We are afloat again, by kind invitation of Nigel and Jane. Carolyn Mary, Jane and I fetched up at Split airport on Sunday morning and bundled ourselves into a taxi for the 10 minute trip to Marina Kastela where Nigel and Nick were waiting to welcome us aboard Philippides V. (Nick and Nigel met about 3 years ago when they were part of a crew for Verity’s passage across the Mediterranean to Valencia for the Americas Cup. They were paired for watches, thrown together in adversity when the Skipper exerted his authority and prevented them going ashore in order to save sailing time, and whiled away much time debating many issues from their diametrically opposed political standpoints).
It is brightly sunny but there is a katabatic wind blowing of the mountains which rise steeply behind Kastela Gomilica. At times rising to blasts of gale strength, this is the Bora, a contraflow to the Sirocco which blows up from Africa bringing Saharan sand with it.
Kastela, so says the Croatia Cruising Companion, is one of Croatia’s best kept secrets. It is a huge bay with seven established villages which grew up in the 15th and 16th centuries, each with at least one castle. We are north and west of Split and the marina is one of Croatia’s newest. We are going to hole up for a day, catch up on sleep, drink wine, sleep it off some more and I can finish my book The Outcast by Sadie Jones which has been an excellent read.
Mike on Verity phones us in the afternoon, as a result of which we make a dinner date with them for Monday at Trogir. We are already booked to eat ashore on Sunday evening – it is a no-brainer when it comes to choosing what I will eat. Fried squid with some shared fries and a mixed salad washed down with the local Grasevina wine. This never tastes better than when eaten in a Mediterranean setting.
After breakfast we sail south from Kastel Gomilica to a headland west of Split then sail through a cut towards the east end of Otok Ciovo. Ciovo is joined to Trogir by a drawbridge and there is prehistoric and Roman settlement evidence on the island.
We motor and sail along the south coast and find an anchorage between the mainland and the islet of Fumija. We’ve passed some remote landscape with no anchoring possibilities on the way and sailed past hermit buildings next to the Church of Our Lady of Prizidnica clinging to the cliffs. At the headland at the western end there is a shoreline campsite and 2 anchorages. Where we drop anchor I suffer a swift bracing swim in choppy water with so much movement I almost feel seasick. After a salad lunch I snooze.
We meet up with the Derricks and some other sailing friends of theirs and eat out in the evening. I start with a ‘scampi’ (prawn) risotto and have a meat platter. It is a convivial occasion.
In the morning before we begin our passage there is a trip to the market where we buy basic salad stuffs, eggs, and wonderful figs at £2 a kilo. The mint we want for our Pims costs us £1 for half a dozen sprigs snipped off a large pot plant on one stall.
We are going to aim for Drvenik Veli island. Verity is also planning to anchor here for the night. We stop for a swim and salad lunch on the way and then press on, arriving mid afternoon. We are going to eat ashore again with new crew on Verity so a table for 9 is booked at the Taverna Cantina.
What should be a pleasant evening is somewhat tarnished by the aggressive Maitresse D’ who ‘sells’ us a “Kwality” white and red wine for openers. When we enquire about the price it’s way above the cost of the ‘open’ wines we normally choose. When we want to re-order we ask her for her open white and she comes back regretfully and tells us, sadly, she sold her last bottle to the neighbouring table. As we can’t have her Kwality wine at a reasonable price we say we’ll go with more water. Minutes later she returns to tell us that fortunately she found a bottle of the Debit white in the kitchen!
I choose an octopus salad to start which is the best I’ve ever eaten. It is warm and contains broad beans and herbs. Because I can’t have too much seafood and there is a dwindling choice of main courses at the end of the season, I go with fried squid and a platter of freshly grilled squids arrives to be shared by the 5 of us who have ordered it.
For most one squid is enough so I do something I rarely do, and our hostess duly obliges by wrapping our leftovers in foil for us to take back to Philippides V. After we have paid our bill we are presented with 9 glasses of a herb and fruit liqueur which we are told is a recipe of her father’s grandfather. It does have a medicinal flavour and is obviously strong. I sip some of mine but the other ladies cannot handle it. I am mildly disapproving when they tip it on the containers of plants at the end of the table!!
On Wednesday we are making for Otok Hvar. On the way Stalin and Genghis Khan take a helm each and prop up the bimini as we sail along the seaward coast of the island of Solta.