A Tuba and a Naked Fisherman

We worked for it and now, finally, we are back in the groove. Our first night at anchor, truly anchored not a mooring or touristy marina, marked the start of this leg of our journey. Year 7. Leg 11. Our children have grown up aboard as have Kelly and I in so many ways.

See you soon Grands!

We spent our first week in a 5th floor walk up apartment in Split scurrying back and forth to Trogir (TRO-gurr) and our girl Madame Geneva to perform the ritual of splashing, rigging, cleansing, provisioning….as well as wiring, fixing, hunting for parts in one of many foreign tongues.  Che, having been accepted to a wonderful school of the arts back home, now has a full sized 88 key electric piano as a bunk mate to stay sharp. Che, Gherty and Quinn all finished their last week of school online in Croatia 6 hours ahead.

Last week of school

We’ve got this part pretty well figured out. Once we set off I feel we’ve got the sailing bits mostly dialed in. We’ve tied up to countless moorings, med moored too often to tabulate, and anchored (as well as dragged anchor and reanchored) in most conditions. Not to worry. The weather is still the main concern. The children’s safety and comfort are still paramount. Often at the sacrifice of our own comfort. That’s what we signed up for. Not to worry. We love it.

I see changes in the children that are both predictable and surprising. I can’t tell you what a gift it is to be together so much. Now that we have 2 bona fide teenagers on board and one stretching his wings a year ahead of schedule it’s shifted from, “what will we do today Mommy?” towards “maybe you two should go have a gin and tonic on the Riva so we can read aboard in peace Dad.” They’re independent, resourceful and comfortable in all of these surroundings. I guess that’s what we’ve been working toward so, again, everything here is going well.

We left Trogir after a week headed nowhere in particular. Just happy to get going. The myriad rules for an American yacht with 2 fully vaccinated adults, 2 partially vaccinated teens and one child unvaccinated at 6 months shy of the age minimum is tricky and fluid. Add in the normal bureaucracy of EU rules for a foreign boat and basically we were presented with one option. Enjoy island hopping in Croatian waters for a week prior to heading on.  We need to clear into Montenegro, to clear out of the EU, to reset our temporary import of Madame Geneva for another 18 months. We can’t enter Montenegro without quarantining unless we’ve been in the EU for 15 days continuously. And….only just recently, can we enter Greece at all. Not to mention Albanian waters. We can’t set foot ashore in Albania or the whole house of cards crumbles. Also, they have some piracy issues from time to time. So….we have a plan. And what, you ask, has been our family motto since the day we set off north on our first night sailing? “Make a plan. Then do what happens.” It seems for once we will need to try to stick with the plan so perhaps all this “we got this” bluster is moot. Let’s hope the Bora winds don’t pounce on us from the northeast or the Sirocco from the south right as we are trying to transit the only shore we are forbidden to make landfall on. I’m sure it’ll be fine. It’s only a 24 jump from beautiful Tivat, Montenegro to Corfu, Greece our port of entry. Just like everything else it’s all about timing….eating the bread before it gets hard, remembering to thaw dinner early enough, checking the house battery voltage, charging the e-readers, making fresh water whenever possible……and so forth.

One quick night on a mooring in Uvala Lucice (OO-Vala LOO-see-chuh) in the island of Brac (BRA-tshh). A peaceful and easy first night to get resorted and in the groove. On morning two Kelly and I congratulated ourselves on all systems working great. Solar energy crackling, kids in high spirits. Lets run the watermaker and make sure she’s ready to do her annual heavy lifting. Perfect start up, pumping out fresh water at 100 liters/hour. Yes!! Wait! Where is the brine it dumps from the outlet into the sink? How is it making so much fresh water without the salty bit being expelled? (Slow motion cinematic) Nooooooo!! The marina had closed the outlet valve I have left open for 6 years since I installed it way back in the states. It’s under the cabin sole in the bilge out of sight. That explosion you heard in your imagination was our fresh water pump literally blown in two under the pressure before we could turn it off. Sooooo. After some research and a few lilting, fairly intelligible phone calls we hit the jackpot and found a new pump just a few harbors away in Milna (a rare instance of no phonetics required). A quick motor and we were med moored to the quay and were were in business. 2 hours and surprisingly no bloody knuckles later and the shattered former pump was swapped for the functioning pump. We paid for the night at the quay and have time to burn, so why not pizza and sightseeing? The food was spectacular and the ancient little town was gorgeous. We made friends for the night with a German sailing family who had much interest and many questions about Madame Geneva and the “plan.” Klaus and his family joined us in the cockpit after dinner to swap stories. These are always fun nights. It’s so fascinating how different cultures approach the same challenges in different ways. I said that’s it’s always been important to us not to scare the children when sailing if possible because that could lead to them not wanting to do this anymore. Klaus responded that he enjoys scaring his wife and children. They all laughed.

Next day we got all set to go. It was Sunday and church bells started ringing at 5 AM so getting up and motivated wasn’t hard. Plus, the Russian crew at the quay next to us were singing in 8 part harmony over their breakfast. It was a lovely way to get moving. Then…..break out the tuba!!!! A catamaran adjacent to us thought it was a good time to stand on the coach roof with a marching sousaphone and a full sized accordion and blast out German beer drinking tunes to the roaring applause of everyone in the harbor including the 14th century church behind them that rang her bells at sixteen past the hour to cheer them on. Wide grins. We’re back in the Med.

After being shot out of Milna harbor by a tuba we unfurled the Genoa and left the mainsail down as we charged down the Hvar canalski (VAR- canal) between Brac and Hvar at 8 knots close reaching in the smallest of chop. A great ride and another short one since we have time, there’s still so much to see and it will be quite a while till we come back this way. Anchored in 35 feet over soft sand we found ourselves in Luka Vrboska (LUKA-Ver-BOSK-uh) surrounded by stunning mountains tucked into a protected bight in a pine forest. In the afternoon we dinghied into shore and followed a path around the headland with stunning views and naked people everywhere. Yep! A Croatian nudist camping destination. Why not? The kids have seen this all before from the French Caribbean to, well, all of Europe. They still have reactions ranging from giggles to fury. All part of the journey. Kelly and I did laugh ourselves silly over the man fishing naked on the rocks realizing we started our day with a tuba concert and ended it with a naked fisherman….we all had a great laugh.

Quinn takes the “Britainic” out for her inaugural spin.

We are back at it. I’m so grateful we all made it. Everyone we know and love made it through this year. We are lucky beyond measure. And we know it. And so we carry on. Because this time with our children is short and precious.

Kelly, “Quinn, wanna jump in the water with me?” Quinn, “Nope”.  Perfect.

We’ve missed you Madame

Stay tuned. Much love.

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