Luka Polace (Mljet) – Korčula

Better weather today! In the morning, the sun peeks above the mountains. Around 08:30 we lift anchor and motor through the labyrinth entrance of Luka Polace. With a NE wind of 10 – 12 knots our course is 320 degrees towards Korčula. Unfortunately, after about one hour the wind is gone. We have to start the engine.

Around noon we are approaching Korčula town. Because we know that the best cookies in Croatia are produced in this town, we face a dilemma: cookies or no cookies? Cukarin cookies, thus! We moor in an almost empty ACI Marina and go shopping for cookies. But then some other thoughts enter our heads: Laundry! Showers! Therefore we call it a day and remain in ACI Marina Korčula. That night, we have an excellent dinner at Konoba Mareta.

We had some wealthy neighbours that evening. Outside the breakwater, some rather expensive yachts are moored. This includes the m/y ‘Kauhale Kai’. It seems that they have a nice trip as well. But so do we, and we are not paying USD 15.000 per day…

Luka Polace (Mljet)

Not much news about today. Several heavy rain showers pass our bay, and via the radio we follow the news on the storm ‘outside’. Via the telephone we talk to the charter-base, they report several ships with problems. Two boats even asked for a skipper for the remainder of the week. In heavy weather, a sailing holiday can be tougher than some people expect.

In the afternoon we go ashore for a cup of coffee and some small shopping (fresh bread). We have just returned to our ship when the next rain shower hits us. Also during the evening we have showers with rain and even a hailstorm. But Luka Polace remains the quiet and safe haven that we know.

Orebić – Luka Polace (Mljet)

That night the wind turns to NE, but it remains as powerful as during the day. When we leave the harbour that morning the wind is already 20 – 25 knots. The weather prognosis for today and tomorrow is rather bad. We go looking for a safe haven to anchor and wait for better weather. Fortunately we know just the right place: Luka Polace on the island of Mljet.

After some time, the wind decreases to 15 knots, and we hoist our sails. Course is 140 degrees and speed is 5 to 6 knots. The sea is rather choppy, especially when approaching Mljet. Sailing along the northern shores of Mljet we quickly find the first entrance to Luka Polace. It always surprises me how quiet the waters become as soon as you enter the bay. And Luka Polace is a well hidden place. A true pirates’ nest.

Lovišće (Šćedro) – Orebić

The wind starts early this morning. We have 15 knots of SE wind (Jugo) in our bay. With a reefed mainsail and half a genoa, we sail on a course of 100 degrees, towards the Pelješki Kanal between Korčula and Pelješac. The wind increases during the day towards 25 knots (Force 6 on Beaufort’s scale), so sailing is hard work today. The grand final comes when we approach Orebic, another harbour that we did not visit before.

The lay-out of this harbour is rather strange. In front of the harbour, the sea is rather shallow – maximum depth is 4 – 5 meters. This creates a rather serious swell when the wind is towards land (like Jugo). The harbour of Orebić has a large breakwater pointing southward, with a lightbeacon at its head. However, halfway that breakwater there is another one at a right angle. It is behind that second breakwater that you find the actual harbour and the moorings.

Just when we approach the harbour, the rain starts pouring. And when I say pouring, I do mean pouring… We cannot see 50 meters, and we are soaking wet within seconds. Fortunately, we do find the harbour entrance. And there we find the next hurdle. In the middle of the entrance a small tourist ship, dancing on the waves, is disembarking its passengers. We do manage to manoeuvre around it and park our boat. No harbour master in sight, no other help, but with just the two of us we ‘execute according to the book’. And just when we tie up the last line, the rain stops just as sudden as it began.

Yes, and there are no pictures of that. Because when sailing shorthanded in circumstances like this, you have other things to do. Besides, our camera is not waterproof…

That evening we had a very nice dinner at the Restaurant Karako. We found it when following the coast in an easterly direction.

Luka Tiha (Hvar) – Lovišće (Šćedro)

Around 08:00 I leave the water after a refreshing early-morning swim. And right at that moment a group of fish goes ballistic. Around our ship, hundreds of small fish jump up from the water. I just about manage to shoot a photo of it.

Around 10:00 we lift our anchor. At that time, there is virtually no wind at all. One hour later, we have a light northerly wind, and we hoist our sails. Our aim is to round Rat Pelegrin, the westerly point of the island of Hvar. We round this cape at around 12:30. It is very busy there, and the harbour of Hvar-town (which we pass half an hour later) is busy as usual. By now, the wind has turned to W, and with the wind in our back our speed is now 4 – 5 knots.

At 16:00 we take our sails down just north of the island of Šćedro. On our motor we enter Lovišće bay. This is a great bay for spending the night, as long as the wind is not coming from a northerly direction. We drop our anchor in the south-easterly corner of the bay, and also put two mooring lines to the coast – the traditional three-point mooring. It really stabilises the boat and makes for a much more comfortable anchorage. Unfortunately, the bay is not that quiet during the evening. There are three restaurants that use generators for electricity.

Lučice (Brač) – Luka Tiha (Hvar)

The long day we had yesterday is taking its toll today. Therefore, we are taking it easy. This means only a short hop today. We drop our buoy at around 10:30. Outside the bay, the wind is 8 – 12 knots from NNE. We sail a SE course, around 150 degrees. After little more than one hour the wind turns to SSW and weakens. Around 12:00 we enter Starogradski Zaljev. That is the deep bay on the NW-side of the island of Hvar. At its end you will find the town of Stari Grad.

At the northern side of Starogradski Zaljev we find Luka Tiha. That is a collection of larger and smaller bays. We anchor around 13:00 in one of those inlets. The rest of the day we spend on swimming, reading, and catching up on our sleep. Seawater temperature is 24 degrees Celsius.

During the afternoon, three more ships join us, but it does not get busier than that. But we do get some impressive views during the early evening. There is a forest fire on the other (southern) side of Hvar. Pretty soon, two fire-fighting airplanes show up and start their work. For more than an hour they use Starogradski Zaljev for scooping up water. With their roaring engines they turn straight over our heads, and jump over the mountain to drop their load on the fire.

Marina Kaštela (Split) – Lučice (Brač)

Most charter companies have moved their operations from the old ACI Marina Split to the brand new Marina Kaštela. This harbour is quite close to Split Airport, which is very convenient for transfers. Furthermore, there is a large supermarket (Getro) just across the street.

Marina Kaštela has over 400 berths, most of which are being used by charters. On Fridays and Saturdays the marina is bustling with life, as all the boats come in, get cleaned and change crews. For the rest of the week it is very quiet, given that the harbour is not on one of the main sailing routes along the coast. You really need to sail into the bay Kaštelanski Zaljev to get there.

Our day started very early. Thus, we arrive in Split on time. We have plenty of time for our shopping and all the paperwork and check-ups. Around 15:00 we leave the harbour.

There is a 10 – 15 knots wind from NW (Maestral. We hoist the sails and leave Kaštelanski Zaljev, Our course is for Spliska Vrata, the channel between Brač and Šolta. There as a solid swell outside, sea state 4, meaning waves between 1.5 and 2.5 meters. We change course towards the east, our usual first stopover Lučice. There is no swell in the bay, and around 19:00 we pick up one of the free buoys at our second attempt.

Around 20:00 we have our first meal on board. We both realise that we did not eat anything since breakfast. After dinner we still spend some time in the cockpit watching the beautiful Milky Way, and go to bed early. The N / NE wind (Tramontana en Bura) stays all night, so we are rolling around in our bunk.

Dugi Otok and Mljet 2006 Route

Two weeks of sailing this time, leaving everything behind. Our ship this year was a Bénéteau Oceanis 373 and our route can be found below. We covered some vast distances: starting from Split to Dugi Otok, going down south to Mljet, and back to Split again. My estimate is that we sailed approximately 300 nautical miles, or over 550 kilometres. This sailing expedition was a mixture of some familiar and some new territory.

Weather circumstances were a mixed blessing. We started with some beautiful sunny weather. After that, we had some days of mixed clouds, fresh weather and even some storms. The second half of the second week was beautiful sunny again. Fortunately, this meant that there was no shortage of wind. This year we had a lot of northerlies (Bura, Tramontana en Maestral). Usually 10 – 15 knots, but heavier sometimes: 30 – 40 knots. We ‘clocked’ our ship at 9,2 knots top speed.

Lučice (Brač) – Split

Our last day, and we do not feel like heading back to Split. We do consider to sail for the Carribean instead, but that may cause some problems. Around 10:30 CET we leave Lučice and sail westward towards Splitska Vrata. The Bura is still on, 10 – 15 knots from the north-east, but the sea is calm.

After clearing Splitska Vrata, we continue in easterly direction towards Milna. Around noon we arrive at the nautical gas station in this town. We fill up the tank with 65 litres of diesel, not much for two weeks of sailing. We are just in time – when we head out to sea there are 5 more ships waiting in the bay to gas up.

Back in open water, the wind starts playing tricks on us. It is turning between north-east and north-west, varying in speed between 1 and 10 knots. That means floating for a while. Fortunately, the wind picks up later, so that we can still do some sailing. Around 15:30 CET we sail into the harbour of Split. Time for a beer.

ACI Marina Palmižana – Lučice (Brač)

Around 10:30 CET we leave the marina. It is a true sailing rush hour, and in a long line of sailing boats we sail in the direction of Rat Pelegrin, the westerly point of Hvar. We will try and reach Bol, a tourist resort on the southern shore of the island of Brač. There you have Dugi Rat (the Golden Horn), a famous pebble beach and surfers’ hotspot. Some friends of ours are staying there, and the plan is to drop by for a visit. The wind is north-westerly, 10 – 12 knots, and the long slow waves are coming in from the north-west. Around 11:00 CET we round Rat Pelegrin, heading in a north-easterly direction.

Half an hour later things turn nasty. The wind turns to north-east, and increases sharply. Pretty soon we are fighting 20 – 25 knots of wind and some serious waves. The 13:00 CET weather prognosis warns for 40 knots Bura wind. Most ferry services to and from Brač are stopped because of the weather conditions: wind and waves.

After some consideration we also abandon our attempts to reach Bol. Progress is non-existent, and mooring at Bol or anchoring at Dugi Rat would be suicide under these conditions. We head for Lučice instead, our trusted bay on the southern shore of Brač. Even in this well-protected bay, which is quite full given the early time of the day, we measure up to 20 knots of wind. Bura is showing her teeth again.

We take it easy for the rest of the day. A bit of swimming, a bit of sun-tanning, a bit of reading. Life can be difficult at times…