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2006 Cruise

2006 May - June

This account covers our 2006 cruising in Kabardar. For most of the time the crew consisted of just the two of us but we were up to a crew of 6 for one week in July, and 4 for a week in August.

Our yacht had over-wintered in a hefty steel cradle at Preveza Marine boatyard in western Greece. I went out to Greece at the end of March to carry out all the usual maintenance tasks plus a few ‘one-off’ major refit jobs. These included the removal of all the old anti-fouling and the application of Coppercoat, the installation of an 80w solar panel and the fitting of a feathering propeller into the smallish aperture between the skeg and the rudder. The first of these was tedious and hard work, the second quick and easy and the third was achieved with only a few millimetres to spare but with a sting in the tail. More about this later.

About 10 days after I had arrived in Greece, on an almost windless evening, Kabardar was shaking and wriggling in the cradle. I learned the following day that there had been a 5.9 earth tremor, and that there had been 3 tremors in a fortnight. The particularly robust cradles used in the yard are because of this risk.


Kathleen arrived on 20 April and after completing all intended jobs we were finally launched on 6 May. The plan for May was to work our way NW up the eastern Italian coast. The summer prevailing wind in the Adriatic is NW and, to add to the fun, the Adriatic has an anti-clockwise current that can set SE at up to 3kts off headlands on the Italian side. We believed that May would offer a better chance of winds with a bit of S in them.

After a couple of nights on Preveza Quay to stock up we left on 8 May and sailed and motor-sailed the 37 miles to Gaios on the island of Paxos. The NW wind started light, but by 1500 it was up to F5 and for the last 10M or so we found ourselves bashing straight into the wind and sea. Paxos is a bit of a favourite of ours and once again we spent a couple of days walking the donkey paths through the olive grove clad interior. We left Gaios on 12 May and tacked in a light NW to Corfu, only resorting to the engine after 1600 and when we were down to below 4kts. It took us some 9 hours to cover the logged 51M from Gaios to Gouvia Marina.

We left Gouvia for Italy on 15 May, the plan being to sail as far as Erikoussa (an island some 10M off the north coast of Corfu), and then to anchor up and allow the afternoon NW die down before leaving at around midnight to cross the Strait of Otranto. However, all did not go according to plan!  As we sailed gently up the Corfu Channel the wind swiftly went from SE through NE and as we emerged from the channel, heading 307°, the wind became a fresh NW and the sea became much rougher as we headed further offshore. We did consider turning round but with only 13M to do we decided to tough it out. We had expected to arrive at Erikoussa at about 1500 but slogging into a NW wind that was F6 at times, it was 1800 when we dropped the hook in the sheltered bay south of the island. With both the Greek and Italian forecasts predicting strong north-westerlies for the following day we very swiftly decided to wait for 24 hours. The wind eased considerably during the following day and so just before midnight on 16 May we left Erikoussa for Italy. The direct distance across is about 55M and we decided on a night crossing so that we could arrive in daylight and have plenty of time in hand if the wind fell light. The wind was NW2/3 and as we had a course of 290 we sailed and motor sailed gently, arriving at Otranto at 1145 on 17 May. We had logged 105M since leaving Gouvia. The Strait of Otranto is the entry to the Adriatic and can be busy with shipping, (there is a traffic separation scheme), but we hardly saw anything all night. The sunrise over the Albanian mountains was however spectacular.

At Otranto we were able to anchor inside the harbour and only a short dinghy row from the old town, which boasts a large Romanesque cathedral. We were to find out that southern Italy has no small number of these. This was to have been a one-night stopover but this turned to two as once again the wind filled in from the NW and we decided to pass on the pleasure of another session of bashing into a head wind and sea.

The 19 May dawned with a light SW wind and we were on our way to Brindisi soon after 0900. Bliss, a following wind, and we soon had the spinnaker pulling. However by early afternoon the wind was rising and we dropped the kite, none too soon as within 20 minutes or so we had F5/6 and Kabardar was still rushing downwind with the main and G3. We reached the new marina at Brindisi at 1800 having logged 53M. Our arrival revealed the first sign that all was not well with the new feathering propeller because, when reverse was engaged as we berthed, the engine stalled.  When we left Brindisi on 22 May we just about managed to reverse out of the berth but with a huge amount of vibration.  We then sailed, mostly in SE winds for Bari, with an overnight stop at Monopoli, a total of 73M. For much of this we were able to fly the kite.  An investigation of the new propeller during a stop at anchor on the way revealed that it was not now turning to reverse and jamming in the feathered position. At tick-over revolutions the engine could not drive the propeller with the blades broadside on.  We were now without reverse propulsion.

After a few days alongside the quay in the Porto Vecchio at Bari, and once again being held up by a strong NW wind, we left early on 27 May and sailed and motor sailed 64M to Vieste in winds that backed steadily from NW round to NE.  The weather then deteriorated sharply and we were stuck in Vieste by strong NW winds, one day with gale-force gusts when we watched a newish charter yacht come in with the genoa well shredded!  We were fast running out of time as we had flights home from Pescara booked for the 6 June, which we were on the point of changing when, finally, we managed to escape on 4 June with the wind still NW but only 3-5.  However, the SE going current is augmented after periods of NW winds and we knew that we were in for a long slog up to Ortona where the boat was booked in for the month of June. We motor-sailed for 20 hours covering 122M according to the log but only about 80M over the ground, which represents an average adverse stream of over 2kts. We made it to Ortona Marina with just 24 hours to spare before our flights home.  Our first cruise of the season had covered 518M.  By this point we could not go astern at all and it was clear that we had to arrange a lift-out to change back to the original propeller, which fortunately had not been sold, given away or otherwise disposed of.

2006 July - September

The Adriatic Sea was dominated by the Venetians for about 500 hundred years and because of the incidence of adverse winds and breakdowns that we had had, and were yet to face, Murphy must have been at least an honorary Venetian and still be very active in the area.

We returned to Ortona on 4 July and were not thrilled to find that some kind and anonymous person had struck and split the teak cap rail on starboard side, probably with their anchor. We left for Croatia on the afternoon of 5 July and motor sailed the 85M to Komiza on the island of Vis with winds that were ‘light and variable’, arriving at 0800 on 6 July.  Having completed all the entry formalities for Croatia and bought a cruising permit, for Kabardar about £125, on 7 July we prepared to leave.  On weighing anchor at Komiza we found that the windlass was not working and the chain had to be handballed.  Once away, we enjoyed a brisk reach of 34M to Rogoznica where there is a boatyard with a travel hoist.

On 10 July we removed the failed feathering propeller and fitted the original fixed 2 blade one. The lift cost €185, which was about half the price quoted by an Italian yard!  With reverse propulsion restored and a day spent in the ‘fijord’ of Rogoznica, we went on to Split with an overnight stop at the island of Drevenik Mali, arriving at Split Marina at 1030 on 12 July having covered 40M. Here daughter Kate, her partner Derek, and friends Rebecca and Simon joined us for a week. After 2 nights in the marina we had to anchor in the harbour because the marina overflows when it is charter boat changeover day!  This proved less than comfortable as Split harbour is choppy because of all the ferry movements and has the unmistakeable perfume of raw sewage.

On 15 July we sailed 24 miles S to the marina at Palmizana on the island of S. Klement, with lunchtime stop in a bay on the E end of the island of Brac. For much of this trip we sailed with main, G3 and the staysail. I am not sure if the latter does very much for the speed but Kabardar looks good sailed as a cutter. During the day however Murphy sent another gremlin our way as the cold water feed to the calorifier came off, dumping the contents of the fresh water tank into the bilge. Yes, we know that the pump should not have been left on when underway!

After a morning in the madhouse of the anchorage at Hvar town, we sailed on 17M SE to an anchorage on the small island of Schedro. With a fresh NE forecast for the following morning, we chose a sheltered corner and ran 2 lines ashore.  On 17 July we went on another 25M through the narrow channel that separates Korcula from the mainland and into Uvala Luka anchorage, which is close to Korcula town, one of the picturesque high spots of the region. Our first choice of anchoring spot was frowned on by the local Taxi boatmen so we had to re-anchor. Too well it turned out because the following morning we found that we had fouled a very large, old section of chain and we had to dive down to attach a trip line to the anchor. We later learned that there was a local diver who has a nice little earner with fouled anchors. Perhaps he put the chain there in the first place?

On 18 July another 17M brought us to the beautiful anchorage of Polace, which is within the boundary of the Miljet National Park, a wonderfully sheltered spot with pine clad slopes all round and the chirping of cicadas all day long. We were to return to Polace twice more. As our guests, additional crew members officially, had a flight from Dubrovnik, we continued on 19 July the 37M to Dubrovnik Marina. This is in an attractive location some 2 miles up a river, and an easy bus ride into the famous city.

Having done the touristy bit, and said goodbye to our additional crew, on 23 July, Kathleen and I left Dubrovnik to head back NW. With an overnight stop at Otok (island) Jaklian, we were back to Polace on 25 July having covered 43M. This time we stayed 3 nights and explored a little of the national park on foot.  Otok Lastovo was our next destination and we anchored in Skrivena Luka (hidden harbour) on 28 July having covered 30M. After sailing 25M around Lastovo on 29 July we were back in Skrivena Luka unaware that another gremlin was on the way.

Overnight, there was a thunderstorm, which although not overhead, caused the wind to increase considerably with gusts.  We dragged the anchor and quickly ended up amongst some small boat moorings.  However we motored out and re-anchored with no great problems.  The following morning, when we came to depart, we had no propulsion at all, because we found that the propeller had fallen off.  After a good deal of head scratching and some phone calls to our insurers, we decided to sail back to Dubrovnik to source and fit another propeller.  However, Kathleen felt that before we set out we should at least try to find the propeller, as we knew roughly where it might be. This was rewarded because I fairly quickly spotted it nestling in the eelgrass in some 6m of water and was able to dive down to retrieve it.

So at 1500 on 30 July, we were towed out of Skrivena Luka by a Croatian yacht and we set out SE with a favourable NW wind. For just under 12 hours we made excellent progress, but by 0230 on 31 July we were completely becalmed tantalisingly close to Dubrovnik. For 3 hours we had no wind at all and drifted with a current of about 0.8kts. About 5M down-current of our position was a rocky islet with a lighthouse on it. For 2 hours I plotted our position and rate and direction of drift. Gradually it became clear that we were not in danger of hitting it and the dinghy with a 2.5HP outboard would not be needed to keep us clear.

As dawn came, so did the wind although from the SE and we tacked to the entrance to the Dubrovnik River, where the wind was very gusty and variable in direction. With some difficulty we tacked into the river entrance, even having to avoid an early morning ferry.  The land on both sides of the river is high and steep and the tendency is for any wind to blow straight up or straight down the river.  On this occasion it was blowing straight down!  So we then tacked up the river against wind and stream.  By unhitching the baby stay and taking a few rolls in the genoa we managed to make slow but steady progress and at 0900 we anchored outside the marina entrance, having covered 61M.  We did not think that Kabardar could be short tacked but now we know that it can be done if necessary.

The propeller was quickly refitted by the local marine engineers, who had to make a key and a pair of 5/8” whitworth locknuts. With this latest gremlin sent packing we worked our way back NW to the Pakleni Islands, covering 104M over 3-6 August and with overnight stops at Polace (Mljet), Badija (Korcula) and Uvala Luka (Peljesak Peninsula). In the Paklenis, we anchored in a narrow rocky inlet on Otok S. Klement called Uvala Stari Stani.  The bottom is sand and stones but the shores are rocky and at the head of the inlet there is insufficient swinging room so we put 2 anchors down and ran 2 lines ashore round rocks. This is a wonderful spot with no shore facilities, ideal for swimming and lazing in the sun.

Wishing to see more of Hvar town but avoiding its hugger-mugger anchorage, on 7 Aug. we sailed 18M to the town of Stari-Grad, which is also on Hvar Island. Here we could leave the boat at the quay whilst we used the local bus service to Hvar town.

From Stari-Grad on 10 Aug. we sailed 33M N to the ancient town of Trogir, which is just N of Split.  After a few days in the Trogir area, on 13 Aug. we set out to sail down the Bracki Kanal along the N side of the island of Brac. However after several hours of tacking eastwards, the head wind and sea were increasing so we made a rapid about-turn and headed for the port of Milna on the E end of Brac. By the time we got there having covered 37M, a major thunderstorm was threatening. We managed to anchor is a reasonable if not ideal spot just in time, as the oncoming storm brought a rush of yachts looking for shelter. For a time the anchoring pandemonium was a good spectator sport, and some late arrivals had to motor around at the height of the storm before they could find a place. As the storm arrived the wind reversed direction and greatly increased in what seemed like a matter of seconds. Up to this point in our island meanderings, although we had seen and heard thunder and lightening on something like 10 occasions, we had not been in the thick of it. In Milna we got the full treatment.

From Milna we headed back 32M to Vis, but in 3 short legs with overnight stops arriving on 18 Aug. This was to be the end of our Croatian cruise and having gone through all the official hoops, on 20 Aug. we set out for Greece. We planned to cover the 300M to the island of Paxos without an intermediate stop over about 2½ days. To begin with the wind was NW and behind us but it gradually weakened and became very variable in direction. However we mostly sailed until 2040 when we had to start the engine and plod along until 0530 on 21 Aug. We then romped down-wind with a NW4/5 for about 7 hours until 1230 when the breeze disappeared as suddenly as it had arrived. With the wind had come an increasing quartering sea and we changed course by 20° so that we would pass about 10M off the port of Brindisi, which could give us an easy refuge if the sea worsened. The sea was completely out of proportion to the wind and we guessed that it had to be much windier further north. We later found out that, in some parts of the central Adriatic, the wind had been NW7. During the afternoon it became more and more difficult to keep the boat sailing with light and variable airs but with a moderate following sea. Our log recorded the following sequence, NW3; NW1; SE1/2; SW3; NW2/3 and SW2. By 1700 we had had enough and at 1745 on 21 Aug. anchored in the bay by Brindisi Marina. We had covered 189M in 32 hours, 14 of these under engine.

The following morning, after a good night’s sleep, we waited for the sea to quieten down a bit and at 1330 we set out again. The sea was easier and the wind stayed in the N-NW sector although it varied from F1 to 5. We sailed with main and G3 and later G3 only. During the night the wind and sea increased again, particularly so around 0400 when we were near the NW corner of Corfu. Also at this point we had to change course to avoid a collision with 4 yachts that were under engine and showing the intriguing combination of deck level navigation, steaming and anchor lights. As we were the stand-on vessel on 2 counts, I tried to alert them to our presence but to no avail and as we passed them I could see no one at the controls or even in the cockpit of any of them!  By breakfast time the wind was down to the usual Ionian morning calm and we motored the remaining miles, arriving in Gaios harbour on Paxos at 1415 on 23 Aug. We had covered 147M in 25 hours, with 8 under engine.

Back in what has become our home range we meandered up to Gouvia Marina on Corfu on 26 Aug. to meet up with son Philip and his fiancée Alex.  We spent a week with them re-visiting various favourite spots before returning to Gouvia for their flight home. A total of some 150M.

We then had to go S to Preveza for lifting out and the end of the season. However, Murphy had not done with us and sent yet another gremlin. When we came to leave Ormos Valtou on the morning of 28 Aug. the engine would not start and it was quickly obvious that we had a problem with the dreaded ‘diesel bug’. I cleared the filters and got diesel to the injectors but the beast would not fire, I deduced that the injectors were probably blocked. So we set out to sail to Preveza. There was little wind and that gradually died, so we covered 8M in 8 hours and then were becalmed and drifting in the track of ferries to the south of Igoumenitsa, which is a major port on the Greek coast.  Being rather concerned about the approach of one, we called on Ch.13 and were reassured by the reply that they were aware of our becalmed presence and would pass us to starboard. They did alter course, but to pass us to port!  Not wishing to spend the night becalmed in a ferry track we opted to use the dinghy and outboard to propel Kabardar the 3M to a safe anchorage by the island of Sivota. In a flat calm the 2.5HP outboard managed to achieve around 3kts, without using full revs.

The following morning there was no discernable wind so we went ashore in the dinghy to Mourtos village for provisions and petrol for the outboard, which had now become the main engine!  At the filling station they had some cans of ‘Easy-Start’ and we thought that this just might get the diesel into action again. It worked, and we decided to leave for Preveza the following morning.

The run down to Preveza went without more dramas and we enjoyed a spinnaker run to the Preveza channel entrance and even managed to sail up the channel to the harbour. With the Port Police/Coastguard formalities done and the lift out booked we finished our cruise with a short excursion into the Amvrakikos Kolpos. In these last 2 days we had good sailing and the final leg was a spinnaker run/reach from Vonitsa to Preveza.  The final section from Gouvia to Preveza totalled 77M.  Even at this late stage we had yet another gremlin as the day before being lifted out, the fridge stopped working!

Kabardar was lifted out on 11 September and our second cruise of the season was over. We had covered 1248M, making a total of 1765M for the season. Although we had a whole string of mechanical, plumbing and electrical failures, the rig and sails performed without a hitch all season.  This year we made much more use of the spinnaker, leaving the sheet and guy permanently rigged and ready as we more frequently seemed to have suitable winds, plus we are now better organised and can hoist or lower the monster much more quickly.

Croatia is a wonderful cruising area with hundreds of islands, harbours and anchorages to explore and we only saw the southern half of this magnificent coast.  It is a real pleasure to cruise in such clear blue waters. The Dalmatian coast is, predictably, very popular with Italian yachtsmen and the majority of the yachts we saw were Italian flagged.  We encountered relatively few British yachts.

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