Updated:
Original:

Sailing Dalmatia

In the book by Chris Santella, Fifty Places To Sail Before You Die, he and Jon Wilson describe Croatia as a “hidden gem.” Their description was so appealing that we decided to go and see for ourselves. We were joined by our regular racing crew, Dave Usechak and Steve Gaudette.The four of us arrived at Marina Kremik, just north of Split, Croatia in late April.
Author:



In the book by Chris Santella, Fifty Places To Sail Before You Die, he and Jon Wilson describe Croatia as a “hidden gem.” Their description was so appealing that we decided to go and see for ourselves. We were joined by our regular racing crew, Dave Usechak and Steve Gaudette.

The four of us arrived at Marina Kremik, just north of Split, Croatia in late April. There were hundreds of charter yachts being prepped and fitted for the start of the charter season, mostly 40-foot sloops with an occasional catamaran thrown into the mix. We found Zoe, our Beneteau 39.3, to be in beautiful condition, fitted out with every conceivable amenity for comfortable cruising.

By the time we completed our chart briefing and boat checkout it was late in the day, so we decided on a short hop south to overnight in Rogoznica. It was the first week of the charter season in an area famous for its mix of flat calms and intermittent high winds. Fortunately, we found plenty of wind ranging from light to strong breezes. For the whole week, we only used our engine to get in and out of harbors.

We had to carefully watch our chart and cruising guide, since the buoyage system is reversed in Europe. It’s not "red-right-returning," but "green-right-returning." The red marks are on the left as you enter a harbor.

As if that wasn't enough, the challenge at our first stop was to tie up using a Mediterranean mooring. This requires picking up a messenger line connected to a submerged bow line, then backing the boat up to a stone quay in a narrow slot between two other boats. Next, you need to secure two lines from the quay to the stern. The lines are then tightened so that the boat cannot contact the quay. Finally, the boarding plank is laid across from the transom to the dock. Sometimes, you need to drop your anchor to hold the boat off the quay.

The maneuver is tricky, because you don’t want to hit the boat on either side, and you especially don’t want to hit the stone quay. Despite one moment of panic when Quinn dropped a bow line, we completed our first Mediterranean mooring. Our reward: an excellent fried fish dinner in a local restaurant, a Croatian specialty.

While digesting our prize we studied the chart, and decided our next stop would be the island of Vis, about 30 miles south of Rogoznica. We began our morning trip to Vis with a favorable wind that turned into a downwind delight and navigated using our entire arsenal of tools: our hand-bearing compass, depth sounder, and GPS. Tying up was a relief. Now experts in Mediterranean mooring, we went to gauge the skill of other new arrivals. It proved to be quite a show, courtesy of the stiff winds.We ended up putting our newfound knowledge to the benefit of a number of other crews. By the end of the day, there were about 50 charter yachts lined up at the quay.

In season, the Dalmatian coast is probably saturated with charter boats, but it’s fun all the same. It’s a veritable Babel, with people speaking no fewer than eight different languages. Most of the sailors are European; we met only one other American boat.



Vis, which was first settled by the Greeks, has passed through Roman, Byzantine, and Venetian hands. The villages are centered on their harbors, a throwback to their fishing or trading origins. They all seem to have one-street that acts as the commercial and social center running along the town quay. Local architecture is a hodgepodge of streets that are paved with stone blocks, just wide enough for the smallest Fiat.

Beneath a skyline filled with red-tiled roofs, we overhead trumpet music drifting down from the second floor of a room near the quay. Leaving behind the comforts of Croatian wine in Zoe's cockpit, the intrepid Topilow, a doctor and a professional pianist as well as a doctor, followed the music to its source and was soon dueting with the local musician.

Three miles into the next day's sail to Saint Klement Island, a pod of 8 or 10 dolphins playfully followed us for a while, jumping just ahead of our bow and diving under our keel. They were as curious about us as we were thrilled by them. After the dolphins left us, Quinn spotted something red dead ahead of us. A quick check of the chart confirmed both our location and the lack of navigational marks. Approaching cautiously, we found a red, 14-foot RIB with a 40 hp outboard engine, awash and adrift. Boat and motor appeared to be nearly new and in very good condition, so we decided to rescue them, even though we knew that this red RIB would mean red tape.

Related

ed3b8ae9-b65d-2941-47ec-cd0277bfcbe8

Mirabaud Voting Open to the Public

Photos from the industry's top photographers are in, and the 12th annual Mirabaud Yacht Racing Image competition is underway. An international panel of judges has selected this year's 80 finalists, which have been published online. The panel will also select the winner of the ...read more

P1320232-copy

Annapolis’ Boat Show is Back

After a year off in 2020, the United States Boat Show in Annapolis is back. From the diminutive Areys Pond Cat 14 XFC to the massive Lagoon Sixty 5, many of the SAIL’s 2022 Best Boats Nominees are on display for the public to get a firsthand look at, and SAIL’s Best Boats panel ...read more

05-Squall-in-the-ITCZ

Close-Hauled to Hawaii

The saying “Nothing goes to windward like a 747,” is one of my favorites. I actually once took a 747 upwind, retracing my earlier downwind sailing route across the Pacific. I’ve also done a fair bit of ocean sailing to windward. The 747 was a lot more comfortable. But then ...read more

01-LEAD-IMG-2106

Refurbishing Shirley Rose: Part 3

If you missed the first installment, click here. The hull and deck of Shirley Rose had been repaired, but what kind of sailboat would she be without a sturdy rig? I was told she was ready to sail, and that the owner replaced the standing rigging a few years before. Shirley Rose ...read more

211007MINI_1208-2400x1600

Mini Transat: Bouroullec and Fink Win Leg One

The Mini Transat is a roughly 4000-mile course that comprises two legs— Les Sables D’Olonne, France to Santa Cruz de La Palma in the Canaries, and Santa Cruz de La Palma to the French Caribbean island Guadeloupe. Two fleets of Mini 6.50s compete—the Production class in ...read more

01-LEAD-7-1-Rhiannon-loaded-on-the-truck-with-Clark,-Andre,-and-Louis

Book Excerpt: Taken By The Wind

In 1975, as a senior at Harvard, the question for Chicago-area sailor Mike Jacker became what to do next. The answer, as related in his new book Taken by the Wind, was to make a small-boat voyage to Tahiti with his grade-school friend Louis Gordon and Harvard classmate Clark ...read more

Maserati _Arthur Daniel

The RORC Caribbean 600 is Back

With a start planned for February 21 in Antigua, the famed 600-mile Caribbean race is back. The course circumnavigates 11 Caribbean islands starting from English Harbour, Antigua, and heading north to St Maarten and south to Guadeloupe, passing Barbuda, Nevis, St Kitts, Saba and ...read more

01-LEAD-14_00_210613_TORE03_JRE_4266_16961-3000x3000

The Ocean Race Europe

The fully crewed, round-the-world Ocean Race has experienced tremendous change over the years. From the 1993 transition to a one-design fleet to an ever-shifting route, what began as the amateur Whitbread Round the World Yacht Regatta in 1972 is a very different race today. The ...read more