My husband Charles keeps a travel journal which is one of our prized possessions. Captains Log is the unedited excerpts from this journal, with daily details, places, and events as they happened. Enjoy!

September 2016

Our September 2016 trip to celebrate Charles’ and his identical twin brother Mark’s 50th birthday started for us in Venice. After a week enjoying that beautiful city, we headed to Bologna for a night then took an overnight ferry to Split where we met our crew-mates and stayed overnight before beginning our wine and culinary flotilla with Sunsail at the Agana Marina.

Day 1

  • Ditch bags at local bag storage locker. Then, explore Split, Diocletian Palace, enjoy lunch and ice cream at a local restaurant.
  • 2 pm taxi pickup at Town Square Hotel; 45-minute taxi to Agana Marina and the Sunsail base.
  • Check in at base, introduction to our boat, Munlochy Bay (some place in Scotland), trip introduction and briefing with Gwenaela Bernard followed by boat briefing with our flotilla skipper Michael.
  • Dinner at Konoba Marina restaurant followed by nightcap bottle of wine on boat before bed.
  • Men are so f***ing weird and dirty. Before bed I used the restroom, which was destroyed. While there, some weirdo was singing Ave Maria while shitting. Impossible to explain.

Day 2

  • 9:15 chat briefing for the group followed by breakfast at the base. Our destination today is Stomorska on the Island of Solta. Today will have many “Firsts”. First day sailing in Croatia, first day we will dock a boat using the Mediterranean Mooring method, first day we have the role of skippers/teachers for our guests, Tim, Lori, and Mark, first visit to local winery to enjoy the culture.
  • Our instructions were to sail 14 nautical miles and be there by 4:45 pm, call Krka 1 (the lead boat) for instructions to dock Munlochy Bay stern to dock. Success!
  • Happy hour on boat followed by 6 pm wine tasting at Kastalanac, a small, local, traditional winery. The Family name was Dobricic. Their property has been passed from generation to generation for as long as they could remember. They have a small vineyard that includes figs, olives, grapes, and assorted fruit trees like nectarine and peach. The place was nice. I suspect they are considered wealthy because they own land, cars, their home, and some out buildings. I can’t pronounce the name of the grapes. They said it only grows on this island. The fruit is small and very dark. They make rose and a dark red wine that reminds me of Petite Sirah. They also have their own grappa, goat cheese, and dried fruit. I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of it all.
  • Dinner later at Turanj restaurant (very good). More wine and good conversation before bed.

Day 3

  • I awoke early and hiked above the village to see the sunrise and snap some photos.
  • Coffee and breakfast before 9 am chart briefing. Today’s sail plan is to Vis Town on the Island of Vis; 23 nautical miles. The weather report was for stormy weather and good wind.
  • Our day was uneventful. Lunch on the boat and we lucked out and missed the rain.
  • I did a better job today docking the boat. We were the last to arrive.
  • Happy hour on boat with Gwen and Mike.
  • Today’s winery visit was to Lipanpovic Winery. It was constructed inside a cold war era power plant which was dug into the mountain. They used the old tunnels for storage, bottling, etc. Very cool.
  • Group dinner at Villa Kaliopa which was late and slow. No nightcap.

Day 4

  • Coffee and breakfast again on boat before our 9 am pre-sail briefing. Open sail day and night.
  • Today our sail plan was from Vis Town to wherever we wanted for the night. As a group we decided on Vinogradisce on the Island of St. Klement. The weather was perfect and the sailing good. We arrived just before 4 pm. Our timing was perfect. We grabbed one of the last mooring balls and the furthest from shore. Within 15 minutes there were at least a dozen boats racing for the few remaining mooring balls.
  • Once we were safely tied to our mooring ball, we put the outboard motor on our dinghy; secured Munlochy Bay, then motored to shore. Our outboard motor sucks…more about that later.
  • We walked over the ridge to Palmizana Marina. Along the way we discussed the differences pros/cons of BVI compared to Croatia.
  • Palmizana is a busy place. Once at Palmizana we secured a water taxi to Hvar Town.
  • Wow! Hvar Town is really beautiful and really busy. Definitely worth visiting again.
  • Early dinner at The Mediterraneo Restaurant (Gwen B recommended). We had the place to ourselves. After dinner we hiked up to the citadel perched above the town on a defensive ridge. We made it just after sunset. It was beautiful.
  • After exploring, we wandered back down through Hvar Town to the water taxi station. While waiting we enjoyed ice cream.
  • Walked back to Vinogradisce from Palmizana Marina then took the dinghy back to Munlochy Bay. The stars were awesome.
  • Being an American traveling abroad is often very difficult, because of rude, inconsiderate, American tourists (just like those on a nearby catamaran). I feel labeled and stigmatized because of idiots like that. Everything about them screams ugly, entitled Americans. I feel like I must be extra well behaved to redeem the American reputation after it becomes trashed by people like this and their noise pollution.

Day 5

  • Delicious Nicaraguan coffee from Nino & Friends (Venice) and a casual breakfast on the boat.
  • We dropped our mooring ball at 9:30 and aimed for Jelsa on the North side of Hvar. We tried sailing but there was no wind and we had a deadline. Had a snack on the boat while we motor-sailed.
  • Beautiful spot on the town key in Jelsa. Michael assessed our dinghy.
  • We were starving and had a late lunch at Pizzeria Pape. Very good!
  • Short swim at the local beach as a sea plane landed nearby.
  • 6 pm wine tasting at a placed called Vina Tomic. This place is very nice with deep pockets. It could fit into the California wine scene easily. The wine was very good, but I prefer Lipanovic.
  • Group dinner at “Me and Mrs. Jones Restaurant”. I think this was our best dining experience, definitely the best service.
  • After dinner we enjoyed another bottle of wine on the boat before bed.

Day 6

  • After coffee and casual breakfast, I went to the 9 am briefing. Nothing notable except Milna is a busy place with a shortage of space in the marina. Be vigilant and cautious.
  • Before departing Jelsa our group split up so Mark and I could enjoy some twin time while Lea, Tim, and Lori explored Jelsa and reprovisioned.
  • We left Jelsa at 11:30 bound for Milna Town on Island Brac. We motor sailed half way before the wind improved. We killed the motor and unfurled our sails. Wow! The wind intensified to more than 30 knots. Munlochy Bay is a big 47 ft. sloop designed for safe bareboat chartering. We hit 8 knots SOG and had the boat heeled over far enough to scare Lea and Lori. Tim, Mark and I were wearing big smiles.
  • Our arrival deadline was 5 pm and we were out of sail time. We aimed our boat for the shelter of Milna. It is remarkable how quickly sailing conditions can improve or deteriorate.
  • Mooring the boat was a challenge because of the boat activity, small space, and our big boat.
  • Happy hour on boat.
  • 6:15 surprise activity on the reception patio. Gwen hosted a wine guessing contest. She had a white, rose, and red wine concealed inside foil. The contest was to identify two wines we already had and 1 impostor. The winning boat would receive a bottle of white wine and a bottle of champagne. Our boat won thanks to Lea. She nailed all 3.
  • 7:30 dinner reservation at Restaurant Palma


We had 7:30 dinner reservations at Palma we were trying to make. All souls aboard Munlochy Bay climbed into our dinghy at 7 pm for the short trip into town. Tim was the dinghy captain. We were barely 150 feet from Munlochy Bay when our dinghy outboard shit the bed…AGAIN. 28 hours earlier in Jelsa our flotilla skipper assessed our dinghy and identified no issues. None.

Tim and I volunteered to return the dinghy and walk to Palma. We dropped Lea, Lori, and Mark on the harbor road so they could secure our spot at Palma. While Tim struggled with the dinghy motor I used the oars to begin rowing our vessel back to Munlochy Bay. Literally, on the 5th paddle stoke, the port-side oar folded in half and was instantly useless. These oars were permanently attached to the dinghy using oar swivels. It was impossible not to row the dinghy in an aimless circle. I began cursing a lot. I managed to control my language so as not to offend Tim or anyone within ear-shot.

We were barely 50 yards from the dock. Fortunately, the water was like glass and there was no wind or current against us. My skillful use of a single oar managed to propel us to Munlochy Bay.

Once back at the dock we tied our dinghy off and alerted Franco, the Flotilla Engineer. He came to the dinghy to fix our problems. In his thick Croatian accent, he explained that he would clean the fuel and air filters and we would be ok. Tim and I were skeptical as we stood on the dock watching him work.

Soon he climbed out of our dinghy and said we should be ok. As we climbed into our dinghy we said “Don’t go away in case we need you. And pray for us and this dinghy.” Franco began praying.

Tim pulled the starter cable and gunned the throttle. The small motor responded with malice and vengeance. Tim almost flew out of the dinghy as we motored in a tight circle adjacent to the dock. Tim miraculously arrested his dive into the ocean by landing in the bottom of our dinghy. The throttle was still going full-tilt. Honestly, I was impressed by his spontaneous athleticism. He somehow managed to recapture control of our vessel and himself. The entire “oh shit” near miss lasted perhaps 12 to 15 seconds. The entire time I was hanging firmly on to the front of the dinghy to protect myself. Franco was standing at the dock praying.

We aimed for Palma and dinner. Within 100 feet, the motor quit again. I began cursing again as I rowed our dinghy back towards Franco and the dock. His prayers didn’t work.

By the time I rowed us in circles back to the dock Franco and Michael were waiting and had determined a plan B for us. Plan B was to switch our motor for their 2-stroke dinghy motor. PROBLEM SOLVED!! Wait…not yet. Tim and I went to the restroom. Upon our return, Franco informed us our motor had a bad thermostat and was overheating. Michael had already fetched their 2-stoke motor and they were making the switch.

There was now an audience. Folks on nearby sailboats were watching to see what the commotion was. They were enjoying cocktails and the unfolding drama.

After the 2-stoke motor was attached to our dinghy, Michael provided a quick “how to lesson” for me and Tim. Our struggles continued. Tim did everything exactly how Michael had instructed. The motor would not start. Tim was frustrated and aggravated. He started yanking the starter cable repeatedly in rapid succession with everything he had. I was convinced he would require surgical reconstruction. Franco and Michael continued to stand above us on the dock watching silently.

After several minutes…just about the time “futility” started bouncing around inside my head, I exclaimed loudly “Fuck This” and I climbed out of the dinghy and onto the dock. Tim gave that little motor another dozen yanks or so then hung his head and gave an audible sigh. Michael exclaimed “I think you guys are cursed” and laughed nervously. Tim climbed out of the dinghy at which point Franco climbed into the small boat. Franco checked everything just like Tim had done several minutes before. Franco then stated pulling the starter cord…yank, yank, yank, yank, yank…nothing.

Next, he removed the cowling and started fiddling with different things. After a moment he said the motor had a defective throttle needle and would need repairing. Our second motor and Plan B was an epic fail.

Michael apologized and said that he has never seen anything like this and, again, said we must be cursed. Plan C was to take the Krka 1 dinghy to Milna Town for our reservation which was now long past due. We accepted the offer. As we walked down the dimly lit dock we stopped next to a sharp looking dinghy. I pulled it toward the dock so we could be on our way. Just before climbing in Franco declared “that’s not our dinghy.” We all laughed. Michael then fetched their dinghy and met us at the end of the dock. Tim and I climbed in and we were on our way to Palma. We walked in the door at 8:15.

Lea, Lori and Mark asked us what happened and insisted we retell everything. They were laughing hysterically.

Dinner was awesome. We enjoyed excellent local wine and freshly caught seafood. After dinner Mark walked back to Munlochy Bay. The rest of us used our mostly-deflated borrowed dinghy to return to our sailboat.

Back on Munlochy Bay we killed the bottle of white wine Lea won for us earlier. Awesome Day – Truly!

Day 7

  • Happy 50th Birthday to me and Mark!
  • After 9 am briefing Lea and Lori served a special B-day breakfast they prepared for us. Lea had x-mas ornaments for us as gifts. Breakfast was chocolate muffin with candles, pastries, muesli, yogurt AND Geisha Coffee we purchased for this special day.
  • We agreed we would leave at 11 am and were free until then to explore Milna.
  • Back at Munlochy Bay we cast off our lines and departed Milna at 11:15 bound for the Agana Marina. Today would be our last sail day. Our sail plan was 18 NM. The weather forecast was for sunshine, no wind, calm seas…bummer. Oh well. We have learned that sailing requires many things, none more important than patience and flexibility. We raised our main sail and motor-sailed toward Agana.
  • Lunch on boat. Tim, Lori an Mark packed their bags for our Saturday departure from Croatia.
  • After lunch the wind appeared. Hurrah!! It was blowing more than 15 knots from a perfect direction that allowed easy tacking toward Agana. Mark and Tim shared the rudder all day. I can see they really enjoy sailing which makes me happy.
  • As we approached the Agana Marina we could see many boats in the distance. We decided to quit sailing early so we could beat the crowds returning charter boats. We arrived at 4 pm, just before the crowd. Perfect timing.
  • At 6 pm our flotilla crew had a departure party for us and a surprise 50 birthday gift presentation for me and Mark. Very thoughtful and wonderful gesture. Champagne on boat with crew-mates to celebrate an awesome vacation with awesome people.
  • Football parlay picks were 5-1 this week. Thanks Gators.
  • 7:30 dinner reservation back at the same restaurant as last Saturday. Exceptional. I believe this little hole in the wall family restaurant served the best seafood we had this entire week. Palma was also exceptional. They presented another birthday cake to me and Mark after dinner. Awesome! Tim and Lori insisted on buying dinner. Our UK friend John joined us for dessert. What a lovely man. Everyone had a great time. This has been the best birthday of my life!! I hope the same is true for dear Mark.
  • Back at the boat we ate the remaining chocolate and drank another bottle of wine. Ooooff. Awesome day!

Day 8

  • Tim and Lori left at 4:45 am for a 5 am taxi to Split airport. Mark, Lea and I had to vacate Munlochy Bay by 9 am. It was a bit of a scramble, but we did it. Compared to every other charter departure this was chill and smooth.
  • 9:15 am taxi pick up and ride to Trogir. Mark, Lea and I decided to spend the day exploring Trogir before our 6:15 pm flight to Frankfurt to Charlotte to Denver. Another Medieval city, Wow! What an extraordinary country with so many beautiful towns and cities, and amazing history. Trogir is a World Heritage City.
  • Mark accompanied us to the airport and stayed as long as possible. His plan is to stay tonight with his Airbnb finds then go to Dubrovnik tomorrow. He will fly home Monday evening and be home late Tuesday. Our trip home includes an overnight layover in Frankfurt before flying home Sunday. I resume my place at my North Metro mill-stone on Monday. Ouch.