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Stoneways Marine 2021 - LEADERBOARD

OCC Report from RoRC in the East Mediterranean

by Gareth Thomas 21 Sep 08:38 UTC

It seems as if I have been doing a bit of catching up with voyaging post lockdown as this year I have already had three separate cruises so my title of Roving Rear Commodore is apt.

The first was in bleak January when Clare and I were pleased to be invited on fellow members Chris and Fiona Baker-Hart's lovely Farr Pilot 50 on which they had just 'ARCed' across to Grenada. The first event was, perhaps unusually, attendance at the Grenada Hash House Harriers meet and we did the three-miler through pretty lush vegetation and then a village of two. Needless to say, we did not run as I had not brought my running kit. One of the less welcome traditions of this Hash is for first-timers to be sprayed with a cold lager, a liquid which is better internalised.

We arced north to Martinique along the island chain, day sailing, via Carriacou, Petite Martinique and St Vincent. One of the great and well-known benefits of Caribbean cruising is the trade winds and sailing rather than Mediterranean motoring, although I seem to remember the wind was forward of the beam the whole way. A highlight was a three-day stop in Mustique where we were royally entertained in Basil's Bar with the Mustique Blues Festival. The musicians there are simply outstanding. Sadly for some, I was given the mike and, whilst I thought my rendition of the Ben E King " Stand by Me " was exceptional, I was disappointed not to be offered a recording contract. Sir Michael Jagger (as he likes to be addressed) was apparently in residence but sadly stayed away.

Whilst walking quite some way from the sea to Tim's Sunset Bar on Carriacou we were surprised to find hermit crabs in their adopted home. Rapid research on the cornucopia of knowledge Jimmy Wales Wikipedia (you do subscribe don't you?) tells us that there are two groups of hermit crabs, firstly aquatic, a single species which rarely leaves the water, and secondly land hermit crabs of which there are fifteen species. Some of these species are kept as pets. Well, I suppose cheaper than a labradoodle.

The journey home was slightly convoluted and challenging in that we ended up flying via St Martin's and luggage was sent to Dominica. This was eventually returned some four weeks later after hours of phone calls but the investment in electronic luggage trackers may well be worthwhile.

The view from the aircraft of Monserrat and its volcano Soufriere and its lava stream was tremendous but reminded us that life on some of the Caribbean Islands is harsh.

And so on to May when we were reunited in Punat, north Croatia with Jalfrezi iour (J120), which I keep telling Clare is an admirable cruising boat, although, after the Farr, she remains less than fully convinced. Marina Punat on Krk is very good and I would recommend it both for dry sailing and berthing. It is a 50-euro taxi ride from the Rijeka airport and as usual, we were carrying a spinnaker and other sailing necessities.

Our first weekend was spent anchored in Cres with the full cockpit enclosure deployed due to interminable rain but the time was well spent sewing a new leather cover on the wheel. This took seven man-, well woman-hours and is not to be undertaken on a whim.

We headed north and picked up guests Sarah and Malcolm Glasgow in Pula, checked out of Croatia in Novigrad, easy and headed for Venice. We have been to Venice before and berthed at the yacht club on San Giorgio Maggiori opposite St Marks Square. This is a wonderful spot with great views but the disadvantage is that ferries or vaparettos are infrequent at night and this time we opted for Diporto Velico Veneziano from where one can walk everywhere. Indeed my smart watch pedometer said that I had done 19000 steps for the return journey to the Border Police at the other end of the island. The border police are open during normal working hours and take a fairly lenient view of your times of arrival and departure.

We went to Venice to visit the Biennale Festival of contemporary art which varies from the frankly daft, the whimsical, and the silly to the truly inspiring. The galleries are spread throughout the city and the Giardini de Biennale where the participating countries' pavilions are sited. The major site is the Arsenale which during the Venetian heyday was the biggest factory in Europe and was using production lines well before Henry Ford that were able to churn out a galley a day.

I think the daftest but most memorable exhibit was " Earthly Paradise" by Delcy Morelos which was six huge containers of many tons of earth each measuring about 15 by 10:by 1 metre scented with cinnamon cloves jasmine and goodness knows what else which you could wander through. I thought they were just litters for giant cats. For the gentleman readers and urologists, there was an unpleasant reminder of our susceptibilities and its various pathologies in again a giant sculpture escaped from a medical museum.

Malcolm and Sarah left Jalfrezi in an absolutely torrential thunder and lightning storm which always has one wondering about carbon fibre masts. Later on in our journey, we met up with OCC members Mike and Melanie Dillard in Murter on Talaria and sadly I have heard they have been hit by lightning. Hopefully, they will write up and share this further sailing unpleasantness.

From Venice, we scooted down to Dubrovnik a 300 miler to pick up guests Grace and Ed Badger. Ed flew his drone from Jalfrezi but again this is not a casual undertaking and is only really possible in little or better no wind, as drones can bite when you stretch up to pluck them from the sky when landing!

Next destination Greenland... to be continued.

This article has been provided by the courtesy of Ocean Cruising Club.

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