Home > Croatia, Europe > July 30 to August 25, 2009 Dubrovnik to Rovinj

July 30 to August 25, 2009 Dubrovnik to Rovinj

We're off to the Islands

We're off to the Islands

Sailing away from Dubrovnik, the only question was “Where do we start?”  There are so many islands that even with three months in Croatia we will never see them all.  Our Plan A was simple—follow the wind.  Problem is, no wind most days, which leaves us with Plan B—motor the shortest distance possible into the wind and motor sail whenever possible.

Our friends on Excalibur and Glass Slipper were days ahead of us now, and we had the benefit of reports from them about places to go.  One of the recommendations was the lovely village of Lopud which was only 7.8 NM from Dubrovnik Marina.  We anchored off the village for lunch and a swim, but after spending two weeks in a marina we were not ready to stop for the day after only 7.8 NM. 

Lopud

Lopud

Lopud Beach

Lopud Beach

View from Lopud Anchorage

View from Lopud Anchorage

The sailing (motoring) is line of sight here and reminiscent of the Virgin Islands in that respect.  By 2 p.m. we were anchor up at Lopud and traveled another 10 NM to Saplunara, a small bay on the SE corner of Otok Mjlet.  “Otok” in Croatian means island.  By 3:45 p.m. we were anchored along with many charter boats.  We had picked this anchorage because our pilot guide (the “bible” of cruising in this area) had suggested that it was less crowded than another anchorage—wrong.  By late afternoon, the bay was packed.  There were a few moorings provided by a local restaurant (free with your meal—usually an expensive meal), but we opted to anchor.

We are constantly amazed by the anchoring techniques of boats in the Med.  They will drop an anchor in 20 ft. of water and let out 40 ft. of chain—sometimes, not even chain, but rode.  At first we thought it was the charter boats with inexperienced captains and crew that were responsible, but over time have realized that even seasoned cruisers use much less scope than we think adequate. In a crowded anchorage, because we have out lots of scope we run the risk that another anchor will be dropped over ours, but at least we sleep at night knowing that we’re unlikely to drag anchor.

Speaking of charter boats, we observed two in Saplunara that were hoisting people to the spreaders using a bosun’s chair, lowering the chair and having the people jump from the spreader into the water.  It was scary to watch.  People on vacation are notorious for being wild and crazy, but this was insane.

From Saplunara, we traveled north on Otok Mjlet to Polace which is the site of a national park.  Along the way we passed many small islands, mostly uninhabited, that make up the Croatian archipelago.  The water is extremely deep, however, and anchorages therefore limited.

Deep Water Channel to Polace, Otok Mjlet

Deep Water Channel to Polace, Otok Mjlet

In Polace we were anchored in a large, very protected cove with numerous other boats in 30-35 ft. of water.  We are just now getting used to anchoring in such depths.  Even with 250 ft. of chain, Kent much prefers to be in 20 ft. or less of water.  Unlike Saplunara, however, the anchorage was so large that there was not a feeling of other boats being with swing range of us.

Polace Anchorage, Otok Mjlet

Polace Anchorage, Otok Mjlet

 We spent two wonderful days in Polace and took a mini-van provided by the park to Mljet National Park where we walked the perimeter of the lake and traveled by ferry to a monastery on an island in the middle of an inland lake.

Kent Cools off at Mjlet Nat'l Park

Kent Cools off at Mjlet Nat'l Park

Relaxing at Monastery, Mljet

Relaxing at Monastery, Mljet

 

View from Monastery at Mjlet Park

View from Monastery at Mjlet Park

On August 2, 2009 we left Polace for Otok Korcula at 9:30 a.m. and were anchored in Ulva Luka, a bay around the corner from the Town of Korcula at noon.  We had traveled only 15.6 NM, which is a pretty typical day for us given the close distances between the islands.  This was a pleasant spot and an easy dinghy ride to the town. 

Arrival in Korcula

Arrival in Korcula

We had dinner overlooking the sea from the town wall high above the water and saw the sky turn a soft pink as it does every night as the sun sets. We particularly like exploring these ancient towns as dusk falls and the lights just start coming on, both because it is cooler and more comfortable walking around and also because of the amazing light from the setting sun.

Dinner View Korcula

Dinner View Korcula

Korcula Fortress

Korcula Fortress

Although Korcula was beautiful and we could have lingered longer, we are still suffering from our desire to see more and more of the islands, and also to catch up with Excalibur and Glass Slipper who tend to travel much slower than we do.  They are likely to spend a week or more in one spot soaking up the local culture, whereas we tend to keep moving.  At this point they are in Hvar—so we are off to Hvar approximately 33 NM from here.

Finally sailing. . .Korcula to Hvar

Finally sailing. . .Korcula to Hvar

Fortunately, we had wind ESE at 20-25 kts. to start the day, and while it dropped to 10-12 kts. later in the day, we had a great sail.  We were anchored in a channel between Marinkovac Island and Borovac by 3:35 after locating Glass Slipper and Excalibur moored in the harbor at Hvar.  The harbor at the Town of Hvar was extremely crowded and there were no moorings so we opted to cross the channel and anchor between islands just opposite the harbor.  We later learned that our anchorage was next to one of the many islands in Croatia that are reserved for “naturists”, which in this case means “clothing option.”  So sun bathing “naturists” adorned the rocks and beaches that surrounded our anchorage.

"Naturists" Abound--all ages

"Naturists" Abound--all ages

At midnight we were awakened by the sound of a thunderstorm approaching and found that a wind shift had put us very close to shore.  Nearly every boat in the anchorage was in the process of re-anchoring—us included—resulting in total chaos.  With all the boats moving, it was nearly impossible to find a reference point for resetting the anchor.  We were up for a couple of hours watching some distant lightning, but were happy to see the weather pass to our east.  By 12:30 a.m. the boat was anchored further from shore, but we stayed up until 2 a.m. to monitor the weather and our position.  Although this kind of weather/anchoring event has only occurred a couple of times since we have been here, we gain confidence with each one that we can handle the next one. 

Before the Storm, Hvar

Before the Storm, Hvar

The next morning, with less than normal sleep, we felt comfortable leaving the boat at anchor and taking the dinghy to the harbor at Hvar to tour the town.  We climbed to the Fortress that dates back to 1551 and were able to see clear to our anchorage, as well as fabulous views of the town itself.  Hvar, like so many of the towns we have visited, has a large piazza with a church facing it.  The streets are marble, so well traveled that it can be very slippery even when dry.  We wandered through narrow little streets and up many steps to the fortress, with its walls that crawl up the hillside at an impossible angle.

Hvar Port & Fortress

Hvar Port & Fortress

Carol & Jolie at Fortress

Carol & Jolie at Fortress

View from Fortress, Hvar

View from Fortress, Hvar

Hvar is known for growing lavender and it is said that the smell of lavender wafts through the air.  We didn’t see any lavender growing, but we saw many vendors selling various lavender creations, and indeed, the scent is very noticeable.

Lavender Vendor, Hvar

Lavender Vendor, Hvar

After our tour of the town, we moved about 1 NM to another anchorage called Vinogrdisce (the accent marks that exist in Croatian are missing from the name, but we can’t pronounce it anyway).  Glass Slipper was already anchored there having left Hvar harbor and when we arrived the anchorage was already getting full.  The choice was to anchor in the center of the bay in about 30 ft. of water or close to shore stern to with a line to shore.  Since our preference is to swing with the breeze whenever possible, we opted to anchor out, but it took us three tries to get the anchor set properly.  Excalibur came in and after several tries decided to leave and go to another anchorage. 

Shortly after we were anchored a Sunsail flotilla arrived preceded by the lead boat with Sunsail staff.  One by one the flotilla boats arrived and were assisted in anchoring stern to by the staff.  Flotilla sailing is very common here and we have seen them in several locations. 

Sunsail flotilla, Zlarin

Sunsail flotilla, Zlarin

Chartering is big business and most of the major marinas have multiple charter operations with literally thousands of charter boats available along the Croatian coast.  We try to avoid marinas on Friday through Sunday because it is the days that the charter boats are arriving or leaving.  It also means that slips are not as plentiful on weekends if you do want to be in a marina.

Despite the crowd, and difficulty of setting the anchor, we had a nice night that included dinner ashore with John and Cyndi from Glass Slipper.  We shared a large local fish that was grilled to perfection—a tasty but expensive treat. 

Anchorage at Vingordisce, Hvar

Anchorage at Vingordisce, Hvar

We have been surprised by how expensive fish is in the Med.  And forget about catching one—we’ve long since given up on that.  In fact, we have been only one place where we saw fish while snorkeling and that was a little day anchorage off an island in the Bonifacio Straits enroute to Sardinia from Corsica.

On August 5th we left Hvar in the general direction of Split.  Since the wind was on our nose and the prospect was for a long day motoring, we opted to stop at the next island, Brac, and anchored in a bay called Lucice.  This is an area of upscale vacation homes, located very close to Split with ferry access.  This was our first experience anchoring in over 50 ft. of water, and all was well until another boat dropped next to us and then took a line ashore which meant that we might swing into it if the wind shifted.  We were too far from shore to take a line, and Kent had to secure our stern to a nearby mooring as a safe guard.  As is usually the case, preparing for the worst, it never happened and we awoke this next morning with the bay flat calm.

Leaving the next morning our destination was again Split, but the wind was favorable and we sailed past the cut between the islands that went to Split, making 5 kts. and resolved that Split would still be there next spring.  We have decided that we want to save some places to visit on our way south in the spring from Sukosan where the boat will be on the hard for the winter.

We had not taken on diesel since we left Otranto, IT before our 30 hour passage to Croatia, and also needed to fill our water tanks, so our next stop was Kremick Marina near Primosten further up the mainland coast.  Unfortunately, our sailing weather was short lived, and by noon we were back to motoring directly into 25-27 kts. on wind on our nose.  The seas were 5 ft. and we were pounding into them with a reefed main, motor sailing and making only 4 kts—not fun.

We were glad to reach Kremick after 28.8 NM of less than perfect conditions.  We had an opportunity to wash an accumulation of salt from the boat, fill our tanks and do some provisioning, but it turned out that Kremick no longer has a fuel dock, nor the advertised laundry service that Carol was looking forward to.

Laundry opportunities are few and far between in the Med and when there is a laundry service it is very expensive.  While some things can be washed by hand, and we have taken to wearing fewer clothes because of the heat (no we have not become “naturists”) we spend on average 100 kunas per wash/fold load.  At an average of 3-4 loads of laundry a week (when we can find a laundry service), with towels, sheets and clothing (mostly Kent’s t-shirts) the cost is $60-80.  In Italy we often found coin operated self-serve laundries, but not in Croatia.  In the Caribbean we paid as little as $20 per week for the same amount of laundry.  On the other hand, Carol has gotten accustomed to everything leaving the boat in a laundry bag and coming back neatly folded and ready to store.  Coming home to a washer and dryer will be a reality check.

From Kremick Marina we traveled just a couple miles to the walled town of Primosten—a former island now connected to the mainland.  Arriving early in the day we had no difficulty finding a town mooring in the harbor.  The harbor is fairly open to an afternoon sea breeze, but very calm overnight.  We enjoyed touring the town and walking the perimeter along the sea.  There is a beautiful church with manicured gardens and well kept cemetery at the top of the hill and the church tower is visible for miles.

Moorings off Primosten

Moorings off Primosten

Primosten Boats & Bathers

Primosten Boats & Bathers

Early morning Primosten

Early morning Primosten

More than one person had recommended (no, “raved”) about the Krka Falls in Krka National Park, and we were very glad that we made it our next stop.  We left Primosten on August 8th and motored up the east side of Otok Zlarin to Kanal S.V. Ante to Sibenik, another large coastal city on the mainland of Croatia.  From there we took the Krka River upstream to Skradin which is the last town before the park begins.  By 12:30 p.m. we were anchored with our stern tied to shore just south of the ACI Marina in Skradin.  We purchased day passes to the park (95 kunas per person) which included a ferry ride further up river to the Falls.  Private boats are not allowed into the park.  The falls and park grounds are magnificent, and words cannot do them justice.  The following pictures, capture some of the splendor, but not the sounds that accompany the falls and are heard on the wooden trails under which the water flows.

Kent Swims the Krka Falls

Kent Swims the Krka Falls

Krka Falls

Krka Falls

Krka Trails

Krka Trails

The next day we returned to the park and took a longer ferry ride to a monastery on an island further up river.  As we were returning to the falls the sky got very dark and there was thunder in a distance.   When we reached the park, it was a mass exodus of visitors trying to reach their cars and the ferries to escape the weather—which, by the way, passed by without a single drop of rain.

Approaching Storm, Krka

Approaching Storm, Krka

This is what I call a beer! Krka Park Boat

This is what I call a beer! Krka Park Boat

The next morning we were up early and slowly motoring down the windy river to Sibenik, past fish farms that line the way.  It seems that most of the local fish are raised and harvested, not caught in the wild, which may account for the exorbitant prices.  After finally getting diesel fuel in Sibenek we left the river and anchored off the village of Zlarin on Otok Zlarin just a couple nautical miles from the mainland.  Like every other village, there is a church, that is beautifully lit at night, and terracotta roofs on all the buildings.  Oh yes, and a small car ferry that pulls up to the concrete quay and off loads vehicles on what is otherwise the transient boat dock. 

Sibenik Waterfront

Sibenik Waterfront

After a very calm night with no wind at all we awoke to dark skies and a threatened thunderstorm heading our way.  Thunder and flashes of lightning in the distance, cause some concern that we were in for some rough weather and the change in wind direction had sent us close to the rocky lee shore.  Kent had dove on the anchor and was sure it was well dug in, so we rode out the gusty wind and waited for the rain—which never arrived.  As before, the weather passed well to the east of us over the mainland.  In fact, since we arrived in Croatia we have not had a single day of rain, and goodness knows we would welcome it from time-to-time to wash the salt off Destiny.

Approaching Storm, Zlarin

Approaching Storm, Zlarin

By noon the weather had passed, and we were off again.  We had read about an “award winning” restaurant on a little bay, Uvala Lojena, on Otok Smokvica which was an island in the southern Kornati chain and decided to make that our next stop.  By 3:30 p.m. we were moored stern to at Piccolo Konoba, in the inner bay of Lojena.  There were actually two restaurants in the bay, and we decided the “award winning” one was probably the one with the most boats—luckily there was a spot for us.  We had a lovely dinner, and very reasonably priced—not often the case when your dockage is “free”.  At this point we were running a little low on kunas and since they didn’t take credit cards (not uncommon on the smaller islands)  and there were no ATM’s (they call them bancomats here as in Italy) we ordered carefully but had a great meal.

Other than the restaurants, there are a few modest vacation homes that surround Lojena.  We saw people washing their dishes in the sea and cleaning fish.  Everything on the island is brought in by boat, including propane for cooking.

Destiny docked at Lojena

Destiny docked at Lojena

Provisions arrive at Lojena

Provisions arrive at Lojena

Destiny Reflection Lojena

Destiny Reflection Lojena

The water was so crytal clear in Lojena that you could see the entire rudder at the dock in 5 ft. of water, and the name of the boat actually reflected in the water.

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  1. August 27th, 2009 at 19:52 | #1

    That was the best update! Enjoy your anniversary!

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