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2019 Croatia - Blog 3

The days are starting to fall into a pattern, starting with a hearty breakfast at 7:00am, leaving plenty of time to be dressed and ready to board the boat at 9:00am. There were a few complaints at breakfast about Ann being way too happy first thing in the morning. These were mainly from those nursing fuzzy heads from the night before or were jealous she had the best stroke. Either way, it was duly noted and her name added to the candidates for the Pricilla Award.

Today, conditions were glassy with little or no wind, ideal for our first crossing. We headed to the north western side of Zmajan for a short coastal swim south and then a crossing to Kaprije. Two thirds of the way across, we skirt across the southern tip of the uninhabited island of Bavlenac.

There was movement between groups today: Cathy moved from Orange to Yellow, Lynette and Hazel moved from Yellow to Pink, and Craig moved from Orange to a stand up paddle board. Fins were increasing in popularity as they made the long swims much less exhausting for those who hadn’t put in big kms before the trip.

We all enjoyed the crossing. With fins, Orange group of Marta and Ann proved uncatchable. Both were knocking out distances that they never imagined possible - well done girls. Cathy’s presence in Yellow was glaringly obvious. She knocked an unruly rabble of no-hopers and mis-fits into a tight well-oiled swimming machine. Breaks were reduced and the pace picked up to keep head of the Pinks. Cathy’s performance was definitely worthy of consideration when it came time to award Pricilla that evening.

Unfortunately, Steve was missing Guy who was unable to make the trip. Without Guy, Pink now comprised 5 females and 1 male. The girls were always stopping for a chat, wee, talk about hot flushes or just to annoy Steve. Nonetheless, to passers-by wearing Pricilla he seemed to fit in perfectly.

No sooner had we got back on the boat after a 4km crossing, we were given 10 minutes to get dressed and ready for a walk up and over the top of the island of Kaprije. Continuing down the hill brought us to the village on the other side of the island. The walk up the hill offers you a perfect panorama of our crossing from Zmajan. In the main village, we had time to relax and shelter from the mid-day heat and enjoy the best ice-coffees ever.

When we returned to the boat, Cresho had prepared another amazing lunch. Before eating, many of us decided to cool off after the hot walk by jumping or diving back in the water. Ken took it one step further by leaping in from top of railing on the boat, which is a no-no, incurring admonishment from Captain Damo. This act of stupidity would put anyone else in the running for the Pricilla Award, but with Ken you have to “set the bar” a little higher as this is pretty much run of the mill behaviour for him.

During lunch, the wind had picked up from the north west providing some cool relief from the heat. It was blowing offshore in the sheltered bay where we were moored. Guide Simo took the opportunity to go for a swim. During which time, he spotted a child’s inflatable dolphin being blown out to sea. Simo picked up pace and the chase was on. None of us could have sustained the pace needed to catch-up to the toy, but Simo is clearly seriously quick. Cresho lent a helping hand by jumping in a zodiac and zooming over to take the toy from Simo back to shore and some very happy children.

After lunch, we headed to the sheltered north east tip of Zmajan for a coastal swim in the lee of the island. Craig’s adventure on the stand up paddle board proved short lived. Despite pumping it up as hard as possible, with Craig aboard it developed an increasingly pronounced banana like bow that made paddling extremely difficult. Craig took Captain Damo’s advice to eat less as constructive criticism. Nevertheless, Orange were more than happy to welcome him back.

Orange’s outstanding performance in the morning did not go unnoticed by the guides. For the afternoon swim, Orange and Yellow were merged into one group with Cathy in charge. Pete emerged from the pack to lead the group and in the process proving the merit of his two swim training preparation in the week before he left.

For something different, guide Simo swam with the Pink group, leaving guide Cresho in the zodiac looking after both groups. Pink group had naturally morphed into 3 pairs, with duo Erica and Steve zig-zagging out in front, tandem soloists Barb and Sue tracking straight and smooth, and buddies Hazel and Lynette slicing cleanly through the water.

The 3.8km afternoon swim added some variety with a little wind chop and a following current changing direction each time as we rounded a point and swam around the bays dotting the coast. It felt much like swimming at Doddi’s.

Back on the boat we chatted about the swim and enjoyed the usual post-swim snack of fruit (including cherries), biscuits, nuts and chocolate. The journey home was a little longer and gave time for everyone to relax after our second big day.

As a side note, it is amazing how nice everyone is to you when you have Pricilla and the power of embarrassment and humiliation for the next day. Although Ann and Cathy were good candidates for Pricilla, no one had done anything really silly. Then, just as we had nearly arrived back, someone’s Rottoswmr cap blew overboard. Cresho quickly leapt into a zodiac to attempt to retrieve the cap, which was fast disappearing in the distance behind the boat. Success, he spotted and retrieved the cap, the only question was whose name was on the inside of the cap?

As a special treat for dinner that night, while on the boat, we had all pre-ordered a traditional Croatian meal of slow-cooked: lamb, chicken or squid. The plan was to meet at the Hotel for pre-dinner drinks before walking to the restaurant for dinner at 7.30pm.

During drinks, Ken complained that when he googled his Croatian name it came back as “thief”. After checking a few different translations we found it also could mean “good for nothing”, which Cathy thought quite apt.

Dinner was amazing. By far the best Croatian food we have encountered, which in general has not been as good as the Greek food we enjoyed on previous trips.

During dinner Steve gave a toast to guide Simon because it was his 30th anniversary, which he was celebrating without his wife who he had left at home in England. The toast was followed by the presentation of the Pricilla award. Ann and a Cathy gained honourable mentions, but the name in the Rottoswmr cap lost overboard was Lynette. She was presented with her wet cap and Pricilla to wear with pride the following day.

After a later than usual night, a tired group of swimmers meandered back to the hotel to get some sleep ready for tomorrow.

We can’t wait ....

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