[Kensblog#10] We’re nearing our northernmost point!


Greetings all!

Long-time readers of my blog have heard me say this before, but it is never more true than with this blog entry. I sometimes feel that the blog is a bit of a competition between myself and the readers. Sometimes, a lot happens; be it a mechanical breakdown, dangerous winds or, as in my last blog entry, an exciting rescue. In those cases the blog is a fun read, and you, my readers are happy. Other times, like this week, nothing eventful happens. The seas are flat, and the anchorages beautiful. We spend our days swimming, hanging out in the hot tub, drinking wine, enjoying great meals onboard Sans Souci or tendering to dinner, and generally enjoying life. Those aren’t very exciting to write about, or read about, but they are the days that justify all the expense and effort of world-cruising. I’m happy, for our sakes, to report that I definitely won our competition this week.

So, apologies for a lack of excitement with this entry, but … here we go.

Our route so far this season.

This picture shows our approximate route up to now. It amazes me that we’ve come so far and done so much in just over nine weeks. How can that be possible? It really doesn’t feel like we’ve been pushing it. We’ve had only one overnight run, and the majority of our runs have been both short and calm.

We are a short distance from the northern-most part of our trip. We deliberately stayed in the outer islands of Croatia on our way north, and will be running closer to the mainland on our way back south. That will allow us to return to Sibenik, where our boats will spend the winter, without retracing steps. We still have another month to go and want to keep exploring.

Seabird at anchor in the Kornati Islands, at Lopatia Bay. We spent a day being hammered by bizarre winds that would reach 30 knots, stop for a while, swap directions, and then slam us again. We stayed entertained watching a group of sailboats arrive, which seemed intent on anchoring close to each other, even though there was plenty of space, only to need to re-anchor as soon as the wind rotated and they started swinging into each other.

After our last anchorage, at Zakan, we decided to head north out of the Kornati islands, to a large skinny island called Dugi Otok. We had been through several days of wind and were seeking the most sheltered anchorage we could find.

Dugi Otok Island. We anchored about the center bottom of this picture.

We expected the bay to be packed with boats, but there were only two at anchor when we arrived. We had been warned that the restaurant at the head of the bay would be packed, and we should immediately make reservations for dinner, but we had only one of a couple tables. I asked our waiter where everyone was, and he said we had arrived at the end of the month, on a weekend. Apparently this is when the charter boats all turn over, thus no boats were out cruising.

On hearing my American accent, the chef came running from the kitchen. “You are American?” she asked, in her own American accent. “From Seattle,” I answered. She responded, “Jesus Christ Made Seattle Under Pressure.” This was a challenge to me that only a true Seattleite could possibly understand. She was telling me that she was also from Seattle! She was giving me a phrase that Seattle people use to navigate the streets downtown. The initials are: J-C-M-S-U-P. >From south to north, they are: Jefferson, James, Cherry, Columbia, Marion, Madison, Spring, Seneca, University, Union, Pike, and Pine. In actuality, she was from Ballard (near Seattle). I’m very happy to report that she was an excellent cook!

Our fourth rescue in one week!

During the prior week we participated in three boat rescues. I was convinced that we had reached our quota and rescues were over. However, while we were at anchor I noticed the sailboat next to us struggling with an anchor that wouldn’t come up. After 30 minutes of watching them agonize over it, I decided to see what I could do. I tendered over and we quickly decided that the only thing to do was to dive down and look at the anchor. The sailboat had no dive gear onboard, so I returned to Sans Souci and retrieved my equipment. I expected to be diving, but then the guy on the sailboat (Slovenian, with good English, but an unpronounceable name) mentioned that he was a dive master. The water was murky, with one foot visibility, so I quickly asked if he would like to use my equipment to dive. He agreed, although there was a funny moment when we realized my BCD (buoyancy vest) was about 5 sizes too large. His girlfriend gave us all a laugh by saying, “I need to start feeding him better!”

When he dove down, he discovered that his chain was wrapped completely around a rock, 40 feet beneath the surface. Once the problem was identified, we worked out a plan. The guy would dive to the rock, and once there he would tug on a line tied to a floating buoy, signaling that he was ready. The girlfriend would pull the sailboat forward, taking tension off the chain. He would immediately unwrap the chain from the rock, and I’d use the windlass to reel in the chain. I had my doubts, but it worked on the first try! 

A portable supermarket!

From the anchorage, we hiked almost two miles to a cute little town called Sali, for lunch. The town was reachable by tender, and Seabird decided to surprise us by tendering there, arriving about 5 minutes after we had departed in a taxi to return to the boat. So much for surprises!

After a couple of perfect days at anchor, we decided to run 35 miles north to another anchorage on the same island of Dugi Otok.

If you don’t see a video here, click this link to view it:http://youtu.be/PqeIfNUQkTo

Several people have written asking that I take a video from inside the pilothouse showing how we operate the boat. This video looks at each of the instruments, and I talk about how it is used. The best part is the footage of the doggies at the end of the video.

While under way we saw this tunnel cut into the hillside. We’ve seen a few of these around, but have no idea what they are. Our best guess is that they are military-related — for hiding boats? But, it could be anything.

I have lost track of how many different anchorages we’ve been in over the past couple of months. After a while they all start looking somewhat alike. We evaluate them according to: Is there enough room to swing freely? How are the depths? What directions is the anchorage sheltered from the wind? Is there a restaurant? What is the bottom like (sand, mud, weed, rocks)? Is there anything interesting to see? Are there good hiking places? Is the water clear? How much do they charge to anchor? Are there any stores nearby in which to buy supplies?

Generally, no anchorage is perfect. With boats our size there aren’t many anchorages we can even fit into, so we can’t be picky. We have to play the cards we are dealt.

That said, Pantera anchorage, at the north end of Dugi Otok, was as close to being a perfect anchorage as we have seen. We spent three wonderful nights at Pantera. There were a few restaurants to pick from — and we picked the wrong one. The waiter said the house specialty was “spaghetti with crab.” Both Roberta and Carol ordered it as he made it sound delicious, and neither ate more than a few bites. It was awful!! Turns out that the crab was spider crab. Carol commented that, in New England, when they used to go “crabbing,” they would throw the ugly spider crabs back in the water! Roberta laughingly responded that the spider crabs, then, must be kind of like crab “weeds”!

Boats at anchor, Pantera Anchorage, Dugi Otok

In the center of the sunset picture is a little panga, with three people in it. At sunset each night the panga goes boat-to-boat and collects a fee to stay overnight in the bay. They also collect your trash. The fee for our boat is 340 kuna (50 euros, or about $60 USD). I’m still not accustomed to the idea of paying for permission to anchor our boat. That said, if I ever pass this way again, I will pay happily for another night at Pantera.

This picture was taken from far away, but this is a tiny, perhaps 8’ or 10’ tender, with six adults, who are tendering to dinner. The tender was so overloaded that I couldn’t see the tender in the water, other than its motor. The occupants were having a wonderful time, though, singing “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” at the top of their lungs and laughing. It was well over a mile to the restaurant and they would be returning to their boat after dark. I wasn’t in the mood for another rescue, though. Luckily the weather stayed calm.

The dogs needed a walk, and so we hiked to a nearby lighthouse. Surprisingly, there was a very cool campground next to it, with lots of families with children. It made me wish we had spent more time camping with our now-grown kids. And, while I’m thinking nostalgically about camping, I just remembered that, coincidentally, our two sons just went camping last week (they went to a rock concert in the boondocks), and DJ, our older son, did a blog dedicated to food for camping trips. It’s worth checking out, as is the more recent blog entry on his cooking website, which was written by Roberta in a guest blog post

We’ve been at anchor away from civilization for the last few weeks, and were finally ready to visit a city again. Part of our motivation for heading to a city was necessity. We’ve been paying anywhere from $70 to $120 a night just to anchor, and after a while that depletes the cash reserves. We needed to find an ATM machine. Also, I had been looking for a fuel dock to refill the tender, and at our last anchorage I was told the nearest fuel dock was 40 miles away! [NOTE: Sans Souci has a 50-gallon tank for carrying gasoline, but I’ve not been using it (and, had it cleaned out.) Gasoline can be explosive, and I want as little on the boat as possible.]

Thus, we decided to run to the island of Mali Losinj, which has a city at the back of a 3-mile long bay.

Seabird in a near collision with another vessel. Both were at full speed, and it was closer than this photo shows.

While enroute to Mali Losinj we encountered a situation where Seabird was crossing the path of a tourist boat named Jerolim. At sea there are definite “rules of the road” that govern what happens when two ships cross paths. In a crossing situation, the rules say, “When two power-driven vessels are crossing, so as to reduce risk of collision, the vessel which has the other on her own starboard side shall keep out of the way and shall, if the circumstances permit, avoid crossing ahead of the other vessel.”

In this situation Seabird was obligated by maritime law to “maintain heading and speed” until collision would be inevitable. Jerolim was required to alter course. Seabird tried calling Jerolim on the radio, to request that they alter course, with no response. Finally, Seabird had to slam on the breaks – so to speak — to narrowly avoid a collision. Steven (Seabird) is normally a very laid back guy, but was immediately on the radio advising Jerolim to learn to drive a boat. Still no response. Steven then issued an advisory to all ships in the area to beware Jerolim. It amazes me that the worst driving we have seen has been from the “professional captains” running tourist boats. They seem to feel they own the water and that the rules don’t apply to them.

Mali Losinj, Croatia

What we didn’t realize until we were underway and started to study the chart is that the nearest anchorage to the town of Mali Losinj is nearly four miles away! There are several marinas close to town, but getting our boat med-moored at a marina, with just Roberta and I, is very difficult. We did it in Montenegro, and we can do it — but, if there’s an alternative, we take it. At our “home port” in Sibenik, Croatia, we have a side-tie slip, which is easy for us.

Anyway… we all talked about what to do, and decided that an almost 4-mile tender ride wasn’t so bad.

No, this is NOT the police boat that stopped Seabird!


Steven and Carol (Seabird) headed into town on their tender before we did, and called us about about 30 minutes after they departed. Steven said, “Ken, when you come into town make sure you bring your boat papers, insurance, captain’s license and bill of sale.” He then went on to explain that he had been stopped by the police for “speeding” and had spent the last 20 minutes tied to a police boat. They hadn’t realized it, but the entire bay around Mali Losinj is a 3-mile per hour zone. Do the math — 3.66nm from town, and a 3nm/hour speed limit — it’s over an hour ride into town!!! Ouch. Steven negotiated a solution to his problem, and Roberta and I took a VERY long, slow ride into town.

Civilization for a day was fun, but…not worth the ride. We took care of all the essentials, and only went to town once. The anchorage was fine, but after two nights we decided to move on.

A very crowded anchorage at Pula, Croatia. The sailboat you see out the window anchored MUCH too close to the back of my boat. At six o’clock this morning I was certain we were going to swing into them, and was trying to decide if I should wake them. Luckily they woke up an hour later and immediately realized the danger and moved. There is a powerboat, who also anchored after we did, not much farther away, and I’m hoping he moves sometime today. We have fairly high winds now, with “near gale force” winds anticipated this afternoon.

Lastly, for the first time in months Seabird is not anchored alongside us. They are missing all this crowded fun! Seabird is docked in a nearby marina in Pula. The reason? Steven and Carol have taken a ferry to visit Venice, Italy, for a couple of days. We have been to Venice a few times before and encouraged them to go and see it. They will have a great time!

That’s it for this week.

Thank you all!

-Ken Williams
Nordhavn 68, Sans Souci
Check out my daily blog, at: http://www.facebook.com/kensblogdotcom

3 Responses

  1. Ken,

    The ‘mysterious’ tunnels in the rocky cliffs are sub bases from the cold war.

    See: http://www.panoramio.com/ph (http://www.panoramio.com/photo/44516294)

    I have sailed out or Pula the last few years and enjoy tying up as the water is deep.

    Cheoy Lee 66
    PS. Love your Blog

    ———Response by Ken — August 12 2013 —–


    Correct! I received another email saying the same thing. The other person (Scott S) mentioned the same thing as you. Apparently, they are great places to side tie for the night, but are popular and often taken.

    Thank you!
    -Ken W

  2. Great blog Ken! Are you putting in markers and reviews of your travels on Activecaptain.com? (http://Activecaptain.com?) Can your boat handle a 17 foot tender? I understand the concern about gasoline which is why you should consider a Williams Diesel Jet Tenders. Solves the problem of gasoline by making the tender tank into a diesel tank. Much safer this way. A 385 would be a good fit for your yacht. Can’t wait for your next blog!

    ——–Response by Ken August 10 2013 —–


    I think I could fit the next larger DieselJet, the 445. I spoke with Williams about it, and almost ordered one, but Roberta insisted we still with the current tender until it finally dies. It is starting to show its age, so that shouldn’t take more than another year or two.

    Our existing AB tender is 15.5′ and is as large as I can fit on the bow.

    I haven’t been posting to Active Captain, but it’s a good idea. I really should be. With doing the blog, plus a daily blog, I have trouble finding time to do any cruising! Maybe after the season I’ll go back and do some posting…

    Thanks! – Ken W

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