Fo r the last five days we have been deep into the Croatian islands chain and out of all contact with the interweb. We have sailed from island to island, picking up mooring buoys in deserted bays and occasionally finding an open restaurant. Apart from a few German charterers we have been mostly alone; its still early season here and most of the yacht business is squeezed into July and August. We've had a few requests for more pictures so here's a selection.
Rab town is one of the great gems of the Northern Adriatic and we've enjoyed a couple of days exploring the medieval centre of this turreted town. Istrian, Turkish, Venetian and Croat buildings jostle together and the four towers of the town dominate the skyline, especially when approaching from the sea. Photos to follow.
For the last 24 hours (and for at least 48 to come) we have been hiding from the Bora (or Burra as locals pronounce it) the fearsome NE wind that blows down from the northern mountains bringing very strong winds. It is well forecast and all boats are advised to take shelter to avoid its worst effects. There's an efficient warning on Ch16 as well as on the rolling VHF weather forecasts. We are moored in the charmingly named Veli Rat Marina at the northern end of Dugi Otok, one of the longest islands in the Adriatic. Its windy, quite cold and a bit dull as it is forecast to last all through tomorrow and probably the next day too. We have just been joined by the biggest police boat I have ever seen, mooring right next to us, and I'm hoping this should act as bit of an additional windbreak tonight.
Later- we ended up stuck here for 3 days as the wind blew and blew. We did manage to get lots of things sorted on the boat (including sorting out the huge aft locker) and worked our way through our kindles and most of our on-board food. the only shop here spreads out its few packets and tins to make the stock look more impressive!
For the last two days we have been relaxing in Mali Losinj, the Venetian port town on the island of Losinj. It has a certain style and charm and copes with the demands of tourism pretty well. The food's good too. We have sailed in here twice before and the place brings happy memories of former visits. There's a pretty good range of suppliers here (including an excellent small chandlery) and a holiday atmosphere even though its early in the season. Hiring bikes allowed us to to visit Veli Losinj, the old main town of the island as the harbour there is too shallow for deep-draught boats like ours.
Today we motored some 43 miles into a southern wind and chop so that tomorrow (weather allowing) we can sail off to the islands and leave Istria behind. Unfortunately pretty little Venetian harbours have all been somewhat ruined by 70's Yugoslav hotel complexes and more recently by the arrival of mass tourism. Losinj is a good case in point, beautiful Venetian architecture alongside some shabby hotel complexes. We took a turn around the bay, took some photographs and didn't stop. We are staying tonight in a marina in Pomer on the very southern end of Istria. When we were last here eight years ago chartering with friends, we spend a happy couple of hours trying to anchor in this bay and mostly failing due to weeds and a poor charter anchor; consequently berthing in the marina seemed a really good idea and brings the benefit of on-boat wifi and a good looking restaurant which we later find has excellent local food and great service.
Great day sailing today. Checked out of Slovenia via Piran (and a slightly absurd checking out procedure that required us to show all of our papers and then point out our boat, which was the only one in the customs dock) and we then sailed to Umag, port of entry in Croatia and about 20 miles away. The boat will be based in Croatia for the next year or more. Checking in to Croatia was efficient and simple (although not cheap). The boat sails like a dream, fast and stable and predictable. It was exciting to have the boat to ourselves at long last. Currently we are on a swinging mooring for the night, having finally poured Slovenian champagne over the boat and christened her new name.
Waiting on the weather to improve and the last bits to be finished on the boat. Lunch to usual Italian high standards but waiting on the chandlers to re-open after lunch...
I've wanted to visit Trieste for many years and it's a fascinating place. A classical centre with elegant buildings but surrounded by sad and decaying apartment blocks, industry and dockyards. It is often said that Trieste is not really part of Italy and it certainly feels different to any northern Italian city we have been to before. Its not even a great place for sailors to visit as the much feared Bora is reputed to be at its worst here and can blow for weeks on end through the winter.
We are now in Portoroz, Slovenia, where our new boat is being prepared and handed over to us. The local team here are meticulous and thorough but as they are working on a dozen boats simultaneously, very slow. There are lots of small but important things to be done and only one or two things seems to get done on any day. We are spending our days sorting things out, reading manuals and test sailing the boat with Inspiration Marine's commissioning guy James.
The last few days have been hectic, learning new boat systems, storing masses of gear, test sailing and dealing with the inevitable commissioning issues. Best news however is that Lyra is lovely, sails like a dream and the outstanding issues are few and easily solved. Today is May Day so nothing will be done but hopefully the yard will finish tomorrow and we can think about setting sail for Croatia. Great support from James at inspiration has really helped the and only the weather, rain storms every day, has let us down.