Monday, August 4, 2014

Summer with grandkids over

Time has flown!  Our time with Elisabeth and Zachary this summer is over.  Both are now back home in Houston and our boat is back to being very quiet.  We made a small fake birthday celebration for Elisabeth on the day before she left since she would not be aboard BeBe on her actual birthday 2 weeks later.  So...early Happy 13th Birthday to BeBe!  She is growing up so fast!  Hard to recognize her when compared to her first birthday celebration aboard her namesake on her 5th birthday.
Bonaire, 12 Aug 2007

Croatia, 27 July 2014

She had quite the experience flying back to Texas.  Her flight was canceled due to mechanical problems and the airline put her into a hotel for the night.  The next morning the re-scheduled flight was delayed 3 hours for more mechanical problems.  Over Canada the engines cut out momentarily.  After that, the remainder of the flight was uneventful.  Elisabeth's comment in an email to us:  "I suggest not taking United Airlines from Frankfurt to Houston unless you can donate duct tape to United!"  She was flying unaccompanied and handled all the problems like a real trouper.  Yep...she really is growing up fast.
Loved the old homes on Sipan island.
Built by sea captains in the 1600s.
And many still lived in today.

Part of one of the old sea captain homes

She left very early on a Monday morning and Zachary left on the following Friday morning.  His flights home were totally uneventful -- always a very good thing when flying.  It rained most of the time after Elisabeth left so we did not move the boat again before Zach departed.  By the way, the taxi driver when we went to the airport told me that the weather this summer is the coolest and wettest in his memory of over 30 years.  We had been wondering why none of the sailors we know who have visited Croatia before us had not told us about this weather.  Turns out that they did not tell us because they did not experience what we are experiencing.  We have had numerous storms and lots and lots of rain ever since arriving in Montenegro.  The southern and central Adriatic has been unusually cool and wet for months.  

Zachary learning how to get a siphon going by
blowing rather than sucking.

The weekend before the kids left we experienced our first of the notorious bora.  It was a calm afternoon when out of the blue the wind suddenly increased to a solid 50+ knots.  We had gone ashore earlier for groceries and the dinghy was left tied behind our anchored boat.  Seas inside the anchorage whipped up and were crashing over the deck.  Never had that inside an anchorage before!  Boats were dragging all over the place.  It finally reached the point that we decided to raise the anchor and move out of that anchorage before we got hit by another boat.  But a strange thing happened.  When we got the anchor up and I started to power up and get out of there, Bill discovered that the dinghy painter had somehow become wrapped around the prop of the outboard engine.  The dinghy was being towed in reverse and filled with water!  The gas tank was already out of the dinghy and floating upside down in the sea by the time Bill got to it.  Thought for sure we were going to lose that gas tank.  We had another gas tank but do not have another gas line to connect to the outboard engine.  

Zachary went to the stern of the boat and helped Bill get everything sorted out.  Glad Zachary was there because he remained very calm and talked Bill out of doing some panicky things during the heat of the moment.  Soon they had the gas tank up on deck and a secondary line to secure the dinghy.  Seas were tossing it about roughly.  We motored out behind a tiny island and waited for everything to calm down.  Then we returned to the exact same spot and anchored again.

He did the siphoning.  She is just holding the hose.
And we all were happy that the outboard still worked!

Since the dinghy gas tank had been floating upside down Bill was concerned that the gasoline might be contaminated with sea water.  So he wanted to siphon the gas into our spare gas tank through clear hose so he could see if there was any water.  He placed the full (fouled) tank up on the mizzen deck and the empty tank down on the main deck.  Placed a clear hose between the 2 and wrapped a rag tightly around the hose entry point into the upper full tank.  He had Zachary blow into the tank while holding the rag close to Zach's lips; creating a suction that caused the gasoline to flow down to the lower tank.  This works beautifully and no one has to get gasoline in their mouth.  This was a new experience for Zachary.  He learned something.  

Do not know what this fruit is called, but I like it.
A very old woman at the fruit market motioned to me
that I should buy some of these, so I tried a couple.
It feels like a firm nectarine to exterior touch and
the flesh is white and tastes like a combination
of plum and apple.  What is it?

Thankfully, the gasoline was not contaminated with any water.  Bill then cleaned the inside of the outboard engine and coated every surface with CorrosionX.  Also changed the spark plugs. Hope all remains well with that engine.  All summer long he has been working on it.  We know it is reaching the end of life but do not want to buy a 4-stroke.  He worked his miracles and it is still working fine.  As we taught both grandkids this summer, we never say that the outboard engine is fixed.  That would be tempting luck.  We just say when it is running okay that "it is temporarily not in need of repair."

As soon as I got back to the boat from taking Zach to the airport for his flight home, we upped anchor and headed north (really more northwest).  We are meeting some people in Split this Friday and wanted to use the calm to cover distance without the usual NW wind on our nose.  Forecast was for southerly winds to help us along; but, of course, that did not happen.  We motored almost all day to Korcula, being able to sail for a glorious 45 minutes.  About typical for us this summer.

Steeple of the church at Basillica Island on northeastern
tip of Korcula.

We anchored and then checked weather once again and learned that the forecast now called for 10-15 kts from NE overnight.  That would not work for the first anchorage.  So we upped anchor and moved a short distance to anchor behind what is called Basillica Island, so named for the monastery and church situated there.  It was a flat calm night; never saw a hint of breeze from any direction.

Korcula Town main gate, birthplace of Marco Polo

Next morning we motored past the lovely old town of Korcula, supposedly the birthplace of Marco Polo.  We did not stop and will save that for our trip back down the coast later.  Again we motored all day, never even set a sail this calm day.  Around the eastern tip of the island of Hvar and up to the southeastern area of the island of Brac.  The first anchorage turned out to have a new 'designated bathing area' which means there now can be no anchoring there.  We would call these swimming areas but both sailing guides refer to these as designated bathing areas.  Anchoring supposedly is not allowed within 150 meters of any designated bathing area.  

Korcula Town viewed from the eastern side.
Another old walled city.

Next we checked out what the sailing guide author states is his favorite anchorage in all of Croatia.  Nope; already had one boat in there and no room for another.  Moving on because daylight would only last a few more hours, we next arrived at the very protected Luka anchorage on the northeastern side of  Brac island.  And it was filled, most boats with stern lines ashore.  

By this time we were getting very tired of Croatia.  Honestly, neither of us sees what the attraction of sailing here is all about.  We have had almost no sailing whatsoever and the anchorages are much too crowded.  And dealing with stern lines ashore is a royal pain we try to avoid.

St. Nikolas Church as seen from sea.  Very pretty.
on northern side of island of Brac near Split. 

We moved over to the center bay just southeast of the Luka anchorage and decided to anchor there.  This is not a designated anchorage in any of the guide books or on any of our charts.  But the weather forecast was for total calm so we decided to chance it for the one night.  It was totally exposed to the north so if any wind built up then we would have to get out quick.  It was a lovely night.

Next day we again motored another 40 NM attempting to find a suitable anchorage, checking first one and then another, only to find them filled with boats with stern lines ashore.  And it was not even noon yet!!!  

We gave up on any anchorage remotely near Split on any island or on the mainland and headed for a spot called Stari Trogir.  When we arrived there the anchorage area was filled.  And we thought that the anchorage area was on the wrong side of the little bay considering the prevailing wind direction.  Why anchor on a lee shore!  We headed over to the western side of the bay and anchored off the beaches filled with vacationers.  We also had the electronic track of a friend's boat and knew that he had anchored on the western side of the bay -- regardless of what the sailing guide and the charts indicated.  Winds are predicted to continue to be from west and northwest for the rest of this week.  This blows us away from the western shore of this bay.  And we are the only boat here!  Could it get any better!

The guide book states that there are no facilities of any kind ashore here.  That seemed improbable to us as there are hundreds of apartments and guest houses ashore.  All those people on vacation must buy food somewhere.  This morning we went ashore and found baked items sold at a kiosk right on the beach and a small supermarket about a block away as well as a man on the street selling veggies from the trunk of his car.  Found freshly baked bread and several delights so we are set for fresh foods until we will arrive at the marina in Split at Friday noon.  Then I can re-stock.  Surely there will be a decent supermarket near that big marina.

Today we are liking Croatia much better than we have in the past 10 days or so.

This has not been a very pleasurable sailing season this year, except for having the grandchildren for a couple of months.  We had to rush through Greece because of Schengen limits and did not get to enjoy much of anything there except a side trip to Santorini.  Did not get to enjoy the Ionian islands at all.  We did enjoy Montenegro very much but could have the boat there only 30 days.  Croatia has not been special in any way.  This summer has turned us both off from cruising.  This is not what it is supposed to be like.  Yesterday we decided that we need to seek out more of the cruising community that we are missing this year.  We had booked a berth in a marina near Rome for the winter.  Someone we know also had planned to berth there so there would have been at least one other couple to hang out with sometimes over the winter.  They changed plans and are not berthing at Nettuno near Rome after all.  They are going to Sicily instead.   So, guess what!  We also are going to winter in Sicily.

Finalizing the booking contract today with the marina at di Ragusa for October 2014 through April 2015.  Our kids and grandkids had planned to visit us in Rome during Spring Breaks next year.  Very sorry that we will not be able to do that.  It would have been fun to see Rome with them.  But we are going to di Ragusa instead.

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