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DESTINY DIARY 2009 - Croatian Tour Part 1

Destiny Destiny
Leaving Italy. Photos from Phillipidies III.
Our first trip back at sea was not comfortable, no wind but a very big swell that made us both a little bit queasy - we need to get our sea legs back! We arrived in Marzamemi at 17H30, a small harbour on the south east corner of Sicily, where we found ourselves moored next to a Dutch boat that was next to us in Grand Harbour Marina - small world.
The following day after some cleaning and tidying, we left for Syracuse, where everybody told us 'You have to go'. We arrived at 16H in front of the marina, but nobody was answering the phone or the VHF, it was a bit breezy, so eventually when we decided to just take an empty space, that's when the man appeared on the pontoon and directed us to a different space, welcome to Italy... It was a tight squeeze (the first place was bigger) and John had some difficulties parking the boat, but we got there. It cost us 60 Euros to stay for the night, which we found a bit excessive considering that the marina is being refurbished, and you need to access the office via a plank, there were no toilets or showers, no rubbish bins or weather information.
In the morning we went to the market, which was interesting, very good fish, fruit and vegetables stalls. Back on the boat we decided to leave the marina and went and anchored in the bay. I am afraid we were not really taken by Syracuse, an old town, but no more interesting than any other old Italian town. We felt it was a bit of a tourists trap - too expensive for what you got.
Next morning, John got up just before 6 o'clock (May 24th), and fought with some delicious black volcanic mud, glued to the anchor, but by 6:15 we had left Syracuse bay. The sea was much rougher than expected, but it improved and by 11:00, the sea was smoother and the wind had dropped. We crossed paths with 'No Plans' the Nordhaven of Larry and Mary Mason who we'ed met in Malta and who'd gone for a quick visit to Greece before shipping back to the USA. We also had a glance at Mt. Etna from a distance with its snow cap. .

Siracuse Foot
Old and new Siracuse Slap and Tickle!
By 5 O'clock we had arrived in Rocella Ionica, an interesting marina, very shallow and a dangerous entrance, as we found out later, when we went aground briefly, on leaving.
Rocella Ionica is part of a project called 'Odysseus', which are new marinas being built along the coast. It is built as a proper marina, space for offices and shops, restaurants, but it is only occupied by offices for civil servants - customs, police and finance police. Most of the moorings are reserved for the locals, but for boats in transit, it's free for up to 5 nights (unique in all of Italy I'd say).
We took advantage of this free offer for 2 nights, then moved on to Crotone - just a pit stop - the problem with this coast of Italy is that there are no protected anchorages (it's a straight coastline) so you are obliged to use the marina's which are fairly well spaced or make long overnight passages.
Next stop was Santa Maria di Lucca on the tip of the Italian Heel. The trip was fine except for a fishing boat that cut in front of us at full speed and almost became part of our bow fitting. We met up with another boat that we'd met earlier - 'Phillipidies III' and asked Chris and Carol to take some pictures of us at sea for a magazine article (it's always surprising how few photo's of your own boat at sea you have!).
Santa Maria di Lucca is a new marina, very comfortable (again it cost us 60+ Euros for the night). We went for a sundowner on 'P III' then went for a pizza in town. In the end we stayed 2 nights. Santa Maria di Lucca is a tourist town, located on the tip of Italy, with amazing villas in different styles. It's as if the architects had a competition to outdo each other in the 1930's. There were Moorish, Chinese, mini castle style and just plain wierd, but all very well kept. There is also a monumental (10,000 step) stone staircase built by Mussolini as a ceremonial gateway into Italy. I bet 'Il Duce' never climbed the steps, but we did! all of them to the top reaching the light house and a church (where they bury those who collapsed on the way). It was worth it.....they tell me.

Santa Maria di Luca Santa Maria di Luca Chateau
Santa Maria di Luca Nice summer house!
Then we continued our way north. We stopped in San Foca de Melendogno, nothing special about this town, just a marina in a tourist town, waiting for tourists. Next stop Brindisi, where we stayed 3 nights at the Lega Naval a yacht club marina; a very friendly place, where everybody was curious about our flopper stopper rig. We met Pele and Lulu a Swedish couple cruising on their Beneteau called 'Froggy'. They had some bowthruster problems and John tried to help, but the gremlins were in full flight and the problem disappeared overnight and came back as an engine starting problem - totally unrelated to the bow thruster. Chris and Carol from 'Phillipidies III joined us, and we had some friendly evenings involving beer and wine and then a bit more wine.
We liked Brindisi, the people were very friendly and helpfull. But the wind and rain didn't make sightseeing fun. We had the best coffee and doughnuts at the market though! Our next stop was Bisceglie for one night, not a place to recommend, we actually didn't pay, but it was a misunderstanding - something got lost between the Engish and Italian and Chris only told us about it after we'ed left the port.
Our last port of call in Italy before Croatia was Vieste where we arrived on June 5th. We moored in the Centro Omerggi, where you are being met on the quay by a nice young man (??? - Ed). The lady owner spoke English, which helped (she is Canadian) but you have to negotiate your price. We stayed there 3 nights; PIII got in the following day and Froggy turned up just before we left. It was turning into a road show.
Vieste is a smart tourist town with a medieval centre, but much nicer than the ones we have seen so far on the south and east coasts, it is clean and has many small shops selling local artisanal objets, of pottery, jewlery, clothes all very different and pleasing to the eye. I bought a nice little pottery bell with a dog on it. Unfortunately we didn't try any restaurants, maybe on the way back.
Brindisi Vieste
Brindisi Vieste - Our last port in Italy!
On Monday 8th June, early morning, we left for Croatia. We had a nice crossing with good weather and only occasionally some swell rocking the boat sideways. We arrived in the town of Ulbi on the Island of Levasto, where we could clear customs and enter the country. All very easy and then went to the habour master to pay our 259 Euros for the privilege to cruise in Croatian waters for three months!! We then dropped the anchor in a small bay on the south side of the Island and stopped for a couple of days to relax.
It was a beautiful place, just like being on a lake, we were completely surrounded by land and the water was so clear you could see the bottom in 10Meters. We tried our new kayak and explored the bay. We could not have hoped for a better way to start our cruising in Croatia, I just hope it continues like this.

We'll give you an update on our first month in Croatia soon.
Arrive Anchor
We have Croatia in sight. Finally at anchor.
Eva Kayack
New red shoes!. Trying the new kayak - Spot the slave!
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