The Dramatic Terrain of the Kornati Islands
As you sail your way south along the mid-Adriatic coast from Telašćica National Park, the scenery changes dramatically. While in Telašćica the many trees and green lush areas contrast with the white stony cliffs, in Kornati National Park the green gives way to tan, stony mounds that are austere, barren and look very otherworldly. It’s a stark and severe vision. Majestic, but uninviting. Such was the scenery when we made our way down the coast in June of 2020.
Kornati National Park is made up of over 89 islands and includes the Adriatic sea in between, but the Kornati Island archipelago includes over 140 islands. That’s a lot of barren-looking islands. The video below shows us leaving Telašćica and entering Kornati as the two national parks border one other.
The stones of Kornati, too, have a different look and texture than the ones we’ve seen on the other islands, and we feel as though we’ve landed on a different planet. Like a really bleak and desolate one, and I’m not sure I like it. The stony mounds seem to radiate heat on this late June afternoon and after traveling into the park, I’m asking Mike if he really wants to spend a night here.
We decide to do a “drive by” (as Mike called it) and see the island of Levrnaka that a friend from Austria had recommended as a nice mooring destination complete with a delicious seafood restaurant. I can’t fathom it as all I can see everywhere is islands made of stones with stone fences dividing the land into checkerboards and a few ruins of monasteries or churches up on these mountainous islands. As bleak as it is, it’s truly beautiful in its own tragic way, with the white stone islands contrasting with the cerulean blue of the Adriatic.
Levrnaka Island: An Inviting and Beautiful Oasis
As we get closer to the small cove near the island of Levrnaka the deep blue water begins turning shades lighter giving way to the refreshing and clear turquoise color that seems to cool you down just by looking at it. It’s a dreamy vision and I immediately feel refreshed and better about our stay in the park. But this vision gets even better. A charming restaurant called Konoba Levrnaka (with a beautiful open terrace) appears out of nowhere surrounded by trees, and the water is just a sparkling clear Dippity-Do blue around the whole area. The small dock in front of the restaurant is surprisingly crowded with fancy boats, sailboats and motor yachts alike. In contrast to the stony mounds, it feels so alive.
A marinero (dock attendant) is waiting for us attentively and directs us in, which is quite unusual on our trip so far as we’ve had to search them out on other islands. We take this as a good sign and decide to begin the mooring process. He guides us in our place with calm instructions that are timely and helpful. I run to the front of the boat and pull in the line that we’ll tie up to in a fast, but determined manner, unlike in Veli Iz (See previous post Sailing in the Adriatic (Part Three): Mediterranean-Style Mooring & Revisiting Telašćica Park. ) I’m slowly getting better at this mooring style.
We don’t crash into anything, so that is a plus. If you’ve read the last post, that’s not been the case on all of our docking adventures. It’s especially impressive for us because there is a wind pushing us in the wrong direction and the current is swift by the dock. The marinero welcomes us after we’ve tied up and starts telling us about the restaurant in the harbor.
He begins by telling us that the seafood on the menu all comes from within a kilometer or two of the restaurant. People have been coming here for 20 years and keep coming back because the seafood is so fresh, he says, and starts listing the items like lobster and tuna available for tonight’s dinner and we are getting hungry already. It’s one of the few islands places we’ve been to since the Covid pandemic started that actually seems like it really, really wants our business. And a special bonus is that if you eat at the restaurant, the docking fee is minimal and you don’t have to pay the entrance fee to the national park which can be pricy depending on the size of your boat. All of these things together make the decision to stay there an easy one. We’re hooked, just like the fish we will eat for dinner at this incredible restaurant later in the evening.
And by the way, he was right, the seafood dinner we had there was so delicious that we have made a promise to ourselves to go back to this island this summer. It was truly one of the best dinners we have ever had in Croatia. It was that good.
Multi-national Visitors and Families
On the island of Levrnaka, our mooring neighbors to our left are a kind German couple from Bavaria and on the other side there is a Slovenian family with three small children. Across from us is an elderly Italian couple with a hired skipper and to the right of them a large boat with 8 Slovenian or Croatian men on board, also with a hired captain. There are huge motor yachts down the pier, one from Switzerland and another from Malta.
It’s Elementary Croatian, My Dear
Oh, and about the children. There are several families on the boats moored here and the children with them are buzzing around running up and down the piers, jumping in the water shrieking and laughing. They are really fun to watch. One great thing we’ve learned from parents and children in Croatia is simple verbal commands that have helped us in our quest to learn the Croatian language.
Words like “idemo” (let’s go), “polako” (slowly, carefully), “loš “(bad!), “pazi, pazi,”(watch out! danger!) are common words we hear as we pass by parents on daily walks with their children or swimming at the beach. Think about what you commonly say to children and that’s what we’ve learned by watching Croatian parents. We always say if we hung out with Croatian parents and their kids more, our Croatian would improve immensely. Knowing the above commands was helpful in the situation that played out on the docks later.
The Mooring Show
And so it happened. Our early evening entertainment. After we had settled into the marina, a giant triple decker motor yacht towering over the water came seemingly out of nowhere barreling up to the docks looking to tie up. The cove surrounded by the stone hills causes noises to echo loudly, so the sounds of him gunning his engines were heard far and near. The docks were pretty full at this point which left this captain a rather slim berthing spot. The charter captain on the next boat over from his spot was standing by to help him with his mooring lines as the marinero made his way over.
At first the captain of the yacht seemed to be doing okay spinning cavalierly around in the marina trying to figure out how to back his gargantuan boat into his spot in the easiest manner, stern to the wind. He started his final approach which began slowly, but it became clear the angle of this approach was going to cause him to make contact with the boat next to him (a nice way of saying crash!) or with the dock itself. So the dock attendant and the charter captain started yelling, “Pazi! Pazi! Pazi!” (Watch out!)
Rather than make a mild correction in steerage, the yacht captain gunned it forward so fast it was like a rocket about to take off, which caused more people to start shouting, “Polako, polako!” (Slowly! Be careful, dude!!!). But he gunned it in reverse which caused him to have to gun it forward again. The sound of the engine was really loud and again echoed in this cove within the mountains alerting everyone of the imminent mooring disaster. At this point, the whole marina became alive. Big eyes everywhere.
People popped out of their boats from down below like groundhogs. The restaurant owner and another dock attendant came rushing out to see what the heck was going on. They all began yelling directions at this crazy captain; first in Croatian, then in German, then Italian and finally in English. Maybe he was Spanish, who knew at this point? He didn’t seem to understand any of the commands. Someone finally yells loudly in English, “Stop!!”
It was like a sporting event or like watching a train wreck as everyone on the docks was engaged in watching this potential “catastrofa” as it’s known in Croatian. Finally the captain somehow managed to tie off one line of his oversized yacht to the pier. Phew!
But wait, the show wasn’t over yet. Still another 30 minutes of backing up and going forward to line up the boat so that the “passerelle” or boarding plank could make contact with the pier so they could get off of the boat. More gunning of the engine. Backing up, going forward, the captain yelling and cursing at his wife who was now at the helm controlling the motor and a little freaked out by all the excitement. When it was all over and they were tied securely, a collective sigh of relief went through the 15 other boats and the crews moored there.
Finally, silence. Hallelujah!
And then, just a giggle or two. The jokes began in many different languages. I don’t know exactly what everyone was saying at this point, but I’m sure it was about the averted disaster because Mike and I were joking and laughing about it as well. Groups talking then belting out laughter, the Captain of this mega yacht included. I think everyone could relate in some way to his predicament as probably everyone there had had issues trying to dock their own vessels at some point or another. Yep, I thought, “Been there, done that.” Like just yesterday. But never with such a huge and costly vessel.
Oh, as a side note, the name of this unwieldy boat was “Take Off.” Since the motor was so loud it sounded like a rocket engine, it seemed quite appropriate. I personally think they should have named it “Take Off …the Side of the Dock.”
(End of Part Four of Sailing Through the Adriatic in Croatia. Stay tuned for Part Five of our adventures to follow in the next post.)