Disappointment in the industry professionals and the storm of my life (Part 1)
I think it was the season 2014, but it might have been 2013 when I got my first Canadian and French couples on board catamaran Lagoon 400. It will be very disappointing for my colleagues, but I have nothing bad to say against my clients, which is rarely the case when it comes to experiences with that exact language area :)
But, as it was the first time for me on the type 400 Lagoon catamaran, I can immediately say that I never went on Lagoon 400 again in my life. It is shit! Or at least this one was, maybe it is not all of them.
As you have noticed in my title, there will be a bit of disappointment in this story, but I wont mention names, as I am not a rich individual and wouldn’t like to be sued, but you will get the picture. And when it comes to Lagoon, I love all of their other cats, but really, really, really not 400 series.
Just a couple of facts from my life. I feel in love with sailing in 2003 when completed my first sailing course on Murter and somehow I knew I will end up doing it as long as I live. I had an excellent instructors Živko Matutinović, Marjan (Kate) Uroda and Branko Palić. I have only words of praise for those guys as I held many skipper courses later and I have to say that they were good beginner and advance sailing instructors.
Very short after I got employed by a charter company, which I wont name, as I met the best people from the charter industry, but the worst charter company that was present at the moment. I had two of the greatest mentors that a man could hope for, Ljubomir (Ljubo) Giljanovic who is a great skipper and passionate boat mechanic, problem solver and could name all parts of the boat on at least three languages and Ante Frzop a retired seaman, started as a washer “boy” in charter and with the most admirable will managed to get to the position of a base manager and probably the best that I ever met.
Those guys learned me everything that learning can teach, the rest was gathering experience.
But let me continue with the story…..
As every summer it was a hot day in Split, Croatia. I came in early to do a skipper service, a couple of weeks after my old man passed away, so already by that I was quite shaken up, but as I arrived to base early something persuaded me to go and check the boat before it was ready, which I never did before that time. When I got to the boat, on the left stern, there were two mechanics and the engine was lifted from the engine room. I asked them if there is something wrong and they just replied that it is the usual engine service. No shit? I let them work, but I lost confidence immediately that they would bullshit a skipper that they don’t know, that service is done by lifting the engine out, but again, there are a lot of kind of skippers as well to be honest. Guys learn how to sail, but wouldn't find a simple fuse if it would stand in front of them. I apologize to those guys, but I have to keep it honest.
Anyway, time passed, the engine was “serviced”, I met my lovely French speaking pensioners and we sailed out. I can remember the names of the couples, but the Canadians had a last name that would easily fit a Polish jew and the French were just French. The “Polish” guy seemed friendly and normal, while his wife was very quite, but kind, with a long grey hair and very relaxed face, almost too relaxed. The French however, they were a little bit older then the Polish, and the wife was very passionate about cooking, specialties like shrimps with avocado, which I found disgusting at the time and prayed that it wont be my diet for the reminder of the week. And for the end the “Grandpa”. Drunk from the start, with obvious case of Rosacea, he will be a great part of this story.
I will never forget, but anyway it is not difficult, as I was one of the few who choose Stari Grad on island of Hvar for the first night, as the seasons were already packed with boats, so I didnt mind doing an extra miles on the first day, coming late to get a sure place without having my clients to pay extra for reservations, which already started to be the case everywhere.
I have to mention it now, not to forget later. What clients give in marinas is not payment, it is a tip which harbor or marina personnel in the old days would be tipped anyway, but new sailors have just decided to be cheap and not even provide a beer for the guy that is standing there in the sun and waiting with the mooring line. The whole world is becoming like that, give as less you can give, or nothing, even better. So, unlike the others, we “the old” skippers are coming each and every year, up to 20 or more times in all of the places, so I think that we are entitled to the place and those who will force first come, first serve, they can just go and ______ themselves.
This is how it should look for us! :)
So unlike any other Saturday, I was approaching the most beautiful (my subjective opinion) and one of the oldest towns in Croatia, Stari Grad (Pharos), translated as “The Old Town”. At my surprise the whole harbour was full, but it was a sight. It was the annual Latin sail regatta and these traditional “Falkuša” and “Gajeta” boats were everywhere, the office has a strict rule anyway to work till 8 p.m. so I had nobody to contact and there was no use anyway. Luckily for me, I remembered to go just to the entrance of the harbor, where hotel Arkada is located and it has a small operations key. Everyone enjoyed a very nice night, in a sailors packed Stari Grad.
The “D” day. D will stand for damage.
In the morning I woke up and checked the forecast. Meteo alarm was at it’s worst. Thunderstorms warning for the whole Adriatic. I really did make my day. I checked the wind charts and other resources and it showed that the storm are expected after 6:00 p.m., but to be safe I tried to stay in Stari Grad, and my good old pal Perica (harbor officer) told me “Andreas, nobody is leaving today, because of the forecast”. I tried Hvar and Palmizana and it was the same story, everything was booked and I just could not stay in front of Arkada, because if you ever come to Croatia and see that little key, the gulf of Stari Grad and direction of approaching thunderstorm, maybe it is the best that you take a pick or a chisel and destroy the boat by yourself.
So, I had to run, the only option was Vis (the historical Issa), as most of the boats are staying and as usually Vis would get full, because of the storm warning it did not. I warned the guests, they didn't worry too much and in fact they didn't even believe me, as one of the guys, Grandpa, from Paris, talked to me non stop in French and after some time and repeatedly saying I don’t understand, I just started to nod my head, toast with him and say yes or oui (which was probably the only word I knew, well, and “voulez-vous du pate” or the famous song “voulez-vous coucher avec moi, ce soir?”). But it made the old guy happy and when I got a translation at one point, I found out that one of the questions was “Andreas, where is your storm?” Hahaha, stupid prick! It makes me lough even now after 5 years.
Well now, the shit will soon hit the fan!
I had a lot of experience with bad weather. As I, till 2010, mostly did interventions, deliveries and private sailing, almost on all base to base deliveries I was alone and sometimes had been struck by bad weather, up to heavy and dry Bura or Tramuntana winds (NE, N extremely gusty)or heavy and wet Jugo winds (SE, S), but it was a joke for what was waiting for me.
I was passing Pakleni islands next to Hvar and after the guests begged me for a quick swim and the weather was like in haven we stopped very shortly for a swim and continued in direction of Vis. As the wind was playing between 0,2 and 0,5 kts I was going on engine hopefully to be in Vis in 1,5 hours.
Short fact about Pakleni islands. Many people in Croatia will sell you bullshit, that Pakleni, comes for “Pakao” which stands for “Hell”, so Hell islands, which can not be more wrong. Pakleni comes from the word “Paklina” which is actually that greasy, sticky slime from a pine trees, as they are the major part of the vegetation on that island. And heaven would be much more suitable to call it than hell islands.
Just half ways across, between Pakleni and Vis, I saw it coming. The beautiful and quite day had a black and ugly “demon” approaching from west and north-west. The guests couldn't realize what is happening and what is coming as it was “so beautiful”.
Lagoon 400, as it was shit, and bounced around like a cardboard box on a waves that wouldn't bother an amateur stand up paddler, had a nice and modern, top class devices. For me the first time to see the boat devices measure in Beaufort. For those who do not know Beaufort scale, here it is, that you can understand what happened next.
The windex device started showing 1,2,3 then after a couple of minutes 4,5,6 and before I knew it it was showing 10.
In the old days if you like to read about ancient naval war fare, you will learn that sometimes fleets of galleys would sail out with a course of battle and sometimes, remarkable fleets from 2000 years ago would be swallowed by sea, after an unpredictable storm would hit them, taking all the boats and all the souls to the rock bottom!
God help us!
See you next time and thank you for reading!