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Old 18-08-2014, 05:19   #1
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Experience bareboat cruising in Croatia: 2-16 August 2014

First off I'd like to say thanks to all of the folks who have posted information in the past that helped us plan our charter. Here are some cruising notes we made along the way that I hope will help someone else out. It's long but I know I was hungry for knowledge before we went.

Bottom line, Croatia is an excellent cruising ground for both the sailors in the group and those on your boat who look forward to dropping the anchor and popping open the wine bottles. Our average day was 30 nm with the longest being 47 nm and the shortest being 18 nm. Out of 11 days sailing, only two required the motor for any significant period. Winds varied from light (5-7 kts) to two days with 20+ kt winds. Never any problem finding safe anchorages.

Key observations:
-Plan to anchor early if your traveling in the high season (jul/ aug). The anchorages filled up at 1600 and by 1800 it was very hard to find a spot protected from the wind and waves.
-Make sure you have enough line for a hawser to take ashore. The anchorages can be deep so we frequently dropped anchor in 10m water and tied a line ashore.
-The cruising guides talked about people charging fees for anchoring but we never saw this. We only paid fees at the marinas and at the mooring in Hvar. Anchoring was free every time.
-Local olive oil, wine, and honey... All delicious and plan to take some home!

We used Mare Charter for our boat (Home - Mare Charter d.o.o.). They have a small fleet (8 boats) and the customer service was excellent. The owners of the company, Zoran and his wife Danijella, were friendly, helpful with advice and answering questions, and responsive to email. Because of our work schedule, we had to postpone our trip for the originally planned date in July and they were very accommodating. The boat was a Beneteau First 36.7. It is an older boat that is more of a racing cruiser than a cruising boat. The inconvenience of having the main sheet and traveller right in the middle of the cockpit meant we had no Bimini but the boat was very fast under sail. I would absolutely recommend the company but I'd also prefer one of their newer boats next time. They had some Oceanis Clippers that were very modern and well maintained.

We started from Kremik marina near Primosten. Several charter companies operated there. Ours was Mare Charter but there was also "More" charter and a few others. Zoran picked us up from Split and took us to a market in Primosten to provision the boat. Very smooth process and no waiting around like we saw from some of the bigger charter companies. Also, Kremik marina had a great running trail around to Primosten (5-6km). Easy to get a few miles in if running is important to you. This is broken down by sailing day:
1. We sailed to Vis (anchored off the town of Kut - loud disco across the bay but very nice anchorage). This was our only day with foul weather as a squall came through when we were about 10 nm NW of Vis. Lightening was striking the water around the boat so we shut down our electronics, put on foulies,and waited out the rain. It blew over in about an hour and we were back underway.
2. Sailed to Bisevo and saw the blue cave (50 kn entry fee per person charged by a man in a small boat at the cave). There's really no place to anchor at the cave due to very deep water so we took turns circling the boat while half the crew rowed in to see the cave (no outboards allowed in the cave). Then, we sailed across the straight and anchored at Komiza on Vis. Another nice anchorage (deep though) that filled up quickly with the yacht week boats.
3. Sailed to Korkula island and anchored in Tri Luka on the southwestern corner of the island. Beautiful anchorage, secluded and peaceful. One late arrival we watched arrive at sunset and simply drop anchor and pile up some chain, never setting the anchor... They then went below and went to sleep... Luckily the wind stayed light and they didn't drag, but that was the only case in which I was concerned about a boat drifting into us during the trip. For the most part, everyone was very good at every anchorage we visited.
4. Sailed to the eastern side of Korcula and stayed at Lumbarda Marina. We wanted to leave the boat and see Korkula town so we elected to tie up at the marina instead of anchoring. Great little marina but make a reservation early in the day. We watched other boats get turned away while we were able to med moor to the quay... Having the reservation also meant we could sail longer and not worry about finding space later in the day as the sun was setting. There is a bus stop right by the marina entrance and will take you into Korcula town (25kn/pp) or the taxi stand for (100kn each way, had vans for 5-7 people).
5. Sailed to Mljet island and anchored in a bay near Polace on the NW corner of the island. Good anchorage despite strong winds. Most of the crew rowed ashore to see the park on Mljet but two of us stayed with the boat in case the winds shifted drastically. Never any problem though. Winds finally calmed to make a trip ashore.
6. Sailed to Dubrovnik marina... Had to motor much of the way with little wind. Great chance to see the old city from the water and take pictures though. ACI marina Dubrovnik was expensive at 100 per night for our 10 m boat but worth it for the convenience of seeing the old city. There are restaurants, pool, tennis courts and market available at ACI. Taxi is 130kn each way to the old city. Good running roads too around the marina.
7. Stayed at Dubrovnik marina so we could continue the city tours.
8. Sailed to Sipan and anchored at Sipanska Luka. Excellent holding in 6 m water.
9. Sailed to Luka on the western end of the Peljesec peninsula. Another peaceful and beautiful anchorage, filled up really quickly.
10. Sailed to Hvar town. Somehow we lucked out and were able to pick up a mooring off the bow and took two lines ashore off the stern (usually the moorings are full after 9 am). Lots of people playing "bumper boats" as they squeezed more boats into the moorings. Loud disco all night and lots of ferry wakes but the hills made for great running in the morning. Visit Hvar town once and check the block, we won't be going back.... Just too crowded. The fortress overlooking the town was very cool though.
11. Sailed into Split harbor and then to Trogir. Here was our only real problem on the whole trip. We reserved a spot in ACI Marina Trogir but when we arrived some guys in Marina Trogir shirts waved us down and we docked at "Marina Trogir" instead. The two marinas are adjoining but are not the same (Marina Trogir is brand new and onto any charts yet). I learned in the morning when I tried to check out that I had to pay "Marina Trogir" and the ACI marina would not reimburse me. Caveat Emptor and be sure to check in with the marina office when you land to make sure you're in the right place. Don't just trust what the dock guys say. The facilities really were excellent but the expensive snafu left a bitter taste. Nobody's fault but my own.
12. Sailed back to Kremik marina. We had planned to sail to Sibenik and take a small boat to the Krka national park, but the marina at Sibenik was full. We elected to leave the boat at Kremik and take a car to Krka. The park was worth every kn we spent to get there as it was absolutely gorgeous.
13. Krka park visit and refuel / cleanup the boat.
14. Check out - Zoran let us stay a bit late so we could get one more run in and then drove us to Split. Again, he was very helpful and easy to work with.

Season: the first two weeks of August are definitely the high season for cruising. The popular anchorages were frequently crowded and marinas required reservations ahead of time. That being said, we were always able to find a place to get our boat in. Most nights we dropped anchor and then tied several lines together to produce a long enough hawser to reach the shore. I recommend anchoring at 1600 at the latest or you will be jockeying with the other late arrivals for space. The farther we got from Split, the easier it became to find space.

Marinas: the ACI marinas are expensive and require you to book ahead of time online. We did this for Dubrovnik because we wanted to walk around the city and not have to leave the boat at anchor. Lumbarda Marina was an excellent stop to see Korkula; cheaper that the ACI marina and peaceful. The cab to the old town was inexpensive (100 kn for 5 of us) and there was great running and hiking on the roads around the town. Olive trees and vineyards everywhere.

Money: we carried Croatian Kunar everywhere since we always got better rates than with Euros. The ATM machines offered exchange rates that were well above what our bank offered so we always took the "accept without exchange rate" option. It seriously saved us $20 on every transaction. Definitely check with your bank prior to leaving to see their exchange rates. The local business take Euros but you get better rates with Kunar.

Weather: the VHF weather service was pretty good with updates in several languages daily. I used sail flow to forecast the winds and it seemed pretty accurate. The weather was simply beautiful every day save a few hours on our first leg. I highly recommend a Bimini if your aren't out for a performance sail though... We cooked pretty good on the deck of the boat and I resorted to sailing in light pants when the sun block wasn't enough. Wish I had a lightweight sombrero to hide under! Again though, it was hard to argue when the wind came up and we passed boats under sail.

Food: everywhere we went they had a meat, some fish, Risotto, and some pasta or gnocchi. While the food didn't seem overly creative, it was quite good. The olive oil was delicious and we stocked up on some to take home. Look for the little roadside stands or small shops to buy it as the supermarkets seemed to all have the usual export kinds and not the home made "sold in water bottles" stuff we were looking for. Also, the honey was amazing.

Last but not least, we flew from the US into and out of Budapest, then took the train from Budapest to Split. It was a relaxing way to get there and saved a bunch of money over flying direct to Split. Be sure to reserve seats on the train! Folks we saw with euro rail passes either had to sleep in the passage ways or got kicked off the train while we had little beds for not much more money. The Hungarian rail website, the MAV, was relatively easy to use and cheaper than the euro rail site for reservations. Our trip home was complicated by some really poor KLM customer service after our flight was cancelled, but I'll save that for an aviation BLOG.

I hope this helps someone else plan their sailing vacation in Croatia. It was really a great place and not as expensive and we expected. The sailing was easy and the charts / cruising guides were pretty accurate. We sailed The Cyclades in Greece two years ago and this was about on par with what we found there. The sailing legs were a bit longer in Greece and the food a bit better, but the local wine and olive oil was equally good in Croatia and the landscape and history were incredible.

Fair winds and following seas!

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Old 18-08-2014, 06:43   #2
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Re: Experience bareboat cruising in Croatia: 2-16 August 2014

That was a really helpful post! Thanks for taking the time to write this.

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Old 18-08-2014, 06:54   #3
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Re: Experience bareboat cruising in Croatia: 2-16 August 2014

Great stuff, glad you made the most of it. There is a good anchorage at Sibinek as well for next time
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Old 18-08-2014, 07:03   #4
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Re: Experience bareboat cruising in Croatia: 2-16 August 2014

Great post thanks

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Old 07-09-2014, 21:47   #5
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Re: Experience bareboat cruising in Croatia: 2-16 August 2014

You can anchor at Bisevo near the blue cave in about 20 metres but the holding is good.

Tying up to the shore is cetainly the go in many of the little bays.

Thanks for your report. We were ther a coupel of weeks ahead of you.
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Old 17-09-2014, 14:19   #6
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Re: Experience bareboat cruising in Croatia: 2-16 August 2014


Am planning a 2-week trip next year. What charts and/or cruising guides would your recommend?


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bareboat, Croatia, cruising, enc

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