On 1 May 2018 with Tahnee Mara fully secured for sea, we finally slipped our Croatian berth in Marina Frapa – our boat’s home and regular family holiday destination for the last 10 years. During the time that we have kept the boat here, we have spent as many school holidays as we could manage, coming out to Croatia with our girls and exploring the Adriatic coastline and islands. Rogoznica village has become like a second home, familiar and comforting, easing the stress from our regular busy lives. As a family we have all benefited from getting away and living a simpler existence, enjoying the complete contrast of living on a boat and being at sea.
The day of our departure heralded a change in the weather and the previously unblemished blue skies had turned grey with a promise of windier, cooler weather ahead. With this in mind we decided to head to a familiar bay just a few hours away to anchor – good to run the engine in and test the sails.
Before we left port we bought ourselves a Croatian SIM card to maintain our Wifi, enabling us to pick up decent weather forecasts from lots of different sources and to stay in contact with family and friends. We receive VHF radio weather forecasts from local Coastguard stations fairly regularly, but these are not completely reliable and always good to be as prepared as possible. Most weather forecasts only seem to be about 70% accurate, but having a variety of sources is helpful. Amazing that we have the capability to Facetime both of our girls at the same time, with us in Croatia, Em in France and Beth in Bouremouth, even when we are out at anchor! This helps us to share our experience with the girls and allows them to make sure ‘the olds’ are keeping safe and haven’t killed each other.
Over the course of the last week or so we have taken a steady and familiar route, down the coast to the Islands of Brac, Hvar, Klement and Korcula. (You can follow our track by clicking on MENU – ABOUT – WHERE AM I -then click real time satellite tracking) We spent an exciting night at anchor in the Klement Islands, when the predicted overnight storm became fully charged and we sat a few hours in our cockpit in full foul weather kit, life jackets and harnesses as we waited for the storm to pass over. Electrical storms can cause an enormous amount of damage to the electrical systems of a yacht – including navigation and radar, especially if lightening finds the mast. We had chosen our anchorage carefully to shelter us from the high winds, but hadn’t been briefed about the electrical storm!
The weather has continued to be changeable, with temperatures ranging from 22-29 degrees. The sea is warming up steadily and Damian has cleaned the bottom of the boat, using the onboard mini compressor and dive gear. After being in the sea all winter the bottom of the boat was badly fouled up with all manor of barnacles, growth and ‘sea grollies’, this hampers with the efficiency of the propeller, can create blockages in inlet/outlet pipes and slows the boat down. He was rather blue by the end of his efforts, but this encouraged me to take my first dip of the year. Swimming around the boat whilst at anchor is a good way to keep fit and the sea temperature wakes up your blood circulation rather swiftly.
We’re getting used to cooking onboard and trying to step outside of our normal home and holiday repertoire. We have a 2-ring gas stove with a small oven, so things that take a long time to cook are off the agenda. We fuel the cooker with bottled gas and have an electrical hot plate that we can use when we are alongside. Meals are simple, but the Mediterranean diet seems to agree with us both. Damian had a hankering for English fish and chips one evening – something about being by the sea and hearing sea gulls we decided!
The watermaker has been put to work and for the first time, we have loaded converted sea water into our main water tanks. The water maker filters are incredibly efficient and when tested, the water we were producing through the watermaker was more pure than the bottled water we had bought. This is great news for staying at sea, as our main reasons for having to go into port include topping up the water tanks, re-stocking food supplies, dumping rubbish and buying fuel. Being able to produce our own water will be invaluable for our trip across the Atlantic next year, when we will potentially be at sea for 3 x weeks with at least 4 members of crew onboard.
The transition to this new way of life still has its challenges as we both adjust to the slower pace. Damian easily keeps himself busy with boat maintenance and this will not change, as there is always something to fix or upgrade. I am a lot less capable in this department, but have so far managed to keep myself busy and am giving myself permission to take it easy and chillax (is that even a word?) a bit more. I love being in bare feet (good for spontaneous Yoga practice), not worrying about how I look and I haven’t worn mascara more than a couple of times since we left home. I have spent so many years talking for a living and now I’m getting used to quiet and stillness and when I’m at the helm, I look out over the sea and I am at peace – that is a good feeling…….