A Quinky Inky Sea

On Thursday morning I wake early and sit in the cockpit with my novel.  I must make the most of this experience; tomorrow we will be getting up early to be driven to the airport for our flight home.  A swim off the little improvised beach is also to be enjoyed; it is the penultimage sea swim I will enjoy in 2015.

Nick and Mike have spotted a café which offers coffee and croissants as a breakfast bargain.  Blog-BreakfastAtMaslinica Blog-MilnaBrekWe sit at a table in the sunshine and I drink the view in.  My choice is a ‘cheese pie’ which satisfies my liking for a cooked savoury breakfast.  Before we let our moorings go, the boat is thoroughly hosed down.  We have a short passage to Trogir to make.  The sea is smooth and a deeply mysterious dark blue.  I think of ink.

We find a suitable anchorage in an uninhabited cove with a ruin at Razetinovac for a swim and our salad in the cockpit. Blog-Swimmer Arriving at Trogir mid-afternoon Mike’s connections and pre-booking allow us to tie up along the town quay.  Carolyn and I go ashore, principally in search of a yummy brand of 3D crisps that we have been enjoying with our evening drinks.  We have tried supermarkets wherever we have encountered the opportunity but to no avail, and despite trying more than one outlet in Trogir I draw a blank.  I’ve been saving a few kuna for the purchase so I spend them, instead,  on 2 kilos of the succulent golden dried figs that you find in Croatian markets.

Over drinks we chew over our mutual diaries together to try and find a few November days for St Vaast wine-tasting and a few days more for a spell on Tresco in May 2016.  Then it is time to go ashore to the good Restaurant Capo we have dined at before.  The Derricks are welcomed back by the owners.  Nick and I are quite peckish and go for starters and substantial main courses.  Carolyn is not hungry and chooses a green salad, followed by a starter.  Mike’s choices are modest.  It is a bit unfortunate because the Lights have already done their treat meal and this one will come out of the kitty purse.  The evening develops another frisson when a group of five diners arrive and the older woman with the startling appearance and arresting voice, who accompanies four youngsters, one of whom is in a wheelchair, turns out to be trans-gender, or trans-sexual or a man in drag.  I try very hard not to stare but I am intrigued because I am essentially a nosy person and that wins disapproval too.  However we exchange pleasantries with the group before we leave the restaurant which leaves good feelings.

We get back to the boat for a night-cap.  I have already packed our bags ready for an early departure the following morning.  We have had a wonderful break in the Croatian archipelago and I have a great sense of having been spoiled because of the generosity of our sailing friends.  I hope they have a sense of that.

Swim in a Corridor of Sunshine

After an undisturbed night’s sleep I woke for a refreshing swim.  The morning light had not fully risen and the sun sent a shaft of sunlight along which I swam, back and forth.  We breakfasted then some chores were accomplished.  The men carried out some running repairs, I read in the cockpit.  I am now on Great House by Nicole Krauss and finding it a bit heavy-going. There are a couple of other boats anchored nearby.  One Bavaria is manned by a couple with a small terrier which is intermittently ferried ashore for its comfort breaks.  Blog-SeafaringTerrierHaving a dog on board must require resources that only true dog lovers can muster.Blog-GullsLeaving our bay of the colonnade we set sail for Maslinica which is a village port on Solta.  We have been here before, with Nigel Kaula and since that time a very fancy marina complex has been built.  It costs a fancy price for an overnight tie-up at the quai – 730 kuna (£73).  It is situated at the northern end of Solta and involves a longish sail and we need to tuck round the western end then weave our way through small islands to reach our destination.  We are one of relatively few boats when we tie up (there is room for 60 boats) but the atmosphere is lively and busy.  After our lunch and siesta I wake up later and am amazed how the quay and harbour wall has filled up with vessels and including two monstrous showpieces, from one of which emanates loud, bouncy disco music to which a group of young things cavort and knock back glassfuls under the upper bridge.  Clearly our night in Maslinica is going to be something else….. Blog-CheekByJowl2 Blog-Maslinica

There is a small purpose-made beach close by encircled by a boom and which makes a pleasant natural pool in which to swim. Later we dress a bit tidily for supper and have drinks Blog-Maslinica2and walk round to a rustic and inexpensive konoba which is tucked in between flashier and inevitably more expensive establishments.  Our choice is perfect I order Scampi Buzara with chips as an indulgence which turns out to be excellent.  Back at the boat for nightcaps and triangles of mini Toblerone.  I would sleep well.

A Passage to Milna

The winds have turned against us so we abandon ideas of going to Katina and head south.  We let loose our lazy lines at 9 a.m. and our eta is given as 17.30h.  I have my Ryvita and marmite breakfast and we then make the passage in pairs with two hour watches.  We make our way down through the Kornatski Kanal and out into more open water.  I took the helm at 11.30 and during my watch Nick made us omelettes and we ate fresh fruit, then coffee and biscuits.  Whilst off watch I took a break on my bunk with my novel and slept.  I took Verity again at 15.30h passing along the seaward coast of Solta.  At the southern end we approached the narrow strait between it and Brac; we are heading for the small port of Milna.

At this point I passed the boat to Nick and we found a pleasant anchorage just outside the Milna embayment where I took a welcome swim, showered and washed my hair on the stern.  After drinks on board with a wonderful sunset view, Carolyn cooked us chicken and mushrooms which we enjoyed with the potatoes which had been doggy-bagged after our Peka Lamb.

Blog-Sunset1 Blog-Sunset2

In the morning the sea was rather choppy but I swam anyway and after breakfasting we picked up and motored into Milna, dropping anchor in the middle of the town harbour.  Now was the time to go ashore to reprovision, buy postcards, stamps and have a coffee on the quay.  After a salad lunch there was a long siesta for me then a walk around the harbour to the marina where I scrumped a prickly pair to pot up in England.  Big mistake – the numerous fine spines become detached very easily and embed themselves in the fingers.  I was still pulling them out the next day.

After our cocktail hour on the boat we went ashore to eat at a Restaurant called Palma.  Mike had picked this establishment out and we had booked a table.  The menu contained some unusual dishes, one of which included fried sea anemones – something I have never seen before and had not dreamt to be edible. To start I chose pasta with snails, smoked ham and sprouts (Brussels to my amazement) the followed with the sea anemone dish.  They were a very creamy and rich squiggleness, a bit like fish milt and I doubt I would choose them again.  Also on my platter were scallops stuffed with Gorgonzola and shrimps together with grilled octopus.  Nick chose squid stuffed with quinoa and shrimps.  Back on board we made coffee and played Barbu until bedtime.

Blog-SeaAnemones Blog-Pasta

Awaking early I read for a while and played bridge on my bunk then rose to finish writing my postcards.  With no possibility of a swim in the harbour we decided to do a walk over the headland to Zucica where there is a konoba right on the sea’s edge, owned by a former professional footballer (Tottenham Hotspur).  Beneath the trees and amid the cicada cacophony we looked through the canopy to the choppy waters beneath our table and drank a beer.

Blog-Lucica Blog-Lucica2

Walking back to Verity we repassed the olive trees, the grape vines, fig trees and occasional almond trees bearing a few residual nuts.  We found a very agreeable restaurant in a corner of Milna set back from the edge of the quay.  I ate a delicious octopus salad and by now I was very weary and keen to find my bunk, but back on board we needed to up anchor to go back to the small bay of the previous night with the large house which has an overgrown garden and a small colonnade near the beach.

I melted into my bunk and knew nothing until I woke at 6!  I had a good swim before drinks and supper.  We spent the evening on board and completed our game of Barbu.

Champagne Socialist on Board

Waking to the calm and warmth of Lake Telašćica, a swim before breakfast is definitely the thing.  After brek I read and Mike and Nick carry out some running repairs.  Before we leave I have a second dip and swim across to the edge of the lake where there are some rocky blocks acting as a small natural pontoon and just at the edge in very shallow water, where I can put my feet on the soft silty bottom, I look down through clear water and see a very large Fan Mussel projecting by about, I estimate, half its shell length and with the valves slightly gaping so I can see the mantle edge of the mollusc.  This turns out to be my champagne moment of the trip.   I persuade slightly sceptical fellow swimmers to come across and see my find.  Blog-FanMussel  With some hesitancy they agree and are suitably captivated to see this stunning bivalve mollusc and hear about its importance in terms of rarity and conservation value.  The species is protected under CITES.

Back on Verity we upped anchor and started our passage south, passing through a narrow and very shallow channel separating the head of the lake from a small richly vegetated island.  Rich vegetation is a rarity on the Croatian islands.  As the depth sounder showed a reading of 0 metres (but there is 0.5 metres buffer) Carolyn went apeshit and Nick and I kept our counsel until we had rounded the island and the water depths gradually increased and calm was restored.

Underway, and it being 11th September, was the moment to look at the BBC News website to find out the identity of the newly-elected leader of the Labour Party.  Jeremy Corbyn had won the election with a clear majority and I persuaded Mike to open a bottle of bubbles so that our Champagne Socialist on board could celebrate.  Blog-ChampagneSocialist  He had joined the Labour Party specifically so that he could vote.  What the Derricks felt about this they were courteous enough to keep to themselves!

We were heading for Levrnaka.  On the way I took a spell at the helm.  And during the passage we passed a yacht race.

 

Blog-JanHelm

Blog-BoatRace

Arriving at Levrnaka we took lazy lines from the pontoon and lunched in the cockpit.  Blog-Levrnaka1 I fell asleep over my book (I read 4 novels during the ten days that I was on board) and slept long in the afternoon waking at 5 for a swim off the boat.  After wine and nibbles on board we went ashore to eat at the Konoba.  The food there has gone considerably upmarket, as has the décor and the whole ambiance of the establishment.  The octopus salad I ordered was very special and we had pre-ordered Peka Lamb (‘Lamb under the bell’) which came in a monumental dish and consisted of lots of semi-roasted potatoes, onions, carrots and assorted bony cuts of succulent lamb in a rich clear gravy.  It was fabulous and we paid for it!

I ate myself to a standstill and perhaps that is why I woke at 1.30 parched, overheated (overeated!!!).  It was a disturbed night but I read a good chunk of Annie Dunne and eventually dropped off and slept until 8 o’clock.

 

 

Refinding Former Haunts.

A wakeful night prompted a bit of lamplight reading and I drifted back, to wake finally at 8 o’clock.  I swam off the boat, exercised and washed my hair off the stern with the hot water shower hose.  Such a treat.  After a breakfast we loosened the lazy lines and headed north towards the Kornatis.  We are sailing along the ocean-facing edge of the island archipelago.  The islands are at the southeastern end have sheer cliff faces and as we sail past Mana we can see stick figures along the precipitous top of the island waving down to us.

DSC00144

With a length of 35 kilometres (22 miles) comprising 140 islands, some large, some small, in a sea area of about 320 square kilometres (124 sq mi), the Kornati Islands form the densest archipelago in the Mediterranean Sea.  When we sail past Levrnaka we get a chance to motor into the small bay where there is a ‘beach’, of sorts, created by the importation of a substantial quantity of limestone rubble to create a shore.  This ‘beach’ is one of very few in the Croatian island archipelago.  As we idle, two park wardens arrive and attempt to fleece us for park dues, telling us (erroneously) that if we pay them, then our ticket will be good for the Telašćica Park too!  As if we would have any hope of tracking them down after to claim a refund!!Blog-Mana4

We press on looping between Sestrica and Abav and thus enter the southeastern end of Lake Telašćica (pronounced Telashchitza).  Arriving at the southern end of the western limb of Dugi Otok we anchor in an embayment, have a swim, eat our salad in the cockpit then have a snooze.  I sleep on through the lifting of the anchor and suddenly find we are at the end of the deeply incised bay which is called Lake Telašćica.  I read a little, then make the chicken curry for which I have brought the necessary spices.  I do this because the Taverna Govo where we hoped to eat Peka Lamb is closed that evening.

Let’s Split

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.

Blog-NickZirje2 Blog-NickZirje1

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.  DSC00130There 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!

 

 

Been There, Done That

I wake to the sound of the anchor winch and the motor running.  We’re going to Sesula on Solta today, we were there last September with Nigel and Jane, and it pays another visit.  We sail south with the motor in tick over, in no great rush.  We make a lunchtime stop on Drvenik Mali and I conjure up a pasta duo.  This comprises left over spaghetti Bolognese and some fresh Ricotta pasta parcels.  We are gradually eating up our provisions and I have mapped out our meals down to the last slice of Croatian prosciutto.

Sesula is a pretty, busy little anchorage with a small wooden pontoon/platform and boats tied up to the part natural/ part artificial quay.  There are fisherfolk putting stuff into keep nets (mussels) and a local fires up a BBQ and cooks some sardines which Nick is invited to share because he helps them out over a shoreline/anchor issue.

Here are families (it is Saturday) at leisure.  The water is relatively shallow and children and adults flop in and out of the water to cool down.  We already know that if we want to have the slow cooked lamb from the Konoba Sesula we must order it, and we do.  The meat is tasty, succulent with potatoes, carrots, courgettes cooked in the large metal dish.  Afterwards I think that the bone debris doesn’t quite look right for lamb, I wonder if it was goat.  I remember eating goat at a pub near Shellness a couple of years ago and it was tasty.

Next morning we walk over a hill into Maslinica which is a very pretty coastal village with a frontage of quayside cafes, a small market stall, and the attractive converted former palace which is now a hotel.  Families take coffee and stroll round the frontage, some bound for the boomed beach on the northern side of the entrance to the inlet.  Many of the shrubs, smal trees are in flower and again I lament the lack of a camera to photograph them.

We walk back then weigh anchor.  We are now bound for Nigel’s home port.  As we leave Sesula we pass houses on the low hillside, bougainvillea  and oleander draped over facades and verandahs.  The oleanders flower very lushly here and have a heady perfume.  The coastal houses have steps partly hewn and partly cemented which descend from gardens to diving platforms or natural ledges near the water’s edge.  We motor past the entrance to Masalinica and anchor off a nameless isalnd between Solta and Stipanska for lunch and a swim.

Making the crossing to Nigel’s marina on the mainland takes us across a tract of water where, thanks to the cloud cover and the wind that has rustled itself up, we get our best sail yet, reaching 7.6 knots.  I sit in the cockpit enjoying the sensation as the wind fills the sails, the sound of the humming chorus in the rigging, the boat heeling over as she creams along. Nick and Nigel fine tune adjustments on the sails to maintain a good speed without overcanvassing.

We arrive at Marina Agana, a small unpretentious marina.  What it lacks in sophistication (shopping opportunities, restaurant, smart reception area) it makes up for with a fabulous shower block.  It’s the first one I have come across where you don’t have to keep leaning on a knob to keep some semblance of a steady stream of water.

We go ashore to eat.  There is more argy bargy, this time over aspects of the meal.  Nigel gets a small reduction and some complimentary wine by way of compensation.  It is more than we need.  Back at the boat there is no way we will stay awake for Foyle’s War.

I wake far too early on departure day, my mind buzzing and a bit anxious.  I read my William Boyd novel, Ordinary Thunderstorms, thinking I will read myself back to sleep as Iusually do, but it does not happen.  At 8.30 I haul myself out of my bunk and the day is spent shutting down the boat readying for departure in the early evening.

This brings our second Croatian interlude this year to a close.  We have been joining sailing friends in the Adriatic for the past five years or more and as we fall into bed in the very early hours, after our drive from Stanstead, we agree that next year it will be a case of, as Monty Python would announce,  ‘And Now for Something Completely Different’

Lights Overboard

We continue our waterborne amble down the west coast of Kornat; past Vrulje, Lopatica, Ropotnika with a lunch stop in a niche at the northeast tip of Lavsa.  We are bound for Smokvica (another anchorage with happy memories) and when we arrive, the innermost harbour is busy so we have to anchor in the west bay at the entrance to the inlet.  Because there are many boats here, a decision is made to book for supper at Konoba Piccolo and as luck would have it I get the last small table on the terrace.

A cooling-down swim is needed then we have some drinks on board before going ashore.  When we come to load up on the dinghy something goes awry and Nick and I end up in the water.  He has tried to help me down with one foot in the dinghy and one of the diving platform on the stern of Philippides.  A classic mistake.  He feels his legs drifting apart when I wobble, and he has no leverage to hold me steady before I can sit down.

So in we both go and he tells me afterwards how amused he was to see my face underwater with my glasses still on.  Very droll.  Sorry folks but there is no picture for the gallery this time!  There’s no point in making a fuss.  A quick change is called for and the contents of my bag are laid out to dry with my watch: wallet, camera, phone, but thankfully no other vulnerable items.  Amazingly my nice Versace specs stayed on as I bubbled back up to the surface.

What follows is a convivial evening with Hungarian Sofia and Croatian Kornel at the table next to us and next to them, Hartmut and ‘Daisy’ Katz.  We sing, we swap contact details and during conversation an assignation emerges whereby undertakings are given to reune on September 13th.  Nick and I won’t be in Croatia then but I wonder if Nigel will keep it….

Two complimentary bottles of local liqueurs are brought to our tables (normally you are just given a glass) and this accounts for some thick heads on Philippides 5 the next morning, but thankfully not mine.  You can’t beat a swim under those circumstances, then we are off.  We have no great distance to travel, merely to Uvala Stupica Veli which is on the southern end of Zirje.  This marks a southern boundary for the Kornati archipelago and associated islands before you travel over more open water to the complex of rather larger islands such as Solta, Brac, Hvar.

The anchorage is thoroughly buoyed and tying up to one of these invites a charge, or a requirement that you eat at the local konoba.  We are eating aboard so we drop anchor near the entrance to the embayment even though it makes for a windy and choppy trip when we take the dinghy ashore.  We make a short ramble up a track, which has been improved in places with the addition of chipped limestone pebbles, to the fortress of Justinian.

The flora around the ruins is diverse and I am sad not to have my camera, or to have thought to suggest that Nick bring his iPhone.  There are many plants which have flowerheads nearly spent, but I do find Helichrysum italicum growing more plentifully and vigorously so I take some sprigs for the pot.  The aroma is rather thicker than the nose-clearing pungent smells associated with thyme, rosemary, eucalyptus.

I spot a dainty little stem of beautiful purple flowers, orchid-like with a long calyx and I subsequently find others which are less advanced.  I’ll have to try and track the name down.  I come across a well at ground level and disguised by bushes, with a grating which doesn’t quite cover the opening.  I drop some pebbles down – they fall for a long time, clattering against the sides before coming to rest at the bottom.   Scary.

We swim when back at the boat, to cool down then it’s omelettes with herby saute potatoes.  We settle down for another episode of Foyle’s War before retiring to our respective bunks.

Moseying round the Kornatis

After my energetic scramble I am only too happy to relax in the cockpit whilst Nick and Nigel haul the anchor and we motor round to a sheltered anchorage on Otok Aba Veliki for a swim, lunch stop and afterwards I snooze in my cabin.  Nick and Nigel have to mend the anchor winch.  This accomplished we head for Levrnaka, a favoured haunt.

There’s a bit of argy bargy over picking up lazy lines to tie up to the pontoon for the konoba there.  Instead we anchor off a bit, it’s no big deal to row ashore for supper.  Nick revives his acquaintance with the young man who serves and who is a fellow Arvor owner.  Supper is good, the men have a steak, I have scampi risotto preceded by octopus salad.  We almost manage to stay awake for another episode of Foyle’s War.

I sleep till 8, have a dip then breakfast.  Before leaving Levrnaka we walk over the low ridge which takes us to Uvala Lojena.  It is a small shingle beach with sand and a bay ringed by a floating boom.  The bottom is sandy, the water clear.  It is a beautiful spot and there are a couple of naturist families frolicking in the shallows.  Nick and I cannot resist having a swim; I’m glad I put my bathers on!  We have a fabulous bathe.  One could be swimming off some Pacific island in the southern hemisphere.  It is so lovely I’d stay in longer than we do but Nigel is waiting at the water’s edge and it seems rude to keep him waiting!

On the way back to Philippides I take photos of the gorgeous Oleanders which are growing unchecked and randomly around the other small konoba at Levrnaka, with its campsite by the track.  We walk back to the boat, swim again and I prepare lunch.  We are going to the spot on the seaward side of Kornat where there is a ruined fortress and disused chapel.

We went ashore here with the Derricks last year.  We swim, eat then press on.  We are not really sure where we are going but we are barely under way when Nigel spots an anchorage he fancies at Kravljacica, the northern end of a wide embayment. It’s late afternoon so we relax on the boat for a while and read.  Nick watches 2 women picking their way across the low slopes above the shore.  They are gathering something.  I think it might be Roman snails having seen them in the terrain hereabouts, but they are stooping too frequently and taking longer than is necessary to pick up a snail.  I then think they must be gathering herbs – but which?  They certainly seem to have to seek out their harvest.

We are going to eat on board so row ashore to the Konoba Andrija beforehand, the men have a beer, I have an unusual white wine – dark, only just chilled, heavier than normal but not sweet.  The atmosphere here is very rural, authentic…….. the facilities, cooking arrangements are quite basic and we watch the owners prepare fish to cook on their barbeque and much care is lavished.

Gradually diners who appear to be staying in the motley collection of residences round about arrive, skinny cats prowl around, taunting the beagle who forms part of the crew on one of the visitor boats tied up to the rickety pontoon.    Before we leave the next morning Nigel and I go ashore and I think I identify the mystery herb; it is a wild version of the ‘curry’ plant I have in my garden, Helichrysum italicum which, subsequently, the internet tells me is beneficial for all manner of bodily complaints.   The plants are dwarfed in the arid habitat and you can see that the tips have been removed.  I gather a few sprigs to add to the wild sage and rosemary which grow freely on the islands and which get snipped into our salads.

Nothing short of an Ordeal

Our destination is the Kornati Islands and we intermittently cruise and then sail up to find an anchorage at Statival, an embayment on northeastern Kornat.  As the boat flows along we gaze anew at the now familiar, spare, landscape of low-lying islands with their gently rounded summits and occasional minor peaks.  The only angles are those of the dipping limestone strata which have been folded and tilted in eons past.

We see few vessels during the day, and I read on the foredeck, in the shelter of the sail, with a balmy breeze running across the deck.  When the wind strength drops we glide noiselessly, save for the gentle lap and slap of the sea against the hull, moving smoothly over the water.

We arrive at a suitable anchorage some time just before 4.  We’ve not been here before, it is peaceful………. even though we are in the middle of a veritable auditorium of singing cicadas.

(Male cicadas have loud noisemakers called “timbals” and their “singing” is not the sound of two body structures rubbed against one another as in insects like crickets.  The timbals are regions of the exoskeleton that are modified to form a complex membrane.  Contracting the internal timbal muscles produces a clicking sound as the timbals buckle inwards. As these muscles relax, the timbals return to their original position producing another click.  The interior of the male abdomen is substantially hollow to amplify the resonance of the sound. Each species has its own distinctive song. The diversity of animal structure and behaviour never ceases to amaze.)

It has been warm on the boat so we have a brisk, cooling swim and after I cook supper which we eat in the cockpit.  Afterwards an episode of Foyle’s War – Nigel has the boxed set.

Waking at 6.30 I go back up into the cockpit to read.  Three of the crew from the Austrian boat which followed us in the evening before, row ashore and start to climb up the hill which has one of the typical walled olive grove enclosures on its lower slope.  Each at their own pace, I note the most corpulent of the 3 brings up the rear.  When Nigel rises he suggests we do like-wise as a good pre-breakfast exercise.  I agree but Nick demurs.  He is not a great walker.

Nigel rows us across and we c limb out onto the heavily karstified limestone ‘shore’, scramble up the bank through a vegetation of long fine reedy grass tussocks and low prickly twiggly shrubby flora.  There are loose blocks of limestone to stumble over all over the place, with occasional horizons of limestone strata, running as seams laterally across the hill which make high steps to clamber up.

I have to stop several times to get my breath back.  The heat is draining.  I take pictures, rest beneath the shade of an occasional tree.  Once at the top there is a clear view down the western flank of Kornat Island and north to the inlet at Telascica.

There are two large crucifixes fashioned out of limestone blocks and laid out on the hillside, in memory of 12 firemen who were killed when attending a grass fire in August 2007.  The climb has been nothing less than an ordeal but endured with the promise of an easier descent.

Not so in this case, the descent is tough over very uneven terrain with limestone bedrock, loose blocks, scree and tussocks and vegetation disguising depressions into which a foot can so easily land awkwardly.  I do slip, grazing my legs and cutting the palm of my hand.  At least I am carrying a prize – a rather fine piece of natural pumice.

Half way down I feel I am reaching my limit, worried I may not have put enough sunscreen on, thankful I have my hat.  Relief is reaching a sanctuary, and the walled olive grove at the foot of the hill is such.  Nigel and I find our way along a track beneath the low olive trees and are very soon on the bank above the dinghy.  Back on Philippides V I down a glass of water but have no appetite for food right away.  A swim sets the process of recovery in motion.