With over 6,000 islands, thousands of bays and anchorages, spectacular coastline, ancient ruins, cute white & blue buildings and beautiful weather Greece is an ideal cruising destination. So many cruisers fall in love with it and end up spending season after season cruising Greek waters. For a while there it seemed like we were the only ones not cruising in Greece! Well now finally we are.
Looking back over the past year of cruising it feels like a lifetime ago that we started out as babes in the woods. We have learnt a lot, including how we like to cruise and live aboard. We have seen some amazing sights and have met some wonderful people as well. We have certainly had some unforgettable experiences. Here are a few of our most memorable-est moments so far.
On Saturday the 4th of August 2018 at approximately 7 am Team ITIKI left the dock at La Rochelle and started our adventures. One year on and ITIKI has taken us 4,378nm, through 12 countries* and 2 continents. We had pretty much everything we needed to get going, and in any case France was closed for summer holidays so what you see is what you get! Like any boat and any home there are always things to add, tweaks and modifications – these have become known as “boat jobs” and certainly serve to keep skippers’ hands and minds busy on those “slower” days. You really need to live on your boat and experience your cruising lifestyle to find out what sort of additions you might like to ensure a more comfortable and safer cruising experience.
Other cruisers as well as FP gurus such as Cote Mar have offered ideas and inspiration for numerous essential as well as “nice to have” items; here are the top 5 items we added after leaving La Rochelle.
On the 27th July, exactly 1 year ago, we moved on board ITIKI and she became our home. While we were still in the dock at La Rochelle for another week, we were officially “living aboard”. So how has she shaped up as a mobile home? Setting up a boat from scratch can be confusing, and a boat that you will be living on for most of the year is even more challenging. The list of “options” is long and daunting, and how do you know which ones to get factory fitted, which ones to do ex-factory and which ones to sort out yourselves? Although having had a Lipari gave us a bit of a head start, it was never set up for full-time cruising so that aspect was a big unknown. We asked a lot of questions to other cruisers and are eternally grateful for their generosity, sharing their time and knowledge. Nod from MultiHull Solutions, our dealer, was a great help of course and we nutted out a lot of things over a curry and a couple of beers in Sydney. So looking at ITIKI a year on what are our top five, “big ticket” inclusions that we feel are “must haves” from day one, for a comfortable cruising life (in order of priority!)
As we left Montenegro there was only one thing between us and the Greek Ionian Islands – Albania. Mind you, if you had asked me a year ago where Albania was, I would probably have pointed to somewhere in the Black Sea! With it is 362km of Adriatic coastline it is not a small country, and its southern-most part is only 1nm from the Greek island of Corfu. With its recent history of communism and isolationism, Albania seemed somewhat mysterious, exotic and a little bit scary so we had a lot of discussion about whether to stop there or just bypass it as many sailors do. At the last minute, we decided to recoup our investment in the Albanian courtesy flag, delay our arrival in Corfu and head in to Saranda for a few days to see for ourselves.
We finally said farewell to Croatia after just on 5 weeks of excellent cruising. Checked out at Cavtat in the morning of a public holiday (25th June, Independence day!) so no line boys on duty. I also had to go looking for the Port Police in a nearby café. The Harbourmaster was closed too we got to skip that step! It is only a short hop down the coast to Montenegro, well 33nm by the time we reach our anchorage, and it is mostly motoring as the forecasted 10kts NE fails to materialise until we area about to anchor.
From our favourite anchorage in Zaton, just north of Dubrovnik, we did a day trip into Bosnia & Herzegovina to the old city of Mostar. It was an early start for us, not least because it is broad daylight at 5am (yes seriously) so we are wide awake anyway. The bus picks us up from a nearby hotel just before 8am and we drive north along the spectacular coastal road in Croatia, overlooking some of the islands and anchorages we have visited in ITIKI, including Mali Ston. Our first stop is a border crossing into B&H (45mins for formalities) and once in the country we stop for a quick drink. The next border crossing is out of B&H and back into Croatia where the road continues. We track inland to our next border crossing back into B&H again (30 mins this time) and we are finally on our way to the waterfalls of Kravica. The falls surround a picturesque lagoon and are very popular with locals for swimming and kayaking. It’s a quaint and relatively undeveloped tourist spot compared to Krka in Croatia, but blissfully cool on what is shaping up to be a very hot day.
As every well-educated Australian knows, The Great Wall of China was built by emperor Nasi Goreng to keep the rabbits out. We recently visited the Walls of Ston as well as the famous walled city of Dubrovinik in an attempt to check whether this strategy was working in Croatia as well.
Our first 2 weeks in Croatia we didn’t have the best weather but the sun has finally broken through, fortunately right on cue for the arrival of our first guests of the season. Everyone is saying it has been unseasonably cold and a late start to the summer. Although the overnight boat shower has been nice and clean and the Skradin falls were fantastic, we really were praying for sun. Dare I say that now, 2 weeks on, we are (almost) complaining of the 35C heat!
We recently visited this beautiful part of Croatia in ITIKI and it was the highlight of our trip so far. With the recent rain the falls at Skradinski Buk were in full force. From the river mouth to Skradin it is an 11nM journey and this is as far as you can go in your own boat, but the journey was as special as the destination.
Lynda is slowly getting used to the transition from working to not working and racing to cruising.