Kurukulla at Anegada, BVI

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

The best laid plans.

After an enjoyable lunch anchored off Uvala Konobe I decided that a final swim before setting off for Krk town and the fuelling jetty would be in order. I reached over the wheel to pick up my flippers and mask from the rear of the cockpit and that was the last movement I made for half an hour. Somehow I had managed to put my back out and the pain took half an hour to subside sufficiently to allow me to get myself down below and lie down. Fortunately the weather was stable and calm, therefore there was no requirement to reposition for the night or indeed any of the following three nights. Two days of very gingerly moving around the boat combined with regular applications of full strength Ibuprofen Gel (which had fortunately been procured and left onboard by Malvena Stuart-Taylor MD last year) got me to the stage where, with caution, I could go back to sea but I restricted myself to a direct passage to Rijeka; somewhere that I knew would be an easy berth to get alongside. Nothing adventurous and motor all the way was the order of the day!

A gentle stroll around Rijeka in the afternoon combined with a haircut (the first since I left England!) passed away a pleasant afternoon whilst waiting for the four friends who were due to join via a flight to Trieste and a taxi to Rijeka. Martin, Chris, Dom and Pete duly arrived at 1700 and by 1800 we were returning from the supermarket with victuals for a week. A rapid departure to avoid the joys of the Rijeka “Hyper-volume” Discotheque for a second Saturday night running, was followed, two and a half hours of brisk, excellent sailing later, by a night entry into Uvala Mala Jana. For the first time in my experience it was relatively crowded. As we ghosted in, carefully choosing a place to drop the anchor to avoid the other eight anchored boats or crossing their anchor cables, a helpful motorboat owner switched on every light he had, including his underwater floodlights, floodlighting us, just to make sure that everybodys' night vision was destroyed. Amazing how little some people know about seafaring! He obviously heard my freely offered advice to “switch the bloody lights off!!!” and complied. Two hours later, at midnight, he proceeded to wake the whole anchorage by starting his engines, leaving them idling for 15 minutes, then weighing anchor and leaving in another blaze of floodlights! I think I might have offended him!

Next day we sailed off the anchor and round to Krk town where we needed to take fuel and water. Fuelling in the tight corner where the fuelling jetty is situated was achieved without difficulty. After that we decided to berth on the town quay and have lunch ashore. Our first attempt at a Med moor, berthing stern to, with a wind blowing us onto the jetty, was not a great success. Initially all went well, that is until we hauled in the holding off line which we had successfully hooked from the stern and run forward. The outer end soon appeared on the bow of Kurukulla, attached to absolutely nothing! When you are committed you are committed! Some minutes later we had sorted out the problem, by swinging broadside to the jetty (fortunately causing no damage), finding the only other holding off line available and hauling ourselves laboriously off the jetty again into a perfect Med. moor. An excellent lunch in a restaurant on the quay was followed by a short walk around the town and then a brief sail over to Uvala Konobe for the night.

Next day we motored 10 miles, in a flat calm, to Rab for an afternoon of swimming and an evening BBQ on the beach, again! The last visit to Sahara beach for this year.

The following morning we sailed off the anchor in a brisk SE breeze and headed for Rab town where we anchored for a pair of hours in one of the rocky coves at the entrance to Rab before going to my now habitual anchorage to the NW of the town. That evening we went for a tour of the town followed by an excellent meal at the Arbiana Hotel restaurant in the gardens of the hotel.

This morning we made a victualling run to the Cash and Carry followed by a quick watering stop in Rab inner harbour and then to the same anchorage as the day before, for a brunch stop, before heading south. We are currently under-way to an anchorage off Pag, the next major island south.

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Rocking and rolling in Rijeka..

The thunder storm and ensuing rain lasted most of the day so we satisfied ourselves with a short hop to Uvala Mala Jana where the shelter was good and the anchorage secure in the prevailing NW wind. Two other boats, who were already there, departed at the first sign of sunshine but this was short lived. As a result we had the anchorage to ourselves for the rest of the day. By 1800 when the rain finally seemed to have abated it was too late to contemplate going anywhere else. Net result, a very lazy day.
Next day dawned bright and clear so we chose to start early and make our way towards Rijeka, with a stop on the way at a suitable beach. After the first hour and a half motoring, in no wind, we decided that we had had enough and headed for the shoreline, anchoring in a small bay north of Njivice. The shoreline here is steep to but there is just enough room in the bays to drop anchor in 10m with 30m of chain out and swing clear of the rocks. We passed a very pleasant four hours there until the clouds started to build and the rain started again. The only problem, there was still no wind!
Two, very damp, hours of motoring later we were alongside in the port of Rijeka. A city of contrasts. If only they had stopped building in the 1880's it would be a beautiful, Venetian influenced, city but the coming of the railway and the resulting massive extension of the wharves and docks has given it the worst waterfront of any city I have ever seen. This has been followed by massive expansion of low cost, high rise, housing in the 1960's which has just made a bad situation much worse. There are still numerous architectural gems but very many are hidden in amongst the horrors.
We had chosen a berth right in the very far end of the port thinking that it would be a secure, quiet spot; we were after all the only private pleasure craft in the whole harbour! Later that night we found out why yachtsmen don't go there. The retired ferry, now converted to a floating restaurant; berthed nearby; also doubled as a late night, open air, discotheque! From 2300 until 0430 the noise was amazing; with all doors, hatches, windows and openings closed we were still having to shout inside Kurukulla to make ourselves heard! If that was not enough at 0430 the gods took over; they closed down the discotheque by providing a two hour thunder and lightening show, with torrential rain and a variety of gale force gusts from all directions, in the middle of which we had to leave the boat to get GianLuca to his 0600 departure bus for Trieste! Even the street lights fused twice! I returned to the boat very tired, thoroughly soaked, stripped off and went back to bed. The next I knew I woke to sunshine at 1100. A brief shopping run and then it was off down the east coast of Krk; a beautiful passage through under the bridge that connects Krk to the mainland and then onwards 15 miles to a tranquil, deserted bay at Petrina; absolutely no discotheques tonight!
There followed a very tranquil night and a slow start to the following day. A couple of minor repairs to the boarding ladder and a lazy lunch were followed by a very pleasant sail down the east coast of Krk to Uvala Mala Luka; a deserted inlet on the SE corner. A truly beautiful anchorage rather reminiscent of the Scottish Highlands; perhaps rather more sun scorched! Definitely one to return to later.
In fact so taken was I with the inlet that I spent the next day there as well and got on with some running maintenance whilst I whiled away a windless, grey day. The net result is that the stitching on the leech of the genoa, holding the UV strip has now been restitched over a two foot length (the original stitches having given way) and the elastic in the spinnaker pole has now been renewed (having parted a month ago!), a job requiring removing the end of the pole and then re-riveting it back on.
Today it was an early departure from Uvala Mala Luka and a very gentle passage (again under engine for lack of any wind), round to the south of Krk for lunch in a bay and then on to Krk town for fuel and water, late in the day. Overnight may well be in Krk if these flat calm conditions continue.

Friday, 13 August 2010

Back to the islands.

At 0700 on Saturday Simon transferred to Kurukulla permanently and we waved goodbye to David and Filip in Camilla as they set off from the Limski canal to head for Brindisi and onwards to the UK. Simon and I then set about doing some shopping in the local camp-site supermarket, victualling ourselves for the next few days. This completed we set off southwards for Uvala Soline, stopping for a pair of hours to anchor and swim off one of the local beaches. We finally reached the overnight anchorage at 1900 and following a final swim, settled down to a pork steak supper.

Next day, after a lazy morning, we moved the four miles into Pula harbour proper and Simon went ashore for a few hours sightseeing, I stayed onboard having seen enough of Pula in the last two years; there is a limit to the number of times you can do the amphitheatre, castle, Roman theatre and old city without having a sense of “deja vu”! At 1930 I set off ashore to collect GianLuca (an Italian friend who was joining for the week) from the bus station where he was due to arrive on the last leg of his journey from Rome. By 2100 we were all back onboard and, rather than stay in the polluted waters of Pula harbour, we set off at dusk for the anchorage at Soline. A night entry with no moon successfully executed we settled down to a spaghetti bolognese supper and then all retired. Next morning we made a trip to the head of Veruda Marina, situated in the next creek, to recharge the gas bottles and a refuelling stop in the marina which resulted in us spending almost an hour holding position and fighting off queue bargers before it was our turn to be called in to refuel. The time some people can take to refuel their boat is incredible! Thereafter we set off for a very pleasant sail round the southern tip of Istria to return to Medulin where we were to anchor overnight. There followed a supper ashore to mark Simon's departure and we landed him, next day for his return flight to the UK. That achieved GianLuca and I then set off for another passage south through the Osor canal, this was even more chaotic than the last transit as there was a five knot current running against the boats transiting southwards! It was achieved without incident for us but there were some very near misses for others! We anchored overnight in the same anchorage as before, Uvala Martinscica, and then set off the following morning to Rab. The anchorage at Sahara on the north eastern coast of Rab is one of the finest beaches that I know in Croatia and acts as a magnet each time I am in the area! Especially when the weather is flat calm as it is at the moment.

Next day we motored across, in the continuing flat calm, to Krk where we anchored in the bay at Konobe for lunch, an afternoon swim and a stroll ashore. Later we moved on to Krk harbour where we anchored, with a line ashore. That achieved it was a quick victualling run to the supermarket, a walking tour of the historic town, a plateful of Calamari Fritte, plus a beer, in a local restaurant, thus finished a very tranquil day. Next morning, however, was not quite the same! I woke to the sound of thunder at 0800, by 0830 the wind was getting up and the rain had started. Time to recover the shore line and move out of the restricted area in which we were moored. A quick 150 yard dash saw us anchored just outside the port but in open water with no hazards. It is from there that I am writing with, at this moment, torrential rain, thunder and lightning all around!

Friday, 6 August 2010

To Italy and back!

The departure from Sahara coincided with a steady rise in the wind and a change to a northerly direction. We had agreed to go north about on the small island of Otoc Grgur for a change of scenery and to go past the prison island of Otok Goli where opponents of the communist regime were interned. By the time we had made our way the mile to windward needed to pass north of the island the wind was up to 35 kts and what should have been a pleasant beam reach turned into a two reefs in the mainsail and a well rolled jib session. Our aim was to head for the town of Krk and refuel and re-provision there. Kurukulla and I arrived in Krk an hour before Camilla having made a tactical decision to motor-sail to windward before the wind became too strong. Anchored outside Krk harbour I was able to set to and strip the echo sounder to discover why it was not working; the answer was soon evident, a copious quantity of fresh water ingested into the instrument during the heavy rains of the day before. Even when dried out it still refused to give any sensible reading; time to replace it but where?
Krk is a beautiful town and proved suitable for a refuel and victualling but could offer no berths for the night so after doing all that was necessary we set off along the coast the six miles to Uvala Mala Jana, a small but perfect inlet found during last years travels. On arrival there was only one small power boat tucked in the corner and we were able to anchor both boats close together with lines ashore. A perfect setting for a swim and a late supper for all aboard Kurukulla.
Next day dawned bright but slightly overcast. A sail off the anchor and ghosting out into the channel provided a slow start to the passage but from there on the wind developed a mind of its own resulting in a frustrating morning of sailing interspersed with motoring whenever the wind dropped and all in an uncomfortable lumpy sea. Once we rounded the northern tip of Cres however life took on a completely different hue. A splendid downwind sail in brilliant sunshine with 10 knots over the deck and the Genoa poled out, fantastic! Our aim was to get as near to Pula as possible; in the event, by motoring the last hour or so as the wind dropped we were able to make the anchorage at Uvala Soline, just south of Pula.
Uvala Soline was absolutely crowded with Italian yachts signalling the start of the Italian summer holidays! Next day, whilst we had a beat northwards and to windward in 20 – 25 kts, there were vast numbers of yachts piling downwind under spinnaker all heading south. It was just like Cowes Week!
By Rovinj, 20 miles, to windward, we had had enough and decided to take our leave of Croatia from the authorities there. After a late lunch in a bay to the south of the town we motored into the harbour and berthed on the quarantine pier. Here started an hour long process, firstly persuading the Capitanija (Coast Guard) that they were not going to close half an hour before the published time on their door, thereby making us wait until the next day; followed by the police office where the very unhelpful individual on duty was determined to make everyone wait at least half an hour in order to prove his importance! (Some Croatian Police have yet to realise that things have changed since the communist days, they are now supposed to be servants of the people!) The formalities completed we returned to the bay where we had taken lunch and anchored for the night.
Next morning we set sail at 0500 for Santa Margherita, just east of Venice, arriving at about 1400. As Kurukulla was still without a working echo sounder Camilla led the way in, negotiating the shallow and tortuous entrance of Marina 4, where a very cheerful and helpful marinaio directed us to available berths. Purely by chance, adjacent to our berth was a Raymarine agent who was enlisted to resolve the echo sounder problem. Eventually, as they were unable to get any spares in a reasonable time-scale, I decided to cannibalize the internal unit and reduce to one working depth display on deck as opposed to having two non functional ones as was. To some degree I breathed a sigh of relief as the spares they were initially offering were priced at €500 and my plan is to renew the whole system next year, hence this would have been nugatory expense.
On day two David Ashby's daughter and family came for a days outing in Camilla, I stayed in the marina to complete various tasks onboard Kurukulla and ashore.
Day three dawned hot, breathless and with a deteriorating weather forecast so we decided to forego our intended brief sojourn into the lagoon at Venice and head straight for Slovenia. Camilla having executed another crew change, Jerry and Rob leaving, Filip joining, we finally departed Sta Margherita at 1600 and sailed / motored over to Piran (Slovenia) arriving at 2300, anchoring just outside the port. Unfortunately, whilst on passage David received some very bad news from UK, as a consequence he has been forced to curtail his visit to Slovenia / Croatia and head back to Brindisi, Italy as fast as possible to leave Camilla there and return home for an unspecified period. I decided that Kurukulla and I would accompany him as far as Pula.
We re-entered Croatia formally at Umag, where a moderately more helpful group of officials processed our papers, then continued southwards to find a suitable overnight anchorage. Our choice was to enter the Limski Canal; however, to get there we had to weather a bloodstained, four hour, sail southwards in a westerly force 8 gale, heavy rain, very unpleasant seas, cold temperatures and some severe thunderstorms. All in a mid-summer day's sailing in the Med!
Fortunately, after a relatively quiet night at anchor, things are starting to revert to normal and the weather is improving. Onwards tomorrow after a 24 hour pause at anchor to dry out and warm up!