Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Zadar and more

Zadar is a large city on the mainland of Croatia with 3 marinas and supplies of all sorts. We dropped the hook just outside the breakwater protecting the inner harbour and Old Town and beside of 1 of the marinas (N44°07.498' E015°13.333').

From the end of the breakwater, pedestrians can take a shortcut across to Old Town via a rowboat taxi.

All aboard!

We were able to accomplish so much in just 1 day. Picked up the special glue needed to repair our dinghy, purchased a much needed new bumper, found a self-serve laundromat in Old Town where we did our own laundry, and Jordan discovered a cool new contraption to replace his broken boat hook that he uses for capturing mooring balls.

The easy-to-get-lost-in Old Town was quite delightful with its numerous narrow walkways and alleys. We could tell the oldest lanes by the shiny surface stones from centuries of traffic that now makes them easy to slip on if there was the least bit of water.

Entry to 'Kingdom of Zadar'

The next day was to renew our internet for 1 more month and extend our cruising permit for Croatia for another month as well.

With errands done, we strolled over to the oceanside esplanade to see, or should we say hear, an intriguing and award winning creation by a local architect. He has created a wind organ that is powered by wave surges that come from under the marble steps of the waterfront walkway. The effect is a haunting harmony to the slapping waves.

Click on the link below to hear the sea organ!!

Steps of the music

The recent movie Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again that was largely filmed at the Croatian island of Vis was playing in English at the cinema so we decided to check it out since we were at Vis in July. We recognized many of the scenes including the steps in front of the bar where we had pizza.

After Zadar, we made numerous anchorages of little consequence. But we did find a sand beach at Otok Nin and Otok Olib, a rarity in the Med, at least from what we have seen so far.

While diving on the anchor at Otok Rivanj, Jordan had a curious spectator...

The unusual blue sky at 20:30 just after sunset was beautiful at the teeny tiny rock island of Hrid Kurjak - next to Otok Olib - that we walked around and drift snorkelled. The only sea life that we could see was the abundance of sea cucumbers, if you could call them sea life!

A blue evening

Otok Olib has a small grocery store/market and mostly summer residences but not much else. Idle Olib it likes to be known as, and it certainly was. There are a few cars but they are only allowed on the few narrow roads in special circumstances. Otherwise golf carts or 'tractors' are means of movement.

Idling away the day

While we were there, the August meteor showers were at their peak, and as we had clear cloudless skies, we decided to sleep in the open cockpit making wishes to each shooting star. We saw several with Jordan spotting more than me.

N44°07.498' E015°13.333' Aug 07 Zadar
N44°08.784' E015°03.339' Aug 09 Otok Rivanj
N44°16.269' E015°07.374' Aug 11 Otok Nin (Privlaka)
N44°17.413' E015°04.714' Aug 11 Otok Vir
N44°24.132' E014°45.592' Aug 12 Hr Kurjak
N44°24.949' E014°45.308' Aug 13 Otok Olib

Tuesday, August 07, 2018

Continuing through Croatia

After a couple of fun nights at Tribunj, our next stop was much different. It was at the peaceful cove at Tijesno where we anchored just off shore from a discrete resort.

The only entertainment this spot gave us was a lone sailor having great difficulty anchoring. He would anchor and then drag, re-anchor and drag, over and over. We counted 6 tries before he finally seemed to make it stick.

The bottoms typically have patches of weeds that you can see in the clear water that show as dark areas and then areas of sandy mud that show as a light blue colour. The trick is to not drop your anchor in weeds and try to "plow the field". Your anchor won't hold and you end up hauling up a bushel hanging off the hook.

Tijesno shore

The next morning at about 08:30 we motored only a couple miles to arrive just as the small drawbridge from Tijesno to the island of Otok Murter was to open. It only opens twice daily for half an hour at 09:00 and 17:00. The bridge is right in the village so you are only a few feet from the streets and shops on each side. We passed through with a few other boats and with only about a metre to spare under the keel.

Rising up

We thought of anchoring at another island but it was full of mooring balls so continued motoring northwards to Otok Arta Mala where a few other boats had already dropped the hook. This tiny, horseshoe-shaped, rocky island is uninhabited with no facilities but a safe harbour from predicted winds, and surrounded by many other islands.

We braved the coolish water in the hot 36° temperature, and many daytrippers took up anchorage, swimming, sunbathing, and playing water games. But come evening, they all upped anchor and headed home. We were all alone except again for 1 other sailboat.

View from Arta Mala

These waters at this time of year are heavy with marine traffic so we can't just put the auto pilot on and not keep looking out for others.

With not much to do at Arta Mala, we next motored to Otok Zut, a couple of hours away, where we anchored in a cove that saw about 40 boats by evening. We anchored and backed up to shore and stern tied with 2 ropes. The bay was spotted with mostly summer homes and a couple of restaurants that serve summer cruisers.

The restaurants have looked more upscale recently but still with the casual island character. But the prices can be a shocker as we found out. At the waiter's suggestion, we chose 1 fish for the both of us, a plate of Swiss Chard, another of rice, 2 colas, and 1 glass of wine. The food was just okay, the wine was good, and the setting was great but the bill wasn't...$160 CAD! Yikes, we should have asked for a menu first.

Extravagant eatery

The dinghy, now 6 years old has a seam that seeps out air ever so slightly and each day it needs to have a quick pump up. The fix requires a special glue which we don't have, so we set off northeast to Zadar - but not before stopping off at 1 more quiet anchorage of emerald green waters (Otok Ugljan) where we both enjoyed a refreshing swim in waters that are getting warmer!.

Stunning green waters

Recent anchorages:
N43°47.890' E015°39.580' Aug 02 Tijesno
N43°51.111' E015°33.439' Aug 03 Otok Arta Mala
N43°52.337' E015°19.656' Aug 04 Otok Zut (Uvala Hiljaca)
N44°02.764' E015°12.988' Aug 06 Otok Ugljan (Uvala Lamjana Mala)

Wednesday, August 01, 2018

Running of the donkeys

When we arrived at Tribunj on July 31st, we anchored in a semi-protected bay next to the breakwater with only a couple of other sailboats (N43°45.025' E015°45.055').

Tribunj is located on the mainland of Croatia, but it also has an Old Town located on a tiny island connected to the mainland with a short stone bridge. Mainly old residences are crowded onto the island but along the water's edge were the usual side bars and eateries,

Tiny island with bridge

There is a narrow, uninhabited island adjacent to the Old Town that is a reserve for a venerated donkey population.

Donkey statue at mainland Tribunj

When we went ashore, we learned of a fun annual event that was to take place over the next 2 nights. Donkey races. This affair has been going on since 1967 and the main participants that aren't always too cooperative or predictable make it a silly fun event to the delight of all, including the losers.

The race start and finish line was set at the waterfront in the town square that was transformed with band stand, big screen and, of course, all sorts of vendors offering all types of snacks and trinkets. A popular toy was a wacky dancing donkey that grooved to the live band.

Do you wanna dance!

We arrived early to get a good viewing spot and watched as the swarms started to arrive for the 8pm event. Originally it was men jockeys only but now women are included. Women raced on the first night and the men on the next night.

Let the games begin


Donkeys have a mind of their own and it was evident. Some refused to move. Some jockeyed their riders off their backs. Some escaped and ran till caught. The most hilarious was when a couple of men were trying to push a donkey off the center of the raceway and the donkey pushed back even harder, no way was he moving.

And they're off...

...and he's off too!

In the end, it mattered little who actually won.

Monday, July 30, 2018

More anchorages

Our cat Chanty likes to find spaces to sleep which makes it very difficult for us to find her sometimes. Can you find her? (If not, see farther below.)

Otok Zirje was our next choice for finding a suitable anchorage in Croatia. This island, only 45 minutes away from our last anchorage, has 3 bays in the popular area called Uvala Stupica Vela and we chose the far eastern of the 3.

Arriving early, we had a choice spot to anchor and stern tie to shore not too far from a neighbouring boat that had done the same thing. But as the afternoon drew on, the ever incoming yachts crowded in around us. When a big catamaran tried to drop anchor and back down into the tight spot between us and the other boat and run a shore line, he had a problem.

As he was bearing down on us, sideways, Jordan heard his motor alarm go off which he immediately knew was a stalled motor. Manoeuvring a cat with only 1 motor in a tight spot with an onshore breeze and drifting sideways was an incident about to happen. So Jordan jumped in the dinghy and with full power, pushed up against the stern of the cat enabling the captain to use the other functional motor to back up without hitting our bow.

It missed our bowsprit by about 1 foot, not that we were worried because it is so heavy duty but it would have done a job on the cat's hull. A rope had wrapped around one of the cat's 'paws' which they soon cut loose and re-anchored properly. The happy group insisted on presenting Jordan with wine for his quick action that saved the day.

After a quiet evening, the next morning we continued onward to another bay on Otok Zirje (Uvala Tratinska) where we anchored and tied to a shore tree.

We had 2 visitors. Our first visitor was a "market boat" with produce, bakery, ice, ice cream, etc. We only needed bananas but alas he was sold out.

Home delivery

Early in the afternoon, our second visitor was an official who stated that we were not allowed to anchor in this bay and must leave or take a mooring ball. We did not wish to pay for mooring, after all, we felt that we were safely anchored and not a danger to those moored, so left.

After about an hour, we came to Otok Kakan and discovered a bay full of mooring balls (Uvala Potkucina). We decided to drop the hook in a safe area, wondering if again we would be asked to hook up or leave. And sure enough we were. As it was getting pretty windy and we didn't want to leave, we asked for a deal and he gave us a mooring ball for 100 Kuna ($20 CAD) instead of the usual 150 ($30 CAD) for this bay and our boat size.

Recent anchorages:
N43°38.195' E015°41.565' Jul 29 Otok Zirje (Uvala Stupica Vela)
N43°39.795' E015°37.510' Jul 30 Otok Zirje (Uvala Tratinska)
N43°41.836' E015°39.756' Jul 30 Otok Kakan (Uvala Potkucina: anchored)
N43°41.648' E015°39.899' Jul 30 Otok Kakan (Uvala Potkucina: moored)

If you couldn't find Chanty in the above photo, here is her little ear sticking out, circled in black. Not a good place if we were sailing downwind as an accidental jibe would 'cat'apault her overboard. Then she would be 'cat'atonic. It would be a 'cat'astrophe. LOL!

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Soline and Rogoznica

After being in the crowded small bay of Uvala Sesula with all the excitement of anchoring boats, our next stop was the total opposite.

Uvala Soline (N43°32.397' E015°58.655') is the larger of 2 bays at the end of a well-protected waterway on the mainland of Croatia. We bypassed the main bay of Luka Rogoznica and its village with the big marina and numerous mooring balls to find this nice quiet spot with lots of space to anchor for free with only a few boats around on July 27th.

The next day we motored around the point and into the bay of Rogoznica Village which sits on what was an island but since was connected by a 500 m long causeway.

We took on more diesel at the marina's fuel dock and washed down our deck that had accumulated a coat of salt from a ruckus ride a couple of days ago.

Across from the marina, in front of the Village where a number of boats were Med-moored, we noticed an exception. A lone sailboat sitting at anchor. So motored over and asked if anchoring was allowed. They said they stayed the night and no one said anything so we decided to stay a night too and dropped the hook (N43°31.679' E015°58.028').

Later we noticed a no-anchor sign but pretended we didn't see it.

Magic hour

It turned out to be a pleasant stay. During the day with hardly a soul in sight we walked all over. Past the marina and beach areas and out to the lighthouse point. Then at dusk, we ambled along the waterfront village street lined with the usual eateries and shops while being entertained by an open air band. As the sun went down, the scene came alive with the teeming evening strollers. Where do they all come from!

Candies galore

Our fine evening ended with the best seat in town - our own deck - watching the big round "blood moon" rise over the town.