Yacht Retreat - Passage Reports 2001

 

 

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Passage Report Number 1

 

On passage from Malta to Sicily

 

Wednesday 4th April, 2001

 

AT SEA ONCE MORE

 

As I begin this report we are 20 nautical miles north-east of Malta bound for Marzamemi on the south-eastern corner of Sicily.  The sun is climbing into a clear blue sky and we are motoring over a slight sea in a light north-westerly breeze.  It is great to be under way once more.

 

We flew back to Malta on Tuesday 27th February after an eventful three months in the UK.  Our flights came as part of a package deal that gave us two week’s accommodation in a somewhat basic hotel in St Julian’s, a short bus ride from the boat yard.  We used this time to scrape off much of the old antifouling and apply two new coats to Retreat’s under water surfaces.  It was hard, dirty work but we were encouraged by the knowledge that, had we stayed in the UK, we would have been enduring harsh winter conditions rather than enjoying the warm spring sunshine of the southern Mediterranean.

 

At the end of our fortnight Mum flew out and we joined her for a week in an apartment in Mellieha near the northern tip of Malta.  We hired a car for the duration of her visit in which we were able to explore both Malta and neighbouring Gozo.  Her stay was a great success and we all enjoyed the superb facilities at her resort, especially the warm indoor pool and the jacuzzi!

 

On Tuesday 20th March, three days after Mum’s departure, Retreat was launched and we obtained a berth for two weeks in Msida Marina.(map)  This proved to be a particularly social fortnight as friends we first met in Almerimar, Jimmy & Claire from the Yacht Phćacian, arrived from their over-winter base in Tunisia just 12 hours after us.  We also enjoyed the company of Gordon & Isobel from Different Drum and our neighbours, Andrew & Janice, from Rascal of Rhu.  Such times are when the tangible camaraderie of the sea really comes to the fore.  If an extra pair of hands is needed for a tricky job there is almost a surfeit of volunteers, all of whom give generously of their wide and varying talents.  If the pessimistic predictions of that rash of anti nuclear war films in the 1960’s should ever come true, and the world’s population is reduced to a few hundred, let us hope that there are a few yachties amongst them!

 

Ten days ago we heard the dreadful news that Ron Senior, a close friend from our early 20’s, has died from cancer.  We both owe a huge debt of gratitude to Ron and his widow Brenda for the love and support they gave us in those difficult years.  Our love, prayers and deepest sympathy go out to Brenda and her two sons.

 

At the end of last week the five-day weather forecast obtained from an Internet Cafe predicted a High Pressure System developing over the southern Mediterranean and the prospect of suitable conditions for our 60-mile passage to Sicily.  We began a hectic round of last-minute shopping and final preparations and, last night, we bade farewell to our many friends, several of whom we hope to meet again in Croatia.  From Sicily we shall head north-east across the toe and heel of Italy towards the Adriatic Sea.  To find out how we get on, look out for our next Passage Report.

 

 

 

 

Passage Report Number 2

 

Moored in Crotone, Calabria, Italy

 

Good Friday - 13th April, 2001

 

TIPTOEING THROUGH THE NIGHT

 

In the 10 days since our last Passage Report we have covered more miles than we often do in a month.  The few harbours in these parts and the paucity of places to visit ashore make long journeys inevitable.

 

Our journey from Malta to Sicily on Wednesday 4th April was largely under power though we did enjoy some superb sailing during the final three hours as we approached and rounded Capo Passero.  We spent the night on yacht pontoons in the isolated harbour of Marzamemi, 11 hours and 61 miles from Malta.  Our 2001 cruise had begun!

 

On Thursday we motored a further 53 miles over a smooth sea to Catania where we moored at the Club Nautica.  Our quiet passage in a light south-easterly wind was in the face of forecast north-easterly winds of force 7.  Having a great respect for the impossibly-difficult job of weather forecasting we put the discrepancy down to the local effects caused by ‘The Etna’, the 2,800 metre volcano that towers over the east coast of Sicily.

 

Having started at 0450 we arrived in Catania just after lunch.  After a siesta in the warm afternoon sun we walked into the town centre.  There we found many once-splendid buildings now somewhat faded through lack of care.  It must be difficult to engender civic pride in a populace whose town could be engulfed at any time by the ‘wicked witch’ that has destroyed their ancestors’ homes so many times before.

 

With 114 miles logged in two days, Friday was to be an easy day.  Twenty fives miles along the coast of Sicily took us to Naxos, a stunningly beautiful anchorage set between The Etna to the south and Capo di Taormina to the north.  Capo di Taormina is a long ridge punctuated with sharply-pointed hills rising along its length like spines on a Stickleback, each with a village atop and looking for all the world like grossly-exaggerated model train scenery.

 

Our stay in Naxos proved to be short lived as, despite the wind being off-shore, a swell curled in making the anchorage untenable.  Rather than back-track to Riposto or Catania or heading for Reggio di Calabria, we decided to make an overnight passage to Roccella Ionica.  What a superb passage it turned out to be!  Sailing silently through the night under the light of a full moon we passed the south-west tip of mainland Italy and continued along the toe to Roccella.  A feint red glow marked the active crater on The Etna and red, green and white lights marked the passing of countless ships making their way north or south through the Straits of Messina.  It is amazing how often the most memorable aspects of life arise spontaneously rather than through careful planning!

 

As we relaxed in Roccella Ionica the familiar light blue flags with their rings of golden stars fluttering around the harbour reminded us that we were back in the land of the Euro.  The harbour was built with massive grants from the EC to try to inject some prosperity into this depressed region.  Although virtually complete for some years now it still has no staff and mooring there is consequently free.  Whilst it is a most welcome harbour for yachtsman sailing this inhospitable coast, it cannot yet have contributed much to the local economy.

 

After a day of rest in Roccella we set out at 0445 on Monday morning to make the 70-mile passage to Crotone.  In distinct contrast to our night sail into Roccella, this turned out to be our least-pleasant passage since leaving Brighton.  It started well enough motoring over a smooth sea but, 30 miles into the passage the wind increased to force five and veered to blow from dead ahead.  Whilst we could have turned back, we were reluctant to lose the ground we had gained.  The price we paid was a very uncomfortable slog to windward under power for 10 hours making little more than 3 knots over the ground.  How pleased we were to find Rascal of Rhu moored alongside when we eventually arrived in Crotone.  They helped us to find a safe berth in the dark and we then scurried below to recover.

 

On Wednesday we travelled by train to Laghi di Sibari, a large marina deep in the Gulf of Taranto, the instep on the boot of Italy.  As it is a popular harbour for over-wintering we were anxious to visit Sibari but were reluctant to add 100 miles to our journey by going there in Retreat.  The train journey proved to be the ideal compromise.  When we arrived we were picked up from the station by a member of the marina staff.  The new manager and the lady in the office both spoke good English and they could not have been more helpful: we were treated like Royalty!  They answered all our questions and gave us a key so that we could wander freely around the marina and the yard.  We were impressed by what we saw and, unless we find somewhere we like better, may well return in October.

 

After the discomfort of our last journey, we are reluctant to leave Crotone until the weather settles a little more.  Our next passage is a further 70 miles to Santa Maria di Leuca on the extreme tip of the heel, so a good forecast is an important prerequisite.  To find out how long we have to wait, look out for our next Passage Report.

 

 

 

 

Passage Report Number 3

 

Moored in Dubrovnik Marina, Croatia

 

Saturday 21st April, 2001

 

OUR ARRIVAL IN CROATIA

 

As I write the setting sun is giving an orange hue to the rocky mountainside to the north of the River Dubrovacka.  A chapel with a slender spire nestles on a knoll and, below, the red-tiled roofs of pretty stone houses glow in the evening light.  To the south, lush green woodland cascades down the slopes to the very edge of the water.  We have arrived in Croatia.

 

In the event we only had to wait one more night before setting off from Crotone.  At 0400 on Saturday 14th April we cast off our lines and set forth on the 74-mile passage to Santa Maria di Leuca.  This time Aeoleus smiled upon us favourably and we enjoyed an excellent broad reach across the Gulf of Taranto.  Around lunchtime a large pod of dolphins joined us for a while, riding our bow wave and darting around and below us, clearly enjoying our company as much as we were enjoying theirs.  Andrew and Janice from Rascal of Rhu took our lines as we arrived and later joined us for supper.  What a difference a wind shift can make - an excellent day!

 

We spent Easter Day moored in Santa Maria di Leuca waiting for yet another north-westerly gale to pass over.  However, we were able to explore the small town and to walk up the huge double flight of steps built by Mussolini as a ceremonial gateway into Italy.  The steps lead to a lighthouse set at the southern tip of Capo di Santa Maria di Leuca, a prominent headland that marks the junction of the Ionian and Adriatic seas and which has been an important landmark for mariners for centuries.

 

By Easter Monday the gale had blown itself out and we made a 26-mile passage under power around Capo di Santa Maria di Leuca to Otranto on the Italian Adriatic coast.  We were greeted by deafening pop music played from the citadel walls, presumably as some form of celebration of Easter.  We might have been tempted to walk into the town to find out what was going on but we could find nowhere safe to leave Retreat.  There were half a dozen or more vacant berths on some new Yacht Club pontoons but a large notice made it clear (in three languages) that visitors were not welcome.  Incredulous at the concept of visiting yachts being turned away from vacant berths we approached the pontoons, but to no avail - we were indeed turned away.  We eventually moored alongside a laid-up fishing boat but not before silently awarding the Yacht Club of Otranto the ‘Wooden Spoon’ for the unfriendliest club in the Mediterranean!

 

On Tuesday morning, anxious to leave Otranto as soon as possible, we made a 43-mile passage to Brindisi.  Southerly winds of up to 30 knots gave us a fast passage along a low, featureless stretch of coast that, by its appearance, could quite easily have been the shoreline of Lincolnshire.  Against this background the chimneys and flare-stacks of Brindisi marked its position from seaward with clarity.  Yet, despite its industry and its poor write-up in our Pilot Book, Brindisi turned out to be a very acceptable port of call.  There was plenty of room for yachts on the town quay and a short walk took us right into the heart of a clean, modern city.  What a welcome contrast to Otranto!

 

Towards the end of our day in Brindisi, much of which was spent stocking up on supplies, a trip to an Internet Café left us with an ideal forecast for our 120-mile passage to Dubrovnik.  So it was that at 0900 on Thursday 19th April we cast off our lines and headed due north along the meridian of 18 degrees East.  Strong southerly winds of force 5 to 6 kept us sailing for 19 of our 24 hours at sea, much of the time under genoa alone.  As dawn revealed the cloud-enveloped mountains of the Croatian coast we hoisted our yellow flag and the courtesy ensign that Pat had produced the previous evening and sailed proudly in to Gruz, the port of entry for Dubrovnik.  After quick and painless visits by the Harbour Master, Police and Customs and the not-so-painless handing over of 1,295 Kuna (Ł108) for our Annual Cruising Permit, we were granted entry toCroatia.

 

With the formalities complete we cast off once more and motored the short distance to Dubrovnik Marina where we now lie.  With 546 miles covered in 17 days, 38% of which have been under sail, this has been our most hectic schedule at sea since leaving Brighton.  We intend, therefore, to stay here for a while, relax a little and slow down the pace before setting off along the Dalmatian Coast.  It may, therefore, be a little longer than usual before you receive our next Passage Report!

 

 

 

 

Passage Report Number 4

 

Anchored in Mali Lago, Otok Lastovo, Croatia

 

Saturday 5th May, 2001

 

CHANGES IN PRESSURE

 

We spent four nights in Dubrovnik Marina slowly unwinding from our high-speed dash from Malta.  During our stay we met up with Bob & Liz from Autumn Dream and John & Judy from Lindisfarne.  Both couples had been very helpful whilst we were planning our trip to Croatia by sending detailed replies to the many questions we posed through the Cruising Association’s e-mail network known as MedNet.  It was good to be able to thank them in person.  Unfortunately, the weather was less agreeable than the company as it rained for much of our stay!

 

Despite the weather, we made several trips to the old walled city of Dubrovnik using the cheap and regular bus service. We particularly enjoyed our visit to the ancient grain silos (Rupe) and our walk around the top of the city walls.  The patchwork of bright and faded orange tiles on the roofs is one of the few remaining pieces of visible evidence of the ‘Siege of Dubrovnik’, which took place in 1991/2.  The Yugoslavian Army occupied the high ground around the city and attempted to bombard it into submission.  They failed, but much damage was done to the buildings.  Most have now been repaired, but only time will disguise the contrast between the old and the new.

 

The helpful lady in the Marina Office assured us that the bad weather would soon be over and summer was about to begin.  This seemed to be confirmed by the long-range forecast we obtained from an Internet Café in Dubrovnik.  So it was that on Tuesday 24th April, with pressure rising over the Adriatic, we motored out of Dubrovnik Marina and began our cruise of Dalmatia.

 

As we motored north-west along the Koločepski Kanal (not a canal at all but a mile wide channel between the Elaphite Islands and the mainland)  we felt quite over-awed by the beauty and grandeur of our surroundings.  Everything we have read has spoken of such beauty, but nothing has really done it justice.  Rather like the Fjords of Norway, but on a smaller scale, the coastal scenery is stunning, particularly for those like us, lucky enough to be able to see it from the sea.

 

After a night anchored in a bay on the mainland coast, Luka Slano, we made a thirteen-mile passage to the first of what we hope will prove to be many islands visited - Otok Mljet.  (Luka means Harbour and Otok means Island)  After an over-night stay in the semi-protected bay of Luka Prožura we moved on to Luka Polače.  In cruising terms this is as close to perfect as an anchorage can be.  Completely protected from the sea and with good holding for the anchor it also has  superb scenery and interesting walks ashore.  With no pressure to move on we were able to enjoy it to the full - we stayed for four nights!

 

The north-western end of Otok Mljet in which Luka Polače is situated is a National Park. Two kilometres inland from our anchorage there is a series of  ‘inland seas’, the most popular feature of the park.  We enjoyed several walks around their boarders during which we saw rare Bee Orchids and a Hoopee, a large crested bird.

 

On Monday afternoon we moved from Luka Polače to an equally delightful anchorage south of Pomena, still within the National Park.  Though not quite as well protected as Luka Polače it is even more secluded with only one house to be seen in the distance.  We stayed for two nights and made the most of the beautiful surroundings and the glorious sunshine.

 

By Wednesday we were running short of both water and food so a trip to a larger centre was a necessity.  We left Otok Mljet promising to return and made the fourteen-mile passage to the town of Korčula on the island of the same name.  We made fast in the marina close to the old walled town and began a frenetic round of shopping, washing and cleaning.  Fortunately, we also found time to explore the old town, its red roofs contrasting sharply with the stark grey mountains of the Pelješac Peninsular in the background.

 

On Thursday afternoon we sailed from Korčula to Otok Lastovo where we now lie.  Unfortunately the high pressure has slipped away and it has turned quite windy once more.  However, we are in a fully-protected bay and have two anchors laid so we do not feel concerned.  When conditions improve we shall move on again.  After all, living one’s life in tune with the weather is what cruising is all about!

 

 

 

 

Passage Report Number 5

 

Moored in Luka Tiha, Otok Hvar, Croatia

 

Monday 21st May, 2001

 

TOOTH FAIRIES AND GREMLINS

 

We did not have to wait long for conditions to improve sufficiently for us to leave Luka Mali Lago. We were able to leave the very next morning, though not before spending an hour and a half recovering and re-stowing our second anchor.  A heavy Danforth, it is extremely effective but a brute to handle, especially from the dinghy.

 

A nine-mile passage between the smaller islands off the western end of Otok Lastovo took us to the fully-protected anchorage of Skrivena Luka.  Our journey took us close by the entrance to one of several submarine pens hewn out of the hillside.  Otok Lastovo was off limits until 1989.   No doubt, in their glory days, some of the nuclear submarines that now lie rotting in Russian harbours lay hidden here, less than 60 miles from the Italian Coast, poised for action that thankfully never came.

 

We spent three nights anchored in Skrivena Luka.  Of several excursions ashore we particularly enjoyed an 8 km walk across the island to the village of Lastovo.  Although walking on a metalled road, the traffic density of one car per hour allowed us the freedom to enjoy the wide diversity of wild flowers and birds along the way.  The pretty village of Lastovo lies perched on a ridge on the north side of the island but looking inland, not out to sea as one might expect.

 

On the morning of Wednesday 9th May we reluctantly left Otok Lastovo and motored north to Otok Korčula.  We nosed into several anchorages along the south coast of the island eventually anchoring for the night tucked behind the long thin island of Zvirinovik.  Here we spent a peaceful afternoon in brilliant sunshine and a comfortable night.  The only slight damper on an otherwise perfect day was a tooth that began to cause me some discomfort that evening.

 

On Thursday we motored around the western end of Otok Korčula and anchored in a semi-protected bay, Uvala Sveti Ivan.  We spent two nights here punctuated by a trip in Retreat to the town of Vela Luka where we stocked up on food, drink, water and diesel.  The weather remained pleasantly calm, unlike my tooth, which became angrier by the hour.  I began a course of antibiotics given to me by my dentist in Ash when the tooth played up once before, just over a year ago.

 

On Saturday we made an eighteen-mile passage to the Pakleni Otoci, a group of small islands off the western end of Otok Hvar.  We anchored for lunch off Otok Jerolim, the most easterly of the islands and overnight in Uvala Vinogradišće on the southern side of Otok Sveti Klement.  Uvala Vinogradišće is a superb anchorage with plenty of room and delightful scenery but it is unfortunately spoilt by a very noisy generator onshore that runs for most of the day.

 

We spent two more nights amongst the Pakleni Otoci, one anchored in Uvala Taršće and one tucked behind Rt Mlin on Otok Marinkovak.  To us, this is cruising at its very best.  Quiet, peaceful anchorages all to ourselves, beautiful scenery and warm sunshine.  Even the tooth seemed to be responding to the antibiotics.  Perfect!

 

The weather forecast on Tuesday morning brought us back to reality with a warning of increasing winds from the south-east.  We decided to take advantage of the new wind and visit Otok Vis, another island that was off limits prior to 1989.  Once clear of the Pakleni Otoci we were treated to an exhilarating sail with 25 knots of wind on our port beam giving us 6 to 7 knots over the entire eleven-mile passage.  We moored alongside the Town Quay where we were reasonably, though not entirely sheltered from the prevailing winds.

 

We would have liked to stay on Otok Vis for longer but Gremlins intervened by spending the night tapping away at my tooth with small pick-axes.  The course of antibiotics was over, and so was the relief they had brought.  Another brisk sail took us to the western end of the Pakleni Otoci followed by an exciting beat to Hvar town up the Pakleni Kanal.  On the very last tack the Gremlins intervened again, tripping me up as I moved to grind in the winch.  I scraped my shin against the edge of a locker lid and removed a section of skin about 8cm long by 3cm wide.  Pat said it looked just like the scrapings from new potatoes!

 

The harbour at Hvar Town was much too rough in the strong south-easterly wind so we retreated to the ACI marina at Luka Palmižana on Otok Sveti Klement to patch up my wound.  Thursday was a very windy, overcast day so we stayed on board, thankful to be moored in a secure marina.  On Friday we crossed to Hvar Town by water taxi and I visited a dentist at the Health Centre in Hvar Town.  He confirmed that there was an abscess behind the tooth, a lower molar, and that it would have to come out.  Despite two injections the anaesthetic failed to work and, when the dentist attempted to remove the tooth, I passed out with the pain.  I came round to find myself tilted right back on the chair with my head near the floor, the dentist spraying water on my face with his rinsing jet and the nurse fanning me with a towel!  A crash course of some stronger antibiotics for 24 hours and then try again was his recommendation, so back to Retreat I crept, not a happy man.

 

On Saturday morning we woke to blessed silence - the wind had gone.  We paid our dues, cast off our lines, motored across to Hvar Town and anchored in the harbour.  The dentist had been joined by his boss, a substantial lady of indeterminate Slavic extraction who would not have looked out of place in a Bond movie.  Whether or not she had lethal spikes concealed in her toecaps I did not discover, but I feel sure that she did.  This time the injection was marginally more effective and the combined efforts of two dentists and a nurse (one to pull and two to hold me down) finally removed the offending tooth.

 

We spent Saturday night in Luka Vela Garška, a delightful bay on the northern side of the Pakleni Kanal.  Yesterday, we motored around the western end of Otok Hvar to Luka Tiha on Starogradski Zaljev.  Here, whilst I was taking a line ashore in the dinghy, the Gremlins struck once again.  Trying to prevent the rope rubbing against my injured leg I slipped and tore a muscle in my shoulder.  Who ever said sailing was relaxing!

 

Contrary winds prevented us from staying in Luka Tiha last night so we moved to Stiniva where we were able to moor behind a protective wall.  However, we returned to Luka Tiha this morning where we are now lying, bows to our anchor and stern tied back to the rocks ashore.  It is a beautiful spot where, Gremlins permitting, we hope to stay for a couple of nights.

 

 

 

 

Passage Report Number 6

 

Moored in Marina Hramina, Otok Murter, Croatia

 

Sunday 10th June, 2001

 

FAMILY FLIGHTS

 

As I write my wounds have healed and we are safely moored in Marina Hramina as near-gale force winds howl through the rigging and create mayhem amongst the charter fleet attempting to berth their large, unfamiliar vessels in very testing conditions.  We do not really like marinas, much preferring to lie to our own anchor in a secluded bay, but in conditions like this the security of a sheltered berth has much to commend it.

 

We enjoyed a peaceful night in Luka Tiha, though southerly winds forced us to move out on the following afternoon, Tuesday 22nd May.  However, we were able to find good shelter for that night a short distance away in Luka Zavala and we returned to Luka Tiha for Wednesday night.  One of the joys of cruising in Croatia is that, in settled weather, it is almost always possible to find a sheltered bay along the deeply indented coast of the offshore islands.

 

On Thursday we made a 26-mile passage around the northern promontory of Otok Hvar to a spectacular inlet known as Vela Stiniva.  We anchored there for a few hours and then retraced our wake to Vrboska where we anchored for the night in a bay on the northern side of the approach.  The following morning we visited the travel agent in Jelsa to find out where Katy and family would be staying and we made arrangements to berth Retreat in the harbour for the duration of their visit.

 

We remained at anchor near Vrboska throughout Saturday keeping in touch with Katy and Nick using SMS messages.  By late evening we knew that they had arrived at their apartment and were, therefore, less than 2 miles away.  However, we had promised to give them breathing space until the next morning so we had to contain our excitement.  The next morning we motored into Jelsa harbour and met up on board as arranged.  Everyone was very excited, of course, except Oliver who took it all in his stride!  What a thrill it was to see how much he had grown and developed since we last saw him in February.

 

The weather Gods smiled upon our family holiday and we were blessed with warm sunshine for the whole week.  We enjoyed several day-sails on board Retreat, went for a long walk along a beautiful coastal path, swam in the sea and visited Hvar Town by bus.  All too soon we were waving goodbye and doing our best to put on a brave face.  Long-term cruising has many benefits, but saying goodbyes does not number amongst them!

 

We had little time for tears:  in the ten minutes it took us to walk back to Retreat the wind rose from 5 to 25 knots.  Running the last 50 metres we found her stern pressed hard up against the quay with only ‘Fido’, the huge fender we use in such circumstances, protecting her from serious damage.  After what seemed like an eternity, but in reality was probably less than 5 minutes, we cast off, weighed anchor and motored out of Jelsa harbour.  Once clear of the breakwater we found ourselves battling against a full gale and two-metre waves.  Mercifully, we were able to bear away after less than half a mile and, 75 minutes later, we anchored safely off Vrboska.  The storm continued to intensify with hail, thunder and lightening all around but, by mid afternoon all was calm and the sun shone for the first time that day.  We weighed anchor and made a 15-mile passage to Uvala Luciče on Otok Brač. 

 

On Saturday 2nd June we made a 17-mile passage to Uvala Razetinovac, a delightful bay just 1˝ miles from Trogir.  The next morning we motored into the marina to keep a rendezvous with old friends Jimmy & Claire on board Phćacian.  We spent two very busy days in Trogir with a hectic round of social calls, washing, scrubbing, shopping and site seeing.  The mediaeval town is built on an island and ranks alongside Dubrovnik and Korčula as one of the ‘must see’ sites of Dalmatia.

 

Since leaving Trogir we have devoted our time to enquiring about flights and seeking a suitable marina to leave Retreat for our mid-summer trip back to the UK and, possibly, as a place to overwinter as well.  We have found and booked flights but, so far, our search for a suitable marina has been unsuccessful.  Using a list provided by the Cruising Association HLR (Honorary Local Representative) for Croatia, Roger Baker, we have visited all the marinas in this area with a Travel Hoist.  Marina Hramina, where we now lie, looks the most likely though there appears to be a problem over the availability of suitable supporting cradles.  Tomorrow morning we shall visit the office and find out for sure one way or the other.  To find out how successful we are, look out for our next Passage Report.

 

 

 

 

Passage Report Number 7

 

Anchored in Supetarska Draga, Otok Rab, Croatia

 

Saturday 23rd June, 2001

 

NORTHERN CLIMES

 

Our trip to the office at Marina Hramina was successful and we have booked a place on land for Retreat, both for our summer break and for the winter.  Looking for a suitable marina to lay up is always an unsettling task so we are delighted that we shall not have to consider the question again for at least 11 months.  Marina Hramina is in a rural location on the edge of a village and we hope that it will prove to be a pleasant spot to spend a few months of our lives, both in the autumn and next spring.

 

On Monday 11th June, having booked our place at the marina, we threaded our way through the myriad of small islands north of Otok Murter to Uvala Landin on Otok Pašman.  There we spent a peaceful though gusty night accompanied only by the sound of 1,000’s of cicadas in the trees on the shore.  The following day we made our way to Uvala Brbinj on Dugi Otok (Long Island) where we had our first experience of what might be described as a ‘buoyed marina.’  A ring of well-spaced buoys has been positioned about 30 metres offshore around a beautiful, well-protected bay.  From each buoy a long line runs ashore in addition to the normal attachment to a concrete block on the seabed.  Boats moor by attaching their bow to a vacant buoy and then use the long line to attach their stern to the shore.

 

The boatman who came to collect our dues (a most reasonable Ł3.80) was one of the most interesting characters we have met in Croatia.  He spoke English and Italian in addition to his native Croatian and spent some 10 minutes with us chatting about life, the universe and everything and answering our many questions about the area.  He also took our rubbish away!  If the government in Zagreb is seeking an exemplary ambassador for their country, it need look no further!  Spurred on by his enthusiasm we spent a second night in Brbinj and walked to the top of the ridge above the bay.  From the summit we were able to look north-east towards the 1,700 metre peaks of the Velebit Mountains that dominate both the scenery and the weather in the northern Adriatic.  What a difference one man’s kindness can make to the impression left by a town, an island or even a country.  We thank him for the joy he brought us.

 

Over the next three days we made our way to Pula on the Istrian peninsula with nights spent at anchor in Luka Sveti Ante on Otok Silba and Veli Zal on Otok Lošinj.  Our 35-mile journey from Veli Zal to Pula was remarkable as our first open-sea passage since arriving in Croatia, all others having been behind the protective screen of the off-lying islands.

 

The passage of yet another depression kept us in Pula for three nights.  Fortunately, it is an interesting town with many reminders of its Roman ancestry including the sixth-largest amphitheatre ever built.  Why a town of 5,000 inhabitants needed an amphitheatre that could seat 22,000 has never been satisfactorily explained.  However, it is still in regular use today though gladiators have given way to musicians as the providers of entertainment.

 

On Tuesday 19th June the weather improved and we made a short passage to Uvala Soline, a pretty anchorage just a few miles south from Pula.  The following day we made a 53-mile passage south around the southern tip of Istria and north around the northern tip of Otok Cres, a passage that we shall remember long after the images of a hundred others have merged.  Contrary to the impression given by several reports that we read before setting out, the area is very beautiful with spectacular mountains running back to the Slovenian border.  To add further interest, as we rounded Otok Cres at 45° 10'.72 North, we were at our most northerly point since crossing the Bay of Biscay in 1998:  further north than anywhere on the northern coast of Spain and further north than anywhere in the Western Mediterranean.  Small wonder that we feel the effect of every depression to pass over the UK - in meteorological terms, we are not really that far away!

 

Our passage around Otok Cres (pronounced tsress) took us to Puntarska Draga on Otok Krk.  We spent three nights at anchor in this completely enclosed bay and enjoyed two long walks ashore, one to the town of Krk and one around the wooded peninsular.  Many of the islands are covered with impenetrable Maquis that makes walking impossible, so the man-made tracks were particularly welcome.  This morning we motored 14 miles to Supetarska Draga on Otok Rab where we now lie.  The Velebit Mountains that plague the northern Adriatic with their katabatic winds lie only a few miles to the east but, with luck, and despite our latitude, the settled conditions will last long enough for us to enjoy this beautiful area.

 

 

 

 

Passage Report Number 8

 

Anchored in Uvala Koširina, Otok Murter, Croatia

 

Saturday 14th July, 2001

 

ADRIATIC PLAGUES

 

As I write we are anchored close to Marina Hramina where we shall be leaving Retreat for a month whilst we fly back to the UK for our summer break.  With the lift-out booked for Wednesday the next few days promise to be both hot and busy, but if all goes to plan, by mid Friday afternoon we should be looking down on the Adriatic from 30,000 feet.

 

On Sunday 24th June we motored 10 miles around the coast of Otok Rab to Uvula Sveti Fumija, close to the town of Rab.  En route we encountered what can only be described as a plague of small, high-speed sports boats.  A seemingly endless procession of these noisy and unpredictable craft, every one flying a German ensign, appeared to be circumnavigating the island of Rab leaving nothing but mayhem in their wake.  However, our visit to Rab turned out to be most enjoyable with a glorious walk along the water’s edge from our anchorage into the medieval town so the plague was soon forgotten.

 

But what of that other plague presaged in our last Passage Report - the katabatic wind known as the ‘bora’ that pours down from the Velebit Mountains just a few miles east of Rab?  It seemed that we were to be spared on this occasion.  Monday morning dawned hot and windless enabling us to make an exploratory passage into the Velebitski Kanal and along part of the east coast of Otok Rab.  What a desolate scene!  The entire east-facing flank of the island has been blasted clear of all vegetation by the ferocity of the bora leaving nothing but bare rock.  The contrast with the lush vegetation on the west-facing flank less than half a mile away is dramatic.

 

Before leaving the Velebitski Kanal we ventured into the narrow gorge of Uvala Zavratnica that cuts back into the Velebit mountains.  The entrance, less than 50 metres wide between sheer cliffs, seemed totally improbable but once inside we were able to anchor in a small pool with our stern tied back to the shore.  After lunch we walked a short way up the gorge and I snorkelled over the wreck of a WW2 landing craft whose crew had clearly not found this spot to be as delightful as we had.  We returned to Uvula Sveti Fumija later in the afternoon feeling very pleased with ourselves in much the same way as our pupils evidently felt when they had succeeded in evading our rules.  The Velebitski Kanal is talked of by Yachties in hushed tones yet we had managed to sneak a visit!

 

Over the next three days we made our way to Otok Susak with over-night stays in Uvala Kolorat on Otok Cres and in the sheltered passage between Otok Ilovik and Otok Sveti Petar.  Otok Susak is the most westerly of the Adriatic islands and is said to have a culture and dialect all of its own.  Certainly it differs geologically as the underlying rock is sandstone rather than the karst limestone from which all the other islands are formed.  We were able to anchor in a shallow bay and explore the island on foot but, unfortunately, the bora finally asserted itself and we were forced to scurry off to a protected mooring in Luka Mali Losinj on Otok Losinj for the night.

 

On Friday we returned to the anchorage between Otok Ilovik and Otok Sveti Petar where we once again picked up one of the free mooring buoys.  We had already explored the delightful island of Ilovik on our previous visit but we went ashore once more just to buy some bread from the outstanding baker we had discovered there.  Well, yes, and some of his delicious apple strudel and a few of his croissants as well - he is a superb baker!

 

Over the next four days we worked our way slowly southwards to Dugi Otok (Long Island) with overnight stops in Uvala Široka on Otok Ist (2 nights), behind Otočić Brguljski in the Brguljski Zaliv on Otok Molat and in Zaliv Pantera on Dugi Otok.  All three are what are known as ‘organised anchorages’ for which a charge is made irrespective of whether one moors to one of the buoys that have been laid or lies to one’s own anchor.  Although some Yachties complain bitterly about such charges, we feel that at 50 kuna (Ł4.25) per night they are a reasonable way for the locals to make a modest income from the fleets of yachts that invade their territory each year.  The next morning we explored the various anchorages on the northern end of Dugi Otok and then returned to the anchorage on Otok Molat for a further night as we had found it to be particularly beautiful.

 

On Thursday 5th July we began our passage south along the east coast of Dugi Otok.  After a gentle day and a peaceful night on a buoy in Uvala Lučina, Friday was a day of intense activity.  We called first at the fuel station at Zaglav, where we took on diesel and water, and then at the town quay in Sali for long enough to visit a supermarket and several market stalls.  The outer islands are beautiful but remote, so victualling has to be carried out whenever and wherever possible.

 

When we reached the south-eastern tip of Dugi Otok we turned into the four-mile long inlet known as Luka Telašćica.  This huge natural harbour is a Natural Park and is one of the most beautiful stretches of water we have so far encountered in the Mediterranean.  At the northern end we anchored behind a small island just a few metres away from old cruising friends Jimmy and Claire on board Phćacian.  With a totally protected anchorage, stunning scenery, warm weather and friends with whom to chat, how could any one ask for more?  There was even a mobile grocery service provided by a retired fisherman who brought around fruit, vegetables, bread and eggs for sale each morning.  We stayed for four nights!

 

However idyllic the setting, the time always comes to move on.  Jimmy and Claire left on Monday and the following morning we made a 15-mile passage into the Kornati Natural Park.  In contrast to the wooded slopes of Telašćica, the Kornati Isles are stark and bare, but the profusion of islands and the fascinating rock formations give them a unique ethereal quality of their own.  We anchored for the night in Uvala Lavsa on Otok Lavsa, one of 90 islands in the archipelago.  The buoys in the bay have now been removed but the concrete blocks and ground chains still remain making anchoring hazardous.  The technique used by those already in the bay appeared to be to dive down and loop a rope through one of the blocks, so we followed suit.  It was just as well for, by 2000, some 20 boats were moored in this tiny bay, far more than could have safely done so swinging to their anchors.

 

Since leaving the Kornati Isles we have made our way back to Otok Murter with over-night stops in Uvala Stupica Veli on Otok Žirje, Luka Tijašćica on Otok Tijat and Uvala Potkucina on Otok Kakan.  Since our dash to Luka Mali Losinj the weather has been stable with high pressure over the Adriatic giving us refreshing sea breezes every afternoon followed generally by quiet, windless nights.  The only assault on our enjoyment has been from a further plague that I almost forgot to mention - wasps!  They first started to appear a couple of weeks ago and since then have been our uninvited companions in almost every anchorage.  We are taught that every one of God’s creations has a part to play but I am not yet convinced that the world could not manage without wasps!  However, even Eden had its serpent, so as we look back on our three months in Croatia, we do so with joy and happiness for it truly is a cruising paradise.

 

 

 

 

Captain’s Log Supplemental

 

Moored in Marina Hramina, Otok Murter, Croatia

 

Wednesday 22nd August, 2001

 

BACK ON BOARD

 

This is just a short report to let you all know that we are safely back on board Retreat.  Our journey from Surrey was very smooth with train, plane and taxi all as arranged and all on time.  That must be a record in itself!   We had a fabulous view of the Dalmatian islands as we approached Split airport including a clear view of Marina Hramina.  We were a little high to see Retreat, of course, but the outline of the marina was plain to see.

 

We have spent the last two days working furiously to get Retreat back into cruising trim.  Four weeks ashore left her coated in a thick layer of dust and grime but a couple of hours with a hose and scrubbing brush followed by a torrential thunder storm had us looking sparkling once more.  We have made five trips to four different supermarkets and we still have a further trip to make tomorrow morning.  Croatia is very beautiful, but what wouldn’t we give for a decent British supermarket!

 

As well as shopping we have also confirmed our booking for Mum’s trip out to see us at the end of September.  We have found a two-bedroomed apartment 500 metres from the marina, 50 metres from the beach and only 20 metres from a restaurant.  Knowing how Mum likes to spend her time it should suit very well indeed.

 

Tomorrow morning we hope to re-hoist the sails and, with luck, we should be away during the afternoon or, at the latest, on Friday morning.  We are very much looking forward to that and, especially, to being able to swim from the back of the boat once more.

 

 

 

 

Passage Report Number 9

 

Anchored off Jadrtovac, Croatia

 

Sunday 2nd September, 2001

 

SUDDEN STORMS

 

On the evening of Monday 20th August our Croatian Airlines Airbus touched down at Split airport exactly on time after a smooth flight from Gatwick.  The final approach took us just to the east of Otok Murter giving us a superb view of Marina Hramina, where Retreat had spent the past month ashore, and of the Kornati isles beyond.  Within half an hour we were travelling north by pre-booked private transfer and by 2230 we were back on board Retreat.  Rarely have our trips back been as trouble free.

 

Retreat was re-launched on Tuesday morning and the rest of that day, and all day Wednesday, was spent unpacking, shopping and making ready for sea.  The task of finding a home for all the items that we have brought back from the UK and for a month’s supply of provisions always seems impossibly difficult but, as usual, we eventually found a home for everything.  The only casualty in the process, a hazard well known to cruising folk, was Retreat’s water-line that rose a further few millimetres up her sides.

 

On Thursday 23rd August we finally set sail and made a very short passage to Vela Luka, a well-protected bay just to the north of Otok Murter.  The term ‘set sail’ is always somewhat metaphorical as one invariably leaves harbour under power.  However, on this occasion it was doubly so as our sails were still stowed below.  Strong winds had helped to keep us cool whilst shopping and packing but they had also made it impossible to hoist our sails.  Setting forth with no sails bent on is strictly taboo and we felt very vulnerable whilst doing so.  Fortunately, the engine behaved and no dramas ensued and we were able to hoist both our working sails the next day.

 

Over the next two days we worked our way back to Luka Telašćica at the southern end of Dugi Otok with an overnight stay en route in Uvala Landin on Otok Pašman.  Luka Telašćica was our favourite anchorage in the first half of the year and it lost nothing by being revisited.  It has everything a yachtsman could ask for: it is fully protected from the sea, the water is a suitable depth for anchoring, the muddy sea bed gives good holding and the surroundings are both beautiful and peaceful.  We stayed for three nights.

 

On Tuesday 28th August we wished John a Happy Birthday and then weighed anchor and motored out of Luka Telašćica.  We motored north-west along the seaward side of Dugi Otok for about three miles in order to look at the cliffs, some of the highest in the Dalmatian Islands.  We then turned back and headed into the Kornati National Park where we spent the night at anchor in Uvala Modri bok.  Kornati is the largest and best known of the two National Parks but for our money, if we could only visit one, we would make it Telašćica.

 

By Wednesday morning our stocks were running low so we headed back to Marina Hramina where we are now ‘permanent’ berth holders.  It turned out to be a good move as the weather took a turn for the worse that evening.  As a result we stayed in the marina for two nights protected from the ‘Sudden Storms’ as they were heralded in the weather forecast.  On our first night we were also entertained by watching the evening unfold on a huge superyacht that moored directly opposite our berth.  With eight guests and as many crew, their evening meal was a splendid affair.  Not that we were jealous: our pizza was delicious and our view of the beautiful surroundings was identical to theirs but cost us many, many times less to enjoy!

 

By Friday lunchtime the weather had cleared so we cast off our lines and made for Uvala Potkućina on Otok Kakan.  We had intended to moor to one of the buoys in the bay but the rope on the first one we tried was partly cut through and the mooring eye  on the second was badly distorted.  Disillusioned with the buoys we lay to our own anchor and glad we were that we had.  That evening, presaged by thunder and lightening and a sky that turned so black that dusk arrived an hour early, one of the ‘Sudden Storms’ passed directly overhead.  For a short time we had wind gusting to gale force together with rain so heavy that the water seemed to boil around us.  Fortunately, the storm disappeared almost as quickly as it arrived and apart from a few further bouts of heavy rain the rest of the night was peaceful enough.

 

Yesterday we enjoyed a superb sail from Kakan to Jadrtovac where we now lie.  Jadrtovac is situated on a wide, winding inlet in the mainland coast a few miles south of Šibenik.  Entrance to the inlet is beneath an arched bridge that carries the Adriatic Highway.  However, once around the first couple of bends it is possible to anchor in a most beautiful stretch of water in peace and tranquillity and, as with Telašćica, completely protected from the sea.  The pilot book describes it as ‘highly recommended’: we would not disagree.

 

Last night we spent an enjoyable evening on board Phćacian with friends Jimmy and Claire.  Just a few years ago such meetings were governed by random chance but today SMS messages, the universal means of medium-range communication amongst yachties, have made them simple to arrange.  During our evening out we were hit by yet another ‘Sudden Storm’ but, in the security of the anchorage, the only problem it created was filling our dinghy with water.

 

Tomorrow we hope to head south again for the islands off Split and Trogir which we missed on our way north.  To find out how we get on, look out for our next Passage Report.

 

 

 

 

Passage Report Number 10

 

Anchored in Uvala Stupin, mainland Croatia

 

Saturday 15th September, 2001

 

DISTANT THUNDER

 

We began our journey south on Monday 3rd September with a 28-mile passage from Jadrtovac to Vinišće, a large well-protected inlet on the mainland coast 6 miles west of Trogir.  En route we nosed into the picturesque bay of Primosten and anchored for lunch at Rogoznica.  If the weather had obliged we might well have stayed in Vinišće for a few days but it was not to be.  On Tuesday morning our trusty Navtex Receiver delivered a forecast of an approaching deep low.  With discretion most definitely the better part of valour, we motored the short distance to Trogir and moored in the ACI marina.

 

We made the most of our two days in Trogir by stocking up from the nearby supermarkets and doing a number of jobs that required electrical power.  We also enjoyed a meal out with Jimmy and Claire who came into the marina on Wednesday afternoon.  By Thursday the wind had abated and we returned to Vinišće where we enjoyed a peaceful night at anchor.

 

On Friday we made a 15-mile passage to Uvala Nečujam on Otok Šolta, a most delightful spot. We moored with our bows to our anchor and our stern tied back to a tree and there we stayed for two nights.  On our second day, on the advice of a local yachtsman, we put out additional lines and a second anchor.  The yachtsman appeared alongside in his dinghy, stark naked, and conversed with us in a mixture of Italian and French.  His enthusiastic advice not only included mooring techniques but also his method of obtaining an all-over tan in five days!

 

On Sunday morning we received a forecast of yet another depression approaching the Adriatic.  Once again we decided to head for port, this time PŠD Spinut on the northern side of Split.  Our passage there was largely under sail in a brisk SE 5 over a lumpy sea. The marina is owned and run by a Yacht Club and is the place where Jimmy and Claire are laying-up for the winter.  As they were already there they were able to let us know by SMS that there was space available.

 

On our first evening in PŠD Spinut we walked into the centre of Split.  We particularly enjoyed our walk around the Diocletian’s Palace, the old town built within the walls of the original Roman palace.  I spent much of the following day enjoying myself trying to solve a problem on Claire’s computer and Pat sanded down some internal woodwork that is due for a re-varnish.  There is never any shortage of something to do on cruising boats!

 

In the four days since leaving Split we have enjoyed a different anchorage each night and some of the best sailing of the year.  Our passage from Split on Tuesday 11th September saw us exceeding 7 knots on a broad reach across the Splitski Kanal, through the gap between Otok Šolta and Otok Brač and a short distance west to Uvala Stračinska on Otok Šolta.  As the protected part of the bay is very narrow we moored with our bows to our anchor and our stern tied back to the shore.

 

With high-pressure building and a clear blue sky it felt as if summer had returned, the only fly in the ointment being a noisy compressor run by divers ashore recharging their bottles.  What totally insignificant things we allow to affect our lives at times!  That evening we received an SMS message from Katy advising us to tune in to the BBC World Service straight away.  We did so, and listened in stunned silence as the story of the terrorist attacks in America unfolded.  Who could have thought that morning that a small yacht anchored in Croatia would prove to be a safer place to be than the Pentagon?  Our prayers go out to those whose families and ways of life have been torn apart and to President Bush on whose shoulders so much now rests.  We pray that God will give him the wisdom and strength to resist calls for show-case retribution and to confine military action to the minimum required to eliminate the risk of future attacks.  Whilst evil must be overcome, only love can build bridges between nations.

 

On Wednesday we made a short passage to Uvala Bobovišće on Otok Brač.  Another island and another delightful anchorage, this time fully protected from the sea.  With the weather more settled we were able to go ashore where we enjoyed a long walk around the bay.

 

Having sailed Retreat for approaching 20,000 miles one might think that we have tried every combination of sails possible.  We thought so too, but on Thursday we tried something new.  Faced with a down-wind passage in light winds that were forecast to increase rapidly we were reluctant to hoist the spinnaker.  Instead, we poled our genoa to windward (just) and set our light-weather genoa to leeward.  This double-headed rig, much favoured by ocean cruisers, gave us 3 to 4 knots in 6 to 8 knots of apparent wind and took us safely to Uvala Šešula on Otok Šolta.  There we anchored fore and aft at the head of the bay and enjoyed a peaceful night.

 

Yesterday, with yet another depression forecast, we weighed our anchors and motored out of Uvala Šešula.  As we emerged from the tranquillity of the bay we were caught broadside and rolled heavily by short, steep waves built up by a force 6 wind blowing from the SE.  However, once on the downwind course required the strong wind gave us a fast 17-mile passage under genoa alone to Uvala Stupin where we now lie.

 

As I write the sky is overcast, there is the sound of distant thunder and the forecast is warning once again of ‘Sudden Storms’.  Always one for belt and braces, we are lying to two anchors and, if conditions worsen, there is a marina only 2 miles away within protected waters.  With luck the storms will pass us by and by tomorrow we shall be under way again.  To find out how we fare, look out for our next Passage Report.

 

 

 

 

Passage Report Number 11

 

Moored in Marina Hramina, Otok Murter

 

Thursday 11th October, 2001

 

THREE FINAL PASSAGES

 

As I write we are securely moored in our autumn berth at Marina Hramina on Otok Murter.  We have rigged our heavy-duty mooring lines, removed, washed, repaired and stored our sails and are now well into our routine of autumn maintenance know to sailors as ‘laying-up.’  Whilst the essence of cruising is keeping on the move, the laying-up period is not without its attractions.  Staying in one place allows water and electricity, two commodities that are strictly rationed when cruising, to be freely used and avoids the necessity to be constantly seeking out somewhere to buy daily provisions.  Within a matter of days one starts to become part of the local scene and people, previously strangers, stop by to pass the time of day.

 

The night of Saturday 15th September was spent peacefully in Uvala Stupin: the thunder remained in the distance and the storms passed us by.  The following day we made a 13-mile passage back to the anchorage off Jadrtovac that we had enjoyed so much on our way south.  En route we anchored to the east of Rogoznica for long enough to allow us to walk around the entire perimeter of the island upon which the village stands: a most delightful stop.

 

Monday morning dawned very wet and the forecast was for continuing unsettled weather.  However, by noon the skies looked less threatening and we set out on a 15-mile passage to the Krka National Park.  The passage, one of the most interesting of the year, took us through the narrow Kanal Sveti Ante to Šibenik and thence inland up the River Krka through a series of limestone gorges towards the National Park.  Whilst we have journeyed inland up rivers many times before, nowhere else have we experienced anything on this scale: it is an awe-inspiring journey.

 

About five miles upstream from Šibenik the river opens out into a large inland lake called Prokljansko Jezero.  We spent Monday night anchored on the eastern side of the lake in a tiny, deserted bay known as Uvala Beretuša.  We had intended to continue up river the next morning but torrential rain kept us huddled below in our topcoats trying to keep warm.  The temperature within a boat is heavily influenced by the temperature of the water in which it floats and the water in the River Krka flows clear, fresh and cold from the nearby mountains.  However, the rain did eventually stop and we were able to go for a walk in the afternoon.

 

As so often seems to happen, our unscheduled excursion turned out to be particularly interesting.  After a mile or so along a track through virgin scrub we came into a village that still bore extensive scars of the war with the Serbs.  On the edge of the village there were many ruins of bombed-out houses, most of which lay deserted.  In places, new houses had been built between the ruins but the overall feeling was still one of desolation.  However, towards the centre of the village more repairs had been done and local people were out and about getting on with the chores of daily life.  We felt very out of place in our shorts and sun hats and we were keenly aware of many eyes upon us.  However, when we greeted the locals in their own language and explained that we were English their faces lit up with broad welcoming smiles.  Far from the tourist resorts, this was the closest we had been to true Croatia and it was both humbling and uplifting.  We returned to Retreat grateful for our experience.

 

After a second night in Uvala Beretuša we motored the remaining two and a half miles upstream to the marina at Skradin.  Here we left Retreat whilst we continued in the free water-taxi provided by the National Park.  We were dropped less than 200 metres from the bottom of the Skradinski buk, known in English as the Krka Falls.  The falls are spectacular, not for their height, but for the way in which the water cascades over a 500-metre sequence of limestone cliffs and boulders.  The rain that we had cursed the previous morning now ensured that we saw them at their most spectacular.  At the head of the falls the Park authorities have built a labyrinth of walkways on short stilts making it possible to walk deep into the semi-submerged forest that covers the floor of the valley.  Those who know the computer game ‘Myst’ would recognise the walkways at once!  We were entranced by the rush of water through and over rocks and the roots of overhanging trees and could have spent many hours in this fascinating place.

 

We eventually tore ourselves away from the falls and walked the 4 km back to Skradin rather than taking the water-taxi.  We spent the following morning shopping, washing and watering ship before returning to the peaceful anchorage in Uvala Beretuša.  We spent two nights there and could have spent more but for a warning in the weather forecast of a deep depression approaching the Adriatic.  So it was that on Saturday 22nd September we embarked on what we expected would be our final passage of 2001, 27 miles back to Marina Hramina.  However, to our delight, the evening forecast promised a further 18 hours of quiet weather enabling us to spend a final night in Uvala Jažine, just three miles from Murter.

 

On the morning of Sunday 23rd September we made our second ‘final passage’ of the year by motoring the short distance to Marina Hramina and made fast just before the forecast strong winds arrived.  The weather over the next few days was distinctly wild making us pleased to be securely moored in port.  However, with Mum due to arrive on Friday we were beginning to fear that we had left her visit too late in the year.  We need not have worried.  By Thursday evening a high-pressure system had established itself over much of the Mediterranean that lasted until the day after Mum left.  She was able to swim in the sea every day and we were able to fit a new hatch over our cooker, both occupations that required fine weather.  Indeed, so kind was the weather that on Wednesday 3rd October we even managed to take Mum out for a short trip on Retreat - an unexpected and delightful third and final ‘final passage’ of the year.

 

During the next four weeks we shall complete the process of laying-up Retreat for the winter, the final stage of which will be having her lifted into a cradle ashore.  Around the middle of November we shall travel to Munich to keep house for Chrissy for three weeks whilst she is in Japan.  From Munich we shall travel back to the UK where we hope to see as many of you as possible during our stay.  Retreat will spend her winter here awaiting our return next spring.  Look out for our first Passage Report of the new season during April, 2002.

 

For those of you interested in statistics, our totals for 2001 were as follows:

 

Distance logged:

1,603

nautical miles in 138 days

Time spent at sea:

330

hours

Time spent under sail:

64

hours

Time spent under power:

266

hours

Average distance travelled per week:

81.3

nautical miles

Average speed:

4.9

knots

Proportion of time sailing:

19.5

%