Friday, December 30, 2016

Happy New Year!

We wish you all the best in 2017 and a great party getting there!
Lili & Tomaz

Two faces of winter - our house a couple of years ago...

... and a Christmas tree in Bequia (Caribbean), also a couple of years ago.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Sailing holiday - part 2 - the wild part

We woke to a nice sunny, but fresh morning. In the night Burja (strong N-E wind) cooled down the air and sea also, and I wasn't really tempted to go snorkelling. The bay where we were anchored - Uvala Vela Galbočica - was very serene and pretty, with fragrant shrubs and low trees growing all around the bay, and there were only two other boats anchored all the way inside the bay. While we were having a long lazy breakfast, a deer came out of the woods, walked along the shore for couple of seconds and then disappeared in the woods again. Wow! I was so happy that I wasn't in the water and was able to see it.

We set our sails right after breakfast, our destination for the day was bay Sveta Fumija W of town Rab, we were meeting some friends there. It is not such a terrible distance from Cres to there, but we knew we were going to sail almost against the wind. To our luck wind was more from the N, so sailing was not bad.

Next day we sailed to Vela luka on S-E side of Krk. On the way we made a stop for swimming on S side of Havaji on island Rab. The water was still rather fresh from all the wind, but I figured this might be my last chance to go snorkelling for a while. The visibility wasn't the best, since the water was mixed with lots of sand because of the wind.

First I checked the rocky edge of the bay and under the rocks and ledges I saw plenty of Tunicates (Rožnatih plaščarjev).

There were some cliffs at the beginning of the bay and there were many sea gulls there.

I swam back in a bit deeper water over sandy bottom and I saw this Slender goby (Peščeni glavač)...

... and this Weever (Navadni morski zmaj). It is first time I saw it swimming and was surprised that it was so pretty and colourful...

... usually I get to see this side of it. Which is also not bad.

In the evening we anchored in Vela luka. After a small dispute with Italian skipper that wanted to anchor his sailboat 10m from ours - luckily his crew convinced him to move the boat further away, my "bitch-wings" and reasoning didn't suffice, we went to shore with the dinghy to have dinner with friends in a local restaurant. 

There were plenty of sheep there, as always. This one was probably expecting some money or at least food from me for taking a photo of her.

Next morning we sailed towards Klimno. Our original plan was to stop at Luka Srščica for swimming, but with weather forecast promising showers and thunderstorms we decided to sail further and make a stop at the entrance into Klimno lagoon. Before we made it there, lots of clouds appeared in the sky and even some drops of rain, so we figured we better sail all the way into the lagoon and tie the boat to buoys before weather gets nasty. But we didn't make it. When we were right at the beginning of the channel that leads to the lagoon, a big black cloud came from the West and it started to rain heavily. We were wet in seconds. I still had the time to get my camera and make some photos - of captain dripping wet with rain..

... of shoreline through the rain ...

... and shoreline disappearing in the rain.

And after that it was the end of photos, visibility was almost less than 30m because of rain and the wind also started to get stronger and stronger and we had all our hands full. And if it wasn't enough, the hail started to fall, luckily it wasn't particularly big and didn't do any damage to the boat, sails or even bimini or sprayhood, bit it was quite unpleasant when it was hitting captain and me.

I was only wishing no boat was coming towards us in that narrow and flat channel. We had radar on, but there would be very little we could do in such a weather, especially with our draught. So we had our eyes peeled and our fingers crossed. Few moments later there was a lightning and almost immediately after it a loud thunder. At the same time all our depth gauges and some other instruments went dead. Oh no! Navigating a narrow flat channel and lagoon without the depth gauge is not good! Luckily, our chart plotter with GPS seemed to still work, so we could navigate on chart and according to our previous routes. Luckily we were there so many times before and we also knew the area very well.

Once in the lagoon we wanted to anchor the boat to wait out the storm, the bottom there is muddy and it holds well. We prepared for anchoring, turned the boat into the wind and captain ran to the anchor winch to throw the hook. We figured wind will push the boat backwards and the anchor will bite into the ground and there was nothing I needed to do on the engine. But a moment after the anchor was in the water, a very strong wind gust came from behind, from 180 deg different direction than few seconds ago, and pushed the boat over the chain. I jumped to the engine, put into reverse, but only with all the RPM's we got I managed to move the boat backwards. I'm not sure how strong the wind was,  our wind instrument was also not working, but I would guess 40 to 50 knots, gusts probably more. 

Few moments later we were anchored with ample of chain and we relaxed a bit. And so did the weather - the blackest part of the cloud with most rain and lightnings moved towards East to mainland. It was still raining and there was plenty of chilly wind, but nothing like before. Talking about being at the wrong place at the wrong time! 

In about half an hour almost all was over. We checked the boat to see if there was any damage. Luckily hail didn't make any and we also didn't see any damage on the boat from anchor chain. We reset the instruments several time and eventually they all came to life, even the depth gauge that was resisting the most. The engine ignition was also working fine. We were very happy to just get the fright but no damage.

An hour later we were tied to the buoys and after cleaning the boat a bit and a lunch we drove back home.

But we were back already the next evening. Captain had his own plans for next couple of days and I stayed on Heron. Next day, on Saturday, new crew joined me - Captain's cousin with his girlfriend and her son. Plan was to sail around the Krk and Rab a bit and pick Captain in Punat on Wednesday evening. It was my first time being a Captain (or is it Captainess?) on Heron, or any boat, but I was expecting a nice weather and easy crew, so I was just a little nervous.

On Sunday we sailed to Uvala Petrina first and made a stop for swimming. Then we sailed on to Vela luka for the night. Weather forecast was again promising some unstable weather, with lots of rain in the night and strong Burja (N-E wind) in the morning, that would grow stronger during the day. To get out of Vela luka we had to sail through Senj strait, where the wind is usually the strongest. So we decided to leave Vela luka as early as possible and sail with the wind through Senj strait and then in a broad reach towards Rab, where we could hide in any of the bays on S-W side.

Rain started at around 5 in the morning and that was the end of sleep for me. Rain was accompanied by strong wind gusts from all directions, so Heron was pushed around the anchor violently. This went on until 8.30, when the rain stopped and wind became more steady. After a quick but gentle breakfast we sailed off. My crew were non-sailors, so I tried to explain what is waiting for us when we get out of the bay, we could already see the white caps of waves from the anchorage. When we reached the bay entrance there were 1 to 1,5 m waves and Burja at around 40 knots. We pointed the boat to S-W and pulled out our small jib. The motion was not pleasant because of the waves from behind, but we were doing 8 to 9 knots. And I knew once we came behind island of Grgur, the waves would almost disappear and the ride would be calmer. We got some rain, but it wasn't too bad, and after a while we could see the island Rab in the distance. But what worried me was the wall of dark clouds, reaching all the way down to the sea on the West in direction of island Cres. I thought, maybe this was the rain that Burja blew back to the West, but after couple of minutes I realised it was a new front coming straight at us. First the wind changed direction, then it started to gain strength, so we reefed the sail first and then when wind was getting towards 50 knots, we rolled it in and turned on the engine. Heavy rain followed the wind and we were soaked in seconds, because of waves we were all in cockpit, I didn't want anyone to get seasick. For the next two hours we were washed by one shower after another and rocked by one wind gust after another. I was only happy that my crew took it so well, nobody was sick or panicked, I'm not sure if I would have time and energy to deal with anything more than the boat. 

As soon as we reached island Rab, we turned into Supetarska Draga and anchored between the islands of Havaji. I figured that this was the only place nearby where we would be protected from the wind from any direction. Already as we were anchoring, the wind turned from West to Burja (N-E) again. Luckily there was enough space there - there were only three other sailboats and a motorboat there - so I was able to anchor well despite the strong wind, but I put a remote control for anchor winch on my wish list.

We stayed there for the rest of the day, that actually wasn't too bad. In early afternoon sun came out, wind calmed down a bit, so I could even roll the jib out and in again, it was rolled way to tightly, but you can't help it in such a wind. And I even went for a quick swim a couple of times. In the evening we had a nice meal, tortillas filled with sauteed beef, salsa, sour cream and lots of veggies. And beer and wine. It looks like this has become a classic for this anchorage.

In the evening the Burja became stronger again, but we were anchored well and had a good and long night sleep. Next morning I even did some snorkelling, but the visibility was rather poor, because the wind stirred the water up. This Cuttlefish (Sipa) was the most interesting thing I saw.

In the afternoon we sailed on to bay Sveta Fumija near town of Rab.  The wind was gentle, just right for sailing on just a jib. Once there, my crew took the dinghy and rowed to the shore and walked to the town, and I had a quiet evening on the boat.

The sunset that evening was particularly  pretty.

Next day, on Wednesday, we sailed or rather motored toward North. Only when we reached the West end of Senj strait there was still enough Burja so we could sail with 4 knots. Once we reached Krk we made a stop for swimming and lunch, and in the evening we sailed into Punat lagoon and anchored near the marina. Later in the evening we picked the Captain up from Punat marina and brought him to Heron. Phew! I was glad I wasn't the Captain any more.

The relief was even bigger the next day when we saw weather forecast - on Friday evening a new storm was coming, with even stronger Burja on Saturday and Sunday than what we already had. Oh no! Well, that didn't leave us much choice for our sailing plans - we wanted to be in Klimno tied to the buoys by early afternoon on Friday. We stopped in town Krk, where crew went ashore. Later we sailed towards North and anchored in Malinska bay. Next morning we sailed further North and under Krk bridge and into Klimno lagoon. In early afternoon, after a bit of fiddling with the buoys and the lines, we got Heron tied and on early evening we were having a nice meal in Oleander restaurant. In the evening we were watching a loud thunderstorm passing to the South of us, but in the night we also receivied our portion of heavy rain and in strong wind. In the morning the rain stopped but wind got even stronger. In early afternoon Captain brought the crew to Krk airport, but their plane couldn't land because of strong wind, so they were transported to Pula, from where they flew home. Later we thoroughly cleaned the boat and left Klimno in the evening. The Krk bridge was still closed for buses, trucks, motorcycles, mobile homes and any vehicle taller than a car. So we were lucky and were allowed to pass, and got home at 10 in the evening, both very tired.

And when are we returning to our boat? Don't know about the Captain, but I'm not going until somebody promises me good weather. Or at least no storms. Is that too much to ask?

Monday, August 15, 2016

Sailing holiday - part 1

In summer we usually don't have much wind in Adria, so summer sailing trips are usually relaxed, with lots of swimming, BBQing, and lots of beer and gin&tonics. That's why I'm calling such trips holiday rather than sailing trips. Well, this summer weather made sure it was difficult to find appropriate name for it. 

But it all started rather nice and summery - on 18th of July in the evening me and my two girlfriends drove to Klimno for 10 days of sailing holiday. Captain was already there and was waiting for us with Heron tied to the pier. We loaded all the food and luggage, filled the water tanks and sailed for couple hundreds of meters to anchor the boat on the North side of the lagoon. Night was calm and warm and we slept long. After a big breakfast and some swimming we sailed North under the Krk bridge, there was more NE wind forecast for next two days, so we stayed away from Senj strait (Senjska vrata) on S-E of Krk, where the wind is the strongest. In early evening we anchored in Njivice bay on West side of island, where we spent the night. Next morning I made my first snorkelling trip along S-W edge of the bay. There wasn't much there, some of the usual suspects, but I made a good portrait of Tompot Blenny (Velike babice), I think it's my best photo of this cute fish, and I took many.

Later that day we sailed towards Cres and had an afternoon stop for swimming. After dinner we sailed in direction Rab, it was full moon and we figured a nice night sailing would be fun to do. When we started it was still day, but as the sun went down the wind also weakened. We swam in the middle of Kvarnerić, and after wind died completely, we started the engine. But even motoring under full moon was not bad. Around midnight we reached Rab, first tried few other bays, and ended anchoring in Uvala Planka. There was only one other sailboat and a motor boat there.

We woke to a nice sunny day. The bay was soon full of small motor boats. Despite the crowd we had a relaxed summer day with lots of swimming, good food and even a gin&tonic or two. It was so nice, we decided to stay another night. This is how the sunset looks in Uvala Planka...

... and this is how it looked the next morning before all the motor boats filled it. We were actually alone from 7 the evening before till 10 in the morning.

I hurried to go snorkelling at 9 to have the bay all to myself. Under a rocky ledge I discovered plenty of Yellow cluster anemone (Rumeni zoantar).

This was suppose to be the photo of Encrusting orange sponge (Spužva žilanka), but after a careful inspection on my computer I discovered a nudibranch above it - it is a Pilgrim hervia (Oranžni obročkar). It is not a stellar photo, but since it's the first time I managed to take a photo of the snail it deserves to be in this post.

This little guy - the Red-black tripplefin blenny without it's mating colours or maybe a female - was literally posing for me, I had a feeling he was expecting me to help him get rid of the parasites that sat on his back and neck. Look at the big Parasitic isopod,  in Slovene Ribja uš or Sea louse in translation (Anilocra physodes), you can see how it is hooked to poor fish with his legs/hooks.

Only when the fish turned I saw that it was actually plagued with three parasites.

This is also a Red-black tripplefin blenny (Rdeči sprehajalček) looking at me from underneath the rock, turned upside down.

Luckily I could hold my camera under the rock to get a full view of all his pretty colours.

After a late breakfast we sailed off towards Olib. There was still plenty of light when we got there for a good snorkelling trip, that took me good two hours.

Under a ledge I saw a Daisy anemone (Sončna vetrnica).

The stars of the day were Mottled sea hares (Veliki morski zajčki), this was the most I've ever seen and they looked as they were mating. Maybe it had something to do with previous night's full moon.

Those that were alone, sat near a funny violet and pink spaghettis, that I assumed were their eggs, and later my books confirmed it.

This is how the egg clusters look up close.

I saw couple of other nudibranchs (gološkrgarjev), the Plarydoris argo (Ploščati perjaničar). I saw them here already last summer.

What I didn't see was any octopus and I'm starting to get worried for them. All I see are lots of fishermen in camouflage diving suits with spearguns, hunting and fishing in almost every bay we've been, this year I even saw fishermen with complete scuba gear several times, although I believe it is forbidden to fish like that.

Next day we made a detour to Novalja on Pag and then returned to East side of Olib in pretty hefty S-W wind, 30 knots is not very usual for Adria in summer. Boat was completely salty and we thoroughly shaken.

On my snorkelling trip next morning I saw couple of Sepias or Cuttlefish (Sipe), this one was dressed in  particularly pretty pattern.

These guys are so difficult to spot because of their great camouflage, lucky for me this one was moving, otherwise there would be no photo. It is a Spider crab (Veliki morski pajek).

And this is a Brown encrusting sponge (Rjava skorjevka or Hemimycale columella).

Later that day we sailed to S side of island Cres, S-W wind was supposed to turn to N-E, so we needed another protected bay for the night. We anchored at about 7 in the evening, there was way too little light for snorkelling and making photos, but I still put on my mask and checked our anchor and the bay for rocks and shallow spots. I was surprised when I discovered that all Sea cucumbers (Morski brizgači) were standing upright in the water. I even saw one releasing a milky fluid into the water. Later at home I checked my books and learnt that they were mating. Maybe again something to do with full moon.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Sailing from Cres to Krk

After a big breakfast with lots of pancakes we left the rolly bay. First we sailed by the town of Krk, then we sailed along the Krk West coast to the bay near Njivice, where we dropped the anchor. It was already too late to go snorkelling, but we had a nice swim and delicious dinner.

Next morning I went snorkelling straight after breakfast. The bay was very different than the one from previous day, but again very interesting. I saw a Mediterranean fanworm (Spalancanijev cevkar or Sabella spallanzani) with sepia eggs attached to it.

There was also a Brown comber (Volkec), this time in more traditional colours.

Blennies kept on appearing in front of my lens, like this Tentacled blenny (Rogata babica or Parablennius tentacularis). 

I saw plenty of these guys, but they are really nervous and normally disappear into ground before I manage to make a photo, so I was really happy that this Sand fanworm (Peščeni cevkar or Myxicola infundibulum) let me come close.

I'm seeing lots of  Golden anemone (Zlata vetrnica or Condylactius aurantiaca), but this one was one  of the rare ones where the pink colour in the middle of anemone is visible.

In the middle of the day we sailed off towards Klimno. We made a stop for a swim and a snack just outside of the lagoon. Since this was a last chance to go snorkelling, I couldn't resist. I met this pair of sepias (sip), I'm not sure why the first one has that white spot around the eye and the second one on the back.

And another blenny - I think this is a Mystery blenny (Jelenka or Parablennius incognitus).

Longstriped blenny (Črnoboka babica or Parablennius rouxi).

And this one is a goby - a Bucchich's goby (Pikasti glavač or Gobius bucchichii)

And for the end one of the best discoveries - couple of Streaked gurnard (Progasti krulec or Chelidonichthys lastoviza). I've seen plenty of gurnards in Caribbean, there their pectoral fins are very blue, but their shape is very similar to these guys.  But I was really happy to see them.

In the afternoon we tied Heron to the buoys in Klimno. We had a nice meal in Oleander restaurant, and the holiday was over. I drove back to Žabnica and Captain stayed on the boat, he was meeting some relatives the week after. And I was warmly welcomed at home by my cat Šnuki 

and the blond hedgehog that comes every evening to our terrace.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Sailing from Olib to Cres

Next day, on Sunday, we woke to a beautifull summer day. We were enjoying the warm turquoise water and serene environment. There was lots of swimming, riding the kayak, a ride to town with dingy - once the engine was willing to start after an hour of cleaning and maintenance. And for me it was lots of snorkelling.

I saw several of small Scallops (Mala pokrovača or Proteopecten glaber), that I didn't notice here on previous visits. Look how pretty those small blue eyes are!

Whenever I'm taking photos of a Common cuttlefish (Navadna sipa or Sepia officinalis), it's trying to hypnotise me with making those weird moves with its tentacles.

I have no idea what this was. It was floating in the water, at moments I had the feeling it had some control over its movement, but I could be wrong. It could be some kind of cluster of eggs.

This was a first for me - a member of Elbow crabs (Bradavičasto morsko šestilo or Parthenope angulifrons or Delinambrus angulifrons). Even after all this snorkelling I still find new things.

And this was a biggest surprise here - a Grey triggerfish (Sredozemska balestra or Balistes capriscus).  In past I met a lot of triggerfish, mostly in Indian ocean, Red sea, and also in Caribbean sea. I still remember a Giant triggerfish on Maldives giving us a fright when he attacked Captains fins, when Captain came too close to triggerfish' nest. Or feeding of Giant triggerfish with clams in Mauritius. I had a feeling  this one was also protecting a nest in the burrow that you can see on first photo. Sorry for bad photos, but the fish just wouldn't stand still.

I was under the impression that Grey triggerfish were mostly found in South Adriatic, but after I returned home and read a bit more about them, I learnt that it wasn't so rare in North Adriatic any more, lots of fishermen saw or caught them, some even in Gulf of Triest.

This was the only Octopus (hobotnica) that I saw in whole week. I just hope they were just very well hidden and not that they were all caught and eaten. When this one saw me she tried to pile some more shells in front of her to hide.

This one is probably a Rock goby (Mrki glavač  or Gobius paganellus), although it is quite pale, and it's sitting next to a Brown cowry (Progasta porcelanka or Luria lurida).

There were also plenty of Sand roses (Peščene rože).

This was one of few Parasitic anemone (Progasta stražna vetrnica ali Calliactis parasitica) that had all it's tentacles on display.

In the late afternoon we sailed off towards Cres. It was hard to leave, Olib had put a spell onto all of us. We ate dinner already on the way, sailed by camp near Punta Križa and afterwards dropped the anchor in Uvala Baldarin. It was already getting dark, so there was only time for a short swim and a nightcap.

Next day started windy and not very warm, and later in the day there was even more strong NE wind forecast. We left Uvala Baldarin after late breakfast and sailed towards island of Plavnik, we thought we might be able to hide from NE wind on West side of it. When we almost reached Plavnik, we decided for the bay on East side of Cres opposite of Plavnik instead.

Soon after we anchored wind was getting stronger and dark clouds started to appear. I still went snorkelling, jut the light was rather poor. One of the best finds was this Grey wrasse (Gnezdivka ali Symphodus cinereus), sitting on it's nest. 

I love this brown algae named Forkweed (Ploščata razcepljenka ali Dictyota dichotoma), it has such a delicate pattern.

My snorkelling was rather short and when I came out of water, it was getting colder and waves were rolling into the bay. The weather forecast was strong NE wind, so we thought we just need to wait a bit longer for wind to turn to NE and the waves will stop. Unfortunately it didn't happen, wind stayed E to SE and the rest of the day and also the night was rather rolly.

But next morning was calm and sunny, very suitable for snorkelling. This time the light was much better and I explored the rocky edges of the bay.

The Red-spotted Blenny (Rdečepikast babica or Lipophrys canevae) was a first for me. Looks like this year blennies decided they need to get more coverage in my blog.

I saw several Fan mussel (leščur), and there were also very small ones like this one. When they grow, the spikes around the rim are not as long and pretty. Looks like eye-lashes, doesn't it?

I've seen plenty of Rock gobies (Mrki glavač), but this one put all his feathers on display, so he deserves a photo here.

This is a Red-black triplefin (Rdeči sprehajalček or Tripterygion tripteronotum), Croatian name is especially imaginative - it is Pjevač oštronosič or in translation Sharp-small-nose singer.

This one is a little bit tricky, because the photo was not very good, and unfortunately none of the four or five I made were. But with the details I could figure out on them it might be Zvonimir's blenny (Jelenoroga babica or Parablennius zvonimiri).

There were plenty of Red seasquirts (Rdeči kozolnjak ali morska breskev) around.

This is a Red starfish (Ognjenordeča zvezda or Echinaster sepositus).

Purple sea urchin (Vijoličasti morski ježek ali Paracentrotus lividus).

The Hydriods (Morski grmički ali Eudendrium) were particularly pretty, hanging from the rock like some kind of shiny garland.

On my way back to the boat I also saw a Green sponge ball (Kroglasti kodij ali Codium bursa).