Thursday, September 11, 2014

Mljet, over to Lastovo -- and we are out of here!

6 September 2014
Today we celebrated our 45th wedding anniversary while still anchored at Polace on island of Mljet.   We will save our real celebration for some place in Italy.  Neither of us cares for the food here and are looking forward to a nice Italian restaurant soon.
Roman villa, circa 400 A.D.
Weather has been very crappy, cloudy and raining daily with several days and nights of strong winds.   One day had lots of lightning and the old Roman villa took a direct hit.  We did not go over there later to see what damage might have been incurred.  I'm guessing that old villa has endured many lightning strikes in this violent weather prone area.  On the worst day there were 40 yachts in here which was crowded but still allowed many of us to remain on swing anchor.  That night 2 Sunsail boats which had anchored behind us much too close to shore dragged anchor and got tangled up with one another.   It was pouring rain but the wind was only about 20 kts.   The larger boat then went sideways against the rocks (there is no beach here, just forest and vegetation down to rocks at sea level).  He managed to get off the rocks and then proceeded to motor directly into the side of another boat at anchor.   We watched him until he was got across to the town and tied off at one of the restaurant docks.  The past few days have had little wind but still plenty of dark clouds, thunder and lightning.  So, why move?  This is the most sheltered anchorage we have seen in Croatia.  Polace is just a tiny one-road village with 2 small grocery markets and 2 tiny bakery shops.  It is a nice place to hang out for quiet relaxation but I am ready to move on soon.  Our plan is to go to Ulbi on the western side of island of Lastovo to clear out of Croatia in a couple of days.  Our 90 days out of Schengen territory is up tomorrow.  Hurray!  If weather cooperates then we will clear out of Croatia the following afternoon and sail overnight the relatively short distance to Italy.
One day a large SAR boat came through the anchorage and checked the papers for each yacht.  The couple on one yacht got in their dinghy and zoomed over to the town and did not return until after the SAR boat departed.  The SAR boat was 2 yachts over from checking this yacht when the couple left.  Whoa!  Guarantee you the US Coast Guard would never have tolerated that!  If USCG was doing document checks or safety checks on boats in an anchorage and someone left like that then one of those little go-fast Zodiacs would have been right on their tail!  Bring them back to their yacht and then the checking would have been much more rigorously enforced.  We could not believe those people did that and got away with it.  BTW, the Croatian courtesy flag on their yacht was faded to almost white and shredded.  That yacht obviously has been in Croatia for some time.

I have tried not to be too negative about our opinions and experiences here in Croatia this summer.  Local people tell us that the weather this summer has been very unusual – much cooler and wetter than anyone can remember for more than 30 years.  We do not know about that but do know that we are sick and tired of this wet  dreary weather.  We are tired of tiny grocery stores; never did find a supermarket.  Tired of using the iPhone as a WiFi hotspot for the extremely slow internet connection; never did find a real cell phone company where could purchase 3G.  And we are tired of the over-crowded tiny anchorages.  And tired of the thousands of charter boats captained and crewed by inconsiderate and rude people, some of whom have questionable boating skills or seamanship knowledge.  One thing we have noticed is that almost every single charter boat puts out anchor chain until a red painted mark on the chain is just below the bow roller.  Does not matter which charter company owns the boat, every one of them has a red painted mark on the chain and the charter customer only puts out chain until that red paint is visible.  I do not know what length chain that red paint signifies but I would humbly suggest that the charter companies mark that chain at least another 30 meters longer.  Because these charter boats never put out sufficient chain.  No dang wonder they drag all over the anchorages.

A couple of days ago we met up with another sailor whom we last saw in Karpaz Gate Marina in Cyprus in early 2012.  He said this was his fourth time to cruise Croatia but after the weather experienced this summer that he does not plan to return again.  Our sentiments exactly.  I can see why sailing/chartering in Croatia is so appealing to many Europeans.  Heck, it is easy to drive here from many countries in Europe so there is very easy access.  But for us foreigners Turkey or Greece make for much more enjoyable sailing than the Adriatic.  Now we are looking forward to getting more than 500 NM farther south to Sicily for the winter.

9 September 2014

On 7 September we motored approximately 25 miles over to the western side of the island of Lastovo.  Had hoped to be able to sail but wind was much too light too propel BeBe faster than 2 knots, and we just cannot stand going that slow.   This part of Lastovo is another national park.  People on yachts must pay 30 Kuna per person per day while in the park. There are few places to anchor, and those few places were already filled with yachts; so we docked at a new hotel 'marina.'  It is really just a quay in front of Hotel Solitude.  It is nice and the laid lines as so new they are not even slimy with marine growth yet.  They do not yet have shore power or water available so docking is free.  Free!  Yes, thank you, we will take some of that!  This was a gorgeous area.  Lastovo is the nicest place we found in Croatia; wish we had discovered it sooner.  We stayed only 2 nights; would have liked to stay another few days but weather forecast predicted a system moving up from the SE soon and we wanted to get across the Adriatic Sea to Italy before that nastiness arrived.

We took the dinghy over to the tiny town of Ubli and spoke with an official who happened to be in the office at the Customs dock.  We explained that we wanted to depart Lastovo en route to Italy at 04:00 the following morning.  He said we could clear out with the Harbormaster right then and then bring BeBe to the Customs dock in the wee hours that night to meet with the Immigration Police.  The Police work 24 hours; just dock in front of the Customs office and call the Police and they would be there within 10 minutes, stamp us out and we could be on our way.  He said that as soon as our passports are stamped out of Croatia then we must depart the country.  Well, that is totally reasonable.

And that is what we did early this morning.  Sorry, no photos taken in Lastovo, the prettiest place we saw in Croatia.

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