Pag Cheese, Please

By: American Sailing Association, Charter, Flotillas, Members

Continuing “Croatian Tapestry”

I rather dread the process of provisioning. Some people might enjoy it, but I’m so finicky about what I eat at any given moment that I dislike having to decide and plan for it in advance. Croatia was the antidote to my provisioning ills–in fact we didn’t have to provision at all, due to the fact that in every island town, no matter how small, local markets abounded with fresh produce, meats, cheeses, wines, and everything else you’d want to nibble on while sailing the Adriatic.

The market in Trogir, our port of departure, was the most bustling and plentiful of them all. We stocked up on home-pressed olive oil (bottled in unmarked recycled water bottles), herbed goat cheese and sharp “Pag” cheese, paper-thin Dalmatian prsut (proscuitto), round loaves of fresh bread, and bags of “figgys.” We bought fresh cantaloupes and a glass jar of honey (with the comb still in it), and a pound of sweet carrots. Then we piled onto our group bus, which was pleasantly fragranced with market-fresh basil, and arrived at Marina Kastela.

The marina was huge and busy, with dock workers scurrying about and boats coming in and out, changing hands for the next week’s charter group. We found our five–Ziva, Hedda Gabler, Mari, Lejla, and Leto–checked out, and were sent off by the dockhand with a hearty “Have fun sailing in Croatian!” We pushed off under a picturesque sunset and reached across the deep blue water toward our first port, Milna, on Brac Island. In the sunset breeze, I felt the hubbub of the marina being swept away with the wind. We dined on our market fare, under quiet sail.

After a couple hours, Milna harbor came into view, casting a warm orange glow across the water as we approached. It was dark as we Med-moored for the first time under the warm lights of the medieval waterfront, but we had plenty of room and a still night to maneuver in. Croatian Med-mooring is simpler than traditional Med-mooring too–dockhands hand over a bow line that’s already anchored to the bottom, so there’s no need to monkey with the boat’s anchor while backing in.

Morning broke with a chorus of cathedral bells, and I poked my head out of the companionway to see the sleepy little town of Milna for the first time. Having chosen not to stock our galley with instant coffee, we strolled down the stone waterfront to a caffe for what was to become a daily routine–frothy hot bijela kavas. I’m normally a drip coffee kind of girl (hailing from Seattle), but they don’t really offer that sludge in Europe. So I ordered lattes, the Croatian “white coffee”–and they were fantastic with a warm chocolate croissant on the side. (I may have gained like 5 pounds over their breakfasts, but who’s checking.) And in Milna, they serve the lattes with kittens on the side–little strays who stay well fed by being so dang cute. I was very close to making this one our stowaway for the week. But we packed up and sailed off to the next island without her. (Of course when we came back a week later, she was still there, dining on tuna, but that’s a later story!)