Our watch from 0100 – 0300 is extremely quiet. Easy sailing conditions, light shipping traffic, calm sea and a moonlit night (the moon is nearly full by now).
When we come up for our 0700 – 0900 watch, conditions are completely different. The ship has just rounded Capo Santa Maria de Leuca. Waves have increased and are now moderate (4 on the Douglas scale, up to 2,5 meters). The wind has increased to 25 – 35 knots (around 7 Beaufort). Obviously, the predicted storm for the Adriatic Sea has arrived early.
It becomes a day of very hard work. During the day, sea conditions worsen to very rough (6 on the Douglas scale, waves up to 6 meters). The wind increases to 8 Beaufort, with gusts of up to 42 knots (9 Beaufort). We sail under a small jib and without a mainsail. Still we record speeds in the double digits – our average speed during this day is well over 9 knots. Our record speed was 18,4 knots while surfing from a wave. That is just over 34 kilometres per hour, an incredible speed for a boat this size! I do not know whether it was storm related, but we saw dolphins at least ten times during this day. I do not have much time to take notice, however. Not all crew members can take their turn on the rudder in these conditions, and I have to take extra turns which are not physically hard work, but requires constant concentration.
Around 1930 we know we are in the vicinity of Cavtat, the most southern town of Croatia. However, we are unable to find it… There are few beacons along this part of the coast, it is dark and raining, the 6 metre waves make that we do not even see the mainland at all time. We find the situation too risky to enter this rather tricky harbour, and decide to press on for Dubrovnik.
By 2030 we have Dubrovnik in sight. Even here we have to take care to find the right beacons marking the entry to the harbour, which is marked by rocks on all sides. However, by 2000 we enter Velika Vrata and pass between Rat Bezdanj and the island of Grebeni. Some 15 minutes later we pass under the famous bridge.
By 2130 we arrive at ACI Marina Dubrovnik. Nobody responded to our calls via VHF and mobile phone, so we pick our own spot along the quay and moor the boat ourselves. Back on Croatian soil. Time for a quick shower, and then for a long sleep…