The one big surprise about the strait of Messina, was that we have entered in dead quiet conditions of around 4-6 knots of wind, motoring … And all of a sudden, as soon as we hit the strait, the wind was channelling through it at the force of 27-30 knots! It was howling! As soon as we left the strait, around the first corner, it was all quiet again … and that is how we continued the rest of the crossing! Surprisingly enough, the Italian side ( The tame conditions gave Johann time to do a few odd jobs that we would have done in a marina. Sails were shifted out of the cabins – making room for the guests and the tradesmen that have to fix an antifreeze leak in our port side water heater. The days ended up being really fruitful and the nights easy to navigate with very little ships on the way… that is until we neared the Croatian coast.
The reward for best entertainment for the trip went again to the dolphins! This time the biggest group we have yet encountered joined us! An endless stream of happy diving and splashing dolphins were joining us to play and perform at the bow for at least an hour! My camera ran out of memory (I did not download the previous day’s pictures yet!) – in the end I ended up with some really nice ones for a change! They are just such an amazing species… always so aware of us and where we are on the boat …quite touching to see how the turn to glance at you and then start an extra magic flip through the air!
The current changed shortly after we have left the Italian coast (and sadly my 3G internet reception too) and for once it is working with us and not against us! Motor-sailing during the day and with the extra help of the current, we arrived at the Croatian cost much earlier than expected. Nothing freaks me out more than getting to an unknown destination in pitch darkness! I have no way to imagine even how the land looks like … is there rocks or unlit buoys in the channel, or fish traps …just the whole unknown factor is too much for me to be comfortable with!
Well, this is how we had to negotiate and navigate our way in. Around little islands (too small to be inhabited but big enough to be a substantial obstacle in the dark!). Looking for lights they describe on the navigation system is not an easy task In a place where there are a massive amount of lights to start with! I again had to take my hat off for Johann… how he can stay that calm, rational and find the tiniest white light or red light that is flashing or occulting with just the right intervals is quite a knack to have! It gives me a lot of comfort to know he’s my navigator and captain!… my contribution on the night was pretty limited unfortunately, but it did not seem to be a problem.
We made it safely into CAVTAT at about 11.30pm and was just happy to find enough space in the bay to anchor for the night. We have read about the strict rules of the Croatian Custom Authorities. You yacht has to wait until there is an opening to dock at their custom docks at the time you clear customs. So we thought we will have a wonderful sleep in windless quiet conditions …well, as crazy at it might sound, that is the conditions that you do not hope for in a bay filled with boats – they don’t all swing in the same direction as the case is when the wind is blowing and inevitably you will get a bump from one of them. With all our fenders out, a little ferry boat did wake us up in the middle of the night with a thump …but Johann said it was just a gentle nudge …we re-anchored and went back for some much needed sleep till the sun woke us up.
We got out on deck and was gasping at the scenery unfolding in front of us! This is an amazingly beautiful old town! We immediately fell in love with it and decided not to move on – we stayed for two more days and explored every corner of it!
With Scolamanzi docked in front of the coffee shops on the quay, it was easy going! The wonderful narrow cobbled stone streets with the most charming houses. As I was taking a picture of an gate entrance to a house that was framed with a wonderful display of roses, the gate open as the women waved us inside to see her garden. It was certainly something to be proud of. Such a generous gesture. Sadly Johann declined the invitation to go inside for a drink. I would have loved to see what the houses are furnished like and the layout of it!
Cavtat is a must see if you are in the vicinity of Dubrovnik and have a day spare. It provides an excellent protected bay with the option to pick up a mooring (although only a few are available and no water of electricity is provided.) A beautiful walks took us to the top of the hill where the Mausoleum of Racic family. A cemetery with a view and the mausoleum, is on itself a spectacular piece of architecture.
We were lucky enough to be there when the classical music show of Anis Koncic (violinist) and Tomislav Žerovnik (classical guitarist) was on in the courtyard of an old 14th century monastery. What a setting and unbelievable talent! I could have spent another hour listening and watching them. It was a very small audience (8 people) which add to the ambiance of the setting. I was in a total state of euphoria listening to Cavatina (Mayers) and Ave Maria (Bach) … the purest of music I have ever listen to life!
We based ourselves for 2 days here and took the bus into Dubrovnik to visit the old town and came back with the ferry! It was great fun and OLD CITY DUBROVNIK is just wonderful to see with some amazing sites for restaurants.