Monday morning at 07:45 am is the time for the weather report via Split radio on VHF. It does not look very promising. It is cloudy. The prediction is that the westerly winds (Jugo) afternoon turns to northeast (Bura). This is accompanied by showers and thunderstorms.
Vis is no safe haven during Bura so we slip our mooring at 09:15 am. We plan to sail towards the island of Korcula. Outside Viska Luka we hoist the sails in 8 knots of wind from the southeast, and follow course 90. On the northern horizon a big grey cloud hangs over the island Solta. Which is getting darker, and by 10:30 we see solid rain and numerous lightning flashes on the horizon. During the next hour we shift our course to 20, sailing towards the Pakleni Otoci, and then the race between us and Mother Nature begins. And of course, Mother Nature wins. while we are sailing into the channel between the islands Paržanj and Borovac it starts to rain. Big fat drops quickly go into a downpour that reduces visibility to 50 to 100 meters. After the channel we sail an easterly course. Everywhere around us we see flashes of lightning, within seconds with the accompanying thunder. The storm is right above us.
After half an hour we reach ACI Marina Palmižana on the northside of the island Sveti Klement. Just before we sail into the harbour it stops raining and after we moored it clears up and the sun comes out. Around us we see a number of vessels that have sought refuge here during the storm. You see vapour coming out, literally, because everyone dries his equipment. Unfortunately we have no pictures of the storm, because we were too busy. All we have is a picture of our drying equipment…
We eat a hearty lunch and have a refreshing shower. In the afternoon it is actually still 31 degrees with a bright sun in a cloudless sky. In the evening we take the water taxi to Hvar and go out for dinner at Lucullus.
This morning we take it slow. Swimming, long breakfast and tidying and organizing the boat.
We slip our mooring and hoist the anchor at 10:15.We sail out of the bay on our engine, but once offshore we catch wind again. From the east this time, Jugo, about 9 knots. We hoist the sails and head directly towards Vodnjak 200, the westernmost of the Pakleni Otoci. Pretty soon we see a group of dolphins, probably the same group as last night.
In the following hours the wind varies between 2 and 18 knots. Above 12 knots, we are at work, below that it is relaxed sailing. We sail in the direction of Vis. After arrival we first explore the bay to the west of the city, Luka Rogacic. Which is very busy, but looks pretty good for a stay (if the wind does not come from the (north) east).
While we were sailing into the bay Viska Luka we still doubt whether we will moor or anchor. As we prepare to moor the ship one of our fenders flies overboard. A good exercise for a ‘man overboard’ situation. In 16 to 18 knots of wind the fender moves away rapidly, but our third attempt we rescue this unfortunate crew member from the water. Not bad, but it should actually be better …
We see that there are also moorings in the harbour of Vis available now. Around 16:00 we pick up one of these. Because of the strong wind, we lay a double line. The cost is quite reasonable, in our view, the rate for our ship of 10.0 meters 100 kuna (about EUR 14).
Later that evening we have the beautiful image of a big ferry boat sailing straight at us. Naturally, he turns in time. It is very busy that night in Vis. Well after dark the yachts are still coming in. The quay and all buoys have been busy, so most try to anchor. That is not easy, and some yachts drift. Because of the wind and the swell is a restless night.
Marina Kaštela is again incredibly hot. Due to the lack of wind, the temperature rises to about 40 degrees Celsius. However, it seems a little quieter than two years ago. Our ship is in prime shape, and after bringing aboard our luggage and groceries we get out of this harbour and this heat.
At 15:45 we sail out of the harbour. Halfway through the bay Kaštelanski Zaljev the wind arrives. Southwesterly 12 to 15 knots. We quickly hoist the sails and enjoy the cool breeze that it brings. With a speed of 5.5 to 6.0 knots we sail between Rt Marjan and Rt Ciovo towards open sea. We point our bow at Splitska Vrata, the passage between Solta and Brac.
Because we do not want the high rates of Lučice, where we have often spent the first night, we explore the other two large bays on the south western side of Brac. The easternmost, Uvala Maslinova, looks most promising on the map. Unfortunately, it is being used for aquaculture.
So we are going to Uvala Osibova, the westernmost bay. Just before the entrance of the bay we see a group of four dolphins, including a young baby. Once inside we anchor fairly deep in the bay in 8 feet of water, and swim a line ashore to tie ourselves up to a sturdy tree.
The bay is very deep, halfway through we still measure 20 feet of water under the keel. In the course of the evening three other ships anchor. Because of the depth and because the bay is quite narrow, the anchoring space is limited.
At 19:00 we are docked. We swim for half an hour in the crystal clear warm waters. Yet it feels refreshing, according to our thermometer it more than 32 degrees Celsius. Around 20:00 it is dark and an hour later we make our bed in the cockpit.
We sailed along the Croatian coast for two weeks in September 2009. Our ship was a Bénéteau Oceanis 323 and the entire route can be found below.
We sailed approximately 335 miles in total. Starting in Split via Brač, Korčula and Lastovo, then via the Elaphite Islands to Dubrovnik. Taking it easy, we sailed back via Mljet, Korčula, Hvar and Vis to Trogir, after which we returned to Split. Anchoring for 9 nights, and 4 harbours.
The weather was good, sunshine every day and temperatures up to 30 degrees Celsius and even higher. We had one day with rain and thunderstorms during this trip. The Bura winds gave us a great finale. Most days we had northerly (Bura) and northwesterly winds (Tramontana), and one day we had Jugo winds (southeasterly). Seawater temperature was 24 – 25 degrees Celsius – great for swimming.
Darkness came early (20:00) given that it was already late season. During the night, the temperature dropped to around 20 degrees Celsius. It was still pretty busy in the popular ports and bays.
Croatia: a great holiday destination. But the past is never far away, and you also find extreme poverty here. The average income is now over EUR 600 per month. That’s still not much when you consider that prices in the supermarket do no differ much from the prices in Western Europe. And remember: it is an average. If you are unemployed, or have a pension of EUR 150 per month, life seems no fun to me.
Every year there is a direct confrontation with this. And that is upon returning to the port of Kaštela. Most charters (and that often includes us) have leftover supplies. You buy some extra, you eat out more often than planned, et cetera. Because many crews leave by plane, that excess inventory gets thrown into the dustbin.
Usually it does not stay there for long. Each container is ‘managed’ by one or a few (usually older) Croats. The container park at the main entrance to the Marina even has an entire group with a strict hierarchy. The leader checks the bags and determines who gets what share of each bag. If this would not be so tragic, it would almost make me smile.
At the end of Saturday morning, as old crews have left and new crews trickle in, the collectors leave the port with their share. If your monthly income is EUR 150, then EUR 10 or EUR 20 extra per week is a welcome addition.
What a day! We start normal with breakfast and other necessities. But the wind is blowing in Trogir, and we see a number of ships with problematic departures. Our departure takes some effort as well.. The marina is cramped, and a current runs through it (from Kaštelanski Zaljev to Trogirski Zaljev). We make the turn too slow and hit the mooring of a ship opposite us. With some maneuvering we manage to get out. When inspecting the underwater hull later I fortunately find no damage (except a small dent in my sailors’ ego…).
When leaving the port of Trogir at 09:15 this is quickly forgotten. The sailing conditions are perfect. A north-easterly wind of 12 – 15 knots, and the weather forecast says it will blow all day. With the wind behind and the sails spread we fly out of the bay. Then heading toward Šolta, course 140. Unfortunately the fun ends after two hours, and with varying slight wind we barely manage to anchor in Uvala Nečujam by 13:00. Time for lunch and a round of swimming, including an inspection of the underwater ship after this morning’s experience in Trogir.
By 14:00 hours the wind seems to stabilise from a northeasterly direction, 5 to 7 knots. We lift our anchor, hoist the sails and leave the bay. In calm conditions we sail (course 30) towards Split and the entrance to Kaštelanski Zaljev. But then it happens …
Over our starboard bow, towards Split, I see the sea change in a boiling mass of water with high waves and crests. And that is rapidly approaching our ship. The Bura shows once again why it is a notorious wind that you always have to reckon with.
In less than one minute, the wind increases to 30 knots (Force 7), with gusts up to Force 8 to 9 (40 knots). The sea turns into a boiling mass of water. Just in time I manage to steer the bow into the wind. With heavily flapping sails, on a ship that is tossed around on the waves, we reef the sails. We put the second reef in the mainsail and bring back the jib to 1/3 of its normal size. Thus we have the boat back under our control.
The rest of the afternoon the Bura shows its teeth. Most ships plough back to Marina Kaštela on their engines, but I enjoy a little bit of sailing. And we have no pictures of course: we were just too busy with the ship … In sight of the harbor we lower our sails and join the queue at the Marina. By 18:30 our ship is back in its place. The whole evening and night the Bura sweeps the harbour, still over 30 knots. We don’t feel anything of that, since we are vast asleep.
05:15 am. It is still dark and the port of Vis is vast asleep. But our alarm beeps. We get dressed and go on deck. I take in the power cable and store the ramp. At 05:30 hours, coinciding with the Jadrolinija ferry, we start the engine. We drop the lines and slip out of our mooring. Everything goes smooth and in the wake of the ferry we sail out of Viška Luka. Outside, there is no wind. We change our course to 355, towards the western tip of Šolta island.
Not much later we see a beautiful sunrise over Hvar. At 06:30 a northerly wind (Bura) rises, rapidly increasing to 8 knots. We hoist the sails, switch off our engine, and keep our course of 355.
A large cargo ship passes us about a mile to port. For the rest the sea is empty. It remains empty during the next hours, while we steadily cover the miles between Vis and Šolta. Around ten o’clock we pass Šolta, and half an hour later we drop our anchor in the western arm of Uvala Solinska, a bay on the southside of the island Veli Drvenik. This is a beautiful bay, not too big, and very suitable for swimming. You can anchor deep in the bay. The water is crystal clear, you see the bottom, and there are lots of fish swimming around. We swim and snorkel around the bay and take a nap after our early start this morning. Then we have a big lunch. As usual during the last week, the winds dies down around noon. Since there is not much to do in the open, the conditions are excellent for a long break.
At 13:00 hours the wind rises again, now from a northwesterly direction (10 knots). This is our ‘anchor up’ signal. Outside Uvala Solinska we hoist the sails. With the wind 120 degrees to port we sail along the coast and along Krknjaš Veli and Drvenik Veli. Then we sail straight north towards the rocks and islets in front of Trogirski Zaljev, the bay of Trogir. The wind rose sharply once we left the shelter of Drvenik Veli. A northwesterly wind of 17 – 19 knots is blowing from Venički Kanal. We sail between the rocks Mali Pišćena and Galera (with beacon). Once we pass Rt Okruk we turn to starboard and with wind from behind, we set the mainsail to port and jib to starboard. Course 45, and with a speed of 5.5 knots we soon pass Rt Čubrijan; Trogir is in sight. Way too soon it is time to lower the sails. Since we have to hand over the ship again tomorrow, we fill up the fuel tank at the petrol station in Trogir. Only 19 liters, and that for the entire stretch from Dubrovnik to Trogir.
While refueling, threatening clouds appear over the mountains north of us. An ominous thunder strikes. Luckily refueling does not take long, and at 15:00 hours we moor in ACI Marina Trogir. We did not visit Trogir since 2004, but nothing has changed. Like ACI Marina Korčula it is a somewhat outdated and very cramped port, with the added disadvantage that it is directly under the flightpath of Split airport. But the view of the old town of Trogir compensates that! That evening we eat pizza on the promenade of Trogir.
Vis, that beautiful island about 30 miles south of Split. Last year we spent a night in a bay here, but we did not visit the town of Vis for years. Today we go to visit an old friend. He is a sailing instructor at Ultra Sailing, and is currently training with a group in this area.
We stay in bed until after 09:00 am, too late for the weather forecast. Around 10:30 we lift anchor and sail out of the bay. There is enough wind to hoist the sails immediately. There is a light wind from northwest, 6 knots. We make a number of tacks that bring us slowly toward Rt Pelegrin. During one of these tacks we see a group of dolphins about 100 meters from the boat, but they decide not to come close to our ship.
When rounding Rt Pelegrin around 13:15, it is very crowded with sailboats, motorboats and a ferry. We quickly leave the crowds behind us and slip between the islands Paržanj and Borovac, heading south this time. We see the island of Vis on our bow already. The wind gradually increases to 11 – 12 knots and turns slightly west. Perfect for our course. We do not drop our sails until deep in the bay Viška Luka. The whole day we’ve seen people going around on engine, even though the sailing conditions are excellent.
At 16:00 hours, the quay of Vis is already very crowded. It seems to be operated as a marina, with rates to match. For 300 kuna (about EUR 40) we can moor our 32-footer overnight, and use of the (not very clean) showers will take another 30 kuna. Anyway, a bit later we sit behind huge mugs of beer to catch up and share the latest news and local sailing gossip.
That evening we eat at Bufet Vis on the quay. The restaurant does not look like anything, but the food is delicious. A wonderful lukewarm salata od hobotnica (octopus salad) and a red risotto, complemented by an excellent grilled fresh fish with garlic and fresh parsley. After this we board the Ultra training vessel for some fine wine. At 22:30 (late for our standards) we are in our bunks. And that while we have early plans for tomorrow morning.
We start the day slowly, these are our holidays. At 10:00 we lift anchor. Between Korčula and Trstenik there is already 8 knots of wind from the northeast. So we hoist the sails immediately. We hardly used the engine since Dubrovnik, the batteries are getting low by now.
After passing Trstenik island and upon reaching the open sea, we sail west towards Rt Velo Dance, the southwestern tip of the island Korčula. The wind is north-northwesterly, so we do not manage to sail our desired heading in a northwesterly direction toward Pakleni Otoci, the islands off the southern coast of Hvar. For the time being we follow a more westerly course toward Vis.
During the morning the wind turns gradually to a northeasterly direction, which gradually brings our course to a more northwesterly direction. Early afternoon we sail just off the island of Sveti Klement. It is lovely sailing weather, in winds of around 15 knots. By 14:00, when we come near Sveti Klement, the wind turns back to the northwest.
Sveti Klement is rather frightening. In recent years the vicinity of Hvar became increasingly crowded, one of the reasons why we prefer to avoid that spot. But never before did we find all the bays on the south side of Sveti Klement already overcrowded with ships on anchor by 15:00 in the afternoon. Uvala Tarsće and Uvala Vinogradisče feel like Spanish Costa campsites in the August high season… We take a look at Luka Soline, but did not anchor there. It is too deep (more than 20 meters) and we find the bay not well protected. There are only some buoys at a restaurant, but all were taken already.
After some discussion we decide to sail to Tiha Luka to the north of the island of Hvar in Starogradski Zaljev, the bay of Stari Grad. The wind by now turned directly west and increased to 17 – 18 knots. We motor west along the south coast of Sveti Klement, which solves the problem of drained batteries as well. Near 16 ° 20 ‘E we sail straight north between the islands Paržanj and Borovac through. After this we hoist the sails. We pass Rt Pelegrin and sail in an easterly direction. At 17:00 we reach the entrance of Luka Tiha and take our sails down. Half an hour later we anchor in one of the smaller bays on the west side of Tiha Luka.
A good night of sleep in Korčula marina. We get up at 07:30, shower, shop and have breakfast. Then we visit an internet cafe for weather and wind forecasts for the remaining days of our trip. Most mornings they predict Bura (north / northeast) 3 to 5 Beaufort. During the afternoon Maestral Tramontana (north west). The temperature will be fine again.
This morning we first have a strong northerly wind (Bura), 20 to 25 knots. In those conditions, ACI Korčula is always an exciting port to leave, because it is a bit cramped. You see many people use a spring line. We are lucky that our neighbors on both sides depart fairly early, so that we have more room to maneuver. Without problems we drop our lines and at 10:15 we leave the harbor. Right outside the harbor we hoist the sails, there is now a 15 knots wind from the north. We do not sail east towards Mljet, nor westward via the Peleški Kanal between Korcula and Pelješac. We sail southward, navigating between the islands and along the rocks and shallows on the east side of Korčula, round Rt Rašjnić, the eastern tip of Korčula.
Then we follow the southern coast of Korčula in a westerly direction. Here. we do not suffer the worst bouts of Bura, and the sea is much calmer and friendlier than at the north side of the island. The south side is almost empty, apart from the village of Brna there is little evidence of civilization. Over our port bow we see the island of Lastovo, and the rest is emptiness and silence.
The wind remains favorable for most of the day, although it decreases during the afternoon. All in all it takes us just over 6 hours to cover 30 nautical miles, and at 4:45 p.m. our ship anchors in Tri Luke. Soon we are in the water, cooling off again after a hot day. During the evening there are five other ships at anchor in the bay, and is very quiet. We crawl away as deep as possible inside the bay. Meanwhile, there is virtually no wind…. And from the cockpit, we have a beautiful view of the isllet of Trstenik, in front of Tri Luke.
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