This week’s update comes a day early because today is an important day in my adventure, and makes for an easy transition:
Today I arrived at the Agana Marina, in the town of Marina, and checked into our 42-foot sailboat. For the next two weeks, I’ll be skippering this boat as we sail around the islands of Croatia.
More on that later. For now, here’s the update for the past week.
My stay on the island of Hvar was fantastic. I avoided the world-famous nightlife and kept a low-profile in my nifty apartment nestled in the hilly alleyways above old town. Early nights, late mornings, and afternoon naps coupled with leisurely strolls and coffees along the boardwalk -- I'm on the road to recovery.
Or so I thought.
By mid-week, I was really no better, but thankfully no worse either. I decided to make my way back to Trogir (close to where I would pick up the sailboat) and see a doctor. Maybe I could get some antibiotics or other meds that might help. Sick for two weeks on a sailboat would be miserable.
So I took a series of two ferries up to Trogir, where I continued my low-key living back at Palace Central Apartments. Upon my arrival, Ivan and Danielja made me feel like I was coming home.
I visited the doctor on Wednesday. The hospital, walking distance from my apartment, seemed deserted. Apart from the main door into the building, all office doors and windows were shut. What appeared to be the receptionist window had a sign on it saying “We are busy. If an emergency, call number below.” Well, that wasn’t going to work for me.
There were a few people (I presume patients) lingering around. Occasionally a door would open, and one of these patients would scurry in or out, without any sort of announcement of "Next, please."
For 45 minutes, I just sort of observed and tried to understand how things worked. A few other tourists wandered in, and then out, of the building too, unable to figure out the situation. One said this was his second visit today after waiting for an hour earlier in the day with no contact.
Finally, after a man left one of the offices, I caught a glimpse of a nurse behind the door. Despite her attempt to close the door before I approached, I sort of stuck my head in and said “Excuse me. I’m sick. I’m going on a sailboat for two weeks. I need help.”
She spoke some English and smiled when she heard the word “sailboat” (as so many people do around here). She seemed to understand my situation, and ushered me into the doctor’s office behind her. The doctor didn’t speak English, so the nurse translated. Again I pleaded my case to the nurse, again emphasizing the word “sailboat” trying to make sure she would include that in her translation. She turned to the doctor to translate. When he smiled, I knew she'd said "sailboat" and I was in.
The doctor briefly examined my throat and chest. He immediately wrote a prescription for antibiotics and nasal spray, and handed me the two pieces of paper. After saying, “Hvala” (“Thank you”), I then waited for a third piece of paper. Some kind of bill. It was an awkward 5 seconds of silence as we stared at each other. Breaking the silence, I asked, “Well, how much?” They indicated there was no charge!
Granted, the entire exam and prescription probably took him 5 minutes, but I was expecting some sort of fee. Instead, they just pointed the way to the pharmacy next door. I thanked them again and headed off to get my prescriptions filled.
And THAT process also was lightening fast. Less than 5 minutes to get two prescriptions filled. At a total cost of about $8. I spent about as much buying some oranges and peaches on the way home! Amazing.
So what began as a mysterious, uncertain, and frustrating visit, actually turned out to be really awesome. The whole excursion still took just over an hour – which in the United States would still be considered a fast visit to the doctor’s office!
Another highlight of the week: I got my first Croatian haircut! $7.
Settled back in my nice apartment, loaded up on drugs, it was now time to really “work” on the sailing trip. I needed to plan our route, make a shopping list for food, check the weather, prepare a pre-sail crew/safety briefing, etc.
I purchased a few notebooks that we’ll use for ship’s log (to record our position, speed and heading, weather and sea state, mileage, etc. every hour), pilotage (to plot our entry or exit from each harbor in the event visibility is poor), and general notes and reminders for me as skipper.
We have agreed on a rough sail plan to meander our way from Split to Dubrovnik, but stopping on islands of Brac, Hvar, Vis, Korcula, and Mljet along the way.
Already the weather and wind is not cooperating. Forecast is for rain the first 2-3 days. And the wind is coming out of the southeast, which is the exact direction we want to go. (In sailing, you can never really sail directly into the wind – you have to be at an angle of, say 40-50 degrees.) So for the wind to be coming directly from our destination means we have to zig zag our way, or motor directly into the wind which leads to a lot of wave-bashing. Not good for the crew or the boat. We'll see...
I’m just anxious to get onto the water. It’s going to be an amazing experience, and potentially challenging one for me as first-time skipper on such a long 14-day excursion. But I'm ready and excited.
My 3-person crew arrived late in the week, along with other members from the OCSC Sailing club who are on other boats in our 10-boat "flotilla." We had a nice dinner on the promenade as a large group on Friday night.
On Saturday, my first mate Amanda and I took a taxi up to the Agana Marina, where we checked into our 42-foot monohull "Travels with Tin Tin" (Ugh, not the most fun name). We attended an overall charter orientation, and then a more specific boat orientation. It was a long 6-hour day of listening to information, asking questions, storing our gear and food on the boat, etc.
We capped the night with dinner and wine, just the four of us who are on my boat. Dan, Amanda, Don, and Lorenzo. It's a good crew, and we're going to have a great time!
We depart tomorrow, Sunday September 17, and return on October 1. I'll do my best to post some pictures and a mid-trip DBT update. Our boat actually has WIFI, but as skipper, I'm going to try to reserve the data consumption for only really important stuff -- docking reservations, weather forecast, emergencies. Unfortunately Facebook and DBT updates aren't included as "really important." But we'll be on land periodically as we sail into a few of the amazing historic picturesque ports in Croatia, so will do updates then.