Trip on Grimi starting 2016-06-19 in BSAJuly16
Our flights were from Bristol with just over half an hour’s transfer in a people carrier arranged by the charter company. The marina, AIE, at the head of a ria just north of Dubrovnik, is busy but in a delightful setting in the grounds of an old manor house. It has a large Sunsail fleet based there. There are restaurants, swimming pool and a shop on site where we were able to victual up for most of the week. The facilities were very clean and functioning. The bus stops outside the main gate about every 20 mins and goes into Dubrovnik.
Denis from Liverpool was ‘our’ man, a Croatian born in Liverpool - Australia. He manages 5 boats for his own company Dubrovnik Yachting.
We planned to sail from Dubrovnik via Mljet to Lastovo with Korcula as our turning point. After lunch in a bay and a night on shore half way up Mljet the wind was still gentle so we slowly drifted to Polace a village further N with the intention of heading over to Lastovo the following day. As always, best laid sailors’ plans…… by the following day the wind was now in the NW and though not too strong this meant Lastovo was unreachable as we all decided motoring 4-5 hours against the wind and sea would not be much fun. With a quick ‘recalculation’ we explored the northern point of the island before heading in the shelter of a quiet, beautiful bay on the NE corner. We anchored up for the night with a stern line ashore, swam and then cooked on board. Heading off to our bunks at about midnight we heard a few ominous noises but by 1am were awoken by the sound of the anchor dragging. The wind had gone round and we had lost the shelter of the island. We dropped the shoreline for collection the following morning then reanchored in the centre of the bay along with several gulets. Grimi happily swung with the wind but Skipper and Bosun had a testing night. One of the crew slept through all the excitement.
The change of wind direction to the N meant Korcula was also off the plan. Did I sense crew reluctance to go there was influencing the wind?
The day was spent doing some gentle tacking and gybing when the wind allowed until we found a much more sheltered bay, Potzura, for the night with laid mooring buoys. The swimming was pleasant in the clear water as was the restaurant meal, particularly as we had a lift in their motor boat. A rather large quantity of food and local wine was consumed that night! Skipper and Bosun slept well.
The wind pattern remained constant throughout the week, fickle in speed but sometimes just enough to tempt us to get the foresail out and try some unsuccessful goose-winging. The amount of swimming and eating increased as the week went on and we set course for the islands nearer Dubrovnik. They are more lush and inhabited than the northern islands so are prettier and more appealing if there is not much opportunity for sailing. Sipan has certainly become more tourist friendly and sophisticated in the last 5 years. From being a very sleepy ferry port it now harbours motor yachts and gulets as well as replica steam boats, notably the Casablanca.
On the last day, skirting the storm clouds, we sailed down to Dubrovnik with its impregnable walls, from the sea at least. In the Balkan war in the 1990s the town was shelled almost to obliteration from the steep mountains immediately above it.
As we had made the most of our last day we decided to refuel at the entrance to the ria rather than risk the marina fuel berth being closed (later we found it was open until 2100). The fuel point was in a very shallow, small corner, was self service with the pipes lying all over the very tiny pontoon where crew needed to step. STEP was the operative word as one of our crew came close to resembling a flattened fender!
Grimi was a Bavaria 46 with a furling main like Quartette. There were 4 cabins and 2 heads with functioning holding tanks. She was very well maintained and spotlessly clean – you could have eaten your meals off the engine. There were plenty of good quality warps and sheets although they were too wide to get a good grip in the selftailors on the large winches. Light winds may have been a blessing after all. There was a functioning fridge as well as a cool box, a necessity as the temperature rose to 37C and food was not always available in the tiny settlements.
We handed Grimi back to Denis with the only complaint being the cups were too small! They were meant for Italian espresso not English tea.