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Sali, Dugi Otok, Saturday 4 June

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I came dangerously close to hitting my head when it slipped out of my hands sitting at the table. Yesterday’s siesta knocked me out of kilter and I am determined to not sleep until bedtime. But I nodded off waiting for the photos to download, and I was doing something similar in the icecream café. (My landlandy sniggeringly confirmed she had seen me being Noddy Tom in the afternoon.) Normally Sylvia would be amused, but when I staggered to my feet she had missed the opportunity – she was flaked out on the bed.

Big day diving today.

Not just because of the siesta, I had trouble sleeping last night. Its hot, and better with the windows open, but last night yachtie Rene and his mistress decided to solve the world’s problems sitting on the footpath near our window and droning on, way past 3.00. Feather-down pillows are good noise-blockers, but hot.

So when my alarm went off at 5.45 it wasn’t very welcomed. But I said I would go. I had just got out of bed and Boznor was banging on the door, time!. Out we went, walked to his boat parked out front. Its an old timber fishing boat, 1950’s diesel engine. He uses his feet and lumps of wood to change gears and so on, rather than get his hands greasy, and the old thing just keeps on puttering.

He had set up a line of nets about 2 minutes from town the night before. As we approached the net area he grabbed a pole with a 20 cm diameter, 5 cm thick disc on the end. Repeatedly he rammed it into the water, creating a sonic boom as the boat chugged along. It took a minute to work out what he was doing…looking for the net? Sounding the depth? No, he was trying to stampede fish towards his net.

camouflaged cat

Up front was a small winch, and he hooked the net on and started hauling it in. He hadn’t tried this spot before, but it wasn’t a spectacular success. I saw maybe five fish reeled in. Plus a few crabs, some poisonous stonefish, sea cucumbers and so on. We’re invited for dinner tonight, but he must have padded out the catch with something bought from the dock.

I just spectated, he didn’t want much help other than untie a rope here, pass him that and so on, and he waved me off when we docked. He had an hour and a half on net maintenance/folding to do, he said, and he knew we had to leave early for the diving.

I forgot to mention…on the walk to the dive shop is a house with a ridiculous home-made hybrid lawnmower/tractor/vehicle. This greasy old red thing sits in the sun oozing diesel, but every so often you see it putter past, towing a boxy wooden trailer full of rubbish, rocks, rope and so on.

This morning, however, he was hauling Rene and his mistress, who were too far gone to walk back to their yacht, but too disgraceful to leave in the street. The trailer bounced joyfully over the cobblestones, Rene and Therese jogging along violently out of sync, looking suitably miserable in their motorized tumbrel, magnificently bathed in the diesel fumes of the tractor.  Luckily the friendly local had made room for them in the trailer, moving aside the fish nets and gardening tools. Au revoir, au revoir….a bientot!

Gert the Divemaster was back to his introverted self. His story unfolded in dribs and drabs over the day. He’s actually ok, it’s just odd to us. Him and the boatman pretty much ignored us most of the day, but when he did need to speak to us he was pleasant enough. For example, after the first dive we travelled 20 minutes to a village(? Of three or four houses, each with a dock). Gert said they opened at 12.00, and if we wanted to we could buy a coffee.

At 12.00 Gert got off the boat without a word and disappeared. Five minutes later the boatman did too. Eventually we did. We walked into a domestic courtyard, where Gert sat with the boatman, a fat guy in shorts no shirt and a….crone is perhaps the best word. They glared at us. The fat guy decided we needed something, half listened to us then told us we were having two coffees and a mineral water.

Out came the crone, shrieking that’s the only mineral water she had, we had to have that. And so on.

Gert had told us we had to bring lunch, which we had eaten already on the boat. Another dive boat arrived, and the crone-team cooked them up a grilled feast on a smoking grill out the back. I went to the toilet and out the back an old duffer in rags who looked like he was half-smoked himself was flailing away at a grill with a dozen fish and some big pork cutlets sizzling. Looked good, certainly better than the rolls we had brought.

Be our guests

Then Gert was up and off with the boatman, and we figured we better go too or be left behind. Fat guy pulled a ridiculous number out of the air, we paid it and left. By any definition “hospitality” wasn’t the industry we experienced. Worst restaurant in the world, for us! The other boat crew looked like they were in for a good meal though.

Gert was a good divemaster, he timed it well, got us back and at the decompression rest spot at the exact time and we came up with the right amount of spare air. Then he simply climbed into the boat and left us to struggle out by ourselves. Which was hard work, we were more heavily weighted than normal. We were wearing thick wetsuits, which require extra counter-weighting. The dives around here are quite deep, and the water hits 15 degrees on the bottom. Because it was a deep dive, Gert gave us his biggest tanks, which were massive. Lots of air, but again, the weight that came with them made climbing back into the boat heavy going.

My certification is 18 metres, but we went to 40 metres on the first dive and close to that on the second.

We didn’t really see much different in terms of fish, but the divespot had some interesting coral formations. They grow at a deeper depth here, I guess because the water is so clear the sunlight can make it down that far. Sylvia is interested in nudibranchs, and we found 5 or 6. We don’t see them snorkeling.

We’ll probably go again in two days, after a rest day.

To finish off the day we went upstairs and had dinner with the landlords. All we had to bring was stilted conversation. Boznor speaks English competently, his wife Maria understands quite a lot when you speak with her one on one, but not so much following a multi-thread conversation. She was busy anyway, in the grillhouse, roasting up a rack of fish fillets. The technique is simple…sprinkle the skin side with salt, douse with olive oil and grill over a charcoal bed. Salad from their garden with micro-diced herbs and red wine made by Boznor.

The grilled fish were piled on a serving plate, then again doused with Boznor’s olive oil in quantities that would make Jamie Oliver flinch. You get a chunk of bread, some grilled some fresh, and eat the fish with a fork, mopping up fish juice and olive oil with the toast/bread.

Fantastic meal. Maybe 10.00 we staggered downstairs, and I slept like a dead man for the first solid 8 hours since we got here.

Before we left Boznor offered to take us for a drive and show us the island. That sounds like a perfect rest day to me.

Written by wurstofvienna2011

June 4, 2011 at 2:52 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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