Walk with me Palagruza (club Zero)
It would be my great pleasure if this article would be under the title “Coca-Cola twins circumnavigate the globe”, however, my brother went to Berlin in pursuit of his desire while I manage to find a couple of days to finally visit this remote Croatian island.
The three weeks which I had planned for the family sailing, my friend's Wind and Wine promotional sailing tour and a week of sailing among the remote islands needed to be fit within one week, so I have decided to spend most of the week with my family and the last two days for Palagruza visit, which resulted in more than 250 nM voyage.
It was Wednesday 29th Aug when I came back to Kastela with my family to meet with my friend Igor, nicknamed Subo and after the short talk, a little spliff, we went to bed as the morning call has been set for 4 a.m.
I remember telling Subo that I do not want to disturb my mind with any intoxicants, however, it was unavoidable as I had 20 bottles of premium Hvar red wine Plame (Plavac Mali) and Subo, well, had a very nice domestic Cannabis.
We sailed out around 5 a.m., with our beautiful Hanse 445 sailboat which finally had a regular genoa fitted instead of the short self-tack flock and the standard full battened main sail that resulted in decent speed even with low wind strength, and already around 8 a.m. the sailors call came in and the first bottle was opened. The idea, as planned, was to get to Vis, to pick up one of my close friends Andrea, which was local from Vis and while Subo and I were the first members of our families to set sail for this remote island, Andrea was coming from Komiza, a beautiful little fishing village and with the last name Zanki she could not state that she is the first, because probably the first people that came to Palagruza were called Zanki, however, maybe she is the first female to set ashore Palagruza.
While sailing to Vis, I was thinking about instincts, desires, and feelings and I have to say that my trip did not have anything with feelings as for the first time that I saw Palagruza I instinctively had an urge to go there, with many times when it did not work out, I did not feel aggravated or disturbed in any way, as I knew it is my goal and my path, and if nothing, sooner or later I will do it alone, if so.
For many years now I have been sailing, which means that most of the year I spend outdoors and even if not sailing, you will find me in the mountains, the forest or maybe parks as for the staying indoors would be very close as putting me in the wooden coffin. I was thinking about the short documentary which I saw just a couple of days before our trip, where a certain group of scientists was researching the influence on stress while placing some people in the glasshouses in the middle of the forests, and I was surprised that the human being did come so far, that now he is researching the influence of his well being from something where we actually originate and it did cross my mind that we are really going backward and the most of the modern world is seriously fucked up and there are no psychologists that will be able to help as they are probably even more fucked up and maybe even guilty for everything that is happening to poor disoriented modern people.
Ok, I won't go any deeper in this subject, let me leave more room for the journey. We came to Vis, quite happy after a couple of bottles of nice Rose wine, around 10 a.m. (for those that do not know a.m. aka Ante Meridiem aka before noon, p.m. aka Post Meridiem aka afternoon), docked a boat for an hour in the picturesque little corner of Vis called Kut (my readers will know what I am talking about) and went to have a very nice English breakfast in a little, but beautiful lounge bar/restaurant Lambik, where we met one of my friend and a colleague Bruno, whom I haven't seen for more than a year as our sailing routes did not cross.
Later, when we departed I thought that Bruno was not really aware that we were actually there at the time because after the long season most of us skippers do suffer from the condition which can be related to temporary brain damage.
Anyway, Andrea came, now it was for sure that we are pissing all over the old sailor codex with not permitting women on board and with the constant sound of rock and roll, some country music, we proceded.
After many glasses of wine and cold beer which we have supplied from Vis, I remembered one friend saying that he saw the island of Lastovo, Sušac and even Palagruza from Korcula. I was saying that I was many times there and even from Lastovo I could not see Palagruza, but he was quite persistent that he saw it.
Naive as one can become, we have probably seen more than 10 Palagruza islands, however, very soon we would all agree that all these islands are in movement, not as islands but huge cargo ships. Palagruza was out of sight. Probably because the earth is round, yes flat-earthers, it is round. Just to mention it here as well, why do you think they build lighthouses of different heights? The answer for the stupid….because with the higher ground you get more light distance! The only thing that can go flat is the brain, so pump it up, it is possible.
The weather was completely stable, and my expectation of Maestral wind did not come through, so we had to motor our way, however, the forecast promised Maestral on the next day, so I had at least half of my expectation to sail to look forward to. To be honest, at the time we did not even care, as we had a really great time together. Stopping every now and then, jumping in the 200m deep open sea, where the answer about sharks most certainly is yes.
And I just can not believe that until now I forgot to mention my first mate. It was Subo’s dog and an Irish setter named Miki, which I constantly called Mickey. He is a lovely dog, at one point some month before he spent the whole day on my leg while walking the Medvjednica mountain next to Zagreb or on my back while sitting. Poor old soul wanted to get some action and he did not choose the species. However, this time, I was not his target, Andrea was, so most of the journey, he did make Andrea miserable.
We did not follow time, as we did not care for it, but at one point, on the perfectly calm sea, as we would be sailing on the mirror, Palagruza appeared and from that moment our eyes were stuck on it.
As we were approaching for hours, while it grew in our lenses it became more and more beautiful. When we were in proximity, we slowed down and enjoyed everything that the islands of Palagruza had to offer, slowly sailed to the southern side of the island (as the NW wind with waves were expected) were a group of a very friendly fisherman gave us one of their bouys, so we did not even have to anchor and secure on shore.
Everything was perfect, so the first thing that we did is to drop our dinghy, put the engine on, take one bottle of the premium red wine which we still did not open and took it to the nice fisherman.
We went back, had some swim and the time came to climb this 92 m island, take another bottle of red and to visit the lighthouse keeper.
The climb to the lighthouse I would not really call a difficult one, even with all day drinking, we made it without breaking a sweat. Subo and Mickey went forward, I stayed in the middle to shoot some photos and Andrea decided to drop out halfway to the lighthouse.
When I finally came up, I lost track of Subo, but a man, holding a bottle of our red wine came to meet me. It was a man short in height, with a dark brown skin and a quite distinguished nose, like a professional boxer would have and I doubt that he got it on Palagruza, however, yes, that small man was the lighthouse keeper. He told me that he will allow us to climb the weather report station to have a good look at the island.
There are some movies which I need to edit, which we were filming while on the run and when ready I will make them available. Unfortunately for most of the world, they are in Croatian and with the Croatian language, honestly, you can not communicate properly with more than 15 million people, however, I am studying French at the moment and there is a shit load of them, but when I think of it, I do not really want to communicate with any of them. So, learn the Croatian language, it is remarkable.
Most of the things which I would write from that point would probably be a lie, as my memory became limited, so shortly, we came up, we met the keeper, we came down, I went to cook some Mediterranean pasta, which was excellent by the way (there was enough for the day after), but with maybe just a little bit too much of fresh rosemary.
And after the meal, it was night, night.
The morning came and I was the first to wake up. Because of the superiority of that Sucuraj wine, as many times before, there is no physical pain, no hangover, no dehydration. I made some coffee, went up to light a cigarette and with Mickey, we enjoyed the beautiful scenery of all the islands visible from Zola beach where we were stationed. I looked at Mickey and again as for many times I remembered a wonderful novel from Jerome K. Jerome, “Three men in the boat, to say nothing of the dog”. The only thing that I could remember properly is asking the keeper about conditions when times get rough on Palagruza and he just said: “Uf, brutal”. I asked for the waves as the information online says 9m waves, the highest on Adriatic, but he said the highest measured was close to 13 meters. And I presume they do come with hurricane southern winds, where we were stationed, which would mean a certain death if they would occur, so thank life for experience and to know where to go when necessary.
I drank my coffee and finally, I made myself go and check the fuel, which I was planning from last night. It is not something hard, it is just a little button with the screen display, however, since last night I just did not find time to be bothered by it. And better! When I came down and pressed that little silver thing, on display it showed 0%, at the moment I did not react, I pressed the water…..75%, I pressed the batteries 12,5V, 12,8 V, I pressed the fuel again…. 0%. A said to my self “Well”, took Mickey with the dinghy onshore and we went for a swim. Tossing some stones from the beach, collecting some rocks to take to my brother, as if he won't come to Palagruza, Palagruza will come to him and I already had an idea too, for some fisherman (when they appear again) to sell us some fuel. Everything was nice, easy and planned. Stress-free, like in those Scandinavian glass houses.
After a while, Mickey and I went back to the boat, to find that our two crew members are still fast asleep. I just could not keep it any further as I knew Andrea won't give a shit, I was already keen on sailing back as we lost a day by the motor, however, I know Subo for a long time and I knew that he will eat himself alive. So I said: “Subo, I have an interesting news for you”, Subo said: “Humph” and I replied: “we are out of fuel, zero percent. Hahahahaha”
Subo was probably more relieved by phlegmatic mood, however, he was showing signs of disturbance, talking constantly about disgrace, what would the locals say if they find out, the people from the area where he is staying and I just replied, those people would not know what sea is if it would bite them on the ass. And that is the truth, the local people spend more time sitting and drinking coffee unlike their forefathers that invented the sea, so to speak. I told him at one point that people are running of fossil fuel for merely 100 years, which now as it seemed became a great mental restriction if the lack of fuel can cause fear or panic, unlikely for millenniums of generations to experience and we had a perfect drive, our sail drive, which by the way was our first drive as stated on all sailing boat registration papers, while engine is mentioned as a secondary drive. So he became cool and remembered the diesel-aggregate running last night. Our Keeper needs electricity and it is good that all sailing boats are running on diesel.
So again we made our climb, carrying the last bottle of our Rose wine and almost a double worth of cash than the 20l plastic container may cost. We came up, sweating like pigs this time as all the water and toxins wanted to escape from our bodies and the keeper was already on the window looking as we approached. I started immediately with self-insults. Hey, hey, here we are again, fools from the freshly organized sailing club Zero. He did not know what I am talking about, however, we asked for some fuel and he came down. I gave him a bottle of wine and he just said that we will put him in trouble as he is already working with minus, which later was a great fun, as I said “Damn, imagine what he is feeling like, we are on zero and he is in minus, how can he think of us as fools”. But anyway, he was in a good mood, mentioned that the previous wine was wonderful……
……. and then he asked us how much fuel do we have? We answered Zero, and he just replied “Zero?”, took the canister, the talk was over, probably thoughts like retards, imbeciles were crossing his mind as he filled the 20l tank, took the wine and left with a story to tell for the generations of sailors to come and got more cash than the most expensive fuel station in Europe would get. Ain’t it something!
Well, as we did not have the weather forecast as all of our communications were out of range, he did tell us that southern winds are coming, so anyway we would have to move from our spot and unlike the NW forecast from the day before, I was happy with the southern winds as it did mean sailing back.
I was sure that there was still about 10–20l in the tank as those indicators are tricky while showing full or empty and we sailed all the way from Palagruza to Vis, not spending even a drop from the Keepers fuel, but again, Subo was relieved.
It was a nice and easy journey back, which lasted for about ten hours.
We dropped Andrea back to Vis, with a lot of laughs again and some wisdom. Subo remembered me singing and screaming and trying to warn me the night before that I am too loud, where I apparently replied “Please, I came all this way, in the middle of nowhere and if I can not scream here, please show me where I can go and scream, it is not as someone will call the cops and even if it would be possible I am ready to pay the 100 EUR fine for my freedom”.
The second wisdom was on the next day and it says: “ You can do whatever you want or will, however, enjoy the moments when you do not want to do absolutely nothing”. It all came after making “the Red Bevanda” with two bottles of premium red. For those who do not know what a bevanda is, it is a drink of the old generations, red wine mixed with tap water. Frenchies you can just go and eat yourself, yes it is, a premium with water, a beautiful Bevanda.
We came back around 1 a.m. to Marina Kastela, Subo was already sleeping most of the way from Vis to the marina, so as soon as I hit the mooring, I went straight to bed and that was our trip to Palagruza, just making friends wherever we go. People that meet us are probably making fools, but what would the world be without us.
Special thanks to all the rock groups which were amusing us on the way, the Grateful Dead, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Jethro Tull, Judas Priest, Eric Burdon, Johnny Cash, Ben Harper and Charlie Musselwhite, Ten Years After, Steppenwolf, Taste, Free, Grand Funk Railroad, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, Cat Stevens, all the country bands and many others and a great applause for the Greta Van Fleet an amazing new band.
A very big thank you to my crew for joining me in my dream to come true.
My first mate and official Drakar, Mickey.
My friend Subo, who is always ready for a new adventure.
And Andrea, who made Mickey forget about my leg and got all the intention I did not need.
The last word goes for my “Oil of life”, which has been following me for more than 2000 km and 250 nM, boiling in the sun, waiting for 40 days to pass, to be used as an old medicine. Most likely the only Kantarion oil that ever went and came back from Palagruza.