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.
During the night the wind turns northeasterly (Bura), with nasty gusts over our cockpit. Around 04:00 I go inside, to wake up again around 07:00. That is a great time of the day for another refreshing swim.
While having breakfast, we discuss a number of possible plans for the day. We do not really have an objective, but plan to go where the wind will carry us. Will it be Jelsa, Sumartin, Vis or Komiža? We listen to the 07:45 weather forecast on Split Radio via VHF. Expectations are not very good for the morning, predicting local rain- and thundershowers. By that time we see dark threatening clouds on the northern horizon. Around 09:00 we drop our line and move south, our course is 210 towards Rt Pelegrin, the western tip of the island of Hvar. Our boat speed is 4.5 knots, in 12 knots of northerly wind. The rain shower follows us when we round Rt Pelegrin at 10:15 and when we sail through the Pakleni Kanal along Hvar-town towards the lighthouse on the island of Pokonji Dol. Things look busy as usual in Hvar town, so we do not even try to moor there.
Keeping Pokonji Dol to port, we change our course to 140 towards the western point of the island of Korčula. It is now 10:45 and we leave the rain showers behind, sailing towards the blue skies. We make good speed in 10 – 12 knots of wind, and around 15:00 we round Rt Velo Dance, the southwestern tip of Korčula. Half an hour later we drop anchor in Tri Luke bay. At that moment we are the only ship there, but later that afternoon two more ships arrive. The rest of the afternoon we take it easy, go swimming and read.
Marina Kaštela is busy, noisy and hot. No trace of an economic crisis here. Hundreds of charters are sailing again this Saturday. We check our ship and find that everything is in fine working order. With our luggage and provisions aboard we hurry to leave this busy harbour. Our plan is to sail along the northern coast of Brač in an easterly direction.
Upon leaving the harbour around 15:00 hours, we find an easterly wind outside the bay. Since we do not feel like motoring for 25 NM, we decide to head due south towards Splitska Vrata, the channel between Brač and Šolta. After passing this narrow strait we head due east towards Lučice bay, where we have spent the night more often. We do find that prices have more than doubled since 2007, so I think this will be our last stay here.
Around 18:30 we pick up a buoy and take a refreshing swim. The air temperature is well over 30 degrees Celsius, and the seawater temperature is 25 degrees Celsius. Some dinner after that, and around 20:30 the lights go out (except, of course, the mooring light). Because of the heat I spend this night in the cockpit.
This year we went sailing for two weeks in September. Our ship this year was the same Bénéteau Oceanis 311 (Tamara) we used in 2005 and our route can be found below. The trip was a combination of days covering relatively large distances, and days spent in bays for necessary rest & relaxation. We visited quite a few new places.
The weather was good. Again, a lot of northerly winds (Bura, Tramontana and Maestral). Usually between 10 – 15 knots, sometimes a bit more, but never more than 25 knots. We started with some beautiful summer weather, followed by a few days of cloudy, cool and rainy weather. Near the end of the first week temperatures were back at 26 – 28 degrees Celsius and the clouds were gone, and we kept that type of weather until the end of the trip. Because of the cold weather in the first week, seawater temperatures did drop from 23 – 24 degrees Celsius to 20 – 21 degrees Celsius.
We did notice that we were sailing later in the season. Darkness came early (no later than 20:00) and occasionally the nights became very cold. Furthermore, most harbours and bays were busier than we were used during our ‘normal’ sailing period late May.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
The sun wakes me up at dawn, and I quietly leave the cabin to sit on the deck. Everything is wet from the morning dew. I sit down on the foredeck. Birds are singing, the pine trees are smelling, the water is like a mirror. There are no other sounds than the natural sounds. Life does not get much better than this.
The sea water temperature is 18.5 degrees Celsius. Probably an effect of the late Spring that we had all over Europe. It does not really invite for a swim. After breakfast we leave the bay around 09:30 CET. The south easterly wind (Jugo) is back again, and we sail in a north westerly direction with a speed of 5 knots. Our objective for today is Rogoznica, to be used as a first stop on our way to the Kornati islands.
Around 11:00 CET the wind disappears. This usually means a change of wind direction, but not this time. After half an hour the wind starts blowing again from the south, growing slowly (as Jugo should) from 7 to 15 knots.
At around 14:30 CET we meet our first dolphins. A couple of miles from Rat Ploča a group of five dolphins appears to keep us company. We get the cameras out and start filming / clicking, hoping that you press the button at the exact moment that they appear above water.
Around 16:30 CET we sail into Rogoznica bay. We moor along one of the piers of Marina Frapa. Time for a shower, which (together with some electricity and fresh water) is the only reason to enter a harbour every now and then.
That evening we find a restaurant in Rogoznica where they still bake their pizza in a genuine wood oven – Restaurant Fortuna. They prove to us again that this is the only way to prepare a genuine pizza. Recommended!
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