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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 here. 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. 

Day 1 : Marina Kaštela (Split) – Lučice (Brač)

Most charter companies have moved their operations from the old ACI Marina Split to the brand new Marina Kaštela. This harbour is quite close to Split Airport, which is very convenient for transfers. Furthermore, there is a large supermarket (Getro) just across the street.

Marina Kaštela has over 400 berths, most of which are being used by charters. On Fridays and Saturdays the marina is bustling with life, as all the boats come in, get cleaned and change crews. For the rest of the week it is very quiet, given that the harbour is not on one of the main sailing routes along the coast. You really need to sail into the bay Kaštelanski Zaljev to get there.

Our day started very early. Thus, we arrive in Split on time. We have plenty of time for our shopping and all the paperwork and check-ups. Around 15:00 we leave the harbour.

There is a 10 – 15 knots wind from NW (Maestral. We hoist the sails and leave Kaštelanski Zaljev, Our course is for Spliska Vrata, the channel between Brač and Šolta. There as a solid swell outside, sea state 4, meaning waves between 1.5 and 2.5 meters. We change course towards the east, our usual first stopover Lučice. There is no swell in the bay, and around 19:00 we pick up one of the free buoys at our second attempt.

Around 20:00 we have our first meal on board. We both realise that we did not eat anything since breakfast. After dinner we still spend some time in the cockpit watching the beautiful Milky Way, and go to bed early. The N / NE wind (Tramontana en Bura) stays all night, so we are rolling around in our bunk.

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Day 2 : Lučice (Brač) – Luka Tiha (Hvar)

The long day we had yesterday is taking its toll today. Therefore, we are taking it easy. This means only a short hop today. We drop our buoy at around 10:30. Outside the bay, the wind is 8 – 12 knots from NNE. We sail a SE course, around 150 degrees. After little more than one hour the wind turns to SSW and weakens. Around 12:00 we enter Starogradski Zaljev. That is the deep bay on the NW-side of the island of Hvar. At its end you will find the town of Stari Grad.

At the northern side of Starogradski Zaljev we find Luka Tiha. That is a collection of larger and smaller bays. We anchor around 13:00 in one of those inlets. The rest of the day we spend on swimming, reading, and catching up on our sleep. Seawater temperature is 24 degrees Celsius.

During the afternoon, three more ships join us, but it does not get busier than that. But we do get some impressive views during the early evening. There is a forest fire on the other (southern) side of Hvar. Pretty soon, two fire-fighting airplanes show up and start their work. For more than an hour they use Starogradski Zaljev for scooping up water. With their roaring engines they turn straight over our heads, and jump over the mountain to drop their load on the fire.

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Day 3 : Luka Tiha (Hvar) – Lovišće (Šćedro)

Around 08:00 I leave the water after a refreshing early-morning swim. And right at that moment a group of fish goes ballistic. Around our ship, hundreds of small fish jump up from the water. I just about manage to shoot a photo of it.

Around 10:00 we lift our anchor. At that time, there is virtually no wind at all. One hour later, we have a light northerly wind, and we hoist our sails. Our aim is to round Rat Pelegrin, the westerly point of the island of Hvar. We round this cape at around 12:30. It is very busy there, and the harbour of Hvar-town (which we pass half an hour later) is busy as usual. By now, the wind has turned to W, and with the wind in our back our speed is now 4 – 5 knots.

At 16:00 we take our sails down just north of the island of Šćedro. On our motor we enter Lovišće bay. This is a great bay for spending the night, as long as the wind is not coming from a northerly direction. We drop our anchor in the south-easterly corner of the bay, and also put two mooring lines to the coast – the traditional three-point mooring. It really stabilises the boat and makes for a much more comfortable anchorage. Unfortunately, the bay is not that quiet during the evening. There are three restaurants that use generators for electricity.

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Day 4 : Lovišće (Šćedro) – Orebić

The wind starts early this morning. We have 15 knots of SE wind (Jugo) in our bay. With a reefed mainsail and half a genoa, we sail on a course of 100 degrees, towards the Pelješki Kanal between Korčula and Pelješac. The wind increases during the day towards 25 knots (Force 6 on Beaufort’s scale), so sailing is hard work today. The grand final comes when we approach Orebic, another harbour that we did not visit before.

The lay-out of this harbour is rather strange. In front of the harbour, the sea is rather shallow – maximum depth is 4 – 5 meters. This creates a rather serious swell when the wind is towards land (like Jugo). The harbour of Orebić has a large breakwater pointing southward, with a lightbeacon at its head. However, halfway that breakwater there is another one at a right angle. It is behind that second breakwater that you find the actual harbour and the moorings.

Just when we approach the harbour, the rain starts pouring. And when I say pouring, I do mean pouring… We cannot see 50 meters, and we are soaking wet within seconds. Fortunately, we do find the harbour entrance. And there we find the next hurdle. In the middle of the entrance a small tourist ship, dancing on the waves, is disembarking its passengers. We do manage to manoeuvre around it and park our boat. No harbour master in sight, no other help, but with just the two of us we ‘execute according to the book’. And just when we tie up the last line, the rain stops just as sudden as it began.

Yes, and there are no pictures of that. Because when sailing shorthanded in circumstances like this, you have other things to do. Besides, our camera is not waterproof…

That evening we had a very nice dinner at the Restaurant Karako. We found it when following the coast in an easterly direction.

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Day 5 : Orebić – Luka Polace (Mljet)

That night the wind turns to NE, but it remains as powerful as during the day. When we leave the harbour that morning the wind is already 20 – 25 knots. The weather prognosis for today and tomorrow is rather bad. We go looking for a safe haven to anchor and wait for better weather. Fortunately we know just the right place: Luka Polace on the island of Mljet.

After some time, the wind decreases to 15 knots, and we hoist our sails. Course is 140 degrees and speed is 5 to 6 knots. The sea is rather choppy, especially when approaching Mljet. Sailing along the northern shores of Mljet we quickly find the first entrance to Luka Polace. It always surprises me how quiet the waters become as soon as you enter the bay. And Luka Polace is a well hidden place. A true pirates’ nest.

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Day 6 : Luka Polace (Mljet)

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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Day 7 : Luka Polace (Mljet) – Korčula

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…

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Day 8 : Korčula – Uvala Vinogradisce (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…

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Day 9 : Around Pakleni Otoci

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.

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Day 10 : Uvala Vinogradisce (Sveti Klement) – Luka Tiha (Hvar)

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.

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Day 11 : Luka Tiha – Stari Grad – Luka Tiha (Hvar)

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.

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Day 12 : Luka Tiha (Hvar) – Milna (Brač)

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.

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Day 13 : Milna (Brač) – Uvala Šešula (Šolta)

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.

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Day 14 : Uvala Šešula (Šolta) – Marina Kaštela (Split)

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.

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