BOATING in the EASTERN ADRIATIC SEA, CROATIA/MONTENEGRO
Summer 2013 - 2016
>> OVERVIEW >> 2013 >> 2014 >> 2015 >> 2016 >> 2017 - 2020
* Cruise reports for 2013 and 2014 are pdf-documents; click the links on this page to view or download them.
Some practical hints for Croatia / Adria boaters
Nautical guide/ harbour atlas:
"Kroatien 888 Häfen und Buchten", in German, by K-H.Beständig. The most detailed and easy to use almanac. English version (but not always the latest revision) from Imray as "Croatia 777 Harbours and Anchorages" Croatia, Slovenia, Montenegro.
Anchorages and buoys:
Fields of buoys - map download (e.g. for Google Earth), Blog Anchorages Map (by the author)
The site of the Ministry also has (limited) information about anchorages and marinas
Nautical information service (Nis): Ministry's free smartphone app. Ports, marinas, weather, safety info.
Weather forecast (free resources): I mostly use a laptop to access the following two sites:
Croatian Met office (website): Check out Adriatic sea, 3 day weather for towns, Aladin wind maps for areas, marine forecast (spots), lighting strokes.
Windfinder: Free version offers adequate features; web and app. Spot forecasts, 10 days range; 'standard' and 'superforecast' models.
Note: Do not rely on just one computer model as your only source of information (!).
Further resources I have tried include:
Weather online: Sailing, Adriatic overview, very limited local detail. In German on wetteronline.de (ad-funded)
Thunderstorms (Blitze Adria) on wetteronline.de
PredictWind: "Freemium" service with limited free content, wind only. Some like the looks of it.
Tidal predictions: UK Hydrographic office
Croatian tourist tax (sojourn tax):
Options and online payment at the tourist office website nautica
GENERAL COMMENTS about Croatia
Keeping our own live-aboard cruiser in Croatia makes it possible for us to explore further and stay longer than in previous years. We re-visit places we enjoyed in earlier years (see my charter logs 2008 to 2010) and visit others we haven't seen before; based in a mainland marina between Split and Sibenik means we can get to the boat easily from Split airport. The position in central Dalmatia offers - within a range of 20 to 90 nm - a uniquely large choice of islands, harbours and coves to go to. Sometimes you find perfectly nice places close by.
The secret behind the beautiful clear water in Dalmatia are pebbles. There are hardly any sandy beaches, only pebbles and rocks. On brochure photos, the famous Zlatni Rat beach in Bol might look like sand, but it is a pebble beach too. I love clear water and do not miss the sand; but to the boater it also means that the bottom is often rocky and weedy, which makes anchoring in Croatia more difficult and less safe than on a seabed of sand and mud.
One also realizes that the weather is not long range predictable. Forecasts are only reliable for the next three days; for one week ahead there is still a reasonable probability for general patterns but not in detail, strong phenomena often get predicted. I do not regard forecasts for more than 7 days as reliable.
Sailing weather in Croatia is not quite comparable to Greece or other more southerly destinations, it is fickle. There are no firm seasonal patterns, which can be relied upon, each year can be a little different. When weather systems move in, typically from the NW and shifting along the Adriatic, there are periods of unstable weather, either rainy or too windy for the motor boater; day temperatures can plunge from 32 to 18 C and even less in no time; localized wind forecasts based on computer models are difficult, there is influence from geography and terrain, and conditions can change rapidly and within few miles. That is, anyhow, only an observation and it should not put you off your cruising plans. If weather conditions should be getting severe there will be warnings, and it will become obvious whether you should go out or not.
It's worth checking forecasts from different source using different models.
The dividing point between northern and southern Dalmatia seems to near Razanj and Rogoznica, where my boat is based. South of this point the Jugo (SE wind) has often of stronger impact than the Bora (NE wind), which can be stronger in central and northern Dalmatia, Istria and the Kvarner region. Winds and gusts in the infamous Kvarner channel are a special case, and not representative for other areas.
Average weather figures do not give a reliable picture what to expect at a particular time. For example, the ideal "stable high summer weather" of the tourist brochure, characterised by clear sunny days, thermal W and NW 4-5 in the afternoon and calm nights, is true, but there is no guarantee that it happens during a particular week, or, how long it lasts. If you need to organize your holiday well in advance, you need to take a gamble.
My logs of different years show, anyhow, that there is a high chance of pleasant weather overall, with only a handful of days that are too windy or too wet to cruise.
The most hot and dry days can of course be expected during high summer, but this is the busy peak season, so you may have to accept excessive heat, overcrowding, more stress, and inflated prices.
In spring before May there is a higher chance of stronger winds than later, periods of bora (NE wind) and frontal disturbances are said to be shorter in summer than early and late in the year.
Anyhow, on the coast and islands (not including the Velebit channel) expect wind of 4-6bf, typically from NW, NE or SE, that can be regional. Bora (NE) and Jugo (SE) can be as short as one day, but can last 2 or 3 days. Gale force or above winds are unlikely in summer, that is why Croatia is considered an easy sailing region. But gusts can still be dangerous and this risk can linger a few days.
Stable fine weather in September can be very nice but the chances to get it reduce as the month progresses. Shortening daylight hours and dropping temperatures also need to be considered when planning a holiday in late September. Expect dew over night.
2014 was unusually wet, and summer 2015 very hot. 2016 offered a bit of everything, with both Jugo and Bora making powerful appearances but some stable weather otherwise and notably in mid-September. On the contrary, 2017 had a hot and extremely dry July, but September was abysmal, one low pressure system and heavy rains/thunder following another. 2018 was a better than average season, enough rain to avoid severe droughts but lots of sunshine, summer heat, and a warm and pleasant late summer.
Temperatures in winter are expected to stay always above zero, but January 2016 saw a few weeks of strong frost down to -10 C, and winter 2017 also had periods of severe frost.
In 2020 there was an apparently unpleasant June, but fine summer weather in July, and again during the first three weeks of September.
The sea temperatures in Croatia are cool in spring, and often do not reach 20C until early June. In 2020, the water was not much warmer until mid-July. The peak temperature is about 23-24 degree.
The tourism season is about 4 months, from June to September. Peak season is 2 months, July and August, those are hot and hectic. They have always been crowded due to the holidays in various countries, including Italy in August. The added effects of mass tourism from Eastern Europe and ever inflating charter business make these two months unattractive for yachting.
In recent years even the second half of June and first half of September, previously not considered to be high season, have seen many harbours and anchorages regularly getting overcrowded with charter yachts from Sunday to Thursday night.
The boating season runs from mid May to end of September, shorter than in Spain, Greece or Turkey. There are few yachts around in April and after September. Fine days can be found outside the season, but those are spot opportunities which suit people who live locally or stay long term. Several mooring buoys and smaller restaurants are only available from about June.
Coastal life in Croatia is seasonal; places change their character with the seasons. From November to March whole resort towns practically shut down, the cold, windy and wet Croatian Adriatic gets deserted, locals move elsewhere. For example, I found the harbour of Hvar town, the hectic epicentre of summer tourism, empty in winter, apart from one or two fishing boats. Only one small pizzeria was open in the whole town of Hvar in February; Primosten was firmly shut down. The few locals who remain in winter to do maintenance jobs do not require restaurants, they only use cafes and supermarkets.
Its climate makes coastal Croatia unsuitable for all-year-round tourism or as a retirement destination; young people leave smaller islands because they do not see enough opportunities there.
Talking about restaurants in summer, we are generally happy with the quality of food and value for money we are able to find. The choice of dishes and sophistication seem to have improved since our earliest years. Restaurant prices are similar to the UK, but depend on your choice. Beer and house wines are good value, but bottled wines are often expensive. Meat dishes are usually grills and well priced, but fresh non-farmed fish is extremely expensive compared to the UK; it is charged by its weight so ask it to be weighed for you before ordering, and check whether sides are included in this price.
Restaurants in resort towns are cheaper than in remote places. This does not surprise if you consider economy of scale, logistics and risks (e.g. bad weather). Restaurants on islands which offer free buoys or moorings to customers are often excellent value overall. However, the short season and high demand also create opportunities for rip-off restaurateurs in some popular coves. It is advisable to check online resources and get recommendations before committing.
We can see that prices for services and fees around yachting, a major source of revenue to the economy and the government, are rising year on year well above inflation.
Fields of buoys in new concession areas, which previously were free anchorages, are popping up. That said, buoy fields are necessary to accommodate the huge numbers of charter yachts that are now going around, and they are convenient, as long as they are safe and well maintained.
Marina rates for visiting yachts are going up all the time, charges in some ACI marinas such as Palmizana, Split etc have become very expensive and I find it outrageous that booking ahead in an ACI marina attracts a further premium on top. Rates for annual berthing contracts are more stable, but they are significantly higher than, for example, in nearby northern Italy.
The yachting environment in Croatia feels very different from Spain or Italy. It is dominated by its huge fleets of charter yachts and ever growing flotilla businesses; charter bases are on the mainland and are reached by car from Germany, Austria, Czechia, Slovakia, Poland, Hungary etc. Chartering a bargain yacht from surplus stocks and filling it to the last berth, usually 10 guys, makes it, per head, an affordable stay in the sun for anyone including low-class sun & booze tourists; cheap alcohol is available from supermarkets, some bring their own from home.
Popular places regularly get crowded by charter yachts from Sundays to Thursdays. Unfortunately several have come here for a week of drinking and letting their hair down. On islands, far away from authorities and with no worry about rules of politeness and social behaviour, beer cans get cracked open from the morning and their base kind of 'yachting' continues through the day; hanging around on their yacht, with no meaningful pasttime, drunken and disorderly behaviour takes hold and creates nuisance to others.
In summary, I see an inevitable clash between the requirements of serious boaters who stay on their own boats over longer periods, and the attitude of ill-mannered young sun tourists on charter boats, typically from Central Europe but nowadays more from Eastern Europe.
Another off-putting development for the decent yachtsman during recent years are sprawling organized party flotillas. Global holiday operators such as "The Yacht Week" target carefree Millennial tourists with the promise of sun, sex and parties every night. Those "floating glamping pads with friends", "the biggest floating festivals" etc as the official promotion says, can reach sizes of 150 yachts(!), that means 1500 drunken party revellers. Where they go to, typically the wonderful cruising grounds around Hvar and Vis, becomes a no-go zone for anyone looking for civilized and peaceful enjoyment. Mercenary local authorities and venue operators turn a blind eye when money talks.
Anyhow, other flotillas which are not of the 'party type' are getting more and larger year on year as well. Those organized mass movements of yachts are crushing individual yachting choices by booking up whole harbours and marinas, not just in peak season but even in June and September.
In summary, the last years have shown a massive increase in marine tourism in Croatia, in particular in yacht charter and organized flotillas. This is at the expense of the quality and choice available to individual sailors, and adds to the other effects of greedy development of mass tourism in the country which has started in the years after Croatia joined the EU.
This development is in complete contradiction to the aim Croatia once pledged for, high quality tourism. Its past slogan 'The Med as it once was' has been abolished. Places on the islands of Vis and Hvar, once amongst our favourites, have become no-go-areas due to the encroaching masses of yachts. Getting moorings in many other places has become stressful. I envisage yachties will be pushed away further, to niches where charterers and mercenary flotillas skippers are not yet encroaching. It's questionable how desirable this will leave Croatia as a cruising area to the discerning yachtsman.
Our experience with Croatians involved in the service industries is generally positive; people are friendly, trying to be helpful, show common sense and are holding up traditional values. Efficiency and communication, however, are not always their forte. Locals are used to holding on to two or three different seasonal jobs, and move between them to make a living. Your taxi driver might also run a bed and breakfast, and be a builder in the rest of the year. You will need a lot of patience when you deal with Croatian service people and organizations, compared to northern countries.
On the positive side, criminality - such as burglary and pickpocketing - seems to be generally low in the country, we feel safe.
In contrast, our encounters with authorities, e.g. harbour offices, police or regulators, have often been poor. Bureaucratic, slow, poorly organized, giving out changing and non-transparent regulations, they remind more of autocrats from the days of communist Yugoslavia than of a modern EU country which Croatia became in 2013. The sudden 'sojourn tax' law for 2018, bringing a shocking fee increase of 400% (compared to 2017) to annual berth holders like me, seems to be the latest example of the damaging inaptness of greedy and heavy-handed Croatian authorities towards the boating and yachting community. From those comments I exempt several younger officers who are in contact with the public, seem to have common sense, and try to be helpful. They expressed their own frustration with their superiors and back office decision makers.
We hear that tourism and charter business in Croatia were significantly down in 2018 due to the football world cup in Russia; and, I think, the outrageous increase of tourist tax for 2018 must have had some effect too. This tax has been reviewed for 2019, and reduced, but the charge was still a massive increase compared to 2017 fees. A further review in 2020 finally opened options to the owners, who keep their boat in Croatia, to pay a fair amount of tourist tax in relation to other tourists.
Whatever the statistics may say, we have seen a big increase in charter boats in 2018 and onwards; any reduction in the large flotilla tourism business would only be welcome to serious yachties. I am afraid however, the development goes in a different direction and Croatia is putting quantity before quality the more they get under financial pressure.
A further area of concern are backward environmental services in Croatia. Authorities appear to fail there as well; there is still lacking or unsatisfactory sewage treatment in places despite paying lip service to improvements. There an no pump-out services for waste tanks of boats (as far as I am aware), recycling facilities are lacking in most places. Poisonous and chemical waste, plastic, paper, glass, all end up in the same bins.
My comments about experiences in Croatia continue with updates on the 2019 page.
OVERVIEW OF OUR ADRIA CRUISING
In the years from 2013 to 2018 we did three trips in each summer, returning home between them; the duration of each stay was about three consecutive weeks.
We got to Piran (Slovenia) in the North, and down to Kotor (Montenegro) in the South, and visited most larger Dalmatian islands, but with the exception of those in the Kvarner region.
From 2019 we were happy to do two trips per season, one in early and one in late summer, each stay being perhaps slightly longer. This saved one strenous travel and flights and the preparations on leaving and returning to the boat.
>> 2013 Season
>> 2014 Season
>> June 2014: North Dalmatian Islands and Istrian peninsula to Piran
>> July 2014: South Dalmatian Islands: Vis, Hvar, Lastovo, Mjlet
>> Sept 2014: Central Dalmatia: Brac, Makarska, Hvar, Kornati
>> 2015 Season Central & southern islands
>> 2016 Season Central Dalmatia
>> 2017 Season Northern & central islands
>> 2018 Season Central islands
>> 2019 Season Central Dalmatia: Kornati, Sibenik islands, Murter, Solta, Hvar
>> 2020 Season Central Dalmatia: Zut, Zirje, Solta, Hvar
Cruising in South and Central Dalmatia, 2013
During this summer we use Tarilian from her base in the centre of the Croatian Adriatic coast at Marina Kremik at Primosten, and tour the central and south Dalmatian islands.
The threats of organized large scale tourism and more regulation loom (that's what Croatian officials aim at by being a new part of the EU), but let's hope all the lovely unspoilt small places will remain, where locals make every effort to make your stay as a visiting boater comfortable.
First trip: South Dalmatia and the Bay of Kotor / end of May to mid June 2013
To South Dalmatia; via Korcula and Sipan to Tivat and Kotor in Montenegro.
On the way back we visit Mljet and places in Hvar.
Weather in this early part of the season is not as warm and pleasant as hoped, but there are fine sunny days too.
Spectacular path to St John's fortress above Kotor Old Town.
More mountain than sea, but Tarilian is actually in the photo - on the tiny looking pontoon sticking off the main quay.
Otherwise it's a deja vu of pleasant marinas, such as the Palmizana near Hvar ...
... and quaint harbours, such as Vrboska.
A memorable experience for me is my change from being an unnoticeable tourist to a skipper of a vessel wanted by the police which had entered the country illegally from international waters.
Well, view or download the cruise report of this trip:
Log 2013 Part 1 Cruising Dalmatia
Second trip, Kornati, Vis, Hvar / end of June to mid July 2013
Around the central Dalmatian islands, including the Kornati, Vis and Hvar.
A usual gamut of bare islands (Katina) ...
.. coves (Tratinska on Zirje)...
... and old harbours (Milna)
Do I remember anything really unusual about this trip? Not sure (complaints about Captain Bligh, I suppose, are usual, as are unreliable weather forecasts).
Anyway, view or download the cruise report,
Log 2013 Part 2 Cruising Croatia
Third trip, from mid August to early September 2013
This is our longest trip of the season, again in Central Dalmatia.
Through the Zadar and Sibenik archipelagos visiting islands Iz, Dugi Otok and the nature parks Telascica and Kornati (yet again).
It's August and there are many more boats around than on the earlier trips.
Anchored in Bokasin cove on Dugi Otok
On buoy in Pantera bay (Dugi Otok)
On quay at Striznja (Kornati)
During this final journey of the season, the crew shows slightly mutinous notions and expresses a desire for a relaxed 'holiday'. That means our indefatigable skipper shelves his ambitions to reach more distant destinations which require longer motoring hours.
I pick places we liked earlier, as well as new ones, some off the beaten track.
Great Mediterranean high summer weather for much of the time; we experience violent thunderstorms and a formidable windspout.
Jane is a little unwell, and I have invited a friend as a guest for a week.
English sailors say, guests on boats are like fish, they start smelling after three days.
So, is it all really about unfortunate events?
View or download my cruise report
Log 2013 Part 3 Cruising Dalmatia
In the 2013 season we cruised about 7 weeks, spread over 3 separate turns, and logged a total mileage of 929 nm.
In conclusion, here are a few more impressions from the third turn
In the Kornati islands (Striznja cove)
Evening in the harbour (at Prvic Luka)
Just how I remember passenger ships in Italy as a child ... long live good old Tijat
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ADRIATIC CRUISES - CROATIA 2014
First trip, BOATING in NORTHERN DALMATIA and ISTRIA, June 2014
In 2014 Tarilian was berthed at marina Frapa, Rogoznica.
n early June we venture from our base towards the northern Adriatic, where we have not been yet with this boat.
We are lucky with the weather for almost two weeks. This period of fine weather is followed by rather awful days of rain and storms; anyhow, by that time we had done what we had intended and are back to base.
Our destinations are the picturesque villages and ancient towns of Italianate character along the Istrian peninsula and the old Venetian harbour of Piran in Slovenia.
We are going to find that the Istrian coast is today a highly developed tourism area, with several touristy 'hotspots'.
The relative proximity to Italy, Austria and Germany have made Istria popular for generations of tourists, and it's well worth a visit.
For us boaters, however, the charm of the Dalmatian islands and the variety of destinations they offer, cannot be rivalled.
The Porer lighthouse on the SW tip of the Istrian penisula. It guides boats approaching from the South crossing the Kvarner
Pula is a busy town with marine industry and wharfes.
At night, the cranes are imaginatively lit to create a display of changing coluors.
Cranes at Pula
From Pula going northwest along the Istrian coast we arrive at Piran after a couple of days of leisurely cruising in warm sun.
Tarilian in Piran harbour, seafront behind.
View or download the cruise report
Log 2014 Part 1 "Northern Dalmatia and Istria"
In early July we return to Croatia for a second boating trip of around 2 weeks.
Second trip, REVISITING the SOUTH DALMATIAN ISLANDS in July 2014
We are a bit nervous about travelling at high season; we are going to revisit some of our usual suspects and to take a brief look to the side here and there where we have not been.
This time we start with Komiza on Vis island, then pay visits to the islands of Hvar, Korcula, Lastovo and Mljet.
On the west side of Island Vis lies the old harbour of Komiza, one of our favourite ports
In July it is good to know where to escape from the maddening crowds. One of those places is Lastovo.
A disused former mooring place near Lastovo town
Restaurant Augusta in Zaklopatica cove, Lastovo
View or download the cruise report
Log 2014 Part 2 "South Dalmatia"
For our third and final boating trip of the 2014 season we set out on August 29th. It is going to be a mixed bag of weather, which makes us return to base a couple of times, and we also have to do some maintenance work on the boat.
Third trip, REVISITING CENTRAL DALMATIAN ISLANDS in September 2014
We are going to places not too far from our base at Rogoznica, including Split, Hvar, Brac and the Kornati.
My report contains the usual mix of photos from quaint harbours ... (Tarilian seen here in the port of Zlarin)
... amazing nature in the Kornati ... (even better when there is amazing food on offer, too)
... some gentle water activities ... (in Tiha cove near Starigrad, Hvar)
... accompanied by wildlife in the night ...(hopefully not too many of those)
... and, by September 18, it's time to go back to base and say good bye to our boating season.
View or download the photo report of our third trip
Log 2014 Part 3 "Central Dalmatia"
Over our three trips in summer 2014 we spent nearly 8 weeks on the boat, and logged a total of 954 nm.
Naturally, looking after one's boat does not stop. I am going to visit over the winter; some works, including a large engine service, need to be scheduled before the next season.
Return to base - Lighthouse Mulo outside Rogoznica
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Summer 2015 - More Boating in Dalmatia
This season we spend three periods of about 3 weeks on the boat. We re-visit several destinations we liked before, and see some new ones.
It starts rather unfortunate, we encounter serious delays in the annual maintenance works and a scheduled major motor service. The delay is due to technical problems in the yard, with their crane, so they say.
June 2nd, the day we had intended to start the cruising season, our engines look like that; it will take more than one week to complete the work.
To be fair, our contractors, Offshore-Boote, do everything they can do to help, and provide us a courtesy yacht to go cruising and make the best of the week of delay.
It's early June and the weather is summerly hot for the time of the year, but Jane and I suffer from an unusual cold which takes several days to clear.
In general, this season is characterized by periods of very hot weather. Even in September we have many days of over 30 deg C. That may sound great to someone who only goes to the beach, but not so much if you want to cruise, when the engines heat the boat up further, and you have to do some work as well. We use our air conditioning system often, but it isn't of help in the nights.
34 deg Celsius in and outside. Not unusual in this very hot summer
Another unwelcome weather pattern, to us, are periods of southerly wind, Jugo. For 5 days in September it blows with up to force 6, while the weather at the same time is hot and clear. We do not like going places in strong winds, given the difficult berthing manoeuvres, unsettled nights on buoys and inadequate moorings; not to mention the fact that we have almost "been there and seen it all in calm weather" before.
A few technical gremlins give us trouble as well. At one stage the dinghy engine ceases running and needs a repair. The passarella quits moving on another occasion; it's apparently only due to a bad contact, but a disruptive problem to have in the Med.
Some other electronic bits give up their ghost, too, reminding me that electronics and sea water are a bad pairing, and "perfect boats" exist only in glossy sales ads, regardless how much you try to keep things up and going.
That said, summer 2015 is of course not all doom and gloom; we enjoy good boating time and pleasant surprises as well.
Much of our 2015 cruising is similar to earlier trips, so I am not going to prepare reports like in 2013 and 2014.
Here are some IMPRESSIONS FROM OUR BOATING IN CROATIA 2015, including some places new to us.
After taking our courtesy yacht to Stupica Vela bay on Zirje and staying a night on a bouy, we make a nostalgic visit to Primosten on June 7th.
All goes well; the mooring helper informs me about a new 'service' where you can call him on his mobile to reserve a place, at a fee. That's handy for the busy harbour in high season, but is that fee not just going into his private pocket?
A nice evening and good dinner as usual, but a little annoyed about some boorish blokes on the next boat who are drunk and moor somewhat erratically.
'Grazia' berthed at touristy but nice Primosten town quay in bright sunshine. It's still early season.
The next day, June 8th, we take our courtesy boat, "Grazia" (she is the yacht we had chartered in 2008 and had liked) to Potkucina bay on Kakan, in the Sibenik archipelago, and moor on one of the 50 or so buoys of the Borovnjaci anchorage.
Lovely warm weather; Grill Babalu, a small smart restaurant, provides nice dinner. The night on the buoy is perfectly peaceful and calm.
On June 11th Tarilian is finally ready and we take her to our new home berth at Marina Frapa, which looks and feels much like holiday, and it faces a beach.
Somewhere in the Carribean? No, near Veli Prisnjak island, south west end of Korcula. N42°55'30.62" E16°41'40.09"
It's July 11th. We have anchored here for lunch on the way to Lastovo. In high season it seems prudent to choose an outer island to avoid the charter crowds.
One of the attractions of islands is, that you can spend time and go all round them. We want to do this in Lastovo this time.
For our starting point we return to a restaurant with moorings, Augusta in Zaklopatica cove (see also report 2014 part 2).
July 12th, Zaklopatica cove on Lastovo N42°46'20.23", E16°52'31.39". Tarilian in good company of a Dutch ocean trawler yacht.
From here we start going round the island anti-clockwise. We find Mali Lago and the island of Prezba a lush scenic enviroment of small wooded islet with deep clear water in between. After anchoring by Mrcara, and later touring Veli Lago, proceed to the south coast and Skrivena Luka, the "Red Port" respectively cove.
The bare south coast of Lastovo is in marked contrast to the lush north; here seen from the entrance to Skrivena Luka
July 13th; berth at Porto Rosso restaurant with its long yacht pier, a mini marina. Porto Rosso is a stylish quality restaurant with an extensive menu; the mooring has to be paid separetely.
The following day we carry on rounding the island. Leaving Porto Rosso we pass the Struga lighthouse which is impressively located on a cliff.
July 15th. Less dramatic than the above is this bay in Loviste, a small laid back holiday village at the west end of Pejesak peninsula.
The public pier is free, and the small fish-only restaurant right next to it, Barsa, is a treat. Have a deliciously fresh gurnard; a good find and real surprise.
Moored along side the pier in peaceful Loviste. Boating happiness restored.
July 21st, after spending a night on Solta, in the upmarket Martinis-Marchi marina in Maslenica, we anchor in nearby Krknjas cove east of Veli Drvenik. Always a popular anchorage for its turquoise water, in high season it is crowded with trip boats, the nouveau-riche on chartered super-yachts (and their toys), and the rest of us mere mortals on boats displaying an interesting range of anchoring skills.
They are good fun to watch!
But those guys are more stylish ... (spotted a few days earlier south of the Pakleni islands, Hvar)
On Sept 11th, in brilliant late season weather, we re-visit cove Stupica Vela on Zirje island, only 12 nm in a straight course from our base; we have been there already at the start of our season. Enjoy dinner in the simple yet satisfying Konoba. In the evening it's now getting cooler, and there are fewer diners.
The next morning we explore the interesting ruins of the byzantine fortress of the 6th century overlooking the cove.
Tarilian on a buoy in Stupica Vela, just one hour away from our base.
Sept 18th we leave to visit Sibenik, the regional capital, which we have not yet seen. Berth in the new marina Mandalina.
Sibenik has got attractive historic buildings in its old town, but the modern city looks ugly and is in parts run down; it seems to struggle economically.
On approach, we anchor for lunch in the bay east of the Sv Nikola fortress at the entrance to the Sv Ante channel that leads up the Krka river up to Sibenik.
Take out the dinghy to visit the (unrenovated) Venetian fortress which more recently served as a prison.
Lions can be found inside and outside Sibenik cathedrale. They are from the time when the city prospered, the 1500s, under Venetian rulership
The baptistery with its remarkable ceiling carved from a single monolith
Leaving Sibenik through the Sv Ante channel
By September 20th our 2015 boating season draws to an end.
In summer 2015 we spent nearly 9 weeks in Croatia, and logged a total of 700 nm.
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SEASON 2016 : MORE POTTERING IN DALMATIA
Summary and statistics of our 2016 season
Same as in the previous years, we visit Croatia three times, in June, July and September; each visit is between 2 ½ and 3 weeks long.
Our home berth is still in marina Frapa, Rogoznica, in central Dalmatia. When the weather turns unpleasant, we normally return to our attractive and convenient home port in good time.
1.Trip: We spend 10 out of 20 days cruising* (50%); 5 days are storm or rainy/thundery.
2.Trip: We spend 10 out of 17 days cruising (59%); 3 days are stormy.
3.Trip: We spend 13 out of 21 days cruising (62%); 4-5 days are rainy or thundery.
* 'cruising' means being on a journey / away from our home berth
Total mileage in 2016: 623 nm. Engine hours: 83. Average Diesel consumption: 3.8 ltr/nm
All in all, for us 2016 is a typical season weather-wise, with a patch of above average weather in September.
The relatively low fuel consumption shows that most of our cruising was done at or close to displacement speed (8.5 to 9.5kn).
Part 1 - First trip June 2nd to 20th
We start our season with a short turn north towards the Kornati islands, June 4th to 8th.
Fine weather but a bit cool at only 20 to 22 deg C day temperature, the sea is too cold to swim yet. It’s early season. At the Borovnjaci anchorage on Kakan, the small taverna Babalu has just opened the day before.
At Opat we note that the restaurant attracts more large luxury motor yachts, apparently crewed charter yachts. Their nouveau-riche guests are sometimes not the kind of people we find comfortable having around us. The cove is still nice, and the food as fine as we found and enjoyed it in previous years.
After Opat, we spend a couple of happy days in fine weather at the Mare restaurant on Katina. Mare too is popular with motor boaters, but here you usually see friendly and experienced owner operators.
Be aware, that there are problems with mobile network coverage at Katina.
Sailing the Kornati channel, near Toreta, looking north west
Marija & Little Marija, fishing boats by Katina, restaurant Mare
In the second part of our first stay, between June 13th and 15th, the weather has been warming up but is not all that stable. We go south, spend a night in our favourite cove Tiha in the Starigrad channel (Hvar), and the following in Stomorska harbour on Solta, a very pleasant stay this time, with still not too many other yachties and tourists around.
... and it claims a victim outside our marina in Rogoznica
For June 16th and 17th strong SE wind has been forecast. The Jugo blows strongly at Rogoznica, which is located at 43.53 deg N and 15.96 deg E, in the circle on the left side of the diagram.
Lighter amber areas are force 6 and near gale 7, darker orange patches are gale force 8 and strong gale 9.
For a short trip, after the Jugo, we head again for Kaprije and Potkucina cove, and enjoy a sunny afternoon and pleasant evening.
By that time, June 18th, the sea has warmed up enough for a night swim.
In the Borovnjaci buoy field (also referred to as Potkucina cove), be aware that some of the buoys are in a poor condition and rickety.
By the way, the label "Res. Paradiso Tratica" is only an old ad, you can go eating where you want, or not at all.
Borovnjaci/Tratica: Good Buoy and Bad Buoy
Has the same brackets (intact) on top and bottom. Had its bottom (!) bracket broken off
The buoy man has turned the Bad Buoy (to right) upside down to tie the ground rope on (look where the ad label is - it should face upwards).
Always check that the Good Buoy is ok and not (almost) becoming a Bad Buoy on its lower end, where it counts ...
On the following days temperature is going to drop and rain is coming...
We already have to think about leaving for London.
Sod’s law shows it’s alive and kicking; a period of stable summer weather settles in just as we leave.
Part 2 - Second Trip July 10 to 28
Our ‘high season’ visit to Croatia starts with properly hot weather at 32 deg C.
A first short trip takes us again to Kakan and the Borovnjaci anchorage. Most of its 60 or so buoys are already taken, but not all boats are there to stay overnight. Once again I find that the buoy we have tied our boat on is broken; the bracket on its bottom has cracked open and the ground rope is just hanging on one end, a huge hazard which you cannot see from above the water.
Cloudless skies, a perfect sunset and a completely calm evening and night.
But, in Croatia, even in July the fine summer weather isn't lasting, the next days bring thundery rain and bora (NE wind).
We make our way to Kremik marina to visit Offshore-Boote. There may be some cross wind but I am not worried as it is a safe place and we are very familiar with the berthing situation. However, I get suddenly distracted by an overzealous helper meddling with our manoeuvre and jumping on deck without being asked; in a momentary lack of concentration I leave the engines in gear while I rush from the fly helm to the aft deck to get control. I realize instantly what’s happening and am fast enough back at the helm to stop the boat. Just in time, but just. A sobering experience that reminds me that accidents always loom, even in a situation you feel you know well.
Sitting out the bora in our home berth at Frapa over the following two days. We watch BBC World and Sky News with shocking reports of the Nice terror attack and later the ‘coup’ attempt in Turkey. As an aftermath of the bora, temperature has dropped to 18 deg C.
Sunday July 17th is a special day in the port of Rogoznica, the traditional local event “Return of the painting of our Lady to her chapel” takes place, a procession from the main church, over the causeway, passing though the marina, to the chapel at the tip of the peninsula.
The chapel and lighthouse at the tip of the Gradina peninsula at the entrance to Rogoznica bay. Local boats watch the event.
In the evening, we go across to the village by dinghy and have dinner at Mario’s Konoba; on the newly designed Riva next door is a concert of “3 Dalmatian tenors”.
July 18th sees the decrease of the NE wind and the return of summer weather.
Our first target is Lucice cove on Brac, and I reserve a table and buoy at the popular restaurant Marino (Smrce), now called Lucice. We arrive at Lucice cove at 16:00 and are guided in by a keen mooring guy in his rib. 300 Kn is charged, although the buoy belongs to our restaurant. The mooring guy offers to take us ashore and back in the evening.
On a buoy outside restaurant Marino, later renamed Lucice
Lucice a lovely bay; we have a skarpina (scorpion fish) for two, and a most romantic table right by the sea.
However, Marino’s prices are inflated, fish is charged 600 kn/kilo, sides and wine are expensive too, without being anything special.
Considering, that the restaurant is a short distance from Milna by road, and they charge extra for the buoy, we find it poor value for money. I hear later that the other two restaurants in Lucice bay have both some issues and are not worth recommending.
For the next night I call Vrboska harbour master but hear they have a flotilla. I reserve a berth on the quay in Starigrad.
I have discovered a potential issue with the Passarella (yet another issue) and am happy that I do not need the tender. On the way across the Hvar Channel towards Starigrad, we pick up a buoy in Tiha cove for lunch and a swim.
As the afternoon commences, a ‘The Yacht Week’ flotilla makes an appearance and starts occupying the whole large north bay of the cove. We are only too happy that we are not staying here.
A huge party flotilla stages the occupation of a peaceful cove and is allowed to ruin it with a boozy disco all night. Insensitive Millennial tourists make this insane "sailing holiday" scheme for non-sailors a growing sales success!
Starigrad proves overall as pleasant as we had hoped; we stay for two nights. We marvel at the improved old town quay, and the works to extend quays on the north side of the harbour to provide an additional yacht quay. There may be some temporary safety hazards to pedestrians here and there, but so it be; H&S doctrine has not yet replaced reliance on common sense.
The new north quay at Starigrad harbour, Hvar, is nearly finished
Extending and raising quays at Starigrad also provides useful flood defense
The spell of wonderful summer weather continues; Thursday night we stay on a buoy in nearby Tiha cove (having made sure there is no flotilla) and Friday 22nd we go to Palmizana marina (Hvar) to re-visit one the excellent restaurants of Sveti Klement.
On Fridays and Saturdays this marina usually has spaces because charter yachts are away, but the rest of the week it is fully booked despite its nowadays exorbitant price level. Euros 143 per day for a boat like Tarilian, plus an extra rip-off reservation fee if you book online; I feel that such a booking fee, combined with only taking upfront payment, is unreasonable and should not be allowed. We do not get charged extra for booking a hotel, a restaurant, a flight or a rental car. Hvar town has managed to become the hectic epicentre of Croatian island tourism and is priced accordingly. Millions of reviewers have "discovered" everything in and around it, and raved about it. The town has become a seasonal folly for tourists, and is otherwise empty.
An alternative to the ACI marina is the Vinogadisce cove on the opposite, the south, side of Sveti Klement, which has nowadays got a "high-density" field of buoys; yes, pricey too, you guessed it.
Vinogradisce cove, Sv.Klement, with the range of upmarket restaurants around, has always been an extremely popular anchorage.
Saturday morning in Palmizana marina, hardly any yachts on the charter pontoon. Is the place being turned into a ferry port?!
Well, there are works going on, the ferry delivers a couple of trucks with containers.
Saturday July 23rd. For this night we try to re-visit Stomorska on Solta, but alas when we arrive at 15:35, though plenty of spaces are available, we are told the harbour was “fully booked”. I am angry; someone can book a whole harbour for their flotilla, and private boats that arrive first get turned away. I hear the same happened to a friend on a previous day.
It’s the second time we experience this within a few days. It must be the sign of times in high season Croatia; ever increasing flotillas, run by professionals; easy money and "connections" (some might call it corruption) crush individual yachting. It reminds me of the unfair treatment we experienced in Komiza harbour some time ago, where the harbour office even lied to us saying that they would not accept bookings (except from “special” people, I suppose).
Motorway to Split - an uninterrupted row of cruisers, gulets and trip boats are on passage across the Hvar channel towards the Split Gates.
I call Milna ACI marina, an old haunt of ours; they have space; we berth in a more godly place, by the church with its lovely loud bells.
Tarilian at Milna marina. The large ruin to the right, in the most prominent position in town, is a sad case. We saw the house in good condition and with a roof like new in 2000 and later in 2006 and 2007. Only 6 years later, in 2013, the roof had been completely taken off and the house turned into a ruin.
From Sunday July 24th the weather is expected to deteriorate, with wind starting late afternoon; but the morning is bright and calm.
On the way towards Frapa we anchor at Krknjas (Drvenik V.) at 12:00 for lunch. The beautiful anchorage is in season a restless place of yachts coming and leaving, but I usually get a space in the deeper, not so "blue lagoon"-coloured part.
We leave the anchorage at 13:00, the NW wind has got up. In the passage between the Drvenik islands and the mainland the NW wind blows like in a funnel, it has a long reach from the open sea and can whip up chop.
Half way through towards Rt Ploce (Punta Planka), east of the Arkandel island, I decide that the gusting head wind is putting unacceptable stress on the bimini and I need to fold it back; not easily done in such conditions. Near to Rt Ploce the waves increase to 1.5m; much earlier than expected. A couple of steep waves brake right before our bow and send water over the flybridge. Arrive Frapa at 2:30pm.
Tarilian docked on a superyacht pontoon near the services yard at Frapa. In the background restaurant Siesta, our trusted value for money choice.
The next morning I have the passarella taken off and the bracket inspected; the bolts are not broken as I had feared. They put it back on, Sika-flexed and with new doubled up nuts. It's not a very strong construction, but hopefully will last for the time being until I get a more solid bracket custom-made.
In Marina Frapa, between pier 9 and 10. Tarilian is back in its usual berth, shut down, boat covers are on, we are ready to leave.
Part 3 - Third Trip Sept 1-20
The weather is fine and summerly. It seems to become our habit to do a first short trip to Kakan and moor at the Borovnjaci anchorage. All is nice there as usual; the buoy guy already recognizes our boat. Night is mild at 23deg C, but getting a little damp and dewy.
Sept 2nd, Friday we continue NW to re-visit marina Piskera, where we had last been in 2004.
Mooring with the stern against the afternoon wind is no problem.
In this area the T-Com network coverage provides only for voice calls, data does not work; on the VIP network we get data. The problem with T-Com is confirmed the next day by the marina office.
To me, the Piskera seems environmentally still ok; fish, grass and sea urchins seem well.
It’s Friday, and so no charter yachts. The pontoons are empty, it feels lonely; the whole place is a magical setting between rocky white islets, just as we remember it.
Jane "on the rocks"
Tarilian in Piskera marina, Kornati
Next day we make our way back SE, under gloriously blue skies. We stop at Tratinska cove on Zirje, a beautiful cove with solid mooring buoys to stay overnight, and a simple restaurant. The buoy operator isn’t busy. Talking about immigration he tells us how much Croatians would hate Muslim immigrants. Furthermore, that it "has already been pre-determined that Trump will win over Clinton". Ah!
Buoy at Tratinsca cove, Zirje
We stay in the bay until next afternoon, then return to our home berth.
On Sept 7th Jane’s daughter PK arrives in the afternoon.
Sept 8th. With a forecast for mostly clear settled weather, we start a trip south. We try, first time for us, Bobovisce cove on Brac, north of Milna; an easy day trip of 27.5 nm.
En route we stop at Krknjas (Drvenik Veli), our pleasant and convenient (albeit busy) lunchtime anchorage. At Bobovisce, there is a space at the very end of yacht quay. The docking manoeuvre looks a bit chaotic at first, because the mooring helper hands over a far too short mooring line, then one which runs even in a ‘wrong’ direction; with lack of a suitable bollard ashore I have to rig a longer landline across small boats to stay safe. I fix the short lines to suitable forward side cleats rather than to the bow, rearrange ropes and we eventually get there.
Tarilian berthed at Bobovisce quay. You may notice that the mooring ropes are not attached where they usually are.
In addition to the moorings on the quay there is a row of buoys on the opposite side of the cove, with landlines to tie up ashore. If I have a choice, however, I always prefer moorings where I can get ashore directly without needing a dinghy.
Bobovisce is a nice and picturesque village in a narrow cove with steep slopes up on the sides. There are quaint old stone houses, which remind me of pretty harbours such as Zlarin, Vrboska or Stomorska. But, here is also a little viewing tower, maybe from a derelict fortification, overlooking the cove. We will climb up the next morning and enjoy the views.
Panorama of Bobvisce and the cove
The old village of Bobovisce (Brac)
Have dinner in one of the quayside restaurants, on a table inside as the evening gets cooler; quite pleased, and value for money.
Sept 9th, Friday we continue our journey and tie up on a buoy in Tiha cove in the Starigrad channel. For dinner we visit the new simple grill in the north cove, a useful addition to this beautiful bay where food had been unavailable.
Saturday morning in the bay, swimming, paddling and watching wildlife, then move to Starigrad town, our favourite harbour on Hvar. Moor up on the newly built up north quay. It is quieter than the town quay opposite side, but the walk to the harbour office, all round the harbour, takes about 20 minutes (each way), be aware.
We are in for a treat tonight, there are celebrations of “2400 Years Starigrad”, including a gathering and parade of vintage boats.
Vintage boats gather at "Starigrad 2400 Years" celebrations
By the way, the feast in town does not mean that all restaurants are full; locals go out eating far less than foreigners.
Our next trip from Frapa is in northerly direction to the Sibenik islands, just 17nm to go, in calm and stable weather. Yet again we go on a buoy in Potkucina cove (Borovnjaci anchorage) on Kakan. The large bay is not empty but there are many buoys left, a sign of late season. Dinner at Babalu grill, a nice and quiet September evening, still pleasantly warm.
The following day, Sept 13th, still in sunny weather, we re-visit nearby Stupica Vela cove on Zirje, and its simple but good restaurant run by the Old Ladies.
Buoys here are kept better and are more secure than in Borovnjaci. But, be aware, regarding larger boats, that some of them are quite close together.
Old Buoys network, at Stupica Vela restaurant, Zirje
In the afternoon we walk the short path up to the picturesque ruins of the Roman fortification with its splendid views. Another beautiful sunset and a quiet night ensue.
The following morning is completely calm, but, with a large patch of sea fog covering the cove and creating an unusual autumn light and mood at the anchorage. By 10:00 the sun starts comes through and slowly dissolving the fog.
Sea fog is clearing, Zirje island, Sept 14
We leave the anchorage at 11:00, visibility is still less than 1nm. Half an hour later the fog has dissolved further and visibility increased to 4nm. Berth at Frapa by 13:00, later in the afternoon PK takes a taxi to Split airport.
After this period of stable weather a low has passed over us. By Sept 20th it has been filling and the weather clears; still NW wind but reducing and only light in the night. A final short trip to the popular Sesula cove on Solta, a place we have only seen from afar before. I have booked restaurant Sismis, who reserve buoys for their customers. We get there by 16:00. The cove is narrow and deep; assisted by friendly mooring helpers we tie the bow to a mooring rope, and rig a landline at the stern which, in our case, attaches to a small chain. This chain is on a bracket cemented into a crack on the rocky shore.
To me, the chain set-up looks a bit rickety, but it probably is safe.
Sept 20, moored at Sismis restaurant, Sesula cove on Solta island. Many more yachts are going to arrive.
The position of the restaurant and the views over the cove could not be nicer, the food is good too. We are just disappointed how early the sun sets at this time of the year, just before 19:00. With the darkness comes a drop in temperature and increase in humidity, eating outside becomes unpleasant. In September one should go to dinner outdoors by 18:00 at the latest.
The following day we return to Frapa in calm and bright weather, refuel the boat and prepare to leave. Flights to Gatwick in the early evening bring our summer 2016 season to a conclusion.
Isolated danger mark on the rocky islet east of Smokvica Vela island, on the approach to Rogoznica from south
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