The Dalmatian Coast
22 June 2013 | Croatia
Croatia has a 300 mile coast on the Adriatic Sea. There are hundreds of islands in this area and we will be visiting the southern portion, called the Dalmatian Coast. This area stretches northwest from Dubrovnik to Split. Our family has 6 days to tour some of the outer islands before my cousin Bob Gillespie, his wife Maureen, and children Isabel, Elise, and Phillip join us in Trogir.
Clearing in at Cavtat was painless. They didn't ask for our clearance papers from Greece so all my concern for that turned out to be for nothing. Also, I had read that you needed an International Certificate of Competence in order to get a cruising permit. In the US the American Sailing Association will issue one if you take their first three basic sailing courses, which I did. Waste of a few hundred dollars and three days but as an fyi, I'm competent.
We headed to the Dubrovnik marina that afternoon to rest and restock the boat. We are going to tour the city with the Gillespie's later so we just stayed at the marina. The marina had a pool, which was unusual, and we enjoyed a swim and medium nice dinner. I filled up our water tanks from the marina because the quality is very good. If flows directly from a mountain right behind the marina, a huge natural spring. This was the most expensive marina we have used so far. It cost $400 for one night berthing. I should have asked the price beforehand but it wouldn't have mattered, we needed it.
Sunday, June 16th, we headed to Mljet and the main village of Polace. This island is a Croatian National Park due to it's unsoiled natural beauty. We arrived late and needed to leave early so we were only able to appreciate it from the boat and restaurant. The restaurants in the village all have boat piers and it is free to moor if you eat dinner. This makes the dinner essentially free due to the cost of the marinas. I plan on returning here with my cousin so more details will come on this island.
On Monday we went to Lastovo, a low population island further out in the Adriatic. It was defiantly low key and nice to just swim and hang out. The family broke out the kayak and Jeanne and Nick teamed up for a long exploration of the bays. Elaina and I still need to work on our coordination with paddling. Plus, she had a most irritating habit of banging her paddle against the side of the kayak on each stroke. I really do love her quirky skills.
Hvar was the next stop and we enjoyed a night on the city quay. These are not cheap either, costing about $240 per night. One of the reasons it is so expensive is that they charge 50% more to catamarans due to the beam. Essentially, we take twice the space. Again, we are coming back here with the Gillespie's and detail the village then.
From Hvar we sailed southeast to Vis. This was the first time we actually sailed since getting to Croatia because it had been dead calm the other days. There was 7 knots of wind and with the spinnaker and main up we achieved 5 knots of speed. The bay we anchored in was fairly secluded and pretty. We stern tied to the shore for the first time ever and did it well. This is an important skill to learn as it is fairly common in the Eastern Med due to the depths and size of the bays. When the bays are 60 feet or deeper it is hard get enough scope on your anchor to insure a proper set, so what you do is drop the anchor and back up close to shore. Then someone takes a line from the boat and wraps it around a rock or tree on shore to keep the boat in place.
Stari Grad on the island of Hvar was our next stop and brought two "bests" with it. It was the best village we have visited so far this year and we had our best meal of the trip. It's hard to describe this village. Jeanne and I are trying to come up with the adjectives and none do it justice. It simply had that feel you would expect from an old world European village. "Meandering walkways interspersed with small courtyards subtly cloaked by the ancient white color of concrete and stone" is the best I can do. And it was very clean.
Our meal was enjoyed on a rooftop surrounded by impeccably manicured flowers and vines. We each had a salad that tasted so fresh you could imagine they had just picked the ingredients from the ground. I had a monkfish made with white wine that tasted similar to lobster, but better. Upon returning to Palarran that evening our boat neighbors invited Nick and I over for a beer. They were Germans enjoying an annual sailing trip and we stayed up very late trading stories and talking world politics. What a great and interesting group of guys. We all hope to return here with the Gillespie's to further explore and appreciate the area.
Today we are anchored in a bay close to Trogir. It has been and enjoyable week as a family and nice to reconnect with Nick and Elaina. Now begins our period of having company aboard and we are excited for them all. After the Gillespie's leave a lifelong friend of Nicks, Sam Reithman, arrives and will accompany us from Croatia to Montenegro and then back to Corfu. Then Lorie and Kevin Beckman will join us for the journey from Corfu to Lefkas. And finally my cousin Joe Lambright is returning with his whole family to explore the Southern Ionian Islands.