BOATING in the EASTERN ADRIATIC SEA, CROATIA/MONTENEGRO
Summer 2013 - 2018
>> Overview, or go to >> 2013 >> 2014 >> 2015 >> 2016 >> 2017 >> 2018
* Latest additions: 2018-09-22
* PLEASE NOTE: New entries are added at the end of the page; for the latest updates scroll DOWN to the end.
* Cruise reports for 2013 and 2014 are pdf-documents; click the links on this page to view or download them.
* Links under geographical names are to Google maps.
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. Available in English (but maybe not the latest revision) from Imray as "Croatia 777 Harbours and Anchorages" Croatia, Slovenia, Montenegro.
Anchorages and buoys: Anchorages in Croatia (private blog by wosamma.at)
Fields of buoys - Google map (regular updates, also for Google Earth integration; by the same 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; easy to use, but do not rely on their computer model as your only source of information (!).
Further resources I have tried include:
Weather online: Sailing, Adriatic overview, limited local detail. In German on wetteronline.de (ad-funded)
Thunderstorms (Blitze Adria) on wetteronline.de
PredictWind: "Freemium" service with limited content for free users, wind forecast only.
Tidal predictions: UK Hydrographic office
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 is that there are hardly any sandy beaches. It might look like sand on the brochures photos, but even famous Zlatni Rat in Bol is a pebble beach. I love clear water and do not miss the sand; but to the boater it also means that the sea bottom can be rocky and weedy, which makes anchoring in Croatia more difficult and less safe than on coasts with sand and mud.
One also realizes that the weather is not long range predictable. There are often 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 forecasts using computer models are often not reliable due to the influence of geography and terrain; weather and wind conditions can change suddenly within only few miles and few hours.
The dividing point between northern and southern Dalmatia seems to be Rt Ploca, near Razanj and Rogoznica, where my boat is based. From here to south the Jugo (SE wind) is of stronger impact than the Bora (NE and N wind), the latter is a worry in northern Dalmatia and the Kvarner region.
Seasonal weather patterns vary each year. Average climate figures do not give a realistic picture due to the huge variations. If you rely upon flights, like we do, or need to organize your holiday well in advance, you need to take a bit of a gamble. 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. The relatively most reliable time weather-wise seems to be high season, but this is of course the busy peak holiday period, and you will have to cope with overcrowding, hectic and highest prices.
Temperatures in winter are expected to stay always above zero, but January 2016 saw a few weeks of frost down to double digit minus figures, and winter 2017 also had periods of severe frost.
The high season of tourism lasts only about 2 months, July and August, the latter is the most hectic. The boating season runs from mid May to early October, shorter than in Spain, Greece or Turkey. Fine days can be found before and after that, but these are spot opportunities which best suit locals.
Coastal business in Croatia is purely 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 have moved elsewhere. For example, I found the harbour of Hvar town, the epicentre of the summer tourism boom, completely 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 are there in winter to do maintenance jobs do not require restaurants, they only go to cafes and supermarkets.
Its climate makes Croatia unsuitable as an all-year-round tourist or retirement destination; young people leave smaller islands because they see more opportunities elsewhere.
Talking about restaurants in summer, we are generally happy with the quality of food and value for money provided. The choice of dishes and sophistication seem to have increased compared to our early years. Restaurant prices are lower than in the UK, apart from fresh non-farmed fish which is charged by weight and is well known and much discussed as being extremely expensive. Restaurants in resort towns are cheaper than in remote places. This should not be a surprise considering competition, economy of scale, costs of logistics and business risks (bad weather) for konobas catering mainly or only for boaters. However, the short high season and high demand are also creating potential for rip-off restaurateurs in some popular coves, so it is worth checking online guides and getting recommendations to avoid those bad feelings afterwards.
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, I find buoys convenient, as long as they are safe and well maintained.
Marina prices are going up all the time for visitors - some ACI marina rates have become quite outrageous - but fees are more stable for annual berth holders. Anyhow, they are significantly higher than those you pay, for example, in nearby northern Italy.
The yachting environment in Croatia feels very different from Spain or Italy. It is characterized by its oversized yacht charter business with ever growing fleets; charter bases are on the mainland and are reached by car from Germany, Austria, Czechia, Slovakia, Poland, Hungary and others. Chartering a bargain sailing yacht from surplus stocks, and filling it to the last berth, makes it, per head, an affordable holiday; add to this inexpensive alcohol from supermarkets. Popular places regularly get crowded. To some charter crews, their 'freedom at sea' means a license for one week of all-day alcohol and carefree fun. Far away from authorities, with no consideration of rules of social behaviour, some do not care how others feel about their kind of fun; rowdies cause disturbance in harbours, marinas and anchorages, noise, shouting or music till late.
In summary, there is a big clash in Croatia between the requirements of genuine sailors and boat owners who stay over longer periods, and the ill-mannered attitude of some charter tourists, typically from Central and nowadays Eastern-European countries.
The inconveniences to genuine yachties are further added to by the appearance of 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 organized flotillas of "floating glamping pads with friends", as the official promotion says, can reach sizes of 150 yachts, equal to a maximum of 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 do not belong to the party type are getting more and larger year on year as well. They crush individual yachting choices by booking out whole harbours and marinas, sometimes even outside high season.
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 perople 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 Jugoslavia 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, but the proposal is still a huge increase compared to 2017 fees.
Whatever the statistics will show, we noticed a lot of charter boats around in 2018; any reduction in the large flotilla tourism business which has become a great nuisance, would be welcome to serious yachties.
A further area of concern are the backward environmental services in Croatia. Authorities appear to fail there as well; there is still unsatisfactory sewage treatment in places. 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.
OVERVIEW OF OUR CRUISING
In the summer seasons of 2013 to 2018 we did three trips each year, returning home between them; I am not comfortable staying away, and in particular on a boat, for much more than 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.
>> 2013 Season
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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SEASON 2017 : MORE CROATIA, MORE PLACES RE-VISITED.
Summary and statistics of our 2017 season.
Same as in previous years, we visit Croatia three times, in June, July and September; each visit is about 3 weeks long. Our home berth is in marina Frapa, Rogoznica, between Split and Sibenik in central Dalmatia.
1. Trip: We spend 11 out of 17 days cruising* (65%), 3 days windy (<=5), 1 day slight rain.
2. Trip: We spend 17 out of 20 days cruising (85%), 3 days are stormy (bora).
3. Trip: We spend 7 out of 20 days cruising (35%), 13 days are rainy, thundery or stormy
* 'cruising' means being on a journey / away from our home berth.
Total mileage in 2017: 675 nm. Engine hours: 87; average Diesel consumption 4.0 ltr/nm
All in all, 2017 is an atypical season for us weather-wise, with an average to dry June, extremely dry and hot July, and an extended period of rainy and stormy weather in September. Our cruising % figures reflect the impact of the weather on our activities.
First Visit : June 4 to 21
A pleasant re-visitation of central and northern Dalmatia in early season
Frapa – Murter/marina Hramina – Katina / restaurant Mare – Dugi Otok/ Pantera bay – Losinj/ marina Mali Losinj – Ilovik / town quay – Dugi Otok/Brbinj Lucina – Zlarin/Zlarin town quay – Frapa
What is new to us? Marina Hramina in Murter for a start; we have come here to get a service job done. The marina surprises me with a lot of mud and shells on the mooring ropes.
That’s why Jane always says I should wear gloves …
Favourite places of ours, Katina and restaurant Mare, the Pantera bay and the lively but pleasant harbour of Mali Losinj do not need further descriptions; we have nice calm weather and enjoy them once again.
Arriving at Ilovik, the inner (south) side, of the L shaped quay is full, but there are spaces and moorings on the north side. In NW wind, the berthing manoeuvre is messy because the moorings have not been taken care of apparently. They are tangled and get stuck, or run in a different direction from what was expected. One of the ropes the harbour master has lifted, runs sideways across under our boat and I find out it has got round a prop; I have to dive later and free it. Taking one of the buoys in the channel outside might have been an easier choice; but at the end we are fine and hop on land and off. Outside, on the south side of the quay, I can see some cross-shaped floating pontoons. No boats are on them at that time, it seems to me that they are only suitable for small boats.
Ilovik pier, a ferry stops at its head.
Have dinner in Konoba Oliva, very pleasant and value for money. Weather has become rainy, but that's not for long.
In Brbinj we try Lucina cove this time, the ample cove is empty, but has a large field of brand new “intelligent” white buoys in it. You need to be online to find out which is available, and be able to pay for. The operator is adriabove.com; anyhow, the service is not yet up and running at that time. Nobody attends and there is no charge.
This intelligent beast senses when you lift its handle and reports you to its boss.
Looking at the small restaurant grill Bepo we are at first not sure whether it's open; but no worries, it is fine and we eat there.
The final stop of this trip is Zlarin. Very quiet here, too, we berth alongside on the south side of the pier. A lovely place.
Zlarin pier looking west
Second Visit : July 4 -25
Great time in the summer sun comes with insects and the sights of distant forest fires.
Frapa – Kakan/Borovnjaci – Kornat/Opat – Levrnaka/restaurant Levrnaka – Murter/Betina marina – Frapa - Hvar/Tiha cove – Hvar/Starigrad – Frapa – Murter/Betina - Zut/Pristanisce, Trabakul restaurant – Katina/Mare restaurant – Kakan/Borovnjaci bay– Zlarin – Frapa
It is high summer, and our aircon pump has developed a problem. I have it swapped with the second which we do not use, but it will need replacement as soon as possible.
We spend two nights in the Sibenik islands at Kakan (Potkucina/Borovnjaci anchorage), then move on to the Kornati and moor up at Opat restaurant.
On our way I have heard some childish hooligans abuse VHF radio Ch.16, the emergency/calling channel, to transmit burbs and chants. It's high season, and there are different people around.
In Opat our berth neighbours are family crews from different east European countries; the parents have no idea of appropriate behaviour on a yacht, their children play loud music and are allowed to be noisy and boisterous until late night. We hear that they "are on holiday and must have fun". It is sad how some people's selfish inconsideration and lack of manners can spoil the experience of others in a beautiful cove.
Our next stop in the Kornati is Levrnaka, which is new to us. Konoba Levrnaka is beautifully situated, and has a feeling of quality and being well run. The T shaped mooring pontoon is substantial and solid, a small fee of 80 kn is charged, that includes electricity in the evenings. Their mooring guy is incompetent, however, maybe we are unlucky that day. Prices are on the high side, but all in all it is good value for money.
Konoba Levrnaka in the Kornati
From Levrnaka we move to Murter and berth in Betina marina, to be close to our service people at the shipyard to put in a new aircon pump. We use this opportunity to explore Betina.
Betina's old harbour (on the opposite side of Betina marina) has recently been renovated and is a relaxed place
I can't miss this photo opportunity: Old m/v Susac (1948) at Betina ship yard
Our next trip takes us again to Hvar and Tiha cove for one night; then the "The Yacht Week" flottila's arrival scares us away into Starigrad the next day.
On our way past the west coast of Brac island we watch forest fires develop; there hasn't been rain for two months. There are more fires to come.
We have got a new problem on board; the generator can't be used, its impellor has burnt out due an oversight by a service man. Despite best effort I can't fix it, a short re-visit to marina Betina has to be scheduled. In the meantime we enjoy life without a generator.
A "The Yacht Week" skipper has taken his boat to the harbour to stock up
Feeling good at Starigrad
Back to Frapa, where stronger wind than we like keeps us for 3 days.
After that we are off towards Zut, with a first stop at Murter to get the genny fixed, and on to Zut Pristanisce cove (near Gustac island); we have booked at restaurant (now) called Trabakul. The same family runs a restaurant in Betina. We note that there a three restaurants in this bay, some have moorings, and there are also several buoys.
The reservation has worked, but, on Trabakul's pier Tarilian looks like a whale among small fish, a little embarrassing but ok; the other boat people are friendly and pleasant.
This evening the waiter teaches me everything one needs to know about a John Dory.
On the pontoon, we sometimes notice a whiff of sewage smell, hopefully Trabakul will sort their sanitary installation out.
Zut: Pristanisce, a kind of "micro harbour", and, next to it, restaurant Trabakul with its pontoon platform.
From Zut we move on to the Mare restaurant on Katina and manage to get two days there without long reservation; they are very busy in July. Every night is different; for me it's bliss to have calm weather and quiet neighbours at night.
From Katina we move back south to Kakan and the Borovnjaci anchorage, the usual.
.. keeping an anchor watch ..
We conclude the trip with a visit to Zlarin, nice to be in a port again.
Places like Zlarin harbour remind me of the long gone marketing slogan "Croatia - the Med as it once was".
Third Visit : September 1 to 21
Previous extremely dry months have left damages; this time we get lots of rain and thunderstorms
Frapa – Zirje/Stupica Vela - Frapa – Hvar/Tiha cove – Brac/Milna marina – Frapa - Zmajan (day trip) - Frapa
No phase of stable weather between the end of August and Sept 22, only a couple of 3-day windows to go out. Seven good days out of 21 is all we get. The rest is lost to the Jugo, thunderstorms and rain after rain. Zadar old town gets flooded by record levels of rain.
On the second of the both "opportunities to go out" we visit Tiha cove again, our favourite anchorage on Hvar. On the way we anchor for lunch at Drvenik/Krknjas anchorage, and are a bit shocked about the damage the previous dry and hot months have done to the shrubs and plants.
Several dry months and scorchers have left many smaller shrubs dead
In parts of the Tiha bay (Hvar) wildfires have wreaked havoc; when we arrive in mid September we find it like this
Luckily, "our" part of the cove has been spared. Tonight there are only few yachts visiting.
Dinner at the small restaurant in Tiha cove, as idyllic as bays get.
Dinner "al fresco" in September means getting fresh in the evening.
Returning to home berth; Rogoznica harbour approach
Anyhow, we find spending 13 days out of 21 in Frapa in poor weather very frustrating:
Rain, wind and thunderstorms keep us at our home berth. Once one has passed ...
... the next one is just arriving
Had this been our first visit to Croatia, we would never go there again.
Oh dear; let's conclude the report of this visit with photos of a lighter mood.
Butterflies are like me, they like coffee and beer
Torrential rain falls must have swept a few bits of the land into the sea; those are seen as floating islands on the horizon..
Here is a picture for a charterer's guide how to use a rubber boat; finally, we find out what SUP stands for: Sun Ur Pets!
Our flights home are scheduled for Sept 21. Still all dark skies and rain, and only 15 C. This time we are happy to leave.
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Our home berth is in marina Frapa, Rogoznica, located between Split and Sibenik in central Dalmatia.
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First Visit : May 19 to June 11
This year we start our first trip early in the season and enjoy an extended period of stable summerly warm weather
Frapa - Murter/Marina Betina - Preko - Dugi Otok/Pantera Bay - Ist - Molat - Katina - Kakan - Zlarin - Zirje/Stupica Vela - Frapa - Hvar/Tiha Bay - Starigrad - Frapa
As if it was a compensation for last September's nasty rains and storms, Dalmatia greets us with balmy temperatures and beautiful sunshine in May. Apart from 3 or 4 days of inclement weather during the period, which include an abysmal thunderstorm night on June 8, we enjoy good conditions for motor boaters in low winds with lots of sun. Even the water is swimmable in May, quite a treat.
First couple of days are spent with snagging around the boat and enjoying the warm sun.
May 24, Thursday, after a day of rain, we leave for Betina to pay a visit to our engineering company and pick up some new covers.
Next morning we visit the award winning museum of wooden boat building history, an ambitious local project.
Betina old harbour has been refurbished, looking posh and inviting to the crowds of summer tourists expected. Note the traditional boats.
The following day, Friday May 25th, we continue our NW course to Preko, where we are greeted by Stuart and his competent ladies' crew, fellow Cruising Association members and owners of a sistership of Tarilian.
Our friend takes a great shot of us arriving at Preko
Traders meet at marina Preko: Three Stars on the left, Tarilian to the right.
After being invited for drinks on Three Stars, and duly marvelling at each other's boat, we have some good nautical natter; spend a nice evening having dinner at Roko's in the harbour.
May 26th, Saturday. Making use of the good weather forecast, we continue to the north end of Dugi Otok and take a buoy in Pantera bay to stay overnight. There is only a handful of yachts in the whole huge bay, all is really quiet and pleasant. Dinner at Gorgonia grill at the entrance of Cuna cove, opposite Veli Rat village, simple but good. They are surprised about the number of guests in early season.
Moored in Pantera bay, south west cove. A calm night and morning; we experience wonderful stillness in the large bay.
From the landing stage in Pantera bay there is a short walk through an old forest to the Veli Rat lighthouse
May 27th, Sunday. The next day we experience that we are still in pre-season: Ist harbour and Zapuntel are not open for business yet; but we persist looking and find nautical services at Molat harbour, where we had been last in 2010, and found it pleasant (see log Charter Croatia 2010). The (only) restaurant offers good service.
Ferry time at Molat, the fast ferry has arrived whilst the car ferry is leaving. They do not seem to cause too much swell on the moorings.
May 28, Monday. In hazy sunshine and the calmest of seas we continue our cruise along Dugi Otok towards the Telascica, looking at small places like Rava, before going through Proversa Vela passage, round Katina, and berthing at the Mare restaurant. The weather is sunny, up to 27 C, and the food excellent as usual. We decide to stay a second day.
All is fine, until I try to launch the dinghy to have a spin round the island. With the heavy dinghy dangling high up in the air, the passarella suddenly stops and refuses to make any further movement. A heart stopping moment. Luckily I soon discover the culprit, a dodgy connection in the DC power supply of the hydraulic pump; I get it working again. Whew! ...the pleasures of boating.
May 30, Wednesday, another sunny day and light winds, temperature gradually increasing to 28 C.
Leaving Katina island
From Katina we cruise down SE between Kornat and Zut, towards Kakan, anchoring "outside" the Borovnaci buoy field in SW of Borovnik V, on light sand (poor holding). After lunch and a swim we proceed to Zlarin harbour where we arrive first; all seems asleep at 15:30, but the harbour master on his electric scooter shows up soon.
All seems set for a quiet and relaxed evening, but a cruiser berths at the head of the pier near to us. It is a chunky gulet style cruiser, rubbish music pours from their disco in the evening, a female voice keeps yelling karaoke unbearably out of tune, German package holiday fun? The boat's name is San Snova, of "Inselhüpfen.de". Anyway, they quieten down after 11pm.
Evening at Zlarin pier. Add a nice glass of wine for Mediterranean bliss.
May 31, Thursday. A further day of a shallow high over the Adriatic, hot and sunny weather. We head for nearby Zirje and take a buoy at Stupica Vela, one of the classic coves. Konoba Stupica, the restaurant of the Old Ladies is in full operation, the bay gets quite busy over the afternoon.
With a forecast for the fine summer weather to continue, and a calm night, we stay on the buoy for another day. Ask for a cheaper price for the second night, and are offered a discount.
Unfortunately, not all boaters in the beautiful bay are decent and quiet. In the afternoon a Fairline motor yacht arrives, chartered by people whose pleasure it is to whizz around on noisy motorized surfboards (jetboards). 2 adults and then 2 young females keep going round buoys and close between moored yachts at speed. Their illegal nuisance goes on and on for more than 2 hours until the gang finally leaves the cove. Why could those 'sporting' people not have their fun in a lonely cove elsewhere, where they are on their own, instead of going on a buoy right in the middle of a buoy field next to other boats? It seems, these stupid posers wanted an audience to show off.
After dinner at the Konoba we hope for an undisturbed night, but a bunch of 4 sailing yachts, rafted up and tied to buoys at the far end of the field, start a party around 9:30 pm. One of them appears to have disco equipment on board; thumping music, shouting and screaming go on until the early hours. Although at a distance, it's painfully noticed across the whole cove in this calm night.
It seems that selfish and inconsiderate must-have-fun-at-all-cost rowdy behaviour on chartered boats is on the increase and unstoppable.
Stupica Vela/Zirje, near perfect for peaceful enjoyment. Sadly, mindless fun tourists and rowdies with no consideration for others come here too, and abuse the freedom far away from authorities.
June 2, Saturday. We feel it's time to return to Rogoznica. We spend the following days working on the boat and getting on with day to day life matters which had been postponed during our cruise.
June 6, Wednesday, after some rain and thunder, we are ready to set out for a brief trip south to Hvar. I had called the Tiha bay concessionary the previous day and been told they did not expect any flotilla that week. However, when we arrive at the cove we find the "Yacht Week" flotilla occupying the main north arm, Veli Dolac, where the grill restaurant is! We hide in a small western arm, taking a buoy two coves away from the flotilla, as beautiful as ever.
In the Tiha cove, which only few years ago had been without any shoreside facilities, more catering offers are popping up, a sign of the aggressively increasing nautical tourism in the region.
Tarilian at a buoy in a side arm of Tiha cove
The buoy man says there is no problem with the flotilla, they have only onboard music, and are not heard outside their bay.
We have nice dinner at the grill restaurant, only mildly distracted by the party flottilla moored in front of us.
In fact, we do not notice them at all during the night. Beware, however, what happens in high season: They are boasting that they bring in a full floating disco and DJs.
Between parties: 'The Yacht Week' flotilla shifts customers to the next party location.
June 7, Thursday, we move to nearby Starigrad, one of our favourite old towns. Temperature has reached 29 C; we spend a fine evening in harbour.
June 8, with a grim forecast for the later part of the day, possible thunderstorms from afternoon, and a stormy night, we decide to leave for Frapa. The SE Jugo wind F4-5 has already started and raises easterly swell in the Hvar channel. Anchor for a short lunch break in Necujam cove (Solta) under leaden grey clouds, then proceed to Frapa; some unexpected southerly swell around cape Rt Ploca, often a troublesome spot for boats on a NE or SW passage.
Berth at Frapa in good time before the thunderstorms start in the night.
Stable summer weather returns June 10.
An unusual sight: Swifts taking a break on one of our mooring ropes in the marina
June 12, we leave for Split airport in the morning.
Our second stay of this season is from July 24 to August 7, 2018.
For the first time we visit in high season July/August.
Our first trip goes to Hvar island; we visit restaurant Ringo in Pribinja cove. The friendly owner, Jure, has promised us a mooring place close to the restaurant, but it has been blocked by a small flotilla of catamarans, not his guests, he insists. Instead, he helps us anchor with a landline in the neighbouring cove Vira, where the small harbour is reserved for fishing boats. This cove seems to be protected from all winds, so we are safe there.
A landline is tied to a tree where there is already a rope end pre-prepared on a branch.
Ringo is a fish only restaurant, and is in competition with their new neighbour Arsenol on the same jetty. Jure's fish is fine, and his prices are reasonable for the location. However, an embarrassing situation caused later by ignorant British (land) tourists, who upset the owner, does not help a relaxed atmosphere; not his fault. Maybe our fault to go to Hvar, the red-hot focal point of Croatian island tourism.
For wild fish, Croatia's most expensive meal, you pay more than in a good London restaurant. Choose your fish carefully, have its weight confirmed, and ask the waiter to fillet it - unless you are an expert.
From Pribinja we move to Tiha cove, it's Friday, therefore there are no charter yachts and plenty of buoys to choose from. Nice stay as always. This day is a highlight, we have delicious octopus at the grill, and in the night witness a rare total lunar eclipse. The complete cycle is brilliantly visible with no clouds over the full moon.
We stay on the buoy for a second day.
Veli Dolac, part of Tiha (Starigrad). Dinner in spendid sunset, but only recommended for weekends...
For Sunday night we go to Jelsa harbour. I am nervous about the mooring situation, but there are plenty of spaces. We are directed to a berth on the new south quay, convenient for access to cafes and the centre, but right in front of several restaurants and cafes.
Tarilian at Jelsa's south quay
Late in the evening a group of local men in a cafe nearby, that looks already closed, are heard singing loudly what seem to be traditional songs. Great local tradition, or just drunken after midnight?
On Monday it's back to Frapa, and the following morning out to the north-west towards Kaprije and Kakan to go on a buoy at the Borovnjaci anchorage.
The mooring manoeuvre turns out rather more complex than I had hoped. When we arrive before 3pm, all buoys are already taken apart from a couple in the far south east corner by the entrance. We have no choice, really, if we want to stay here. A gusting west 4 wind blows and is raising swell across the large anchorage. When I go swimming to attach our own line underneath the buoy I find that this buoy is (yet again here!) one with a broken open bracket at the bottom which is just waiting to come off and detach itself from the ground rope. Attaching my rope to the ground rope is hard work in the swell and wind, which keeps "drowning" the buoy (and me) with Tarilian attached.
Dinner at Babalu is good as usual, but I am slightly distracted by my worries regarding wind and buoys. The west wind gradually calms after 7pm and turns into light northerly which continues during the evening. Despite a forecast (from three sources !) of north 3-4 for the middle of the night, it remains calm. Computer models often get local conditions wrong.
The following morning is clear and calm, already getting hot. I worried about a fuel contamination in the starboard tank, though it was minor, and changed the pre-filter. Minutes after starting the engines, just out of the bay, the starboard engine stalls so suddenly that I have the impression something got round the prop, but it does not restart. A bit shocked, we return to a buoy with with the port engine and stern thruster. I find that the engine needs bleeding; at the previous filter change it had worked without, now I know better; I bleed it and hope nothing else has gone wrong.
As the day had a poor start, we decide to stay in the bay for another day, now on a buoy in an area we like better.
Having been to Babalu the previous evening we try Paradiso restaurant tonight. Weather forecast for the night is, luckily, wrong again, instead of N3-4 it is calm.
Paradiso is beautifully located, tables lined up under trees with view to the cove and boats. But, the menu is limited to a choice between few expensive dishes. The service provided by young family members is amateurish and slow.
Our meal is ok but average; neither food, service or atmosphere justify the high prices here. The restaurant is run by a greedy lady, who tries to make the most money she can get away with.
The next day, Thursday, we will go to the Kornati and try Konoba Zakan, which is run by Marina Hramina. Due to its size reserving a mooring space should not be a problem. Ravni Zakan island is only a short trip to north west.
Sod's law has it, that after a calm trip all the way, just around Zakan we find gusting westerly wind 4+; it comes from abeam and makes the mooring manoeuvre a bit of a trouble. Shortly later the wind stops, just to get up again briefly later. It's Croatia!
Konoba Zakan is large, modern and stylish. It attracts Italians and large yachts, some very large.
The quality of our meal and professionality of the service are impeccable, a big contrast to the faked "luxury" the evening before. Here the upmarket prices are justified. National park fee of Kn300 is added to the bill (unless you have got a ticket). However, its style is quite unusual for the Kornati; we personally prefer smaller places, maybe, with a cosier atmosphere.
Konoba Zakan looks modern, unusual for a Kornati restaurant. The views from the terrace are superb
The weekend is approaching so we do not expect problems with spaces, but restaurant Mare is still fully booked. Zut cove seems an alternative, I call up Sandra restaurant and we go to Zut in bright sun and light north westerly wind.
After one change on their pontoon, we get a pleasant space with a view. Nice and helpful young marinaio, has even got good humour which we do not find often among Croatians.
All are happy and troubles seem resolved; at least, until new ones appear!
It has been one of the hottest days. Left on the rail on the sun side of the boat, the standup paddle board has blown up and gone pop. I feel its weakness had not been explained properly. Had the rain shower that goes over us later arrived earlier, it might have survived.
dead SUP... be careful to reduce pressure in hot sun
The next disappointment comes at dinner, when we treat ourselves to fresh fish. The fish turns out to be insufficiently grilled rendering a part of the fillet inedible. Given the huge price tag on wild fish (about £65 per kilo), this is even more frustrating. I complain and get apologies, but the damage is done.
Sat August 4 is yet another scorcher. We decide to give them a second chance and stay for another leisurely day, despite the problem at dinner.
It turns out a good decision to stay, anyhow. It's rather quiet, hardly many yachts around, swimming is nice. This evening, steak and homemade pasta are both quite fine, and cheaper than fish.
At Zut cove, in the distance Tarilian on Sandra's pontoon, far right the pontoon of Zut ACI marina.
On Sunday morning, after a quiet night, I am woken by the noises of a workboat on the other side of the floating pontoon. It turns out that they deliver water.
Water delivery to the restaurant - Sunday morning at 8 am!
In the afternoon we drive to Betina shipyard to be ready for Monday morning, when Luka's people will pump out and clean the starboard fuel tank.
First Sunday in August seems to be a day of celebrations in Croatia; we encounter a busy shellfish festival in Betina old harbour, with an extremely noisy band. Late evening we hear distant noise from an event across the water at Pirovac, ending with fireworks at midnight.
The following day the work on the boat gets done, and we return to our home berth at marina Frapa the same day.
Panorama Ravni Zakan
In summary, we had excellent sunny weather over two weeks, and were out of our home marina on 12 of 15 days, which is a lot. Only 2 or 3 days were windy, but none was stormy, there were only three local rain showers over the period. Some warnings in the marine forecast did not affect our area.
However, too many charter yachts, of which there is overcapacity, is a root cause for troubles with boating in Croatia.
Overbooked restaurants and moorings mean you find your favourite place full for several days, and have to phone around for second rate choices.
We do not see as many yachts sailing at sea as we had expected. The reason might be that rather than sailing many are crowding anchorages and hanging around on buoys for most of the day. It can be hard to find free buoys from Monday to Thursday in some areas. Likewise, spaces in harbours are only available on Fridays to Sundays, on weekdays charter yachts and, nowadays, bigger and bigger flotillas invade and are blocking many places.
Local sailors are jobbing seasonally as paid skippers for unskilled people on chartered boats, adopting a ruthless approach. We encountered some who are even rude and thuggish to those who are not their clients.
Inexperienced and ignorant high season tourists are drawn in by Croatia's excessive mass marketing of places like Hvar - which already got crowded - and are causing embarrassing situations.
I have got the impression that locals are less relaxed during this period. Maybe, the demand at peak season puts too much pressure on them, maybe they are trying too hard to maximise their revenue during the short peak season.
A most unpleasant high season experience, for me personally, was the heat itself; even nights can be hot. Cruising on a larger boat is work for the single or double handed crew, and exhausting under such hot conditions. Aircon only helps to a certain extent. Hot weather makes dealing with difficulties, such as technical issues, feel that much harder. The pleasures of hot weather do not outweigh the downsides, unless your are on a beach holiday.
My intention for this trip was to give high season in Croatia a try. Certainly, we had moments of delight; we noted that some people seem to mainly use their boat as a stationary holiday home in harbour, but this is not our way. Being part of a crowd competing for moorings and restaurant spaces and getting squeezed, is not what we like. There is nothing we could not do before or after high season, we are not constrained by school and other holidays. I did not feel relaxed during this trip, it left me exhausted.
We do not intend to come to Croatia in July and August again.
Our third and final visit to Croatia in 2018, from August 30th to September 20th
On arrival to the boat, a nasty surprise awaits us: The passarella is not willing to make the slightest movement. I climb on board over a neighbour boat, and find that the domestic bank of three batteries is dead. They are only three years old, have been well cared for and been fully functional during our last trip, less than four weeks ago; after that I had left them fully charged and topped up by solar charger. They are now defect and do not accept any charge. I have new batteries installed the next morning.
The corpses of our batteries pile up on the pier.
After this initial hick-up our stay continues in a far more pleasant way.
Apart from three or four days of rain or unstable weather within the whole three weeks' period we enjoy a very warm, dry and calm late summer.
We find it is comfortable enough to enjoy time in our home port, with the number of tourists decreasing gradually a relaxed late season feeling is setting in; yet the day temperatures are topping in the high twenties and up to 30 deg C.
We go out on two "mini-cruises" to old favourites of ours. The first is north to Katina and the Mare restaurant, then to Zirje, Stupica Vela, on a buoy. In each location we stay for two nights, before returning to Rogoznica.
Katina and the Mare restaurant, with view to Telascica in the background
On the way back we get scared by a knocking noise in the aft cabin which appears to come from the starboard propeller/shaft. I suspect a problem with a rope cutter, and, at Frapa, have a diver inspect the prop gear. He takes off the offending blade, which had come out of alignment; it had only been re-fitted earlier this year. Boats!
Our second trip is to south; first to Sesula cove on Solta, for a night on a buoy at Sismis restaurant, which offers quite sophisticated food in the brilliant sourroundings of the fjord-like cove.
Then to Hvar and the Tiha cove; we are told that the obnoxious party flotilla, The Yacht Week, had been there the night before - and been very noisy. So we are safe to come today and spend two nights on a buoy.
When there are many empty bouys, you can tie the stern to the next buoy, to provide a stable position for a larger boat.
The octopus peka at the Veli Dolac grill is a treat, yet again!
Time for sun downers at Tiha cove. On a weekend in mid September, there are only few boats.
After the buoys it's time to move to town, nearby Stari Grad. Although there is no problem getting a berth this night, it's worth calling the harbour master ahead. Even in September it can get busy with charter yachts during the week, sometimes, he says.
Last visit to Stari Grad in this season. Our berth is close to the centre, this time
With a forecast of calm and warm weather to continue we spend yet another night on a buoy on Tiha, before moving on to Brac and Milna marina (ACI).
Milna is a beautiful old harbour, too, but our "ruin town": Of several formerly grand houses, in prominent locations, only the facades are standing, and left to fall into dilapidation with the roofs gone. The reason is, apparently, that all previous owners and their families who emigrated long ago, are needed to agree the sale to potential buyers, or, sales fall through due to rogue agents and practises. The authorities appear not to care about preservation of historic townscapes.
Konoba Gajeta, despite being situated right on the riva by the marina moorings, is recommendable.
It's soon time to think about going back to Frapa, so I can prepare the boat for leaving, go through all isues and start a to-do list for the works at the yard next spring. Our flights to London are scheduled for the Sept 21st.
In summary, our third visit was very different from last year's at the same time. This year we were lucky to have no storms or strong winds, but pleasant early autumn weather; mostly sunny or sun and cloud, dry and very warm.
On our way back to Rogoznica; even the waters around Rt Ploce (Razanj), often a turbulent spot, are pleasantly calm
SUMMARY of our 2018 SEASON
We visited Croatia three times, in May-June, July-August and September; each visit was for about 3 weeks. Our home berth is in marina Frapa, Rogoznica.
Total mileage in 2018: 666 nm. Engine hours: 88; average Diesel consumption 3.8 ltr/nm
2018 was for us weather-wise a better than average season. Some good early summer weather in May, a hot period in July-August, and an extended period of dry, warm and calm weather in September.
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