Home > Croatia, Europe, Italy > July 15, 2009 Amalfi, IT to Dubrovnik, Croatia

July 15, 2009 Amalfi, IT to Dubrovnik, Croatia

After a day of laundry and other boat chores Destiny sailed (or more accurately motored) out of Amalfi on June 30th with barely three weeks to go on our 90 days in the EU.  FYI there is a little known immigration law—the Shenigan Treaty—at limits our stay in the EU countries that are signatories (which includes virtually all of them) to 90 days out of any 180 days.  Which means that we face fines if we leave the EU after the 90 days expires.  We have heard that this is little enforced, but when it is can be costly, so we plan to comply since Croatia is not in the EU (at least not yet) and it is next on our itinerary.
Amalfi Departure

Amalfi Departure

 

The distance from Amalfi (which is just south of Naples) to Croatia is several hundred miles and there is a lot to see along the way.  Our first stop after Amalfi was a pretty anchorage at Capo Palinuro.  Much to Kent’s delight the breeze came up in the afternoon and we sailed with the gennaker for much of the day.

Kent Flies Gennaker

Kent Flies Gennaker

Capo Palinuro Anchorage

Capo Palinuro Anchorage

Night Fall Capo Palinuro

Night Fall Capo Palinuro

 

The weather pattern is predictable and a little boring—flat calm seas and no wind—typical for the Med this time of year.  We have decided there is a reason that we see so many more power boats than sail boats here.  It is frustrating to be a sailor.  On the other hand the beauty of the place and the joy when the wind comes makes up for the disappointment. 

Over the next couple of days we motored to Cetraro, a town most notable for a large marina that was newly constructed and had virtually no boats in it,

Clouds Off Centraro

Clouds Off Centraro

 and then on to Vibo Valentia where we stayed at a charming family run marina for two days while we tracked down a problem with our wireless card. 

In Vibo Valentia we docked next to another SSCA member, Dick Pieper, on Agape.  Dick has spent a lot of time in Croatia and had some good recommendations for us.  Oh yes, and Dick is from Milwaukee and is friends with our daughter-in-law, Molly’s parents—put this under “small world” category.  Dick made Kent an honorary Cheesehead.

Cheesehead Kent

Cheesehead Kent

 

Speaking of the wireless internet connection, we have been amazed by the range of the wireless card we purchased upon arriving in Italy.  We have had internet in the most remote places, which allows us to check weather, keep up with news and make Skype calls to family.  There are cell towers everywhere, and every Italian seems to have a cell phone glued to his or her ear to justify them.  We have had our cell phones unlocked so that we can insert local SIM cards for the carriers serving the local area.  Calls to the US are much cheaper than roaming on AT & T.

Vibo Valentia was a stopping off place for fuel, water and provisioning before we headed to the Aeolian Islands off the north coast of Sicily. 

Vibo Valentia Sunset

Vibo Valentia Sunset

 

We arrived in Stromboli, one of the largest of the islands on July 4th, and celebrated by hoisting a large American flag from the spreader and putting up our dress flags.  Stromboli has been an active volcano for centuries and our evening “fireworks” display was viewed from the dinghy as the volcano erupted.  That together with our dinner of hot dogs and watermelon made for a festive, albeit low key day.

Destiny flying Colors for July 4th in Stromboli

Destiny flying Colors for July 4th in Stromboli

 

Hot Dog it's July 4th

Hot Dog it's July 4th

 

Our other July 4th HOT dog

Our other July 4th HOT dog

Traveling between Stromboli and Lipari we saw some amazing rock formations and caught a glimse of Maltese Falcon, the mega-sailboat at anchor.  We last saw Maltese Falcon under sail off St. Bart in January, and thought she looked pretty impressive just sitting still as well–note how mast rotates.

Rock formations in Aeolian Islands

Rock formations in Aeolian Islands

Maltese Falcon in Aeolian Islands

Maltese Falcon in Aeolian Islands

 

While the main feature of Stromboli is the volcano and a small residential village that is reminiscent of Greece with its white concrete buildings trimmed in periwinkle blue, the next island we visited—Lipari—was a picturesque harbor under the shadow of castle with towering walls. 
Lipari

Lipari

Lipari Harbor

Lipari Harbor

We anchored near the town and went ashore by dinghy to explore the town with its narrow streets and the castle.  Despite the similarities of the ancient towns we have seen, each one has its own unique character that deserves exploring.  We tend to keep moving, so our “exploration” is rather superficial but enjoyable.

The island of Vulcano, our next stop in the Aeolian Sea was only a couple miles from Lipari.  In fact, all of the islands are close together and the sailing/motoring is “line of sight”.  Like Stromboli, Vulcano has an active volcano which you can see smoldering during the day, but unlike Stromboli no night time show.  The little cove we anchored in was surrounded by black volcanic rocky beaches and clubs with chairs and umbrellas in myriad colors.  Our friends aboard Excalibur and Glass Slipper were there when we arrived.

Vulcano Sunset

Vulcano Sunset

We left Vulcano about 4 a.m. on July 8th for our 40 mile passage to the Straits of Messina, having to time our arrival at the Straits to tide and current. 

Early morning Moon over Sicily

Early morning Moon over Sicily

Dawn Breaks on Way to Straits

Dawn Breaks on Way to Straits

 

Motoring the whole way we entered the Straits about 10 a.m. with favorable current and continued down the west side of Sicily, past Messina, to Taormina where we picked up a mooring just under the town.  Along the way we saw a school of dolphins and sword fishing boats with towers that stood a good 50 ft. over the deck and bow pulpits nearly as long.  Our friends on Excalibur and Glass Slipper arrived shortly after us and we began planning a long passage together as we head across the boot of Italy in a few days to position us for the Croatia leg.

Swordfishing in Straits of Messina

Swordfishing in Straits of Messina

 Since we visited Taormina on our honeymoon, it had special meaning to return on Destiny.  Being moored in the turquoise water that we had seen from the town last visit was a dream come true–Destiny is the blue boat in the foreground. 

Kent finds a sign in Taormina at sums it all up!

Kent finds a sign in Taormina at sums it all up!

Mooring field at Taormina

Mooring field at Taormina

 This time we rented a car and drove to Mt. Etna, another active volcano, which was about 100 km from Taormina.  The lava fields at Mt. Enta are amazing, and while we could not go clear to the top because wind prevented the tram from running, we wandered through old craters and collected a lava rock.  The road winds through the park, with wonderful views of the top of the volcano in the distance. 

Mt. Etna

Mt. Etna

 

Carol & Jolie at one of many Craters

Carol & Jolie at one of many Craters

 

There is much more of Sicily to see but we are saving that for our planned “island hopping” across the southern Med when we are ready to return to the States.

About 7:30 p.m. on July 9th we left the mooring in Taormina with Excalibur and Glass Slipper for a two-day passage to Otranto on the east side of Italy, some 200 miles.  As we often find here, the weather forecasts and the actual weather are never the same and we found ourselves in 5-6 ft. seas with 22 kts. of wind on our nose just outside the protected anchorage at Taormina.  Not only couldn’t we sail, but we were making 4 kts. at maximum rpm’s with the prospect of motoring for many hours.  After about two miles of pounding, Destiny turned back to Taormina and was secure on the mooring we had just left before dark.  Excalibur and Glass Slipper continued on for another several miles but were back in Taomina by 10 p.m.

What were we thinking

What were we thinking

The next morning we headed out again at 6:30 a.m. with a favorable current to cross the bottom of the Straits of Messina and although the seas were still 6-7 ft. we were making 6.5 to 7 kt. with reefed main and jib—a real “Nantucket sleighride”.  By 10 a.m. we were in the lee of the mainland and the wind was variable as we reached the toe of Italy.   

The Gulf of Taranto covers the expanse of Ionian Sea between the toe of Italy on the west side and the heel on the east.  We had been told that the area was not very interesting and that protected marinas were few and far between, so we decided to go straight across the gulf rather than follow the coast.  This proved to be one of the most challenging and uncomfortable passages since the Caribbean 1500 in November.

As we rounded Capo Spartivento at the southern tip of the toe about noon, the seas were fairly flat and we were mostly motoring. 

Flat seas off Capo Spartivento

Flat seas off Capo Spartivento

A forecast NW wind shift came in about 3 p.m. and after three hours of motoring it was blowing 12-15 kts. and we were making 7-7.5 kts.  Not wanting to miss the wind, we decided to continue on through the night rather than putting in to Crotone which was a possible stopping off point.  We had a magnificent sunset, but by 10 p.m. the seas and wind continued to build as we reached the open waters across the Gulf of Taranto. 

Sunset on 200 NM Passage

Sunset on 200 NM Passage

At this point, what had been a sleigh ride was turning into a wild ride.  Kent was hand steering because the direction and size of the waves challenged the autopilot.  The waves were 5-7 ft. and closely spaced so everyone crashed over the bow.

Are we having fun yet

Are we having fun yet

For Carol, this was a “what was I thinking moment” that comes every so often, and admittedly she was a little frightened.  Not that the boat wouldn’t be able to handle the seas, but the “what ifs” included Kent falling overboard, the engine failing, the rig breaking and myriad other catastrophes none of which occurred.

When the moon rose, as a little speck on the horizon that looked like an approaching boat and then grew into a bright orange ball in the lower sky, the “what ifs” were put at bay.   The moon cast welcome light on the otherwise forboding seas and it somehow seemed safer.  Throughout the night and into the next morning the wind blew a steady 25 kt. with gusts to 35 and the seas continued to build.  Destiny handled the 10-12 ft. seas just fine, but we took quite a beating. 

Enough already--its been over 24 hrs.

Enough already--its been over 24 hrs.

OK we're going over 7 kts--who cares

OK we're going over 7 kts--who cares

We decided to make landfall at the first harbor we reached, which was Santa Maria de Leuca on the heel of the boot at noon on July 11th.  We had traveled 202.3 NM in 29 ½ hours which was our longest two-handed passage to date, and had motored for only 13 hours.  The marina had no space for us, so we anchored just outside the harbor which was protected from the wind, and crashed.

Thank goodness we're here

Thank goodness we're here

Santa Maria de Leuca

Santa Maria de Leuca

Santa Maria di Leuca from Mussolini's Steps

Santa Maria di Leuca from Mussolini's Steps

After two days rest, and some sightseeing in Santa Maria de Leuca (there are some steps built by Mussolini as the “Gateway to Italy”) we left for Otranto on July 13th which was to be our final port in Italy before leaving for Dubrovnik in the company of our friends on Excalibur and Glass Slipper. 

The trip to Otranto, which was only 40 NM was dead into the wind and slow going.  Our friend, John, on Glass Slipper took this shot of Destiny underway.

Destiny Enroute to Otranto

Destiny Enroute to Otranto

When we arrived,  we found space at the town quay where we could wait out a weather window for our overnight passage to Dubrovnik rafted together.  We did not have to wait long.

Rafted in Otranto

Rafted in Otranto

After touring Otranto and having a final Italian dinner ashore, the three boats departed Otranto on July 14th at 10:30 a.m. for an overnight passage to Gruz, the entry port at Dubrovnik, Croatia. 

Carol & Kent in Otranto

Carol & Kent in Otranto

 

Unlike our prior passage from Taormina, this trip was marked by just under 30 hours of motoring.  Kent was beside himself—there is no happy medium here.  You are sailing at 7-8 kts in 25 kts. of breeze, or more often motoring in no breeze.

The crews (make that wives on board) were very happy to be motoring at this point, and we had a rather slow and boring (make that pleasant) passage on flat seas.  The sunset was amazing with gorgeous layers of red, orange and blue, but despite no clouds on the horizon there was no green flash—we can’t decide if that occurs in this part of the world, although we have seen it in the Caribbean more than once.

Crossing the Shipping Channel at Sunset

Crossing the Shipping Channel at Sunset

From midnight to 3 a.m. we motor sailed with the main and jib but by 5 a.m. the wind was so light we couldn’t carry.  As the sun rose we were off the coast of Albania, passed Montenegro and finally arrived at our destination at 1 p.m.—Gruz, Croatia the port of entry.  Our trip lasted 27.5 hours and we covered 161 NM.  Unlike the passage from Taormina to Santa Maria de Leuca, we had company on this passage with Glass Slipper and Excalibur in sight and radio contact the whole way.

Destiny & Excalibur at Dawn

Destiny & Excalibur at Dawn

Jolie smells land as we approach Croatia

Jolie smells land as we approach Croatia

The last several hours of our trip into Dubrovnik was spent vacuuming the interior, shaking rugs and otherwise doing the clean up that would be required after a long passage.  At that point we were too “wired” to sleep and decided to put the time to good use.  Jolie got some attention too.

Jolie Gets Groomed for Arrival

Jolie Gets Groomed for Arrival

We had been told to expect a friendly welcome in Croatia, but our entry into the country was amazingly easy, although we had to visit several offices.  Our first impression was that not only were the officials friendly and helpful, but they all spoke fluent English.  This was quite a welcome change from Italy where English speakers were few and far between—or if they understood English, preferred not to use it.

Arrival in commercial port Dubrovnik

Arrival in commercial port Dubrovnik

After visiting the harbormaster (to purchase our cruising sticker that is good for one year), customs to declare that we had nothing to declare, and the polizia to check and stamp our passports, we were off to the Dubrovnik Marina which is located up a steep sided inlet up the Dubrovacka River. 

Up river to Dubrovnik Marina

Up river to Dubrovnik Marina

By 3 p.m. we were settled into Slip B31 next to an Italian powerboat that was in the midst of a traditional late lunch.  We had not even tied off all our lines when they passed over a large plate spaghetti and told us “eat while it is hot.”  We had already had one lunch, but graciously sat down to a wonderful plate of pasta.  The marina is quite nice, with restaurants and a swimming pool.  We could get used to this, except for the price which is more than we hope to pay in the future.  On the other hand, Dubrovnik is a 10 minute bus ride away and we have a lot of exploring to do.

Destiny at Dubrovnik Marina

For now, we are happy to sit at the dock and rest—oh yes, and do laundry. 

Laundry day in Dubrovnik

Laundry day in Dubrovnik

 

More from Croatia to follow.  The adventure continues.

Do videnja (“Goodbye” in Croatian)
Carol, Kent & Jolie
S/V Destiny Marina Dubrovnik, Croatia

Categories: Croatia, Europe, Italy Tags:
  1. No comments yet.
  1. No trackbacks yet.