Adriatic Long-Distance Cruise -
Part 1

Rijeka - Dubrovnik 485 km / 12 days

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According to the narrative of 19th-century canoe sailors John MacGregor and Warington Baden-Powell, sailing canoes are like flying carpets: light, fast and incredibly versatile. How far can they really take you? There is only one way to find out: you have to try.

Dubrovnik, Lopud I know this voice like my own:

- What about sailing the Croatian coast in the sailing canoe in summer? Rijeka - Dubrovnik would definitely be possible in two weeks: the voice said.
- You're nuts: I said. - Just thinking about paddling makes my shoulder ache. I've just got clean from those nasty painkillers that always make me feel so nauseous. Besides, I'm needed where I am and I'm doing good business here, I can't leave right now.

- Sun, sand and sea: the voice sang, reminding me of a vacation a few years ago in the Land Rover along the coastal road from Rijeka to Zadar, the clear water and the taste of fresh figs, the bare islands on the horizon like sleeping animals from ancient times and a disorderly resolution at sunset to return and sail this sea to the islands and beyond. It is a bright child's voice, carefree and happy, and no matter how hard I try, I can't get rid of it. It is never accusatory, never reproachful. And that is why it is so irresistible.

Segelkanu Bufflehead auf Cres - I always wanted to see how far I could travel in a sailing canoe: I said. May I make as many kilometers as I want?
- As many as you want, and more: said the voice.
- And I will find out which Croatian beer is the best: I said.
That settled the case. At the end of July I was in Rijeka with the boat on the roof of my car.

I had persuaded my father to send the marine weather forecast to my mobile phone every day, because the cold bora that falls down the mountains and sweeps the sea can be absolutely deadly for small boats. It was a good feeling to know that Helmut, five hundred and forty-six nautical miles away, would be watching the weather maps on his screen and warning me of danger in good time. That didn't save me from the strong north wind that blew me from Icici to remote Cres on the first day, a good reason to put in the second reef for responsive rudder control in the swell to avoid being knocked over.

Nachtlager In the evening I found a small bay, lifted my boat onto the lonely pebble beach, stretched a tarpaulin above and laid out a sleeping mat and sleeping bag in the canoe. The tarp fell over after five minutes, but the child's voice had an idea:
- It's best to put thick boulders over the pegs, then they'll hold!

On the second day I made it to Pag in light, erratic winds, to a secluded bay off Novalja. I was amazed when I tapped the day's runs on the map: on both days I had covered more than 50 kilometres without any particular effort.

Belegtes Segel und Ruder I quickly got used to my new life on the water. The cicadas woke me at six and it was time to make tea. Most of the time I had porridge, easy to make from long-lasting ingredients. At eight I paddled into the morning calm, looking out for the darker line on the horizon that would eventually widen and herald the onset of the morning breeze. Then I would try to make distance under sail. The child soon found out that sailing or paddling were not alternatives. If you really want to move, you have to sail and paddle at the same time. To do this, I belayed the sheet on the leeboard head, lashed one tiller rod with a little counter pressure and pushed the boat to about six kilometres with loose strokes of the single paddle. This left me with my hands full all day, and life became frighteningly intense. Before the trip, I had sourced extra memory cards for the camera in order to shoot small film snippets and editing them into a video. But due to all that looking, experiencing and acting, I didn't even get around to take photos, and nothing came out of the video project.

Leuchtturm Trstenik - How are you: I asked the child.
- So beautiful out here on the water: it said. - Just look. Did you see the two dolphins this morning?
- Yes: I said. - And the sunlight on the waves looks different every hour. Magical, somehow.
- I want to photograph lighthouses! said the child.
- You blur all the pictures: I complained.
- That's what makes them authentic: the child said.

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