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.
The next morning we are woken up early by the water police. Even in this quiet corner. They check our papers and especially the papers of the boat. In recent years, many illegal charters entered Croatia, and it seems that this finally leads to more controls.
In the company of a school fish we swim around and then have breakfast. Then it’s time to start the journey back to Split. We pick up the anchor around 8:30 and hoist the sails in 6 knots of wind from NW. Outside the bay the wind increased to 11 knots and soon we pass Rt Kabal, the north-western tip of Hvar.
With course 320 we head to Splitska Vrata, where we arrive at 11:00. Then we are heading east to Milna to fill up with diesel. We only consumed 30 litres and we are proud of. The fuel stop takes time, as usual, at the end of the charter week it gets very busy.
Once we leave the bay of Milna the wind lets us down. On this last day we are therefore still forced to use the engine. It does not bother us, we are looking back on another wonderful sailing trip. Late in the afternoon our ship is at its usual place in Marina Kaštela again. For us, unfortunately, the journey home starts.
The day starts quiet as usual, but when the wind arrives around 10:30 we immediately get the anchor up and hoist the sails. With a light SE wind in the back we sail westward through Zaljev Vela Luka. Around 12:00 we pass Rt Proizd. We change course to 320 towards Hvar and Pakleni Otoci. The wind steadily increases to 12 knots and with a speed of more than 5 knots Hvar is approaching fast. We sail between the island and the lighthouse on Jerolim Pokonji by Dol and pass along the harbour of Hvar (busy as always) via the Pakleni Kanal. Less than an hour later, we round Rt Pelegrin, the western point of Hvar. Our course is now eastern, and along the coast of Hvar we sail into the Starigradski Zaljev. The afternoon is already over when we enter Luka Tiha, the collection bays on the north side of Starigradski Zaljev. Here we find our peaceful anchorage. A sturdy sailing day is concluded with a hearty meal.
After a night like yesterday, waking up is slow today. Around 9:00 pm I fetch some fresh bread at the bakery (very convenient, most bakeries and other shops that are open on Sunday morning). Moments later, we take a hearty breakfast with fried eggs. After breakfast we talk for an hour with our neighbors, who also sail in Croatia for several years. They are also under the impression that it is quieter this year than other years. We suspect that the sharp rise in prices could be a cause for this.
Just after 10:00 we leave Brna. On our engine we leave the bay and once out we hoist the sails immediately. There is a SE wind (Jugo) of about 8 knots. We sail westward, past the small islands off the south coast of Korcula. At 12:45 we drop our anchor in Tri Luke for lunch and a refreshing swim. The SE wind brings more swell here than we expected, an uncomfortable sea rolls deep into the bay. Something to remember.
Shortly after 14:00 we pick up our anchor again and hoist the sails immediately. The wind has increased to 10-12 knots. Around 14:45 we pass Rt Velo Dance, the southwestern tip of Korcula. We change course to NE and sail into Zaljev Vela Luka. We pass Gubeša, which we visited earlier. It looks very busy today. Just before Vela Luka on our port side we find Uvala Plitvine. There is a hotel, but nothing else. It’s pretty deep in the bay, so the anchoring opportunities for small vessels are limited. We settle on the western side, close to the hotel. Around 16:30 we anchor in 10 feet of water. There is already a ship on the east side, with stern lines to shore. Shortly before dark another ship arrives, which also anchors on the east side.
With our small boat rather encapsulated lie between larger ships, we wait until our neighbors leave. There is hardly any wind, so we are not in a hurry. At 10:30 we leave the harbour, and at 11:00 we hoist the sails. There is a very light breeze, so it’s almost floating.
Between the islands we pass a small fishing boat that just took in its net. We follow it with interest. According to the news, the catches along the Croatian coast have plummeted this year. It is not yet certain if this is due to the extremely hot summer, with the sea temperature therefore higher than normal, or whether it is because of overfishing. These small fishermen catch very little. But one fish pleases him. It is a Lica (Lichia amia), according to his cries at least four pounds (dva Kila!). While shouting ‘Lica! Lica! Lica’ he dances on his boat. I understand his joy. First quality fish sells for 350-400 kuna per kilogram in the restaurants. Assuming he gets half of it, he certainly has reason for rejoice. 400 Kuna is more than EUR 50, which is still a lot of money here.
Around 11:30 pm we reach Rt Ražnjić. A little after noon, the wind increase slightly, 4 to 5 knots from SW (Jugo). The next few hours we sail with a speed of about 2.5 knots along the always quiet south side of the island of Korcula. Sadly the wind completely dies down at 16.00 and we have to continue on engine.
At 17:00 we sail into the port of Brna. This is a small town in a bay in the central southern coast of Korcula. Not really a popular destination for sailors. There is a small quay which is occupied in part by a local fishing boat. Electricity and water are available. We put out our anchor with 35 meters of chain, and moor the boat stern to the quay. A little later we are joined by another ship, a Sun Odyssey 32. When the harbormaster pops up, the port turns out not to be cheap, it is charging the same rate as Vela Luka. I pay 220 Kuna (EUR 30) for our boat of 33 feet. That is excluding water and electricity, for which 50 Kuna to be paid extra. The tidal difference is rather larger for Croatian standards, nearly half a meter. Because the quay is quite high this ensures some thrilling scenes when boarding that evening after a hearty dinner with some nice wine…
Today is a quiet day. In the morning we take the dinghy ashore for fresh bread and strong coffee. Then a slow breakfast and at 10:45 we lift our anchor. In the wake of the large yacht ‘Never Say Never’ we sail through the most western entrance Luka Polače to the open sea.
Once outside, it appears that we are actually too early, there is no wind. We have to wait until around noon before we catch a breeze from the south, 4 knots, and we can hoist the sails. In the next hour, the wind turns slightly to the SW and increases to 5-7 knots. We head towards Korčula, course 315. At 14:00 we are 1 NM east of the island Bisače, at the entrance of the Peljeski Kanal. We sail between the islands and quickly see Korcula appear. At 15:30 we are moored in the ACI Marina. Again, nothing has changed except the prices. For a night for a vessel of 10 meters we pay 420 kuna, more than EUR 55.
We use this stop to replenish the stocks and do the laundry. In the evening we go out for dinner at Adio Mare in the Old Town. We notice that the marina is much emptier than before.
When I wake up at 07:30, the bay is quiet. We have breakfast inside because of a swarm of wasps, and after a refreshing swim, we hoist our anchor around 08:30. We get the weather report now via the smartphone in via www.meteo.hr. Mobile internet does not have the charm of a crackling VHF radio, but we can at least see the weather now (provided we have mobile reception). The prediction is good, wind from N to NW. We want to continue eastward to Mljet.
Right outside the bay we hoist the sails. With a NW wind of 12 knots, we first sail a southerly course. Once we are free of the island we sail directly east, heading 90. A little after 09:30 we pass the lighthouse on Rt Struga, the southernmost point of Lastovo. Behind this is Skrivena Luka, which we visited already. Then we turn our course to 80. Thus we remain south of the Sestrice and Otoci Vrhvnjaci, the group of rocks and small islands between Lastovo and Mljet.
In the next hour, we still have a small race with a catamaran. Eventually we “win”…
Just after noon we pass the lighthouse on Glavat, the easternmost of the Otoci Vrhvnjaci. The wind varies between 8 and 15 knots, and rises a bit as we near Mljet. We have to jibe a few times, but just after 15:00 we take the sails down and motor into Luka Polače, one of our favorite bays on the southern coast. It is relatively quiet, and at 15:45 our ship is at anchor and we are in the water.
During the night one ship gets adrift in the bay, but fortunately they can re-anchor. When we wake in the morning the wind is already strong, 10-12 knots from NW. We do not manage to receive a VHF Weather forecast in this bay. Both Split Radio and Dubrovnik Radio are not available.
After a refreshing swim and breakfast we hoist anchor at 09:30. A solid lump of mud proves that the anchor had dug in well. Still in the bay we hoist our mainsail, and with 12 knots tailwind we glide out of Tri Luke.
Outside we meet firm conditions. There is 16-18 knots of wind from NW, and a strong swell. We sail a southerly course, which brings us to the west of Lastovo. Because of the strong wind we cover the distance rapidly, and about two hours later we pass the rock Pod Mrčaru on the NW side of Lastovo. An hour later we sail between the islands Vlasnik and Bratin into the bay Velji Lag. In the southwestern cove we have been before, but this time we anchor in the northwest cove Jurjeva Luka. It is a former Yugoslav army base, there are still some dilapidated buildings and we see some tunnels into the mountain. The soil here is sandy so the anchor holds well. The wind from N to NW occasionally gusts over the mountain, but otherwise it’s quiet here. On one of the banks, we see a herd of goats and at the entrance of the bay a ship of the Croatian water police has its mooring.
We swim and have lunch, and then decide to stay here. We are joined by two American ships and a Slovene. By evening, the rangers visit to collect 25 kuna per person for access to the Lastovo National Park.
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.