Sailing Dalmatia - Sail Magazine

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:
Publish date:
croatia_charter_2008



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_quay



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.

starigrad_back_streets

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

TOTW_PromoSite

SAIL's Tip of the Week

Presented by Vetus-Maxwell.Got a tip? Send it to sailmail@sailmagazine.comDitch the stress Owners of high-freeboard yachts best boarded via the stern sugar-scoop like to back them into a slip, but the process can be fraught on a windy day or when there’s a current running, ...read more

Sun-Odyssey-490-Bertrand_DUQUENNE-aft

Boat Review: Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 490

True innovation in monohull sailboat design can be a bit elusive these days. That’s not to say that there are no more new ideas, but it does seem that many new tweaks and introductions are a bit incremental: let’s say evolutionary rather than revolutionary. Just when it seems ...read more

X3M-family

Gear: X3M Flight blocks

Block PartyThe elegance of these new X3M Flight blocks from Ubi Maior conceals the fact that they can handle loads of up to 15 tons. Designed to be used with a variety of textile loops, as fixed or snatch blocks, the X3M blocks have resin frames to carry the loops and anodized ...read more

03-BAVARIA-C34_Interior-2k_2

Ask Sail: The Right Cabin Sole Finish

Q: I am working on refinishing my cabin floorboards. I have brought them home and sanded the old finish off and would appreciate comments on using varnish or polyurethane for the sole.— Danny Love, Grand Rivers, KYDON CASEY REPLIES Polyurethane is the better choice for a cabin ...read more

shutterstock_peterisland

The Caribbean Charter Trade Rides Again

“The BVI is now a bit like it was 20 years ago,” Josie Tucci, vice president of sales and marketing for sister companies Sunsail and The Moorings, told me last December. “Instead of full bars, it may be a guy on the beach with a cooler and a barbeque, but the spirit of the place ...read more

Dragging01

Waterlines: Fear of Dragging

If you have a paranoid personality, anchoring out can be a validating experience. On the one hand, it seems rather simple. You amble up to the bow of your boat, drop a lump of metal overboard, let out some rode and secure it somehow. Then you stroll back to your cockpit and ...read more