Falls are all near where the boat dropped us off but you can take another boat that goes even further up the river, half way there is a small Island with a Monastery that we stopped at before continuing to the Upper Falls area. Most people stay at the Lower Falls so it is not quite as busy further up. There is also a nice walk around The Cascades section of the River and a steep stairway climb up to some caves with spectacular views over the whole River Valley

P7120087 (1280x960) P7120120 (1280x960)
Krka River Valley Swimming in the Falls

After a long hot day trekking around this awesome place it was time for a nice cool swim. Best time to visit here is to catch the first ferry at 8am and head straight to the next ferry for the upper falls.Before all the crowds arrive. Then on return to the main Falls have a leisurely lunch before attempting to walk around the rest of the park and have a swim. Swimming under the Falls is great and although they don’t let you get under the Falls themselves there are still some strong currents to contend with in some places.

P7120144 (1280x960) P7120154 (1280x960)
Messing About Boardwalks Through the Park

Ostrica was a lovely quiet anchorage and on another of our hikes ashore we came across these wild Deer. Someone had just been to put food out for them.

P7140002 (1280x960) P7140011 (1280x960)
Ostrica Walls Wild Deer, Ostrica

All too soon the 3 weeks had come to an end, more happy memories created and of course many bottles of bubbly consumed!! Looking forward to my sisters next visit in September, time to retire Rich then you can join her!!

After Rich and Caroline left us we headed back North again to meet up with some of our cruising friends. We headed to Hrbonsjak on the SE of Murter where we met Purr and Dakini as well as a Canadian couple on Water Hobo. Purrr, Charlie and Susannah (alias My Demon Twin) also had some friends on board and of course we had to have a little party to celebrate our reunion!!

IMG_9119 (1280x853) IMG_9137 (1280x853)
Party Time WIth Purr Dancing Girls

After a couple of days we all headed to Muntana Anchorage on Pas to get near a large town for supply shopping and also to hide from another impending thunderstorm.

We parted company with Dakini and Water Hobo as Nimrod and Purr headed to the very small Islet of Skala Vela, very peaceful with hardly any boats around even in late July. This also gave us a chance to go spinnaker sailing on Purrr since Charlie had not yet used his kite, 10-15knts of wind and flat seas meant we had some great sailing with boat speeds nealy up to 10knts.

Further N we stopped at Muline on Uglian for a couple of days, clear waters and white sand but fairly busy with other yachts as we are now well into the main holiday season.

More supply requirements saw us heading to Vir at the very SW of Pag and into the various bays that form a sheltered cruising area between the mainland and the S of Pag Island. It is off the route for most yachts so we almost had the area to ourselves with only a handful of others around. Jasenovo was also a great place to watch another sunset!!

IMG_9176 (1280x853) IMG_9179 (1280x853)
The Sue’s at Sunset Uvala Jasenovo, Pag

From the S of Pag we headed under the bridge and up the Vellebit Canal, this is a very windy place when the Bora is blowing with katabatic winds of 50-60knts being fairly common. Luckily it was near calm as we motored up to a stunning place called Uvala Svetojani Vela on the NE tip of Pag. The anchorage is surrounded by windswept rocks with hardly any vegetation in sight, it looked like you were anchored in a lake on the moon. Very different and stunning. A busy place in the day with small dayboats and RIB’s but in the evenings you have the place to yourselves.

IMG_9189 (1280x853) P8020005 (1280x960)

Approaching Pag Bridge

Uvala Svetojanj Vela, Pag

From Pag we paid another visit to Rab and then headed for Atatori on Mali Losinj for another thunderstorm. The forecast was for up to 40knts with gusts to 50knts and thunderstorms. We arrived early and anchored in about 10m with 55m of chain out, checked the anchor and all seemed well, apart from the fact that the wind was currently from the South and the strong winds were due from the North. It was already fairly busy but we expected many boats would leave after their lunch stop, swim and siesta, at which point we planned to re-anchor, hopefully in more space and to make sure the anchor was set in the right direction.
As the afternoon wore on it seemed that no-one was leaving and even more yachts were arriving to hide from the bad weather, also by now the wind was fairly light and variable making it very difficult to know where other boats anchors were lying in relation to ours and how close we may get once the wind picked up. So early evening I had a swim around and reckoned we would be very close to a small Italian Yacht, explained to the skipper and he agreed and said he would move as soon as his crew returned from shore. When the wind turned to the N and boats started swinging to their anchors I motored back on our anchor to make sure it rotated and set properly for the new direction, now we were very close to another Italian yacht, another quick chat and they agreed to move, all very civilised so far.
By dark the wind had picked up to around 20knts and was from the NW, we now had a yacht about 5m behind our stern with a skipper who did not seem to have a clue, I told him he needed to let much more chain out to give us both a bit of room but it seemed he did not have any more chain to deploy, further it was pretty obvious that he had absolutely no intention of moving even though he had arrived much later than us.
The wind calmed for a while and said skipper had dissapeared below and was not going to be persuaded that he should move while it was calm. So we decided we would have to move to give us some more room, our normally reliable Rocna Type anchor decided it did not want to set the first two times we tried and by the time we lined up for our third attempt the wind had picked up again to around 20knts!!! Trying to anchor a 42ft cat in a busy anchorage in the dark in 20knts is a bit of a challenge but fortunately the anchor set this time and we were firmly secured, a little bit close to another Italian yacht but not worryingly close and by now most people were on deck.
A 34ft motor boat was having all sorts of trouble with his anchor dragging and seemed unable to get it to re-set, at one point he was snagged alongside the yacht that had caused us to move in the first place, not that I would wish such things on anyone it did seem like a bit of karma coming home to roost!!
Now a large charter cat that had been anchored near the shore was dragging, they nearly wiped out the Italian next to us before just managing to avoid a collision, they proceeded to drift through the anchorage with seemingly minimal control and even less idea what they were doing, they also narrowly missed colliding with our original problem yacht!!
By now the wind had picked up and many yachts were motoring around the southern part of the bay after their anchors had dragged. This included one 84ft Azimut and an even larger motor yacht that also could not rely on their anchors in the conditions.
By about midnight the wind had picked up to 35 gusting 45 and the thunderstorm was approacing from the NW, we were firmly anchored and fairly happy with our spacing, our two neighbouring monohulls were both veering through 50 or 60 degrees but were holding firm and skippers were on deck so we were all fairly safe.
By now I reckon at least 15 boats had dragged, but at least the ones now left seemed secure. Initially there were about 6 or 8 boats tied back to the shore in anticipation of the forecast NE winds, when the wind came from the NW they were all in trouble with the wind on the beam and all had to let go shore lines and clear out, tying back to shore with thunderstorms around is a pretty risky tactic since the wind can come from pretty much any direction.
Finally to end the carnage there was a Mayday call from an Italian crewed charter boat that had dragged their anchor and then had their engine fail so they were rapidly drifting out of the bay. The situation must have been quite frightening since the Italian lady on the VHF was clearly very panicked and the Coastguard and Police had a very difficult time resolving the situation and actually locating them. When they did find them the skipper had managed to restart the engine, however the Coastguard towed them into the bay and made sure they were re-anchored.
By 0200 the wind had eased to about 15knts and we decided it was safe to go to bed, all in all a very eventful night.

So you can see it is not all sunshine and roses out here in the Med!!

We are now in Medulin, near Pula with Sue’s daughter and Granddaughter arriving soon for 4 days so that is all going to be a bit hectic.