After much debate about where to go next, we finally decided on Split, as we had a few days of overcast skies and rain that wasn’t any good for swimming. So off we went from Bol, around the top end of Brac and through the narrow channel that separates Brac from Solta and then onto Split. We saw a steady stream of charter boats coming out from Split after the weekend changeover – another reason for visiting Split mid-week as marina berths are 15% cheaper with all the charter boats away.

We thought about pulling up to the city wall, which you can evidently use for free but it was quite crowded and with the weather changing we decided to check into the ACI Marina. Here, we managed a somewhat poor impersonation of someone who actually knew what they were doing vis-a-vis Mediterranean mooring. The problem arose when the marina guy insisted that we hook on our front line first, whereas our game plan was to hook on our back and pivot on that. Anyway despite that we did manage to get settled into our berth and quickly decided that bikes were the way to get around. Brad and Bec hired two and we dug out our fold up bikes from the front hatch.

Then we went exploring. It took us a while to find the old city but we eventually got there and had a good wander. The old city is based around some wonderful Roman ruins, centred around a fortified Roman palace from about 300AD, built by a bloke called Diocletian, most of which is still standing today. After exploring the old city, we adjourned to one of the harbourside restaurants for a nice meal.

Next day was a bike riding day. We decided to explore the wonderful national park, which is a hill called Marjan on the end of the peninsula where the city of Split is located. It is covered in a dense Mediterranean pine forest and is completely surrounded by the city and the sea, making it rather unique. The good citizens of Split have used it as a park since the 3rd century, and has become a favorite weekend excursion destination and a recreational center for the city – a bigger version of Kings Park. It has some lovely little beaches, all surrounded by the scenic forest.

Brad and Bec had reasonable bikes so they took off up to the top of the 180m high hill where there was botanical gardens and the city’s zoo. The fold up bikes were more suited to the flat ride around the coast so I headed along the exquisite ring road that passed under a canopy of trees, calling in at quaint little beaches and coves along the way. Cas decided to give the park a miss and rode back from the entrance to check out the nice beach with a water polo stadium that we spotted on the way there.

We got back to the boat just in time to witness a thunderstorm that bucketed down rain in all directions.

That night we decided to do a bit of a pub crawl, starting with a Champagne Bar that we had spotted earlier in our stay. We caught the ferry from the marina across to the old town to find the Champagne Bar closed because it was no longer high season. Never mind, we found champagne close by and then found a restaurant bar doing wonderful food combined with wine tasting. Perfect.

Next morning, with the weather clearing and a sunny day predicted we left Split heading for the Blue Lagoon, which we had originally spied on a tourist poster.

For pictures of Split see https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10200322075007412.1073741872.1620379103&type=1&l=e545fc8674

Home Delivery – Pizza and Cocktails

We pulled up anchor from F#$k W@t B^y and headed around the top of Hvar Island towards Brac. It was another 25nm sail to Bol on the south coast of Brac, which is separated by a narrow channel from Hvar.

As we sailed down the channel between the two islands, we marvelled at the farms that went steeply up narrow near vertical valleys. Brac is the most mountainous of the islands, with its beautiful white stone used all over Croatia, Europe and even the white house in Washington, DC.

About half way up the island we pulled the sails down and anchored off the world famous beach at Dugi Rat. Unfortunately the wind came up about the same time so we didn’t stop – we pulled up anchor pretty well straight away and headed to Bol, just around the corner.

Bol is renowned for being pretty blowy, so we opted to moor stern to on the town wall. We did a pretty good job of parking next to a big power boat, on only our second med mooring attempt, the first being Gibraltar.

Our berth was right on the restaurant strip at what we discovered was a very pretty little town. 10m away was a very nice little pizza joint and that’s where we headed first. After lunch we discovered the picturesque tree-lined walkway that took us down to Dugi Rat, some 2kms away, the start of which was lined with stalls selling the famous Brac stoneware.

Next day, the weather forecast was perfect for a day at the beach, so off we went in our best bikinis to check out the famous beach. The Dugi Rat beach is a triangle of beach that juts out into the sea, looking across to Hvar island at the other side of the strait. As you walk along the cliffs to get there, you look down to a simply stunning scene, with clear translucent water surrounding an umbrella covered, pebbled point.

We lashed out and purchased four lounge chairs, metres from the sea for the day at 50 kunas each and swam and lounged around until after lunch. The beach bar sold Coronas so we had a beer each under a beautiful sunny sky. I’m glad we didn’t come in the height of summer as I’m sure this beach would have been packed to the rafters. As it was, people have different ideas of personal space in this part of the world and we had people park themselves on the beach just right in front of us.

That night we visited Bol’s trendiest cocktail bar (about 50m down the broad-walk from La Mischief) and enjoyed some sought of town festival, with stalls selling local cooking and townsfolk dressing up in some traditional garb. As we listened to live folk music, we sipped on our cocktails and ate the local food. I’ve been hooked on Mojitos ever since Kevin and Di fed them to me in Gibraltar and in Bol, I was introduced to Royal Mojitos – something we were most impressed with – it was like a Mojito but with champagne and aged rum. Yummy!

We were enjoying Bol so much that we stayed an extra day and walked up to the monastery, which is in the opposite direction to Dugi Rat. The wind had come back up so our thinking was that we would have a swim here rather than at Dugi Rat.

That afternoon we ran into some fellow Aussies in James and Gaila, together with their friend Claire, on their yacht Mercier moored around the corner from us, and invited them over for drinks and pizza. We convinced the pizza restaurant to deliver the pizzas to La Mischief and Marinko obliged, together with cutlery and white napkins.

Declaring the home delivery of pizzas a success, we then asked if Marinko did cocktails. His restaurant didn’t but he simply went a couple of doors up and got them from there. Marinko, with a lovely smile, expertly delivered 7 cocktails on a tray over the gang-plank, made our night.

An excellent way to end of stay in what was a very picturesque little place.

For pictures of Bol and Dugi Rat see https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10200309810860816.1073741871.1620379103&type=1&l=a8956275e5

F##k W*t B?y!!!

F##k W*t B?y

Leaving our mooring in Zdrilici Channel, we headed NE to check out the marina to see if we could get any dingy fuel. We poked our nose in and couldn’t find a fuel dock so we kept going on our circumnavigation of the Pakleni Islands.

As we passed, we checked out each bay until we came to Luka Soline, one of the bays recommended by Ooroo. Here we picked up a mooring, and jumped in for a swim and a paddle board.

The wind was picking up and we snorkelled down and checked the mooring to make sure it would hold us. The bay was filling up and we noticed a charter Lagoon 440 cat with a boxing kangaroo pull up a mooring two down from us.

Then we noticed the 60ft power boat between us and the boxing kangaroo start to drift in the wind, attached to what was now a pretty useless mooring ball. We started yelling at them – but it was too late. They drifted straight across the Lagoon’s mooring ball and bridle and broadside into the front of both hulls with a nice hole punched in the side courtesy of the prodder.

By now, the Swiss crew had awoken from their afternoon nap, as had the Aussies on board the Lagoon.

Sh&t happens I suppose but what happened next was the first hint that we were indeed parked up in F##k W*t Bay. Instead of using his bow thruster to extradite himself from the mess, he tried to just drive forward straight over the Lagoon’s mooring lines, which would have seen both boats on the shore in no time as that’s where the wind was pushing them.

The guys on the Lagoon kept shouting until he worked out this was not the best idea he had that day. Then he tried to reverse out, which was better except he pivoted on the bow of the Lagoon and nearly managed to back onto the rocky shore. The guys on the Lagoon kept shouting for him to use his bow thruster but this message was getting lost in translation.

Somehow the power boat managed to detach itself and head off – to a very large insurance bill no doubt.

That night, we had a great lightening show as the wind continued to pick up. Things settled down for a while, until about 9pm when we heard another boat come in. It was pitch black and you could just see someone up the front with a very, very small torch trying to find the mooring balls. They motored around all over the place before going straight past the mooring ball and perilously close to shore. Luckily Croatia is very deep right up to the shoreline so they were lucky.

We called out to them and got out our spot light and guided them onto the mooring next to us. They were a bit close but at least they were safe. Next morning the wind had dropped to nothing and we would have kissed hulls, back to back, if we hadn’t have got some fenders out. They were young Irish guys and girls, working in London, and were nice people, just inexperienced charterers with a little bit of a deficit of common sense coming in in the dark like that.

We then dingyed over to the Aussie boat and gave them the name of the boat that hit them. They were four couples from Perth doing a two-week charter and having a ball.

After breakfast, we went for a walk on shore and checked out the restaurants (nothing much to write home about) and the other side of the island. Then the rain came down and we scurried back to the boat).

As we dingyed back to La Mischief, we noticed a Lagoon 400 trying to pick up a mooring in 35kt winds, devoid of technique or ability, which led them to part company with their boat hook. Brad and I dropped off the girls and sped over to retrieve their boat hook and help them out.

They had no idea what the next step was after they managed to hook the mooring ball – here you needed to use your own mooring line to attach to the ball and they though they could use their bridle, without worked out how they were ever going to attach it.

I ended up going on board whilst brad drove the dingy and between the two of us we managed to get them attached without Brad being run over in the dingy. They were Germans who couldn’t speak much English, but were very appreciative and gave us a couple of beers for our troubles.

About an hour later they took off – hardly worth the trouble.

Next thing to help out with the naming ceremony was a boat load of blokes together with one blow up doll, making an appearance. Looked like they were in for a big night – them and their lady friend.

But it wasn’t them that got told off. Evidently the music on La Mischief was too loud at 8pm whilst parked down wind from a French cat.

And so ends the tale of F##k W*t B&y.

For pictures of Hvar and the Pakleni Islands see https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10200309799180524.1073741870.1620379103&type=1&l=7b70f4bc83

La Mischief Meets Miss Behaving

The morning after the night before, there were bottles everywhere that needed to be collected and bagged and put in a front hatch for the time being.

With the evidence removed, it was time to say goodbye to Vis and head off to Hvar, as the weather was turning cloudy and yukky and therefore we thought it would be a good time to do town stuff rather than beach stuff.

Hvar was pretty well north, the direction of the wind, as it was a pretty choppy sail across. We eventually made it and anchored next to a Lagoon 620 at the entrance to the harbour. We then proceeded to chase a few charter boats way as they tried to anchor on top of us. The usual story – drop anchor on top of ours and then try and motor sideways across the wind only to find boat swings round onto ours.

Still it wan’t as bad as what happened to the Lagoon 620. They had a power boat come straight up to them and then ram them in the side. What – you can’t see a 62 foot catamaran? Bizarre.

The harbour master had also had enough and told us all that it was unsafe to anchor there because of the 25kt wind. Petty really because the holding was great and it was a pretty good place to hang out give or take all the idiots around.

So off we went across the channel to the Zonica channel where we found a free mooring buoy belonging to one of the restaurants on Marinkovac Island. The current was rushing though this channel so it was good to have a mooring, one that was right behind another Australian boat called Miss Behaving. Interesting to have La Mischief and Miss Behaving moored next to each other. Given it was a restaurant mooring we felt obliged to eat at the restaurant, which we did in the company of Miss Behaving who left their kids on board, whilst they had some adult time.

Next morning, we took to the dingy and headed off across the channel to Hvar. Hvar is very picturesque, with its narrow cobbled streets, where cars are banned. We explored the shops and then headed upwards to the old castle that overlooks the town. It was good to get a bit of walking into the legs.

We stayed on the mooring for a couple of nights before heading off to explore the Pakleni Islands.

For photos of Hvar see https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10200309799180524.1073741870.1620379103&type=1&l=7b70f4bc83

Austrian Mayhem

Ooroo left Komiza early for Corfu whilst we hung around to listen to the mighty dockers knock off Geelong, on their way to the big GF.

Then it off to explore the rest of Vis. We headed along the south coast, our first stop being the famous beach at Stiniva. Whilst it did look quite interesting, the cove was narrow and deep and not really good for anchoring. We continued east and stopped off at another inviting cove. We dropped anchor and had a pleasant swim and paddle board. We swam into the shore and walked along the rocks to the beach where we ran into Marco and Ana, a couple of honeymooners who we had a drink or three with in Vis town. We said a quick hello and left them alone and headed off to Budikovac Island, our stop for the night. We picked up a mooring in shallow water and had a great afternoon swimming in what was our hottest day in Croatia.

We wandered up to the house on shore, which is periodically used as a restaurant. The owner was a real character; we thought he was chasing us away at first, but in the end he turned out to be quite harmless, drinking on the verandah with his two mates, whilst baiting some passing yachties. We ate local olives and drank their wine. We were running short of wine on the boat so we also bought a couple of litres to take back – packaged in high class plastic water bottles!!!

Back on board La Mischief, we spent the afternoon paddle boarding and swimming. a charter boat of Austrians moored up next to us and a Lagoon 440 called Spongebob took up another mooring. Spongebob had an Australian couple on board – chartering they explained – who would call their boat Spongebob they replied when we asked them if it was theirs.

So invites went out and all was set for a few late afternoon drinks on La Mischief. The Austrians brought over some wonderful Austrian wine and Geringer, their nominated skipper turned out to be a real character – slightly mad with a laugh that his whole body engaged in. Late afternoon turned into early evening, with a small break where everyone when off to do some cooking and bring it back to La Mischief. Then early evening turned into late evening with Geringer’s lederhosen, which was made of deer leather, moving from his person to Brad first then Bec.

About 11pm, we spotted a visitor in the water, completely nude, except for his cap, yelling party. It was a pretty dark night with no moon so we hadn’t seen him until he appeared at the back of the boat. “Party boy” clambered on board and pulled out a t shirt from under his cap. He was from Slovenia and completely off his tree and we gave him a towel to wrap around himself. It took us a while to impress upon him that the party was pretty well over and perhaps he needed to go back to his boat. In the end we managed to bundle him into Spongebob’s dingy and take him home to his boat.

But our party wasn’t quite finished as around midnight, we all decided it would be a good idea to swim from La Mischief to the Austrian boat for some late night snaps, followed by a swim back again.

Next morning …. never mind.

For photos of Vis see https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10200268972839891.1073741868.1620379103&type=1&l=e930ae623d

Illegal Boat People

Our trip back from Australia was via Dubai and Rome flight, followed by a 3 hour bus ride to Pescara, where Adrian and Anita had left the boat with Steffi’s assistance.

We spent the night at Steffi’s recovering and catching up. Next morning it was down to the boat for an engine service, which took most of the morning.

Brad and Bec arrived by train from Bari at lunchtime, and after a large shop, it was off to Steffi’s to enjoy a swim and a relax before we did the restaurant on the beach night, the last of the season.

Next day, we took Steffi, Adriano and Sarah for a sail along the coast to one of the bays they often went to. Unfortunately it wasn’t a very nice day, with a bit of a swell running, and some dirty water being washed down from Venice, so we didn’t swim much. Still it was nice to be back on board La Mischief putting her through her paces, and it allowed Brad and Bec to get acquainted with La Mischief before we headed off to Croatia.

And next morning we were off, 115nm straight across the Adriatic to Vis Island. We left just before 6am and got great winds. We put up the geneker and took off. By lunchtime, the wind increased to 24 knots and down came the geneker. We needed a reef shortly after but we were going along at 7s ad 8s on flat seas. And we needed to as we wanted to get there before it was completely dark.

We passed the first of Croatia’s islands before sunset and closed in on Vis town as the sun set. We had just enough light to navigate into the harbour and pick up mooring.

By then it was 9pm and we presumed everything would be shut and we would need to wait until the morning to check in. So we stayed put on the boat – the lure of the water front bars would have to wait.

We had a leisurely morning, not wanting to go in too early and find things shut. So we went in t 9.30am and after a bit of a hunt around we eventually found the harbour master at the back of a building up two flights of stairs. We congratulated ourselves for not attempting that the night before as we would have never found it.

We filled in a new vignette listing the crew details and showed them our cruising permit. Then it was off to find the police station. It was equally as hard to find and after asking several people we found their office – no sign except for a note on the door saying to ring 192 if it was unattended.

We went inside and saw the nice looking police woman, who took our passports and then proceeded to tell us we had a problem. It seems we should have checked in with the police as soon as we got to Croatia.

Not sure what the problem was but the cell just around the corner made me hope it wasn’t a big problem.

We were then told to wait outside, which we did. We waited and drank coffee and waited some more. Then she appeared and locked the police station and disappeared somewhere. We waited some more. Then she came back and went in side. We waited some more. Then she asked me (and not the others) back inside.

She explained that I had to pay a fine of 1000 kuna (A$200) but if I paid it straight away it would reduce to 667 kuna plus 100 kuna tax. This was evidently a new rule brought in 2 months ago and I was the first person to be fined in Vis. Great. I had a go at pleading my case but she just kept saying I should have come in and found the police station and rung the number on the door. Yeah right.

Anyway, I paid the fine at the Post Office and then had to take the receipt round to another police station. We decided to head there by dingy but were quickly intercepted by the police boat who were very keen to see we had paid our fine and add to their revenue raising initiative. We gave them our receipt and all was good.

Now that we weren’t illegal boat people, it was time to celebrate our new-found freedom.

For photos of Vis see https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10200268972839891.1073741868.1620379103&type=1&l=e930ae623d

1000nm is Not That Far if you say it quickly.

The EU welcomes yachties from all over the world, provided that they only stay 90 days every 6 months. Great!!! Other that Gibraltar and Morocco, I’d been in the EU since arriving in France on the 17th March so now it was time to leave.

Although Croatia has just joined the EU, it still wasn’t hooked into the Schengen immigration zone, which is the thing, so therefore Croatia is okay for the moment. So Croatia it is, 983nm away as the crow sails.

Our route took us down the bottom of Sardinia, across the top of Sicily, through the Messina Straits, around the bottom of Italy’s foot, and up the Adriatic Sea to Dubrovnick. I had a place to catch on the 9th August and we left at 5pm on the 31st August.

My super smart GPS had us arriving in Dubrovnick on the 7th August if we sailed straight through at an average speed of 6 kts so we had a day to effectively spare. Nothing like a bit of pressure.

The first couple of days and nights we ran 3 hour watches, with myself in a consultancy role, checking at the start and end of each watch and generally being available on a break glass if needed approach. After that I started to miss my night watches and we started rotating through four 2 hour watches.

It took us nearly 48 hours to cover the 290nm to Sardinia and we spent all our time motoring into a fairly light wind. Occasionally we would head off and get a decent enough angle to pull out all the genoa, but not often.

On the way to Sicily, we were entertained by dolphins and whales. Usually around 6pm, the dolphins would head over and play between our bows for 30 minutes or so. We even got to pull out our Geneker and sail for a couple of hours.

Sitting here at 5.30am in the morning on watch, the temperature is 27 degrees. Balmy nights and warm days.

We got to Sicily at midday on day 4, and halfway along the island, we celebrated our half way point. We passed inside some impressive looking islands as we motored along the coast. It would have been nice to stop and have a quick swim but we were racing to get to the Messina Straits to catch the tide through (4 and a half hours after Gibraltar HT according to guide book), so there was no time to dilly daly.

We made the straits just after dark and kept to starboard of the designated shipping lanes. Watched a passenger liner slip in front of us at 15kts.

The straits are narrow – really, really narrow. 1.6nm narrow at a couple of spots. As well as the ships going up and down, we had a constant stream of ferries crossing back and forth from the mainland to Sicily and back. Thank god for AIS.

We eventually made it through all the traffic and popped out the other side as the straits began to widen. And then the wind started to lift from the 10 knots we had entering the straits.

I’d been sleeping and the crew woke me as we needed a reef – two actually. This was more like the winds in the Strait we had read about. Still sleepy we turned into the wind and started to put in a couple of reefs. Normally reefing is easily on La Mischief, but still half a sleep I managed to balls it up and ended up snapping a lazy jack. Bugger.
Without the lazy jack in place the bottom of the sail spilled out and we ended up dropping it completely and lashing it to the boom.

Next morning, we assessed the damage and lifted the main sail to its full height without any reefs – this being the only configuration that we could manage without lazy jacks. The next day was spent motoring along the bottom of Italy’s foot in light winds.

We hadn’t been able to do a lot of sailing, with the motoring being on pretty much all of the time. With a broken lazy jack and running a bit low on fuel we decided we would pull into Italy to refuel.

We picked out Santa Maria di Leuca, right on the cape. We arrived there early in the morning and Adrian went up the mast to fix the broken lazy jack. Then we took on enough fuel to make it to Croatia as fuel is a lot cheaper in Croatia than Italy.

Then it was into the Adriatic. We had a bit more luck with the winds as we just had enough angle to motor sail north. Next morning we sailed past Montenegro and into Dubrovnik, just over 1000nm from Palma. It had taken us just under 8 days and I think we had the motors off for less than 12 hours during that time.

We decided that we would stop in Kavtat, as this was quite close to both the airport and Dubrovnik and looked nice, easy to enter and quite protected. We got there at about 11am and pulled into the Q jetty. Adrian backed in and asked how much insurance cover I had as he went stern to beside a beautiful 150 foot yacht – I told him it didn’t matter how much I had given how expensive the boat next to us was.

Checking into Croatia involves taking a crew list along to the harbour master and getting a cruising permit for the boat (1765 kuna = A$335) – valid for a year) and visitors tax (720 kuna). Even though Croatia has just jointed the EU, they are still keeping their own currency – must be a good thing given the problems Greece etc are having. Next stop was the police who stamped us in and then we were done.

Leaving the Q jetty, we went and picked up a mooring right next to another Australian cat. The Croatians are mad keen on water polo and that night, we found a water polo game going on in an outdoor pool not much more than 50m from our mooring. We dingyed in and watched a bit before having a farewell meal with Roger who was flying out the next morning.

Next day, we dingyed in and said our goodbyes to Roger before heading off on a ferry to Dubrovnik. We could have caught the bus but some Poms we met the night before said we should definitely go to Dubrovnik by boat and they were right – it was so the right way to go to this very impressive city.

But before any sightseeing could be done, we needed to find a replacement impeller for our genset,which we eventually did out at the ACI marina the other side of town. Then it was back to town where we did the walk around the city wall that goes right the way round this magnificent old city. I’m sorry Sevilla, but I think I’ve just got a new favourite European city. The walk took a good couple of hours as we savoured both the city and the seascape from multiple brilliant view points. It was very hot and a bar half way round that sold fresh orange juice was a welcome pit stop.

Back at the boat it was time to pack, ready to head back to Perth for Cas’ 50th.

For photos of Dubrovnik and Kavtat see https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10200112301283200.1073741865.1620379103&type=1&l=e143951a3e