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The Travel Blog

Fall Sailing in Croatia

Image Title: Sailing in October with Sail Croatia. [Photo: Open Door Travelers]
Sailing in October with Sail Croatia. [Photo: Open Door Travelers]

Image Title: Bottle Nose Dolphins playing in our Bow Wave. [Photo: Open Door Travelers]
Bottle Nose Dolphins playing in our Bow Wave. [Photo: Open Door Travelers]

Image Title: The quaint village of Bobovišća on the island of Brač [Photo: Open Door Travelers]
The quaint village of Bobovišća on the island of Brač [Photo: Open Door Travelers]

Image Title: Fresh catch of the morning in the village of Stari Grad on the island of Hvar. [Photo: Open Door Travelers]
Fresh catch of the morning in the village of Stari Grad on the island of Hvar. [Photo: Open Door Travelers]

Image Title: Sunset stroll through the village of Vis on the Island of Vis. [Photo: Open Door Travelers]
Sunset stroll through the village of Vis on the Island of Vis. [Photo: Open Door Travelers]

Image Title: Abandoned Submarine Tunnel from the former Yugoslavian Navy. [Photo: Open Door Travelers]
Abandoned Submarine Tunnel from the former Yugoslavian Navy. [Photo: Open Door Travelers]

Image Title: The Crew of
The Crew of "Go with the Flow". [Photo: Open Door Travelers]

We knew when we booked our Benetau Cyclades 43 Sailboat "Go With The Flow" from Sail Croatia for the last week in October we were rolling the dice on the weather. What we didn’t know is just how fortunate we would be with five glorious days of sunshine and good wind without all those other sailboat charters and tourists. We definitely had to do a little extra planning because so many of the restaurants and cafes were already closed for the season, but the lack of other people definitely made up for any inconvenience of limited choices. Our itinerary for our charter out of Split looked like this:

   Day 1: Pick up boat in Split and head across the bay to the island of Brač and the harbor town of Milna

   Day 2: Sail to the island of Hvar and the village of Stari Grad

   Day 3: Sail to the island of Vis and the sea town of Vis

   Day 4: Sail back to the island of Brač and the tiny village of Bobovišća

   Day 5: Motor to the island of Šolta and the village of Stomorska for lunch and then return to Split

Our skipper, Jakša (pronounced Yak-sha), was skeptical of our late October booking. We were definitely the last booking for the season for Sail Croatia and one of the last bookings for the season in all of the central Adriatic Islands.  Our gamble paid off big. We had 5 days of sunny weather with temperatures in the mid-60’s F (high-teens C). It was still warm enough - for one of us - to swim on the second day, in a secluded bay on the island of Hvar (pronounced Whar). Once we were moored in Stari Grad, we arranged a wine tasting at Tomic Winery where we were treated to wine pairings with local cheeses. While moored in Stari Grad, we experienced the strong North-Easterly winds called Bura which rocked our sailboat on it’s moorings and rattled halyards against the masts of the other three boats moored near us.

The next morning, the winds were absolutely calm, but the seas in the central Adriatic were choppy and confused as a new Westerly breeze began to fill.  Although the ride was a little bumpy, we were rewarded for sailing to the island of Vis with a visit from a Dozen Bottle Nose Dolphins who played in our bow wave for 30 minutes. Our skipper Jakša was amazed. We were amazed. Our friends who had joined us for the week were amazed. The dolphins seemed to just be happy to have a boat as a playmate. They seemed like a gang of high-school kids out for a playful romp through the sea. We pulled into the village of Vis on a very big high note having just experienced such a special afternoon of sailing with the dolphins alone in the Adriatic Sea under a flawless sunny sky. Could it get any better? Well, yes – it did get even better when our skipper turned galley chef and cooked us a traditional Seafood Pasta dish (aka Tuna Caserole) he makes when delivering sailboats between ports. Paired with Karlovačo (pronounced “local beer”) and Pošip white wine, it was a very memorable dinner. The evening was completed with a raucous game of cards in which only the wineries and breweries really won.

From our mooring in Vis, we motored around the point to visit the cold-war era secret submarine tunnel for the former Yugoslavian Navy Base on the island. The tunnel looked exactly like what you see in James Bond movies where the bad guys surface their submarine in a secret lair. Fortunately there were no bad guys around when we visited. After peeking in the submarine tunnel, we Sailed on a Single Tack through the Split Gate between Brač (pronounced Brach) and Šolta islands to the quant harbor town of Bobovišća (pronunciation not understood by author). Here is where things got really special when our skipper turned into our guide and told us stories about growing up in the summers around the island of Brač and he arranged for us to have a traditional Croatian Lamb-on-a-Spit dinner at Konoba Kopačina in the nearby village of Donji. Between the food that just kept coming and the Croatian version of a Mariachi band playing for the High-School Futbol team Banquet in the adjoining room, it was another spectacular evening.

Alas, our trip was coming to an end. The next morning, we motored across the short passage to the village of Stomorska on the island of Šolta where we had to settle for coffees and buy lunch snacks at the mini-market because all (three) of the restaurants were closed for the season. From Stomorska, we motored for another hour-and-half back to the marina in Split where we had a final crew dinner and said our goodbyes at Chops Grill Steakhouse. That evening some of us stayed on the boat while others began to scatter and return to their homes in the US and the UK.

If you plan to book a sail boat charter in Croatia, there are some helpful tips to consider. First among those tips is to hire a skipper. Even for seasoned sailors, the language barrier and the secret gunkholes and secret Konoba’s are well worth the price of hiring an extra hand, not to mention that most of the yacht agencies in Croatia now require a recognized Bareboat Charter Certificate before they will consider hiring out one of their fleet boats. Second, is to book enough time on the front-end or back-end of the trip to enjoy more of the delightful country of Croatia. We booked our charter out of Split (Hotel Vestibul Palace) which is conveniently located close to many of the central Adriatic Islands, but we were able to spend time in Dubrovnik (Hotel Excelsior) before our charter and in Zadar (Hotel Bastion) after our charter. Third, bring your dive card. The central Adriatic offers some of the best SCUBA diving including Roman Wrecks and WWII wrecks within thirty minutes by boat from many of the coastal an island villages. We dove a Roman Wreck with Epidaurum Diving Center out of Cavtat.

There is definitely a reason that Croatia and in particular sailing in Croatia with Charter Services like Sail Croatia has been discovered as a destination holiday. We are already looking forward to our next trip through this beautiful country.

 

Phil & Diane

 

[Disclosure: We received a nominal discount on our charter fees from Sail Croatia as a professional courtesy]