A Familiar Flag in Unfamiliar Times

(This is the second part of the series: Heading Out to Sea After the Coronavirus in Croatia,  focusing on our sailing journey throughout the Adriatic Islands after the Covid-19 restrictions had lifted.)

A familiar flag flies off a sailboat in the near empty harbor of Mali Lošinj in late May 2020.


On our second night on the island of Mali Lošinj on our first sailing adventure of 2020, Mike and I had a quiet evening just walking around this beautiful island.

Meandering through the alleyways with its charming stone houses with flowers pouring out of the window boxes and cats and dogs lounging in the alleyways was balm to the quarantine weary soul. The beautiful church, Our Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which was constructed in the early 17th century, sits high in the town and you can see the Venetian style bell tower in the distance when you are in the harbor.

The Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary built in the 17th century sits above the town of Mali Lošinj.

After walking about the town we prepared a delicious meal on board for dinner and were just settling down for the night when we looked across the harbor and something peaked our interest.

Something rectangular and red, white and blue.

On the harbor wall across the bay was a 50-foot sailboat with a fairly large American flag flying from it’s mast. It was hard to miss. How could this be? The boat had come into the harbor late on our second day on Mali Lošinj and we were intrigued. It was a strange sight to see as there are very few American flagged boats in Croatia during normal sailing times, but to see one right after the pandemic restrictions were being lifted was quite unusual. Especially since there were only a handful of boats in the harbor at that time.

They say “curiosity killed the cat,” but not this sleepy fellow who doesn’t seem curious at all about this tourist lady taking his picture on Mali Lošinj. It wouldn’t kill us either as we stopped to chat with a fellow American who visited the island on our recent trip there.

We normally wouldn’t have intruded on someone’s evening and we sort of hadn’t decided if we would stop or not, but we did decide to walk around on that side of the harbor and stroll casually by the boat and see if anyone was up on board.  As we passed we saw a man and his wife talking in the cockpit, so we decided to say hello. (Okay, we were going to be obnoxious and possibly have an uncomfortable exchange.)

But no, just the opposite happened.


It turns out that when they found out we were Americans they were just as curious as to why we were here as we were curious about them. So they invited us on board and we had a long chat. We discussed what was on everyone’s mind, Covid-19, and the state of things in the USA, as it was extremely bad in NYC at that time. The man was a doctor in Austria, although he was originally from Minnesota, and knew the situation in that state was also not very good as his brother was a doctor there.

His lovely Austrian wife was also a doctor.  She offered us drinks and some dessert, and when she saw that I was cold, she started putting quilts on me. Just tucked them around me like I was her child. She made me feel so warm and cared for I wished I could have given her a hug (but not in these times unfortunately), and it really made me miss my mom back at home. This whole coronavirus thing has really just been too much for most everyone, and simple human kindness like this meant so much to me after the whole socially distant times we found ourselves in.  I kept thinking that her patients must absolutely love her and what fortunate children she had.

The view from the door of the Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary is captivating.

Her and her husband, who was an experienced sailing captain in the Adriatic, told us about more places we should visit on our travels throughout the islands and one place in particular has stayed in my mind throughout this trip and then onto our next.

It was a little chapel called Our Lady of Grace at the top of an island called Ist that her and her family had climbed when they visited the island recently. They both said it had breathtaking views of the surrounding islands and was such a nice walk after spending a long day on the sailboat. We’ve yet to make it to Ist on either of our trips, but every time we have passed by the island with its tiny chapel way up high on the mountain on our way through the islands I think of their family meandering their way up to the top to get there and it makes me smile.

We will climb that hill someday, I know.

The church of Our Lady of Grace sits high on the mountain on Ist. Its silhouette can be seen from Zapuntel at sunset. Mike took this photo on our later trip to the Kornati islands as we sat in the harbor of Zapuntel in Molat having dinner aboard the boat.

Note: As we were leaving our newfound Austrian/American friends, we realized something else. This couple kept their boat in the same marina as our sailboat, “Rita.”  Marina Veruda has over 600 boats docked there and at least 17 piers, so it makes sense that we’d never run into them before. But now that we knew that, we would be staying in touch with these lovely people as well.

(Stay tuned for the third part in the series of Heading Out to Sea After the Coronavirus in Croatia. The third part will focus on the beautiful and charming island of Silba, known as the gateway to Dalmatia.)






8 thoughts on “A Familiar Flag in Unfamiliar Times

  1. Elizabeth

    Thanks Cindy for sharing your journeys with us, it almost makes me feel like I am there with you. One of the big attractions to sailing, for me at least, is the way it connects people like you and Mike with this Austrian couple.

  2. Anita

    I love your blog. Having sailed a lot throughout Southern California and spent five years living in Croatia, it is very easy to relate. We should have been in Istria now, but Covid 19 destroyed our travel plans.

    I am traveling with you vicariously.

    Sretan put!

    1. Oh, I hope you are able to make it soon, Anita! Covid-19 has made a mess of everything, especially those who love to travel or had plans to live abroad. I truly hope you can resume your plans soon. We’ve never sailed in California, but with two daughters who live there, we hope to someday. What city did you live in when you were in Croatia?

  3. Anonymous

    Thank you for your blog and sharing your travels. Your writing and pictures are amazing. I’m always looking forward to the next posting.

I’d love to hear from you. What do you think?

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