Captain's Log

 


Mediterranean Crossing from Palma, Majorca to Trogir, Croatia via Malta,
June 2004

Wednesday, 9 June (Kate)

Finally we leave Palma boatyard at 08:15am and head for the fuelling dock. We have been delayed 2½ days from our original departure date due to extensive maintenance requirements to BooToo after the Atlantic crossing. On board are Oliver, Pete, Vics and Paul, the professional crew; Jinny, the new chef who has just joined the board in Palma, myself - Kate (Vics's mum), Roy (Paul's dad) and Emma, a work colleague of Oliver's.

The fuel dock is not yet open so we wait and eventually, at 09:00am, the guy arrives to "fill us up". During the time the numerous litres are being pumped into the boat, Vics and Pete start to put the mainsail into position - a basic requirement for a sailing yacht, one would have thought! Another half hour stop to put the batons in the mainsail and lower it into the boom and off we go.

We head for Cabrera, a small environmentally protected island off the coast of Majorca where, once again, we stop, this time to change a halyard on the gib sail. This requires Vics to be winched to the top of the mast which she does with a certain degree of glee. Task completed and away we go.

Due to the various problems we are now further behind schedule than before and Oliver has to, once again, reroute our journey. Sardinia has already been omitted due to our late start and now our time in Sicily is to be reduced in order to get to Malta for Sunday 13 June, which will allow Roy to fly back to London and Oliver's brother, Tom, to join the yacht. But we are on the move!

The wind is on our nose so we plough along on the engine. This is not unpleasant and, after our safety briefing, allows the amateur crew time for recreational reading and sunbathing. The "watch" and jobs rotas are established and everyone starts to fall into a pattern of activity and sleeping to fit in with their allocated slots.

Thursday, 10 June (Kate)

Vics and I were up for the first daytime watch at 6:00am. We were still heading into the wind and our speed was less than anticipated. The sun rose very quickly and the temperature started to rise, although the wind was quite chilly.

This was a generally uneventful day with everyone settling into their own little pattern of sleeping, eating and keeping themselves entertained. However, as we had begun to suspect, Oliver announced that we were now by-passing Sicily and going straight to Malta. This meant another days sailing/motoring, hopefully arriving in Malta on Saturday afternoon. So a new course was set as we continued on.

Friday, 11 June (Emma)

Today was cleaning day, Roy hoovered the ceiling (?!), Jinny the kitchen and Oliver and Vics had the daunting task of emptying the office. Pete and I cleaned all the guard rails, decks, windows, etc on the exterior of the boat. Pete would go over an area with the hose then I would move in with the soapy cloths, then another hose down and finally drying off with the chamois leather. This took the whole of our four hour watch and is not something I am looking forward to repeating!

The afternoon was spent sunbathing and discussing the benefits of fake tan!

There was a clamour of excitement in the evening when, as we motored past Sicily, all the mobile phones sprang into left. I can honestly say I haven't felt such a rush in a long time. Unfortunately, the only messages being received were a "Vodafone welcomes you to Italy". Highs and lows within five minutes, never mind there was more to come. On the last watch of the evening there were two dolphins leaping as high as the guardrail, although with only Kate and Vics to verify this I like to think they were imagining things!

Saturday, 12 June (Kate)

The day started misty and the cloud hung around most of the morning as we approached Malta. However, the sea was as flat as a pancake which made motoring most pleasurable.

We moored in the Great Harbour, Malta at 2:00pm. We were all required to stay on board whilst Pete sorted out our arrival with Customs. That completed, Emma, Paul, Roy, Oliver and I departed for a tour of Valletta. Our first problem was to get across the water which was achieved by using one of the local motorised gondolas. This was just a short journey and on arrival we started our ascent into the town. A wander through the gardens gave us a magnificent view of the harbour and “BooToo”. Then we ventured down the main street.

Without a book to help we must have by-passed most of the glories of Valletta but Oliver did take a splendid photo of Paul astride a canon. Our short tour completed we returned the way we had arrived but unfortunately still had found nowhere that looked suitable to eat in that night. Returning to the boat Pete quickly took the problem of eating in hand and booked us in to the restaurant at the casino next to where we were moored.

On entering the Casino we had to undergo considerable scrutiny, passports had to be shown and photos taken but we all ended up with a membership card, which will no doubt be useful on our next trip to the island. The meal, however, was worth the fuss plus the pleasure of alcohol after 4 days abstinence.

Oliver's brother Tom joined us for the meal as it was Roy's last night before returning back home and he was to be the replacement crew member for the remainder of our intrepid journey.

Sunday, 13 June (Kate)

After a peaceful night's rest with no one having to be on watch we rose to see clear blue skies again. A rainstorm overnight had covered “BooToo” in a layer of fine North African sand but this was soon cleaned away by the ever attentive crew. Tom arrived to take his place on board and then we took the opportunity for a last bit of sightseeing. Oliver, Roy, Emma and I went to St Angelo's Fort which guards the mouth of the harbour and then a trip round the Maritime Museum.

Jinny cooked a wonderful lunch which we ate on board and then we moved to pick up fuel in preparation for leaving. We all said our fond farewells to Roy and off we went on the second part of our journey to Croatia.

Once away from the protection of the harbour the wind and the sea picked up. The mainsail went up to stabilise the boat but unfortunately the wind was still in the wrong direction for us to sail. But we're getting closer.

Monday, 14 June (Kate)

This was a dolphin day. Early sun and calm seas brought dolphins playing off the bow just after 10:00am. Similar conditions saw dolphins again early evening.

A chill wind meant sunbathing could only be done in the shelter of the aft deck. Otherwise we continued on our journey across the foot of Italy, still battling against a wind dead on the nose.

Tuesday 15 June (Kate)

Most of us had our first disturbed night's sleep due to high winds which picked up about 02:00am.

The high winds and high seas continued throughout the day making sunbathing and reading rather difficult. In the afternoon, however, Oliver decided we had enough time left on our journey to Dubrovnik to allow ourselves some recreational sailing. So up went the sails and the boat heeled over, making sunbathing very precarious, particularly as the decks were regularly swept with waves. Vics leapt around the boat with the agility of a mountain goat (Tom's words) trimming the sails and off we set for Albania. At the end of Oliver's watch he decided we should now lower the sails put on the motor and get back on course for Dubrovnik. ETA now 07:00am Wednesday.

Wednesday, 16 June (Kate)

Throughout the hours of the early morning we lowered our speed as we moved closer to Dubrovnik not wanting to arrive before 06:00am. Vics and I got up for our watch at 06:00am to find millpond conditions and the entrance to Dubrovnik harbour in view. 2 dolphins idled around close to the boat. Vics was to take the helm to moor the boat - for the first time and with great apprehension!

We edged in slowly and eventually moored without any panic at all. Our trip to Dubrovnik started with breakfast at a lovely café inside the city walls after which Paul, Jinny, myself and Emma walked around the walls whilst Oliver and Tom explored the streets. A fascinating place marred only by the presence of numerous coach parties. Vics and Pete moved the boat around to the small harbour at the other end of the town whilst the rest of us found an obliging boat owner to ferry us back to “BooToo”.

All back on board off we set for Mljet. The winds were light but up went the sails and we reached a speed of 7.4 knots in 9 knots of true wind – pretty good! We moored at the far end of Mljet in a large bay and after an early evening swim (Tom and I only – it was …..cold!) we dined on board. A lovely end to a lovely day.

Thursday, 17 June (Kate)

The amateur crew had a nice lazy start to the morning but the pros had been up, early as usual, cleaning the boat.

Breakfast completed Oliver, Paul, Tommy, Emma and I set off in the dinghy for a visit to the National Park. A brisk walk took us to where we were to get on a boat which we did along with at least one coach load of extra visitors. The boat took us to an island in the middle of a lake where there was a monastery - they certainly knew how to pick their sites those monks! A gentle stroll round gave us an insight into the extensive possibilities in the park if only there were more time.

We returned to “BooToo” and off we set for Korcula. The wind was brisk enough for us to sail the relatively short distance and we arrived early afternoon.

Oliver, Tom, Vics, Emma and I took the opportunity to do a bit of sightseeing in the afternoon and completed our tour with a bottle of the local wine in a café overlooking the bay. That completed we returned to the boat for a spot of swimming - girls only. Oliver still seemed to find the water too cold and Tommy had been dragged off to the Customs to prove he was not robbing a bank in Kortula and he could be taken off the crews list for his impending departure tomorrow morning. We dined later at a lovely fish restaurant in the town and said our farewells to Tom.

Friday, 18 June (Emma)

We sailed from Korcula to Hvar this morning, arriving at midday. Hvar is the St Tropez of Croatia and it certainly lived up to its reputation. Oliver, Vics , Kate and I went ashore to book a restaurant for lunch and have a little look around several jewellery stores which Oliver promised faithfully were inexpensive. Not so! The jewellery was stunning, bit chunky pieces of corals, amber, semi-precious stones, etc. all handmade but, unfortunately, way out of my price range. We did find a little market which was much more affordable and I bought a silver ring with a chunky turquoise stone for Kuna 165 (about £16.50).

Kate treated us to a fantastic lunch at Oliver's favourite restaurant in Hvar, where the owner was overjoyed to see him again. Everything we ate and drank was homemade.

It was decided that we should walk up to the castle to work off our lunch and Pete started to get decidedly edgy. Luckily for him, Vics contacted him via walkie talkie saying that somebody had to come and help move the boat as it was in the path of the 4:00pm ferry. You've never seen anyone volunteer so fast.

So off we went up the hill with me whingeing that I had lost all of my Kuna. When we eventually got to the top I tugged at my blouse and discovered a little roll of banknotes caught up in it. The missing Kuna!

Inside the castle the views were spectacular and there was even a little prison. Paul thought the little cells were quite cosy, funnily enough no one else agreed.

Once we got back to the boat we set sail for a little bay just round the corner. It was in the vain hope that we would be able to swim but it was a little choppy and nobody was brave enough.

Saturday, 19 June (Emma)

The last full day of tanning! And Kate and I didn't wake up until 10:ooam. When we finally dragged ourselves out of bed and stumbled up on deck, Oliver suggested a little trip ashore to try and locate the twin of the restaurant in Hvar. So Oliver, Kate and I set off through the undergrowth. The island seemed to be uninhabited but there was a sign pointing to the restaurant and we found it easily enough. It was in a beautiful setting outdoors, Oliver tried to speak with a woman there who just looked at him as if he was crazy, some Croatian needs to be learnt before another visit can take place there.

We had an exhilarating sail over to Bovovisce, although I don't recall much of it as I was too busy sunbathing. Oliver, Kate, Paul and I decided to go ashore and walk up to the village. This was arduous going as it was a long way up a very steep hill. I couldn't wait to get back to the boat and have a swim. Pete and Vics had spent the time making the boat sparkling clean. Oliver then took some pictures of me with Glamour magazine for a competition I wanted to enter. It was decided however that the pictures taken the day before with Hvar in the background were more suitable. Kate, Vics and I then went for a swim as, surprisingly, did Oliver! We had a gorgeous view, what with the fat naked man doing a spot of afternoon gardening on the opposite side of the bay!

The rest of the day was spent lazing in the sun, definitely the hottest day so far. Vics made some champagne cocktails and we all sat on deck watching the arrival of lots of yachts in the pitch black. Several got too close for comfort and it being pick up day for charter boats in Split - a mental note was made never to come here on a Saturday.

Sunday, 20 June (Kate)

Most of us rose early(ish) thinking a morning swim would be a lovely way to start our last day. But a chill breeze changed our minds and we prepared to leave for our final destination. A brisk sail took us across the channel to Trogir and we manoeuvred down the entrance to the harbour with style, mooring right on the town quay in full view of everyone. The tourists came from far and wide to view our yacht, snapping photos from all angles, we could have been royalty.

There was just enough time for Oliver to give Emma and myself a lightening tour of Trogir before we all met up for a final lunch together. An excellent Croatian style meal in a quaint outdoor restaurant in the old town. That completed, it was time for Oliver and Emma to depart. Once again, fond farewells were said - and then there were five. Vics and I tried to do a little shopping which was difficult on a Sunday but we did manage to find the wine shop where "BooToo” was instantly recognised - and a little gifty shop. A few drinks were had before we all went out for a pizza - at Paul's insistence, as he had been deprived of them for two weeks. Once again the crew were recognised – “BooToo” is back - summer must be here!! Unfortunately it wasn't here for long as the heavens opened and we were forced to move from our "al fresco" dinner rather sharply as the rain poured down.

Back on the boat I said goodbye to Paul, Jinny and Pete. I had to leave at 06:15am the following morning and got the impression they wouldn't be there to wave me off.

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