Log #21g Italy to Croatia

August 9, 2001 in Log Series 20 - 29, Logs by Series, Series 21 Malta, The Logs

Log #21g Italy to Croatia

Zlarin, Croatia
Aug. 9, 2001
Covers the period July 23 to 26, 2001

I write this from the charming town and island called Zlarin, a sleepy laid-back island community (no cars) that reminds us of Killarney, another isolated small resort town in Northern Ontario on the shores of Lake Huron. It is a siesta period here with nothing open or on until after 1700, so I am getting caught up on my logs.

In my last log, we were about to leave Rocella Ionica at 1045 for the 130 mile trip across the Gulf of Taranto to Santa Maria di Leuca, which is on the tip of the heel of the Italian boot. It was a good 24 hour sail and motor sail across, with the wind working up to a force 6, causing us to reef sails for a five hour period just prior to arrival. Santa Maria di Leuca (39 47.7N, 018 21.7E) was an easy entrance, as we made our way to the fuel dock at the far end of the harbour. Old navy training has me keeping the jerry cans and fuel tank full, and hopefully not going less than half full at any time. Fuel was expensive, costing 145,00 Lire for 82.4 litres or about $1.20 Canadian per litre. We then made our way to the local marina near another SSCA boat, Great Dane, Helge and Bente Krarup, with whom we exchanged some books.

We wandered the town, which was apparently sacked and massacred by the Turks several hundred years ago, and still has some Turkish/Islamic architecture in some of their buildings. It is also noted for Mussolini’s Staircase, ascending the local hill, as the gateway to the south of Italy. At a local chandlery we were finally able to buy a Croatian courtesy flag and a few other parts we needed. I’m lucky; Judy thinks happiness is wandering through a chandlery or a good hardware store. We also called ahead to Levkas to confirm they would accept mail and the new Plastimo stove which is being sent to us the end of August.

We shopped at a local grocery store as we were not sure whether we would be sailing directly for Dubrovnik, up to Brindisi, or just up to Otranto on our next leg. I also wanted to stock up on Italian  pasta and wines before heading to Croatia. When we went to pay, the old guy at the register indicated we should get our meat from across the road and then come back for our groceries. Nobody there spoke English, but this is what we surmised he suggested. When we returned the groceries had still not been checked through. After an seemingly irate lady customer had huffed off over some dispute, he then checked through ours. There still seemed to be some message he was trying to communicate in where we should put our bags. I had gone back to Veleda to bring a small cart we have, and he was indicating “no”. Then we realized that he had a car lined up to take us and the  groceries back to Veleda. Very nice, very friendly and no English whatever. Thanks Italy!

We left next day for Otranto, only 26 miles up the coast, but a good setting off point for Dubrovnik. We didn’t want to go to a big port such as Brindisi. We had a lovely sail, wing on wing with a following wind for more than half way, anchoring in Otranto Harbour (40 08.9N, 018 29.4E) by 1730. It was a well protected harbour with good holding. A short wander around the ancient town convinced us we would like to return on our way out the Adriatic to spend more time exploring the walled town and palace. The only down side of the place was the fact that a local bar blasted horrid music across the harbour until after 0300. Since we were planning to leave early next morning, I was seriously considering weighing anchor at 0230 and heading out. As it was, I didn’t want to disturb Judy, and so we left at 0530, and I napped during the day.

Unfortunately it was a motor through light to nonexistent northerly breezes (of course our course was north, 350˚) most of the way, with a few short periods of motorsailing in fits of wishful thinking. The engine was running for the whole 38 hours of the 158 mile transit from Otranto to Dubrovnik. A good thing we carry jerry cans of extra diesel. However, it was a beautiful star-filled night with gorgeous sunset and sunrise. By going this route we avoided Albania and Montenegro, two unstable coastal areas. Similarly when returning in early September, we don’t want to go along their coastlines, and so will probably reverse our course, going SSW from Dubrovnik back to Otranto, and then east over to Corfu in Greece.

As we approached Dubrovnik, we passed Otocic Lokrum, a national park island with ancient ruins of a Benedictine monastery dating back to 1023. Richard the Lionheart took refuge from a storm here on his return from the third crusade. We enjoyed the verdant foliage and large trees of the island, especially after the dry parched areas we experienced  in southern Italy. The nude bathers amongst the rocks also added to the sightseeing as we passed between the island and the ancient walled port of Dubrovnik, with the orange tiled roofs adding a dusty touch of Mediterranean ochre to the lead-grey stone buildings.  We went around the peninsula west of Dubrovnik, out past Hridi Grebeni rocks, then north around to Gruz Marina where we could check in with the various officials and purchase our cruising permit. As we motored down the channel to Gruz we noted the partially completed bridge spanning half the main channel down towards the Dubrovnik ACI Marina. It is a high bridge that will not interfere with sailboat masts.

We found the Gruz marina manager very friendly, and after completing entrance paperwork decided to stay at Gruz rather than go over to the more luxurious Dubrovnik Marina. More about Gruz, Dubrovnik, and our entrance to Croatia in my next log, the start of log series #22 for our cruising in Croatia.