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.
It is quiet when we wake up in the morning. Still not much improvement in the barometer (981), but the sun is out and there is no wind. Because the long-term weather forecast for the northern coast is not that good, we decide to start moving south again.
Around 10:00 CET we are in the narrow channel between Kornati and Katina. Some careful manoeuvring with a maximum speed of 2 knots, because the channel is less than 3 meters deep at some places, and we draw 1.80 meters. According to the Pilot Guide we should stay on the Kornati side of the channel. The Pilot Guide is right…. Except for the last curve…! The depth meter jumps back from 5 meters to 2 meters. In a quick reaction I pull the gas handle backwards and turn the rudder hard to port towards open water.
We hear a scraping sound and the boat gets lifted a bit. My heart misses a beat. Will we run aground? What will be the damage? It lasts only a single moment, after which we pass the ‘threshold’ and glide into deeper water. A quick inspection under the floor panels shows that the boat is dry, and there is a sigh of relief. On the first possible occasion we inspect the bottom of the keel. A nice scratch, but it is not the first one and it will probably not be the last one.
Thomas Siffer once wrote that every sailor who said that he never ran aground, is a liar. And if not, that the running aground will still occur. It seems that I have become a sailor at last.
We quickly forget the incident when we get company of 3 dolphins, north-east of Žut. They stay with us for quite some time – it is already our second meeting in less than a week. And the dolphins bring something else with them as well: the wind. A little breeze, 6 – 8 knots, varying between south-west and north-west, gently carries us in a north-easterly direction towards Murter. However, there is a serious swell in Murtersko More. That turns this trip into an uncomfortable afternoon. Near the end of the afternoon Tribunj appears on the horizon, and around 18:00 CET we moor our ship on one of the last available spots in Tribunj Marina. After dinner, we visit the town of Tribunj, but take my word on it: you do not miss much if you just leave it like that.
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.