These are notes I made in the months of June and July 2017 about the summer cruise of the motor yacht, Malahne, along the islands of the Croatian coast. They really have nothing to do with Naples except that I first saw the ship in the bay of Naples and became fascinated by her story. Thus, what follows is all about islands in the Adriatic.
(June 21) She was in the bay of Naples for a number of days and spent about three or four of them on the Amalfi coast and over at Capri. I know this because I track vessels on a computer program with just an hour's lag or less. So on Tuesday I see that the Malahne is not only back in Naples but actually docked at the pier at Mergellina. I look out my balcony and there she is. Tuesday afternoon still there. I figure to go down and get a picture maybe Wednesday morning. Wednesday I look out early, maybe 7 a.m. No boat. Boo-hiss. I check Vessel Finder and see that she is 300km /200mi away in the straits of Messina between Sicily and mainland Italy! A few hours later she has passed Messina, said hello and good-bye to mighty Mt. Etna and made the left turn around the toe of the boot and is running across the Ionian sea near Cape Rizzuto.
They call it Boka (the Bay). That area alone has 100 Catholic churches and chapels, 200 Orthodox churches and chapels, as well as some Orthodox monasteries.
I have never been (and am never likely to be) anywhere over there. I know a bit about the top of the Italian Adriatic — Venice, the Gargano "spur" and down to Brindisi and Otranto — but nothing about the other side. I have been inland some in Croatia, but that was back when it was all called Yugoslavia and Tito still ruled the roost. (Sometime in the late 1800s Bismark is said to have shrugged and said to a friend, "Look, the next war is going to start over some damned fool thing in the Balkans." He was right and didn't know the half of it.) So now, I guess I'll just follow along. Sounds like a great cruise on a beautiful boat. Yo-ho-ho.
Oh, charters for only $1500 per week. Per person. (I thought at first that was for the whole boat —HAH!— but since it carries 10 passengers, that would mean you're paying only $150 apiece for a luxury cruise and that made no sense. Still not bad, though. Much more enjoyable than the one cruise I went on aboard a floating hotel the size of an aircraft carrier. There were 16 decks — that's 6 more decks than Malahne has passengers.
(June 25) Maybe the boat is on its way to Dubrovnik, just a few hours up the coast. It has re-become one of the tourist gems of the Mediterranean. They even shoot part of Game of Thrones there — which I have never watched.
(June 30) Biding my time but then off she goes and I'm back to tracking my little Dunkirk yacht. "Little" is a term of endearment; in 1937 it was luxury length. They spent days in port at Montenegro and are now running up the Dalmatian coast, no doubt enjoying themselves.
(July 1) Here's a nice pic from near Dubrovnik. Obviously not my Dunkirk motor yacht, but quite near the present location and a very well-composed shot, so I stole it. Those are islands, not the mainland, to starboard you landlubbers. Unless, of course, the boat is going in the other direction!
Shiver me timbers! And you don't know what misery is till you've have cold timbers.
The Venetian period lasted for centuries, from the 1400s until Venice fell to Napoleon in 1797. This historic town is on the mainland, but it has encroached over onto an island. (WRONG! Explanation immediately below.)* There is a drawbridge between the two sections. The boat (red dot) is moored below that island. I imagine they are just going to stay out on the yacht and drink and do what rich people do and then go ashore and drive (be driven) (it's so close, they could walk!) into town and see the "beautiful Romanesque churches... and....outstanding Renaissance and Baroque buildings."...a remarkable example of urban continuity. The orthogonal street plan of this island settlement dates back to the
Hellenistic period and it was embellished by successive rulers with many fine public and domestic buildings and
fortifications. Its beautiful Romanesque churches are complemented by the outstanding Renaissance and Baroque buildings
from the Venetian period.
Malahne is currently located at the red circle near the bottom of this map. There seemed to me to be two halves to the Croatian coast: lush and scenic islands at the bottom (ending at Trogir at the bottom of the map) visited yesterday by Malahne); then, when you round that bulge in the mainland, west of Trogit, the geography changes dramatically. This is the upper half of the Croatian coast. You face NW and if you stand there and look straight out, you're facing a large, roughly rectangular indentation, 200 km/125 miles long and 25 km/15 miles wide. It's the densest group of islands in the Mediterranean. The waters are studded with islands, most of them very small; a few on the outside and inside near the mainland are like strips, long and narrow.
The use of the word “archipelago” requires some attention. If you say the “Croatian” peninsula, that means all of the islands off the Croatian mainland, including those that extend below this map. But the large indented area above Trogit uses “archipelago” to mean a group of islands named separately, perhaps right next to another group, also named separately; thus you have, for example, the Sibernik archipelago (at the bottom of the indentation, off the mainland) and the Kornati archipelago (the strip of islands on the outside at the bottom. Malahne is moored on the lee side of Kornat island, the bottommost island of the outer string of islands of the Kornati archipelago. There are 140 separate islands in the group; about 100 of them now form the Kornati national park. Kornat, itself, is 25 km/15 miles long and 2 miles wide. It is by far the largest. You can hike across from the leeward side to face the sea if you want. The islands are all barren, with virtually no vegetation. There are a few isolated houses, but they are temporary shelters belonging to owners from the inner islands. The other islands are a “tourist's paradise” (I'm looking at a brochure!) only if you like to be alone and sail. If you crave company, there is a hotel on the longer island above Kornat, no longer in the national park. In its own way, however, the bleakness has a desert-like attraction to it, or as the tourist brochures call it: a “meditative and minimal landscape”.
Amusingly, some of the
islands have vulgar names such as “buttocks” and
“prostitution” because when Austrian surveyors
came to chart
the archipelago at the end of the 19th century,
their local guides mocked them by making up vulgar
names for the various locations. Helps against the
(July 6) ...It's a night trip, into bed you hop / And dream away / On The Good Ship Lollipop
Couldn't resist. Richard
Whiting wrote the lyrics. Also wrote Hooray
I wonder if they are going to cut over to Venice or go up to Istria?
(June 6) MALAHNE last received position is 44.22567 N / 14.82275 E on Jul 05, 2017 at 20:45 UTC.
The isle of Molat is shaped somewhat like a stiletto-heeled boot; the space between the heel and sole form a convenient deeply recessed bay at the SE end of the island with the heel sheltering moored boats from the open sea. That is where Malahne is moored. Molat is one of the outer islands, about 80 km/50 up from the boat's previous position. They're about half-way up the great clutter of islands, now no longer very far from the Istria peninsula (just visible in the upper left-hand corner of the image). They are out of the national park and “back in the world” a bit. My "two-halves" theory was wrong; vegetation has returned and the island of Morat is actually inhabited. It has an area of about 22 sq km (8 sq mi). There are three settlements, the largest of which is, obviously, named Molat. It has a whopping population of 107. They fish, breed sheep, farm and handle tourists such as those aboard Malahne and, Edward, Duke of Windsor. He and his wife, Wallis Simpson, visited in 1939 (a good year to tour Croatia if you were a Nazi sympathizer—which he was, so said some). He had abdicated (as Edward VIII) in 1936 to marry “the woman I love.”
Like everything else in the
area, Molat was under the rule of Venice for
(July 7) Cres, 30 miles up from last mooring
MALAHNE last received position is 44.56627 N / 14.40948 E on Jul 06, 2017 at 19:24 UTC.
If you're going to make a break for it, now's the time. That is, you've had it with bucolic this and scenic that. You are so unstressed that your central nervous system is now a Buddhist. You're ready for night life, noise and the big city. Now you're moored in a bay down near the bottom of Cres; at 80 km/50 miles in length, it's the longest island in the whole Croatian archipelago and is at the very top of the Croatian welter of islands, directly across from Venice. The island even runs up well beyond the bottom of the Istrian peninsular coast almost to the mainland. At the current position you have an airport one mile to the west and a major highway one mile to the east, on either side of your bay. Go for it. Don't trip any wires, for God's sake. On the other hand, it's still pretty nice. And you're probably going to Venice, where they have a film festival and women, so maybe you should wait and see.
Cres has been inhabited since the Paleolithic times; then came the Greeks and the Roman Empire. Then it was taken over by the Byzantine Empire and remained that way for centuries. In the 7th century A.D. the Croats invaded Cres and the islands around it. Around 866 the inhabitants had their first conflicts with the Republic of Venice. The Venetians eventually took control of Cres and the neighboring islands in the 10th and 11th centuries. However, the Croats regained the islands, which went through changes of rulers for centuries, ruled by Croats, Hungarians, and, for 400 years, Venetians. After Napoleon's victory over Venice, the island fell under Austrian rule, but (are you still there?) after the defeat of Austria by Napoleon in 1809 the island became part of the French Empire. After Napoleon was done, Austria once again took control of the island for 100 years. At the end of World War I, with the Treaty of Rapallo (1920) the island was handed over to Italy. This lasted until 1947 when the island and the whole Istrian Peninsula were assigned to Yugoslavia (which had glued itself together into a single state in the 1920s). Now that there is no more Yugoslavia, Cres is once again part of an independent Croatia. And thus (cue the music!) wondrous harmony is achieved and the great Balkan lottery wheel keeps on spinning. And you wonder why this part of the world is so screwed up? Really? Besides war, tourism has become an increasingly important industry.
MALAHNE position on Jul 07, 2017 at 09:39 UTC. is 44.76917 N / 14.31735 E
After one day, the boat moved north about 25 km/15 mi and moored on the lee side of a deserted and very small island, 4 km long and ½ wide. It appears to have a shelter on it. But essentially it's just a big beach. It's still part of the island of Cress but it's the last piece of it. There's nothing but water until you cross to the Istrian peninsula, 25 km away. That peninsula is almost entirely in Croatia. A small strip to the north is in Slovenia. After that, the city of Trieste, on the coast, is Italy.
(July 7) MALAHNE position on Jul 07, 2017 at 20:11 UTC. is 45.06277 N / 13.64504 E
The boat has moved across to Istria, the mainland, and is moored at one of the 19 small islands in the so-called Rovinj (Rovigno in Italian) archipelago off the town of Rovinj, 50 Km up the western side of the peninsula (yellow pin-drop, above.)
Rovinj/RovignoThe population of the town itself is about 14,000. A few of the inhabitants still speak Istriot or one of its dialects, all off-shoots of Latin. At least a dozen dialects are identified separately on the peninsula and still help to form “ethnic identity.” Croatian and Italian are official languages but the linguistic landscape is at least as complicated as the geopolitical situation everywhere in the Balkans. The First World War resulted in treaties that assigned the largely Italian-speaking Istria (meaning the entire peninsula) to Italy. That seemed to fulfill the Italian goal of the century-long Risorgimento, the movement to forge a single Italian nation. The Second World War changed that; Istria became part of Yugoslavia, resulting in a massive displacement and flight of Italian speakers. In the 1990s most of Istria became part of an independent Croatia. Rovigno is an important fishing port and now supports a thriving tourist industry.
I hope Malahne goes over to Venice and back down the Italian coast. I'm tired of reading about the Balkans. It's all so depressing. If you look at the map, you see Rijeka up on the mainland at the far eastern part of the peninsula. (later: The boat didn't make it up that far, but Rijeka is an important port. The Italian name is Fiume and in the 1920s it was the centerpiece of one of the most bizarre episodes in Italian history. Poet Gabriele D'Annunzio invaded it, declared it independent and set himself up as "Duce"! Mussolini was not amused.
(July 9) MALAHNE position on Jul 08, 2017 at 11:30 UTC is 45.19978 N / 12.99695 E.
Venice - Where there is always something happening
They have cut straight across to Venice. This figures to be a major stop — at least a few days. The position noted above is still in the middle of the crossing (about 100 km/60 mi). It's hard to say where they will put in. The whole lagoon is about 40 km/25 miles long from Chioggia at the bottom, up through Metropolitan Venice (image, below) (sort of in the middle) and through it and up to the top. My hunch is that they are going to go for a less touristy visit because this is the high season and you don't want to run into one of those ungodly behemoths called "Cruise Ships". On the other hand, all summer in odd-numbered years, Venice is the venue of La Biennale, one of the biggest and most prestigious contemporary arts expositions in the world. The main site of the Biennale is the Giardini Pubblici (the Public Gardens), where permanent pavilions from more than 30 countries have been set up. The events have been greatly expanded to include dance, music, and theater.
A few hours after the last report above, the boat was aimed to go in at the main passage into the lagoon, the one that leads right into downtown Venice (image below). There is, no doubt, a lot of traffic out there. Saturday afternoon, July. Have to wait and see.
MALAHNE position at Jul 08, 2017 at 18:18 UT C is 45.43027 N / 12.33712.
Not tied up, but moored at the red dot in the image. The channel they are in is the Giudecca Canal; right above them (at that sharp point) is the church of Santa Maria della Salute; the point itself was a customs station once upon a time; that point is the entrance to the Grand Canal, winding like an Arabic letter through the city and up to the train station and bridge to the mainland. The island across from the boat is the Isle of San Giorgio Maggiore (at that point, the Giudecca Canal is about 500 meters wide, so they're fine. The waters at the entrance are called the San Marco basin, and the entrance into the lagoon, itself, is about 8 km/5 mi away to the east. I have no idea what they are going to do.
(July 9) They're away from Venice. Too much peace and quiet.
That is almost out in the center of the Adriatic, straight out from Venice. They've not listed their next port, which they usually do—just the ship's name, Malahne. "That is singular, Watson. Either they're making a run for it, or they've been hijacked, or they don't know where they're going. Quickly, the game's afoot!”
“My deerstalking chap—how can a game possibly be a foot?!“No, you moron... wait, they've just radioed — ETA TIVAT / Jul 10, 20:30. They're returning to Tivat in Montenegro, which is where they were days ago. By Jove, do you know what this means?”
“OK, it was worth a shot. Call and ask. Their call sign is GDNW.
“Golf, Delta, November, Whisky.”
“Holmes, have you forgotten the history of the ship? Dunkirk?”
“Quite so: George, Don, Monkey, William.”
“I think you'll need a Marine VHF radio for that, you know—very high frequency maritime mobile band—and all that.”
“Like an iPhone?”
"Or a pigeon."
Perhaps all this is not a round trip. Maybe Venice was the end of the line for one group and they picked up other passengers and are...hmmmm.”
(July 10) Well, they're back where they started — Jul 10, 2017 at 23:11 UTC42.43143 N / 18.69264 E —a nice berth at the port in Tivat. Don't know why.
Jul 13, 2017 at 11:52 UTC.
MALAHNE current position is 42.48414 N / 18.33757 E.
Malahne is back out at sea again, about 20 miles up (!) the Adriatic. She has not radioed her next port, so I don't know. It might be Dubrovnik (about 25 more miles), where she did NOT stop the first time around. This back and forth up and down the Adriatic is confusing. Maybe it's a different group of passengers switched out at Venice. Sort of a carousel to get people to Venice. Wait a few hours and see where she stops. The last time around, she went straight to Ston. If that's what happens again, then it has to a different group, I think. Well, it takes my mind off the brush fires on Vesuvius.
A few hours later docked at Cavtat harbor just below Dubrovnik. It's a relatively spacious horse-shoe shaped harbor with one side protecting against the open sea.
(July 14) 42.63437 N / 18.12453 E on Jul 14, 2017 at 05:49 UTC
At the time noted they are still in the channel but seem to be moving over to Dubrovnik (images, right). That was fast. I really liked that little harbor. But why loaf around in a peaceful little nook like Cavtat when you can move over to the massive, confusing town of Dubrovnik. I guess it's something you have to see. Most of the people aboard will probably think, wow, this place looks familiar. Indeed, as noted earlier it is used for location shots for the TV series Game of Thrones—no kidding, it is that Game-of-Thronesy-looking...wa
lls, towers, the whole 8.23 meters. The current population of the city is about 45,000. The name Dubrovnik comes from Dubra—an oak grove—then corrupted by the Turks into Dobro-Venedika, meaning "Good Venice"! (Yeah, don't you wish!) The real name was Ragusa, a name it carried from 1358 until 1808. It reached its commercial peak in the 15th and the 16th centuries, before being conquered by Napoleon's French Empire and annexed by the Napoleonic Kingdom of Italy in 1808. During those centuries it was the Republic of Ragusa and a successful maritime republic. It is one of the favorite tourist destinations on the Adriatic and is on the UNESCO list of World Heritage sites. The city suffered significant damage during the break-up of Yugoslavia in the 1990s; there was a long siege from at least three of the 216 different bloodthirsty Balkan factions warring against one another and there was significant damage from artillery shelling, more evidence, if such is needed, of how wondrously the Balkans move, their wonders to perform. Sigh. By the way, there is another Ragusa on Sicily. The name in both cases derives from Lausa (from the Greek ξαυ: xau, "precipice"). It has nothing to do with making ragout, although come to think of it..."a highly seasoned stew" pretty much fits the bill. Anyway, they're still poking around the approach to "Good Venice."
Wrong again. They didn't go into Dubrovnik, but anchored in the Elaphiti archipelago. There are three main islands: Koločep (only 3 miles NW of Dubrovnik), Lopud, and Šipan (the farthest out, at 10 miles NW of Dobrovnik).
Malahne is off the southeastern end of the island of Šipan (yellow pin-drop, left) below the town and harbor of Suđurađ (pop. 450). All three of the islands attract large numbers of tourists during the summer season due to their beaches and pristine scenery. I guess if you have a luxury yacht like Malahne, the point is to get out in the “pristine” but at a point where you can get people into town if they want to see the sites.
Have a good time, kids. Me, I think the captain has sensed my presence and is purposely going in circles just to confuse me.
(July 15) - Early morning. Even more confused. They've moved farther up and are at the top end of that long island of Šipan, moving away from Dubrovnik. They are almost directly in front of the inlet to Ston, about 5 miles away. They radioed Ston as their next stop. They spent a while there the first time around. Seems strange to me. It's as if they were inspecting the entire length of the great walls of Dubrovnik, which are (or at least were) connected to those at Ston as part of the defensive structures of the old Republic of Ragusa.
(July 16) I did some research on Dubrovnik, one of the locations for Game of Thrones and took a look at the establishing shots at the beginning of an extremely boring episode the other night. It was Dubrovnik. There was one shot out over the city to the sea and the many islands — the walls, towers, etc. They also ran a made-up parchment map of the coast and it's all an archipelago, just like Croatia. Some days ago I made a little fun of the rich cruise tourists going to see where the show was filmed; then I found this:
"Tourism organizations reported increases in bookings after their locations appeared in Game of Thrones. In 2012, bookings increased by 28 percent in Dubrovnik and 13 percent in Iceland. The following year, bookings doubled in Ouarzazate, Morocco (the location of Daenerys' season-three scenes). Game of Thrones has been attributed as a significant factor in the boom of tourism in Iceland that had a strong impact on its economy. Tourist numbers increased by 30% in 2015, followed by another 40% in 2016, with a final figure of 2.4 million visitors expected for 2016, which is around seven times the population of the country."
The city (above) is, in fact, Dubrovnik. Except for Toots up there on the parapet (or whatever it is), the scene is indistinguishable from the many tourist photos that people load onto the internet. Iceland will be about the same deal because there is apparently some world-of-ice silliness in the arc of the plot and Iceland is pretty hard to beat if you need ice.
MALAHNE last received position is 42.78886 N / 17.40435 E on Jul 16, 2017 at 09:23 UTC.
OK, they skipped Ston and went farther up and out, over to Mljet, about 6 miles out from the mainland. It's a long sliver, about 30 km by 3km. But they were here (on other the side of island) 13 days ago. (See July 3, above) I want to say that if they're revisiting places this time around, it's a different group. Hard to say. There are two real towns: Babino Polje in the middle and Govedari in the north. The boat is anchored in the north near Govedari in the Polace inlet, named for a local settlement.
MALAHNE current position is 43.16193 N / 16.40956 E on Jul 18, 2017 at 08:11 UTC.
Hvar - the mainland is on the right
Hvar is the name of the island as well as the major town and harbor on the island, where Malahne is moored. The town (pop. 4,000 ranks consistently in tourist magazines as one of the most popular places in the Adriatic, which is why our good ship has done well to hole up about 2 km off shore in the Squiggly Isles — not the real name, but are you kidding? Look at this:
She's in there somewhere, hiding in the serenity but still close enough to what Hvar has to offer, which is considerable. The location is just 35 km /20 mi NW of her last position at Vela Luka (meaning Big Harbor). Hvar is a very long island 65km / 40 mi. The port of Hvar, itself is at the west end, and the eastern tip is only 4 km/2.5 mi from the mainland. It's only 20 miles straight north to Split but there's another island in the middle. Now if I were the captain, I'd keelhaul someone and then go for it.
Hvar is unusual in the area for having a large fertile coastal plain and fresh water springs. It has been inhabited since pre-historic times, originally by a Neolithic people whose distinctive pottery gave rise to the anthropological term of "the Hvar culture." It still maintains in use (!) the ancient Greek agricultural field divisions of the Stari Grad Plain, now a UNESCO World Heritage site. The position of the island (it juts out like a springboard into shipping lanes) has made it strategically important throughout history. The city of Hvar was an independent commune within the Venetian Empire during the 13th to 18th centuries; it was an important naval base with a strong fortress and town walls. Today, the city has hotels, galleries, and museums, including the Hvar Heritage Museum with its art and archaeological collections. It's a jewel, and when the maddening throng gets too much, you always have the Squiggles (in background, image).
I'll pick up and move — restaurants, beaches, museums, and rehab centers with thermal baths. That's more my speed.
(July 19) -
That evening, at Trogir 43.5127 N / 16.2203 E. They are moored offshore 400 meters from the mainland and about 2km west of the island town of Trogir. It is, as noted (see July 4), a very sheltered anchorage. Trogir, recall from the earlier entry, is a town of fascinating symmetry, a grid-like network of streets, joined on one side to the mainland and on the other side to the island of Čiovo.Malahne has just left Hvar and is headed for Trogir, where she visited a few weeks ago.The most direct route is between Brač on the right, the largest island (where Supetar is located) on the Dalmation coast and the much smaller island of Solta, on the left. The passage is about 800 meters wide, so there's room. That route is more or less 40 km/25 mi. Malahne may not be going precisely to Trogir, so we'll wait for a few hours. The other route is to the left around the islands and in, about 55 km/25 mi. Hvar was the main island historically in this area--big naval base, as I indicated earlier. Now the ship will pass by, one way or the other, those other islands (that form quite a protective chain) between Hvar and the island town of Trogir and the mainland city of Split.
MALAHNE current position is 43.4237 N / 16.1794 E on Jul 19, 2017 at 20:38 UTC.
Sneaky — they went around to the west of both islands, now in the channel between Solta and itsy-bitsy Drevnik Veli, about 33km / 21mi from last position. Still hard to tell where she's going. Curse you, mon capitain!
I think they might have come back just to have another look at this remarkable island town.
(July 21) MALAHNE current position is 42.4361 N / 18.68802 E on Jul 21, 2017 at 00:48 UTC.
Can this be the end of the line? Hard to say. The Malahne made a very quick run of 215 km/135 mi yesterday from Trogir back down to the starting point of her Adriatic cruise, crossing out of Croatia, back into Montenegro and is docked at Tivat, the first stop she made after leaving Naples late last month. I have no idea. It's not even August.
I have learned that Tivat is a thriving tourist community of 14,000. Some sources are already calling it Porto Montenegro since there is a major plan to turn it into the "Monaco of the Adriatic." It's near a large airport (or at least one that can be developed as the port grows). Also, the nation of Montenegro is classified by the World Bank as an upper middle-income country. Like everywhere else in the confusion of the Balkans, it has a prehistoric stone-age past, then an historic but vague past (the Illyrians), a Greek past, a Roman past, a Venetian past, etc. etc. and, of course, a gut-wrenching past from the 1990s. Whether Porto Montenegro/Tivat becomes the nautical tourism center for the southern Adriatic — a vacation resort and marina for luxury yachts — is anyone's guess, but it would be nice. I'm pretty sure that Malahne is not done for the summer. But I am.
Not quite — here is something totally odd — the origin of the name Malahne. The boat was delivered in 1937 by builders Camper and Nicholsons to the first owner, businessman and renowned yachtsman (and managing director of Woolworth retail shops in Britain), William Lawrence Stephenson (1880-1963). He had three daughters: Velma, Sheila, and Daphne. He formed the name Malahne from the last syllables of his daughters' names! Wait... not done... he later bought a beautiful sailing yacht and named it Velsheda. Odd but charming. There, now I'm done.