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.
Early in the morning a south-easterly wind starts blowing, about 10 knots. After breakfast we listen to the weather forecast via Dubrovnik Radio. The general weather picture is not so good, as we already saw when checking the long-term weather forecasts in an internet café in Dubrovnik. Today we will have a southeasterly wind of up to 20 knots, and tomorrow will be cloudy with an increasing risk for rain- and thundershowers.
We lift anchor around 08:30 and leave the harbour. Both mainsail and genua go up immediately. By now the wind is 12 – 14 knots, with gusts of 18 knots. Our course is 305 along the islands of Jakljan, Kosmeč, Goleč and Crkvina, then sailing between Tajan and Jakljan via the channel Veli Vratnik along Olipa towards the open sea. Already in the Veli Vratnik channel we have to deal with worsening sea conditions, and waves up to 2 meters. We keep our course of 230 towards the coast of Mljet island, where the sea is more quiet. Then we change our course to 280 and follow the coast of Mljet in a northwesterly direction. The wind varies between 12 and 18 knots from a southeasterly direction, our boat speed is well over 5 knots.
During our trip, dark and threatening clouds drop down on us from the hills and mountains of Mljet. Fortunately we do not get any rain, but it looks impressive. We pass Prožura and Sobra during the next few hours, and around 11:30 we see Hr Kula, the rock with a light on top in front of the southern entrance to Luka Polače. We sail between the mainland of Mljet and the islet of Kobrava, and inside we take our sails down. The last mile is done on engine, and around 13:00 we drop our anchor in the northeastern corner of Uvala Rogač, the cove across from the small village of Polače.
That afternoon the clouds disappear, and we can still enjoy some sunshine. That evening the Parc rangers of Mljet National Parc come by to collect the entrance fee of 90 kuna per person. The evening is hot and humid.
The morning is spent finding provisions, drinking coffee in the harbour restaurant and preparing the boat for departure. The prognosis for today promises 6 – 12 knots of Jugo, wind from the south-east. This is perfect for us, given that we are on the most south-eastern point of our trip.
Around 10:30 we drop our mooring lines and leave ACI Marina Dubrovnik. We follow the Rijeka Dubrovačka downstream. Upon entering the bay of Gruž, we hoist our sails. There is 8 knots of wind from south to southeasterly directions. We sail out of the bay towards the open sea, and change our course to the west. The following hours we sail along the islands Koločep and Lopud. After passing Rt Kuk we sail a more northwesterly course along the island of Šipan. Around 14:00 we sail through Prolaz Harpoti and, after taking our sails down, moor in the harbour of Šipanska Luka. It is very quiet here, especially when the wind dies down later that afternoon. That evening we stay out in the cockpit until late, with some nice food and drinks.
Today will be an easy day. The forecast predicts southwesterly wind, turning to southeasterly (Jugo) later. We lift anchor around 10:30 and motor through Prolaz Harpoti towards open sea. We hoist our sails in 8 knots of wind. First we make a long run on course 210 towards open sea. We take continuous bearings on the island of Lopud (Rt Kuk), and as soon as we clear that cape, we tack and change course to 120. This takes us past Lopud and Koločep. Sailing between Rt Bezdanj and the islet of Grebeni we enter Velika Vrata, and past the island of Daksa we enter the Rijeka Dubrovačka, motoring under the Franjo Tudjman bridge. A few miles upstream we reach ACI Marina Dubrovnik, but we stop for fuel at the gas station first. Around 15:00 we moor our ship in the marina. The rest of the day is spent cleaning up both the ship and ourselves, and that evening we visit Dubrovnik. It seems to get busier every time we come here. With three large cruise ships in front of the Old City and in the harbour, the town is full of tourists.
A swim, breakfast, and at 08:20 the weather forecast via Dubrovnik Radio VHF (we are too far away for Split Radio by now). The great daily morning routine on our ship. The weather prognosis is the same as yesterday, and around this time the air temperature is 25 degrees Celsius. We decide to sail eastward along the southern coast of the island of Mljet. Our objective for the day is Uvala Saplunara, a bay on the southeastern tip of Mljet. We lift anchor around 09:00 and leave Skrivena Luka. Once outside, we change course to 090, eastwards. A number of other ships take a more northeasterly course, probably towards Korčula or the northern side of Mljet. We want to keep the Vrhovnjaci, the chain of rocks and small islets east of Lastovo, to our port side and pass south of them.
The southwesterly wind, which was promised by the forecast, is nowhere to be seen. Instead, we have an easterly wind, straight on our bow. Around 10:30 the wind turns to north-east, 7 knots. Time to hoist our sails. At 11:30 we have the lighthouse of Glavat, the most easterly of the Vrhovnjaci, due north at 000 degrees. Not much later, the wind dies down again and we have to switch to the engine. We pass Goli Rat, the western cape of Mljet, around 13:00 hours. The wind returns not much later, and now it is the promised westerly (6 knots).
We hoist the sails again and continue along the southern shore of Mljet. There is just one other ship sailing on a westerly course, for the rest it is just us.
At 15:20 in the afternoon we listen to the afternoon weather forecast on Dubrovnik Radio. By that time we are 5 nautical miles west of Uvala Saplunara. For the evening and night a southwesterly wind is predicted. And Uvala Saplunara is completely open to the south-west. After last night’s experience in Skrivena Luka, we are looking for a quiet place to sleep. But if plan A fails, there is always the rest of the alphabet…
While passing Uvala Saplunara one hour later, we see a number of ships anchoring there. We continue eastwards and round Rt Gruj, the southeasterly tip of Mljet. Then it is course 055 towards the northeast, aiming for Prolaz Harpoti, the narrow channel between the islands of Šipan and Jakljan. These are part of the Elaphite Islands, a string of islands between Dubrovnik and the Pelješac peninsula. Prolaz Harpoti is a beautiful narrow channel, covered on both sides with strong-smelling pine trees.
After the passage through the channel, we go starboard out, sailing into the harbour of Šipanska Luka. By now it is 18:00 hours, and it turned into a long sailing day. We find a safe anchoring spot in the harbor and call it a day. Šipanska Luka looks nice and rather authentic when seen from our cockpit, but we do not have the energy anymore to launch the dinghy and go for some sightseeing. That night I sleep like a log, although I am afraid that the whole town heard my snoring…
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