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.
We lift anchor at around 08:00 and slowly motor out of the bay. There is virtually now wind outside, and the sea is calm. Our course is ENE towards the northern shores of Šolta. While the sun warms up quickly we have an easy breakfast. Around 10:00 we arrive in Rogač. At the gas station we fill up: less than 50 litres of diesel in two weeks. That is not bad at all.
After this, we move one bay further east: Uvala Nečujam. Our last hours of swimming, snorkeling, picking up some sun and some lunch. This bay is an excellent location for this purpose. It is large, deep inland and an excellent anchoring ground. We are obviously not the only ship that has picked this bay for this purpose. However, I would not want to use this bay during Bura and other northerly winds. It is exposed in that direction
Around 14:30 we lift anchor and hoist our sails. Outside the bay we find a NW wind (Maestral), 10 – 12 knots. Reaching 5 to 6 knots ourselves, we sail towards the entry of Kaštelanski Zaljev (the bay at the western side of Split, home to all the Kaštelas and to Marina Kaštela). From all bays, channels and straits around us, large numbers of sailing boats appear, heading in that same direction. The charter fleets are returning to their harbour. It is a beautiful sight: a large number of white sails in a long line. Because of the excellent sailing conditions this last trip passes way too fast: around 16:30 we sail into Marina Kaštela.
Around ten we leave Milna harbour. Outside, there is a breeze (8 knots) from NNW. We hoist our sails and sail west, along the islet of Mrduja and turn to port through Splitska Vrata.
At ‘the other side’ the wind turns to WNW and slowly increases to 12 – 14 knots. We quietly tack in a westerly direction along the southern coast of the island of Šolta. Around 14:30 we arrive in Uvala Šešula which can be found at the south-western tip of the island. It is a narrow bay and it is busy there, but we are able to moor our boat three-point in the back end of the bay.
Again, we take it easy for the rest of the day, enjoying the beautiful weather and surroundings. That night, 17 ships are anchored in this small bay. It makes me wonder how things were in the real high season (July and August). Later that night, when sitting in the cockpit with a glass of wine, we enjoy the enormous amount of stars as well as the clearly visible Milky Way. Our reward is a rain of falling stars.
It was a cold night, very cold. We used all blankets on the boat. Inland, there is snow in the mountains. First snow comes early this year. The northerly winds carry some of that cold to the coast. Fortunately, with the sun climbing above the mountains, a comfortable temperature returns rapidly. One advantage: early morning, the seawater temperature (20 degrees C) is better than air, making it easier to jump in. We spend some time snorkelling before breakfast, enjoying the large schools of small fish.
We take it easy that morning. Around noon, we clean up the boat, take in the mooring lines, take the dinghy on board and lift the anchor. There is a light wind from N to NW directions. We hoist our sails while still in the bay, and with just one tack we sail out through Starogradski Zaljev and into the Hvarski Kanal. The wind changes constantly between N and W, varying between 5 and 15 knots.
Using the wind, we enter the Splitska Vrata in a nice curve. As soon as we reach the northern side of this channel the wind just disappears completely. Splitska Vrata is notorious for this phenomenon: totally different circumstances on either side of the channel. After some waiting to see whether the wind returns we start the engine and enter Milna bay. At around 16:00 we take a berth in a quiet corner of ACI Marina Milna. During the following hours the marina (which includes a large part of the village quay) gets completely filled up with charter yachts in all shapes and (mainly large) sizes.
In the morning we move to Stari Grad – after lifting 20 meters of anchor chain and the anchor itself by hand. In town, we take a mooring on the quay. With some effort, the controlbox gets replaced. We have a working anchor winch again.
During the morning, the weather prognosis predicts a strong Bura that will start later during the day. Indeed, while we are having pizza for lunch in one of the small restaurants along the quay the Bura starts blowing, becoming notably stronger within minutes.
Soon, the harbour starts filling up with ships looking for a safe haven. For us, the Bura is a reason to leave the harbour as soon as possible. While the Bura reaches 25 knots we drop our lines. Using our genoa we sail back to Uvala Tiha. There, we moor the ship solid on its anchor and the two mooring lines stern to shore. Late that afternoon, the Bura diminishes. A skipper we know from years back visits us from one of the other boats in the bay for a talk and some beer. For the rest, it is a quiet evening.
With a beautiful SE breeze (Jugo) of 10 – 15 knots we leave Uvala Vinogradisce at around 09:30. Outside, we hoist our sails and set a course in a general SW direction towards Vis. After about 15 minutes we meet a group of dolphins. Three of them jump around our boat and swim along for a short while. We decide not to run for our camera, but to enjoy this beautiful experience. Therefore: no photos…
Using the favourable winds we round Rat Pelegrin at around 11:30, moving to the northern side of Hvar. Around 13:00 we arrive back in Luka Tiha. While mooring our ship here, we experience the first material breakdown in 5 years of sailing, Our electronic anchor winch is dead. After we finish mooring the boat by hand, anchor on the bow and two mooring lines from the stern to the shore, we contact our friends at Ultra Sailing. With telephone support we conclude that the controlbox for the winch must be the cause of the problem. We agree to move to Stari Grad the next morning. They will make sure that a replacement controlbox is available, including somebody to do the repairs.
Thus, we are ‘forced’ to relax for the rest of the day. Life can be tough… Air temperature is 28 degrees Celsius, water temperature is 20, and thus swimming and relaxing is no major punishment. Around our boat there is a large school of fish, and there is plenty to be seen in the rest of the bay. During the evening, our German neighbours (three elderly gentlemen with a Bavaria 39) give a free concert of sailors’ shanties and other German classics. Somehow the singing with the guitar does fit the atmosphere.
Early in the morning we leave Uvala Vinogradisce to do a reconnaissance of the eastern section of the Pakleni Otoci. We check out Uvala Stipanska at Marinkovac island, but find it is too deep to be a proper anchoring ground. The bay on the southern side of Jerolim is too shallow and narrow for our taste.
After that, we try and find a place in the harbour of Hvar town. That seems to be even more impossible than other years. The quay is packed with mainly large motor yachts. In the south-western corner of the harbour some sailing yachts are anchoring. Packed close together in water of over 20 meters depth. No Hvar for us this year. We move to the second bay in western direction coming from the harbour and anchor for a few hours. Here we enjoy ham and eggs for breakfast. After that, we take the dinghy and go buy provisions in the town of Hvar.
Around 11:00 we move our boat to the little bay on the northern side of Jerolim for some swimming. After lunch at around 14:00 we take the passage between the islets Marinkovac and Planikovac and return to Uvala Vinogradisce. The rest of the afternoon is spent on Rest & Recreation. That night we have dinner at the Restaurant Meneghello on Sveti Klement.
Around 09:30 we leave the harbour, with 20 – 25 knots of NW wind (Maestral). We sail in a W direction through the Pelješki Kanal in the general direction of Hvar. During the morning the wind steadily decreases to 12 – 15 knots, and later to 10 – 12 knots. Around 15:00 we slowly pass Šćedro towards Hvar and the Pakleni Otoci.
Near the coast of Hvar, the WNW wind becomes rather interesting. One moment it crushes down on us over the mountain ridges of Hvar, reaching 25 knots and higher. The next moment we have 5 knots or even less. We are sailing close to some Austrian yachts, and it is a beautiful sight to see how everybody responds to those gusts in his/her own way. At some stage one of the yachts turns 360 degrees around its axis when a sudden gust of wind hits. The genoa gets caught around the forestay, and it takes them some time to untangle that.
Around 18:00 we enter Uvala Vinogradisce, one of the bays on the southern side of Sveti Klement. It is busy there, around 15 yachts are anchored in this bay. We find a free spot at the eastern side, and a very happy with our limited draught of less than 1.5 meters.
That evening, a wedding is being celebrated in one of the restaurants on the shore. Fortunately it ends early (which is not usual for a Croatian wedding – they tend to continue until early morning) Furthermore, we see a Belgian yacht plough the entire bay in an attempt to anchor. Time after time they drop their (rather light) anchor and motor full speed backwards. After some time they give up and leave the bay, probably to find another field for ploughing…
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…
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.
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