Saturday, 12th of May, 07:00 UTC, 09:00 Local Time
LADY IN RED
Well, back in Croatia since Tuesday. Not only that the TRIO INFERNALE has returned, but for the first time the whole crew meets on Champagne. And glorious weather. Light northerlies, ideal for training. We arrived in Sibenik, after a miserable night for at least three of us in the `Travelodge' at Gatwick airport. It was late, and Pieter and I shared a room, him in a nice white linen bed, me on the couch. Whilst he snored, I tried to sleep, no sheets, no cover, just a smelly pillow, and next to the window, and it was raining, raining, raining ! I covered myself with my jacket when I started freezing, and wondered : Why am I doing this ? How many sheep are there in the whole world to get possibly counted during the night ? Sometimes there are good questions, but no good answers.
But all is forgotten now. Jim , Pieter , Ian and I took a flight to Split, Robert collected us, and some time later Fatmira arrived from Zagreb...with a heavy cold. Does that remind me of something ? Anyway, the whole afternoon checking the work that hadn't been done was more difficult than Fati's food shopping, I guess. So much to do. The time is flying and we are not really getting anywhere. Disappointing ! Not even our favourite waitress Barbara is in the marina's pub . What a misery !
Night-exercise ! Any idea how it feels to get up after too much beer at 3am ? ANY IDEA ? REALLY ? Quietly we sailed out of the marina in Sibenik like 'The Boat ' out of Cadiz. Pitch dark. Through the Sibenik Canal into the Adriatic, direction NW , heading for the Kornati, one of the most awkward places in Croatia. Karst-limestone, consisting of 89 islands and rocks within the National Park, some formations look like a dragon tail, spare growth of bushes, sometimes a couple of trees. Only 5% of the islands surface show vegetation. Just remembered that in all of this natural beauty 12 firemen died in 2007 on the main island Kornat during a bush fire on 30th of August, because the helicopter dropped them off at the wrong spot. Some say the helicopter enhanced the flames. Others talk about dumped ammunition that exploded. Who knows the truth ? When you see the bare landscape you wonder how this could ever have happened. Not far away on a different island, a replica of a 'pirates nest' that was built for a german film with Maria Shell,Cameron Mitchell and Cliff Robertson : Raubfischer in Hellas (D, 1959 ), translated like "Rogue Fishermen in Greece". The ruins and islands are still there, Maria (1925 - 2005 ) gone by many years. That tells you something about the resistance of this landscape. And the title of the film is pure accidental and has nothing to do with current events.
Anyway, the day greeted us with a glorious sunrise. Life can be beautiful...when you don't face the rain in the UK ! Lunch in the Kornati. Get the dinghi ready, what, there is no outborder ? Ok, let's row, but NO ! NO ! Pieter and Ian, pls unisono...like in 'team' . What have I got into. Off again, NEerly now, heading towards Marina Dalmacija, one of the largest marinas in Croatia, in Sukosan, south of Zadar. In between the tacks some training, manoeuvres, 'Man over Board', 'Heave To', 'Stop the Boat', and other essentials. When we arrived late in the evening, we were all tired.
Next day was really a technical day. Croatia is a beautiful but also funny country. Things only get done when one is physically present. And than everything happens at the same time. Had organised the day well. In the morning sailmaker, 2 hours later the electronics guy, and in the afternoon the rigger. And what happened ? Everybody arrived at 9am sharp. What a chaos. Probably they had met by accident at the coffee machine, and then they decided: ...and where do we go to first ?
I GO CRAZY !!!!!!!!! But what can one do ? This is Croatia, the land of the Kuna ( named after an animal which furs were traded as a barter for other essentials like Slivovic, originally Slivova Rakija, Sliwa=plum,Rakija=distilled fruit, minimal alcohol 38% ) and the Euro . And nothing else counts here - besides the Slivovic. Slivovic in the morning, for lunch, then to enlighten the afternoon , and surely during the Happy Hour. After that comes a sober time with only beer , or wine. Unfortunately we had Jaegermeister. The rumour says that the barmaids had left first before Ian and Pieter , locking of course the booze away. But these two had finished the bottle anyway !!! Well, next morning, from the way they came up on deck, it's amazing how alcohol can age an already old person even further, and that within a couple of hours. And during all this 'fun' our dear Fati was ill, we only saw her whilst preparing some food, and then she crawled back into her cabin. I wonder whether she was the smart one here!
Last day had arrived, full of good spirits. The return to Sibenik is charted, and it is 'POLE DAY' for the Genoa and 'GENNAKER DAY. And dear reader I have to tell you, we were flying !!!!!! Not the boat though, but us getting tangled up with the ropes, the sheets, the guys, the tacker, the pole's fixtures, etc etc. Nevertheless , after a while the crew got the hang of it until we reached the point that even Jim was able to bring the 220 sqm Gennaker under control. And the fun started here. I always wondered why the English refer to a boat as in 'she' ,ie female, but suddenly I understood : whilst the afternoon breeze picked up Champagne started to sail , and she sailed like a lady. Not in the Tom Jones kind of things like 'She's a Lady', with all sort of undies being thrown on to the deck ie stage, but more like 'the fling with the nanny' ,by Chris de Burgh : with the red Gennaker, she became the 'LADY IN RED' . And she started 'dancing with me, cheek to cheek.....nobody here, just you and me......' Just look at the picture, and you will understand.
Days later, and I am flying back from Stockholm, where I had attended a conference and some meetings. And during my brief stay I was confronted by so many with so many good question like : "And why do you do these Atlantic crossings ?" And as I said before, there are many good questions, but not always good answers. But I have to tell you something else in my capacity as the Interpreter of OZ : Sometimes there are no answers at all, just dreams.
Now isn't that funny !