Croatia – Umag to Opatija

We were finally ready at 15h00 on 24th July and we started the engine and left ACI Marina Umag.  Half an hour later, we were out in the bay and tried to calibrate the auto-pilot …. which fails!  We must be doing something wrong but after an hour of going round in circles, we gave up – we probably should have gone back into the marina at Umag and got it sorted out by Almi d.o.o. but we just couldn’t face going back again, so decided to keep going and deal with it on the way.  We also noticed that the triducer was not working properly, as we didn’t have any speed data!

At 17h00, we hoisted the sails for the first time and discovered that the bimini frame is blocking the clutch opening for the Genoa furling line so the sail would not launch …. oops!  We had to start adjusting the bimini frame underway and this is quite a delicate thing – it needs to be in exactly the right position where the clutch will open, the canvas is taut but the back section is not so low that Ed can’t stand up at the helm.  There was hardly any wind anyway – so we dropped the sails and motored down the coast, anchoring just before sunset in Funtana which is a sheltered bay between Porec and Vrsar.  It’s quite a popular tourist destination but there are a few small islands and inlets which are ideal for anchoring.

The following day we pulled up the anchor around midday and headed out – trying again to calibrate the auto-pilot when we were in the open water.  We still had no luck whatsoever!  We’re following the instructions to the letter but it simply does not work.  The triducer seems to be working again – this was probably just the wheel clogged up from the gunge in Umag marina – the dinghy was covered in it, so it’s logical that the boat would be as well, given how long we have been laying still in the marina.

We didn’t go very far – just an hour and a half on engine while playing around with the auto-pilot – we dropped the anchor in the bay in Valalta at 13h35.  Valalta is a well known nudist beach, campsite and holiday centre with a very small marina (too small for us!) just inside the entrance to the Limski Zaljev nature reserve, which is a type of fjord.  There are a few places you can anchor – and you can take a day trip through the nature reserve with a small boat – well worth the trip for the scenery.  Be warned …. there is a part of the Valalta area which is “slightly more” than a normal nudist beach – so if you don’t want to be shocked, best to avoid this part!

We stayed at anchor in Valalta for two nights and left around 11h00 on 27th July continuing down the western coast of Istria, under sail although we only had 6-8 knots of wind and could only make 4 knots speed!  We dropped anchor in Medulin around 19h15 – the weather has been lovely, with temperatures around 30 degrees and gentle south western wind.  The following day we spent the morning in Medulin trying to get the water maker working – but we get a continual low pressure pump error.    We’re quickly adding technical faults on our list …. we now have a non-working auto-pilot (Garmin), a faulty TZT (Furuno), we’ve discovered only half of the power sockets work on the invertor (Keto) and now the water maker won’t start (Parker Marine) ….. the phone is getting a bit hot with all the calls to the various suppliers!  We are trying to schedule repairs in Opatija as that’s the nearest good sized town, where we can hopefully get things sorted.

There’s some bad weather forecast for tomorrow with heavier SW wind coming in overnight tonight, but we left Medulin around 14h00 and sailed up the eastern coast of Istria to the bay of Duga Luka – a deep bay which runs a long way inland, in the protection of the Island of Cres …. we think this is a great place for protection from the incoming storm!  Overnight was fine and we blasted our music out in the evening as there is nobody around except a motor boat at the end of the bay – and I could dance around the boat, just so happy to be finally on the way!

During the next day the wind came up, blowing at 15-16 knots SW constantly at midday – in the early afternoon this increased to 28 knots and we were getting gusts of 30-40 knots regularly, with a maximum recorded of 43 knots.  We were holding down the bimini as we’re not sure whether it can take the blast!  We were very impressed with the Nauti Sattler bimini construction which is the standard supplied by Bavaria from the factory – this is the best bimini we have ever had on a boat.  It stayed solid – even though Ed had the stupid idea of trying to take it down in the wind 🙂 – which I fortunately managed to talk him out of!!!!!  The storm also gave us the chance to test out our anchor and chain – we were anchored in 15m of water with 70m of chain out.  We could also see how the anchor alarm worked in Maxsea with the creation of tracks, boundaries and points to confirm the location of the anchor and check the movement of the boat – see our anchoring technique blog as to exactly what we do on anchor.

We had spent a large part of the morning still trying to get the water maker working without any luck and in the early evening we got a bit of rain, to christen the boat.  Overnight the wind turned to NW and calmed down slightly – the boat turned without any issues and we had a good night.  This was such a lovely place to spend a few days in isolation – a little fishing boat came chugging by and there’s a house up on the mountain-side, but other than that we’re on our own.  We do need to get our technical stuff sorted though, so we reluctantly pull up the anchor around 11h30 and headed further along the Istrian coast – we were able to sail pretty well in the afternoon although the storm had left the sea kicked up a bit – we pulled in to the ACI Marina Opatija where we moored at around 17h45.

On the first day, Wednesday 31st, I spent the day doing the washing and cleaning the boat and Ed had the phone glued to his ear.  Toby from Keto had agreed to take a quick flight over to sort out the electrical invertor problem and Furuno were coming on board first thing on Thursday morning to commission the network, check out the TZT and do a sea trial before a new screen can be ordered.

On the morning of 2nd August, we succeeded in getting Garmin on board to repair the auto-pilot – of course we needed to do another sea trial in order to do the calibration which was finally successful!  There was still an occasional loss of heading data, but Garmin are convinced this is an issue with the TZT and not the auto-pilot.

I also did my first attempt at a med mooring – the pontoon was completely empty when we returned back from the sea trial so I decided to give it a go.  I have never actually managed to put any of our boats on a marina in med moor style – we are very bad at this as we always stick with what we’re best at – Ed behind the wheel and me on the lines and fenders.  We’ve been saying for years that we need to change this – but somehow it never seems to happen!  I’m perfectly capable of mooring the boat alongside (after extensive lessons with our last motor boat on the fuel pontoon in Corfu!), or between finger pontoons in forward gear – but I really need to be able to med moor as well.

This didn’t go too well – despite the fact that there was an empty pontoon, no wind and plenty of space …. I did get it moored in the end but very stressful as I also found it very frustrating watching Ed trying to coil lines badly, and tie fenders badly, and he can’t throw a coiled line either!  We need to persevere with this as you never know when one or other of us will be incapacitated and we will need to cover for each other.

Finally – with some of our technical issues fixed – we left ACI Marina Opatija around 16h30 in the afternoon … we seem to be making a habit of leaving when everyone else is coming in!

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