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Cruising the Med Part II – The Race: Better Safe than Sorry

Posted in: Cruising ♦ Sunday, August 1st, 2010, 5:25 PM ♦ Comments Off on Cruising the Med Part II – The Race: Better Safe than Sorry

Charles Fawcett
Jump to Part I

Drevnik Island’s small harbor provides excellent shelter and better still, if you can find space alongside, it is free! So it is here that David brought “Avalon”, his 44′ Bavaria, to do some maintenance work. Chris and I were to join him in Trogir, Croatia, a few days later.

On the other side of the stone jetty lay a Salona 40′, owned by three Australians. They had just bought the brand-new, locally designed and built boat, and planned to keep her in the Adriatic for cruising and racing. It wasn’t long before they got together with David for Med cruising and boatyard tips.

In true Aussie fashion, the Salona crew took off for the local konoba for a beer at noon suggesting that David might like to join them.

They left the konoba at around 10 pm having put the world to rights and discussed with David all those Sydney sailor delights, such as Wednesday night racing and the Hobart Race, which they had raced for many years. As the night wore on they also regaled David of their various exploits on their occasional visits to Thailand.

Allegedly, they also extracted a promise from David that the three of us would help crew on the Salona for a race off Splitthe following Saturday. Over 300 boats were entered to race. When we met David at Trogir a couple of days later, he was a little vague about the race but a couple of text messages with Kev, the Aussie skipper, put things straight. We were to meet at Split for a pre race “strategy” session in a local bar on the Friday evening, and then join up at 0930 on Saturday for the race.

We left Trogir, cruising around the local islands, and then made our way to Split harbor on Friday afternoon.

That is when things started to unravel. Firstly, the marina was full so we tried to go alongside the town quay only to touch bottom alongside. This left the available anchorage well away from the constant ferry traffic but exposed to the southeast. We anchored close by a British ketch, the only other boat at anchor. The sole occupant explained that while uncomfortable, it was fairly safe.

While we were planning where to land the dinghy to meet the Australians, the British yachtsman suddenly raised anchor and came over to say that a weather warning had just come through…. S.E winds and rain squalls, with gusts up to 50 knots overnight as a front went through. The low had curved unexpectedly in our direction. He was off to shelter in Trogir.

On reviewing the forecast, we decided to sail downwind around the Split peninsula and anchor in the lee about seven miles away. Anchoring was another problem as we kept dragging, until suddenly we caught and held! I think that we all knew what raising the anchor in the morning would mean! Meantime the Aussies had their own race strategy meeting and we rowed ashore to a local yacht club and enjoyed a great cheap meal having flashed my CYC card!

The wind whistled all night but we knew that we would only drag out to sea and also knew that wouldn’t happen – providing the chain held! We slept well.

On Saturday morning it seemed to be blowing a little less, even though the barometer continued to drop ominously and the flag on the hill above us was flying wildly. As we had suspected, our main problem was raising the anchor. Every time we got to about 20 feet we came to a halt with what looked like oil surfacing! Eventually we freed it by dropping a chain and line around the cable from the dinghy and running it free. It took an hour and we still had to get to Split by 0930. Maybe the “oil” was only marsh gas, but thinking of BP’s recent problems, we fled.

We motored back to Split bucking heavy seas with the wind at around 25 knots, and again anchored in the harbor to await a vacant berth in the marina. The wind steadily increased to 35 knots and the race was delayed one hour, then two. It was uncomfortable at anchor and the possibility of dragging fast onto a lee shore was concerning. David talked to the Australians on the VHF and they were concerned about getting off their berth even though they had a bow thruster. The wind went up to 45 knots and we decided to make a move out of Split.

Bye-bye, Split. Bye-Bye race. We poked our nose westward and unfurled a pocket handkerchief in the genoa, surfing our way between the islands at nine knots and making our way to the shelter of the jetty at Drevnik Island. We were met by the konoba manager who recognized “Avalon,” and more likely David, and tried to shoo us away.

The race was postponed until Sunday. The Australians got a ninth in their division and were flying to Thailand to celebrate on their way home to Sydney.

Having been evicted from Drevnik, we sailed on to Roguznica (also known as Roger’s knickers) where we had torrential, monsoon type rains which made us envy those lucky guys Thailand bound!

It was a pity to miss the race…but it is always better to be safe than sorry . . .

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