Reflections on sailing northern Croatia

Apparently in winter the islands of Croatia are a depressing place to be. The wind blows hard from the north. The shutters are pulled tight and all the ex-locals who return to the islands to summer with friends and family, retreat to their permanent bases in Florida, San Francisco and Perth.

But in June that’s hard to imagine.

first mooring Solta

This trip came about so quickly we had little time to build any expectations. One minute we were pouring over maps. The next we were sitting in a little cove on Solta, two hours out from Split … dipping into watercolours … swimming in turquoise …

Solta water colour

Enigma. Home for the next two weeks.

boat

Captain Harrie aka Good Spot Harry setting the tone for the trip.

harrie

Vicky, first mate and cook extraordinaire.

vicky

Mutual friend Sue adding a note of glamour.

Sue

Hogie ticking off a bucket lister.

steve up high

steve

And me, assuming the position up front.

marg

Vicky calls the boat their Waterbago and I understand now why that is. Sailing is a lot like camping. Or caravanning. You’re in a relatively small space but you have the freedom to move wherever and whenever you want. I love the simplicity of it all.

reflection 1

You can spend your time in marinas which are the watery equivalent of caravan parks or you can drop an anchor wherever you wish (within local limits) – a bit like camping in national parks.

reflections2

We were in a marina for the first and last day of the trip only.

reflection 3

The rest of the time we let the wind be our guide. Spoilt with two weeks of perfect weather we’ve come away with a totally unrealistic benchmark of what this sailing business is about.

reflections 4

The water is so salty on the Dalmatian coast you barely have to swim to stay afloat.

reflections

Nearby Europeans would pull up and peel off. Wandering their boats doing the Full Monty or the Full Fritz as we termed it. By day two we reckoned if it was good enough for them …

cossies

A trip like this could go horribly wrong and so easily turn into an episode of Survivor. A confined space. Different personalities. But our five happily clicked. Good campers all. 14 days and not one voted off at Tribal Council 😉

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    Why you must always say yes to once in a lifetimers …

    So six weeks prior, we were having Friday night drinks at Sue’s. In Bathurst. Australia. And I got talking to a visiting friend of hers who happened to have a three bedroom catamaran moored off the coast of Sicily. As you do. And he said “We’re struggling to find friends to do a leg up the Croatian coast.” and I blithely said “Well I’ll come.” And half an hour later in a similar conversation Steve said “Well I’ll come. Let’s go talk to Marg.” And Harrie said “She’s already in.” And Sue said “Well if you guys are going with my friends then I’d better come too.”

    And that’s how, six weeks later, Sue, Steve and I found ourselves in Split.

    Split marina

    I should add that over Sunday morning breakfast we were bursting with dates and plans but by the Monday morning reality was biting – especially with final year exams looming for Darce – and I was ready to pull the pin.

    Tooing and froing. Tooing and froing. Mother guilt aplenty.

    Till Darce said “I’ll be fine. Go.”

    And so we did, because this was a once in a lifetimer.

    And you must always say yes to once in a lifetimers.

    It’s the new rule.

    Two nights in Rome and a 4am start for the quick hop to Split.

    Beer for breakfast. Or is it dinner? Body clocks completely dismantled.

    steve and a breakfast beer

    Turquoise. Grey rocky mountains. A palm lined Riva. Drawing on the fisherman’s port. A guy in shorts steps up and pisses at the end of the pier. Steve gets talking to one of the fisherman. Turns out he’s from Perth. Spends his winters here. Sunset and the whole coastline turns pink. I mean pink. And I am sans camera. Blink and click. Blink and click.

    An early rise. The soft marble of Diocletian’s Palace, the centrepiece of the city. A living labyrinth. Tiny laneways and alleys shooting off in every direction. Pergola’d cafes and restaurants. Smart shops. Public sculptures. An army of cleaners working on every surface. Rome could take note.

    cleaning the palace

    Diocletian's palace tower

    Diocletian's palace clock

    Diocletians palace, Split and cat

    Diocletian's palace purples

    palace blues

    Fighting jet lag. Sleeping. Not sleeping. It took us a day to realise our little loft had a window. Interestingly, we had no trouble sniffing out the daily food market which was humming.

    The old town Split

    Squeezing in some quick little sketches.

    Waiting for Steve… (on the Riva)

    Waiting for Steve

    Waiting for Sue… (outside the palace walls)

    palace walls. Waiting for Sue

    Still waiting for Sue … (just east of Split) (plane delayed)

    still waiting for sue

    A last walk along the Riva past the fisherman’s port.

    Dragging bags still wincing from Rome’s cobblestones.

    fisherman's port split

    Fisherman's port

    A successful rendezvous.

    Ebullient. Excited.

    Cast off.

    leaving split

    Croatia here we come!

      2 Comments

      The problem with saying yes …

      Is that you might find yourself in Rome.

      Unexpectedly. Suddenly. Irresponsibly.

      Walking a favourite walk.

      At sunrise.

      piazzalegaribaldi2

      st peters rome

      sunrise over rome

      Away from the chaos of the city, just across the river, is our favourite corner of Rome, Trastevere. Above it – maybe a 25 minute walk up quiet early morning streets – is the Janiculum (Gianicolo) Hill, the site of a fierce battle in 1849 where Garibaldi and his make shift army defended the revolutionary Roman republic against pope-backed French forces.

      Blood and roses.

      Piazzale Garibaldi

      Left over dreams?

      Thanks but I think I’ll create my own.

      asti

      Last time in Rome, we kept finding ourselves returning to this spot, to Bar Gianicolo, a short stroll from Garibaldi’s monument, just outside the city walls.

      bar gianicolo

      They open at 6. The cornetti are warm. Grab a serviette and help yourself.

      In the afternoon they serve up tiny panini full of delicious savoury fillings.

      I love this place … 16,000kms away on the other side of the world in Australia, when I find myself thinking about Rome, this is where my day dreams take me.

      bar gianicolo

      …wandering down Via Garibaldi and the passaggio pubblico.

      passage publico

      Quietly. Softly.

      shortcut

      Home. To Trastevere. To the arched door on the right.

      vicolo-del-leopardo

      Discovering our feet are no match for the Roman cobblestones.

      tired feet

      This is what happens when you say yes.

      Do you have a favourite corner of Rome?

      We discovered a beautiful little spot to stay in Trastevere. Leo, turned out to be Elanora, and she was incredibly welcoming. Her ground floor studio apartment is in Vicolo del Leopardo, a quiet street one block away from the humming Via della Scala. This isn’t a sponsored link but if you’re like us you’re always looking for special little places to stay and this met our needs perfectly.

      PS. Steve spied the shot of St Peter’s between the trees. Nicely spied indeed.

       

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