We have an early flight from Gatwick to Split where we will be joining our sailing friends who keep their boat in Marina Frapa. Allowing for the customary two hours in advance and the drive, it is at 01.45 that Nick and I pull out of our drive to head for the airport. Nick finds the airport experience tolerable which is a relief and a Garfunkel’s smoked salmon and scrambled egg breakfast helps. Arriving in Croatia we are met at the airport by the Derrick’s driver, Amadeus, who delivers us to the quay and Carolyn spots us as we stand dithering about where Verity might be moored.
It is lovely to be back on board and Verity has not aged one bit in the five years since we were on board. To our delighted it is proposed to stow our bags and set sail promptly for an anchorage off the island of Zirje (“Jeeryay”) and where there is a friendly Konoba which essentially offers us fish or meat.
That night I sleep long and well and after a healthy muesli breakfast we all take a swim in the deliciously 25 degree sea. It is a supreme treat to sit under the bimini in the cockpit and read as we head north for our next anchorage which will be Smokvica (“Smokvitza”).
It is, apparently, several years since the Derricks have managed to find an anchorage in the tiny sheltered harbour on the seaward face of the island. It has always been full by the afternoon, but arriving late morning we are able to tie up to the pontoon below the Konoba Smokvica. Cue for salad in the cockpit then a siesta. In the meantime some fellow sailing friends had arrived at Smokvica and there was time for another swim and then donning some shore clothes to join Kantara for drinks. We then went ashore to the shore to eat at Konoba Piccolo and I enjoyed octopus salad followed by the Peppered steak which is a renowned speciality of the establishment and was delicious. You have to order it ahead of time and it comes in a steaming clay pot with oodles of creamy sauce………….. and it is rather expensive (300 kuna [£30] a head).
The following morning we went ashore and climbed to the top of the hill where we re-acquainted ourselves with the typical vista of Croatian islands, sparse of vegetation and many uninhabited, rising from the sea like so many dollops of pale limestone. There were some interesting plants, wild aromatic herbs to gather for a bouquet garni. Nick found a nice fossil scallop, much admired by Fi Young, perhaps I should have parted with it, but objets trouves are something to hug to oneself. On the way back to the little harbour I bought a terra cotta fish as a houseplant pot decoration then we drank a coffee together, before returning to Verity for salad in the cockpit and a siesta. I took a swim, incorporating some crunch exercises hanging off the ladder at the stern of the boat. The Youngs came over to us for pre-supper drinks then we ate for a second evening at the konoba, this time choosing something a bit less expensive but delicious nevertheless: shrimp spaghetti. The evening became quite raucous, our table being surrounded by Austrian guests including one group of rowdy young men. We made our way to the boat, gaining access via a neighbour’s passerelle. I hit the hay, zonk!