Friends made through SESC go warm water sailing.

Those of you who are regular readers of the Club Newsletters over the last few years will know of the many adventures of the “Alton Mafia”, as dear Jeff Gibbs called us, during our annual “Warm Water” sailing. Well, read on for the latest instalment or saga of 10 go Crazy in Croatia.

A few of us started talking about doing a bare boat charter to Croatia, fuelled by stories of beautiful islands, stunning scenery and clear waters. A meeting was quickly arranged and plans and crew lists were made. During our meeting, the girls in our group persuaded my wife Anne to come with us. Anne had never sailed before, so it was a brave decision on her part, but the lure of lazing about in the sun with good friends won her over.

We chartered a Dufour 56 through our usual contacts at Nautilus Yachting. The yacht was based at Zadar, with easy access to the Kornati Archipelago National Park, comprising of some 89 islands, it is the densest archipelago in the Mediterranean. To get the best flight times to tie up with the charter, we had to fly from Luton early on the Saturday. So we booked into the Luton Ibis and organised a minibus to take us up the night before. An early start and a shortish walk to the airport and we were on our way.

On arrival at Zadar airport our transport to the marina was waiting for us and 30 minutes later we were being introduced to out yacht “Anatolia”. It was massive! We then set off for beers, lunch and shopping. It was a bit of a hike to the supermarket, so rucksacks etc were taken including Anne’s large suitcase, nicknamed Big Bertha. Poor Bertha was not cut out for heavy haulage and by the time we got back to the yacht, her wheels had collapsed and gone square!

Our first night we ate ashore in the Old Town on the other side of the harbour, followed by much G&T back on board, we did bring 10 litres of duty free! The following days were filled with gentle sailing, swimming, sunbathing, eating and drinking. The weather was beautiful except for the second night when we experienced a violent storm whilst moored up in Bozava. We tended to alternate between eating ashore and on board, with Anne doing a super spag bol one night and Tony doing a meat fest BBQ from the bathing platform on another. All was going well and we were all enjoying the great holiday and great company. Oh, how we laughed! But, we had a shock coming!

We were motoring after lunch towards our overnight stop on the anchor, when Clare emerged from her forepeak cabin, enveloped in black smoke. Fire on the boat! The hatch was closed, but not before Tony bravely went down and rescued Claire’s handbag and passport. There were no flames, that we could see, but the crew were mustered in the cockpit with life jackets on the the life raft made ready. We managed to get the anchor down and we were only 100 yards from the shore, but still scary. Chris did a Mayday to the coastguard and also phoned the marina. By now smoke was throughout the boat and the marina guys were on their way, arriving after about 40 minutes. The smoke seemed to be lessening and the marina guys identified a short circuit in the wiring to the bow thruster, causing the insulation to some cabling catching fire and causing this acrid smoke. The excitement over, we made a big dent in the gin and the wine that night.

The next day was our last, with a 24nm leg back to base (with no bow thruster), and a final dinner ashore. Up early to get our 0800 minibus back to the airport and so back to the UK. We only did 97nm in total because we didn’t have to rush about so it was a very relaxed cruise and no less enjoyable for that. And now for 2020!

Charles Clark

Crew: Matt and Chrissi de Quincey, Les and Jane Samways, Tony and Jane Mancini, Chris Maughan, Clare Klaire and Charles and Anne Clark.