Two weeks of sailing this time, leaving everything behind. Our ship this year was a Bénéteau Oceanis 373 and our route can be found below. We covered some vast distances: starting from Split to Dugi Otok, going down south to Mljet, and back to Split again. My estimate is that we sailed approximately 300 nautical miles, or over 550 kilometres. This sailing expedition was a mixture of some familiar and some new territory.
Weather circumstances were a mixed blessing. We started with some beautiful sunny weather. After that, we had some days of mixed clouds, fresh weather and even some storms. The second half of the second week was beautiful sunny again. Fortunately, this meant that there was no shortage of wind. This year we had a lot of northerlies (Bura, Tramontana en Maestral). Usually 10 – 15 knots, but heavier sometimes: 30 – 40 knots. We ‘clocked’ our ship at 9,2 knots top speed.
The storm lasts throughout the night. That morning at 03:00 CET I check the mooring, and fortunately we are still at the same position. I stay on deck for a while, and look at the beautiful Milky Way above. It is a great view when you are so far away from the nearest settlement. The only light here is the small moon and the anchoring lights from the other yachts in this bay.
During the night, the barometer drops from 995 to 983. More bad weather coming, and although reasonably well protected Levrnaka is not the type of place where I would like to spend another day in a storm. When dawn comes, there is still a south-easterly wind from 15 – 20 knots. The prediction from the Marine Weather Center gives a gale warning: winds up to 50 knots. That is 10 Beaufort, not something that we are looking for voluntarily. A quick crew meeting, and we agree to move to Telašćica, which is just a couple of miles further north. At 09:00 CET we leave Levrnaka. With 20 knots of wind in our back we cover the distance to Telašćica in less than an hour. We find shelter in Uvala Mir, the bay of peace. And that one is true to its name.
The weather prognosis says that the wind will turn to north-east later that day, so we pick up a buoy in the northern section of the bay (Uvala Tripuljak). At first we are alone there, but when the wind starts turning other yachts hurry to join us. During the afternoon the Marine Weather Center reports that the storm has turned towards the mainland along the central-Adriatic coast (area of Vis, Brač and Hvar). That looks like a lucky escape for us.
We take it easy for the rest of the day. Some people go and visit the national park. For the rest it is just some swimming and snorkelling. In the evening we receive a phone call from a skipper we know. He is on Vis, and they had a rough day sailing today. Serious storm conditions down there. We also hear news from Hvar. Several yachts drifted during the storm. Mooring rings were pulled out from the quay just like that, and there is considerable damage. We are lucky, just having a big thunderstorm at the end of the afternoon. It is gone quick enough to give us a beautiful sunset.
This morning’s prognosis from the Marine Weather Center in Split talks about Jugo winds from 20 – 25 knots. South-east, 6 Beaufort, that starts to look like something… We quickly finish our shopping, so that we can stay out of the harbours for a couple of days. Around 09:30 CET we leave the marina, and 15 minutes later we are outside the protected Rogoznica bay. Here we find out that the wind is 15 knots already. The prognosis may be a bit wrong, because Jugo usually builds up during the day.
Our course is 280, and less than 2 hours later we are south of Žirje island. There is some serious swell, and we enjoy the view of some wave-tops at eye level next to the boat. With some of the crew this brings along some seasickness. Fortunately it helps to look at the horizon – your organ of balance likes to have a fixed reference point.
Around noon the wind has grown to 20 knots. Given the large genua this means that the bow keeps on pulling towards lee. We put a reef in the genua, and a bit later in the mainsail as well, and this helps. The wind keeps building up until it reaches 30 knots. 7 Beaufort, a bit more than predicted.
Around 14:00 CET we race into the Kornatski Kanal. The boat is surfing on those long slow waves from the south-east, with the usual white crests and all. The Kornatski Kanal is the long strait on the south-western side of Kornat, between the island itself and the long string of small islands on its seaside.. Those small island offer some protection against wind and waves, and the swell is considerably easier here. But the circumstances remain tough, with an average speed of 8 knots and a top speed of 9.2 knots (surfing on a big wave).
Our first attempt at finding an anchoring place is Lavsa. But it is completely full with yachts that fled there earlier that day when things got a bit rough. Marina Piškera on Piškera island is not a nice place in south-easterly winds, so we stay away from that one. Late that afternoon we anchor in Levrnaka, a well-protected bay. At first we anchor at the western side of the bay, but since we are not sure of the exact position of the shipwreck in this bay (the pilot guides and maps do not agree on it either) we move to the eastern side of the bay. Life is good there. Our log tells me that we covered 43 nautical miles today.