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

ElanGT5-a

Boat Review: Elan GT5

Aboard many modern yachts, it can be hard to remember exactly what boat you’re on until your eye happens to light upon a logo. However, this is most definitely not the case with the Elan GT5, a performance cruiser with a look all its own and style to burn.Design & ...read more

01-Lead-P1060210

Handheld VHF Radios

For many sailors, cell phones have become their primary means of both ship-to-shore and ship-to-ship communication. Even the Coast Guard will often ask for a cell number after it receives a distress call. None of this, however, makes a VHF radio any less important—and this goes ...read more

Seascape24

Boat Review: Seascape 24

Since its inception in 2008, Slovenian builder Seascape, founded by a pair of Mini Transat sailors, has focused solely on creating boats that are both simple and loads of fun to sail. With their 18-footer and then a 27-footer they succeeded in putting out a pair of trailerable ...read more

01-Trash-Tiki_in-partnership-with-Subtch-Sports_starting

The Adventurers Aboard Trash-Tiki

If you were in Gotland, a popular island vacation destination off the coast of Sweden, on the morning of July 3, your holiday might have been interrupted by a startling sight: a tiny island of trash approaching shore with people aboard. It was, in fact, a sailboat made from ...read more

atlantic-cup-trailer

2018 Atlantic Cup Video Mini-Series

Atlantic Cup 2018: TrailerThis past spring, SAIL magazine was on-hand to document the 2018 Atlantic Cup, a two-week-long Class 40 regatta spanning the U.S. East Coast and one of the toughest events in all of North America. The preview above will give you a taste of the four-video ...read more

hardangerfjord

Cruising: Holland to Norway

In 2015, we cruised to Norway’s Lofoten Islands on our Nordic 40, Juanona, which we’d sailed transatlantic from Maine to England. Our 2016 plan was to cruise through the Netherlands to the Kiel Canal, sail into the Baltic as far as Stockholm, then cruise the western coast of ...read more

TOTW_PromoSite

SAIL's Tip of the Week

Presented by Vetus-Maxwell.Got a tip? Send it to sailmail@sailmagazine.comThe Watch-keeper’s Nightmare The commercial watchkeeper’s most awkward decisions come with a vessel converging from abaft the starboard beam showing a red light. If he’s more than 2 points, or around 22 ...read more

cosair760R

Boat Review: Corsair 760R

We’d only been out on Miami’s Biscayne Bay aboard the Corsair 760R a few minutes when Corsair Marine marketing manager Shane Grover and I began bemoaning the fact neither of us had a GPS with us to determine our boatspeed. Moments later, though, we both came to the same ...read more