TSC Maiden Voyage Part 3: Dark and Stormy Days Ahead
Ready to find out about the stormiest week of our maiden voyage? Let’s pick up right where we left off on my last post…
First Stop: Trogir
By the time we arrived in Trogir (after having spent almost two weeks on the boat already), life aboard the Staatenlos had become quite predictable -in the best possible way. Some great little traditions emerged, such as sleeping under the stars and morning swims in the ocean.
A daily routine also arose, and we got into a flow: sailing, anchoring, working, playing, finding anchor again, and using the toys some more. We would have at least one meal on land and one meal on the boat each day… a very simple but joyful adventure.
If you’ve been following along, you’re aware that we headed to Trogir to pick up new guests: Florian and Robert.
These guys came down to deliver a bunch of stuff for the boat. Basically, anything that Amazon couldn’t deliver to Croatia was sent to my friend Bernie’s home in Vienna.
Initially, Bernie was supposed to be the one coming down and bringing the stuff. Unfortunately, something came up, and he couldn’t make it happen. At that point, I went on social media and offered a week (free of cost) on my boat to anyone who could bring the stuff from Vienna to Croatia.
Both Florian and Robert reached out (separately); they were both up for the task. However, in the end, Robert was the one who brought the stuff down. I told Florian to come anyways, so he did, and thus they became our little crew for the week.
Our meeting point was the harbor in Trogir – we arrived by sea, and they came by land – early in the morning. Right away, everyone began to unload all the stuff from Robert’s car and bring it onboard the catamaran. He brought us a washing machine, a hammock, a projector, and some other great stuff.
While everyone helped get the stuff onto the boat and set up, I stayed on land for a while, getting work done. I had a client meeting, a consulting call, and met my business partner Mark and his wife in the afternoon. Mark (from Switzerland) and his wife (from Croatia) were spending some time in Zadar and decided to make the two-hour drive to meet me in Trogir.
After my consulting call, which I took at a lovely little cafe, we all went back to the boat. It was anchored in a little bay on the big island opposite Trogir; it actually connects to Trogir by a bridge, making it easy for us to get to the boat.
We had a really relaxed afternoon on the catamaran, swimming and having fun with our toys. Many other vessels were anchoring in the bay for the day, a pretty great scene if I do say so myself.😎😉
At some point, Mark and his wife had to go, so we brought them back to land and took the opportunity to have dinner in Trogir.
I quite enjoyed our time there; we had a lovely dinner in town and got back to the boat early. It was quiet night since we were leaving Trogir first thing the next morning. This time, en route to the Kornati National Park.
New angles of Kornati
If you’re a loyal reader, you probably know I’ve already been there this summer during one of our Twin Star charters.
We were excited to sail there once again because this time, we were navigating a slightly different route. The route was great. We got to see some other islands and different angles of the ones we’d already seen.
Eventually, we stopped for some playtime. We ended up at the same bay as the last time we were here. Side note: I don’t think I mentioned this before, but the last time we were here, Julia and Josh dove down to free an eel from a cage that was illegally placed there. This time, we actually anchored at the same spot, and we could still see the cage. Luckily this time, it didn’t have any fish inside.
We hung out at this spot for a while, just relaxing and making some food with our beefer – everything turned out delicious.
I also took the opportunity to try out my new hammock for the first time – definitely a smart purchase.
At some point in the afternoon, we had to move spots to find better reception. In the end, everything worked out well.
Actually, that afternoon I even had a video call with a few clients — the best part? I took the call from my hammock—a perfect moment showcasing some of the best elements of my lifestyle.
Thankfully for the call, we had good internet kudos to our onboard router. 👊
Stormy days ahead ⛈
The next day we continued sailing further north along the length of the Kornati Islands. That morning, however, weather warnings had started rolling in, there was a big storm brewing. So, before we started sailing, we had a choice to make:
Either sail north on the east side of Dugi Otok, through the most sheltered path (a route and area we already knew).
Or, head up the west side of Dugi Otok, sailing along the high cliffs of the island, through a much more exposed route.
Keep in mind we had not yet explored the west side of Dugi. We had only briefly seen some of the northern parts with the Twin Star charter.
We ended up making our decision reasonably quickly; being the adventurous humans we are, we decided to go west. We were navigating the path with less (no) shelter, but with gorgeous scenery and the added benefit of being a new route.
Ok, we weren’t just going rough it during a storm with no shelter. We knew of a really lovely bay with a really nice beach that we could go to on the west side, so on we went.
We needed to get there and look for shelter rather quickly, so it was a bummer when we found out that the really lovely bay with the really nice beach I wanted to go to didn’t have suitable shelter for the south winds that were rolling in.
From the beach we were at, we sailed up the west side of Dugi Otok following along the high cliffs that towered on our starboard side. Even though we could already see the storm on the horizon, fast approaching, we still took our time sailing up. It was really nice to see more of this island, even in the wake of a storm.
We were still sailing up when it happened. We crashed into something. We saw something in the water super last minute and tried to steer away, but we weren’t quick enough. We crashed. The hull and our propeller got some minor scratches, but nothing terrible.
We still don’t really know what we hit. Most likely a turtle, a BIG turtle. They are actually pretty rare in Croatia, but it is possible to find BIG sea turtles in these waters. We really hope we didn’t kill it, and it’s ok.
Anyways, we continued onward, with the sea getting quite rough. We were thrilled when we finally got into a nice big bay in the north of part of Dugi Otok. We were able to find shelter just as the storm became upon us.
There are basically two central bays on the west side of Dugi Otok, one in the north and one in the south; the one on the south has a really nice beach (which we briefly checked out on the way up).
As you know, that’s the one I originally wanted to stay at, but it was impossible to anchor there because the waters were already quite rough. Keep in mind the strongest winds were coming from the south, so heading north was the better choice. We still got to enjoy the beach in the south; we just arrived at it by land.
While in Dugi Otok we anchored near the town of Soline. Initially, we had gone to the east bay, but we didn’t like the scenery there too much, so we went to the next bay on the west side, north of Sakarun beach.
By the time we got there, there were already a lot of boats waiting to anchor. We anchored near the shore because we wanted to tie a line to something stable inland.
Remember that our anchor at this point was really shitty, and we were really tired of the inconvenience. So glad to have the new one now – it’s a much better one, and best of all, it’s not broken.
The anchor this day really didn’t want to hold. We had to drop it 3 or 4 times before it caught. At that point, we took a line to shore to tie it to a big tree with massive roots. We ended up about 15 feet from the shore; luckily, we didn’t swing as much as we expected.
After the anchorage was secured, we were finally able to get off the boat and go explore the island. While we were securing the boat, it was already getting quite windy. It looked like it would start pouring very soon.
Knowing that the storm was for sure about to reach us, we hurried to get on land, which by the way, wasn’t easy. Even though we were close to shore, the whole way to the beach was full of sea urchins, which can be super painful to step on.
Eventually, we found a special route to swim to shore, but then it became harrowing anyways. We couldn’t get up, or at least we didn’t know where we could stand up. We saw there was a lovely apartment building about 500 feet from where we were, a bit of a long swim, but it was necessary, we needed to find a place to exit the water safely.
From this apartment building, there was also a little access road that led to the main road. But to get to this access path, we had to jump over some bushes. That was not fun, and again, getting through was super painful. I got a lot of scratches and prickles.
So, after a 30-minute odyssey, we had finally made our way up the main road and started our journey to Sakarun beach on the south side.
Sakarun beach wasn’t the best experience for me because the wind and the ocean were getting too wild; there were a lot of big waves forming and crashing. One of the boat mooring there was just going up and down.
The waves were way too rough, making the beach no fun at all. So we just walked around. I went a bit further away from everyone for a bit, over to another beach with an open seaside.
After a little solo exploration, I went back to the guys, and we had a lovely afternoon in town. Even though it was super stormy, I enjoyed seeing the landscape of Sakarun in this weather.
Eventually, we went back to the boat through this access road by the hotel. At this point, the storm had already evolved into a thunderstorm. We could see the lightning and hear thunder coming straight to us as we were about to jump in the water and swim to our boat.
PSA: You really shouldn’t be in the water in this kind of weather. Nonetheless, we could tell the real danger was still a little ways off.
We swam back to the boat rather quickly, and merely a couple of minutes after we were safely back on board, the first raindrops finally started to fall.
At that time, we didn’t have our full tarp enclosure, so we still got quite wet – as if we stayed outside, but we didn’t, we were under shelter. Then all of a sudden, the rain was gone, and it was calm after the storm.
This was when we decided to try out the projector while sitting outside. We had a screen and it worked like a charm.
Later, we figured out that we can pretty much project onto any surface; this allows us to use the projector everywhere! On our sail – we actually have used the sail when there is no wind, we’ve projected onto the fridge door, and even onto walls on the shore.
At some point, the rain started again, this time with really hardcore lightning. I’d never seen so much lightning in my life; every second, lightning would strike super hard and loud.
We were actually pretty anxious about our boat and our mast. Thankfully, we were really close to shore, and right next to lots of really tall trees and other, much bigger boats. Lots of different targets for lightning to strike instead of us!
So yeah, again, there was lots of heavy rain, strong winds, and all of the lightning and thunder – a proper storm. We were pretty worried about our anchor, too; we were not entirely sure it would hold.
To our benefit, we had chosen the right bay. The strongest winds were not coming in because of it’s pretty sheltered location. That night, we watched the thunderstorm for a few hours, and as soon as the storm passed, there was a really nice wide halo around the moon.
Basically, a rainbow ring encircling the moon, really beautiful to witness. We got a lot of really nice pictures of the night sky too, with a beautiful full moon in the center of the halo. I’d never really seen something like this; it was quite stunning – probably an occurrence related to the heavy thunderstorm.
Looking back, we were pretty safe there. Still, we took turns keeping watch through the night, making sure the anchor held, and thankfully it did.
This is because we were in the northern bay, where the waves were not super strong. By the time I woke up the next morning, everything was ok.
Outrunning the storm and continuing north to Mali Losinj
In the days to come, there was an even bigger storm brewing. So the next morning, we decided to use the one day of “good” weather to leave the island and continue sailing north.
We sailed along with the islands of Molat, Ist, Skarda, and Premuda until we made it to the Island of Mali Losinj, which has a nice and sheltered port. Unfortunately, we didn’t know we couldn’t enter the port without notice, so we had to move places.
Still, we were able to find a lovely bay further north, near the old town with an excellent restaurant we’d heard about. We went to that bay, for this part of the sail, I was in control of the steering.
I navigated for a couple of hours while Josh slept. He hadn’t gotten much sleep; he stayed awake pretty much all night, keeping watch of the boat and then getting us to Mali Losinj safely.
On the sail up, we enjoyed the coastline of Mali Losinj and made some swimming stops along the way, eventually arriving at our final bay. There were quite a lot of boats there already by the time we got there. Nevertheless, we still managed to find an anchoring place.
We actually stayed at this spot for two full days waiting out the storm, and once again, luck was on our side. This time, the strongest winds were now coming from the west, and in that bay, we had excellent shelter from the west.
In the evening, we went to the wonderful restaurant we knew of in town, had a good dinner, and just went back to the boat right after. We still had to anchor because we went straight for food as soon as we got to the island properly. Actually, Josh came up with us for food for about 20 minutes and then ran back to the boat to hold down the fort.
That evening, nothing eventful happened; we had a good night there before the next storm rolled in. The next storm was supposed to be much stronger than the one before. Not in precipitation, but definitely with stronger winds and a lot more lightning and thunder.
The next morning we saw that another boat had lost some stuff and had suffered some damage. In fact, we got word that during that storm, a few ships had actually sunk in Croatia. When we were sailing north to Mali Losinj, we saw many boats damaged on all the coastlines.
Needless to say that the next day we couldn’t leave. We stayed there the whole time, anchored in that bay. I used the time to get some consulting calls done while onboard.
There wasn’t really much bad weather, just powerful winds. That day, we spent most of the morning and the afternoon on the boat. In the late afternoon, we went on land and paid a visit to Mali’s old town.
Overall, it was a lovely town, quite significant for the Croatian islands, with big buildings and excellent roads. We had a nice little walk around town, did a bit of shopping, got some new shorts, and found some lovely restaurants to explore.
Once again, we had a lovely dinner while Josh was on the boat. After dinner, Florian, Sheila, and I stayed in town and had some fun.
Change of plans: Istria? No – Pag? YES!
In the coming days, we were actually supposed to go up to Istria to pick up my brother, who was flying in, but we couldn’t really make it because of the wind. It wasn’t getting better in that area, so we chose to leave Mali Losinj and not continue north. This meant my brother had to get to us, which he was ok with.
From Mali Losinj, we just sailed south and then straight over to Novalja, located on the island of Pag. Remember this party town I visited during my road trip with my brother the month before?
Heading to Pag was our best option; the island offered some fun things to do, while still being somewhat on our route and somewhat away from the storm.
I was sad to miss Istria, but I had already seen most of it by land with my brother, so nautical exploration can wait.
The journey there was a lovely and short sail towards the high mountains of the Velebit mountain range – magnificent views.
We decided to go straight to Novalja, and as soon as we were approaching the town, the weather started to get much better. Partly because the winds in this area were not bad at all, so there was basically no more storm, we took this as a sign that it was time to party. Which we did!
First, though, we left Florian in town (Novalja); he was catching a ride to Pula and then a flight home to Germany. Robert was still staying with us for the rest of our time in Pag.
After Novalja, we continued north and went around Pag island, coming down on the east side of the island. Anyways, the adventures in Novalja and the end of our maiden voyage are topics for another story.
In the final chapters of this journey, we’ll traverse through heavy winds in the Velebit Channel, we’ll party in Zrce beach, and the highlight of it all – we’ll sail the Winnetou Canyon… bonus points if you remember the story of this canyon. If you don’t, find out all about it in my next post.