An intense day today. From 00:00 hours I have anchor watch. During the night I see a large motoryacht and a sailboat drifting and anchoring again. Our 50 meters pf chain in the keep us happily fixed. But I get precious little sleep this night. Quiet periods are interspersed with gusts of 30 to 35 knots. The moon is almost full (it is 1 day after full moon) and the light adds to the spooky weather.
At 08:20 we listen to the weather forecast. Bura in the morning, with gusts to 35 knots. Nevertheless at 09:00 hours we attempt to leave Luka Polače. Halfway through the outward channel we turn around again. Gusts of 30 knots, and the sight of a more than choppy sea full of crests. After anchoring again I go and sleep for a few hours, to make up for last night.
Around noon we make a second attempt. The sky has been wiped clean by the Bura, all the clouds disappeared and have been replaced by a clear blue sky. This remains one of the special features that make this wind so impressive. Visibility has improved considerably. The wind has diminished somewhat, but there are still gusts of up to 25 knots. Yet we try. Near the shore there is a pretty steep swell, which seems logical on a lee shore. Once we are through this, it becomes easier. With a double reefed mainsail and 2/3 jib we set a course of 315 towards Korčula. It only takes a few hours to cover the distance between Mljet and Korčula, and just after 15:00 we moor in the marina. Time for the second shower of the week. At night we walk around Korčula, it remains a beautiful town.
The weather is different today. We found refuge in Luka Polače before, and this protected bay serves us well today. Around midnight a stromg esterly wind appears. Fortunately, we do not run into problems. Some other yachts, however, have to re-anchor during the night.
Things get quiet during the morning, and a number of ships lift anchor and leave. After the 08.20 weather forecast on Dubrovnik Radio we go ahsore for fresh bread, some small groceries and a strong coffee. Polače did not change much: a few restaurants, a small supermarket and a bakery. No Internet-shop anymore: there was an internet connection in one shop in 2007, but the nearest connection is now 2 kilometers away. The weather forecast predicts rain, thundershowers en fierce gusts of wind for later in the day. And the weather forecast is right. Around noon we get a huge rainshower, and during the afternoon a thundershower passes our anchorage The water dripping from our bimini fills a whole bucket in less than 45 minutes, and we use it to clean our cockpit.
We keep quiet for the rest of the day, some reading and between thundershowers also a swim. During the afternoon we stop by a British ship that anchored next to us. Its homebase has been Dubrovnik for the last four years. The heat has gone with the rain, and the weather is lovely.
Early evening, our neighbor comes by to warn that 50 knots squalls are predicted for the night and morning. We make sure our deck is empty and set out some extra anchor chain for security, we now have over 50 meters of chain in the water.
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…
I wake up at 04:00 hours. Everything is quiet, but I do get up and check our anchor. Outside, there is no wind and the sky is clear. You can see the stars and the moon is almost full. Our ship is anchored rock solid. The temperature is nice, and I stay outside for a while to enjoy the peace and quiet.
After a few more hours of sleep I do get up around 07:30, Time for a swim, and listening to the weather forecast via VHF. Breakfast after that, another swim, and some time for reading. We lift our anchor around 10:30. Immediately outside the cove we hoist our sails, the wind is northwesterly (Tramontana), 6 – 9 knots. The barometer rose 4 hPa to 1018 hPa since 08:00. Our course is 150 and boat speed is 4 knots while we sail towards the western coast of the island of Lastovo. Around 12:30 we pass the rock Plič Pod Mrčaru on the northern side of Lastovo. One hour later, we sail around the island of Bratin. Soon after that we see the lighthouse at Rt Skriževa and Rt Struga, and around 14:45 we drop our anchor in Skrivena Luka.
According to the pilot guides, Skrivena Luka is the finest anchorage around Lastovo. We are not 100% convinced, the protection against winds is not as good as we hoped for. There are some holiday homes around the bay, and on its western shore there is a restaurant with its own pier (which is rather busy). Together with four other ships we anchored in the northern section of the bay, in 5 meters of water.
That evening the winds turns towards north, and increases to 15 – 20 knots. Around 19:30 I notice that the other boats are coming closer. My reference points on the coast have moved as well. In other words: our anchor started dragging… At first we try to re-anchor close to our original anchoring spot, increase our scope from 1 in 4 (20 meters of chain) to 1 in 6 (30 meters of chain). But it does not work, within 30 minutes we are dragging again.
By now it is dark, and it is time for drastic measures. We switch on the navigation lights and lift our anchor again. We move towards the center of the bay, far from the other yachts. In 7 meters of water we drop 50 meters of chain, increasing our scope to 1 in 7. Using the engine in reverse, we help the anchor dig in. It seems to work.
Soon after that we are visited by a dinghy with some crew members from a German yacht, moored at the pier. They saw us drag and re-anchor, and wanted to ensure that we are alright. By then we have the situation under control, but I do appreciate their offer. It shows the true spirit of yachting! During the next hour, I check our position a number of times. We are anchored rock solid.
That night, I sleep in the cockpit again. Every two hours I get up and check the anchor. Around 02:00 the wind dies. From that moment on I sleep a bit more comfortable. However, I do feel rather exhausted when I get up at 07:00. This is vacation, remember…
I share my story about the dragging anchor in Skrivena Luka with a friend of mine, who is a local skipper, later that week. He explains the mystery to me. The northern section of Skrivena Luka has a rocky bottom with a thin layer of sand and mud. Your anchor will not dig in here. The central and southern sections of the bay do have a proper layer of sand and mud, which will hold your anchor well. Something to remember.
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.
After our previous sailing adventure, we took another week of sailing in September. This time we stayed in the Croatian coastal waters. The ship was a Bénéteau Oceanis 323 and the route can be found here. We travelled approximately 175 nautical miles in total. From Split and Hvar we sailed to Vis and Korčula, where we did a complete tour around the island. Despite having just one week, we did visit some new places. The only harbours included were our starting point Marina Kaštela in Split and ACI Marina Korčula. The other nights we spent at anchor in various bays.
The weather was better than we have ever had during our sailing. Every day we had plenty of sun and temperatures of 30 degrees Celsius and above. We had two rain showers, both fell during the night. And, very unusual in such weather, we had excellent sailing wind. Most days the wind started around noon, usually from the northwest (Maestral Tramontana). The wind usually peaked around 15-16 knots (Force 4), sometimes 22-24 knots (6 Beaufort). The seawater temperature was 24-25 degrees Celsius – a great swimming temperature. In the early morning the water was slightly warmer than the air, ideal for an early morning swim.
Darkness fell 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. However, various charterers complained that the summer had been relatively quiet. Due to the economic situation, there were fewer Italian tourists than in previous years.