Two weeks of sailing this time, leaving everything behind. Our ship this year was a Bénéteau Oceanis 373 and our route can be found below. We covered some vast distances: starting from Split to Dugi Otok, going down south to Mljet, and back to Split again. My estimate is that we sailed approximately 300 nautical miles, or over 550 kilometres. This sailing expedition was a mixture of some familiar and some new territory.
Weather circumstances were a mixed blessing. We started with some beautiful sunny weather. After that, we had some days of mixed clouds, fresh weather and even some storms. The second half of the second week was beautiful sunny again. Fortunately, this meant that there was no shortage of wind. This year we had a lot of northerlies (Bura, Tramontana en Maestral). Usually 10 – 15 knots, but heavier sometimes: 30 – 40 knots. We ‘clocked’ our ship at 9,2 knots top speed.
In the morning, the wind is from a south-easterly direction again. Fortunately, that does not last long. Around 10:45 CET, while we are sailing south of Rat Movar, the wind turns from south-east to north-west in just a couple of minutes, and increases to 10 – 13 knots. That makes for some great sailing. Thus, we leave Šolta to our port side, and continue towards Hvar. Around noon, we are joined by a group of dolphins again – it is always a fantastic experience.
There is a brief period without any wind during the afternoon, but for the rest the wind remains stuck where it was: north-west. At the end of the afternoon we reach Sveti Klement, where we sail to the Vinogradisce cove. We drop anchor here at around 18:00 CET.
During the night, the wind turns north-east and increases: Bura is here. Even in this well-protected bay we get gusts of wind of around 20 knots. I get up regularly to check our anchor, but we do not run into any problems. Around 05:00 CET it starts to rain, and it looks like it will not stop again.
A new day, and we are keen to go further south. After yesterday’s tiresome trip, we take it easy in the morning. Around 10:00 CET we leave the harbour of Tribunj behind us. The weather prognosis speaks of north-easterly winds. That is good, given that we want to go south-east. However, the wind rapidly changes in south-easterly as well, straight on our bow, and it stays there for the whole day. That means tacking, and not much progress in real terms. My original objective for today was Šolta, but halfway during the afternoon we have not even made it to Primošten. Besides that, there are regular rain showers and thunderstorms.
In the end, we reach Rogoznica around 17:00 CET. We do not really feel like another night in that marina. According to our Pilot Guide, the bay on the other side of Rogoznica island should be an excellent anchoring spot. After inspection, we do not agree. The coastal line is completely covered with holiday homes at various stages of completion. Not much authentic nature left this way! Unfortunately, you see that in many places along the Croatian coast. We do not really feel to anchor on in a construction area, so we do pick up a mooring in Marina Frapa after all, where I moor the boat in one of the tightest spots that I have managed so far. For comfort, we go and eat one of those great pizzas at Restaurant Fortuna that evening. It works.
This morning’s prognosis from the Marine Weather Center in Split talks about Jugo winds from 20 – 25 knots. South-east, 6 Beaufort, that starts to look like something… We quickly finish our shopping, so that we can stay out of the harbours for a couple of days. Around 09:30 CET we leave the marina, and 15 minutes later we are outside the protected Rogoznica bay. Here we find out that the wind is 15 knots already. The prognosis may be a bit wrong, because Jugo usually builds up during the day.
Our course is 280, and less than 2 hours later we are south of Žirje island. There is some serious swell, and we enjoy the view of some wave-tops at eye level next to the boat. With some of the crew this brings along some seasickness. Fortunately it helps to look at the horizon – your organ of balance likes to have a fixed reference point.
Around noon the wind has grown to 20 knots. Given the large genua this means that the bow keeps on pulling towards lee. We put a reef in the genua, and a bit later in the mainsail as well, and this helps. The wind keeps building up until it reaches 30 knots. 7 Beaufort, a bit more than predicted.
Around 14:00 CET we race into the Kornatski Kanal. The boat is surfing on those long slow waves from the south-east, with the usual white crests and all. The Kornatski Kanal is the long strait on the south-western side of Kornat, between the island itself and the long string of small islands on its seaside.. Those small island offer some protection against wind and waves, and the swell is considerably easier here. But the circumstances remain tough, with an average speed of 8 knots and a top speed of 9.2 knots (surfing on a big wave).
Our first attempt at finding an anchoring place is Lavsa. But it is completely full with yachts that fled there earlier that day when things got a bit rough. Marina Piškera on Piškera island is not a nice place in south-easterly winds, so we stay away from that one. Late that afternoon we anchor in Levrnaka, a well-protected bay. At first we anchor at the western side of the bay, but since we are not sure of the exact position of the shipwreck in this bay (the pilot guides and maps do not agree on it either) we move to the eastern side of the bay. Life is good there. Our log tells me that we covered 43 nautical miles today.
The sun wakes me up at dawn, and I quietly leave the cabin to sit on the deck. Everything is wet from the morning dew. I sit down on the foredeck. Birds are singing, the pine trees are smelling, the water is like a mirror. There are no other sounds than the natural sounds. Life does not get much better than this.
The sea water temperature is 18.5 degrees Celsius. Probably an effect of the late Spring that we had all over Europe. It does not really invite for a swim. After breakfast we leave the bay around 09:30 CET. The south easterly wind (Jugo) is back again, and we sail in a north westerly direction with a speed of 5 knots. Our objective for today is Rogoznica, to be used as a first stop on our way to the Kornati islands.
Around 11:00 CET the wind disappears. This usually means a change of wind direction, but not this time. After half an hour the wind starts blowing again from the south, growing slowly (as Jugo should) from 7 to 15 knots.
At around 14:30 CET we meet our first dolphins. A couple of miles from Rat Ploča a group of five dolphins appears to keep us company. We get the cameras out and start filming / clicking, hoping that you press the button at the exact moment that they appear above water.
Around 16:30 CET we sail into Rogoznica bay. We moor along one of the piers of Marina Frapa. Time for a shower, which (together with some electricity and fresh water) is the only reason to enter a harbour every now and then.
That evening we find a restaurant in Rogoznica where they still bake their pizza in a genuine wood oven – Restaurant Fortuna. They prove to us again that this is the only way to prepare a genuine pizza. Recommended!