Northern Dalmatia 

We left our friends, Sue and Sheila, to continue their holiday in Croatia on the Saturday morning whilst we re-provisioned and cleaned the boat. Zadar is a lovely town with great restaurants and a maze of little alleyways to explore. We were moored slightly out of town in Marina Borik as the main marina is full at  the weekends due to the charter fleets that operate out of it. 
We left Sunday morning around midday and made our way over to Preko to refuel. We had hoped to change our cooking gas bottle but the chandlery was shut and the fuel berth only had small ones. We wanted to make reasonable headway down towards Trogir so we sailed down to Otok Murter. By the evening the wind has really blown up so we wanted a large safe anchorage with good holding. 


The next morning, the forecast was for more strong winds but we wanted to go round the corner to Tisno where Croatian beach parties are ‘legendary’. The water was turquoise and incredibly clear so we anchored off the beach. The music was blaring at 10.30am so Liz was happy. However, when we kayaked ashore, it was clear that there are two beach bars competing with each other – pretty much cancelling each other out – so it became a din rather than funky music. 

A beautiful vista of Nimmie at Tisno

We decided to make towards Primosten on the mainland, about 15nm from Trogir for our evening stop. The wind was building up to over 25 knots but with it behind us, we managed to get 6.8 knots with just half of the genoa (front headsail) out. Fabulous. However, when we arrived at Primosten the swell was coming straight into the harbour so making it untenable for the night. By this time is was after 7pm so we knew we had another 90 mins of light left. We went round the corner to Rogoznica which is a huge natural harbour that gives pretty much all round protection – perfect. We arrived around 8pm and amazingly there were mooring buoys free just outside the marina there. We decide to go for them rather than go further round to the   anchorage as we had no idea if it would be full and, frankly, we were tired! 
Rogoznica is a pretty town with a sea water lake called Dragon’s Eye. It’s a sinkhole that is tidal and the legend goes that the level rises when the dragon is there and falls when it has left to search for food!

Rogoznica from the boat

Dragon’s Eye


We left at midday as we only had 15nm to get to Trogir. The wind built up during the afternoon so by the time we arrived at the marina, opposite the old town, the wind was blowing quite hard so mooring was a challenge with just the two of us on board. However, all was okay and we will spend tomorrow exploring this UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

Trogir waterfront from the marina

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Guest blog by Sue and Sheila

Guest blog entry from Sue and Sheila aboard Nimrod from Saturday 5th – Saturday 12th August 2017 in Croatia.

After a relaxing but very hot week in a villa in Premantura near Pula, northern Croatia we joined Nimmie and the girls expecting more of the same!! How wrong we were!
We left Veruda Marina near Pula and headed down to a small bay at Portic, which is part of the Kamenjak National Park. Jo and Liz had already moored there before, knew it was pretty and had a good beach bar! More importantly it was sheltered from the wind forecasted to blow up during the night. Lovely and peaceful, good secure anchorage and settling down to a quiet night!! Wrong again – first one chartered party boat arrived, then another, then another, then another – could they anchor like Jo and Liz? No! The night was incredibly hot, too hot to sleep, but not much chance of sleep anyway – music and karaoke til 2am and boats around us dragging anchors and moving around. Crazy Sail they were called – say no more! Chaos all around us, but nothing compared to the next night!!

Sheila relaxing in Portic

Sunday we had hoped to sail to the island of Cres to meet up with some friends who were part of the previous week’s villa party but the predicted storms and Bora wind meant we had to get much further south to Otok Losinj and to an anchorage in a sheltered bay, called Luka Krivica – very pretty. The sea was quite rough and it was windy – we had a lovely sail with both the main (3 reefs) and Genoa up. We took an hour to make sure we were secure – with teamwork on the helm, the anchor and swimming to take lines to shore (now an apocryphal story that Sheila swam to shore with the ropes between her teeth!). Lots of comments from Jo on the amount of anchor line others had out – far too little, but maybe Liz had been a bit over the top with 50 metres! Thank goodness we did have 50 metres and took an hour sorting it out. We booked a local restaurant in the next cove Luka Balvanida and set off via dingy and walking, hoping to meet the Cres gang! Two of them, Dozy and Carole, attempted to get there by road and track, but had to turn back – it was too steep and rough and sensibly they realised that it would be impossible to do later in the dark. Poor things they got back to Cres very late not having had dinner!! 

Lines ashore in crystal clear water


We got back to Nimmie and had just settled down to sleep – some on deck and some below (it was still so hot!) when the electrical storm started, very spectacular sheet lightning and soon the predicted gusting wind started up. We watched the lines to shore anxiously as the gusts went up to 25 knots, then 30 knots, then 35 and hitting 40 knots. But thankfully all held! Not so for those around us – we can only describe it as carnage! Many boats gave up as as anchors dragged and they motored further out in the cove, some tried to re anchor and one boat (‘next door but one’) ran aground on the rocky shore. It was a very hectic night! The wind and lightning eventually receded and next morning was lovely – calm and sunny! Breakfast versus the wasps – the wasps won and we decided to move on, but not before Jo went diving to retrieve the mask and snorkel dropped by Sheila the day before and also to look at the keel with a view to giving it a clean. A tense 20 minutes for all bar Jo, as a number of boats came in to the cove and Sue and Sheila struggled to maintain the role of indicators of ‘diver below’ (normally carried out by orange inflatables attached to the diver!) The mask and snorkel from the bottom of the cove (6metres) were retrieved and Liz’s adrenalin levels eventually subsided!! An orange inflatable was purchased next day!!

Jo about to retrieve the lost snorkel!


Monday we ‘back tracked’ and moored at the town quay of Mali Losinj. We had been unable to get a berth there the previous night, but were keen to meet up with some friends from the villa party who were staying on Cres – Caroline, Val, Dozy and Carole. Mali Losinj is a lovely harbour town with very pretty painted buildings, a few shops and plenty of cafes and restaurants. We met up with all the friends staying on Cres – first for a welcome beer, they happened to be having lunch at a bar just saying wouldn’t it be amazing if Nimmie sailed in, right in front of them – and we didn’t disappoint- and then for a great fish meal on the other side of the harbour, after pre dinner drinks aboard Nimmie. All of it well worth the diversion from our route!

Drinks on Nimmie in Mali Losinj


So continuing our journey south on Tuesday we left Mali Losinj after breakfast out at a cafe and headed towards the islands of Molat and Ist, hoping to pick up a mooring buoy. It was a long way and with the wind almost head on we motor sailed with the main up and didn’t arrive until 7pm. Not surprisingly no mooring buoys left. So we anchored at Siroka on Otok Ist. It was a stunningly beautiful evening and a very pretty anchorage and we ate on board, watching the copper moon rise.

Sunset in Ist


Wednesday we motored to Dugi Otok and picked up a mooring buoy at Veli Rat. Tried to take out the kayaks but it was too rough, so we walked to town hoping to cut across the island to Sakuran Beach, but gave up on that too and had a beer!! Jo and Liz took the dingy to the lighthouse and walked to the top – stunning views! It’s a lighthouse that you can stay in and Sue and Sheila had almost booked it, except that it is not very accessible by ferry. Part of the reason for going there was to see it!

Sunrise at Veli Rat


Thursday – we motored to the beach at Sakuran, passing the Veli Rat lighthouse. Beautiful azure waters, great snorkelling, lots of fish. Took both kayaks to beach to check out if it really was sand as stated (one of top ten sandy beaches in Croatia) and to visit the beach bar. Yes there is a narrow strip of sand, but like many beaches in Croatia the light coloured pebbles make the water look stunning. 


The kayak trip back to the boat was challenging as the wind and waves had really picked up. We then continued to our next stop on the northwest side of Otok Ugljan, which we hoped would be sheltered from the predicted storms coming in the evening and the swell. We were enjoying a pleasant sail with the wind behind us and the Genoa up, when the storm started up EARLY(!) It looked really spectacular moving round the island – dark clouds, orange sky but with gusting winds up to 35 knots, all a bit hectic for us two novices! Gunwhales in the water – Sheila attempting to helm! Jo and Liz remained calm and got us safely to our anchorage at Uvala Pavlesina for the night. 

It is now Friday – we can’t believe our week has gone so fast and we are  now in our final berth (not forever we hope) which is near Zadar from where Sue and Sheila will go by land to Split. It has been a fantastic week – a huge thank you to Jo, Liz and wonderful Nimmie, who have given us so many varied experiences of the sea and sailing in a very short space of time. We have learned a great deal, have seen parts of Croatia we could never have got to, taken hundreds of photos, swam and snorkelled every day in beautiful clear waters, eaten some great meals and best of all spent a week with Jo and Liz. 

Thank you and lots of love from the vaguely competent crew and part time galley slaves!

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Istria continued 

I spent the days whilst Liz was in the UK getting the boat ready for our guests. As we were going to be based  in the Pula area for the next two weeks, I also went into Pula to suss out the town (lovely old part) and figure which were the best supermarkets. Our guests, Aly, Donna, Ben and Liz, unfortunately didn’t arrive until Tuesday as EasyJet decided to cancel their flight on Saturday and once they were at Gatwick! 

So, within an hour of arrival Tuesday afternoon, we were off! First stop Portič, as it’s not far, has turquoise water and a beach bar. At about 8pm sudden squall came through and hit Nimmie sideways lifting the anchor. It immediately reset itself but we were now too close to another boat so we reanchored in another part of the bay. A number of boats had the same problem so supper was put on hold until everyone was sorted!

Kayak racing!

Next day (Wednesday July 26), we ventured along the Istrian coast to Kuje as the picture in the pilot book made it look very pretty. Instead, it was by a fishing harbour with a beach bar that didn’t close until 3am! Still, the water was refreshing and we had a BBQ onboard. The following day we continued towards Vinjole where we had the bay to ourselves for the first few hours. Turquoise water and very sheltered. The water was absolutely freezing as it was fed by a freshwater underground spring. No wonder it was deserted! 

Vinjole


We needed to be back in Veruda by Friday evening to ensure that we had a berth for the following week (as we were in a villa with friends) so a prompt start to the day to make our way to the marina. As we were coming into moor, the bow thruster decided not to work again and they wanted to put us in a space that was, apparently, “smaller than a gnat’s arse”. We made it with no injuries or damage but it was a close run thing! 
We’ve spent the last week in Kamenjak National Park, Premantura in a lovely villa celebrating three 60th and one 50th birthdays. Great fun. One of the days we brought Sarah, Joey, Yvonne and Julie back to Portic. 

A stunning sunset

Now we are back on Nimrod with Sue and Sheila. Back to Portic for the night but sadly have been invaded by charter boats on their first day – although entertaining in a scary way when they are a tad  too close to you and can’t anchor!

Sue trying to drown Sheila!

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Back in Istria

We left Skradin about 10.45am on Monday morning having waved Ingrid and Jan Olav off on their bus to Split and for us to make our way north to Pula as Liz needed to go home to the UK for a few days. The wind was blowing NE and gusting 15 knots as we made our way down river to Šibernik. It then went round to the SW and died so we motored for the first few hours. Then all hell broke loose with the wind and sea building from the NW – exactly the direction we wanted to go. We ended up tacking our way through the islands with the aid of the motor so that we could point a little higher. We only made it back to Soline on Pašman, some 20nm less than we wanted by nightfall. Rather than push on, we decided to pick up a mooring buoy and rest. 

The next morning was a very different mattter with only a light breeze from the North so we again motor sailed towards Pula. We left Soline at 0630 so that we would have 14 hours of daylight. We made it to the anchorage, Portič, in the Premantura National Park by 2030. We knew the holding was excellent here and this time, there were only a few boats there so plenty of room. We went to bed tired but knowing we only had a couple of hours sail round to Pula in the morning. 

On Wednesday, the wind had moved round to the south so it was a warm (and busy) run round the corner to Marina Veruda on the outskirts of Pula. You can tell that the high season has truly started as lots of small boats mingle with the Italian motor boats trying to get somewhere as quickly as possible. There are a number of anchorages around Pula that seem quite busy with turquoise water and beach bars so no doubt we will be investigating them at some point!

One of the many types of vessels we had to dodge going into Pula!


We are now in the marina ahead of our next guests arriving on Saturday evening. Liz has flown back to the UK so has left me a list of jobs to complete before she returns!

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A tale of three national parks

After a lovely peaceful evening in Soline, we motored 10nm to the Telašcica National Park where the mooring buoys are free but they charge you around £50 to enter the park! Still, it was a beautiful place to sit out a blow. Ingrid and Liz tried out the repaired kayak. 

We ate on board and enjoyed the breeze after the searing heat of the day. 

Friday morning dawned with lighter winds but enough to sail or so we thought! We were headed for the southern tip of the Kornati Islands, another national park. These islands have been described as looking like a moonscape as it is so barren. Apparently the Venetians stripped these islands of their trees and destroyed the topsoil so hardly anything grows here now. Not so much beautiful as interesting. We ended up motor sailing and the bay we stayed in is called Opat with a small jetty and a fabulous restaurant. Ingrid and Jan Olav treated us to a sumptuous meal there of freshly caught John Dory and lobster. 

The view from the restaurant in Opat

The views from the top of the hilltop across the Kornati were amazing, even if the climb was a bit steep!


The forecast was showing that a Bora was due in and wherever we were by Saturday afternoon, we would be stuck in for at least two days so we hightailed it out of there towards Šibernik on the mainland. We had a glorious sail with a fully reefed mainsail (made it as small as possible) and a bit of genoa out. We touched 7 knots at times and the waves weren’t too bad as we sailed between the islands. The reason we wanted to head towards Šibernik was to go inland for 10 miles up the river Krka to Skradin as it was the closest we could get the boat to the start of the Krka national park and its waterfalls. It was a lovely meandering cruise up river, under bridges and by lush riverbanks. The wind didn’t abate as we approached so mooring was difficult but with four of us, no damage done to us or anyone else. There were a lot of boats seeking shelter from the bora here including Dream, a 60m super yacht that can be chartered from a mere €370,000 per week complete with a crew of 15!

Skradin with super yacht Dream in the foreground

We decided to eat out after our tiring sail and had an ok meal in one of many restaurants in the village. It’s a huge tourist spot as the national park is one of the top tourist attractions in the whole of Croatia. As a result of its popularity, we took the first ferry to the park at 8am on Sunday morning. It was a good decision as the park was very quiet when we arrived. It seems that it’s a popular destination for locals and tourists alike on a Sunday afternoon as it was teeming with people later. 


We took another ferry further up the river to the monastic island of Visovac and then onto the Roški Slap waterfall area. It was stunning with its lush vegetation, insect and river life so we spend our allotted 90 mins there easily! The world’s second hydroelectric dam was built here in 1895. 

The hydroelectric dam in the foreground looking down the Krka river

Blue dragonflies!

 

What an amazing place to sit out a bora! It was still too blowy to sit outside in the cockpit when we got back so we went out for a pizza, which was excellent. 

Today we said goodbye to Ingrid and Jan Olav as they make their way south to Hvar and Split and we head north to Istria and Pula to meet up with more guests at the weekend. 

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Zadar and Soline

We decided that we would go over to Zadar town to meet Jan Olav and Ingrid off the bus Tuesday lunchtime.  This meant we needed to catch the 10.20am ferry from Preko (which means opposite by the way) so there were a few things we had to do in the morning to transform the boat from two people spreading out for the last month to four sharing. We caught the ferry with seconds to spare and 15 mins later we were in the old town.  Zadar was badly bombed in the Balkans war but its Roman ruins and historical centre were quite interesting to walk around. However, the highlight was the Sea Organ, what an amazing installation. Basically, a variety of pipes have been installed underwater on the waterfront so that the waves make a whale like sound and, as boats go past, the sound becomes more melodious and haunting. Quite soporific. 

Liz sitting on the steps of the Sea Organ in Zadar

The other reason for going into Zadar was the fact that there is a large supermarket near the bus station so we were able to stock up on things we weren’t able to get locally in Preko. By the time we all got back to the marina, we desperately needed a swim in the sea. Luckily, the water near the marina is very clear and clean so we all jumped in! We went out to eat that evening and witnessed an amazing thunderstorm. Unfortunately, the restaurant we were seated in didn’t have space indoors for us and as we hadn’t yet ordered our food we were asked to leave. Suffice to say, we won’t be returning any time soon!

This morning, after refuelling at £1 a litre (bargain), we actually had the time to sail as our destination was Uline Soline on Otok Pašman. A mere 23nm away. We arrived around 4pm, picked up a mooring buoy (you get charged whether you pick up a buoy or anchor) and went for a swim. A lazy couple of hours before dinner at one of the restaurants onshore, where the choice was either calamari or fish. They had run out of meat  but it was simple and delicious. 

Chillin’

The anchorage at U. Soline

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Preko, Otok Ugljan

An early start on Sunday to make our way down towards Zadar in order to meet Ingrid and Jan Olav, Liz’s cousins on Tuesday. During the night the wind had got up to over 20 knots in the anchorage, which was fine for us but a number of boats dragged so we were awake for a couple of hours keeping an eye out. 

The motor sail down was uneventful but we got to pass some lovely islands. The forecast had also shown some high winds all day Monday so we decided to go into the marina at Preko, which is opposite Zadar and a short (cheap) ferry ride away. I’m glad we did as Monday morning the winds increased and the marina was turning people away who hadn’t booked!

Preko from the marina

Monday was a day of chores – shopping, boat maintenance and fitting our new awnings from Ikea! They really make a difference in a marina when you tend not to get much of a breeze but do get scorching sun. 

Very pleased with our Ikea awnings

The evening was spent in the lovely company of Rosemary and Ian who have kept their boat in the marina for the last 9 years so they were pumped for inside information on the local area. 

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Welcome to Croatia – or possibly not!

Spoiler alert – the first part of this post is a bit of a rant. 

We left Venice Lagoon around midday and although we had to motor sail, we had a cracking journey over to Umag with an hour or two of actual sailing. Now, we had read that firstly, you now have to check out of Italy when crossing to Croatia as Croatia is not part of Schengen (like the UK). When we checked out of Italy at the police station in Venice, the very cute police officer said we had 24 hours to actually leave. Perfect. Secondly, when you enter Croatia, you must go to a port of entry which we did by coming into Umag. What anyone failed to tell us was that not only do you need to go directly to a port of entry but you also have to check in with the border police before doing anything else. We got there about 7.45pm and assumed that it was too late to check in so picked up a mooring buoy and started to cook dinner. About an hour later a police launch came by and asked for our papers. They then asked why we hadn’t checked in. My reply was that I had assumed they would be closed and that we would do it first thing in the morning. Apparently, they’re open 24 hours and you will be fined if you don’t check in immediately. So we left the mooring buoy and made our way to the customs quay to be told that we would be fined for breaking the law. As skipper, I took responsibility so managed to get a conviction within 5 mins of entering Croatia! Luckily, the police officer took pity on us and only fined us 1,000 kuna reduced to 666 kuna if we paid within 8 days.  Liz was all for demanding where the regulations stated this urgency but I figured, just be nice. The fine could have been much bigger and they could have impounded the boat. Less than £100 seemed a bargain. They let us stay on the custom quay overnight as it was nearly 11pm by the time they had done all the necessary paperwork and I had agreed I was guilty as charged. It left a somewhat sour taste though. 

Umag harbour before all hell broke loose


This morning, we were at the harbour master’s office at 8am so we could pay our fees and taxes for the next three months in the country and then went to a bank to pay the fine. All done by 9.30am so we slipped our mooring at 10 to make our way south. Not a great way to start our adventures in Croatia!

However, we make good time today and it made a change to have other boats around us during the course of the day. We are currently anchored in a bay just south of Pula,  Istria. It’s a large anchorage with some 30 boats and room for 10 more. After a much needed swim, it is hammock time with a gin and tonic. The northern part of Croatia is supposed to be much quieter than  the south so it could get interesting  finding a space as we move down the coast. 

A much more peaceful anchorage in Portic. Hammock time

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Venice – amazing experience and now Croatia!

We had three days in Venice and took full advantage of our travel card on the vaporetti (water buses). Although it is expensive at €40 for 72 hours, it’s a lot cheaper than the water taxis or gondolas. It probably worked out at about €2 a trip. Neither of us had been to Venice for many, many years so we ensured we did all of the touristy things like the Basilica, Doge’s Palace including walking over the Bridge of Sighs, Murano for the glass blowing and Burano for the pretty coloured houses. We also went round the Peggy Guggenheim gallery and part of the Biennale Art Festival where my niece in law, Trine, was exhibiting. 

What it must have been like to look out for the last time as a prisoner crossing the Bridge of Sighs

Looking out across the Grand Canal from The Guggenheim

Glass blowing on Murano

 

The famous Rialto bridge


But we also took time to just wander the streets and canals, away from the main drag. One of the areas we visited was the Jewish Gheto. Apparently, this is how the name ghetto came into being. The Doge rounded up all the Jews in 1527 and put them on an island that was originally a foundry, gheto in Italian,  and enforced a curfew to stop the men fraternising with the local women. 

The original Jewish ‘gheto’


Nimmie has been staying on the island of Certosa, reclaimed marshland that is now a lovely park area, although the mozzie nets came in very handy at dusk. On Thursday, we took the dinghy over to St Elena to do a grocery shop after having inspected and filtered our fuel. Thankfully, we had very few black bits and no sign of the dreaded diesel bug in the remaining 38 litres.

Not bad for a 20 year old fuel tank

Shopping Venetian style!


So, on Friday morning we left the marina and refuelled on the Lido, then took the opportunity to get as close to San Marco as we were allowed (you need a special licence to go into the Grand Canal) before heading out of the lagoon to cross to Croatia.  

Not many people get to sail their boat into Venice!

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San Marino and Rimini

San Marino is reputed to be the oldest constitutional republic in the world, having been founded in around 300AD. It is a tiny country but fascinating with its castle and towers. Being some 700m up on a craggy hilltop, The views across to the Adriatic were stunning. They even mint their own Euro coins and have a standing army of a thousand soldiers. We caught a bus there from Rimini for €5 each way and as it was only 25km away, took less than an hour. 

Like something out of a fairy tale

Own number plates and of course everything is blue and white!

 

We decided that we would make our way to Venice on the Monday morning so headed into town on the Sunday evening for a meal and a sunset drink. The food wasn’t great but the sunset was breathtaking. We could catch a chain ferry from just outside the marina across the canal for less than an Euro and it saved us at least a couple of miles if we’d gone round by road. Rimini is very much geared to tourists and beaches although the old part of town had some lovely architecture and dates back to Roman times. 

The Tiberius bridge completed in 21AD

Rimini in Roman times


It is also a cycling haven. Everyone seems to cycle and they all have these retro ‘sit up and beg’ types. Our little fold up bikes seemed inconsequential by comparison but at least no one wanted to nick them!

As Venice is 80nm away from Rimini, it meant an early start on Monday morning to take advantage of the tide and also get there in daylight as navigating the Venice Lagoon can be challenging. We slipped our mooring just after 6am and quietly left the marina. The wind was behind us so although we had 10-14 knots of wind, it wasn’t quite enough to give us the 6 knots we needed to average to get to Venice by 8pm. So, as is the way in the Med, we had to motor sail the whole way although we did end up surfing down some great waves on the final leg of the journey. 

We arrived at the entrance to the lagoon at 7pm and by 8.30pm we were safely moored up on Certosa Island. It is reclaimed marshland and has its fair share of mosquitoes come dusk. Liz got bitten to death that first night so I had to go to the marina office to check in and get the electricity turned on. Luckily, it was dark by then so not as bad. It is incredibly quiet on the island and a welcome relief from all of the hustle and bustle of central Venice. 

The peaceful idyll of Certosa


We plan to stay here until Friday when we will cross to Croatia in time for our first guests. 

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