I wish I'd been waking more throughout the night. I felt amazing each time I woke up on our little island. The first thing I saw when I opened my eyes in the middle of the night was billions of stars in a crystal clear night sky. Second time I woke up it was already dawn, and the light had just started slowly caressing the sea. A bit later on I was completely awaken when I caught a view of white crests wallowing on both sides of the island. Not a good sign for someone who's planning on rowing all day, though.
Our overnight shelter was the deserted little island of Veli Skrizanj, situated on the south east part of Kornati. The moment we popped our heads out from the leeward side, we were instantly aware that rowing all the way to Sibenik was questionable. The wind was very strong so much so we were getting thrown off balance. The sea was all white from waves going wild. We were going over the windward side of the island. The air was saturated with sea dust. Some of those waves are not all that harmless, with most of them up to one meter, to meter and a half in height, with an occasional giant with two meters in it. Basically, I didn't feel like going out to sea. So, we decided to wait for noon and see if that old saying - that the storm will be off for lunch - is true. Our friend Zoran, aboard our escort boat, agreed with this. He hid somewhere on the island of Kapri. A phone call from nearby Tribunj was a big relief. It was Sime Stipanicev, letting us know that he is coming to get us on some kind of a big „sailing boat“, so we would sail with him to Sibenik. Sailing on some charter boat did seem a bit too passive and recreational for me, but I was seriously relieved to know how much hassle that was going to save me. And apart from that, sailing with Sime... that is something I thought I could only dream about.
Of course, later on it turned out that Sime and recreation have absolutely nothing in common. But we still first had to reach Sime. We said we'd meet up by Tetovisnjak, a small island some three miles from where we were. The storm obviously wasn't feeling like going off for lunch just yet. It got to noon already, but the wind was still far too strong. By then I was already used to all this howling, feeling all confident and courageous to go and attack these waves head on. When captain Zoran came to collect Marko and Luka on his speed boat, the decision was made. He gave me confidence to go ahead with it, and I was sure I could trust him to be there and collect me if needed. And so, with utmost respect and fear, I went in full on. I nearly lost an oar straight away, the sea was splashing all over my face, and waves were pushing me, rolling me, lifting me and throwing me... But I was pressing on. A bit slower than I had hoped, but I was able to get to the nearby Mrtovnjak, and then, an hour later, I reached Tetovisnjak. My 5 meter long Necky kayak proved brilliant, safe and secure in these conditions. I would occasionally cast an eye at Zoran's speed boat, and Luka's pale face was saying it all - they were having much harder time than I was. When we got to Tetovisnjak, we put the kayak on Zoran's boat and waited for Sime to take me on his sailboat. The storm was really too much for some of the charter boats. We could only make out a few sailing boats trying to sail through the rough sea, but neither of them was going our way. I was beginning to worry about Sime, until I spotted one very colorful sail going right at us. Something was unusual, though. Unlike the other boats, this one was moving incredibly fast. It looked completely unreal. And then I realized what was underneath the sail. A small catamaran with Sime and Vesna making a proper entrance at our Welcome! Only Sime can do that. I met Sime a few years ago, when he was looking for sponsors to help him make his dream come true: to be the first ever Croatian yachtsman to sail over the Atlantic in a race, in a Mini Transat regatta! Over the ocean, from France to Brazil. In a 6, 5 meter long sailboat. By himself. That is the regatta which started careers of some of the biggest names in sailing today. To even get qualified to enter this regatta is almost a mission impossible. And for a young man to do this completely on his own, without experience or any results here in Croatia… that’s about as crazy as some fanatic father trying to convince you he is going to make his kids world ski champions. Straight after our initial chat I knew Sime was going to make it.
His story is absolutely fascinating and inspiring, as it is to just be in his uplifting presence. It is really unusual for such a young man to have such a strong charisma. But he is really at his best when on his sailboat. And now here he is inviting me to come and join him. Wow. I met slightly shivering but smiling Vesna who let me have her place on the “hobby cat” catamaran. Sime gave me a neoprene suit and we were on our way. He wasn’t too worried about the fact that I had never sailed before. “C’mon, be quiet and listen. I’ll explain everything!”. Well I cannot begin to describe how I felt. It was an incredible experience. I was sailing in high wind. I could feel such incredible speed I couldn’t believe it. And I was next to this guy who can feel and understand the sea, the wind and the boat. Sime took me into his world for a bit. He gave me some idea what sailing is all about. Also, he made me realize what my sailing potentials are. When we tipped over for the third time, because of my bad balancing, and thrilled and overjoyed screams, Sime tried to lift the boat and mumbled: “You seam to weigh enough to be a ballast. Only, unlike you, a ballast is quiet.”