Tuesday, May 29, 2007

...sailing adventures

These are the continuing adventures of an increasingly ragged band of happy sailors
David , Drew, Jeremy, Myself, Phil & Keith
Veronica would turn up in the third week when all the sailing was out of the way, and Sue .....maybe in Argentina.

Keith jumped ship early. I mean really early and elected to stay in the mystic Yorkshire port of Leeds on Sea. Sadly missed , but we had a pie in his honour.

The destination for the trip was the northern Dalmation Islands, Croatia.
Well that was the intended destination , fate was to reckon otherwise.
David & I arrived in the small marina at Kremnik to meet our crew mates & pick up the Yacht.
The chaps from Leeds were there already (Which figures as Leeds were always prompt to receivership.)

The introduction to our small group of yachts and other crew members was undertaken at what would become feared event , "Group Meal". Everyone sat down for the meal , chatted and waited. Waited , waited , waited, waited. We wondered if some of the older members of the group might have passed on by pudding.
Fortune smiled & they survived.
A not so early start on the first day saw us sorting out the yachts inventory ,running through procedure's, stocking up & generally getting ready to go. Awaiting the word from lead crew seemed to take a small life time. (you'll know what one of those feels like if you've ever attended a group meal in Croatia)

Inpatient's was the word of the day for me. I just wanted to get going .
Destination , Rogoznica ('Rogers knickers' announced our Yorkie skipper) .
Hold on , that's not going North , that's south.
It sinks in were circling the central Dalmations for the week. Bit of a surprise.

So we got a new Yacht for the trip. When I say new, I mean brand spanking. Parts were still in bubble wrap. Pretty cool.

The thing with new stuff is that it is rarely thoroughly checked over & the loose bits tightened before it's pronounced good to go. Too many assumptions.

One such bit fell off on the first day, with no spares on board that led to making an improvised repair.
This was fine , but as this was Phils' blooding on yachts it was not the best initial experience.
Oh well, worst things happen at sea.

Rogoznica to Rogac & the first decent breeze.

....erm yes there was an axe in the yacht inventory. A bit radical maybe. I can only presume it was there to repel pirates/vikings/girl guides or to instill a sense of urgency into our Croation cooks operations when brought to the dinning table.
(Well that wouldn't work, they would guess you just wanted an even bigger fish to eat.)

...and so onto Split.

Rogac to Split was pretty windless drift & event free with the exception reversing our £120,000 worth of boat between millions of pounds worth of of craft & into a spot no bigger that the 12' yachts beam width, all while being shouted at .

However Kicking around Split for the Evening was pretty good. Large & lively it was a breath of fresh air.

An interesting old town , lively market in the morning & late night water taxies.
Dinner taken in the shadow of the cathedral courtyards. All good fun.
...but did they have hot chocolate ?.....I recall they did not.

The journey to to Milna on the island of Brac was to be far more fun.

The main job of the lead crew on these little voyages is as back up , oversee & sort out any problems otherwise your on your own.
This was our leaders first time out in charge. No worries?

One of the first briefs received form our lead crew was that the 'weather was to be fine , wind moderate, a nice marina at the other end to moor for the night & not to worry' , ' & no ferries come into the town anymore'.

One of the group yachts met and the greeted the phantom ferry at the harbour entrance that evening.

(I grinned to myself)
The force 5 and a bit winds & lumpy sea state made it even more fun.

Ok maybe this didn't happen.
....but it could have.
although there would be more fish involved in Croatia I'm sure.

One thing that I can say about the Croation Island the food is good.
If you like meat & fish.

Plain stuff in most places , but good & fresh. Fish comes straight off the town boats & into the restaurants.

Ice cream is bountiful & hot chocolate for those who crave something special is apparently the thing to look for.
The search was still on. To find the best hot chocolate in the islands.
(Well you have to amuse yourself in small ways I guess)

The Journey continued

Milna to Starigrad. (via a punch party I vaguely recall, or not as the case transpires)

I don't like swimming at sea.
Deep , cold & full of things that lurk.

The passage over to Starigrad on Hvar Island was brisk, We put Phil in charge for the day. (We let him know this at the end of the day).

Starigrad despite it's pretty awful name turned out to be very nice indeed,
but several days of light breezes led to one night of high winds.
Plenty of motion . Rocked to sleep with the wind screaming in the rigging.
The trouble was , it was the same the next day & Forced us to stay in port.
Pity it was Phils day to jump ship, so he missed his last sailing day.
Instead we grabbed a car a did a breakneck tour of the island. Hvar town, Vrboska, Pritve, Jelsa trying all the tunnels we could find. Beer & ice creams what better .
Davids idea of trying roads that look interesting took us onto a rapidly increasing incline down a cliff face, which while worrying was not as bad as when it ran out of road surface !.
I think the insurance limitations on the car was the only thing that prevented futher off road exploration.

Lunch time stops in secluded bays, there is nothing better.
Fun with anchorages , the trick is to find a shallow spot, not too shallow but enough allow a good length of chain out to hold the boat , but still allow it to swing in the wind without hitting any other objects. Trouble is you never really know what you are attached to.
We chose our spots well enough, with incident free lunches & no hint of peril.

The journey continued to St Klement, via a quick stop in Hvar Town for a little pick up.
Negotiating the ferry route & timing out assult , an SAS style mission was carried out with precision as we pulled up the Hvar town key , Grabbed Jeremy & his luggage from the water front & pulled out before people could look up from their coffee.

We were a quater of a mile out when I remembered to say hello I think .

Group meal , said our lead crew. heads & shoulders dropped reluctantly.

It amused us , that evening at ......sigh, a Group meal. Our hostess insisted on communicating in German. Fine no problem. Broken English & Croation mixed with hand signals, whistles & pointing, (our standard communication method) for would have been preferable, yet even after we suggested none of us spoke German, were German or knew a German, the German dialog continued for the remainder evenings meal.

It was a confused meal I might add, Billed as a traditional Croation dish this seemed to consist of ,bits of other left over meals , random bits of unidentifiable mammals, fish, the local fire water & a dissapointing lack of hot chocolate.

St Klement to Vis

Our stopover on the island of Vis saw our little group take a inquisitive jolly on the bus around the Island.

We stopped to swim, well not me. I was transfixed by the number of butterflies fluttering around & became pre-occupied trying to capture them on film.

I have come to the conclusion that , despite being an enjoyable pass time, Butterfly chasing is pointless. The butterflies will tend to take the piss a little , settle down, looking pretty & wait for you to set your camera & then bugger off before your click. Grrrr.
You then become so obsessed you drag your crew mates into the increasingly futile chase, all to no avail.

It was a short while into our journey before we realised that the navigation equipment had not been....shall we say calibrated. A quick check of the hand held Sat nav showed it was out by about 30 percent on the trip log & speed reading.

Good job most navigation in the area was done with sightings & the charts.
Other wise we may have run into far more non existant ferries.

The trip between Vis & Masalinika was playtime.
So I can be a little competitive sometimes . It's a small failing.
Im racing the yachts adjacent , even if they are not aware of it. Which Im sure they are I can sense it :O).

It is possible to get bored of salads & canned fish for lunch. So a little improvisation was made on board.

The previous week breakfast by Phil was a sight to behold. Is it possible to be sarcastic with food?. Neatly laid out fruit peeled & placed would make it seem it is.
Davids effort with gutting & cooking two dozed sardines for lunch while on the hoof was pretty good going too.

But it's true by the beginning of the second week we were developing bunny ears from all the rabbit food.

...as for dinner. Fish was right off the menu . Well mostly . Actually not at all.
The night you decide to not have fish , fish are brought to you on a platter & you end up eating the biggest fish of the trip so far.
I still don't know what type it was. It was in the menu as First Class fish. We shall call it Trevor for the sake of this report.
Trevor was very nice .

It threatened to rain at one point. I saw nearly 10 drops .
I guess we were pretty lucky with the weather & missed the storms in the area.

Masalinika to Trogir

Trogir , what a top place. Old , but buzzing with life.
& the chaps even got their hot chocolate.
Thick enough to stand a spoon up in was the order of the day.

The passage from Trogir to Vinisce got of to good start with a bit of man over board practice.
Not for real, but we did have to rescue fenders from the water.
The penultimate night was a short trip , fortunately the wind was good so we could have a bit of a play.....so we did.

After a night on anchor, we wake up to dead clam & water like glass.
After building my self up all week for the final days race back , it did'nt happen .

I just wanted to race something.

So we went home.
In search of hot chocolate

...well most of us did.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

...gone sailing

A holiday at last
Some down time.
I may even do a cartoon log of the journey.

...kryptonite hedgehog.

Everyone has their Achilles heel.


Rudeness invariably comes from the lowest form of life !

Tuesday, May 08, 2007


We all have our temptations.
Mine are Jellybabies.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

...crime and complicity.

It's odd , it has taken an outsider, a foreigner ! to stand up & get the ball rolling on environmental issues in my county.
Bill Bryson ,( shall we call him a travel writer) has stood up as that figure head.
Good for him.
Bad mannered Colin (part time Megaphant) would like to add his weight to the subject a little more directly.