In September 2011, we sailed for two weeks along the Croatian coast. The ship was a Bénéteau Oceanis 323 and the entire route can be found below.
We logged approximately 240 nautical miles. From Split to Vis via Brac, Hvar and Korcula then through to Lastovo, then to Mljet. Then leisurely via Korcula and Hvar back to Split. We visited some new places again, and had 8 nights on our anchor (or buoy) and only two nights in a harbour.
The weather was very good, plenty of sunshine every day and temperatures up to 30 degrees Celsius and above. We had good sailing winds, especially from the NW, and the sea temperature was 24-25 degrees Celsius.
In early September the dark comes early (before 20:00). The temperature dropped overnight to around 20 degrees Celsius.
Today was a quiet day sailing from Sveti Klement to Korcula. We leave the Marina at 9:00. We hoist the sails almost immediately in 12-14 knots of wind from NW. Quietly we are heading along the harbour of Hvar town. Between the island and the lighthouse on Jerolim Pokonji Dol we change course to 145, towards the western end of Korčula. The next few hours pass quietly, although the wind disappears for an hour around lunch.
At 15:00 we drop anchor in Tri Luke. That is not easy, because of all the sea grass, and we have to re-anchor a few times. Other ships have the same problem. The NW wind stands firm during the evening too. During the night, we check the anchor several times, but fortunately we remain firmly fixed.
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.
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.
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.
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…
I wake up around sunrise (05:30 CET). We have to be back in Split in two days, so it is about time to head north again.. Unfortunately, both VHF as well as FM reception is not good in this bay. Thus, I have very little information about the weather prognosis. It is dry and sunny now, and the water of the bay is like a mirror. But that does not say much in the Adriatic…
Around 08:00 CET we lift anchor. We slowly manoeuvre through the dangerous entrance of Luka Polace towards open water. There we head north-west towards Korčula. At first we do some motorsailing, but soon the wind to 8 – 10 knots from the north-east. Bura-time again. It makes for some great sailing on a sea which is still completely empty at this time of the day. We have our breakfast at sea while approaching Korčula.
Pelješki Kanal is entered around 10:30 CET. While I am getting annoyed by the long row of holiday homes that stretches along the coast from Orebic towards the north-west (Croatia, take care what you do with your coastline!) we listen to the weather forecast. It is not good. We were already monitoring a beautiful thundercloud hanging above Korčula for a while. That seems to be the start of a serious storm from the south-west. They expect winds around 40 – 45 knots, 8 to 9 Beaufort.
The wind increases steadily to 15 – 20 knots (still from a north-easterly direction). With 7 knots of speed we fly towards Hvar. Everywhere around us we see the most beautiful rain- and thunder showers. A group of yachts behind us disappears behind a curtain of water. To our port side we see lightning shooting through the air. For the time being we sail nicely between those showers. Our secondary port of destination today is Šćedro, but the wind will have to turn southerly for that to be an option. Šćedro only has protected anchorages on its northern shores.
Near Šćedro the storm catches up with us. In a couple of minutes, the wind turns from north-east to south-west (180 degrees! A great phenomenon to witness). Rain pours down on us. We have taken down the bimini and have prepared for the storm in every possible way. Heavy weather suits are out, and both life-jackets and life-lines are ready for the grab. But things are rather easy so far, the wind does not get much stronger than 20 knots.
Thus, we continue sailing towards Hvar. With these south-westerly winds ACI Palmižana would be an ideal destination. Around 16:00 CEt the rain stops, we still have 6 miles to go towards Hvar. Around 17:00 CET we moor the boat on one of the last free spots in ACI Palmižana. With an extra bow-line, since the weather prognosis is now talking about Bura wind (north east) again! And Bura is the only wind that causes some swell in this well-protected harbour. But even in Bura, ACI Palmižana remains my favourite harbour along this coast.
That night we have a dinner at Meneghello. It is a fine restaurant, but take care! At 18:30 CET we managed to obtain the last non-reserved table here. The restaurant was still very quiet, and we had the first choice of fresh fish. Furthermore, it was on our table within 45 minutes. When the restaurant fills up, both staff and kitchen cannot handle it anymore. When ordering, people were told that it might be two (2) hours before the main dish would be on the table. This was being told when the wine and other drinks were on the table already… Our meal was excellent, though.
This time we sailed for a week from our home base in Split. The ship was a Bénéteau Oceanis 311 and the full route can be found below. A week with beautiful weather. Every day well above 30 degrees, and only one (partly) cloudy day. A week also with beautiful wind. Every day a good sailing wind, usually around 15 knots, mostly from the NW direction (Tramontana).
Today is ‘back to Split’ day, still 25 nautical miles. It is obvious that all charters have to be in harbour tomorrow morning: Sailing yachts are appearing from all directions towards Splitska Vrata. The water is busier than we saw anywhere this week.
With some light Jugo winds in our back, we slowly move through the Pakleni Kanal between Hvar and the Pakleni Otoci towards Rt Pelegrin (the most western tip of Hvar). There, we turn sharp north towards Splitska Vrata. Meanwhile, the wind changes to north-westerly directions (Tramontana again). By the time we reach Splitska Vrata, there is a stiff breeze. We turn towards Milna to gas up. Thanks to the great winds this week, we only used 10 litres of diesel.
We anchor for a couple of hours in one of the small bays just off Milna. One more swim, one more time enjoying the Adriatic sunshine. The water is clear, the sun is strong, and my beer is cold – what else do you want from life?
Around 17:00 we lift anchor and hoist the sails. Our course is 0 degrees, due north towards Split. In the end, the wind leaves us half an hour before we reach Split, so we have to motor the last few miles.
A strong Bura wakes me up at 06:00. Although this bay is well-sheltered, the swell is very uncomfortable. This is caused by water being ‘pushed’ between the islands of Lastovo and Prežba. Around 08:00, the rest of the crew is awake as well, and we make a go for it. Not too bad, given that we have to make it back to the mainland before the weekend. With over 20 knots of wind, and boat speed reaching 7.5 knots, we race towards Korčula (course 330), until…. At 09:00 the wind dies down completely. That is the Adriatic as I know it, always ready to throw another surprise at you!
For one hour, our boat speed ranges from 1 to 2 knots, until (just after 10:00) a light north-westerly wind arrives. Tramontana did not let us down this year. After passing Korčula again, wind speed is well over 20 knots again.
We would not like to risk another night without sleep, so we do not moor in Hvar. Instead, we go to ACI Marina Palmižana. A cute, small, and very quiet harbour. Proper showers for the first time this week. And some extra fun is added when our German neighbour oversteps his dinghy, landing himself in the water. In the evening, we have a great dinner at the Restaurant Meneghello.
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