Korcula Recast

Korcula lured us into its lovely marina although we planned on going to Lumbarda.  It was almost impossible to believe ACI Korcula was the same marina.  It is much quieter in late September and there is room to manuever.  Korcula town is also much easier to navigate in mid-September, there are still tour groups and cruise ships but it is definitely less crowded.

Croatian Island Vista
Korcula Island Vista

We decided to take the bus to Lumbarda in the morning and see if perhaps there was somewhere to have coffee.  Lumbarda is a smaller marina, with great vistas back to the islands off Korcula.  There is a lovely beach past the marina and we walk along til the end, visit the large Bistro Maestral for coffee and return to Korcula.

Walking around this old Venetian city fortress is wonderful, every corner gives you something intriguing to look at.  The views across to a bora denuded hill on the Pelasic peninsular illustrates the power of the north to northeast katabatic wind, which can blow up to 100 knots.

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We were wandering down a street southeast of the marina, after shopping for supplies. We decided to walk to the end of a street to see if we could find steps to take us back to the marina.  We came across a Saturday afternoon activity for this time of year.  Here was a family making their own wine.It looked as if they had removed and mulched the stems, crushing them.  They added grapes to the press and then layered in the stems, more grapes and more stems. The grapes were in a press the size of a 44 gallon drum in the garage.

Saturday afternoon winemaking
Saturday afternoon winemaking

Autumn is bringing variable weather but much cooler, a very comfortable 27 degrees and cool nights for sleeping. We are starting to think about putting Mercier on the hard for the winter but we are hoping for a few more nights on the islands on our way back to Dubrovnik.

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Lastovo Island – Struga Lighthouse, Porto Rosso and Zaklopatica and Lastovo City

Our first night on Lastovo is in Luka Mali Lago, a very nice anchorage in a sheltered bay on the west side of Lastovo.  There are  a few cafes and an hotel in the next bay, which we can walk to or go under the bridge in the Zodiac.  There are a few houses on the shore and there are just three boats here overnight. We hear it can be very crowded in August.

We have a nice swim in the morning and motor for about 1 1/2 hours to Skrivena Luka.  As you approach Skrivena Luka, you can’t see the entrance to the bay at all.  I wonder why James is pointed directly at the island, but as you get closer you can see the narrow deep channel entrance and a completely landlocked harbour right underneath Pt Struga lighthouse.

One of the oldest lighthouses on the Adriatic, circa 1839. Svjetionik Struga
One of the oldest lighthouses on the Adriatic, circa 1839. Svjetionik Struga

Skrivena Luka means ‘hidden harbour’.  The Porto Rosso restaurant has a wonderful marina there, pay a small fee and have your dinner in the restaurant and everyone is happy. It is a very sheltered spot being landlocked and would have been another good place to be in the recent bora.

Mercier travels almost half way around the island to the tiny harbour of Zaklopatica.  It is like a small jewel and we are at the restaurant pontoon of Augusta Insula.  The names reminds me of Romans and it is very interesting to note that the Roman emperors came to Lastovo and built holiday homes. Augusta Insula means the ’emperor’s island’, the Roman name for Lastovo.


Mini-marina Augusta Insula
Mini-marina Augusta Insula, Zalopatica


We order a Croatian Lamb Peka for dinner and walk up to the land locked town of Lastovo. This is a town of 15th and 16th century houses and churches.  All of this in a valley shaped in a natural amphitheatre.


The town’s icon and emblem are the ‘fumari’ or chimneys.  Each craftman built a slightly different chimney for each family home.  The fumari are all unique and range from the delicate to the almost phallic.

Small chimney pots or 'fumari'
Small chimney pots or ‘fumari’

There can be a large church and it will be surrounded by several smaller ones dedicated to different saints. We were amazed at the number of churches in a very small area.

the church of St Kuzma and St Damien, seven centuries old
The church of St Kuzma and St Damien, seven centuries old

We walked back to the boat, partially on an old Roman road, which was more like a bush track. Back on the main road to Zaklopatica, we pass some very endearing graffitti.

Croatian Grafitti
Croatian Grafitti

Vela Spila, Vela Luka and Lastovo

On our second day in Vela Luka, wind warnings for the dreaded Bora came over the internet and it was also apparent by the large number of boats that were filing in all day.  Here we were in Korcula’s most protected harbour wearing T-shirts and shorts yet the weary sailors coming into the harbour were in wet weather gear.  We decided we would stay here on the comfortable town quay for the duration.

View from Vela Spila
View from Vela Spila
Vela Luka is a beautiful town but very quiet, what could we get up to?  Turns out that if we walked up the side of the hill about 800 metres, we would not only get a view out of the harbour towards Vis but we would also be able to visit Vela Spila.
Vela Spila - prehistoric cave
Vela Spila – prehistoric cave
Vela Spila is a 40 x 40 cave which was home to both Mesolithic and Neolithic finds, showing life in this area back over 20,000 years. It is called a stratified prehistoric site as the layers contain secrets of many generations.   In these early days, we can see that necklaces and pottery were being made. Although damp, the cave would have been comfortable with a few bearskins and wooly mammoth hides to cover the floors. There were natural skylights in the cave, offering a bit of light.  It was a nice hike and a humbling experience to be in a home that is 20,000 years old.
We met a very nice Croatian gentleman, stepping off his fishing boat the next day. We said ‘Hello’ and he came over for a chat.  He had worked on the Oriana for several years and then in New Zealand.  He had been to Sydney and had been able to retire back to his native Vela Luka.  He pointed to the house that he built on the waterfront, incredibly proud to have a lovely new home right on the water.  He said that many people from Vela Luka went to the US and Australia to work and live.  It was fairly obvious he was happy to have made it back to Vela Luka.
Monday, the Bora had blown itself out, and we motored over to Lastovo.  Until recently the island of Lastovo was a military site and we saw plenty of bunkers in the hills.  It is a municipality of 46 islands, some very small. Lastovo the island is the largest and we are circumnavigating the island going from port to port.  The entire island is a Natural Park (Park pirode Lastovi) and each evening we would be visited by the park ranger and we would pay for our daily ticket of $25 kunas.
Lastovo Island
Lastovo Island
There are places you can’t anchor, mainly in beds of Posidonia Oceanis or Poseidon Grass.  These underwater plants have been in the Mediterrean for up to 100,000 years ago. Feeling younger yet?  They bear fruit and create whole meadows under the sea. In Croatia, they are working to ensure these meadows remain protected.  I am happy to pay $5 Aussie dollars a night for their protection.
We have made our way to the very pleasant anchorage at Skrivena Luka on Lastovo. Great marina attached to the restaurant Porto Rosso.  More exploring to do on Lastovo today.
Thanks Sandy for pointing out that there are no shops readily available on Lastovo, we were prepared.  A big hello to Pip and Colin, thinking of you.  Pip, you may be as confused as I am on which America’s Cup team to support.  Great for discussion though.
My niece, Amanda, is getting married in one month. I love the internet because even though I couldn’t attend the bridal shower, I could see all the photos.  Between now and then Manda, remember to breathe.


Hvar Harbour, Vela Luka

Yesterday we headed over to Hvar Harbour. Even in mid September Hvar was busy, so we weren’t able to pick up a mooring. While we waited to see if one would come available, we took a few photos. Hvar was a major port for Venetians on their way to Istanbul and they have left their imprint on this beautiful city.

Hvar Town from the bay
Hvar Town from the bay

You can see that it was a blue sky, azure sea day, we aren’t that far north of Dubrovnik. Still in Dubrovnik yesterday, it rained so hard that it flooded and man-hole covers floated off their manholes and down the road.  Weather in the Adriatic is not easy to follow.

We had a nice evening in Vis, which was too quiet as our favourite bar had closed for the summer. In the morning, we had the same beautiful weather and headed over to Vela Luka on the Island of Korcula.  Vela Luka simply means big harbour and it is a commanding harbour, quite long and today stunningly blue.

Island at the entrance to Vela Luka Harbour
Island at the entrance to Vela Luka Harbour

Vela Luka is a working town with many new buildings under construction.  There are some beautiful old churches and galleries in town as well as the museum called Center for Culture. Vela Luka has an average of 2500 hours of sunshine each year.

Promenade Vela Luka
Promenade Vela Luka with its perfect palms
Smallest church we have seen - circa 1589
Smallest church we have seen – circa 1589

Happy Birthday to Suse King, hope you are spoiled all weekend.  It’s now possible to follow the blog, just fill in the follow sign on the right hand column.

Bol, Zlatni Rat and Stari Grad

All a boy needs, a boat, Mom and his dog.  Early morning scene on Bol Harbour
All a boy needs, a boat, Mom and his dog.
Early morning scene on Bol Harbour

The song says ‘you always take the weather with you’, the last few days we have had wonderful sunny clear days and most evenings a big thunderstorm, reminding us of Sydney southerly busters.

We were on our way to Bol on the island of Brac, thinking we would be able to pick up a mooring but we were waved onto the town quay. On the other side of the L shaped Quay there were several catamarans, who probably only draw about 1.3; on our side it was a bit deeper but very busy with the ferry wharf. James, Claire and I decided it was too bouncy to stay on board for lunch and went off to find a pizza on the boardwalk. We said hello to the Perth, WA owners of La Mischief, Steve and Cas, who invited us over for a drink in the evening

We headed out to the iconic beach of Zlatni Rat. This is one of the most photographed beaches in Croatia. Zlatni Rat is a arrowhead of white pebbles over 600 metres long, which changes shape depending on the currents and winds. Close by there are Roman ruins in a stand of pines and a lovely simple church. It seemed one side of Zlatni was protected great for swimming and the other perfect for wind surfers.

Zlatni Rat, Brac
Zlatni Rat, Brac

Sunset is nigh, we head over to La Mischief, which is very close to the boardwalk and its cafes.  The prevailing thought seems to be we should have a cocktail.  So an order went in to the nearby cafe for 3 margaritas and 3 Royal Mojitos. In Bol’s joggly bay, it is hard to negotiate the passerelles, but our wonderful waiter manages to do it with a tray of cocktails.

Service with a smile, agility & balance
Service with a smile, agility & balance

During our chat, we hear about La M’s problem on entering Croatia.  Current practice on entering a country late at night would be to fly the Q flag, stay on board until morning and contact the authorities.  However, two months ago, Croatia changed this rule.  You must fly the Q flag, make your way to the Harbourmaster’s office and call him on the number advised on his door, regardless of time.  One more reason to arrive during daylight hours. Fines are payable. Money better spent on Procip!

We were planning to go to Hvar and moor in the town’s bay, but the weather has been questionable, so we opt for Stari Grad, which means we can take Claire to our favourite swimming spot and chill out bar for lemon press.  Stari Grad is the port on Hvar from which the ferry leaves to Split or Dubrovnik.

Stari Grad Swimming Hole and chill out bar
Stari Grad Swimming Hole and chill out cafe

It is so dry here during summer that there are many cafes that exist under umbrellas.  Please note the secure fencing (aka ropes) to ensure safety.  You can’t see all the dogs also visiting the cafe, none of which cause a problem.

Today we had an early morning walk to take Claire to the ferry enroute to Dubrovnik.  It is going to be a bit quieter on Mercier tonight, but we hope that Claire enjoys Dubrovnik and Corfu and the rest of her travels.  We all agree, you only live once.

Murter, Vodice and Marina

Murter was a literal port in a storm, as we were going south, we could see thunder heads forming. We went to the very interesting Marina Hramina (pronounced Cremina) which had a lovely clubhouse and a beach. We arrived and walked up the hill to the church and back down to the market for fruit.  As we walked on, the sky was getting darker and darker and we arrived back on Mercier for a full frontal thunderstorm.  We were all very happy we didn’t have the biggest mast in the marina.

James playing chess at Marina Hramina
James playing chess at Marina Hramina

In the morning, it was dark and we all filed into the clubhouse to enjoy free wifi.  But when the sun broke through the clouds we decided it was early enough to head to Vodice, very close to Tribunj.

Pepper and Garlic at the Murter Markets
Pepper and Garlic  next to dried figs at the Murter Markets

Vodice has a reputation for being noisy and lively but we thought we the season had ended, so it would be calm and quiet.  Well no,  no it wasn’t, but lively is a good description.  We hadn’t counted on the Polish Navy being in town, the three of us poured a drink and sat and watched the show.  Several boats away from us, we heard the refrain of ” When the Saints go Marching in” in Polish, which produces quite an earworm.  This crew  seemingly so embarrassed the other crews that they were all smiles and propriety. Dobra!

After the previous day’s rain, Vodice was sparkling and we wandered down to the working dock and looked at the old boats and day trippers.

Old Wooden boat, Vodice
Old Wooden boat, Vodice

Vodice means “water source” and on this fine sunny day, the water was clear and sparkling.  There are some beautiful small parks and plenty of restaurants in the old town and cafes line the harbour.

Claire at Vodice Harbour
Claire at Vodice Harbour, Marina in background

We thought we would leave Vodice early and do a long sail to Brac but on the way the thunder clouds were forming over Split and Solta, so we sought refuge in the town of Marina at the Marina Agana.  This is a very tiny seaside town with a beach around the bay and a small marina.  Perfect as we watched the rain fall in the distance and the wind shred the cumulus clouds overhead.

While it is great to be here enjoying Croatia, we are very sad to miss Opening Day at the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron, we wish you all fair weather for the day.

Zadar, Biograd and Murter

Zadar is a remarkable town with wonderful public places. The Forum is a public square which presents the Roman town layout with artifacts of its Roman ancestry.  Columns and capitols sit on the paving, evoking the lives of people 2500 hundred years ago.

The Forum of Zadar, with St Donati's Church
The Forum of Zadar, with St Mary’s Church

The alleys offer shade in the hot Croatian summer sun and the Trqs or Squares offer a sunny seat on winter days. There are gardens and small harbours just outside the old town which sits on a small elongated penisula.

Town Square Zadar
Town Square Zadar – notice Roman column near cafe
Venetian Town Gate
Venetian Town Gate

Sadly after a few good days in Zadar, Lesley left us for better gelato in Ancona and a beautiful Umbrian Hill town, Gubbio, for  truffle laden delicacies.  Jealous much?  We are already plotting to get Lesley back next year, such a excellent traveller and great friend.

Our crew size hasn’t diminished, Claire Frost has joined Mercier for a bit of island hopping.  going south back down towards Dubrovnik.  We will be visiting Murter, Brac and Hvar while Claire is with us.

Claire and Gaila in Murter
Claire and Gaila in Murter

We had a good evening in Biograd, which is fairly resorty. It has been stormy & raining in Murter but we are cozy in Marina Hramina, which is a very nice marina.

Cafe in Biograd
Cafe in Biograd

Happy Birthday to my cousin, Sandra Riner.  Hope you have a lovely day!

Ancient Glass Museum - Zadar
Ancient Glass Museum – Zadar

Sali – Vodenjak – Zadar

We left Sali after a beautiful dawn and we thought we would go to Iz.  No not Oz, IZ.

Sali - early morning light
Sali – early morning light

We thought we might get a swim in on our way and we sailed into a beautiful uninhabited bay, called Vodenjak.  There are moorings, the water is so deep, but we can see the block of concrete and unchafed lines. Perfect.  We have lunch and a swim and we read about Iz, which sounds very nice but Vodenak is perfect at the moment.

There are a few boats on moorings but many smaller boats are leaving, the perfect little bay is getting quieter and more wonderful by the minute.  A quick vote, Vodenjak – 3, Iz – 0.

Vodenjak – photo by L. Sommerville

The water was clear.  The clarity was such that you could see sea cucumbers inching around on the bottom 4 metres down.  Lesley had brought some ingredients for Thai Green curry sauce, so we made a wonderful dinner and enjoyed the stars.

The next morning, we motored over to Zadar, through the Prolaz Veliz Drela passage.  It was very calm and there was just a bit of current.

We sailed into Zadar and we were met by the ferries going in and out and by the traditional ferry man of Zadar.

Traditional boat man of Zadar.  Photo by L. Sommerville
Traditional boat man of Zadar. Photo by L. Sommerville

Alex Crevar, in the NYTimes, has a great headliner, “After 2000 years, a Croatian Port Town Still Seduces” and he has some great facts.  There are Roman ruins, the main being a large area called the Forum and various columns throughout the town,  Zadar is home to the  oldest university in Southeast Europe – over 600 hundred years old.

Probably the bit we enjoyed most was the Sea Organ and Salute to the Sun, both designed by Nikola Basic.  Wikipedia describes the Sea Organ, as an architectural object located in Zadar, which uses the sea waves entering tubes underneath the large marble steps creating a  musical instrument played by the wind and sea.  The music was sonorous and clearly made children happy.  Dogs weren’t as lucky, many dogs were clearly unhappy with some of the sounds.

Greetings to the sunset
Greetings to the sunset

While parents are happy to sit and stare off into a sunset, children aren’t always happy to be so still.  With Basic’s Greetings to the Sun, children and adults were interacting with the sunset and then dancing on the photovoltaic solar modules with no need to stop moving.

Greetings to the Sun
Greetings to the Sun

More on Zadar tomorrow, Alex Crevar picked the right title, Zadar does still seduce.

Mir to Sali

It sounds like the weather is divine everywhere, but we have had a week of beautiful weather here, after only two days of rain last week.  We are swimming every day, as the days are still warm but the nights are beautifully cool.  Frosty and Louise, we try to convince Lesley that we melted on those hot August nights, she hardly believes us.

There was no shop in Mir and we were shy of a few things for dinner, including bread.  However, no sooner had we finished our swim, the fruit and vegetable man came to visit us.  Toni’s supermarket visits us just before we start dinner, so his timing is impeccable. It is a whole new meaning to ‘having the groceries delivered’.

Home Delivery?
Toni’s Home Delivery at Mir

We sailed the full scope of Luka Telascica, a large natural harbour at the Southern approach to Dugi Otok.  We moored at Mir, very close to the entrance and we wanted to see the whole harbour so we went on a tour of the whole bay.  We sailed past one island with wild donkeys, who became very alert when we yelled out “donkeys”!

Wild Donkeys
Wild Donkeys

To get to Sali, we had to go through a narrow passage between Dugi Otok and  Otok Kornat. The Prolaz Proversa Velachannel is 2.2 metres at the shallowest point with an east going current.  The Thompsons pilot book says never to be attempted in a bora which blows strongly here or a sirocco, which creates big seas.

Passage between Kornat Island and Dugi Otok
Passage between Kornat Island and Dugi Otok

We had a swim at a little island before lunch and then sailed into Sali.  Lesley, James and I went for a swim again later in the afternoon, but there were a surfeit of black sea urchins (read stingy urchins), so I held back.  James went back to Mercier.  Lesley and I continued around a wonderul seaside path until we found a rocky beach with a handhold and no sea urchins.  We were swimming and talking and the lady next to us asked where we were from.  Her name is Marijan (spelling?), she was born in Sali but emigrated to the US with her parents in the late 60’s. Her parents have moved back to Sali. She lives in New Jersey and loves to visit them and swim here.  We had a lovely chat, and she showed us the way over the hill into town, past her parent’s bouganvillea covered home.

On our travels we passed a tiny chapel, so beautiful dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary who looks after fisherman and we hope, sailors.

Sali Chapel
Sali Chapel


Peaceful Vrulje in the Kornati and Mir in Dugi Otok

We have visited three very lovely bays over the last three days, Mir and Vrulje were our favourites.

Mir, Telascia Bay, Dugi Otok
Mir, Telascia Bay, Dugi Otok

We arrived at a lovely peaceful mooring at Vrulje at about 11AM.  We had dolphins languidly going with us on the way to each of the bays and the breeze was blowing lightly.

At Vrulje. we had lunch aboard and took the dingy into the very tiny town.  We checked out the restaurants and walked along the path around the bay.  No internet, no interesting castles, a very short walk.  We wondered if we were going to be very bored.  We went back to the boat; we swam then read and shared a cup of tea.

Our fears were unfounded, about 3PM, the North Westerly wind picked up just as boats were streaming into the tiny bay. People were trying to pick up the moorings with varying success. There were quite a few charter boats and so many of the crew may not have had any practice.  Our peace was shattered by skippers yelling out instructions and bow persons, yelling back “slow down” to skippers.

James assisting our German neighbours
James assisting our German neighbours  Photo by L. Sommerville

The moorings were close, so we seem to have boats moving past us much like bulls go past Matadors.  The mooring in front of us was missing a rope and a German boat decided since it was a good position, they wouldn’t let that deter them. On the 5th attempt, they picked up the mooring, a wind gust hit and the boat hook was wrenched from their hands.

There were 4 people on the bow, their shoulders slumped.  They were all staring at the boat hook which was now stuck onto the mooring, too low to grab.  Four bereft crew and a skipper, all staring at the lost boathook, each of them trying not to be the person who would be swimming for the boat hook.

We had been watching from Mercier, quietly coaching from the sidelines; so James jumped in the dingy, collected the boat hook and took it over to them.  He told them to make another attempt,used the dingy to nudge them in, then he threaded the line through the mooring. ‘Hooray’ went up around the bay. In a very short time,our German friends were in their cock pit watching other crews making the same attempts at other moorings.

Vrujle on Kornati Island
Vrujle on Kornati Island  Photo by L. Sommerville

They gave James a very nice bottle of extra dry Prosecco for his efforts.  For the rest of the afternoon, if Lesley and I saw a boat in difficulties, we would tell James to go and help.  It was a very nice Prosecco.

The hero was up early, so we motor sailed to Mir on Dugi Otok, a mooring here was twice the expected price at Kuna 350.  But it was a beautiful protected bay so we paid the National Park people and took the dingy over to the island.  We had a very basic lunch and walked up the hill towards the cliff.  We reached the lookout point and saw majestic cliffs, azure seas and beautiful sail boats.

Strmci Cliffs on Mir
Strmci Cliffs on Mir

Croatia is not a nanny state.  You get one sign to say be careful and that is it.  We saw a couple nestled in what looked like an abandoned eagles nest on the side of the cliff  They must have missed the sign.

Picnic on the cliffs
Picnic on the cliffs

The other two highlights of Mir are the native donkeys, placid and looking for sweets amongst the tourists pockets and bags; also there is a big salt lake- filled with swimmers from the day trip boats. We decided to head back to swim off Mercier in the clear blue bay, we saw the donkey on the way home.

Native Croatian donkey
Native Croatian donkey

We hope we will have a still anchorage and a nice dinner on Mercier underneath the stars.


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