31st July: It was a light winds day for our journey out to Vis so unfortunately it was all motor and no sail. We arrived early afternoon to find most of the mooring buoys free. The buoys are a bit pricey at 294kn for 13 to 14m but they gave us peace of mind knowing it was likely to get busy out here and with some strong winds due over the next few days.
The mooring buoys are over towards the Kut side of the bay which also has a stretch of quay available as well as in front of Vis. We had a lot of space around us and most of the buoys are well spaced out. The bay is pretty deep, our buoy on the outermost row was in 17m. Behind the church over on the west is a small anchorage area in shallower water.
Securely tied on we could explore ashore. Kut is a pretty maze of little cobbled streets and old, old houses, many sadly in disrepair. After wandering there we heading out to Fort St. George which turned out to be a hot slog. The fort has now been turned into a restaurant and nightclub.
Back in the anchorage it had filled up, all spaces on the quay taken and only a couple of buoys free. For the evening we went to a small bar on the seafront with a singer and guitarist. We tried another craft beer which was no where near as good as the one in Murter and turned out to be made in Norway despite being sold as Croatian!
More Broken Boat Woes
On our motor to Vis, Colin had noticed that the propeller shaft was warmer than it should be and he’d had to burp Bob (the shaft seal). It seemed that air was getting into the raw water intake somewhere and as Bob was at the end of the line, the bubbles had formed a blockage in it’s cooling water supply. The air leak looked to be around the raw water filter; we tightened it and fitted new o-rings but still the air was getting in. The engine hadn’t over heated on the way here so there was still enough water flow for cooling but we would need to keep an eye on it and try and find the leak.
We headed off for a walk up the hill behind the town for a panorama shot but there were some ominous black clouds rolling in from the mainland. Hiking up a track amongst scrubby trees, rumbles of thunder could be heard and the blue bit of sky above us was being squeezed closed. The mainland was no longer visible having being turned into a dark wall of rain, the wind was picking up and down in the anchorage there was a scramble for the last remaining buoys. Being on an open hillside in a storm? Probably not best. We reluctantly turned around. But then a strange thing happened – the storm suddenly just disappeared. Where there was black was now wispy white on blue and we could see the mainland again. The wind still blew strong but we’d missed a soaking. Hurrah!
The anchorage was getting rammed now with boats racing each other from one side of the bay to the other looking for an elusive space. But there were none to be had. The little anchorage behind the church filled up, as did the next bay up with many boats long-lined ashore. Boats even started to anchor in 20m in front of us. We worried that many boats wouldn’t have anywhere near 60m of chain on board…..
Having talked to a couple of locals, we learned that the best time to visit is the weekend when the charter boats are on turnaround. Monday and Tuesday were both very busy with the buoys and quay full by mid afternoon.
Treat Yo’Self Day – Vis Military Tour and Scrummy Lamb
After all the stress of the breakages this season it was time for a treat. Vis island has a recent history as a military post, from Tito’s base after the 2nd World War up to being a base for the Yugoslav Army up until the war in the 90’s. There are many bunkers, tunnels and military posts on the island. We considered hiring a scooter to see some of them but thinking Colin needed a break, the Military Tour looked a good option. For 230kn per person we would get a 3 and a half hour tour of some of the top spots, driven around in an off-road Landy. Four of us were on the tour, leaving plenty of space in the truck with our guide Mani, born and bred on the island. First stop was a boat tunnel and having already seen one on Dugi Otok we thought we wouldn’t get much from it. Wrong! Within minutes we knew their proper history, this one being built by the Yugoslav Army in 1983 and for hiding boats not subs. We found out why there was a ladder to nowhere at the end – a boat’s bow would push up to the wall and the crew would climb off down the ladder. Ha! After just a few minutes we knew the tour was worthwhile.
Next were some nearby gun bunkers and equipped with head torches we roamed the underground tunnels learning about the guns used, the men who worked here and the special plastic pipe used for shouting instructions down if the electrics failed. From there we drove through the old army barracks where the abandoned buildings had been put to good use by the locals, even keeping the laundry and bakery going.
We had a stop off to check out the view over the bay, Emerald bobbing about below us before continuing up the hill to a viewpoint over the interior of the island. Below us was a plateau dotted with fields of regimented rows of grape vines and running through it, the WWII runway built by the British. We got a closer look at the runway, now a hay field, on our way to the next site. Turning off the main road onto a rough track, we passed through woods, Mani stopping occasionally to grab a herb for us to smell and taste. Oregano, dill, sage and thyme all grow wild in plentiful amounts on the island.
After some twists and turns through the forest, the truck was parked in a clearing and we clambered out. It wasn’t obvious where we were going as hidden under some trees was the entrance to the atomic bunkers, built in the 60’s to withstand nuclear attack. Their location was a strictly held secret until it was abandoned when the army left. Then the locals stripped it of everything, understandable when they had lived under military rule for so long. The tunnels are dark, damp and a little spooky, especially if you’re at the back and turn around to see the darkness closing in…. Bits of broken mugs, some shoes and rusty chairs were dotted around the remains of the kitchens, bathrooms and work rooms. Those hidden in here would have been able to survive up to 8 months without going outside; all that now remained of the air filtration system were a few pipes and filter pellets scattered on the ground.
It was then up to the highest point on the island on the top of Hum mountain, looking down to Komiza way, way below. An extra bonus for us was Tito’s cave, nothing special, just a hole in a mountain and it turns out the tales of Tito living there are very embellished. Still, the views were stunning.
Mani obviously loved his island home and it was his tales of life here and funny anecdotes that really made the tour. We even began to wonder what spending a winter here would be like.
Rounding off our treat day was a meal out. We’d walked past the Kod Paveta Restaurant several times and decided to ask about the lamb under the bell. Yes they would have it available tonight! The restaurant was nicely decorated with vintage bits and bobs and pretty flowers with blues-jazz playing gently in the background. The staff were great and the lamb was delicious, the meat melting off the bones. Even the potatoes were wonderful (I don’t like many types of potato), all soft and fluffy and tasting of lamb.
- 31st July: Necujam to Vis, 25nm travelled.
- Mooring buoy in position 43 03.566’N 16 11.679’E cost 294kn per day for a boat 13 to 14m. The port officials will come around to collect the money.
- Showers and toilets were available next to the port offices in Vis and Kut. On the quay electricity and water is available but in a blow it didn’t look very comfortable with boats bouncing around and masts clanging together.
- Military Tour provided by Visit.hr and cost 230kn per person. Better to book in advance if you can.