Next morning dawned equally windless so we contented ourselves with a visit to the camp-site ablutions (free hot water showers!) and a purchase of essentials from the shop. We then set off for Molat and the Kornati Islands. En route we anchored for lunch and a swim in Uvala Juzna Slatina; it is listed in the pilot as one of the nicest beaches in Croatia but really nothing to rave about. After an hour and a half we set off again, in a now brisk wind, for the island of Skarda where, on the southern coast, there is the most delightful inlet, Uvala Griparika; very quiet, despite the laid moorings with lines ashore, with a sole fortified house at the head of the inlet. We tacked up the inlet, sailed on to the mooring and were enjoying afternoon tea by the time the adjacent yacht, who had motored in ahead of us, had managed to sort out his lines, very satisfying. The moorings cost 11Kn per night per metre, very reasonable for high season.
At the start of the following day we motored to the head of the inlet to satisfy Dom's photographic yearnings and then headed out to beat southwards in a fresh breeze to Molat where we planned to take a lunch break and find water. Two and a half hours later and we were sitting at the restaurant on the quay at Molat eating Calamari Fritti and supping a beer, after which we had to wait until 1700 for the water man to reappear (he does not work the afternoons); we occupied our time with a walking tour of the village. After watering we set off, again on the wind, for the anchorage at Planatak. This we reached at 1930 just as the wind was dying and the light fading. There were two other British yachts in the anchorage and one small German but plenty of space for all of us inside the protecting islands. Supper of Pasta Carbonara, served on deck, followed by a film night brought the day to a close.
Nearby was one of the fortified submarine bunkers, excavated directly into the cliffs, so to start the new day with a piece of history we weighted anchor and ghosted over to it for a closer look before setting off south again. Slowly what wind there was died and we were forced to intermittently resorted to the the “iron foresail” during the next three hours. Finally we entered Sali, a very attractive port, despite the fish packing facility on the foreshore, where we were able to water again, victual and enjoy a lunchtime beer. A Med. moor, under engine, on arrival but departure under sail was the order of the day. From here it was a spinnaker sail down through the Katina passage (very short,tight gap; only 10m wide) and then onwards to the restaurant Beban in the bay at Koritnica on Otok Kornat. The bay, as an anchorage, I would heartily recommend for reasons I will explain later. The restaurant not so. Last year the food served was good and the service average; this year the food was very expensive, only average and the service poor. I will not be returning! We were there in the calm before the storm! Towards the end of the meal the wind and rain started; Granny (a restaurant family member) made a hasty grab to rescue her plant pots arranged along the window sill, Dom and I made a hasty departure for Kurukulla, fitted the engine to the dinghy, then he went back to retrieve the others whilst I prepared Kurukulla for the coming storm. They got back just in time, seconds before the heavens opened. Throughout that night we had winds gusting up to 70 knots from both South and North, repeatedly turning us through 180 degrees; of the five boats in the anchorage only two survived the night, three others dragged off into the middle distance, including one “super yacht”. Our anchor held firm, in fact so firm that it was one heck of a job to extract it from the mud and sand next morning. It was buried without trace!
The following day it was as if nothing had happened, sunshine and a moderate breeze! We sailed off southwards on a close reach in the 15 knot NE breeze and headed for the anchorage at Kosirina, Murter, a brisk sail and completed in less than three hours. A dinghy ride ashore for a beer or two in the local camp-site bar and then in was back to the boat for a roast chicken supper.
Dawn was not welcoming, grey and miserable with a forecast of much worse to come. I decided therefore to head for Sibenik and the Krka River and go upriver to see the falls; thus sheltering from the worst of the winds. Having entered the Kanal Sv Ante, and reached Sibenik, the heavens opened. Hence the first part of the passage up river saw me break out the foul weather gear for the first time this year. The others sheltered below! The scenery was spectacular but as we had to return downstream via the same route it was not worth getting soaked for! We anchored overnight at Rasline, two thirds of the way up river, watched a film and then enjoyed a relatively early night. Next day we set off moderately early, having avoided worst of the Bora (strong north wind) overnight, to motor up to Skradin. Once there we anchored opposite the town and set off in the dinghy to view the falls. Half a mile upstream there is a relatively low bridge and an out-post of the park police. This was as far as we got! We were informed that not even an inflatable dinghy was allowed up river beyond this point! (Despite the fact that the pilot says it is possible). The only way to see the falls is to board one of the tourist boats and, of course, pay..... 90Kn (£11) for the first leg which is not so bad until you realise that the best falls are further upstream and for those you pay a further 110Kn..... We decided to put the 200Kn per head it would have cost us towards our lunch! A much better idea and we found a restaurant to be highly recommended, the “Bonaca”, excellent food, friendly service, and enormous fillet steaks cooked to perfection. After lunch and a quick swim we sailed off the anchor and set off downstream sailing all the way back to the entrance to the Kanal St Ante but here the wind deserted us and so forced into an hours motoring to reach the overnight anchorage in Magarna on Otok Zlarin. A fabulous cove with deep water right to the edges. We anchored with a line ashore for the night. A quiet night passed without incident and we were well into the morning routine of breakfast with a swim when the wind shifted and, despite having dug the anchor in well, as we thought, the anchor tripped out resulting in a rather more hasty departure than we had planned! Martin swam ashore to recover the two shore lines that we had been forced to jettison.
From here we sailed the 7 miles to Primosten, on the wind again, in light winds and there we anchored and went ashore for a stroll around the town. So impressed were the others with Primosten, plus the prospect of a band playing in the town square that night, that we decided to stay overnight and had a pizza ashore followed by a glass of wine or two at the local ethnic wine bar and finished off with an ice cream served by a fellow who was a natural entertainer, juggling with the ice cream and joking with every customer, so good was he that Dom attempted to sign him up to come to work in England!
Another quiet night was followed by a quick watering stop on the Primosten jetty and then we set sail for Solta. After 5 hours on the wind, as seems usual, we anchored in Uvala Livka on the southern end of Solta and set up for a BBQ ashore.