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MAKARSKA September 29, 2009

September 30th, 2009 No comments

From Omis we continued along the mainland coast to the next major town which is Markarska about 17 NM further east. 

It was fairly sunny as we left Omis and we even thought there might be enough wind to sail—NOT!  And the horizon quickly disappeared into dense haze and low clouds that gave the appearance of fog.

We Can Barely Make out Land

We Can Barely Make out Land

We even had the radar on for a time—that was a first for a daytime passage in Croatia.  The weather forecasts have even mentioned localized fog—it’s just like being back in New England, except for the warm air and water temperatures.

As we approached Makarska, the clouds that were nearly sea level at one point lifted and we could see a cloud deck about half way up the Biokovo mountain range which surrounds the town, although the mountain tops were above the clouds. 

Clouds Obscure Mountains

Clouds Obscure Mountains

The harbor entrance is between two rocky cliffs on either side with the town just beyond.  Like Omis it too is surrounded by majestic mountains that tower over the town.  A breath taking backdrop.

Makarska is Dwarfed by the Mountains around it

Makarska is Dwarfed by the Mountains around it

Makarska Quay

Makarska Quay

We tied up to the fuel dock a little after noon to top off the tanks before we anchored only to find that the fuel station closed at noon and wouldn’t reopen until 4 p.m.  That gave us an opportunity to explore the town and park before we anchored. Diesel fuel in Croatia averages about 6 kn per liter which is the equavilent of $5.29  US per gallon–fuel costs average $5-6 per gallon which is expensive, but somewhat less than we expected.  Of that amount there is a 23% VAT tax.  The 23% VAT tax applies to everything from food purchases, to restaurant meals. to mooring fees and contributes greatly to making Croatia as expensive as we have found it to be.

Destiny at Fuel Dock

Destiny at Fuel Dock

After checking the cost of tying to the town quay (30 kn per meter or nearly $80 US)  we decided to anchor in the SE part of the harbor.  Same great views. A little rolly due to passing boat wakes, but no worse than the quay.  Over night it was quite calm and comfortable.

At 30 kn per meter the quay was pretty empty

At 30 kn per meter the quay was pretty empty

Great view. . .and free!

Great view. . .and free!

The Croatia Insight Guide calls this the “Makarska Riviera”, and it is apparently a very big tourist destination for the several mile long beach that is a short walk from the town. 

Makarska Riviera

Makarska Riviera

There are also miles of walking trails through parks that overlook the town and sea.   More climing and steps, but good exercise for us.

View of Makarska from Park

View of Makarska from Park

We also saw parasailing off the harbor and a sign for a 15 minute “panoramic” flight in what appeared to be a hard bottom inflatable with a motorized glider engine.

This is too scary to consider

This is too scary to consider

The town itself has the usual assortment of ancient buildings, although much of the town has the feel of a movie set—it looks a little to “perfect” to be authentic.  On the other hand, the natural beauty of the place is not to be denied.  Seeing a fishing boat set off as the sun sets is a reminder that this is more than a vacation playground–people actually live and work here.

Makarska Sunset

Makarska Sunset

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OMIS AND CENTINA RIVER – September 27 to 28, 2009

September 28th, 2009 No comments

Our friends John and Cyndi on Glass Slipper had spent several days in this charming mainland town about 21 km south of Split in July and recommended it to us. 

Destiny Anchored off Omis

Destiny Anchored off Omis

We were very glad they did.  Omis is basically a small fishing and vacation village with the usual sidewalk cafes and restaurants tucked into ancient buildings. 

Main Street Omis

Main Street Omis

There really isn’t a harbor to speak of and the anchorage is exposed to the west and south, but the weather forecast has been for calm or light winds so we decided to check it out.  We anchored in about 15 ft. of water that was so crystal clear we could see the anchor on the bottom from the boat.  The mountains make a majestic backdrop for the town.

Anchor buried in sand 15 ft. water

Anchor buried in sand 15 ft. water

Omis Waterfront

Omis Waterfront

The water was calm and the sunset magnificent—as usual.

Omis Sunset

Omis Sunset

On Monday we toured the town and of course climbed another tower.  This one is part of a medieval fortress and is set high on a rocky outcropping.  Our muscles were still protesting the climb to the top of the bell tower in Split, but we knew the view would be worth it, so up we went.

Omis Fortress

Omis Fortress

From the fortress we could look down into the river gorge as it comes through the town, see the bridge that separates the old town from the new and see Destiny as a little lone speck out in the bay.

River Gorge from Fortress

River Gorge from Fortress

Destiny a Speck in Bay

Destiny a Speck in Bay

What goes up, must go down—that meant a very steep ladder—what was I thinking wearing a dress?

Now back down

Now back down

Kent decided to count steps on the way down—305 steps latter we made it to the bottom.  Let me add that these were narrow, well worn and steep steps.

Kent Counts Steps on Way Down

Kent Counts Steps on Way Down

After some provisioning in town and lunch aboard Destiny we set out to tour the Centina River in the dinghy.  We were offered a ride by water taxi, but thought better of spending 80 kuna each (about $18 per person) for a ride when we had a perfectly good boat ourselves.

Water Taxi on Centina River

Water Taxi on Centina River

There was the matter of the very low clearance on the bridge crossing the river which we had to negotiate.  Kent and Jolie made it through while Carol waited on shore on the other side.  For the return trip Carol stayed on board, but no one had their head above the pontoon—we literally cleared by inches while traffic rolled overhead.

Low, low clearance

Low, low clearance

The trip up the river was spectacular.  The river went through a high gorge as you go up river from Omis and then meandered another 8 km getting ever narrower with vegetation overhanging the further upstream we progressed until we reached a restaurant that sits on the bank just below the area where falls begin and white water rafting trips end.

Entering the River Gorge

Entering the River Gorge

Spectacular Views

Spectacular Views

River Narrows Up Stream

River Narrows Up Stream

Canoes on the Centina

Canoes on the Centina

River Restaurant Landing

River Restaurant Landing

The restaurant was next to what appeared to be an old mill building.  There is a narrow road that follows the river, so most people had arrived by car to enjoy lunch in this tranquil setting.  We arrived by dinghy for a libation before returning down river.

River Restaurant

River Restaurant

 On the down river leg, Carol finally figured out how to take video with her Elph, so the high speed ride was captured on some video clips which unfortunately we can’t figure out how to edit.

Back Down River

Back Down River

 All in all, Omis and the Centina River get *****Five Stars in our book.  We were only sorry we were too late in the season to take advantage of the white water rafting on the river or paragliding over the gorge.

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DESTINATION SPLIT–September 25 to 27, 2009

September 27th, 2009 No comments
View from Zut Anchorage

View from Zut Anchorage

We made our way from Otok Zut one of the largest islands in the Kornati chain after an overnight on anchor in a quiet bay with crystal clear water to Primosten, a trip of about 30 NM.  We’re back in the “summer” doldrums with no wind to speak of, or if there is any wind it is also directly on our nose and makes sailing all but impossible.  It was a gorgeous day with high thin clouds and flat water that made even motoring through the small islands of the cental Dalmatian coast enjoyable.  Kent is becoming a master at light air sailing and has used the gennaker so often that the per use cost has made it a good investment—not what Carol expected when he wanted to buy it.

Somedays even the gennaker won't fly

Somedays even the gennaker won't fly

We visited Primosten on our way north to Istria and found it particularly charming so it was a great stopping off place about half way to our final destination, Split.  We enjoyed a beautiful sunset and moon rise as well as a special dinner at the restaurant called Panorama, which as the name implies is set high up in the old walled city overlooking the ocean. 

Moonrise Sail

Moonrise Sail

Restaurant Panorama, Primosten

Restaurant Panorama, Primosten

The next morning after filling water tanks, and doing some needed provisioning—can’t live on water alone, and the wine was getting low—we were off to Split. We needed a “city fix” having spent the last several weeks mostly in remote islands and decided Split, which is the second largest city in Croatia and the largest with a harbor would be a welcome change.  Even from a distance we could see there was nothing remote about Split which spans from the water up a hillside.  The quay is lined with stately palm trees.

Split Waterfront

Split Waterfront

The ancient Roman architecture rivals that of Dubrovnik, and the focal point is the Diocletian Palace built between AD 295 and 305 by Emperor Diocletian as a waterfront retirement home.  Diocletian’s remains are buried in a portion of the former Palace which subsequently became a Christian cathedral—ironic since during his life he persecuted Christians.

Diocletian's Palace

Diocletian's Palace

Cathedral of St. Domnius in Palace

Cathedral of St. Domnius in Palace

The “Vestibule” as it is called is a large domed structure with an open roof through which you can view the top of the bell tower that is a later addition to the octagonal Cathedral of St. Dominus.

Vestibule in Diocletian's Palace

Vestibule in Diocletian's Palace

We haven’t seen a bell tower yet that wasn’t worth climbing, so disregarding the signs warning that we climbed at our risk, and the well worn stone steps with 18” rises in places, we made it to the top and were treated to a birds eye view of the sprawling city.

Long Way up Bell Tower

Long Way up Bell Tower

Bell Tower Panorama

Bell Tower Panorama

We made it!

We made it!

No wonder my knees hurt

No wonder my knees hurt

From the bell tower we could hear a men’s a cappella choir singing in the Vestibule and see Destiny anchored in the harbor.  It was quite windy and much of the climb was exposed making for an exciting climb and descent.

Destiny in Split Harbor

Destiny in Split Harbor

An aside about anchoring in Split Harbor.  The charts indicate a “no anchoring zone” around the commercial traffic areas, but boats anchored across the harbor.  When Kent asked the port captain whether anchoring was permitted in that part of the harbor (of course, we were already there) he said “it is illegal” then put his hands over his eyes like the “see no evil” monkey.  Bottom line, we have determined that as is often the case where there is an ACI Marina (the dominate marina chain in Croatia) they force the towns to “discourage” anchoring which is bad for their business.  We have found that if we are anchored in a place that is not interfering with harbor traffic, no one enforces any anchoring restrictions. 

Unlike Dubrovnik which boasts a continuous wall around the city, with a small harbor, Split is a large commercial harbor with a beautiful pedestrian promenade known as the Riva that is lined with towering palm trees (some four stories high) set against a background of beautiful hotels, restaurants and cafes. 

Riva--Pedestrian Promenade

Riva--Pedestrian Promenade

Shopping on Riva

Shopping on Riva

 The Riva cafes have some exotic entertainment, too.  Those are real pidgeons on his head and shoulder.  Couldn’t help but pass him a few kuna.

Novel entertainment on Riva

Novel entertainment on Riva

 In Split the ancient Roman structures have been preserved but incorporated into contemporary uses.  There are layers and layers of stone and mortar, massive columns that no longer support anything.

Layers of History

Layers of History

Palace Walls

Palace Walls

If only walls could talk

If only walls could talk

Palace Gate

Palace Gate

Like every medieval town, there are legends that abound.  The towering Statue of Nin, a famous bronze sculpture by a noted Croatian artist, has a toe that reportedly brings good luck.  Over the centuries the toe has been touched by so many people that is has turned bright gold rather than the burnished color of aged bronze. 

Nin's Golden Toe

Nin's Golden Toe

Not wanting to leave anything to chance, Kent was sure to touch it.  This is one very big toe.

Lucky Toe Touch

Lucky Toe Touch

There are fish, meat and vegetable markets daily in Split and while we appreciated the fresh fruit and vegetables, the meat and fish were a little too up close and personal for our taste.  Give me a good old filet of fish anyday.

Everyday is Market Day

Everyday is Market Day

Many little fishes

Many little fishes

Now this is a fish

Now this is a fish

I can't eat anything that stares at me

I can't eat anything that stares at me

This is enough to make me a vegetarian

This is enough to make me a vegetarian

The harbor is crowded with ferries that cruise the mainland coast and islands and it is not uncommon to see 6 or more of various sizes in the harbor at one time, along with a dozen daytrip boats. 

Day trip boats on quay

Day trip boats on quay

Ferries and more ferries!

Ferries and more ferries!

Add to that an occasional cruise ship that anchors off shore with tenders running back and forth to shore and you have a chaotic harbor scene. 

Cruise ship off harbor entrance

Cruise ship off harbor entrance

In fact, the boat traffic and constant wakes became so uncomfortable on Sunday morning after the cruise ship arrived, that we split from Split.

We’re back to the islands!

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OPTIMISTS EVERYWHERE!!

September 27th, 2009 No comments
Just outside Split harbor on September 25th we came upon a yet another organized sailboat race, but this time it was the kids that were single handed racing their little flat bottom sailing prams call Optimists or “Optis”.
Opti

Opti

From a distance there was a mass of white sails on the horizon that looked like a swarm of small white butterflies.  Croatia has the largest fleet of Optis that we have seen anywhere—except perhaps the US Nationals for the class during Marblehead Race Week.

White Blur on Horizon

White Blur on Horizon

Where is the Start Line

Where is the Start Line

All in all, we counted between 80-100 boats all trying to cross the start line at the same time.  It was a little chaotic as they swarmed around the committee boat to start the race.

Is this a race or a traffic jam

Is this a race or a traffic jam

Out of My Way

Out of My Way

Some of the young sailors were having a little trouble, but there were plenty of chase boats to help out, and then tow them in at the end of the day.

Back to the Course

Back to the Course

It was quite inspiring to see all these young people (both boys and girls) having such a great time.  Sailing competition is alive and well in Croatia.

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FALL SAILING REGATTA

September 23rd, 2009 No comments

Yesterday as we approached the north coast of Otok Dugi, where we planned to anchor for the night we came upon a fall sailing regatta.  We saw spinnakers on the horizon and more sailboats in one place than we have seen since arriving in Croatia.

Spinnakers on the Horizon

Spinnakers on the Horizon

Kent sees a race

Kent sees a race

The wind was very light—under 5 kts. and Kent couldn’t resist setting the gennaker so he could “sail” through the racing fleet.

I Can Do That!

I Can Do That!

Love that Gennaker

Love that Gennaker

There were two classes of boats, the “big guys” appeared to be in the 40-45 ft. range and were primarily charter boats.  We surmised that the charter company may have sponsored the regatta.  For a while they held their own with spinnakers flying, but one by one the spinnakers came down as the wind died even further. 

I think we've got it

I think we've got it

Oops, maybe not

Oops, maybe not

Dead (0 kt.) Heat

Dead (0 kt.) Heat

The “small boat” class appeared to be 30-35 ft. and they did pretty well, although their course provided a little more air.

Now this is light air sailing

Now this is light air sailing

Some boats, just seemed to be drifting around—but then they were “racing”.

The Course is the Other Way

The Course is the Other Way

Our gennaker came down long before the last of the spinnakers, but it was great fun watching.  Kent says anyone can sail in moderate wind—he tips his hat to these hearty souls who were willing to keep trying to move their boats in no wind at all.

Where's the Wind

Where's the Wind

Who wants to sail anyway

Who wants to sail anyway

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