The Southern Islands 2011 Route

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.

Luka Tiha (Hvar) – Marina Kaštela (Split)

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.

Marina Kaštela (Split) – Uvala Osibova (Brač)

Marina Kaštela is again incredibly hot. Due to the lack of wind, the temperature rises to about 40 degrees Celsius. However, it seems a little quieter than two years ago. Our ship is in prime shape, and after bringing aboard our luggage and groceries we get out of this harbour and this heat.

At 15:45 we sail out of the harbour. Halfway through the bay Kaštelanski Zaljev the wind arrives. Southwesterly 12 to 15 knots. We quickly hoist the sails and enjoy the cool breeze that it brings. With a speed of 5.5 to 6.0 knots we sail between Rt Marjan and Rt Ciovo towards open sea. We point our bow at Splitska Vrata, the passage between Solta and Brac.

Because we do not want the high rates of Lučice, where we have often spent the first night, we explore the other two large bays on the south western side of Brac. The easternmost, Uvala Maslinova, looks most promising on the map. Unfortunately, it is being used for aquaculture.

So we are going to Uvala Osibova, the westernmost bay. Just before the entrance of the bay we see a group of four dolphins, including a young baby. Once inside we anchor fairly deep in the bay in 8 feet of water, and swim a line ashore to tie ourselves up to a sturdy tree.

The bay is very deep, halfway through we still measure 20 feet of water under the keel. In the course of the evening three other ships anchor. Because of the depth and because the bay is quite narrow, the anchoring space is limited.

At 19:00 we are docked. We swim for half an hour in the crystal clear warm waters. Yet it feels refreshing, according to our thermometer it more than 32 degrees Celsius. Around 20:00 it is dark and an hour later we make our bed in the cockpit.

Via Lastovo to Dubrovnik 2009 Route

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.

Epilogue: the other side of Croatia

Croatia: a great holiday destination. But the past is never far away, and you also find extreme poverty here. The average income is now over EUR 600 per month. That’s still not much when you consider that prices in the supermarket do no differ much from the prices in Western Europe. And remember: it is an average. If you are unemployed, or have a pension of EUR 150 per month, life seems no fun to me.

Every year there is a direct confrontation with this. And that is upon returning to the port of Kaštela. Most charters (and that often includes us) have leftover supplies. You buy some extra, you eat out more often than planned, et cetera. Because many crews leave by plane, that excess inventory gets thrown into the dustbin.

Usually it does not stay there for long. Each container is ‘managed’ by one or a few (usually older) Croats. The container park at the main entrance to the Marina even has an entire group with a strict hierarchy. The leader checks the bags and determines who gets what share of each bag. If this would not be so tragic, it would almost make me smile.

At the end of Saturday morning, as old crews have left and new crews trickle in, the collectors leave the port with their share. If your monthly income is EUR 150, then EUR 10 or EUR 20 extra per week is a welcome addition.

Trogir – Marina Kaštela (Split)

What a day! We start normal with breakfast and other necessities. But the wind is blowing in Trogir, and we see a number of ships with problematic departures. Our departure takes some effort as well.. The marina is cramped, and a current runs through it (from Kaštelanski Zaljev to Trogirski Zaljev). We make the turn too slow and hit the mooring of a ship opposite us. With some maneuvering we manage to get out. When inspecting the underwater hull later I fortunately find no damage (except a small dent in my sailors’ ego…).

When leaving the port of Trogir at 09:15 this is quickly forgotten. The sailing conditions are perfect. A north-easterly wind of 12 – 15 knots, and the weather forecast says it will blow all day. With the wind behind and the sails spread we fly out of the bay. Then heading toward Šolta, course 140. Unfortunately the fun ends after two hours, and with varying slight wind we barely manage to anchor in Uvala Nečujam by 13:00. Time for lunch and a round of swimming, including an inspection of the underwater ship after this morning’s experience in Trogir.

By 14:00 hours the wind seems to stabilise from a northeasterly direction, 5 to 7 knots. We lift our anchor, hoist the sails and leave the bay. In calm conditions we sail (course 30) towards Split and the entrance to Kaštelanski Zaljev. But then it happens …

Over our starboard bow, towards Split, I see the sea change in a boiling mass of water with high waves and crests. And that is rapidly approaching our ship. The Bura shows once again why it is a notorious wind that you always have to reckon with.

In less than one minute, the wind increases to 30 knots (Force 7), with gusts up to Force 8 to 9 (40 knots). The sea turns into a boiling mass of water. Just in time I manage to steer the bow into the wind. With heavily flapping sails, on a ship that is tossed around on the waves, we reef the sails. We put the second reef in the mainsail and bring back the jib to 1/3 of its normal size. Thus we have the boat back under our control.

The rest of the afternoon the Bura shows its teeth. Most ships plough back to Marina Kaštela on their engines, but I enjoy a little bit of sailing. And we have no pictures of course: we were just too busy with the ship … In sight of the harbor we lower our sails and join the queue at the Marina. By 18:30 our ship is back in its place. The whole evening and night the Bura sweeps the harbour, still over 30 knots. We don’t feel anything of that, since we are vast asleep.

Marina Kaštela (Split) – Lučice (Brač)

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.

Around Korčula 2008 Route

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.

Luka Tiha (Hvar) – Marina Kaštela (Split) via Uvala Nečujam (Šolta)

On this last day we can feel a change in the weather coming. During the day, the clouds increase slowly but steadily. The wind is changing. We use the morning to sail to Rogač (on the north side of Šolta) and to refuel. This queue at this gas station is usually not as long as the one in Milna (Brač), where the service station sits next to the exit of the marina. Yet even here there are seven ships waiting in line.

Then we sail to the bay Uvala Nečujam, slightly further east. In this bay we did some great snorkelling last year, but this year the situation has deteriorated. The water is less clear, and the sea life has decreased. Even the colours of the coral are gone. It seems that another piece of seabed has been lost.

Around 14:30 we depart from the bay towards Marina Kaštela direction. At first with the wind right from behind, which makes great sailing. Unfortunately the wind dies after an hour or so. We continue on the engine. By 17:00 our ship is moored safely to the pier in the marina and it is time wash off the week’s salt.

Marina Kaštela (Split) – Luka Tiha (Hvar)

The trip to Split goes well, and at 13:30 hours we are in the harbour. Our ship ‘Reni’ is waiting for us. We handle all the formalities and check the boat from front to back and top to bottom. Furthermore, we do the shopping. We try to take stores for the whole week, because we intend to spend as little time as possible in harbours. It is always a special experience, a charter base on a Saturday.

Around 15:30 we sail from the marina. Marina Kaštela is a genuine charter base, I estimate that there are around 200 ships departing. A major logistics operation. Fortunately, there is a huge supermarket less than 10 minutes walk from the marina, which makes everything a lot easier. That was different when all charters departed from ACI Marina Split.

There is little wind, about 6 knots from ZO (Jugo). On the engine we cross the bay Kaštelanski Zaljev and around Rat Marjan and Rat Čiova, then across Splitski Kanal towards Splitska Vrata.

As usual the circumstances change when we pass Splitska Vrata. By now, it is 18:00. On the ‘other side’ of this channel between Brač and Šolta there is 15 knots of wind (SE). We hoist the sails, and decide to sail to Luka Tiha, a bay in the Stari Grad channel on the island of Hvar.

Using this ideal sailing winds make three long runs, successively on a southerly, easterly and southerly course. By 20:00 it is dark, and the sea around us is almost deserted. We see some lights in the distance, probably fishing boats. For the rest: empty sea apart from our own navigation lights. The moon is in the first quarter, and stars appear in the sky. Just before 21:00 hours we take the sails down in Starogradski Zaljev, and we motor slowly towards Luka Tiha. Our destination is the northernmost bay of Tiha Luka. There is no light to be seen anywhere, but someone notices our approach and turns on his mooring light. Coming closer, we see two more ships. It still amazes me that so many people do not use their anchor light.

Our anchor held immediately, and while I check whether we are properly anchored we cook some soup. After a meal of soup and bread it is time for bed. There is no wind at all, and it is a quiet night.