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.
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.
Monday morning at 07:45 am is the time for the weather report via Split radio on VHF. It does not look very promising. It is cloudy. The prediction is that the westerly winds (Jugo) afternoon turns to northeast (Bura). This is accompanied by showers and thunderstorms.
Vis is no safe haven during Bura so we slip our mooring at 09:15 am. We plan to sail towards the island of Korcula. Outside Viska Luka we hoist the sails in 8 knots of wind from the southeast, and follow course 90. On the northern horizon a big grey cloud hangs over the island Solta. Which is getting darker, and by 10:30 we see solid rain and numerous lightning flashes on the horizon. During the next hour we shift our course to 20, sailing towards the Pakleni Otoci, and then the race between us and Mother Nature begins. And of course, Mother Nature wins. while we are sailing into the channel between the islands Paržanj and Borovac it starts to rain. Big fat drops quickly go into a downpour that reduces visibility to 50 to 100 meters. After the channel we sail an easterly course. Everywhere around us we see flashes of lightning, within seconds with the accompanying thunder. The storm is right above us.
After half an hour we reach ACI Marina Palmižana on the northside of the island Sveti Klement. Just before we sail into the harbour it stops raining and after we moored it clears up and the sun comes out. Around us we see a number of vessels that have sought refuge here during the storm. You see vapour coming out, literally, because everyone dries his equipment. Unfortunately we have no pictures of the storm, because we were too busy. All we have is a picture of our drying equipment…
We eat a hearty lunch and have a refreshing shower. In the afternoon it is actually still 31 degrees with a bright sun in a cloudless sky. In the evening we take the water taxi to Hvar and go out for dinner at Lucullus.
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 below. 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.
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.
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.
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…
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.
I wake up around sunrise (05:30 CET). We have to be back in Split in two days, so it is about time to head north again.. Unfortunately, both VHF as well as FM reception is not good in this bay. Thus, I have very little information about the weather prognosis. It is dry and sunny now, and the water of the bay is like a mirror. But that does not say much in the Adriatic…
Around 08:00 CET we lift anchor. We slowly manoeuvre through the dangerous entrance of Luka Polace towards open water. There we head north-west towards Korčula. At first we do some motorsailing, but soon the wind to 8 – 10 knots from the north-east. Bura-time again. It makes for some great sailing on a sea which is still completely empty at this time of the day. We have our breakfast at sea while approaching Korčula.
Pelješki Kanal is entered around 10:30 CET. While I am getting annoyed by the long row of holiday homes that stretches along the coast from Orebic towards the north-west (Croatia, take care what you do with your coastline!) we listen to the weather forecast. It is not good. We were already monitoring a beautiful thundercloud hanging above Korčula for a while. That seems to be the start of a serious storm from the south-west. They expect winds around 40 – 45 knots, 8 to 9 Beaufort.
The wind increases steadily to 15 – 20 knots (still from a north-easterly direction). With 7 knots of speed we fly towards Hvar. Everywhere around us we see the most beautiful rain- and thunder showers. A group of yachts behind us disappears behind a curtain of water. To our port side we see lightning shooting through the air. For the time being we sail nicely between those showers. Our secondary port of destination today is Šćedro, but the wind will have to turn southerly for that to be an option. Šćedro only has protected anchorages on its northern shores.
Near Šćedro the storm catches up with us. In a couple of minutes, the wind turns from north-east to south-west (180 degrees! A great phenomenon to witness). Rain pours down on us. We have taken down the bimini and have prepared for the storm in every possible way. Heavy weather suits are out, and both life-jackets and life-lines are ready for the grab. But things are rather easy so far, the wind does not get much stronger than 20 knots.
Thus, we continue sailing towards Hvar. With these south-westerly winds ACI Palmižana would be an ideal destination. Around 16:00 CEt the rain stops, we still have 6 miles to go towards Hvar. Around 17:00 CET we moor the boat on one of the last free spots in ACI Palmižana. With an extra bow-line, since the weather prognosis is now talking about Bura wind (north east) again! And Bura is the only wind that causes some swell in this well-protected harbour. But even in Bura, ACI Palmižana remains my favourite harbour along this coast.
That night we have a dinner at Meneghello. It is a fine restaurant, but take care! At 18:30 CET we managed to obtain the last non-reserved table here. The restaurant was still very quiet, and we had the first choice of fresh fish. Furthermore, it was on our table within 45 minutes. When the restaurant fills up, both staff and kitchen cannot handle it anymore. When ordering, people were told that it might be two (2) hours before the main dish would be on the table. This was being told when the wine and other drinks were on the table already… Our meal was excellent, though.
Because it keeps on raining, we do not get out of bed until 09:00 CET. The weather looks rotten. But it is Saturday today, the day that most charters change crew, and thus are in their home ports. That means that Hvar, the one place where everybody wants to go, will be relatively quiet.
We lift anchor at 10:30 CET. Slowly we motor through the shallow channel between Marinkovac and Planikovac, two small islands east of Sveti Klement, Around 11:00 CET we sail into the harbour of Hvar town in the rain. We sail several rounds there, but no harbourmaster shows up. Because we do not feel like anchoring, one of our crew members steps off at the ferry quay. He walks over and fishes out a mooring line for us. With three people on the boat we moor the boat according to the book. The storm damage is still visible on the quay walls, and a lot of moorings are missing.
Half an hour later, after the rain has stopped, the harbourmaster appears. ‘It rained…’ he says. It does not make me appreciate him more, but unfortunately this kind of behaviour is quite common in Hvar. Fortunately, the sun comes out, and we can still enjoy our day in the ‘Saint-Tropez of Croatia’. We get our laundry done (there is a launderette at the open market next to the cathedral) and we also do some shopping. Investments in Hvar are obviously picking up: two hotels around the harbour are closed for renovation. But some things do not change: Prices in Hvar are on average 50% higher than in Split or Zagreb. For the privilege of mooring your boat on this quay for a night you will pay as much as in a marina.
During the night, the wind turns again. This causes a nasty swell in the harbour. We now have a swell from the north-west, and the wind from north-east. We veer out the lines, so that we get our ship at 1,5 – 2,0 meters from the quay, and pull the mooring line at the bow. The rolling is very uncomfortable. Fortunately, there is enough distance between the ships due to the missing mooring lines from last week’s storm. Usually the boats are moored so close together that there is a serious risk of the stays getting tangled.
Near Vis, south-west from us, we can see a huge thunderstorm. If that would come our way the harbour of Hvar would become outright dangerous. Thus, we make sure that we are completely ready for departure. At 01:00 CET we even fill up the water tanks. We are taking turns keeping the watch for the rest of the night. Some other yachts are obviously making the same preparations as we do. I would rather be outside than inside the harbour during a heavy storm. Fortunately, the storm passes west of Hvar, and our discomfort stays limited to the rolling, the party people and the weather conditions.