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Published: August 8th 2019
We were coming to the end of our time in Italy and knew we would be crossing the Ionian Sea to Croatia soon; it all depended on the weather. Every day Bob checks the weather usually a couple times per day after it is updated. We had two options - either leave Trani and head further north on the Italian coast to Vieste and use that as a jumping off point OR go directly from Trani depending on the weather. Depending on which we chose it would be either a 14 or 18 hour crossing. We always want to enter a new port during daylight so our departure time would also be dependent on which plan we went with.
When leaving Italy there are some official things that need to be done- one is to have our Constituo (the one we had picked up in Syracusa) stamped and if this is our last port in Italy turn it in. We also needed to get our passports stamped as we would be leaving the country. In looking at the weather in the morning on Friday we figured it would be best to leave on Saturday afternoon. Typically you must do the
official paperwork on the day you leave but we found out that the office we needed to leave the Constituo would only be open M-F until noon! We also needed to pay for the marina and preferred to pay with credit card. The guys at the marina couldn't do that so it needed to be paid at the office which was at a different location and again could not be done on Saturday. Fortunately our contact person when we made reservations for the marina picked me up and took me to the marina office as the person there did not speak any English. We had a nice surprise as they gave us a discount for the length of time we were there- those kinds of surprises we like! Next, Bob and I walked over to the office to turn in our Constituto and were told that the people we needed to talk to were not there and we should come back the next day! By this time Bob had gotten an update on the weather and the decision was made to leave today at 3pm instead of Saturday and to cross directly to Croatia. Flexibility is the name of the
game when working with weather predictions and planning. We told the person we spoke to we would not be there on Saturday so wondered if we could leave the document with him but no such luck. Guess we just now have a souvenir from Italy! This same thing happened last year when we tried to turn it in and no one seemed to be upset so guess we won't get into trouble with the Italian authorities (or at least that is what we are hoping)
We had heard there were a few things that may not be easy to get in Croatia or even if we can we would probably be carrying it to the boat by dinghy as we plan to anchor out a lot so made one last trip to the grocery store. Got our water tanks filled and we planned on filling the diesel tank but had just recently heard that it is less expensive in Croatia so will wait to get it there. The plan was to leave around 3pm but we had to wait for the police to bring back our passports and we wanted to get a "Hollywood shower" while at the marina
before leaving. Once those were done it worked out that we left at 3:45pm- not bad for a major change of leaving a day earlier than we had thought when we got up this morning.
When we got out of the harbor the swells were "nasty" and we were plowing right into them with no wind to help us cut through them. They were at least 4-5 foot swells and definitely made for an uncomfortable ride in the beginning. It is times like these that we are happy that neither of us have any tendency toward seasickness. About 5pm we had some wind registering between 5- 6.5 knots, not great but better than 0 but.... About 5-6 minutes later it died. We were hoping the surge would calm down some, but that continued -fortunately we were used to the movement of the boat with the surge. Yes, we knew that this would be the case for part of the trip, but this was the best chance we had for making our overnight passage so have to take the bad with the good!
I took first shift of our night duty from 9pm to 1 am giving Bob a
chance to sleep. I was fortunate as the wind got up to 7-8 knots hitting us between 90 and 120 degrees so started to have a nice sail. I also got to see a wonderful sunset and had enough clear sky to have the moonlight and a chance for some great stargazing. While I was still on duty we had to cross a main shipping channel with north/south traffic. Why is it that it always seems to work out that when you are crossing them at about 5 knots you either have 2 freighters coming at you on one side or you have one going south and the other going north while you are headed east? There were a couple of times it looked like we might be close so I called them on the radio to discuss our position and typically the "big ship" adjusts just a little. I only had one time when I called and I was told that I should go to the stern of him, but in looking at our speeds and position it didn't make sense. When I questioned him about it he said we should pass port to port and I repeated it
to be sure I understood. I know it has been a long time since my geometry classes but I could easily tell that if I was on a track to cross in front of him and he was coming at 90 degrees on my right side, we could not pass port to port (left side to left side). I then clarified to him that I was the sailboat crossing in front of him. He replied, "just a minute", checked something and then came back that he would adjust his direction and speed. Sure glad I persisted to clarify my position as I think he must have thought I was the other ship that was heading in the opposite direction to him which would make his remark make sense. Always have to be on your toes around these big guys and not assume they know it all!!
Shortly after that I saw in the distance a huge set of lights and I was trying to pick out their navigation lights to figure out what it was and the direction it was moving. It showed up a little later on my chart plotter and saw it was a Princess cruise liner!
They sure do light up the area with all the lights they have on them at night. He would pass behind me so no problem there. It sure was a busy traffic lane, but made it through safely. We are definitely glad we have not only our eyesight, but much better is our technical help from the AIS (automated identification system) which allows us to see the details of other boats (size, name of boat, speed, direction, range and other details) and we send out the same about ourselves so they can have that same information. Having the name of the ship is wonderful as it makes it easy to call them on the radio if necessary.
Had some moonlight to help in the overnight hours as well. At least I did as Bob told me in the morning the moon had set when he was on duty and it was a very dark night. The rest of the trip was uneventful (which Is always a good thing) and we made landfall about 9am making the passage shorter than we expected. Fortunately in talking to other cruisers and checking various apps that we use we pretty much knew what
to expect upon arrival. We first had to stop at the police station for the check in to the country and getting our passport stamped. We then had to walk over to the harbor master where we provided the boat papers and a crew list (a simple list with our names and passport numbers) and pay 2 taxes. One of the taxes is a navigation and pollution tax which is based on a formula determined by the size of your engine and the length of your boat. The other tax is a visitor permit which is good for various lengths of time based on your length. We paid for 30 days and can always extend later. There was a place to pick up fuel which we planned to do, but just before that another boat came to check in and they had to tie to the outside of us as there is only room for one boat at the police station. They were done and we were going to leave but a very large ferry came in and kept its engine running just across from us and the wind started to pipe up - not a good combination so we
Marijo Selling His Wine and Other Produce
as well as delicious bread in Lastovo anchorage
decided to go find an anchorage instead and figured we could pick up fuel when we leave the anchorage for the next destination.
We were both pretty beat so we took the rest of the day and relaxed reading books and taking naps. We didn't even try to go to shore as figured we could do that the next day. Our plan was to head to shore and just do some walking around on Sunday so packed up everything to go exploring. We lowered the outboard engine onto the dinghy and Bob started it. It started OK, but soon after it died. He tried again and again and no luck. He finally figured he must have flooded it as the person that had last worked on it adjusted the primer and Bob had primed it like he normally did, but gave it too much gas. Waited for some time for it to dry out and tried again, but still no luck. Quite a few people in the anchorage stopped by to give their advice and everyone thought the same- it has spark, clean fuel and compression. The carburetor has now been cleaned 3 times and everyone is still baffled.
We got out our books and enjoyed the rest of the day onboard.
The park rangers came by and collected the fee for anchoring- if you pay for 1 night it is 150 Kuna ($22.50) or you can pay 300 Kuna and stay for 3 nights so we decided on the later as it looks like a nice place to spend a few days. At first glance it reminds us some of the Adirondack Park as well as the 1000 Islands. It is beautiful to see forested islands and we can even smell the scent of pine which is wonderful.
In the morning a man in a small boat was visiting each of the boats anchored and when he got to us we found out he was one of the Park Rangers we met last night when we paid our anchoring fee. Come to find out Marijo is an enterprising man. He has about 4,000 grape vines and he makes both red and white wine which he sells from the boat. He also offers a few other homemade items one of which was orange marmalade. Bread and couple of breakfast pastries are also on offer. We definitely like
to support these efforts so bought a bottle of white wine, marmalade and bread. When we opened the bag of bread we found it was a lovely loaf of rye bread. We haven't seen that in a long time and with it still being warm we had to treat ourselves to some with the marmalade. Neither of us usually buy marmalade but this was very good as it was not very sweet. What a great service for those of us anchored and it helps him with some extra income. We will look forward to his visit each morning! Marijo noticed last night that we had the cover off the outboard and this morning asked about it. He told us he knew someone that is young but very good at working on engines. He said he would give him a call on our behalf which was very kind of him. Later that day two young guys arrived by jet ski with their tool box ready to work. They tried to start it which they did and then it died on them as well. They quickly removed the carburetor and took it away to work on. In about 30 minutes they were
This One Called the "Big Church"
was also in the village of Lastovo
back, installed it and again the same problem. They then suggested that we should take it to the next island where there is a Mercury repair person. They seemed honestly disappointed that they couldn't fix it for us. When we asked how much we owed them they said just enough to cover the gas (30 Kuna or $4.50) so we definitely gave them more for their time. At least we now know of someone that isn't too far away that we can now try. Bob is getting very frustrated and threaten to make it an anchor (don't worry we would never pollute that way!) We will try one more repair person before finding where we can buy a new motor. We are a few days sail away from a big city where there are outboard engine dealers so if we can get this fixed it would be great. Without the engine for our "family car" (more commonly known as a dinghy) we can still get to shore by rowing, but if the distance is great or there is lots of wind and or waves it isn't the easiest. It isn't good to have problems with the outboard as any time
Unique Chimneys in a Trademark on Lastovo
showing the wealth of the resident & none are alike
but it seems more so now that we are in Croatia as the rule is to anchor out here rather than go into a marina. There are many wonderful places to anchor, but another reason is the price for a night in a marina can easily be over $100 per night which puts quite a bite in the budget. Even if you are willing to pay that amount we have heard that many of the marinas are full and don't even have room if you wanted to go in!
We arrived in Croatia on Saturday and between catching up on sleep the first day, checking out the engine the second day, waiting to find out when someone would come to look at it the third day, by the 4th we were ready to row to shore. We had found out that there is a bus service on the island of Lastovo so made it to shore in time to catch the 10:30 am bus to the town of Lastovo on the other side of the island from where are anchored. It was nice to get to see more of the island, walk around the town seeing the sites, have
Views from the Village of Lastovo
include agricultural area, mountains and the sea
a nice lunch out and pickup a few groceries before catching the 3pm bus back. It was a lovely day outing. We were treated to wonderful vistas of the various bays around the island as well as saw some of the vineyards and other crops being grown.
Part of the entertainment whenever you are in an anchorage is watching other boats anchor. With a high percentage of the boats coming in being charter boats there has not been a shortage of antics to watch. Fortunately in the end they get a good hook, pick up a mooring ball instead or just decide to leave the bay altogether and head elsewhere. When we first arrived on Saturday there were only 2 or 3 boats, but by Monday night we counted 19 boats in the anchorage (and we were told that there could be even more!). Another night we had over 25!
While in the anchorage we got to know a lovely couple from Germany. Amine stopped by quite a few times in his dinghy to visit and gave us lots of valuable information as he has been in Lastovo before with his boat. One night he stopped by thinking
we were leaving the next morning and treated us to some wonderful grappa. Always great to meet wonderful people wherever we are!
Our 3 nights that we paid up for at the park was up and we would owe for another night as we had made arrangements with the shop on the next island to look at the outboard on Friday. The Park Rangers stopped by tonight, we showed the receipt we had and told them we would owe for another night. They told us to never mind and we could stay for free - what a deal! On our last day here on the island of Lastovo we went to shore again and took a nice long hike. There are many trails here and we were given a great topographical map at the tourist office yesterday which was helpful for our hike. When we got back closer to where the boat is we hiked around some and saw up close some of the buildings that had been used by the military previously and are now abandoned. Some of the barbed wiring fencing is still up. In doing some of our own research on this area it seems that
Storage Area for Torpedos on Lastovo
and the rails that they used to move them
the military stopped using these facilities only as recent as 1992. There are many buildings but also plenty of tunnels that were used for torpedo storage and even a large tunnel to hide a boat in. The island is in a very strategic location and it was well protected.
The marina that we were told to go to for a repair shop for the outboard is located on the island of Korcula. If we go directly there from the anchorage it will take about 5 1/4 hours. The concern is that the repair shop is open from 8-1, closed from 1-3 and then reopens from 3-8. We were told when we called that we would have to coordinate with the marina and tell them we are coming in for repairs and the best time to do that is from 11-4. That doesn't allow for much overlap of time. She did tell us however that Friday as early as possible would be the best as the marina would not be as busy as the charter boats here would be leaving. This left us with the plan of leaving the anchorage at Lastovo on Thursday about 6:30 am, head over to
Barbed Wire Remain from the Military Use of this Area
as well as the sign telling what you couldn't do then
the fuel dock that opens at 7 and then continue on our way to an anchorage that is only 15 minutes from where we need to take the engine. We lucked out as no one was at the fuel dock when we got there, the person started a little early and we were filled up and leaving the fuel dock at 7:05. It was a very calm day wind wise but there were some swells that didn't make it quite as comfortable for awhile, but it eventually flattened out and we even put the sail out to catch what little breeze there was. We found a beautiful anchorage in front of a 14th C. Franciscan monastery. There were quite a few boats there early in the day with people coming to swim off their boat, but by evening there were only a few boats left making for a wonderful evening. A guy on a neighboring boat even played the guitar which was enjoyable to listen to. It was a wonderful change from the rap music a huge catamaran charter with 10 Americans on that had the volume so loud everyone could hear earlier in the afternoon. We were not disappointed
when they left later in the day.
The next morning we left the anchorage and were tied up at the repair shop by 8:30am. We were told that a couple of other jobs came in that they needed to deal with before looking at ours. We told them it wasn't a problem as we could do some grocery shopping, wander through the historic town of Korcula and have lunch out. Not a hardship for us. What is more important to us is that hopefully they can fix it. We had a pleasant day out and got back to the shop at 3pm when they re-opened to see how things were coming. Miracle of miracles- it is working beautifully and on top of that it didn't break the bank at all.
When we were walking around the town we stopped at the Tourist information office just in case we had to stay around waiting for parts. We found out that there is a free concert tonight in town of traditional music from this part of Croatia. With the engine complete we would normally have to leave, but we talked to the repair shop and she told us to take
Bob Getting a Kitten "Fix"
we still sure miss our Sailor
our boat papers to the marina and tell them that they are still working on our engine and figures we should be able to stay overnight where we are under the crane. We did as she suggested and it seems like we will be able to stay overnight giving us a chance to hear the concert that starts at 9pm tonight. We can hardly believe our luck as one night in the marina here in Korcula would run about $100 for one night. With everything working out so well we decided to celebrate and went to a nearby bar and had our first gin and tonic of the season! We had a lovely dinner and then wandered over to where the concert was to be held, but the chairs were still stacked up. We found out that unfortunately the concert was postponed to the next night. Oh well. We heard some other music coming from a café/bar near by so decided to go over there for a drink and to listen to the music instead. It definitely wasn’t local music, but a great female singer and two guitar players playing the blues. It made for an enjoyable evening.
Sign Seen in Lastovo - No Surprise
as we have enjoyed wonderful night skies here
next morning we went to the marina office to pick up our boat papers and found out that we had to pay the nightly charge for the marina. We told them that this was not explained to us and that we did not have any services of the marina such as water or electricity, but that didn’t matter – we were told that even though we were in the workshop area, it was still considered the marina. Oh well, it made for an expensive stay as it cost more for the one night in the marina than it did for the repair of the outboard. Live and learn – guess we need to be sure to ask more questions and not assume they would tell us there would be a charge! We have to just be happy that we got our motor fixed, got a chance to get to the grocery store and had a pleasant evening ashore having dinner and listening to music. It also gave us a nice chance to tour around the walled town of Korcula. The showers were not locked so now decided we would at least get another Hollywood shower before leaving seeing we paid
for the night! Korcula was an enjoyable walled town to explore and quite picturesque.
We had read that the island where the monastery was that we anchored in front of us is an enjoyable one to walk around on. We had thought of going back there to check it out, but then decided that we will have to come back south along the coast when we leave Croatia so we can out it on our list of places to check out then. With getting to Croatia in the middle of July and wanting to see more of the country up north we made plans to start our trek in that direction when we left Korcula. Will tell you of our continuing travels in Croatia in the next installment.
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