We have a bunch of visitors lined up to come stay onboard Sea Rose this summer – 30 in all between mid-May and early October. We are often asked if this is too much and because of these questions, we ask that of ourselves … are we ‘ok’ with the work required to host this many groups and individual people? For us, it comes down to two important factors: (1) the obvious – we love seeing our friends and family and when we travel five months out of the year this is one way to remain connected to people who are important to us; (2) when we have friends and family on board, we live our experiences more fully than we do when it is just Tom and I. Having others around causes us to use fresh, naïve eyes as we pass through the days with our company on board. It is almost like having kids; if you’ve had them you’ll understand what I mean. Parents often free themselves up to re-experience things their kids are learning with abandonment; even getting as silly as their young, exceedingly loved companions! When having people on board for whom our lifestyle is not a regular occurrence, we allow ourselves to become fully immersed in the experiences of our guests, or our ‘kids’ if you will!
And, speaking of having kids on board, our next guests are dear friends from our hometown in New Hampshire – two couples, Matt and Michelle and Dave and Suzie! I feel younger when being silly with these four but we also all love to keep our days packed full of adventures so a week with them feels much longer – in the best of ways!
On the morning they were to arrive, we were again anchored just outside of the ACI marina up the river north of Dubrovnik. This is a perfect place to clean the boat, provision and get laundry done while waiting to meet up with guests who taxi over from town. Tom takes our dinghy in to meet guests at the dock and bringing people and luggage back out to the boat typically needs to be broken up into more than one trip! I stood on our deck, jumping up and down and waving frantically as Tom shuttled the first two of four toward Sea Rose. I was excited it was my girlfriends! Don’t get me wrong, I love Matt and Dave but they are not my girlfriends – and girl time is something I have been looking forward to!
We have eleven different sets of people we are coordinating with to come on board this summer. It is a significant task to determine meet-up dates and locations plus adjusting logistics as travel and weather challenges are introduced in real time. We’ve gotten into the practice of creating a ‘WhatsApp’ group for each set of people we welcome on board. As we learn more about weather patterns and things to do in various areas, we update the WhatsApp groups that might be visiting us in each area. For this rambunctious set of characters, we named the WhatsApp group, ‘Motley Crew’ and for months before they boarded they worked hard to live up to that name.
With everyone on board and hugs and giggles enough to start with, we set off down the river and toward the island of Mljet (Tom wrote about the National Park in Mljet in the last post). We anchored in one of the first coves we came to along the northeast shore and happily found ourselves in a wonderful spot. This crew is all used to boating so, with minimal instruction, Matt quickly showed Dave the ropes (literally) as they jumped in the dinghy to take a line around a tree trunk and back to the boat. In no time, we had Sea Rose anchored with her stern tied up to the shore to keep us from swinging as the harbor got more crowded.
Now it was time to really catch up with one another and enjoy the beautiful Croatian water!
Yeah, I know you are supposed to stand up and get exercise on the Stand-Up Paddleboards (SUPs) but remember we’re being kids!
The next morning, part of the crew did use the SUPs according to their intended purpose and we all walked around the tiny harbor ‘town’. We ventured up the one steep road and found ourselves in the courtyard of a cute chapel. Here is the view of Sea Rose in the harbor below.
Back on the boat, everyone jumped into gear to prepare for getting underway and before long, we were pulling out of beautiful Okuklje and were headed toward the island of Korcula. Tom also wrote about this island and specifically about Korcula town in the previous post so I’ll just share a couple fun pictures of our time there and focus on other details. We anchored off the nearby island of Badija just off-shore from this beautiful monastery (below). As evening approached, we called a water taxi to take us the short distance to Korcula town. We enjoyed an evening stroll around the walled town before having dinner along the main promenade. Water taxi rates double after 11 pm so we made sure to head back to Sea Rose before the clock ticked eleven!
In the morning, we took advantage of the path that circumnavigates Badija to get in our exercise before heading further northwest. We were making our way toward Hvar and the islands off the western end but this was further than we wanted to go in one day so we stopped for the night in a quiet cove along the southern coast of the small island of Schedro – roughly half way between Korcula and Hvar. Matt and Dave again needed to test their boating and knot-tying skills to help us position Sea Rose deep in the cove, but far enough off the rocky shore! It is wonderful to have these helping hands on board.
As we read about Schedro, we learned we could walk across the island to see an old cathedral and some quaint fishing villages. This was reason enough to stay in place for an additional night – we would try to find an authentic spot for lunch the following day.
This island has no paved roads. In fact, there are very few roads at all! Mid-morning on our second day at Schedro, we left our cove on what would have to be described as a path. This quickly headed straight up the steep terrain toward the high ridge which stretched like a spine to the left and right, along the length of this hilly island. At the top, we realized we brought very little water and no snacks and that the climb was much more significant than we expected. We were all eager for the lunch options we were sure to discover in the villages way below! We dropped down from the ridge and wound around several ravines – the sun sure is hot in Croatia in June! We saw no settlement until we descended most of the way down toward the opposite side of the island from where we had left Sea Rose. ‘Had we taken a wrong turn’, we thought as hunger and thirst deepened. We were only a hundred or so yards outside of one of the fishing villages before we saw any structures at all. Then, just as we were thinking it might not be easy to secure lunch, we walked above a garden where a woman was picking fresh produce. We then smelled a wood fire … our spirits began to rise. Still, this ‘village’ only had about six buildings in total so we remained skeptical. Just 15 yards from the head of the narrow harbor, we saw tables shaded by sprawling trees and a rustic building that contained an open-air restaurant! No neon lights, no doors or windows but an outdoor wood-burning oven, a bar and a friendly waiter who magically erased all our concerns.
Within minutes we were sipping lemonade and cold beers as fresh fish options were brought table-side for our inspection and selection. We picked two different kinds of fish and the chef came to describe how he proposed cooking each. We snacked on ‘little fish’ (something like sardines) and bread while the smells from the outdoor oven improved with each passing minute! We enjoyed island-made white and red wines, relaxed in the filtered sunlight and were so happy to be right where we ended up. Both fish turned out perfectly. Our only worry in the world was making it back up the steep path now that we were full and a little silly from the alcohol. Of course, we were also carrying a couple liters of island wine … it sounded like a great idea at the time!
The following morning, we set off for the town of Hvar on the island of the same name. This is another ancient town which is heavily visited by tour boats from nearby Split. We wanted to explore the town before we anchored in one of the coves along the nearby island group called Paklinski Otoci. This meant we would be arriving in Hvar when the sun was the highest in the sky – yikes, this would be a hot one! We each wilted as we walked along the cobblestone streets; and, by the time we posed for a picture at the top of the high fortress overlooking the town, we were ready to move on!
Back on the boat, we set off to find a place for the night. Each cove we passed was more crowded than the one before. We were arriving somewhat late in the afternoon which meant people were likely where they intended to remain for the night. Finally, we came upon a deep cove with room along both sides for many boats, assuming each tied their stern to the shore after dropping their anchor – which a bunch were already doing. We would need to tuck in between other boats that were quite close together. By this time, no guidance was needed as Matt and Dave again set out to secure us against the shore in Uvala Tarsce (or Tarsce Cove). No pressure guys … just lots of additional eyes watching your every move! The effort was carried out to perfection; we put out two crossed lines to hold us securely in place. Here are Matt and Dave, finishing up their ‘work’.
In two days’ time, we would need to drop our friends off near Split. We made reservations at a marina in nearby and less busy Trogir. This group would be catching a ferry back to Dubrovnik and we would need to reprovision and do laundry to welcome our next guests on board in the afternoon of the day the Motley Crew would depart! See the map below. We picked a spot off the south coast of the island of Brac for our last night away from the mainland. First, though, we needed to see the famous Dugi Rat! Great name, hah? This is a point of land that sticks way out from the otherwise straight coastline of Brac. The currents in the area have created a beautiful sand beach that is popular with tour boats. In our opinion, it is a bit too popular. We diverted a good 10 miles in each direction to see this famous place but it was so crowded with tour and charter boats that we left after a quick lunch and only 30 minutes ashore. In that short period of time, we had several close calls with boats driven by what can only be described as incompetent captains. Our friends understood the need to move on and we did get to enjoy a terrific sail back up the channel so there were plenty of smiles aboard.
We found a cove for the night that we would have all to ourselves! This is always a treat but even more so when it is the last night for people to be on board with us and away from a marina.
After dinner we all went to the foredeck to enjoy spectacular star gazing – another activity that I absolutely love but often forget to slow down enough to thoroughly enjoy. This night, we all laid flat on our backs and were taken back in time to the yards from our childhoods, from Maine to California. There is something about the expansive night sky that encourages us to dream and hope about good things to come!
In the morning we set off for a marina just west of the ancient town of Trogir (30 minute drive by car to Split). We had heard that the harbor at Split can be very busy and confusing. Plus, all the research we did indicated that getting laundry and provisioning done would be much more straight-forward outside of Split Harbor. It felt odd not to visit a city as well-known as Split, but all indicators led elsewhere, so Trogir it is!
I mentioned a bunch of islands in this blog post so below is a map showing the places we visited this week.
We had another wonderful sail as we rounded the west end of Okrug Donji – the peninsula on the western end of the island of Ciovo which stands just off-shore from Split and Trogir. We got into the marina in time to clean the boat then take advantage of the marina’s pool and showers. As evening set in, we walked over to Trogir and enjoyed a stroll through the charming walled city before having dinner there. The taxi to whisk our friends off to the ferry would arrive at 6 am the following morning so no late night for these kids!
We see so many beautiful sights and enjoy a great number of special experiences throughout each summer. We acknowledge that if we’re not careful, we’ll begin to take these for granted; because of this, we often make a point to talk about our favorite anchorage or city, our most memorable hike or other such categorization. As we recently looked back, the lunch with dear friends on Schedro Island is something we will remember fondly for many years to come. Thanks Matt, Michelle, Dave and Suzie for being kids with us!
Join us for our next post as we head further northwest toward Zadar, Croatia!