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Saturday, September 28, 2013

THE KORNATI ISLANDS NATIONAL PARK

Envoy is now anchored off Corfu.
On the way to the Kornati Islands we planned to overnight at a great looking sheltered bay called Potkucina. We’d only been anchored there for ten minutes when a dinghy came alongside and we were told there was a Kn 300 (approx NZ$67) fee to anchor there. We just can’t agree with paying to anchor (except at National Parks), so moved on.
The next three nights were spent cruising the Kornati Islands National Park. To enter this park you have to buy a ticket costing Kn 500 (about NZ$111) for three nights, and we thought this was reasonable. At first we found the islands very barren and wondered what made them constitute a National Park (the Cruising Guide describes them as a “moonscape”), but as we moved north there was increasing vegetation ashore and the anchorages were better, making the experience overall worthwhile.

Barren landscape of Kornati National Park

One morning Frank and I did a lengthy hike from our anchorage of Statival up a steep and stony hillside to get a spectacular view over the islands from the summit. A huge wall in the shape of a cross had been built in memory of twelve firemen tragically killed here during a brushfire in 2007.

View over islands of Kornati National Park showing the stone crosses
Laurie on summit during hike
Well-equipped tour leader Frank on summit

Another view from the top

At this point we were the most distant from our home base at Lefkas Marina – 390 miles “as the crow flies”, or 876 miles as we’d cruised.
Frank and Laurie enjoy a coffee at taverna on Kornati Is
Frank and Marie during a fish dinner ashore

Leaving the Kornatis we found a great anchorage among islands north of Murter Island and made a three mile trip in the RHIB to the town of Murter. While buying fruit in the market here we got the great news of the birth of our granddaughter Lily, and that night celebrated in style with one of Frank’s famous pasta dishes and plenty of bubbly. Next day we went back into Murter, and over breakfast in a taverna watched the All Blacks beat the Wallabies.
Murter's waterfront

It was a very hot day but we walked to the nearby old town of Betina where it was interesting to see their unique lateen-rigged yachts moored at the quay. Here we had a coffee served by another couldn’t-care-less waiter, but the location was great.

Lateen-rigged yachts in Betina harbour

Next stop was Kosirina, a large bay on the west side of Murter Island, where there’s an extensive camping ground. Frank being an experienced camper having just bought a caravan went ashore to see how the locals do it. One major difference was using mainly charcoal BBQs for cooking whereas in New Zealand we mostly use lpg.
Next day we anchored off the rustic mainland village of Tribunj, a picturesque village on a very small island, once fortified against attacks from pirates. As we had drinks at a shore-side taverna we watched a yacht moored stern-to the quay prepare to move away. There was a fifteen knot wind on the yacht’s beam, and the crew let their lines go too soon causing the yacht to drifte sideways onto the yacht moored next to it. Instead of correcting the situation the yacht’s skipper gunned his engine and his keel fouled and broke the adjacent yachts bow line - fortunately there were plenty of people on hand to assist.

Laurie and Marie pose with donkey statue inTribunj

Tribunj seafront and Croatian flag

Laurie and Frank in Tribunj

This bridge links the island of Tribunj to the mainland

TECHNICAL – nothing to report
ENVOY LOG as at 18 August 125 days spend aboard and 1,000 miles cruised for 195 engine hours.

Monday, September 16, 2013

THE KRKA WATERFALLS NATIONAL PARK

Envoy is now in Gouvia marina, Corfu.
While on the mooring at Primosten the gale never eventuated, so we cruised further north into the spectacular Kanal Sv Ante leading to the city of Sibenik, and the Krka river which winds its way 10 spectacular miles up to the village of Skradin and the Krka waterfalls National Park. In places the river is only about 100 metres wide and has some stunning gorges.

15th century Sv Nikola fortress at entrance to Kanal

Disused submarine pen on the Kanal

Next day we had an early wakeup from farmers using diesel generators, and drove our RHIB into Skradin and then took the ferry to the Krka National Park.

The ferry into the National Park goes from Skradin. Private boats are not allowed

Although the park was very crowded the scenery was stunning, and cleverly designed boardwalks enabled us to see the many thundering waterfalls and quiet backwaters.

The main waterfall is spectacular by any standard.



Water mills have been used here for hundreds of years and one has been well-preserved and is still operating to show how cereals were produced.

Inside water mill

There are also the remains of the areas first hydro electric power station dating from 1895, including the huge water powered turbines.
For anyone visiting Croatia the Krka waterfalls National Park is worth seeing.

In this general area about half way up the Croatian coast, we were finding the service from taverna waiters generally unwelcoming and poor to the point of rudeness, whereas waitresses were mostly pleasant and helpful. Di and Marie found shop assistants much the same, and didn’t feel like spending their money. This was very different to Turkey and Greece where everybody is so friendly and helpful.

Many Croatians don't have happy smiling faces - like this lady selling produce

Going further down river we stopped alongside one of the mussel farms and bought four kilos of delicious sweet mussels, still fresh in their shells, for 80 Kn (about NZ$18), and Marie later made a sumptuous seafood pasta.

We bought some delicious mussels from a mussel farm on the side of the river

Marie prepares mussels for dinner in Envoy's cockpit - quite a job

In one narrow section of the river we were almost hit by a Croatian yacht which overtook us very closely on our port side and then cut across our bow from port to starboard forcing us to take evasive action, and missing a collision by just a few metres.

It was in this narow section of the river that a badly-skippered Croatian yacht almost hit us




TECHNICAL – nothing to report
ENVOY LOG as at 12 August 118 days spend aboard and 915 miles cruised for 177 engine hours.

Saturday, September 07, 2013

CENTRAL CROATIA AND PRIMOSTEN

Envoy is now at Corfu Island, Greece.

When cruising, not every anchorage is stunning or special but just a convenient stop-over along the way, and from Stari Grad we cruised 28 miles to one of these - Rina on the island of Mali Drvnek, offering good shelter, clear and clean water and few other boats.
Next stop was special though - the picturesque village of Primosten, and with a gale warning in force for additional security we picked up a mooring costing 255 Kn (about NZ$57) per night. Although the mooring line looked in good condition, for extra safety I dived five metres to attach an additional heavy line directly to the very large concrete mooring block.

Primosten from seaward

Envoy on mooring in Primosten just outside buoyed swimming area


Frank and I used the RHIB and our 25 litre jerry cans to collect some fresh water from a tap on the wharf – although we have the water maker, it’s much quicker to get water from shore if there is supply available, especially with the extra usage of four people on board.
Primosten is interesting to wander around, and the girls also enjoyed some shopping. Frank and I aren’t great shoppers and the girls say we’re a bit of a hindrance, so we found a taverna and drank some ice-cold beer instead!
Stunning colours at a fruit and vegetable market in Primosten


One innovative taverna offers tables in shallow water to “cool your heels”, but there seemed to be no takers

One night after dinner ashore we saw a street parade of Croatians in traditional dress, and followed them to a stage in the main square where they performed some traditional Croatian songs, although I have to say our attention span was a bit short.
Croatian street parade in Primosten

Later we enjoyed drinks in Envoy’s cockpit listening to great live rock music from the Legends Pub on the waterfront – now that’s music more to our liking.

Primosten’s Legends Pub has great live music

So far we’ve only seen a few beaches as we know them in New Zealand. Most of the beaches are stony, and in many places there are no beaches at all so people sunbathe on the rocks. Where there are sandy beaches they are mostly covered in hire deck chairs with tavernas playing awful loud music.

Primosten bathers enjoy swimming from the rocks while there is a sandy beach in the background

TECHNICAL – While on the mooring at Primosten we dismantled and inspected Envoy’s windlass components, as the chain wasn’t free-falling correctly - we prefer to allow the anchor to free-fall (in a controlled way) as it saves wear on the windlass motor. Once we cleaned up and greased the clutch bores and facings it worked fine, One of our two domestic fresh water pumps has stopped working. This is not a major as we have two interchangeable pumps, so are now using the other one.
ENVOY LOG as at 10 August 116 days spend aboard and 876 miles cruised for 171 engine hours.