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2019 Croatia - Blog 5

It was great to see Marta up and about at breakfast. The rest and antibiotics had her on the mend, but doctor’s orders were no more swimming.

Erica and Craig had opted to catch the early ferry and spend the day exploring Sibenik, as this would be their only opportunity before leaving straight after Friday morning’s swim. Thus, we were down to 10 swimmers.

Before leaving harbour, Barb, as a thank you, presented Captain Damo with a Rottoswmr cap, polo and an Australian flag that we had all signed. He was particularly excited about been given a cap to add to his collection, which includes a 2013 Rotto skippers cap. Kres secured the flag to the canopy post at the stern of the boat and off we set for the day’s adventures.

Conditions were ideal for our planned 5 crossings swim. Today, we motored south between the mainland and close to the east coast of the island of Zlarin. Our destination was the island of Drvenik some 45 mins away. On the way, Kres explained the course our swim would follow, namely: a coastal swim south along the west coast of Drvenik; crossing from the southern tip of Drvenik to northern tip of the island of Dvainik; another coastal swim along the west coast to the southwest corner of Dvainik; a crossing to the west end of the small island of Mumonja; a short swim around the south side to the east end of Mumonja; another crossing to the west end of the island of Obik; another coastal swim around the southern side to the southeast corner of Obik; and our last crossing to the island of Krebela Mala. Close to 5km including 5 crossings.

Before entering the water, Barb was presented with a birthday cake swim cap and we all sang happy birthday. Barb was delighted.

The variety of crossings and coastal swims made this swim quite unique. We all thoroughly enjoyed the challenge, but were feeling a tad weary toward the end.

Back onboard we had a special treat. Kres and Simon brought out a chocolate birthday cake resplendent with candles. Simon led us in another rousing rendition of happy birthday. No offence intended, Simon’s a great guide and swimmer, but really needs to work on his singing.

Of course after a swim and a cake you have to have coffee. Next stop was the island of Krapanj, where Cathy and Ken had stayed before the swim. We berthed in the small harbour and disembarked. Ken took on the role as guide and led us to the best coffee place, which was a small kiosk bar right on the beach. Well done Ken.

We didn’t have much time to relax on the island. Those who sat in deck chairs could easily have dosed off, but no it was back to the boat for lunch. The days have become very hot. After eating lunch it is usual for several of us to jump in the water to cool off before we leave for our afternoon swim. Today, Barb and Simon entertained those on board with demonstrations of backward freestyle and butterfly, which is extremely difficult to do without drowning.

As it had on the last few days, the wind had picked up to 20-25 knots from the northwest. Ideal conditions for our Australian flag to flutter proudly from the back of the boat. Our destination was the south east corner of the large island of Zlarin. The plan was to swim north in and out of the bays that give the east coast of Zlarin its “saw-toothed” shape.

Steve was missing swim buddy Erica. Fortunately, Cathy kindly accepted Steve’s invitation to swim with him in the Pink group. That gave Cathy a full house, having started in Orange, moved to Yellow and now stepped up to being a Pink lady.

Zlarin is a very forested island compared to the scrubby bushes on most other islands. Another interesting feature of the islands is the numerous rows of stone walls that cross the slopes like isobars on a weather map. These were built hundreds of years ago to make the islands arable by exposing soil, catching runoff and limiting erosion. Now derelict and mostly uninhabited, you can only imagine how hard the residents worked to eek out a living.

As it turns out, the bays around Zlarin are a Mecca for boaties who like to get an all over suntan. Our instructions are always to swim close to shore, which also coincides with where boats are moored. Sighting becomes very important in these situations to avoid: colliding with boats, getting tangled in mooring ropes, spotting “white pointers” and “bronze whalers”. The latter two encounters can be above or below the water. The side affects of such encounters include: fogging up of goggles, suddenly loss of ability to swim, involuntary gasping of water or upping of periscopes. The ever polite Barb stopped to thank those on board each boat we encountered. On the other hand Pete chose to backstroke around each boat to avoid hurting his neck sighting too often. Yellow group also noted how Pete’s stroke lost all rhythm after each encounter.

A very weary bunch tumbled off the boat. Those that had booked massages headed to their rooms for a quick shower as the first massage started 10 minutes after we arrive back. Usually up to about 3 of us have had a massage each day.

For something different, we decided to do the Pricilla and Shark hat awards at pre- dinner drinks.

Ann had the duty of passing on Pricilla. As usual Ken featured prominently in the running because he had: thrown a beach ball at Ann’s head nearly giving her concussion; crashed head on into the zodiac; started dancing on the boat; and put his shirt on back to front. His only saving grace was stepping up and swimming with Ann when her swim buddy Pete deserted her in search of white pointers. Hazel risked getting the award for falling asleep on the bow of the boat. Cathy’s lack of team loyalty had her in the mix as well. However, Pete beat them all by the length of the straight, due to but not limited to: leaving his key on the breakfast table; dropping his bathers and mooning the boat while he had cream applied to his rear end; abandoning swimming buddy Ann; backstroking around all boats for a better view (Barb didn’t even know he could do backstroke); and leaving his and Barb’s swim cap bag behind.

The kind act of the day went to Sue and Cathy for organising Barb’s birthday cake and candles, respectively.

By then it was time for dinner at the Polish restaurant close to the hotel. It was great that Marta could join us for dinner looking much like her old self. The food and wine was different from what we were accustomed to, but very enjoyable nonetheless. After dinner some kicked on for ice creams, but many headed for bed and a good nights rest before our last swim day.

We can’t wait ...

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