We arrived in Ston an hour before sunset and having paid our dues to the harbour authority (you pay £20 just to tie up, there are no facilities!) we went ashore for a brief stroll, a quick drink and to buy some other minor foodstuffs. That completed we returned onboard for supper and an early night; Guido and Jane had not slept well onboard the ferry from Bari to Dubrovnik the night before, the comforts of Jadrolinja ferries are not that great!
Next day we wandered ashore for a better look at Ston, in full daylight, and then set sail down the canal again to revisit Sobra in Miljet. En route we stopped for a swim in the bay at Uvala Prijezba (suitable for short stops only).
In Sobra we took the holding off line in front of the Konoba Lanterna again and moored up for the night. As the evening progressed, after our return from supper in the restaurant, the weather started to deteriorate with the onset of a stronger than forecast NE wind. The result was that we spent a rather uncomfortable night rolling about on the sea that was reflecting off the steep sides of the bay.
The following morning the wind had dropped to zero; thus we departed Sobra under engine and motored the majority of the way to the island of Lopud for a swim. Unfortunately Lopud was also suffering from the swell; hence, after a brief swim, we continued to Kolocep for the night. Next morning, after another refreshing dip, we went for a walking tour of Kolocep and followed our exertions with a pizza lunch in the waterfront restaurant.
In the early afternoon we set off for Dubrovnik marina where we intended to make the preparations for the crossing back to Italy and to spend our last night in Croatia. Guido and Jane had been intending to pay a visit to the old town of Dubrovnik but given the inclement weather they finally decided against it. Thus it was that at 1300 on Monday we set off to check out of Croatia and return to Brindisi. To check out we either had to go to Gruz or Cavtat. To save time and against my better judgement I decided to break my self imposed rule of never returning to Gruz to complete formalities; the officials there are always completely unhelpful and you end up berthed on a totally unsuitable quarantine jetty which is designed for cruise liners. I was not to be disappointed!
On arrival we chose the very small berth at the end of the jetty which was the one most suited to yachts and well away from the big ships. Result, we were immediately and unceremoniously thrown off that one with no courtesy, not even advice on where we could berth! Finally we berthed at the opposite end of the quarantine quay, 150m from the offices and I braved the pouring rain to go and do the paperwork. Next problem; Guido and Jane had entered Croatia on a ferry and had their passports stamped by immigration on arrival, this however was not enough in the eyes of Croatian bureaucracy to prove that they were legally in Croatia. A very pretty, but none the less officious, blonde policewoman explained to me that it was my responsibility as skipper to register their residence when in Croatia and that having failed to do so I would be fined €80. My response was polite but firm, “over my dead body! Show me where this requirement is published!”. She reached for the appropriate book from the shelf full of Immigration Police Regulations and opened it at the appropriate page; all of course in Croatian! “And for someone who does not speak Croatian, does not live in the country, does not have access to the books of Police Regulations and was not informed of the requirement on arrival?” Silence! … I then enquired where I was supposed to have registered their presence in Croatia to which the reply was “at the tourist office” and so, keen to show my willingness to comply I asked “is there a tourist office in Sobra?” answer “no”, in Kolocep?” answer “no” “So where am I supposed to have registered them if this is the first place we have visited where it would be possible to do so?” No answer other than “you must pay!”.
I now made what I thought was a quite reasonable suggestion. “Why don't you register them into Croatia now, I will then go next door and have a coffee and return in five minutes and then we can check them out”; answer “No you must pay or you can argue your case in front of a magistrate”, accordingly I enquired when this might be possible. “Sometime next week”. By now my patience was wearing thin but I again, as politely as possible, firmly declined their offer to pay. Finally she got the hint that I was not going to be a pushover and decided to consult her superiors, By this time her colleagues were already giving me knowing grins of sympathy! It was obvious I was not the first victim to undergo this process. Fifteen minutes later and after a long lecture, to which of course I paid rapt attention and with all forms stamped I was free to go ... onwards to the next hurdle, Capitanija. They, fortunately, were much less enthusiastic (aka officious) and stamped the forms without question after I had waited the mandatory 10 minutes whilst they finished their conversations between themselves, a delay imposed just to prove their importance of course! Next came the customs. Fortunately the elderly, rather portly, official was totally disinterested and objected to the interruption to the watching of his TV programme, he filled out the form, in longhand, in triplicate and passed me my copy without looking in my direction once! From here it was back to the immigration Police, collect the passports and go … never again to return to Gruz!
We sailed out of Gruz, set course for Brindisi and enjoyed a brisk reach at 6 – 7 knots with the easterly wind on the beam, just as forecast for the crossing; however, unfortunately it only lasted the first six hours; from then on the wind died leaving a foul sea and us motoring at 6 knots rolling our hearts out all night. Poor Guido felt awful but managed an hour here and there, on deck, to give me a break; Alberto was fine and kept me company for much of the evening, trying to spot the occasional star that peeped through the gloom, before retiring to bed. We finally motored into Brindisi at 1300 the next day all feeling tired after a very un-enjoyable crossing.
From here on my task was to prepare Kurukulla for her winter sojourn in Brindisi. The next day I dropped Guido at the airport to pick up a hire car that was to take them to Naples; we then returned to the boatyard from where they were to set off and I wave them good bye 30 minutes later. The next task was to get the boat lifted out, stripped of all running rigging etc. and winterised; after which I too departed for the drive back to UK. At present; having stopped overnight in Fano, on the east coast of Italy; Munich for a pair of nights and finally Dieppe for the pause before catching the 0500 ferry to Newhaven this morning; I am now back in UK for the winter and starting to plan next years itinerary!
Next BLOG next year!