Enjoying the company of our son and girlfriend!
After a tumultuous and windy start to our time in Croatia the weather pattern has settled out into long sunny days, windy afternoon sailing opportunities and quiet anchorages. The glassy smooth waters are perfect for sitting in the cockpit enjoying the early morning sun with my cup of coffee, watching fish rise to the surface, and listening to the birds chatter and sing: quite a lovely combination.
Since leaving the Dubrovnik area with our son Nick and girlfriend Emily we have made steady progress northwards up the Croatian Coast. The scenery is gentle and the peaceful sailing conditions can be enjoyed pretty easily, especially in the off season before the charter fleet really arrives. Already we are seeing a jump in the number of charter boats in the anchorages, but we know the real season still lies ahead in July and August. Despite the charter boats, at anchorages we are often the lone boat in the bay once the late afternoon rolls around.
Croatia is designed with charter boats in mind, with mooring buoys in front of restaurants and town quays all gauged to meet their demands. Charter yachts are often packed to the gills; it is not unusual at all to see 7 or 8 men on a 42 foot yacht. With an open attitude towards the full flesh package, it is also not unusual to be anchoring next to 7 or 8 nude men who are climbing on and off the swim grids as they enjoy a cool off in the sea. With all makes and models under the sun, this is sometimes good, sometimes not so good! Certainly coming from our 'only wear a bikini' if you have the figure to prove it attitude of North America this takes a little getting accustomed to. With a large crew and on a short vacation, they think nothing of sharing the dock fees amongst them and enjoying restaurant meals every night. They usually exit the anchorage after a swim and a beer to med moor side by side along the town walls or marinas. We checked prices at the quaint but busy town of Sali, near the Telescica National Park. For our boat, we would be charged $90 CDN to stay the night without water or electricity.
Other than a lovely couple on an American boat we met in Sipan we have had virtually no interaction with other sailors. This is likely a sign of being in the Med, where most sailors are on a much needed holiday and value their privacy and time alone. Out in the islands, we have had very little interaction with the locals, something we are not that accustomed to. It could be they categorize all sailors in the same drunken bunch, and are kind of tired of their antics. Just yesterday I watched a drunken group of Russian yachties walk into a private yard to provoke a resting donkey. Not so nice, but they thought it was fun. In any case, while usually we have had no problem meeting locals, it has been a different case in the islands. The opposite was true though on a day trip we took by ferry to Zadar where the locals were friendly and engaging. Not sure what is happening with this dynamic, but it does give us a strange feeling.
Dad and Nick enjoying great sailing conditions in the Adriatic
We have enjoyed many anchorages and have not had any problems with the much feared concession buoys we had heard cruisers complain of before arriving. We have all the concession bays downloaded right onto our electronic chart, so these have been easy to avoid and most places have easy alternates close by.
One of our first stops with Nick and Em was a great anchorage off the walled town of Korcula, where we holed up during a rainstorm and enjoyed playing cards. During a break in the rain, we took a dinghy ride and walked through the town, up the church bell tower and around the water front. On the way back we got caught in a very dramatic down pour. A quick stop in a café for some pastry rectified that pretty quickly though!
Near Hvar, we anchored in the Pakleni Island group, a spectacular meandering chain of small islands offering a quiet anchorage close to the big island. Although a popular anchorage during the day, only a couple of boats stayed overnight with us. From our anchorage it was a short dinghy ride across the channel to the spectacular Hvar town, where we enjoyed the walk up to the fortress for amazing views across the islets.
Nick and Emily cornered in Solta
In the narrow bay and winding Luka Sasula on the island of Solta we picked up a mooring ball in the far reaches of the inlet. After a great day of exploring the island by scooter bikes we enjoyed a delicious dinner in the restaurant overlooking the bay. When we arrived in the mid morning, the bay was virtually empty, but by the time we came back, every mooring buoy had a boat on it as well as 3 boats anchored further up the narrow inlet from us. Having had so many anchorages to ourselves, this was a reinforcement of just how the crews of charter boats love this set up. As the next morning was quite windy, it was fun watching yachts shake off their lines to shore to extricate themselves from the crowded quarters. Interestingly enough, they all seemed quite expert at this activity.
Up wind sail to Trogir in 25 knots True
From here, we enjoyed a crisp sail across to the mainland where we anchored off the walled town of Trogir and took the ferry into Split. This was an easy way to visit the Split without the hassle of the charter fleet and other traffic in the busy port. We even had enough time to climb the hill above Split to the Zoo, where Nick and Em found they had a tiger! Not sure what to make of that.
One of my favourite anchorages was off the riverside town of Skraden which we found after winding our way up the river to explore the Krka National Park. Despite the park and waterfalls being a very popular tourist destination, the town of Skraden has a lovely lived in feel and in afternoon the light on the colorful town buildings was picturesque. The navigation up river was well worth the trip, although we did have to be careful of some pretty pesky swans as we stepped in and out of the dinghy at the anchorage.
Meandering Skraden, golden light and an icecream a perfect end to the day
On our way back down the river we dropped off Nick and Emily in Sibinek, where they continued their holiday, planning to rent motorcycles to ride into Montenegro. We are still missing their lively and youthful company and really appreciated our time with them both.
We are now on our way to Telescica National Park, and then will make our way to the Betina Marina, where we will put Paikea Mist to bed for our summer trip home to Vancouver.