Transadriatic cruising – crossing the ‘swamp’

Open sea
We eagerly awaited encounter with the endless blue and the land at the ‘other side’

Cover and most of the other photos by: Goran Kragol

One of the things I like the most at ANA sailing school is club feeling. Many participants come back to school every year and we don’t look at them as only participants anymore but as a dear friends and club members. The best is that you haven’t seen these people for a year but when they come back to Jezera you have the impression that you took part yesterday and you just continue where you stopped last year.

That was the case with Transadriatc cruising course from Croatia to Italy few weeks ago. When I saw that crew members were Dragana, Denis and Goran my first thought was: ‘Great! I know them from last year’. Instructor was experienced Zvone who always seems to be in ‘take it easy’ mode but who holds strings firmly in his hands at key moments.

Zvone and Denis

Zvone and Denis

To the wind

We gathered at Saturday afternoon around the drinks and made a plan for the crossing. On Sunday morning we went for shopping and after that we sailed to the south. We were on ‘Mali Niko’, comfortable Salona 45 sailing boat, just a bit less than 14 meters, with dark blue hull and teak wood on the deck. Strong south-east wind, called Jugo (south = jug), with 25 knots of speed didn’t allow us to go forward like we wanted.

South east wind - Jugo

South east wind – Jugo

We persistently fought with the sea but it persistently fought back. With lots of manoeuvring around eight in the evening, after a day spent under sails, we dragged ourselves to Rogoznica, some 30 nautical miles from our starting point in Betina on the island of Murter. We planned to reach the island of Veli Drvenik, some 20 miles to the south that day, but we couldn’t do that.

We were exhausted and although we didn’t eat the whole day, nobody was in the mood for cooking. But Denis pulled the best scrambled eggs that I have ever eaten out of his sleeve. We went to sleep and next morning after hot shower and a coffee we sailed to island of Lastovo, some 70 miles away, from which we planned to head to Italy.

Dragana cooking beans with pasta

Dragana cooks beans with pasta

Again we had a strong southern wind that was blowing directly to our bow, so we had to start the engine. Around nine in the evening we reached Lastovo where enticing scents of that island almost instantly twined around us. We anchored in the beautiful bay across village of Ubli which was a shelter for Yugoslav War Navy once. Dragana cooked beans with pasta and it was delicious!

We visited the Port Authority early in the morning and police afterwards and the procedures for leaving Croatia were done. We sailed to Italian town of Vieste, on the spur of the Italian boot, some 60 nautical miles from Lastovo.

Land!

There was literary no wind so we used a motor again. But the sky was clear, it was sunny and the mood was great. As every other day of the voyage, Goran was diligently taking photos. We eagerly awaited encounter with the endless blue and the land at the ‘other side’.

Goran

Goran

Somewhere on the edge of Croatian territorial sea Zvone pulled us trough a ‘pod’ of fishing boats and not long after that the sea changed colour from turquoise blue to bright green. It was a sign that we were getting closer to Italy. So we raised the Italian flag.

Although the trip wasn’t too long it was still a special experience when we observed the shore on ‘the other side’. When we were two-three miles away from Vieste we contacted the Italian Port Authority.

Since we don’t speak Italian English too well, we were little confused trying to understand what they were saying. But since we didn’t plan to stay more than 24 hours, we weren’t obliged to call them anyway, so we didn’t bother that we were ‘lost in translation’. Finally, we realised that ‘Compa mare’ whom we for sure drawn crazy with our: “Didn’t understand. Please repeat”, just wanted to help us with finding the best docking in marina for our boat.

O brother, where art thou?

And that’s the story! Namely, there are few pontoons for boats in the marina and different person operates each pontoon. Because of that we almost caused a war between them when we entered the marina. Everybody wanted us to come at his pontoon. But according to instructions of our base manager Živko, we chose the first one. The story became more interesting there. We realised that that two brothers, who don’t speak to each other, operate first two pontoons. And then we realised that there is no showers on our pontoon because of the construction works in marina. We didn’t even think to go ask other brother for the showers. We were at the south of Italy for god’s sake!

Medieval part

Medieval part

We finally managed for the showers and after that we started our ‘cruising’ around nice but somewhat decrepit town with typically Mediterranean architecture. There is also interesting but very steep medieval core and nice lookout from which, unlike in Croatia, you can only see the sea.

Tomorrow we started our search for ‘prodotti tipici’. Živko told us not to come back without peperoncini. After we found the market and bought all sorts of peperoncini we could found and all sorts of olives, dried tomatoes, mozzarella and homemade sausages, we sailed from Vieste to the island of Vis.

Vieste

Vieste

Vieste

Vieste

Narow streets

Narrow streets

Market

Market

Sweet home …

When sea became turquoise blue again we knew we were at home so we took talian flag down and headed to island of Palagruža. There was no wind again, so we used motor again. Meeting with Palagruža that spread itself as some ancient beast in the middle of open sea was magnificent. It was a pity that we couldn’t climb to the lighthouse, but if we wanted to reach Vis in decent time we had to sail on.

The beast

The beast

Palagruža

Palagruža

Just before we entered the harbour of Vis we called the police and they came immediately so we solved the procedure for re-entering Croatia and we could ‘legally’ go to sleep. Morning after that Zvone did the procedure at Port Authority, we acquired some Vis ‘prodotti tipici’ (Vugava and Plavac wine and different kinds of brandy) at family farm Pečarević and sailed to island of Veli Drvenik. The wind was weak again but we didn’t mind and determinately sailed to our destination.

To Vis

To Vis

Vis

Vis

Veli Drvenik

Veli Drvenik

At Drvenik where we anchored in late afternoon the time must have stopped, but it wasn’t the case for us so we headed to Murter next morning and around four in the afternoon we docked at marina in Betina. After that we were on traditionally splendid fish dinner at Ribar’s in Jezera where we forged plans for our next meeting at the sea.


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