Solta, Croatia

It was a big day for us yesterday because our Uncle Bob arrived from Cape Town (South Africa) to join us for our final week of sailing in Croatia. We think he’s come in at a perfect time because we have a big list of amazing spots to hit as we work our way south back towards Greece.

Uncle Bob is an experienced long distance sailor and racer. Each time we get somebody experienced on the boat it’s great for us because they point out everything we’re doing wrong. Luckily our mistakes these days have become less amateurish, so with Bob we’re talking about thinks like how to trim the sails for better performance, rather than how to reverse the boat onto a dock without hitting it, etc. Sail trim may sound like a boring subject, but for long distance sailing or racing, it is critical. In about an hour yesterday of tweaking the location where the jib sheets (control ropes) attach to the deck of the boat, we were able to get the boat sailing at 5 degrees closer to the wind, meaning we can sail more directly into the wind than we used to. A difference of 5 degrees is huge, and we think helps us make about 20% faster progress towards our destination when we are heading into the wind. Multiply that by the 30,000 miles of sailing we’ll do over the next couple of years, and Bob probably saved us several days worth of sailing time.

More importantly, we’re becoming more competitive around other sailing boats when we’re on the open water, and Bob’s advice will help us beat (perhaps crush) the competition. Maybe it’s a male thing, but it seems we just want to race everybody we see when we get into some good wind these days, and we have a feeling this is a universal urge that many sailors have. Already we’ve been learning that Tamarisk is a very fast boat because we’ve been sailing past almost everybody so far – and perhaps that’s why we like the racing so much (racing is a lot more fun when you’re winning). To make sure we don’t do any damage to our egos, we’ll continue testing ourselves against the charter boats a bit more before we enter a real competition.

Last night we were in the tiny and very picturesque Maslinica Marina on the island of Solta and are now anchored just a few feet outside the harbor (where we get to skip the $150 docking fee). Today we head south towards the island of Vis and will be looking for the secret cave there that the locals tell us is worth finding.