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Published: June 27th 2008
Here are the notes
I bolted down the hill to the Internet in Dubrovnik in 13 minutes, loaded up the photos of Dubrovnik and bolted back to the house in 12.5 minutes as a surrogate for skating training.
The bus arrived at 12:00 and we took off for the wharf and loaded our gear on board the MY Atlantica at 12.15, then walked up and down the wharfs looking at the other yachts and the cruisers until lunch was to be served on board at 2.00 pm. On Pirate boat looked as if it had flown in from Never-Never land.
The Atlantica is a fine looking yacht with a wide aft filled with white towelling-covered, body length lounges; the whole deck is covered with a white sail to protect you from the sun. It is not a boat for rough water sailing as it was really beamy and I felt it would wallow in a swell.
We lunched at 2.00 with François and Petro Joubert (who hail from Johannesburg), on an enormous spread of bar-b-qued black bass and mullet with heaps of chips, vegetables and salads.
The remaining couple were due in at
A Pirate ship in Dubrovnik port
The boat looked as if it had just flown in from a Peter Pan Movie
5.00 and we were scheduled to visit the local island where we would overnight. Margaret and Scott Thomson, from Monterey in CA actually arrived half way through lunch but they had eaten already so declined finished the surplus fish.
Each of the groups had been given different instructions on the time to arrive at the boat and the time that we would be leaving and we all had been given different itineraries.
The yacht’s itineraries was eventually determined by the weather and the seas so I have attempted to change the map to indicate where we actually went and not where we were scheduled to go but it hasn’t sallowed me to make those changes as yet.
We departed Dubrovnik, just after Scot and Margaret boarded, and headed for Luka harbour on Sipan (pronounced Shipan) Island for the first night rather than the local island where it was not well protected. We pulled into the small harbour on Sipan and moored at the wharf.
The water is pristine clear and blue green. Behind the walkway around the wharf were houses with a touch of Venetian influence and charm; made of old stone with fine stone windows
Lunch on board the first day
The meals were fantastic every da. We had half board which included breakfast and lunch and they searved so much food and we ate so much that we didnt need to eat when we got ashore for dinner at night.
and arch doors now modified to take a rectangle door, and with ancient tiled roofs and the building are nearly all three stories high.
We walked around the small town and had coffee and then dinner ashore where we could view the yachts silhouetted against the sunset and the sky.
While the restaurant had a great view of the harbour and the sunset, the waitress got a few of the meals mixed up in spite of everyone pointing at the menu to indicate what they wanted.
I skated around the harbour in the evening after dinner on really rough and gravel filled roads.
Away from the town, between the path and the sea, was a classy silver service restaurant (specialising in fish, --well seafood), which was graciously lit with candles and colourful tablecloths and seemed to be filled with the guests of the cruising yachts.
A fisherman with a four-pronged fork-shaped spear, wandered along the foreshore in the evening light spearing surface fish. He had just started when I first meet him as I skated past him, but by late evening he had a plastic bag filled with fish.
We breakfasted and set off
to Mljet (pronounced Miyet) Island. It sprinkled but was warm and the seas and the islands were washed in an azure haze.
We travelled in a rolling following sea with a stiff breeze and yet the boat seemed to be remarkably stable. I then discovered that Dominic had put up a jib that kept the boat stable, yet it rolled sufficiently for the glass in the oven over to be smashed.
We dropped anchor at Mljet about 1 km from the wharf, went for a swim (other than Helen and Win who thought it was still too cold) and then had lunch. After lunch, they ferried us to the wharf on the yacht’s tender.
We walked off to look at the National Park and discovered they wanted to charge 90K to enter - that's approximately AUD$25 for an hour to walk around a lake.…so we decided to spend the money on beer and sit by the harbour and look at the yachts coming and going, the people cleaning fish and doing their daily chores, and the fish and dozens of brown spiny crayfish kept in the deep water tanks in front of each restaurant, between the restaurant
and the harbour.
This was clearly a seafood restaurant centre. The big brown spiny crayfish were held in large wells by each restaurant and the restaurateurs were feeding the crayfish on slabs of cut fish. Some of the tanks had plate-sized black bass and gurnard, with deep red fins, that fluttered along the bottom.
The concrete tanks seemed to be connected to the pristine water in the harbour and along the bottom and around the walls hundreds of crayfish crawled, their front feelers waving in the water giving the impressions of great insects.
Other tanks had large sea bass 5-7 kg, cruising around, and on the walls of the tank, masses of spiny crayfish. All the crayfish seemed to be the same variety other than one, which had a grey colour, and I wasn’t sure if it was just because he/she was going to throw a shell or it really was another variety.
Di was shown a clawed lobster, which we didn’t see in the tanks.
Dinah Helen and Win walked down the road to where the boat had been moored and passed the swimming centre with water polo nets in the sea bordered by stone
walkways where the locals were enjoying the afternoon and evening on their concrete “beaches”.
In every bay there were water polo nets with four buoys set up to hold the corners of the court and rather tattered goal nets, but there were some serious players. Dominic the captain has represented Croatia in water polo and he said they were the current world champions. There are certainly enough players and courts set up around the Dalmatian coast.
We all had seafood dinners. This was mussel city and Scott and I shared a monstrous bowl of mussels cooked in a garlic lemon onion soup with bread and beer - I ate 5 dozen! It was impossible to skate after that…but more because the roads were awful.
While we were eating, the crew brought the yacht to the harbour.
We left the mooring about 7.00 am and returned to our previous mooring but closer to a house on the bay and had breakfast. We then sloughed about, swam, read the story of Salt spoke to Scott Thomson a retired professor in education and his wife Margaret - both of whom are anti George W but he said he still votes
republican. Margaret was so angry that she joined the Democratic Party. We also chatted to François and Petro about their life in SA and the current brain drain from that country and the collapse in primary services like power distribution.
We had a lunch of grilled scad mackerel fish, drizzled in olive oil, garlic and lemon, black cuttlefish rice with mushroom, grilled zucchini, sweets and coffee. The cook, Ivan, is truly an exceptional cook working away in his small galley.
As soon as lunch was cleared, they took off for the five-hour trip to Korcula.
The weather had blown up but the boat pointed well and kept fairly steady - we were travelling at 13 km/hr about 7 knots but the crew had left their long lines at home at Split so we couldn’t wet a line.
Arrived into Korcula about 7.30 pm and we moored at Lokva harbour as the fifth boat out. Getting ashore meant we all had to scrambled over the other four boats and from shore there it was a 10 minute walk to town up the hill and down into Korcula township.
It was drizzling rain but that did not
dampen spirits so off we went to look around the town. We were all bloated from lunch so we all had a simple meal of Pancakes and fruit juice but I had the local grappa, which was a pale yellow- being the first distillation of grape alcohol and a little fiery but acceptable.
In Korcula I managed to load the photos on the website and will load the journal next time we are in port.
This ancient town once controlled the waterways along the Croatian coast and levied a fee on passing traffic between the mainland and their island. The town had Venetian influence and it was where Maro Polo hailed, or so the notices around the town stated.
In fact, we now know from good authority, courtesy of the notices, that this is where he set up his first Ice Cream parlor!!! And one hotel even claimed that he had enjoyed their food, their women and a comfortable bed…. now what would you expect from an Italian travelling salesman and plagiarist storyteller. (Whilst having Venetian origins Marco Polo was in fact a true son of Korcula as were his father and uncle and their family for
over 100 years)
The town has a wall with two large towers a great gate and is reminiscent of a mini Dubrovnik with its stone narrow streets, crowded three story Venetian houses, flower pots, window boxes but is less pristinely new and polished than Dubrovnik. Presumably, this is because there was less damage from the war and many of the buildings were still originals.
We wandered around the old town until dark and then ambled back to the boat. A new boat had come and we were now 6th out from the wharf. This meant that no one walked across our boat but we got an opportunity to examine how the other boats were fitted up.
Tomorrow we head for Hvar which Michael and Caroline say is their favourite island on the Dalmatian coast, so we look forward to that day or so.
We sailed out of the harbour past Korcula city and it seemed a little reminiscent of the ancient cities on the Rhine and the Seine that used to demand fees for passage. It must have been where they got the idea to run the taxes on passengers at airports with a nice regulated
income of $50/head as a tax on passenger movements.
We had breakfast and waited for the weather to clear before making a run for Hvar on Hvar Island. The seas were rough and the breeze inconsistent so the jib was not efficient at keeping the boat steady so they took it down.
We finally arrived at Hvar at Vela Garska, and the girls swam in the cool sea. And we had another classic lunch from Cookie of a cordon bleu chicken and a tiramisu. At about 5.00 pm a speedboat - actually it was a Para-glider ski boat took us to Hvar harbour. This is really a lovely town with a wide-open and light plaza leading to the church, the side of the plaza filled with traders and craftsmen/women. A woman in black, selling tablecloths, which Jan had to buy, provided a nice study for Di.
We had a good look around the supermarket and found Cookie and Drago buying supplies and the largest block of Emmenthal cheese we’d seen. Wine we though was expensive running up to K240 - $60 as the top wines but little under $10 which, given the strength of the AUD$, we
thought a little odd.
Surrounding the plazas are rows of streets each filled with restaurants. This is a clean and charming town with an lightness of building lines, contours of the hills interspersed with flowers, of bougainvilleas, oleanders, geraniums, begonias in pots and of course the mistletoe-like capers growing out of the stone walls of the buildings, their pink fluff flowers cascading down the walls.
We walked to the castle on top of the hill behind the town and watched the muted colours of sunset slowly paint the village below.
We ate back at the wharf and at 9.00 caught the speedboat back to the yacht on a very bouncy ride home. Helen, Jan and Rodger in the front of the boat were given a fair battering. Those in the back were more fortunate.
On the boat, we watched the moon rise and I made Brazilian Cacachas from limes I had bought at the supermarket with white rum and castor sugar.
After breakfast we headed to Jelsa (Yelsa) and stopped off at “chilli point” where a large, red sculpture of 5 iridescent red chilli-like protruding logs were prominent on the headland adjacent to Zeveco Island.
The lounge area
Our travelling companions on left and the right Scott and Margaret Thomson from Monteray and in the centre , Francois and Petro from South Africa
Inside the protected area there were green and white capped chilli sculptures. We deduced, after we had anchored and looked around the other boats, that the chillies were a local symbol for a nudist beach. Looking at the red bums, we thought red chillies were probably a very appropriate sculpture. The Green ones had white bandages on. The sea here was absolutely sapphire blue and Brac (Brarch) Island and the mainland were surrealistically beautifully blending sea and sky into an enormous tapestry of blue.
Google earth tells me we were in the Vrboska Nudist Camp.
The mainland is some 1,800 m high some 4 km from the coastline and the white mountains are coved in a blue haze. After lunch, the gang had a swim but no one dared to emulate the company in the surrounding boats.
After lunch, the boat slowly pottered along the coast and we came into Jelsa harbour and moored almost on the city square. A largest tour boat was in and moored at the next wharf and next to us was a smaller boat captained by, so Drago says, a captain who is continually drunk. It was filled with young people who
Our cute deckhand, Drago.
Girls, eat your heart out!
we discovered later were Australian Volunteers Abroad who had done a stint in Croatia and were doing a tour before going home.
Jelsa is a truly beautiful town, smaller than Hvar but it seemed to have an elegance of its own and was one of our favourite places.
The main street and the plaza were clean and at early morning when I skated the entire township roads half a dozen time from boundary to boundary, a little street cleaner came out before any stalls were set up and swept the streets and the pavements.
The streets were smooth as glass on the main street, and around the harbour, restaurants and shops sprawled out on to the pavements.
Boats moored, had power lines stretched across the pavement to provide 220-volt power. These were a challenge to cross on skates in the poor light of the evening and dusk. The pavement north of the city went past a small lighthouse jutting into the harbour and that pathway, until the residential buildings started, was packed with overflowing tables and chairs covered by colourful umbrellas of restaurants.
I put on skates and the girls walked to the local restaurants.
The path along the harbour and the coast is shaded by enormous pines so stopping was a problem on the hills as pine needles clogged the skates. In both directions, it was about 1.5 km to the end of the road with the white line to tell you the town is no longer responsible for the road works and it disintegrates to gravel.
On the northern side of the town, there are beautiful houses and gardens on the landside of the path and the tumbling rocks and cliff to the sea on the other.
On the southern side, the path moves away from the sea and on the left a church and a graveyard dominates the point. However, it was all locked off when I arrived in the late afternoon and was closed the following morning at 6.30.
A side road then leads down to the main road through a Nature reserve then a camping site and a wide sand beach sheltered in a cove before heading back to the main road. At this juncture, the road became very potholed so I only went to the Environmental Park on the next circuits.
We had dinner in
a street restaurant close to the town with François and Petro who had ordered two large pizzas, which were so large they could not face them and gave Helen Di and me one of them, which was more than sufficient for the three of us. Jan and Rodger had a soup and ice cream dinner?
After dinner I spent the evening just skating around the harbour and out to the entrance overlooking the sea. It was really beautiful in the cool of the evening sliding past the brightly lit crowded restaurants with the moon just appearing in the eastern sky.
I woke early and, before the restaurants and the stalls opened did about four circuits. The large cruiser left at 6.30am and Di got out and photographed the early light on the harbour and the Atlantica.
Breakfast and off to Brac (Brarch) a neighbouring island.
On the eastern side of Brac, three dolphins cruised by the boat but were uninterested in us even to get a bow ride.
We stopped for Lunch in a harbour with rows of mussel /oyster poles and the adventurous went for a swim, as it was really cold. Margaret was
always first in, which Scott explains as her body temperature tolerances. He said she was a Seattle girl where it always rained and where water temperature higher than 55 degrees Fahrenheit she considered warm! So today, when she said it was brisk, most people declined her invitation to join her.
As we had lunch, we noted the boat was drifting and we were close to grounding on the other side of the small harbour in which we had anchored. Dominique swam around the stern to check and when he realised what had happen with a change in wind direction he shouted orders and sprinted back to the boat. We then saw why he was in the Croatian water polo team!
We eased off and decided t head off to harbour. Everyone said that Dinah had caused the problem by doing a pole dance on the anchor chain when she was swimming.
Came into Puersca (Shushka) on Brac through the narrow harbour entrance. On the southern side was an enormous sandstone quarry from which they had cut the white stone for the USA President’s Whitehouse. The entrance opened into a wide harbour and we moored in the main
street opposite the Stone Masons’ academy.
We then all walked into town. Tonight is a major game in the European cup between Croatia and Turkey in the quarterfinals and on past performance Croatia were favourites.
Di and Helen wanted to get some Croatian colours and Di had bought two Croatian caps in Hvar that she intended to give to Lachie and Sean (her grandsons who are both keen soccer players) and she was going to wear one that evening. Dinner that night was to be at 8.00 and we were warned that it must be finished promptly at 8:45 so everyone could watch the game.
The roads were generally smooth around the town and in the afternoon, I skated down to town and to the extremes of the township where I found a white line across the road and where the road became un-skateable. It was not far and it went to a stone factory in one direction where the road disintegrated. In the other direction, it was even shorter to a restaurant and the commencement of a gravel road that bordered the harbour entrance.
The town is not as attractive as Hvar or Jelsa -
it was more of an industrial town. There is just a small market and a new asphalt soccer field at the back of the main street where kids practiced. Also, the mandatory water polo nets in the sea near the concrete parapet.
There are no secondary street with shops or restaurants, just houses and business places. The few restaurants were centred around the square. One restaurant, on the edge of the plaza, was cover by trees and the tables sheltered from the sun, were filled with the locals including our crew eating ice-cream.
We wandered about but the girls couldn’t find any Croatian colours and we returned to the yacht and then walked up the road towards the entrance to the harbour to the restaurant at the end of the paved road. On the sea side was a stoned pavement on the edge of the harbour where the children played.
The restaurant was run by a portly gentleman and we had cool beers overlooking the harbour, the sandstone quarry just visible on the entrance of the harbour, and spoke of Africa to François and Petro.
Tonight was the Captain’s dinner and the three crew members joined
Our captain, Dominic, setting up the jib
The weather was going to be rough so the jib was used to help with speed and stability. We didn’t use the mainsail.
us in a laughter filled evening until the football started when the crew and the enthusiastic supporters went to the wheel house to view the game. We all sang the Cauliflower song to Drago (who had great difficulty saying Cauliflower) to the tune of the soccer songs.
Rodger and Jan had bought Cookie a tall Croatian supporters’ hat, which he had worn as a cook’ s hat all night.
We has grilled mackerel and bombed Alaska, which Helen said was an American dish that needed a local name so she called it “Bombed Croatia”. She only realised how true that was after she had said it!
Regrettably, Croatia lost the game to Turkey by missing so many opportunities. But on the last Croatian goal, which drew the game, Drago, who was wearing Di’s hat for one of the kids, jumped into the sea in celebration only to have Turkey slot in a goal within the last few seconds of the game.
The crew were philosophical but Di’s cap was lost so Drago went off and bought a tall Croatian hat to replace it. Di couldn’t get him to accept the hat as a gift and he
was adamant she keeps the hat he gave her in replacement.
After breakfast we left the harbour and headed to a Sandy beach immediately opposite Bole on the mainland just some 10 km away and had breakfast.
The backdrop of the Croatian mainland is dominated by their mountain range that rises over 1,500 meters out of the sea some 20 km across the sea to the south of us, and just 4 km from the coast. The bays say if was 1,700 m but I could see it on the maps. It is none-the-less a massive rock range that extends to the northern and southern horizon and it fades into the blue haze of distance.
The clarity of the air first thing in the morning was incredible and as the day warmed so the mountains became smoky with the heat haze.
As we travelled around Brac Island, we noted that it is a fairly high and rock island and appears to be a sub-range of the mainland. The topography varies between rich fertile lands and rock foreshores. There were obviously little clusters of holiday homes with no roads and no gardens, in other places there was
small crop farming with the mandatory acre of trellised grapes and fruit trees and vegetable gardens on rich soils.
In other places there were ancient rock walls, which presumably surrounded gardens, which were long abandoned. The main wall between the major land blocks were more than 5 meters wide and looked to be the demarcation of large blocks (Drago said they were the marks between family blocks) and it seemed to be where the rocks in the soil were thrown to allow gardens to be established
We moored about 150 m from shore and a few people swam ashore and found the sand extended almost half way to the boat. The rest went by tender to the rock wharf, where the water was so shallow.
We put out mats and sat on the sand beach with the locals in the shade of the great trees that border the beach and then realised we left our money behind so couldn’t buy a beer. (Shock Horror!!!) So I swam back to the boat to get some money for cold beers and ice-creams. As I was coming ashore the largest dragon fly, about 10 cm long with a bright pastel
blue body with bluish wings shot across the water like a black-hawk helicopter, hovered, looked me up and down and then took off to the island. Di said they are the national animal of the island???
There was a lasting impression on us as we sat on the beach looking at the steep rugged mountain ranges on the mainland some 12 km away; the still, deep blue/green sea with Altlantica moored some 100 m from shore, that we were part of an enormous stage production backdrop. I felt we were all belittled by the grandeur and the beauty of the scenery.
The water was freezing as fresh water was flowing from the island into the sea and after my swim I remembered why I don't swim very much because my left shoulder gave me a bad time catching in all sorts of position from then on.
We left the sand beach and headed across the channel to Omis (Omish) on the coast where we will look at the Cetis Gorge.
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