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2011 Logs

July 2011
Happy Independence Day!!!!
Kids celebrate the 4th with the girls (Emma, Lily & Zoe) of Mehari in AntiPaxos, Greece

July 7, 2011 – Corfu, Greece

Happy Independence Day!!  For the first time since we left the US, we were with other American cruisers for the 4th of July holiday.  At a beautiful, if not a little rolly, anchorage at the small island of Anti Paxos, we celebrated America’s BDay in style with the Hemingway family on Mehari from AZ, Stu and Sandy on Heartsong from Chicago, and Martin on Anima from Austria (honorary American). 


Our kids were very excited to be with kid friends this year and we prepared by making lots of crafts and decorating Imagine with Red, White, and Blue.  They even snuck on board Anima to decorate it as well.  Although the scenery was quite different, it felt a little bit like we were back celebrating in Monroe Harbor.  After the kids swam and kayaked all day, everyone came to Imagine for a BBQ where we had typical American food, such as, hot dogs, hamburgers, potato salad, and apple pie ala mode.  We all wore red, white, and blue and Marc even donned his very patriotic (if not, a little bit obnoxious) shirt.

We wrapped up the celebration with sparklers on the front deck and a night of singing with Martin andGreece/IMG_8080.JPG Eric on guitar.  Like all good holiday parties everyone enjoyed themselves and we were all exhausted the next day but we rallied and sailed up to the island of Corfu which would be our last stop in Greece.

Corfu is a very pretty tourist island that has a different feel from the other islands that we have visited in Greece.  Because of its proximity to Italy and its history as a Venetian port, the architecture seems to resemble Italy more than the blue domed churches of Greece.  It has a very nice “feel” to it and the locals are friendly and, to us, seem more outgoing than in other areas of Greece.  In fact, I wish that we could stay here a little longer but the weather window is right and since the wind is usually out of the north here in the Ionian Sea, we need to leave while the winds are weak for Croatia.  So we are off to explore what we have heard is the most beautiful cruising ground in the Med…..we’ll see. 

Marc & Stu (Heartsong III) enjoy the 4th

Caroline with Miles (Mehari) & Stu and Sandy (Heartsong III)

Noah with Lily & Zoe (Mehari)

July 12, 2011 – Dubrovnik, Croatia

As we explored the ancient walled city of Dubrovnik, it is hard to comprehend that with the collapse of Yugoslavia just 20 years ago, this beautiful city was under siege for 7 months being shelled for the hills above.   After a concerted effort by UNESCO and the world, most of the damage on the ancient walls, that have protected the city for centuries, have been repaired.  Now it stands as monument to the old and new Croatia … and as a tourist haven for all of the cruise ships. 

Despite going against the prevailing wind, we had a relatively easy passage from Greece.  In fact, we were even able to sail a little bit…novel concept for a sailboat in the Med.  We arrived into Gruz Harbor outside of Dubrovnik in the early AM just in time to check into the country.  We had been warned many times about the high fees of checking into Croatia but it still “hurt”.  At almost $500 for a one month cruising permit, Croatia ranks as one of our most expensive countries visited.  Since many countries charge little to nothing for customs and immigration fees, this is definitely a pricey visit.  We also won’t be going to any marinas here as our quote from the local ACI Marina was $140 US.  Just to put that into perspective we paid $20 US to stay at One 15 Marina in Singapore which included the 5 star amenities from the attached resort.  Needless to say, we’ll be anchoring.  But we’ve heard that it is an absolutely beautiful place to cruise so we hope that it’s worth it. 

We’ve spent the last couple of days exploring the city of Dubrovnik which is just a fabulous place. At an uninterrupted 6,360 ft in length and 82 ft high, the most prominent feature of the ancient city is the fortified walls.  First constructed in the 7th century AD but primarily refined between the 14th and 17th century, the walls make up one of the oldest fortifications in Europe.  With the city full of churches, fortresses, and monasteries peaking out above the walls, it was a beautiful entry point to Croatia. 

Although most sailboats, anchor outside of Dubrovnik and bus to the walled city, we decided to brave the swell of day trippers, jet skis, and cruise ship transports and anchor outside the old harbor.   We were glad that we did as we were able to enjoy the lit up city but also we were able to have front row seats to the fireworks display opening the Dubrovnik Summer Festival.  Although smaller, the display was similar to Chicago as they bring a barge out to the harbor.  We actually had to move Imagine because the barge was placed right between us and our friend Anima.  It was a great display and seeing the fireworks above the walled city was quite a treat. 

Now it’s time to start exploring the rest of the Dalmatian coast of Croatia.  We are happy to be cruising with our friend Martin, from Anima, who has sailed the 100’s of islands and crystal clear waters here since he was a kid.  With him as a tour guide we are sure to enjoy.

July 20, 2011 – Hvar, Croatia

“Swimwear in the Med …. Or lack there of”

The description of the swimwear worn or “not worn” in the Med deserves a blog entry all to itself.  Sorry to digress here, and no offense intended to anyone or nationality, but we just couldn't Not comment after our time in Croatia!

Early in our travels in the Caribbean we saw all sorts of 'interesting' swimwear, that just became commonplace and while we at times would cringe and divert the kids attention, we accepted.  Later, during our travels in 
Indonesia & Thailand, our Aussie friends introduced us to the 'mankini' or 'buggie smuggler'......Yikes, we thought that was scary.....until we reached the MED!

First in Turkey, we were greeted by many, many Speedos and bikinis on people who would look much better with a little more cover.  But, oh well, we didn’t find it very flattering but to each his own and we are in Europe.  Then we went to the islands of Greece, especially Kos, and we were surprised at all of the topless women.  Again, we aren’t talking models here – it’s more like Grandmas.   Personally, I think that most of them would have looked much better in a nice one piece swimsuit and a sarong. 

But nothing, absolutely nothing, compares to the nakedness in Croatia.  Hilarious is the only word to describe it.  There is absolutely no modesty as men (usually it was the men) do everything on and off their boats naked.  We aren’t just talking a quick skinny dip off of their stern:  We saw a naked man standing at the bow of his boat as he sailed into the harbor.  We had a naked man snorkel by the boat to tell us that our anchor wasn’t set properly – he had time enough to put on fins and a snorkel but not a swimsuit.  But the funniest sight was the, not so fit, man jet skiing in an anchorage off of Hvar.  From what can determine, these are not Croatians but mostly European tourists.

As a good puritanical American, I was at first a bit concerned about the children but after awhile it became a good joke and we all had a lot of laughs.  I guess, like everything that we encounter, this is just part of the experience and although not one of the best parts…. it was hilarious.

July 26, 2011 – Trogir, Croatia

We have had an absolute blast cruising the Dalmatian coast and islands of Croatia for the past weeks with our friend, Martin.  Despite the nakedness and many, many charter boats, the crystal clear waters, beautiful islands, and historical towns and villages have provided a great cruising ground.   

We thoroughly enjoyed the walled city of Korcula and the village of Stari Grad.  The stone architecture and small cobble stone streets made you realize you were a long way from the pavement and sidewalks in the US.  But, by far, the best part of Croatia was hanging out in the beautiful blue waters of the islands with our friends; Martin on Anima, Stu and Sandy on Heartsong, and Clint and Adair on Emmanuel. 

We were virtually attached to Anima during our stay in Croatia and had a blast spending time with our good friend.   We enjoyed swimming, diving, watching movies, playing Uno, playing music, and just hanging out.  The kids had a sleepover on Anima and even got to sail on a “real” sailboat without electric winches, a windlass, and even use paper charts.  Martin was the perfect tour guide for Croatia and without him our experience would not have been nearly as good.

Croatia/IMG_8241.JPGBut today we said good-bye to our friend, as it is time for Martin to head home to Austria and for Imagine to start sailing toward Italy.  It was a very difficult goodbye as we all had become great friends with Martin.  But we promised to visit each other at our homes in Vienna and Chicago.  We want to ski in Austria and Martin wants to go to a Bulls game.  We've become somewhat accustomed to making wonderful friends along our journey, and often sad when we part ways, but know we have made friends for life and look forward to reunions back home or abroad.  This has been one of the real unanticipated pleasures coming from our cruising life.

July 31, 2011 – Split, Croatia

“Circumnavigation Realized” – not ours.....yet

As we have been enjoying the beautiful waters of Croatia, many of our European friends have been completing their circumnavigation.   Congratulations to all of them and best of luck on their new adventures.  Congrats to Martin on Anima; Jason, Amanda, John Jack (6) and Louie (4) on Pegasus; Tyrone and all of his crew on Gillaroo; Martin, Dirma, Boaz (6), Daniel, and Joel (twins – 2) aboard 'Dingo'; Jean Pierre, Vera, Bob and Luc on Senang; Anders and Brigit on Margherita; and also congrats to Americans Dallas and Lauren on 'Pura Vida' who completed their circumnav in Florida.

The quest of a circumnavigation is something that we have not talked about a lot over the last couple of years.  Although we have always hoped that we could sail around the world, our adventure has been more about seeing the world and enjoying ourselves.  Marc and I promised each other when we left Chicago that we would keep sailing as long we were having fun as a family.  But if a point came when we thought that it was better for the kids to be back at home, we would end the journey.  Well as you’ve all read we are still having fun out here and the kids are growing emotionally, educationally, and definitely physically.  After the drama and stress of the Indian Ocean and the GOA, I think that Marc is even more determined than ever to realize his dream and we are all on board.  So hopefully, as we continue to enjoy ourselves, grow, and see the world, we might just sail around it. 

But for now, we’ll enjoy the Med and toast our friends who have realized their dreams!

July 31, 2011 – Cavtat, Croatia.
Final Word on Croatia

Croatia/IMG_8279.JPGWe have spent our last couple of days in Croatia anchored off the old town of Croatia.  We took a little inland trip to the town of Cilipi, with Clint and Adair from Emmanuel, to see a performance of Croatian folk dancing.  The old town was very quaint, we sampled Croatian wine (VERY sweet), and enjoyed the show.  As I watch the men and women dancing in traditional costumes and twirling each other in a synchronized pattern, I was reminded of the many times I went square dancing as a child. 

As we are still lacking in funds since we still don’t have an ATM after the whole pickpocket incident, we decided to walk back the 5 miles back to Cavtat instead of take the bus.  We’re so glad that we did!  It was a beautiful, relaxing walk.  We were able to just hang out and enjoy each other and best of all, we picked a big bag of black berries.  What a treat, I think that we ate more than we brought home.  But once back on the boat, the kids made a dessert of berries, crème, and cookies. 

As we leave Croatia, we have to reflect on this beautiful, interesting country.  With its quaint towns and villages, beautiful islands, and clear, blue water, it should be the perfect cruising ground.  But to us, it felt like everything about this country is now a quest for the almighty tourist dollar.  You can’t really blame Croatia, after the war and their years as a part of Yugoslavia, they now have to grow their own economy.  And what better way to do that than tourism.  But in their quest, they need to be careful that they don’t lose what makes it special.  With only ice cream shops and souvenir stores, the quaint little towns feel like they were created for tourists and the beautiful anchorages are jam packed with charter boats.   Everyone is trying to get into the action and friends of ours were even asked to pay up to $40 a night to anchor, something that we have seen nowhere else in the world.  Although, we were never asked to pay, we were nervous everywhere we dropped the hook and we often did not go to specific anchorages because we knew that they charged.  Although we thoroughly enjoyed Croatia, it was primarily due to the time we spent with our friends and having our own personal tour guide, Martin, to show us the less visited anchorages. 

The Dalmatian coast is a beautiful and interesting place but if you are going to visit it, either by land or by boat, I’d recommend going outside of peak tourist season (July and August), stay off the beaten path, and bring your wallet. 

On trail from Cilipi to Cavtat