by Joe (with Sydney and Piper).
People who know me well realize that I have a few quirky habits… and that some of these get a little, uh, magnified under certain circumstances. For example:
- When travelling and experiencing limited availability of high-capacity washer/drier machines, I might be comfortable repeating an article of clothing for more than just one day. (I would NEVER do this at home. Cough..)
- I believe in the natural cleansing power of salt water, sun, and ocean breezes. I believe the oil in your skin is there for a reason and cavepeople weren’t “disgusting”. Mix in a touch of claustrophobia and… in the face of a cramped-sailboat-head-for-a-shower… I might just remain au natural for a few days.
- My favorite article of clothing: bathing suit.
What’s worse… powerful genetics have caused my offspring to inherit some of these predelictions– with even less measured maturity than I have. You may debate that last point, but I can say for certain that if we did a “showercon” on the blog, I would NOT be leading the count in the “days without” column!
AND SO … you can imagine the giant leap of faith made by the Carr family— all FOUR of them– when they chose to cram themselves into a boat with FIVE of us for SIX long days and nights. This is a cramped space, which of course increases pressure and retains odors.
They didn’t know us like some of you do… but of course that’s changed and they now know us quite.. intimately …
Welcome to Lunja
Our families decided months ago that we’d travel together aboard the Lunja — 9 people + a captain aboard a 56 foot sailboat. At the time we booked the trip, our kids had never even met! But Bill and Lynn have always seemed like nice people.. we really wanted to split the cost of a sailing trip.. and after all this whole thing is in the spirit of adventure. So, off we went.
Lunja had five cabins + “the grave” up front where Borko, our captain, slept. Each of the parent-couples took a cabin at the stern, the boys were in two cabins up front, and Sydney and Piper occupied the smallest cabin, aft, that was just big enough for two bunk beds. It was about the size of their closet at home!
We motored out of Split on a hot afternoon… cleared the edge of the point.. and the kids were immediately put to work as grinders, pulling the sails out, tightening the sheets… and the fun began.
Day 1 and the Sailboating life… Island of Braĉ
Not surprisingly, it was easy for us to get into the groove of sailing… wake up anchored in a bay or moored to a buoy… swim or paddleboard… breakfast on the boat.. then sail to a new destination, explore, go to sleep on the boat. The weather was perfect all the way and we all learned a lot about operating the machinery of sailing.
Sydney on our captain and the berth she shared with Piper:
Captain Borko was the Captain of our ship. He is really nice. I am happy he doesn’t smoke because most captains smoke. He can dive down really far because he use to be a free diver. Once he dove to the bottom and saved a mask. It is awesome to watch him dive.
Falling off the top bunk
On the boat i was on the top bunk and I fell off. I didn’t hurt at all. I was asleep the whole time. Mommy knew what it was when she heard a thump so she went in our room and saw me asleep climbing up my top bunk. There was no ladder so I don’t know how I did it. In the morning daddy asked me about it I didn’t remember any of it.
And here’s Piper on swimming and eating Croatian foods:
Every day on the sailboat we would go swimming. Sometimes the boat would be moving and we would hang on by a rope. The water was cold. I was not scared. I also snorkeled off the boat and saw some sea urchin. When we were anchored we would dive down and who ever got the farthest down the anchor would win.
In Croatia I tried zero new foods. I ate pasta and Asian food. Good for you Piper!
Our “washing routines” changed on the sailboat too. As a near-13-year-old, we decided that Alexander was now on the hook for kitchen work just like the rest of the adults.. so each day he was on dishwashing duty (with help from Evan Carr). And when it was time to shower (which I think happened only once or twice on the whole trip).. we preferred to be able to stretch out on the swim platform than be cramped and making a mess in the tiny head.
(Yes, we took showers! That whole blog opening was just click bait. Uh.. yeah! Click bait!)
Day 2 at Komiza on the Island of Vis… with yummy Peka!
On our second day, we pulled into the harbor at Komiza… a small-town on the island of Vis. This was a chance to hit the grocery store, swim, and to travel uphill and inland for our first taste of Peka, which is a Croatian specialty of this island.
Peka means “under the bell” — it’s a way of cooking seafood or meat over a fire and inside a steel dome. You need to order your meal way in advance as the whole process takes 3-4 hours. A particular specialty here is Octopus. Oh man, it was delicious!
Underwater Cave on the Island of Biševo
We woke up on July 4th with anticipation– lots of Croatian tourists visit “the Blue Cave” near the island of Vis… but our captain said he knew a place just as cool and not overwhelmed with tourists. After dropping anchor just off Biševo, we left Lunja and Borko behind and headed into the water-filled Medvidina Cave by dinghy.
With no “professional guide” aboard, and in an ever-darkening water-filled cave, you can imagine that our group– mostly kids– got more and more nervous as we went farther in. Fortunately, once Alexander leaped into the water the other kids got braver and soon we were all snorkeling in the dark cave, lit only by a single handheld light we carried with us and the mesmerizing blue of the sunlight filtered ever-so-slightly through the gorgeous, clear Adriatic waters.
Most of the group snorkeled and exited via the dinghy.. but Alexander and I headed backwards to the very back of the cave.. creeping our way over smoothed stone and holding onto stalactites. It got cold, and eventually we returned to the cave mouth after seeing schools of little fish, jellyfish, and amazing rock formations.
Here’s Sydney on the “Bear cave”:
It was dark and scary. I went swimming because I didn’t want to be the only one in the boat. I felt scared before and proud after. It was really cold in the water. If you looked out the cave you saw the most amazing blueish aqua color. It wasn’t crowded at all. It was cool and scary. We had one flashlight. We rode the dingy in and then swam it out because the motor broke.
Genneker to the Island of Šcedro
After the cave, we had a lot of distance to travel… downwind.. so it was time to use the Genneker! A genneker is a form of spinnaker sail that fills out front but tilts to one side or the other– kind of a cross between a genoa and a spinnaker. We had great wind for using the genneker and loved seeing the brightly-colored sail out front.
The only hiccup… as an inexperienced crew we botched the take-down. We let the main line that held the sail up fly out of our control and thread back through the mast. With 20km winds, the sail was whipping aroudn and partly fell in the water. You can see in one of the photos as Bill, Borko and I are up front trying to get control of the big sail as it flapped around in the wind. Borko was a great sport .. “if something doesn’t go wrong– you’re not sailing!”
We’d heard great things about the medieval, seaside walled-city of Korĉula … and as we approached the swarms of windsurfers and kitesurfers signalled that it’d be somewhere special. This was the only place where we did a “Mediterranean mooring”, with the sailboat backed right up to the city marina. In magic-hour light, we walked the narrow streets which provided shade from the heat and hid charming shops and restaurants around every corner. We climbed to the top of the city’s clock tower and were rewarded with beautiful views of the surrounding islands and the buildings carpeting the hillsides.
In honor of their wedding anniversary the day before, Kristina and I took all the kids out—separately—for dinner at a seaside Asian restaurant (!) while Bill and Lynn celebrated on their own. Not-too-crowded, historic, and lovely… Korĉula was a highlight of the voyage.
Mljet and its National Park — our Last Night at Island of Šipan
Foreshadowed on giant wooden signs all through the Croatian Islands, Mljet is home to a National Park with two high-salt-content lakes and a lakebound island monastery. Mljet became our “exercise port”. In the evening we rented kayaks and all 9 of us paddle into strong winds to explore the monastery. (And in an unfortunate turn of events, Alexander lost the paddle to his one-man kayak when we were stopped… so he became my paddle partner and we towed his kayak back.) The next morning Mljet was our running ground.. with Borko, the Carrs and I covering a shady, hilly 7.5 miler before enjoying a homemade cup of coffee.
On our last evening, we moored on a buoy provided by our dinner restaurant in Šipan. We celebrated a fun, relaxing, adventurous cruise with a delicious sea bass served the Croatian way… whole. THe harbor was dotted with sailboats of all sizes… and even a couple of megayachts sporting giant slides and a helicopter. We watched a beautiful sunset, knowing we’d sure miss these islands.
The next morning we sailed into Dubrovnik and joined the masses of tourists arriving by cruise ship, bus tours and international flights. We know it won’t quite be the same as on our lovely Lunja.
Thank you, Borko (and Ivana)! We had a great time!