Sunday, March 8, 2015

We're still alive and well... and Heron too

It's been a while... again. Winter is the time when not much is happening that would be worth writing about. Days are short, weather cold and we mainly wait for the spring to come. One of the things that bring some joy to grey days are the birds, that come to our birdfeeder. From sparrows to great tits, to several kind of finches, and robins and blue tits, and sometimes even woodpeckers, they are all there.

In the beginning of February we drove to Croatian coast town Crikvenica, that is on mainland just across the island Krk and the bay where Heron is moored.

Looking across the channel towards Krk.

We found a small boatyard there that has a big enough lift to get Heron out of the water. We made arrangements to get Heron a new antifouling and some minor (hopefully) repairs in April.

At last days got a bit longer and sun stronger and snowdrops finally started to bloom...

... and saffron too.

Normally this post would end here - but here are the latest news. On Thursday we were hit by cyclone Rea - yes, here the storms are also sometimes named, just like hurricanes. The wind that Rea brought was up to 100 knots, it caused a lot of troubles along Adriatic coast and it also brought lots of rain to Italy and eastern Adria coast and lots of snow to Balkan. Of course we drove to Krk yesterday to check on Heron. Luckily the bridge to island Krk was open again, on Thursday and Friday it was closed because of strong wind.

Heron was ok, but the motor yacht next to her was not so lucky. If you scroll down to third photo in previous post, you can see how it looked.

Somehow the platform at the back of the boat broke off, and ended on the beach together with the dinghy that was tied on top of it. The boat started taking in the water and sunk. It is really a sad sight. 

The life raft got inflated and is floating near the sunken boat.

We checked Heron thoroughly and everything was ok, it is just unbelievably salty. Wind must have really been strong (on the bridge to Krk 100 knots were measured) to get so much sea water on the boat to create such salty stalactites...

... and even changed the colour of the lazy bag on the mast from blue to almost white.

We are now hoping for a good rain to wash the salt away. Otherwise all the stainless steel will start to rust  and then in the summer we'll have to polish it instead of sailing.

Although the day was sunny, wind was still strong and very chilly, so we didn't stay long. We'll have to come back another day to enjoy coffee on the pier.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The shortest day of the year

On Sunday, the shortest day of the year, we drove to Krk to check up on Heron. Day was sunny and relatively warm, it felt more like spring than winter. Not that we minded. 

We were pleased to see that Heron was well and dry. These are our neighbours.

We didn't have much to do, our priority was to tape over the hatch that was leaking and to take back with us the mattresses covers to wash and dry them. We also measured some other hatches that we decided to renew - we have to order them first and then next year the old ones come out and new ones will be built in. Captain also connected the household batteries, that are constantly topped up by solar panels, with engine battery that could drain out during the winter.

After all was done, we returned to the pier.

We had to paddle, the community dinghy was missing the outboard.

We drank a cup of coffee in the afternoon sun and walked around for a while. I was hoping to take some underwater photos of the tunicates in the port, I even remembered to take my camera with me, but the water was not very clear and the visibility was rather poor. So it will have to wait for the next time.

On our way back we made a stop near the mud marsh. There was a Heron there and a White Egret, and a lot of other birds. Unfortunately it was impossible to get closer.

In summer people actually bathe here, the mud is supposed to be good for the skin.

It was a lovely day, even though it was so short. And from here it is only getting better, whith all the holidays and days growing longer!

Happy Holiday and all the best in 2015 to all!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

It is that time of the year again

Can't believe it's been so long from my last post. This means not much has happened in the meantime and the time of the year is not very inspiring for writing and taking photos.

In November we managed to find a sunny day to drive to Krk to see if everything was ok with Heron. We did some boat projects, we changed the oil and oil filter in Heron's engine, and we emptied all the cabinets and lockers and took all the food home with us. Unfortunately just before leaving we noticed that one of the port hatches was leaking more than we thought and the water, which was plenty due to rainy weather, soaked one of the mattresses and it started to mould. And I thought mould and mildew were the things of warm and moist Caribbean summers! We moved the mattress, put some tarp in place to catch the water, but we didn't have anything to tape down or mend the porthole, so we will need to do it another time.

Amongst all the work and worries we found some time to have a nice lunch right on the pier. Sitting on the pier in the sun, eating grilled calamari and sipping the delicious local wine is my kind of seaside trip. The sea was very calm and even the water in the port was very clear, so I took some photos of things in the water. Unfortunately only with my phone and from above the water.

This is one of the Tunicates, growing on the line.

And Mediterranean fan worms (Spalanzanijevi cevkarji) are growing from the pier wall.

The small white things are also Tunicates, the translucent delicate kind, similar to ones I found in Coco bay in Barbuda.

I was lucky to get another great book about under water life. It is a book called Naše morje (Our sea), written by Marjan Richter, who is also the author of more than 800 photos found in the book. The photos were taken in Gulf of Trieste, so really in our Slovenian sea, during his dives in last 50 years. Photos are totally beautiful, and although the book is not so systematic as "Pod gladino Mediterana" by Tom Turk, that I got this summer, I still learned a lot of new things. For example, I now know what the funny little black bells on photo below are - they are the Sepia eggs (sipina jajčeca), neatly tied to stem of Mediterranean fan worm.

The winter is almost here, days are getting short and grey. Every year this time has the same effect on me - I start dreaming of sun, turquoise water, palm trees, warmth. Places like Maledives, Caribbean, Thailand. For years it was a starting gun for me to plan a vacation, we usually flew to some place warm in January. Exception was last year, when we had a feeling we just came home from 2-years vacation in Caribbean, so the urge was not yet there. But it's back again this year. Not yet sure what we're going to do about it, but I can certainly daydream.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Indian summer

The autumn was good to us, it looked like the weather tried to make up for the crappy summer. I was lucky to travel to London again, this time purely for pleasure.

Heron in Hyde park. The bird, not the boat

Serpentine in the evening

St James park was still very colourful

One of my favourite buildings - the London Hippodrome Casino

Beautiful Leadenhall Market

Watching the boats sailing into the St Katharine Docks marina from the Thames

A squirrel in Regents park

With winter approaching, one starts to think of holidays. I decided to make candied orange slices, dipped in chocolate. Some turned out really pretty, the ones that didn't we ate right away. They were delicious.

Last weekend was still sunny and warm, so we spend it on the boat. There was no wind, so we could not sail much. We sailed to Luka Srščica, a beautiful bay, where we lazied around, swam and did some  boat chores.

Looks like since yesterday autumn is over and the winter is coming. The remains of Gonzalo brought storm, heavy rain, floods again and cold. It seems unreal, that only a couple of day ago we had such a nice weekend on Heron and I was swimming in the sea.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Sailing the Adriatic - from Olib to Krk

Here is the last sequel of our sailing and snorkelling summer trip.

After leaving island of Olib on Tuesday, 12th of August, we first sailed to small island of Delfin just West of North edge of island Pag. I was hoping for good snorkelling again, but didn't expect so many boats. When I took the photo many have already left, when I counted the boats on our arrival there were more than 30. Still we dropped the anchor, a bit further away from the crowd.

Captain declared the water too cold for swimming and stayed on the boat, and I went snorkelling. There was a lot of sea grass and it was not very colourful and alive. I found this Jania (Janija in Slovene), a member of red algae.

And as it should be, there was also an octopus.

Shortly after I came out of the water, we sailed off. Weather forecast was really not good, in the night there was stronger wind from South forecast, which would turn to West and then to North-East towards the morning. We were discussing where to anchor for the night, to be safe and have a quiet night. We checked several anchorages  and ended on island Rab in Supetarska Draga just before dark. We were tired and hungry, sailing lasted longer than we anticipated, but we were happy to have a good anchorage for all kinds of wind.

Next morning we sailed off towards Krk. For the first time in last weeks two dolphins came to play at our bow.

After first stopping in Stara Baška to meet up with friends, we sailed on to Grgur, where we stayed for the night. In the afternoon I went snorkelling of course and I was surprised to again find some things I haven't seen before.

This is a Cylinder anemone, but I like the Slovene name much better - it is Peščena roža, which would translate to Sand rose. And it deserves a poetic name, it is really pretty.

And this is Peacock worm (Pahljačasti cevkar), I've seen it before but didn't make a photo.

The forecast was again funny, after strong South wind during the afternoon, the wind was supposed to turn to West and then North West towards morning. We decided to stay, although the bay where we anchored, was on the western side of the island. We were hoping that maybe the forecast was not so very accurate this time. Unfortunately it was. Wind turned at about 6 in the morning and at 7 the waves were rolling into the bay, rocking Heron quite a bit. But we were still ok, I was feeling sorry for our neighbours, two guys in a motor boat anchored between us and the coast, their boat was not very big and was jumping on the waves like a young bull. But after a couple of hours wind started turning towards NE and soon waves became smaller.

Before noon I was in the water again. I saw the Parasitic anemone (Progasta stražna vetrnica), this time without the solitary crab. It was doing some kind of exercise or dance, moving and undulating and it was great to watch.

And this is another Sand rose, this time in different colours.

Maybe there was a shortage of Hermit crabs in this bay, because I found a few more of Parasitic anemone (Progasta stražna vetrnica), just sitting in the sand alone.

This one is again a first for me, a pretty little dragon, named Weever (Navadni morski zmaj).

When I was taking photos of this particularly beautiful Sand rose, I noticed the Mysid shrimps (Roječe kozice) above it.

And they are real shrimps, with bulging eyes, legs, tentacles...

And this was the trophy of this bay - the Mediterranean Feather star (Morska lilija). Again, I prefer the Slovene name, translated it would be Sea lily, I guess elegant and delicate creature like this deserves a poetic name. Her tropical relatives are also elegant, but brighter and more colourful (check it out here).

In the afternoon we sailed back to Krk and that evening we were already home.