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.
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.
05:15 am. It is still dark and the port of Vis is vast asleep. But our alarm beeps. We get dressed and go on deck. I take in the power cable and store the ramp. At 05:30 hours, coinciding with the Jadrolinija ferry, we start the engine. We drop the lines and slip out of our mooring. Everything goes smooth and in the wake of the ferry we sail out of Viška Luka. Outside, there is no wind. We change our course to 355, towards the western tip of Šolta island.
Not much later we see a beautiful sunrise over Hvar. At 06:30 a northerly wind (Bura) rises, rapidly increasing to 8 knots. We hoist the sails, switch off our engine, and keep our course of 355.
A large cargo ship passes us about a mile to port. For the rest the sea is empty. It remains empty during the next hours, while we steadily cover the miles between Vis and Šolta. Around ten o’clock we pass Šolta, and half an hour later we drop our anchor in the western arm of Uvala Solinska, a bay on the southside of the island Veli Drvenik. This is a beautiful bay, not too big, and very suitable for swimming. You can anchor deep in the bay. The water is crystal clear, you see the bottom, and there are lots of fish swimming around. We swim and snorkel around the bay and take a nap after our early start this morning. Then we have a big lunch. As usual during the last week, the winds dies down around noon. Since there is not much to do in the open, the conditions are excellent for a long break.
At 13:00 hours the wind rises again, now from a northwesterly direction (10 knots). This is our ‘anchor up’ signal. Outside Uvala Solinska we hoist the sails. With the wind 120 degrees to port we sail along the coast and along Krknjaš Veli and Drvenik Veli. Then we sail straight north towards the rocks and islets in front of Trogirski Zaljev, the bay of Trogir. The wind rose sharply once we left the shelter of Drvenik Veli. A northwesterly wind of 17 – 19 knots is blowing from Venički Kanal. We sail between the rocks Mali Pišćena and Galera (with beacon). Once we pass Rt Okruk we turn to starboard and with wind from behind, we set the mainsail to port and jib to starboard. Course 45, and with a speed of 5.5 knots we soon pass Rt Čubrijan; Trogir is in sight. Way too soon it is time to lower the sails. Since we have to hand over the ship again tomorrow, we fill up the fuel tank at the petrol station in Trogir. Only 19 liters, and that for the entire stretch from Dubrovnik to Trogir.
While refueling, threatening clouds appear over the mountains north of us. An ominous thunder strikes. Luckily refueling does not take long, and at 15:00 hours we moor in ACI Marina Trogir. We did not visit Trogir since 2004, but nothing has changed. Like ACI Marina Korčula it is a somewhat outdated and very cramped port, with the added disadvantage that it is directly under the flightpath of Split airport. But the view of the old town of Trogir compensates that! That evening we eat pizza on the promenade of Trogir.
It was quite an adventure, our first charter trip, having trained for two years with the sailing school. Very educational indeed. We had some great sailing, despite the not-so-good weather this year. Below you find our route.
It is our last sailing day… Cloudy, but dry. The wind is W, 10 – 12 knots. Great for ‘butterflying’ towards Split, due east. When the wind catches up, we still manage to squeeze out 5 – 6 knots of speed. But around 16:30, the wind is gone and rain starts again. So, again, we motor into the harbour and moor the boat in pouring rain.
The weather forecast remains bleak for the rest of the week. After leaving Hvar, we sail in NW direction towards the western edge of Šolta. We stop for lunch in Uvala Šešula, a nice and well-protected bay, but a bit small. After lunch, the course is N towards Trogir. While approaching the coast, we have a great view of developing thundershowers. The moment we moor the boat in Trogir, the rain starts pouring down like I never saw it before. Fortunately, it is dry during the night so that we can still go out for a pizza.