Aye Aye Captain!

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September 11th 2009
Published: October 9th 2009
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We found a nice big campsite about 10km outside of Split. Our pitch was located right next to a very calm and shallow bay. We spent the next 2 days catching up on some much needed clothes washing, going shopping in Split Centre (for my upcoming birthday presents and cake!) and also catching up on skype.

Friday 28th August was my birthday! I awoke to a fully cooked hearty breakfast from my lovely wife, complete with a beautifully presented set table including a central floral arrangement (well a single flower and some shrubbery in a plastic cup) and folded napkins. Suz had gone to a lot of effort with what she had to work with! After devouring almost three pigs worth of bacon it was present opening time. A brand new t-shirt and a nice new book....it doesn’t get much better than that when on a 5-6 month holiday, new clothes and some entertainment whilst lazing on the beach....perfect! Suz, to my request had also stuck to our new tradition and made me a card. In my opinion, they are much more special than the bought Hallmark cards that usually end up in the bin a few years down the
my hand made birthday card (leaf)my hand made birthday card (leaf)my hand made birthday card (leaf)

An almighty effort thanxs babe!
track. I was presented with heart shaped leaves, dried, and sewed together with cotton to form an opening card. My name was sewn into the front along with the paper used to write the message on. An extremely thoughtful and creative card that will be hard to top when Suz’s birthday comes at the end of this year! It was then time for a quick birthday game of bat and ball in the knee deep sea water, not one but two birthday cakes of varying flavours, then it was shower, change and into town to find somewhere for the next part of my present.....a massive seafood feast (which I had been waiting for, for months now).

We found a beautiful quiet little restaurant along the harbour of Split with a perfect table outside. We ordered a giant seafood platter for two along with a mixed shellfish platter and a nice bottle of chardonnay. I almost made myself sick after eating the majority of our order which consisted of - a whole lobster, a whole fried fish, about 3 tuna steaks, 2 shrimp and plenty of mussels, clams and a shell fish called ‘wart venus’ (doesn’t sound very appetizing but
mmmmmm b'day cakemmmmmm b'day cakemmmmmm b'day cake

and not one but two different types
they are delicious). The food was absolutely amazing and the setting was perfect, the best birthday dinner I could have dreamed of!

The next day we awoke early to pack up and get down to the port of Split to meet up with our London mates, Scott, Em, Hayles and Dave (aka Novin, Melvin, Nobs). It was that day that we boarded a sailboat called “Labrador” and started our cruise around the magical Dalmation coastline of Croatia for 7 full days and nights, making stops at different island ports each night.

Onboard were about 38 fellow passengers and 6 quirky English speaking Croatian crew members. These included the great Captain Tony, the hilarious and charming frontman Bruno (or as he decided he wanted to be called - Robot), the most important Chef, and 3 other quiet but equally important deckies. About 3 Kiwi’s, 3 Poms, and 32 Aussies made up the passengers. It was a nice change to have so many English speaking people all around our age around us 24/7. It made for some refreshing conversation! And by the end of the 7 days we had made some tight bonds and really good friends that we will be sure to catch up with when we get back to both London and Brisbane.

Each day was a bit like ‘Ground Hog Day’ in that a similar routine was kept. Wake up between 8-9am for breakfast onboard, book reading and sun baking on the upper deck until about 11am, crack open the first ‘big beer’ of the day, backflip/frontflip/marlin dive/pin drop or just jump off the 7 metre high top deck into the Adriatic Sea for an hour and laze about in the water on li-lo’s. By then it was lunchtime which comprised of a 3 course meal onboard, more beer drinking and yabbering to fellow passengers while the boat motored to the next port (yes motored not sailed)! Once we reached the port it was time to change clothes and head out to dinner on the island followed by yet more drinking at a bar or nightclub. And then up the next day to do it all again! Although of course each day was unique in that we were docked at a different location.

Night 1 was Hvar Island, the largest partying/clubbing island on the week long itinerary. Scott, Em, Hayles, Nov, Suz and I had dinner together then hit a cocktail bar with lounges out the front on the harbour for a few sneaky drinks. We then met up with four other Labrador folks and went to a silent disco above a luxury hotel. This being our second silent disco experience of the trip so far and boy how different it was to Benicassim. The ten of us rocked in to be greeted by a lonely bar with only a handful of people quietly chatting at tables. The place was schmick! With modern decor, pristine clean finishes, a large deserted dance floor, a huge crystal blue pool behind a glass wall, and more staff than patrons at this point. Well that was until we all rocked in anyway! The serenity didn’t last long. We donned our headphones, smashed back a few drinks then hit the dancefloor. Some of the best tunes of the night included Suz and Em’s hilarious rendition of ‘Shut Up’ by the Black Eyed Peas, and not to mention when ‘Land Down Under’ come on we blew the roof off singing as loudly as possible. Of course as we’ve said before the funniest thing is taking your headphones off and hearing only the sound of people next to you belting out the song with no loud music actually playing. Absolutely classic! I can’t wait for the next silent disco instalment.

After jamming our way through numerous songs I thought it was time to spice things up a bit. I snuck out the side door unnoticed, stripped off my clothes and got down to just my jocks, broke into the luxurious pool room (when I say “broke into” I mean opened the already unlocked door!), banged hard on the glass wall adjoining the dance floor to get everyone’s attention, and when I was sure everyone was watching I did a huge running belly flop into the calm cool chlorinated blue pool! Only to emerge and be greeted with a staff member fuming and barking at me “did anyone say you could come in here?” and to that I admittedly quite smart arsedly replied with “well nobody said I couldn’t!” The staff was definitely shut down by that comment pretty quickly and with that he walked off. I calmly and quite nonchalantly grabbed a nearby large fluffy hotel towel, dried myself off, got dressed and rejoined my crew on the dance floor, to their ovation and applause of course! He he! After carving up the dance floor well into the night we left and went to a nightclub called Carpe Diem where we met up with almost all of our fellow Labradorian crew. Scotty and I both bought a 200 kuna drink each (around £25 or $60). It was literally a flower vase full to 85% with straight vodka and ice, a dash of soda water, a few chunks of lime and about 15 two foot long straws in each vase for good measure! Oh and don’t forget the large sparkler on top as well which they lit for us at the bar. Needless to say we shared these around the Labrador members. As if we would’ve been stupid enough to punish only ourselves with them, our arses would’ve been on the floor for sure. After struggling through the last of the vodka it was back to the boat for a “rocky” night sleep.

Breakfast the next morning gave me a heads up of what not to do the morning after an all night boozing session. Don’t eat the hot dog weiners and certainly don’t eat the pate, which is in a single serving tub with an expiry date of July 2014 (yes it apparently lasted 5 years!) and both looked and smelt literally like dog vomit (or maybe it was just what happened afterwards that has tainted my memory). Sure enough an hour or so later, my not so delicious breakfast items were in the bottom of our toilet after their second trip through my oesophagus but this time defying gravity and exiting my pie hole. Ahh the pictures you all must have entering your minds right now! Ha ha!

Most days lunch pretty much consisted of chicken noodle soup, a side ‘salad’ of just cabbage (although it did alternate between red and green - lucky us!) fish (a whole fish which needed to be boned - a skill which we all became very good at), potato and fruit! Of course this is a rather large generalisation and overall the food was actually pretty good!

Night 2 was spent at Dubrovnik. We arrived in the afternoon which gave us enough time to conquer the 1.5 hour walk around the old town’s city wall. Unfortunately my recent development of being scared of heights hindered my experience. Especially seeing that the walls were a good 20 metre high in some places with only a mere 700mm or so high protection barrier! Not good for the nerves. Scott, Em, H, Nov, Suz and I decided to forego the audio guide and instead took turns in making up our own historical information at certain points along the wall. It evoked peoples imagination and made for some interesting stories and very funny moments. Some “you had to be there” moments included stories about “Broccoli Island”, Dead Man’s rock, the Italian Embassy, Queen Vula and the Kings mistresses ashes, one legged pogo stick fighting championship stadium and pirate Nik and pirate Dubrov’s tumultuous ship race! After our silly shenanigans, we then met up with some of the crew at an amazingly unique bar called “Buza” (great name for a bar hey!). After navigating your way through the narrow streets of Dubrovnik’s old town you meet up with the western sea front wall, pass through a small doorway cut into the wall and appear on the other side into what seems like an oasis. An awesome seaside arrangement of tables perched on a rocky outcrop, complete with table service for drinks. After downing a couple of quick beverages and soaking up the atmosphere the six of us then had a seafood dinner and hit a bar called ‘Skybar’ for a drinking game called 21. Essentially you go around in a circle saying the numbers 1,2,3...etc until the last person who says 21 has to drink and make a rule. The rule being that instead of saying a number e.g. 6 for instance, you have to do or say something in its place such as, lollipop or whatever the person comes up with. The catch is you can say either 1,2 or 3 numbers in sequence if you want. So person 1 could say 1,2,3 person 2 could say 4,5 person 3 could say ‘lollipop’, 7 and so on until 21 comes around again and someone drinks and makes another rule. So it can be quite a long game! And to give you an example of the stupidity, this is how our game ended up:

1. Woof, woof
2. Loosen up my buttons babe (singing the Pussy Cat dolls line whilst pretending to rub your nipples)
3. I’m a barbie girl in a barbie world (again singing the song whilst dancing)
4. Life in plastic it’s fantastic (same again)
5. Six
6. Had to get up and grab your right leg whilst pumping it and hopping at the same time
7. Yee-hah! (And stand up and throw your hands in the air)
8. O is for Awesome!
9. Blow a raspberry
10. Fiddle de diddle de dee and potatoes (whilst doing your best leprechaun moves)
11. Pine tree
12. Pied piper
13. All Blacks
14. Do not have a
15. Big d*ck
16. Aussie!
17. I love lamb
18. If I were a rich man (singing the song and swinging your arm in front of you)
19. Twenty
20. Bom chicka wow wow
21. 21

So as you can see there was some crazy stuff there but absolutely hilarious trying to remember them all and watch peoples actions whilst being pissed as mutes. It made for a great night! After a ton of laughter it was back to the boat for some much needed sleep.

Night 3 was at a remote island port. We played some beach volleyball and went to a 10 kuna wine tasting place, followed by a 100 kuna BBQ feast on the boat. It was meat galore! This was followed by the opening of ‘Club Lab’ for drinking introductions around the table (getting to know each other), and plenty of karaoke with numerous guitar players on board (sadly for Suz who never stops once she starts talking - she had to just watch and hand signal to everyone as she lost her voice that day, what are the chances!).

Night 4 was deemed ‘White Night’. A girl on board, Mad’s, had told us (the day before) that it was going to be her birthday. That morning she opened presents from her friends and the entire boat sang ‘happy birthday’ to her. It was a bit strange for Maddy as none of her family or other friends back home had messaged her - only her fellow boaties. After reviewing her calendar she realised to her extreme embarrassment that she had stuffed up the days and her birthday was actually the next day! Ooops! After getting everyone excited about the Night 4 ‘all dress in white’ themed party for her birthday, which was really meant to be the day after, we all decided to have it anyway that night. And for good measure we would celebrate again on the proper day
view over Dubrovnik from the city wallsview over Dubrovnik from the city wallsview over Dubrovnik from the city walls

'broccoli island' in the background
of her birthday with a black clothing only party. It is pretty bloody funny though to forget your own birthday. But that’s what happens after travelling for so long, you lose track of time and are lucky to remember what month it is, let alone day or date. Anyway, everybody on board put in a mighty effort and decked out completely in white, as can be seen from the photos below of the girls and guys group aboard the Labrador

Suz here now, Vince was a little too busy driving to finish this blog so I’ll fill you in on the last few days. So yes, The White Party was definitely a memorable night with endless drinking, singing and boat hopping. Which I might add was quite dangerous as we were all going across the railings on the top decks between boats, where one slip or wrong footing could mean you were straight down between the boats and into the ocean. Luckily none of us went in the drink that night! By 2am the karaoke began on the lower deck of the Labrador with many of our talented guys playing guitar to keep us in tune. Other passengers from similar boats came to join us as we had a fantastic sing along going on that everyone wanted to be a part of. Mr Jones, Roxanne, Land Down Under and even Rip Rip Wood Chip were just some of the featured songs. By about 3am when we’d had enough singing most of us hit the sack, however a select few went for a morning swim and li-lo float about in the ocean - crazy guys!

As Vince mentioned earlier Night 5 was ‘Black Night’ as a tribute to Maddy and forgetting her birthday! Once again everyone put in a great effort and donned their black outfits. At one stage our boat looked a little like it was a security team, either that or a bunch of Goths. ‘Black Night’ was far more tame than ‘White Night’. A group of about 9 of us headed out to find a nice place for dinner. After wandering around the picturesque little streets of the island Korcula we found a place that we thought was suitable. As the owner greeted us Vince proceeded to ask for a table for 9 at which time the owner was very pleased and ushered us to sit down. However, before Vince sat down he asked if we could have free wine and the owner replied “of course, I will get you one bottle”. At this Vince pondered and obviously not satisfied he said “we will need 2 bottles, there is 9 of us after all”. The owner scowled and said no that he couldn’t possibly. So head huncho Vince gathered his troops and we walked off to the next restaurant, only to have the owner scurrying after us telling us that 2 bottles was no problem. So back we went and sat down perusing their menu. In hindsight the 2 bottles of free wine was our payment for the comedy of errors that followed at dinner. First the owner came to take our order, than he decided he didn’t want to finish our order and he would sit more guests down to tables. Then he came to take the order again and skipped Emma out, and when she called after him to place her order he growled at her saying why hadn’t she ordered before (dah you idiot cause you ignored her!). Next I tried to order their “Tunny fish greek salad” minus the tunny fish. Well this was the most difficult and ridiculous thing the owner had ever heard. He replied to me “without the tunny fish it is only cheese, you must have tunny fish”. Well buddy I don’t know what kind of “greek salad” you guys make but greek salad has tomato, cucumber, olives, feta and red onion in Greece! So I had to skip the greek salad and opt for an easier option. Needless to say after all the hassle those bottles of wine were definitely well deserved. We finally finished dinner, paid up and got the hell out of there to try and find somewhere else to relax.

We ended up down one end of the island at a bar called Massimo. Massimo is one of the funniest bars I think I’ve ever been to. It is actually located at the top of a castles turret, and to get to the top you have to climb a ladder up through the middle. So if the only way to get up there is by a ladder how do you think staff get the drinks from the bottom to the top? No, they don’t balance them on their head whilst they climb the ladder, they have a little pully lift system on the outside of the building that sends the drinks up! So cute watching all these cocktails go up the side of a battlement castle like wall. My only concern was having too many cocktails and trying to get down the ladder. So after about 3 cocktails we all decided to climb back down to get our feet on firmer ground elsewhere.

From Massimo we ended up at a packed bar called Loco, or something like that. Loco was packed with most of the passengers from all the sailboats, and majority were men. Once you looked across from the beer garden at Loco it was easy to see why. On the opposite wall was a giant TV (like you have at festivals) playing fashion TV with swimsuit shoots, Victoria Secrets Models and basically lots of sexy girls in little clothing. After about 2 more drinks I was pretty tired and ready to head to bed as were some other girls, but not the guys! So I left with 2 of the other girls from the boat, leaving the boys there to continue drinking - or watching TV!

Night 6 was a little different to the previous booze filled nights - well for Vince and I anyway! To start off with Steve (one of the guys on our boat) is a professional chef and after getting permission from the boat staff he was allowed to use the kitchen to cook the whole boat dinner (whoever was interested). So we all pitched in some cash and Steve was off ready steady cook style to get us a scrumptious dinner. Before Steve did so he had to get himself some sou-chefs. Vince nominated himself in a flash, being a keen cook himself he was dying for an opportunity to work with a pro. About 4 other guys on the boat also wanted to help, so it was settled, and us lucky ladies and the rest of the guys on the boat had 5 lovely gentlemen cooking dinner for us that night.

Come 6pm we all had to dress in our nicest outfit for the dinner party. And I must say that for another last minute thing everyone did so well to get such beautiful outfits organised. I mean who goes on a 1 week relaxing boozy sail with their Sunday best, when all you are told you need is bikinis and shorts? We all hurried to the upper deck where our pre dinner nibbles were served. Prosciutto with melon, delicious cheeses and salami, olives, fresh country baked bread and a vodka watermelon were just a few of the mouth watering items. Once we were all slightly tipsy from the pre dinner watermelon along with our own drinks it was on to the main event. The boat dining room was a flurry of activity, Steve getting his assistants into line and Erin (Steve’s girlfriend) running front of house. Erin did a fabulous job getting people seated and managing the service of the food. Once we were all settled the eating began. I can’t re-write Steve’s menu because it won’t sound as good as he could tell you, but in a nutshell, we had tender pork cooked with leek and potatoes, with some yummy tomato salad thing and some kind of sautéed greens. This was then followed by a creamy caramelised desert of figs, mmmm yum!

When dinner was over and we were all full as googy eggs, the cleaning began. Everyone did a fantastic job and all pitched in washing, drying and tidying - we definitely had a great bunch of people on our boat. We all commended Steve and the guys on their fabulous food and then we headed for the closest bar - the Cave bar! About a 5 minute walk from the boat was a dark eery cave by day and a raging bar by night. It was full of party goers drinking and singing in the echo of the cave. Definitely another cool bar to add to our list of bars visited. By this time the week was catching up with Vince and I, and after a quick peek at the bar we decided that we’d call it a night and get some decent sleep.

The next day was the end of our trip and sadly it was horrible and windy, nothing like the glorious days we’d had all week. Luckily for us we weren’t staying on the rocky boat all day, we were going for something even rockier, white water rafting. While the others stayed on the boat getting swayed and tossed feeling rather green, about 10 of us headed into the hills of Croatia - just outside of Split. After an hour bus ride and a quick safety lesson, the helmets and vests were on and we were off down the rapids. Now when I say rapids, in summer they actually aren’t very fierce so it was quite a calm rafting day. The scenery made up for the calm waters though, it was a very beautiful tranquil area. Back on the water and there were probably about 2 really fun rapids but most of them were just like a little bounce down the river. Highlights of the rafting included, injuring our guide because we weren’t paddling fast enough as the boys were too busy laughing and being silly (which obviously he wasn’t very pleased about), going under a 10 degree Celsius waterfall and almost freezing to death, and when Sunny our guide called “bump” meaning we had to jump down into the boat as the rapid was so strong - very fun!!

It was finally Night 7 our last night. Sadly all good things must come to an end. By Night 7 our boat had definitely formed some very strong bonds and this was definitely apparent when we went to dinner and all 40 of us wanted to have dinner at the same restaurant together. Unfortunately none of the restaurants could accommodate such a large group at short notice, so we had to split up and arrange to meet later. Our solid group of 6 and about 6 others from the boat ended up at the same restaurant we went for Vince’s birthday. And no, no fabulous lobster platter this time, just some really yummy other less expensive stuff! With our group of 12 there was loads of food being ordered and our table was soon chockers with meals. At the end of dinner obviously the restaurant was very thankful for the money they made from us and they offered us free drinks, yippee (and Vince didn’t even have to ask this time)!

After another very satisfying dinner the gang headed out to the Split harbour to meet up for a bit of stroll through the town. Split is a very beautiful little town and there are loads of streets to wind your way through. After a bit of sight seeing it was time for some ‘thong golf’ in the middle of town. I think the locals and other tourists in the area thought we were all nuts, but we didn’t care. Oh and by the way for those of you not familiar with ‘thong golf’ it’s when everyone stands in one spot (e.g. in golf where you tee off) and tries to flick their thong off their foot (aka jandal, sandal, flip flop) to a designated spot (e.g. in golf the hole). So needless to say seeing 10-15 crazy Aussies flicking their thongs everywhere was quite a sight. Myself and another one of the girls decided to stand at “the hole” to get a photo and yes we got belted with thongs, but it made for some good shots!

The night then came to an end, as many people had flights back to London and other various places in Europe very early in the morning. We all said our sad goodbyes, gave hugs and promised to meet up with other travellers somewhere else in Europe and those going to work back in London. But now quickly (more so for our own benefit), and thanks to Talia, I’d like to share some of the numerous moments and memories from the Labrador Croatian sailing trip.......

"li-lo races, late night sing-a-longs, cabbage, sunbaking, nutella, brilliantly creative & entertaining boat jumps, Captain Napkin, BIG BEER thursday (even though i started on a small one - the only small beer i had mind you), White Party, Maddy's birthday...or birthday's!, Black Party, Bruno, stolen li-lo's, wasps or bee's, girls on the top deck, cocktails in big litre caraf's with lots of coloured straws, card games of arsehole or shithole, siesta's, Dress to Impress party, dancing in caves, swimming outside caves, somersalts down the hallway of the saloon with people chearing u on (Kath!), white water rafting, Bosnia trips, Chef, Gelaties & ice cream, volley ball on the beach, BIG birthday cakes with candles that don't go out, wine tasting, sunset drinks at Cafe Buza, floating down a shallow rapid and trying not to scrape your butt, cocktails hoisted up to high towers and then girls trying to daintily get down the steep ladder without flashing their nickers!, Captain Tony, whole fish, trying to get a seat next to Steve to disemble my whole fish, boys shopping for groceries! ... and then cooking a wicked meal for 40 people (topless too!), vodka soaked jelly bears, loads of pozing for photo's, some site-seeing, Dancing with Captain Tony and yelling his name to keep our party going later, Suz
thong golfthong golfthong golf

notice everyone cracking up with laughter as the thongs are pelted towards suz on the otherside of the camera
with no voice & Suz with her voice back!, belly-flops/back-slaps and face slaps, books, the dilema's of which deck to retreat to after each meal, when to have the first drink of the day-usually Vince would let us know, good chats, water-polo"

The Sail Croatia experience was definitely one of the highlights of the trip and if any of my fellow sailing pals read this blog I’d like to say thanks so much for an awesome week. You guys were such a fantastic bunch and as Al said many times “thank god there were no wankers on our boat”! ha ha! But yes seriously I agree, we had the best bunch of people you could ask for. For those of you reading this that haven’t done Sail Croatia, all I can say is “DO IT!”

So after some much needed social activity from the last week it was time for Vince and I to head off again on our own. We left Split and headed north to Pag, a small island just off the coastline. The week of drinking and partying had certainly taken its toll and we were ready for a nice quiet week. Thanks to our
thong golf take 2thong golf take 2thong golf take 2

white thong mid air
sailing buddies Al and Cath we were headed for a free camping spot where we could set up for days without being too obvious - perfect. After a few hours driving we made it to Pag and thanks to Al’s excellent directions we found it easily. The spot was faultless - quiet area to camp, no traffic noise or people noise and rocky steps down to an almost private beach.

After we had stocked up on groceries, water and all the necessaries we set up and settled in for some true camping and proper relaxation. The next 3 days pretty much consisted of waking up around 9am for breakfast, heading down to the beach for about 4 or 5 hours, back to the car for a hot solar shower, cooking dinner around 5pm, settling into the van around 7pm for a red wine or coffee and a good book - what more could you want! Yes we may sound like a grandma and grandpa, but seriously it was heaven and so nice to just relax without all the hustle and bustle of normal life. We even headed down to the beach one night for a warm crackling campfire complete
climbing up the ladder to the castle turret barclimbing up the ladder to the castle turret barclimbing up the ladder to the castle turret bar

had to literally squeeze thru a hole in the floor to get to the top
with marshmallows! After 3 days we needed to re-stock with water etc and get a bit of washing done. So we headed to a campsite nearby and did all our chores. After one night at the campsite we were straight back to our cosy little hidey hole free spot.

Back at our free spot we settled again for another 2 days in the same routine as before. We soaked up as much of the chilling as we could and lathered ourselves in as much sun and beach as possible as this was to be the last beach stint until we get back to Oz! So it had been almost one week and unfortunately it was time for us to leave the much loved Pag and continue our trip further East. But before we continue our adventure I will just say this about Croatia - the water is to die for, the food is delicious, the coastline is beautiful and the myriads of towns and islands could be explored forever! Overall, I can say that we had an amazing time in Croatia and it is an absolutely beautiful place to visit - if you can get there you won’t regret
suz climbing downsuz climbing downsuz climbing down

quite a few blokes copped an eye full as the girls descended the ladder with skirts or dresses on!

Additional photos below
Photos: 36, Displayed: 36


cooking up a storm on the coal BBQcooking up a storm on the coal BBQ
cooking up a storm on the coal BBQ

I must say I have become quite the coal bbq master
suz roasting marshmellowssuz roasting marshmellows
suz roasting marshmellows

havent done this since we were kids so it was great fun

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