In today’s addition of Independent on Sunday, Lumbarda was featured in the article titled ‘Croatia is just the place to learn the ropes’ – here is an extract:
‘Just sign here … and again here.” I did as instructed, and, with a “See ya”, and a “Bye Mum”, my children were whisked from my sight. We were in Lumbarda, on the Croatian island of Korcula, learning to sail. At least I was hoping to learn to sail. Ruby, 12, and James, 9, had joined the Hot Shots kids’ club and had a hectic programme of sailing, windsurfing, kayaking and snorkelling with their instructor, Tom.
Which left me free to saunter down to the beach and marvel at the array of boats and enthusiastic instructors keen to make seaworthy a motley bunch, including me. Having spent a day at sea a year ago, I was put in “advanced beginners” under the instruction of Jake. We started with some theory and the talk of jibs, gybes and various ropes, each with their own name, was strangely hypnotic – I soon found myself wondering what we’d eat for dinner.
Pasta as it turned out. Lumbarda is beautiful but Croatia’s much-hyped food renaissance has passed it by, with grilled meat and fish and the ubiquitous pizza and pasta being the local restaurant staples. Still, James was very happy with his plate of prsut (prosciutto up the coast), that would have fed the crew of a small flotilla.
The next day, I was out in my Pico dinghy, tacking and gybing (turning, land lubber) in an astonishingly (to me) proficient manner. Such was my confidence that I decided we would take the next day off to visit the nearby island of Mljet, whose beauty so enchanted a shipwrecked Odysseus that he stayed seven years, or so, legend has it.
Mljet is as long as Korcula, (about 50km) but with only 800 inhabitants. Half of it is a national park and its main boast is its two saltwater lakes, the inner of which is as warm as a tepid bath, with a salt content so high that you float easily. The other is home to a jellyfish that is found nowhere else in the world, which, we were assured, does not sting.
From here we took a boat to the Benedictine monastery of Santa Maria, built on an island on the larger lake in the 12th century, now a restaurant, where the monks must have lived in almost unimaginable isolation and tranquillity. There is one hotel on Mljet, the Odisej at the port of Pomena. Our holiday company, Neilson, used to be based here but relocated because the sea crossings were too unreliable.