Split needs a fair go… a little later

Panoramic of Split with a storm brewing and rapidly closing in on us!
Panoramic of Split with a storm brewing and rapidly closing in on us!

Dropping off our friends at an angry grey Split :
The last week of May: It was wonderful and relaxing having our South African friends, Yvonne. Quinton and Gayle on board – sadly for about a week only! Time has flown but we were very fortunate with the weather while they were on board. It stopped raining the day they arrived in Dubrovnik, and ever since the next morning, we just had beautiful blue skies and perfect winds. Not being sailors, I am sure they left with an over romanticized view of a sailing holiday! It was amazing how perfect the winds were for using each of the 3 sails at some stage! That is totally to the contrary of our experience in total of the Med! It normally does not matter which way you turn, the wind will always be from the wrong angle or of wrong strength and sails will stay down and engines will go up! That is the Med for you! I am very glad we could give them an idea of what it is like when nature is playing to your hand! Well it was only about an hour or two after we have dropped them off at Split that the weather started playing games again! It was almost as if the lucky charms have left!
Scolamanzi on the outside dock of ACI Marina in Split
Scolamanzi on the outside dock of ACI Marina in Split with extra springs to secure her against the winds and swells
Leaving our friends at Split after w great week of fabulous weather for sailing!
Leaving our friends at Split after w great week of fabulous weather for sailing!

The wind was picking up, getting cooler and it was slightly overcast by the time we dropped the Brands off, gave washing in and had a coffee. We were looking forward to a day or two in Split! Unfortunately, the only dock space that we could get was on the outside dock, and frankly, that is not where you want to leave your boat with weather that is closing in by the minute. Swells increased in intensity and so did the wind. Scolamanzi was suddenly not 1.5 meters away from the rough cement dock, but only half a meter! With every swell we were holding our breaths hoping not to hear a crashing sound! The second spring was doing a good job, but it will soon not be enough any more.
Coming back from the Laundromat, I have noticed Johann being up and down the boat fiddling with stern lines and fenders. The wind and swells have picked up dramatically and threatening to push us into the shore and with a catamaran it is hard to defend it with fenders at the back due to the shape of the steps.
The Captain immediately canned the idea of going into town – Split will have to wait for us till next week when we get back to pick up Johann’s mum and her friend Cal.
I was only given one order and that was to get on – so we took off minutes later – I had to leave my washing there! Hopefully it will be waiting there for me in a week’s time! – I guess I will know then if the guest cabins still have sheets and towels left!
Drvenik Veliki
Entrance to Drvenik Veliki

Drvenik Veliki

We left Split with a sense of relieve and mixed feelings. We were very happy to leave Split in those conditions without any damage to the boat, but now have to look for an alternative overnight spot that is safe enough in these conditions!

Drvenik Veliki is a small Island with the main settlement also called Drvenik – about 3 hours (17 NM) sail from Split. It was the only bay that was looking promising. There is no marina and the docks that are there belong to the council and is rented out by the restaurants (or that is what we figured). The only concern about them is that the wind is pushing again into the docks! We arrived at about 4pm and decided to anchor rather in the small bay inside the docking area. We had to re-anchoring 3 times (to make sure we are well away from the shore and boats already on moorings) in pouring rain. The third time we were chased off our spot by the ferry that needed the space to turn around. Bugger! Just as we got it right and felt comfortable and safe on our anchorage, we had to up anchor again!

Outside the harbour in the bay was just not an option with all the traffic and rocks around. The 25-30 knot wind had by now left us with no choice but to do our first Med Mooring. It is a pretty challenging manoeuvre especially when the wind is side-on, but we waited for a lull in the wind and got it right the first time round!! I felt like high five Johann there and then – I could hardly hold back to celebrate this huge achievement, but I kept my cool and made the job look like I have been doing it for years at least twice a day!

The boats that arrived after us, arrived in the heavy winds and really struggled to get it right. Having had a few goes, some of them had to give up on it and leave! The danger of smashing into another yacht or the dock is always in the back of your mind during a windy Med-moor. We have watched a charter yacht with 8 German men on it giving this daunting manoeuvre a go! To start with, there were 8 skippers and 8 captains on that yacht and the one behind the wheel obviously lack the skills to steer the boat in these conditions! A lot of shouting made it quite comical really! By the 5th time he was trying to get close to the dock (and every time he cam in too skew and dangerously close to the boats already on the dock) we were all hanging around with extra fenders in case he was attempting the next time to come in next to us. He knocked a small yacht with an old German couple on it and even I could grasp the rough German words of disgust by the old man! They later gave it up and left the bay – we had no idea what they were thinking leaving at night, in wind and rain and bad visibility with hardly competent sailors on board. There were not too many options close by to anchor or find shelter!

A very angry old man after the German boat bumped his boat trying to dock in windy conditions
A very angry old man after the German boat bumped his boat trying to dock in windy conditions

What a nightmare of a night it was!!!The sickening sound of glass fibre against cement during the night by the next door boat made them pick-up lines to rather go and anchor where we were earlier in the night. Yachts kept coming and going all night! We only fell asleep at 5.30am.
Wind speed picking up as soon as we left the bay
Wind speed picking up as soon as we left the bay
Angry seas
Angry seas
The three yachts around us that had to leave the dock and go and anchor in the small harbour where the ferry has to come in any moment!
The three yachts around us that had to leave the dock and go and anchor in the small harbour where the ferry has to come in any moment!
8 German skippers on one boat trying to dock!
8 German skippers on one boat trying to dock!

We left exhausted and red-eyed by 8am. We knew it wasn’t good news awaiting us.
The winds of 35-38 knots and 2 metre swells made for some interesting moments! Slamming into head-on waves causing a water mass washing straight over the deck certainly tested my balance and nerves!

The excitement of moving north to see the Kornati islands totally overshadowed our tiredness! Hopefully we will soon have moved passed this low pressure system and meet the summer of Croatia in the Kornati Islands. Late in May: The weather was still pretty average, with a chilli breeze creeping in as soon as the sun hid away behind a cloud or the horizon. What on earth happened to summer? Even that was still not enough to kill the excitement of exploring new territory!

See the sign? Well massive winds forced them to dock like this in the middle of the night!! No choice!
See the sign? Well massive winds forced them to dock like this in the middle of the night!! No choice!

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