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 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.
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.
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.
A good night of sleep in Korčula marina. We get up at 07:30, shower, shop and have breakfast. Then we visit an internet cafe for weather and wind forecasts for the remaining days of our trip. Most mornings they predict Bura (north / northeast) 3 to 5 Beaufort. During the afternoon Maestral Tramontana (north west). The temperature will be fine again.
This morning we first have a strong northerly wind (Bura), 20 to 25 knots. In those conditions, ACI Korčula is always an exciting port to leave, because it is a bit cramped. You see many people use a spring line. We are lucky that our neighbors on both sides depart fairly early, so that we have more room to maneuver. Without problems we drop our lines and at 10:15 we leave the harbor. Right outside the harbor we hoist the sails, there is now a 15 knots wind from the north. We do not sail east towards Mljet, nor westward via the Peleški Kanal between Korcula and Pelješac. We sail southward, navigating between the islands and along the rocks and shallows on the east side of Korčula, round Rt Rašjnić, the eastern tip of Korčula.
Then we follow the southern coast of Korčula in a westerly direction. Here. we do not suffer the worst bouts of Bura, and the sea is much calmer and friendlier than at the north side of the island. The south side is almost empty, apart from the village of Brna there is little evidence of civilization. Over our port bow we see the island of Lastovo, and the rest is emptiness and silence.
The wind remains favorable for most of the day, although it decreases during the afternoon. All in all it takes us just over 6 hours to cover 30 nautical miles, and at 4:45 p.m. our ship anchors in Tri Luke. Soon we are in the water, cooling off again after a hot day. During the evening there are five other ships at anchor in the bay, and is very quiet. We crawl away as deep as possible inside the bay. Meanwhile, there is virtually no wind…. And from the cockpit, we have a beautiful view of the isllet of Trstenik, in front of Tri Luke.
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.