Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Cavtat – New Marina In Planning Stages

Croatia Cruising Companion Cavtat cr

Cavtat is one of Croatia’s most popular harbours, especially amongst the superyacht fraternity. It’s close to Dubrovnik International airport, does not attract the same crowds that Dubrovnik does, has some great fish restaurants and has that very traditional Croatian feel. Part of its very relaxed ambience is down to the fact that it has not been over developed, or even developed very much at all!

That might all change a little, hopefully for the better, when the Čista Luka Resort project goes ahead just a short distance away from Cavtat’s main bay. Translated into English as the Clearpoint Resort Project, the blueprint specifies a three-phase master-planned five star resort, residential and marina development covering approximately 100,000 square meters of land, with approximately 68,000 square meters of waterside area dedicated to the marina.  A large five star hotel, 80 room boutique hotel, residential villas, town homes and apartments, restaurant and retail outlets are all part of the plans.

The marina is expected to provide 200 berths.

For more information on the project link to Dalmi Resorts - Cista Luka Project

To read what we said about Cavtat  in an earlier posting link to Croatia Cruising Companion – Cavtat.

For those interested in Croatian pronunciation, the phonetic spelling for Cavtat is  “Savtat” (a soft “c”)!

Monday, 5 August 2013

Wall Street Journal Features Croatian Sailing Holiday

_MG_1128 Maslinica Compressed

Follow the link immediately below to read the story of how Wall Street Journalist Jonathan Gornall falls in love with Croatia after chartering a boat from Kremik Marina, near Primošten.

Sailing Croatia's Dalmatian Coast

Today’s picture is of Maslinica on the island of Šolta. The red tiled building in the foreground, surrounding the swimming pool, is the luxury boutique hotel Martinis Marchi. You can read more about that in a posting we put up in June 2012 - Newly Refurbished Marina On The Island of Solta – and, with no disrepect to the hotel at all,  you’ll find out in Jonathan’s article why it’s the first time he felt sorry for “folks in a five star hotel”!

Friday, 12 July 2013

Cruising Croatia In 2013

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The hot news is that Croatia is now a member of the EU and that should make the paperwork a little easier! Old news is the fact that Croatia continues to emerge as one of the best cruising grounds in the world – over 1,000 islands islets and reefs, a Mediterranean climate, charming locals, great food and drink, excellent facilities, fascinating history and a huge variety of architecture, culture and entertainment. There’s something for everyone, it’s relatively safe, at sea and onshore, and the cost of living won’t blow the budget. If you’re chartering it’s a buyers market though it is still best to avoid the very high season when all the continentals drive to northern Croatia and sail in fleets down to Dalmatia.

Below are links to some of our earlier postings that might help you enjoy cruising Croatia better:

Croatia For All Sailors

Ten Reasons For Sailing In Croatia

Croatia's Marmite - The Kornati Islands

Dalmatia's Top Five Destinations

Marinas In Croatia

And for an up to date guide to marina prices, have a look at the ACI website. State owned ACI run a chain of 21 marinas along the coast and on the islands, providing over 6,000 berths with a high standard of facilities. You’ll find information and prices for each marina. Prices vary according to length and season. There are web pages in English but you do need to know what the days of the week are in Croatian to understand that price list fully so here they are.

Ponedjeljak - Monday

Utorak - Tuesday

Srijeda - Wednesday

Četvrtak - Thursday

Petak - Friday

Subota - Saturday

Nedjelja – Sunday

I’m pleased to say that I got the spelling right, before I double checked as it’s been a few months since I used them!

Today’s photo shows the view from our favourite Pizzeria in the lovely and UNESCO protected town of Trogir, near Split.

Monday, 18 June 2012

Newly Refurbished Marina On The Island Of Solta

Back in March 2009, we wrote a series of postings, on sister blog Croatia Online, about the island of Šolta.

It’s a gorgeous unspoilt island, very close to Split - full of olive groves and secluded bays, and great for spectacular sunsets, particularly in the west facing bay of Maslinica. It was in Maslinica that we spent most of our time as we’d been invited to come and take a look at the newly refurbished Martinis Marchi hotel.

Once a castle, with intermittent use as a 50 bedroom hotel, it was very tasteful restored, with no expense spared, to provide just six expansive luxury suites. Now, finally, the marina attached to it has had its own makeover and is ready to receive visitors in style.

Facilities include showers, reception and a café as well as access to the hotel restaurant. The breakwater of some 90 metres in length, with a red light at the end, protects 50 full service berths for yachts up to 30 metres in length. Larger yachts can moor on the outside of the breakwater.

Follow these links for more information about Šolta and Martinis Marchi:
Croatia Online - Šolta, Martinis Marchi
Croatia Online - Šolta In Pictures
Croatia Online - Šolta The Island Of Olives Croatia Online - Šolta Island: Orientation
Croatia Online – Šolta Sunsets
Martinis Marchi

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Marina Dalmacija and Marina Borik Change Ownership

Croatia Cruising Companion -  Marina Borik

According to Istanbul’s  Hürriyet Daily News, the Turkish Doğuş Group has just acquired 100% of the shares of  Marina Dalmacija and Marina Borik from Croatian businessman Zdenko Zrilic, and plans to invest 17 million euros in modernising the marinas.

“Our aim is to develop an international chain of marinas under the umbrella of the D-Marin brand and to expand Doğuş Group service quality to a broader portion of the Mediterranean,” said Doğuş Group Chief Executive Officer Hüsnü Akhan in the company press release.

Doğuş Group already has a substantial investment in Croatia’s first dedicated megayacht marina – Marina Mandalina in Šibenik and owns a handful of successful marinas in Turkey.

Marina Dalmacija, next to the lovely village of Sukošan, near Zadar, is Croatia’s biggest marina, and one of its newer ones. It reminded us of a scene from thunderbirds when we first saw it. Marina Borik is also relatively new and tucked away in a tourist area just north of Zadar.

Having assisted in a few marina investment projects ourselves, we know the challenges foreign investors face when investing in the Croatian Marina industry and have nothing but admiration  for Doğuş.

For more information try the following links:

Dogus Marina

Marina Dalmacija

Marina Borik

Marina Mandalina

***

Today’s picture is on Marina Borik

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Make The Most of Croatia’s Anchorages

183 Piccolo Smokvica Vela

A few weeks ago, Wolfgang contacted us after enjoying reading the Croatia Cruising Companion and thought we and our readers might be interested in another great tool to help make the most of Croatia’s anchorages. We were and here’s what he told us!

“The Croatian Ministry of Sea, Transport and Infrastructure (MPPI) provides a Concession List that lists the official licensed Nautical Anchorages in Croatia. Since this list is not very handy to use aboard, I created a little piece of software that adds the information and coordinates of the Concession List to a Google-Map. I also write a Blog about news regarding this Map.

You can find the Google-Map here: http://www.wosamma.at/bojenfelder/map.php

You can find the Blog here http://anchoragesincroatia.blogspot.com  "

***

And we’ve just checked Wolfgang’s blog again and it seems he’s now developed an App!

Thank you Wolfgang and we’ll try and keep up with you!

Today’s photo was taken at Smokvica Vela

Monday, 14 November 2011

New One Design Rally Around Northern Dalmatia

Croatia Cruising Companion - Zadar Greeting To The Sun

We’ve just come across what looks like an excellent choice of routes for a one design yacht rally next summer. Sail World plan a flotilla event around some of our favourite and less discovered parts of Croatia including Zadar, Šibenik and the Kornati islands. All are covered in depth in our Croatia Cruising Companion and, in this area, you can be sure of spectacular scenery, challenging sailing, and the best of Croatian culture, history and architecture.

Read more about the trip on Sail World's web page.

Read more about the area on the following pages of sister site, Croatia Online :

Croatia Online - Sibenik's Bunari Museum

Croatia Online - Caffe Bar Zoilo Zadar

Croatia Online - Biograd Gastronomy and Nightlife

or browse through this site and Croatia Online for a real taste of what to expect.

Today’s photo was taken at sunset in Zadar. The world renowned civic architect, Nikola Bašić, based in Zadar, designed the Greeting To The Sun, powered by photo voltaic cells, to accompany the haunting sounds of its neighbour, The Sea Organ, powered by the waves. In the distance, just a hint of what you might expect on Sail World’s sailing trip.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Duty Free Fuel Around Croatia

Porto San Rocco 1

Whilst it’s still not possible to get duty free fuel in Croatia itself, there are now two great options on either side.

To the north, Camper and Nicholsons’ Porto San Rocco was granted permission, in June 2010, to sell duty free fuel to leisure craft. Located in the Bay of Muggia, within the Gulf of Trieste, 15 miles north east of Croatia, the position of Porto San Rocco in the northern Adriatic makes it very accessible to those cruising the Dalmatian coast of Croatia. Even better for those who berth their yachts in Istria, a convenient drive from Germany and Austria, and then head south to Croatia’s sailing heartland. Vessels must leave the EU within eight hours of bunkering which, of course, poses no problem! With Trieste’s airport just a 45 minute drive away, it’s also a great spot to pick up guests or change crew. For more information link to Porto San Rocco’s website.

To the south of Croatia, just beyond Dubrovnik and Cavtat, there’s Porto Montenegro whose September 2010 berth extension also came with duty free bunkering and quite a lot more. Self styled as the “New Port of Cool” there’s no doubting Porto Montenegro’s appeal both in location and facilities. For more information link to Porto Montenegro.

For those that don’t want the hassle of clearing customs etc and/or prefer to do all of their sailing within Croatia, fuel is still cheaper than in the UK and the coast and islands are dotted with fuel stations. We detail them, port by port, in the Croatia Cruising Companion. Good news also that Croatia is finally paying attention to providing pump-out facilities though co-author, John Nash, of Marina Facility Solutions, has been banging that particular drum for more time than we care to remember! See our earlier posting on Pump-Outs for the situation as it was and keep an eye out for an update, here, soon.

Thanks to Camper and Nicholsons for today’s photo of Porto San Rocco, Trieste.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Marina Prices

Croatia Cruising Companion - New Marina Seget

Berthing rates at Croatian marinas have been creeping up steadily since Croatia was rediscovered as one of the world’s best sailing grounds, now some years ago. With more than 50 marinas, over 1,000 islands, crystal clear waters and such a lovely way of life it’s a yachtsman’s paradise.

It’s still cheaper than many other places, including the UK, but a 10 metre berth will now cost around €50 a day and €4,500 per annum plus uplifts of between 10% to 75% in the more popular months. Some are cheaper and some much more expensive, usually according to demand and facilities. There are increasing variations in prices and it pays to shop around, if you can, though you will have limited choice for daily berths in July and August.

All of the marinas are pretty well equipped although the older ones have limited space for larger yachts. Some of them have been able to extend facilities and some of the new marinas are able to welcome superyachts with panache. The state owns just over 20 marinas - ACI Marinas. Most of the others are independently owned though there are a couple of organisations operating more than one marina.

We’ll be looking at individual marinas in more depth in subsequent postings but in the meantime, today’s photo shows the pontoons of Croatia’s newest marina Yachtclub Seget, near Trogir. Its pontoons are just to the left of the tree. On the peninsula jutting out to the right is Trogir Shipyard, surely also destined to become a marina before too long.

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Safely Sailing Croatia

Crotia Cruising Companion - Omis Pirates

Those who have read our Croatia Cruising Companion and other writings on Croatia, will know that Croatia is a relatively safe place, on land and sea. At sea, you are never very far from a protected bay, and on land, you are surrounded by the people of a nation that, on the whole, need ASBOS as much as they need to learn about organic produce, ie not at all. Of course you need to observe the proper precautions, and the big cities hide a few reprobates, but compared to other European destinations, you can relax in this respect.

So why,  you may ask, are we reporting on pirates?!

The town of Omiš, about half an hour’s drive south of Split, on the way to Makarska is one of Croatia’s undeservedly unsung destinations, as you will see on the latest posting on sister site,  Croatia Online. It’s the heart of Croatia’s "Klapa" folk music, has magnificent mountain scenery, and perhaps most importantly of all, a fascinating and unique history as a haven for pirates, who greatly contributed to the wealth of the town.

Since our Croatia Online posting on Omiš, we have been reminded that the annual reconstruction of the Pirate Battle takes place on 18th August this year on the sea front, and it’s an occasion not to be missed.

Get a taste of it by following this link on YouTube.

Many thanks to Mr Joško Stella for the photo and information, and, readers, please rest assured that the risk of finding modern day pirates around Croatia’s shores is extremely remote!

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Cruising Croatia With A Difference

Croatia Cruising Companion - Yacht Week

Six months is a long time in blogging and as you’ll see from sister blog, Croatia Online, we’ve not been idle. However that’s no excuse and apologies to our readers for the unusual gap in postings. The mountain of news and excitement to report has made our return to regular postings a little daunting but, as seadog and  Croatia Cruising Companion co-author, John Nash, would say, just take it one step at a time.

So we’re bridging the gap with an extract of one of our latest nautical articles for Time Out’s Visitors Guide To Croatia 2010.

***

Croatia’s lovely Venetian cities are best approached by sea, its azure waters so much more refreshing in remote deserted bays, and its islands most revealing when you can come and go as you please, rather than be a slave to ferry timetables. To explore Croatia by boat is the perfect antidote to the stresses of modern living, but if you’re in Croatia to party that’s possible too.

Google on charter in Croatia and you will find plenty of top quality charter companies offering everything from standard sail boats, through motorboats and traditional gullets, to superyachts. Get into the fine detail and you will discover that it’s not as expensive as you might think, and it’s an opportunity open to all – from novices, with a skipper, to experienced sailors joining autumn regattas.

Ivica Benić, or Johnny as he is known to everyone, grew up in Australia but returned to Zadar, to pursue his dream. Some years and several thousand kuna later, his classic wooden gullet, MSY Dolin, has been loving restored. Built in 1946, Dolin was originally used for bringing wines from the islands and became one of Jadrolinija’s first passenger ships before returning again to cargo duties. Under Johnny’s watchful eye she was refitted from the deck up in 2008, leaving the glorious hull in tact. She’s now the perfect floating home for groups of up to 10, with 5 comfortable en-suite cabins, air conditioning and spacious well fitted common areas, plus a live in chef, skipper and guide (normally Johnny) who have separate accommodation at the other end of Dolin. For a cost of between €540 and €910 per person per week, depending on season and including half board, a group of 10 can live in relaxed comfort, with their itinerary and meals designed specially for them, and share in as much local knowledge, or enjoy as much privacy, as they like. For more information on MSY Dolin phone Johnny on + 385 (0) 23 331 340 or email ivica.benic1@zd.t-com.hr.

There are many entrepreneurs like Johnny, exploiting Croatia’s natural assets in a style that suits modern travellers, but in harmony with its heritage. Some of his guests just want to mooch from bay to bay, some prefer to hang around the Garden’s annual summer festival and, last year, Dolin served as mission control for another exciting adventure, The Yacht Week Croatia. The Yacht Week now runs event based sailing holidays for all levels and in a number of destinations, but it all started in Croatia in 2006. Founder William Wenkel describes Croatia as “the mother of yachting…. few places, if any, can compete with Croatia, with its mix of climate, prices, culture and beautiful surroundings.” Up to 50 yachts, of all sizes and styles for every conceivable type of group and budget, follow an itinerary which includes after beach parties, live bands and DJs, regattas and much more. Price per person starts around €300 and heads steadily upwards depending on the yacht and amount of space and luxury each group requires.

And if you’re not ready to party all night but want a little bit more than idyllic bay after idyllic bay, try your own gastronomic tour or maybe a themed tour designed for you by specialist companies such as Hidden Croatia, Exclusive Sailing,  or Secret Dalmatia.

Many thanks to The Yacht Week for today’s photo.

Saturday, 2 January 2010

Happy New Year

Fishermen at Solta

We hope all our readers had a great Christmas and we wish you a very happy and successful 2010. The “Christmas Decorations”  in the photo were provided  by the fisherman of Šolta Island. Regular postings back again soon!

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

NCP Marina Mandalina’s Adriatic Boat Show In Šibenik

Croatia Cruising Companion - Adriatic Boat Show Sibenik As luck would have it, just as we finished our last posting on the subject of autumn boat shows in Croatia, NCP Marina Mandalina sent us some photos and a press release about their Adriatic Boat Show which took place in September.

Thanks to them for the photos and information – edited extracts below.

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The Adriatic Boat Show 2009 [ABS] organized by Nautical Center Prgin, took place from 17th to 21st of September in Mandalina Marina. ABS actively promotes Croatian boatbuilding and the megayacht sector in Croatian nautical tourism and includes all types of new and used vessels – from small boats to mega-yachts – offering every sailor something according to his needs and interests.

The Show was visited by numerous lovers of nautical business, boats and the sea. Visitors took advantage of the opportunity to see 150 boats in the sea and 30 on dry docks, as well as a rich offer of various nautical equipment, outboard and inboard engines, sport and fishing equipment as well as clothing and diving equipment. As well as Croatian boat builders, also represented were the major world’s producers of vessels with brands Fairline, Princess, Sunseeker, Elan, Grand Soleil, Beneteau, Jeanneau, X-Yachts etc.

There was an excellent atmosphere throughout all five days of the boat show helped by those in front of and behind the stands. Despite a challenging business climate there were 12 percent more exhibitors than last year. Participants expressed appreciation for the event because of the number and diversity of vessels and equipment, the appearance of the overall exhibition area and the friendly attitude of the organisors towards exhibitors, journalists and visitors alike.

The key was the presence of Croatian nautical companies and the fact that the Croatian market continues to expand. There was high number of quality vessels offered by members of an established and reputable Croatian boatbuilding industry. Through the congress programme of ABS, Croatian boat builders have sent a clear message to the Croatian government asking for the immediate reduction of extra taxation on vessels up to 7 meters in length, as well as more regulation in the mega yacht sector.

The Adriatic Boat Show also this year took place under the auspices of the Ministry of Sea, Transport and Infrastructure and the Ministry of Tourism, whose representatives attended the opening ceremony, and with the support of the City and Sibenik - Knin County.

The slogan of ABS - "the sea of nautical opportunity" – covers a wide range and offers a lot, so there is no doubt that visitors and exhibitors are already looking forward towards an even larger boat show – the 3rd Adriatic Boat Show – in 2010.

FACTS:

EXHIBITION AREA – 160.000 m2 – Marina Mandalina & Yacht Club

EXHIBITORS – 170

VESSELS – 180

VISITORS – 22.000

ABOUT NAUTICAL CENTER PRGIN

NCP Group gathers 10 different companies specialising in the nautical industry and is considered one of the leaders in the Mediterranean marine industry. Founded in 1995 as a yacht charter company, today, NCP has the most exclusive charter fleet in the region. NCP developed Mandalina Marina, which is the first mega yacht destination in Croatia, and NCP Repair Shipyard, which is recognized as a respected partner in refit, repair and maintenance of yachts up to 75 m in length. Further, Marinetek NCP is a producer of high quality Marinetek pontoons offering also an overall service for developing marina projects. NCP’s most recent project is the Adriatic Boat Show – an international nautical show of new and used vessels that puts emphasis on promoting Croatia as a mega yacht destination. For more information, please visit www.ncp.hr and www.adriaticboatshow.com .

Croatia’s Autumn Boat Shows

Croatia Cruising Companion - Biograd Boat Show

NCP Marina Mandalina in Šibenik have already staged their Adriatic Boat Show, their second annual autumn boat show in Croatia. First to organise a boat show at this time of year was Marina Kornati in Biograd and this event is now in its eleventh year. This year it runs from 22nd to 25th October and is well worth a visit if you are in the area. It’s not a huge affair but there’s plenty to see and entertain. And if you do go there, co-author of the Croatia Cruising Companion, John Nash, has a stand there with a small stock of books so be sure to go and say hello. You’ll find him on the Marina Facility Solutions stand.

Readers of our recent posting on Croatia Online, about Biograd’s new hotel IN may be interested to see it in the background of this photo, taken at last year’s show when it was just a building site. Looking back at the other photos of the show, we were reminded that, in construction phase, it was called Hotel Inero. This  explains a little of the new name which, you will see from the posting, is causing some confusion.

For more information on the Biograd Boat Show, link to Marina Kornati - Biograd Boat Show

Monday, 21 September 2009

Sv Filip i Jakov Revisited

Croatia Online - Sv Filip i Jakov

When we researched and wrote our Croatia Cruising Companion  (CCC), we did most of our sailing outside the high season, for obvious reasons. It’s not until you see a Croatian destination in and out of the summer season, however, that you get a real flavour for it. Thus, although we have been to Sv Filip i Jakov several times, it’s one of the few places that we had not seen in full summer swing until now.

As we mentioned in the introduction to this destination, on page 39 of the CCC, it’s a “compact, well-cared for settlement with a thriving tourist industry, centred around some large hotels on the outskirts of town”. However that only tells part of the onshore story – in the summer the pine tree fringed fields that we saw behind the long main beach, some of it sandy, become thriving and busy campsites with tents, caravans and mobile homes closely packed into their pitches, about four or five deep. Though that’s a few too many happy campers for our liking, it’s a good spot with plenty of shade and enough beach for everyone.

Amidst all the cafes, bars and restaurants of fairly standard offerings, La Habana, pictured, is a popular nightspot which draws local crowds as well as those from further afield. Cuban themed, the large terrace offers pizza slices, as well as a wide range of cocktails, whilst you sway to the rhythm.

As we state in the CCC, the harbour is only suitable for small craft with depths of up to 2 metres on the inside of the breakwater, up to 4 metres on the outside. So, if you’re in search of some nightlife, and want to escape the family crowd in Biograd, perhaps berth overnight in one of the two marinas in Biograd and take a short taxi ride to Sv Filip i Jakov, along with several other partygoers.

For more information on the village (and some very pleasant folk music) go to the Sv Filip i Jakov Tourist Board site.

For onshore news on nearby Pakoštane, follow this link to Croatia Online’s latest posting.

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Agana Marina, Near Trogir – Change Of Ownership

Croatia Cruising Companion - Agana Marina

Agana Marina is situated in the quiet and picturesque village of Marina, at the end of the western inlet of Trogirski Zaljev (Trogir Bay). The marina used to be run by the municipality and there was a long history of dispute over ownership resulting in several amusing incidents that were probably far from amusing, at the time, for those involved.

It appears that all has now been resolved and the marina was sold to a private investor last year. Some changes have already been made including a new concrete pier, and there are others in the pipeline.

Pending further progress however, it seems that the marina can only accept Croatia flagged yachts on annual berths, for the time being, though we are told that transit berths for all comers are available.

Ashore, the Croatia Cruising Companion mentions that Marina’s fortress tower is “now a hotel..recently changed hands… and needs to have a little money spent on it.” It looks like some investment has taken place but the jury’s still out on the end result – the  English pages of the hotel website - are still under construction but the menu looks pretty swish and so do the interiors. Not too much else has changed onshore – a draconian parking system was introduced last year but was certainly not in evidence during our visit.

For more information on Yachting Sport Agana, to give  Marina’s marina its proper name, click here.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

New Marina Near Trogir, Croatia

Croatia Cruising Companion - New Marina Trogir

One of our first discoveries during our recent trip around the Croatian coastline and islands, was a new marina near Trogir. In fact we have been following progress closely for a few years but were delighted to find that  Baotić Yacht Club Seget is now open for business, albeit to a limited extent until all works are completed.

Licenses and planning permissions take time in Croatia as they do elsewhere but the Marina is taking transit customers (those that want to moor overnight), and bookings for annual berths that will be available from April 2010.

The Baotić organisation already runs marinas in Dugi Otok and Baška Voda and has great plans for their newest marina in Seget just outside Trogir. A few toilets and showers are already available, as are the services of one of the few lifts in Croatia that can cope with catamarans. Indoor boat showroom, after sail club, swimming pool, restaurant, shops, service area, additional showers and toilets, and beauty centre should be available in spring 2010. For more information on this and sister marinas, check out the newly launched website Cromarina (English). For more on what Seget has to offer onshore, see our latest posting on Croatia Online.

***

We took today’s photo of the new marina on the way to Šibenik, from Trogir, along the windy road that leads to the fast inland road to Šibenik. Not far from Šibenik, this road also reveals a gastronomic delight which we’ll be featuring shortly on Croatia Online as sailors will find it difficult to reach. As the photo shows, the new marina is roughly opposite Trogir’s shipyard on the western tip of Čiovo island that’s closest to the mainland. To reach it from the east yachts will need to go around the south side of Čiovo Island, since the bridge that joins Trogir to Čiovo is too low for sailing vessels.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Croatia Junior Optimist Championship
















Whilst readers are waiting for us to sort out our notes and photos of our recent summer trip around the mainland and islands (see Croatia Online for a taster), here's a photo of the Croatia Junior Optimist Championship, for children up to 12 years old, which took place from Kaštela Marina. This link will take you direct to a report and photos on the Marina Kaštela site - http://www.marina-kastela.hr/sport.marina-kastela/jkk/optimist_novosti.html. It's in Croatian but if you google it you should get the option for a translation.
Thanks to co-author John Nash of Marina Facility Solutions for telling us about the event and to Jure Vujević for today's photo.

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Summer 2009 Highlights And Updates

Croatia Cruising Companion readers will have to wait just a week or so longer for the most up to date information on cruising Croatia.

A few weeks exploring the Dalmatian Coast and Islands have revealed a couple of great new finds and news of things to come. Reassuringly however, many sailors we have bumped into along the way, armed with their Croatia Cruising Companions, have confirmed our experience - the pace of change has been much slower than it was whilst we were writing the book and thus it still remains one of the most up to date and detailed sources of information for sailing Dalmatia and for all travellers wanting to explore some of Dalmatia's more remote islands.

We'll be back to work in a week's time, sharing our latest discoveries with you, and on sister site www.croatiaonline.blogspot.com.

Today's photo shows an expectant harbour master in Vrboska, Hvar, waiting for his next customer.

Monday, 17 August 2009

Number One For Books On Croatia Today - Amazon

    Front Cover

Writing a Cruising Companion, in any useful detail, with any diligence and passion, is a labour of love. Croatia made it a joy.

Keeping the Croatia Cruising Companion up to date, on this site and for the next edition, requires little more than a continuance of the original spirit and diligence, ie a lot more hard work!

There’s no lack of motivation from our rankings on Amazon, who seem to rate our book, over several months, way ahead of most other books on Croatia – land or shore based – so we’re celebrating another first place tonight, mindful that we’ve plenty to do to maintain the ranking in the months and year’s to come.

Monday, 3 August 2009

Sibenik’s Marina Mandalina – Latest News

NCP signing - Mark Lande Goran Prgin Husnu Akhan (2)

Regular readers will know that Sibenik’s Marina Mandalina features regularly on this site and Croatia Online.  In February 2009, the international marina developer and operator, IGY, together with NCP (the original sole owners of Marina Mandalina), announced plans to add 65 megayacht berths to the existing 350 wet berths  and 50 dry berths, transforming it into the new Mandalina Marina & Yacht Club – Croatia’s first dedicated superyacht marina.

The latest news is that they’ve been joined by Turkey’s Dogus Group, who will be both an equity partner and oversee the construction of the new development which is scheduled to include a yacht club, residential developments, resort accommodation, modern shopping facilities, dining and nightlife.

Excerpts from NCP’s press release are as below:

The signature “marina village” at the Mandalina Marina & Yacht Club is currently in the planning stages and will be further developed by Doğuş, IGY and NCP over the coming months. The project’s architecture will combine a contemporary Mediterranean style with public open spaces and gardens to provide an attractive setting for a bal­anced resort development. Buildings will be intertwined with cascading waterways while their juxtaposition will blend to create an architec­tural statement of visionary design and quality. All the upland elements will be situated topographically to take advantage of the natural elevated land, and, more importantly, to provide ceremonial focal entry points to the development.”

“We are pleased to align with the Doğuş Group, as we continue the development of the new Mandalina Marina & Yacht Club,” said Andrew Farkas, founder and chairman of IGY. “This agreement creates a very strong partnership comprising the foremost Croatian maritime brand, a leading regional conglomerate with a strong maritime brand in the Eastern Mediterranean, and the world’s premier marina developer and operator. Doğuş’ financial strength, as well as their tremendous expertise in construction and success with projects of a similar nature, make them an ideal partner alongside IGY and NCP in the Mandalina Marina & Yacht Club.”  

“We are equally excited about this partnership and the economic benefits that it will bring to our community,” added Goran Prgin, president of NCP Group. “We welcome the Doğuş Group to Croatia and look forward to working with them to continue to position Dalmatia as the Mediterranean’s top megayacht destination.”

“The Doğuş Group is pleased to enter the Croatian market with such an exciting project and such tremendous partners,” said Ferit Sahenk, chairman of Doğuş Group. “We are actively engaged in similar projects in Turkey and are certain that with the involvement of IGY, NCP and Doğuş, the new Mandalina Marina & Yacht Club will become a showcase destination for the region.”

The Mandalina Marina & Yacht Club is one of the most complete, full-service nautical destinations in the region and encompasses not only the marina, but the NCP Shipyard with 24-hour assistance and technical services, NCP Charter with more than 60 vessels and the NCP Sailing School. Additionally, the facility offers nearby fuelling and on-site grocery for provisioning. The marina is situated in the scenic coastal town of Sibenik on Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast.

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The marina will continue to operate normally while the development progresses and for more information visit the following sites:

IGY Mandalina Marina

NCP Sibenik

Dogus Group

Croatia Online - Superyacht Owners Guide

Croatia Cruising Companion - Sibenik Regatta (if you look carefully at the photos you will spot NCP’s yacht)

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Many thanks to NCP for today’s photo which shows the key partners at the signing ceremony, attended by the President of the Republic of Croatia, Mr. Stjepan Mesić. From left to right – IGY’s Mark Lande, NCP’s Goran Prgin and Dogus’s Husnu Akhan

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Cruising Croatia For Families

Croatia Cruising Companion - Optimists

On Croatia Online today, we looked at child friendly hotels in Croatia, which inspired us to think about how suitable a sailing holiday in Croatia might be for families with children of varying ages.

Earlier in the year, we interviewed a few experts for an article on sailing in Croatia for Time Out. When we asked them about taking children along, the consensus seemed to be that parents would probably be too distracted worrying about the safety of kids of five and under, and teenagers might prove hard to entertain. However, on a family holiday, if the charter includes hiring a local skipper, the experts told us it was the skipper’s job to keep everyone happy - with adolescents that means making sure they were fully involved, and leaving plenty of time for swimming and other beach activities. If you don’t take a skipper then that’s down to you, the parents!

That view has been endorsed by a number of families we’ve met who’ve tried it. Better still, a family sailing trip seems to bring everyone together. Readers might be interested to read a very touching report on the website of legendary sailor and prolific author, Jimmy Cornell. Noonsite includes the story of an Australian family who lived the dream for five weeks, sailing around Croatia, and considered it the best experience they had ever had as a family.

If you’ve only got a couple of weeks then perhaps the answer is to make sure you provide a variety of destinations and activities that suits everyone, and that’s very easy to do in Croatia. If the kids show signs of getting bored, perhaps spend a day at Marina Kornati in Biograd, ACI's Marina in Vodice or Marina Borik, near Zadar, and let the children take advantage of the nearby child friendly beaches, hotels and facilities while the adults chill out over a cocktail or two.

Monday, 13 July 2009

Croatia – Getting There Update

Croatia Cruising Companion - Ferry Korcula

Today on Croatia Online, we reported on the latest news on flights to Croatia and it seems there are some good last minute deals to be had, even though we’re approaching peak season.

If you’re planning a sailing holiday then probably Split or  Zadar are the airports at the centre of the most popular sailing areas, and a high density of marinas hosting charter fleets. Those travelling from the UK seem likely to get the best deals from EasyJet (Split) or Ryanair (Zadar), but don’t discount the national flag carriers (eg Croatia Airlines and British Airways) in your search. American readers should note there are an increasing number of options for them, even if it means a normally short detour via Zagreb to get a regular domestic connecting flight.

However, the cost of the flight itself has to be weighed against the logistics of the charter and the possibility of an extra hotel night or two if the timings aren’t right. Some charter companies will offer a degree of flexibility on the normal Saturday afternoon start and it always pays to have a chat with your charter manager to see what’s possible.

There are, of course other ways of getting to Croatia from the UK, including driving. A few years ago, a cheap flight to Ancona in Italy and a ferry to Split were one of the few low cost options but, now that the low cost carriers have recognised Croatia’s potential, that’s not necessary. For those from the UK, the ferry is a great option for getting to see the best of Croatia as a land based tourist within Croatia, but not really a practicality for getting there. Italians, however, have a vast number of ferry options for crossing the Adriatic, though many choose to sail their own boats across, or drive to marinas in northern Croatia, where their boats are berthed, and sail down to Dalmatia.

For travellers with some spare time and a budget to die for, maybe a trip on the  Orient Express to Venice and then a one way superyacht charter from Venice to Dubrovnik or Montenegro?

Croatia is so much easier to get to now, in the summer season – more flights, great new motorway, ferry connections as good as ever, but still improving - that the discerning traveller has a vast amount of choice. Car hire prices however aren’t amongst the cheapest in Europe.

Follow the link to Croatia Online, in the opening paragraph, for direct links to airlines operating in Croatia and for the main Croatian airports. Below are a few others that may help:

Jadrolinija – Croatia’s main ferry company for international routes and local connections to the islands

Croatian Motorways – for information on motorway travel in Croatia

Croatia Online - Driving To The UK  - for some first hand tips on travelling to Croatia by car.

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Today’s photo is of Korčula town where the ferry overnights not far from the local boats.

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Onshore News – Dalmatian Coast and Islands

Croatia Cruising Companion - Onshore Sibenik

Whilst the Croatia Cruising Companion seems to be the book of choice for those focusing on sailing Dalmatia by sea, we’ve yet to find another resource that attempts to cover the Dalmatian Coast and islands onshore comprehensively. We welcome all contributions and competition on this as, despite our best attempts, and blanket coverage when we wrote the book, there are some remote islands that we get to revisit only periodically for news and updates for this site.

For landlubbers that may be attracted to the more deserted Croatian islands along the Dalmatian coast we’d suggest a copy of the Croatia Cruising Companion and the following links on sister site Croatia Online to give you a flavour of Croatia and some of its quirks and practicalities.

Croatia In August

Solta The Island Of Olives

Falconry In Croatia

Cost Of Living In Croatia

Split Hotel Update

Croatia's Best Kept Secrets

Cricket In  Croatia

Top 20 Island Gems

Sunday Times Best Sailing Holidays

Best Souvenirs Of Croatia

Croatia's Natural Splendour

Zadar's Newest Hotel

Oxford And Cambridge Boat Race, Split

 UNESCO In Croatia

Browse, prepare, research and enjoy!

Friday, 3 July 2009

Shore Based Fuel Stations In Croatia

Croatia Cruising Companion - Fuel Station Sumartin, Brac

A reader recently contacted us, see posting below, to let us know that the fuel station in Milna,  Brač, was open on a bank holiday, for longer hours than we suggested in the Croatia Cruising Companion. Better that way than the other way round but it does seem that many of the fuel stations have extended their hours of operation, particularly on Bank Holidays.

We’ve found some relatively new, web based information, on shore based fuel stations in Croatia and the following link, Adriasail – Fuel, will take you to a summary of opening hours, contact details and depths for most stations. If you then click on the name of the individual fuel station you will get more detailed information to cover the different seasons. Interestingly enough, the fuel station concerned shows the same opening hours as in the CCC for the month of June so it may just be that it wasn’t a “proper” bank holiday or July started early on Brač

As with all types of important information it pays to double check. In the introduction, on page 15, we suggest that you phone ahead to check opening times, depths, etc for the fuel station you intend to visit, and provide telephone numbers wherever available. We took our information directly from the owners and operators of the fuel station, in most cases and particularly when there were any discrepancies between a number of different sources, and occasionally a phone call may reveal that there is work going on in the harbour which puts the station out of action for a period.

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Today’s photo is of the fuel station in Sumartin on Brač island.

Readers’ Update – Hvar and Brac

Croatia Cruising Companion - Stari Grad Below are some observations from readers who contacted us recently after returning from a week’s sailing in the Split area.

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A super book which we found invaluable on our recent week's charter out of Split. I thought the following notes might be useful to your readers.

On Hvar we overnighted on the anchor in the small bay, Zavala, north of Rt Oplovac on the way down to Stari Grad. [CCC  page 170 and see note below]. It’s a beautiful and secluded spot  and very well sheltered. Also I think its walkable to Stari Grad which gets pretty busy in the high-season.

From Palmizana on Sv Klements [CCC page 165] we hiked the less-than 400 metres over the hill to the restaurants you mentioned. We used the one next to Gastionica Zori which was OK and much cheaper!

Later we were in Milna on Brac and noted that the fuelling stations stayed open all afternoon albeit it was a public holiday. 

Anthony Warren, Brentford

July 2009

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Thanks to Anthony for his comments and we’ll be following up the opening hours of fuel stations in a later posting since most fuel stations now seem to operate longer hours in the summer season.

Zavala, the inlet near Stari Grad (see above), is not to be confused with Uvala Zavala and the town of Zavala on the south side of Hvar island [CCC page 177]. Croatia does have a habit of using the same name for a number of places. Hence you have a Milna on Hvar as well as the better known Milna on Brač island!

Today’s photo is of Stari Grad Hvar.

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Cruising In Classic Style

Croatia Cruising Companion - Dolin

Croatia, particularly Dalmatia, is at its best when explored from the sea but many of us just think of modern yacht charters as the means of discovery. Croatia is however a nation of seafarers which values, and remains in tune with, its nautical heritage. Enterprising locals, who choose to provide floating accommodation that makes the most of this heritage, deserve a wider audience.

Captain Ivica Benić is one such entrepreneur and has lovingly restored a classic gullet, Dolin, for tailor made cruises for parties of up to 10 people. Known to his English friends as Johnny, Ivica was born and raised in Australia, but eventually answered the call of his Croatian roots.

Dolin was originally built in 1946 and spent her first two years transporting wine from the Dalmatian islands before going into service for the Croatian ferry company  Jadrolinija, as one of its first passenger ships. She spent the next forty plus years as a cargo ship transporting goods to the islands of Cres and Lošinj, and later sand from the island of Krk.  In 1977, Ivica’s family became the proud owners using Dolin as a cargo and excursion boat until, in 2008, she underwent a complete refit for her new role as a luxury classic cruiser.

Though Dolin was refitted from the deck up, the hull is the original and has lost none of its former glory. Made from oak that was “seasoned” in mud and sea water for a couple of years, the hull was designed and crafted from the finest wood in an age when boats were built to outlive their owners. Dolin, however, makes many concessions to modern living elsewhere – air conditioning, 5 comfortable en-suite cabins and spacious, well fitted common areas.

Ivica decided to focus on comfort rather than cramming as many cabins in as possible, and for that reason also, Dolin is geared to groups rather than just trying to fill individual cabins. The desire to blend classic style with contemporary needs means Ivica also provides a well stocked kitchen, and a chef with international experience as well as the expected expertise in the preparation of local traditional Dalmatian dishes.

Dolin’s base is Zadar though, by arrangement, you can start and/or finish elsewhere. Itineraries are flexible too and a number of activities are also available by arrangement – diving, fishing, rafting, etc.

A one week basic charter costs range from €5,400 to €9,100 depending on the time of year, for up to 10 people in double cabins. You will pay an extra fixed fee of  €1,000 for cleaning, mooring in town ports, tourist taxes, fuel, etc, but if your group specifically wants to berth overnight in a marina, the marina fees will be extra – see  Croatia Cruising Companion - Town Ports And Harbours In Croatia for the pros and cons of marinas and town ports.

For half board add €230 per person per week and for full board add €320. You can also take advantage of an inclusive “domestic drinks” package which includes Croatian wines, beers and spirits; soft drinks, mineral water, coffee, tea and juices for an extra €170 per person per week or an equivalent but non alcoholic package at €90 per person per week. Otherwise you will pay for drinks at the bar prices unless you choose, as a group, to provide all your own drinks for a corkage fee of €600 for the week.

By my calculations, that means a group of ten, can cruise in classic style for a week, in early May or late December, for €680 per person; or with food and drink all in, €1,170, which compares pretty well with equivalent hotel costs.

For a full price list, boat layout and design, and more information, contact details are as follows:

Captain Ivica Benic
Mate Balote 84
23000 Zadar
Croatia
ivica.benic1@zd.t-com.hr
Phone  + 385 (o) 23 331 340
Fax       + 385 (o) 23 337 157  (capt.) Panjol
Mob.    + 385 0) 95 901 7455

We haven’t tried it yet but it’s now on the list and we’re always happy to give a resourceful entrepreneur, with something quite special to offer, a little helping hand.

Saturday, 27 June 2009

Croatians Cross The English Channel In a Classic Rowing Boat

2maraton2008_ lada boats

This morning we read an article in the Croatian Times reporting on an astonishing feat by a team of Croatian rowers yesterday. In a classic rowing boat called a lađa, pronounced ladja, 16 rowers, one drummer (to keep the rowing beat) and two coxes apparently made the crossing of the English Channel in 3.4 hours.

This afternoon we finally found a UK site, Kent Online, that corroborated the story but differs substantially on crew numbers and has the  video evidence to prove it which shows 8 rowers, a drummer and helmsman battling the waves.

These rowing boats have been used for transport on the Neretva River for centuries and you can read more about them by following this link - Ladja Marathon – and the one above. Thanks also to them for today’s photo of the annual marathon on the Neretva River.

The Neretva Delta covers around 20,000 hectares of Croatia and Bosnia and is one of the few remaining wetlands in Europe making it an important Ramsar Site and a great bird watching destination. It is also being considered for Nature Park status though that comes with additional restrictions and the idea is not universally popular with the locals. 

For those interested in bird watching go to sister site Croatia Online - Bird Watching in Croatia. For those more interested in the remarkable achievement of the Croatian rowers we will endeavour to hunt down some more information and hope the UK press does it justice. In the meantime, rowers of a more mainstream style may be interested in the following posting - Croatia Online - Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race In Split.

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Readers of the Croatia Cruising Companion  should note that the Neretva Delta is not suitable for sailing boats. Very few of Croatia’s rivers are but the Krka River is a notable exception and well worth exploration as it passes the magnificent city of Šibenik, provides a great freshwater marina - ACI Skradin – and of course leads to the spectacular Krka National Park

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Aficionados of tennis may be interested to read about Croatia’s prowess in this sport by linking to Croatia Online - Wimbledon And Tennis In Croatia

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Weather Forecasts In Croatia

Adriatic Sea - DHMZ

We recently had an email from a reader unsure as to how the areas of Croatia were identified in weather forecasts. Croatian weather and forecasts are covered in pages 8 and 9 of the introduction to the Croatia Cruising Companion and VHF broadcasts will normally identify a city - Split or Šibenik for example. However on sites such as The Croatian Meteorological And Hydrological Service, references are made to the Northern, Central and Southern Adriatic.

We have taken the liberty of including the map from the above website to show that, in fact, readers sailing in the area covered by the Croatia Cruising Companion need mostly focus on the Central Adriatic Region, though the small area of Croatia, south of Dubrovnik, falls in the Southern Adriatic region.

This classification of regions is not to be confused with the division of the Dalmatian region into Northern, Middle and Southern Dalmatia. The whole of Dalmatia is covered by the Croatia Cruising Companion and Dalmatia, as a whole, can roughly be said to equate to the Central Adriatic Region above.

These definitions probably sound more complicated than they are. In practice you will find that every marina has a daily weather report available for the area, and most tourist offices will print these out on demand. Plovput are responsible for the radio broadcast of weather and navigational information and operate three radio stations – Rijeka, Split and Dubrovnik – which broadcast this information 3 times a day in English.

The Croatian Tourist Board also has a good weather map on its site for looking at the weather in specific destinations. We’re sorry to see that today, whilst the UK is basking in sunshine for the opening days of Wimbledon, the whole of the Croatian coast seems to be suffering from “variably cloudy with thundershowers”!

Friday, 19 June 2009

Town Ports And Harbours in Croatia

CCC - Rogac Harbour

A few days ago we posted a review of Marinas In Croatia and pointed out that, although some marinas offer the ultimate in luxury, many town harbours are close to marinas in standard and usually half the price. However there are a few differences:

1. Town or village harbours are normally run by a small company that gets a concession from the government. They are not so easy to find on the web or book ahead. In the Croatia Cruising Companion we’ve done our best to give all the contact details, but sometimes that’s just a mobile phone number. In most cases you’ll find it’s better to turn up and find a space, though in the high season it’s worth getting there a little earlier.

2. Some local harbours are just too shallow for yachts and exclusively geared towards local fishing boats so check depths carefully. Again, in the Croatia Cruising Companion we’ve identified, as far as we can, the areas for yachts and those for local boats. However you’ll normally find someone ready to help you as soon as they spot you coming – normally the concession manager.

3. In all the town ports of any size you will find a source of electricity and water, normally in the form of a concrete bollard or two. In some cases though, these are at the shallow end. Some ports have pedestals for almost every berth but in a few smaller ports a degree of resourcefulness is required. In Kukljica on Ugljan island, our neighbours tapped into the electricity supply at the security office, even though there are pedestals on the inner pontoons; and there’s a small secluded bay up the Krka estuary, which for obvious reasons should remain nameless, where the locals are “wired” to the lamp-posts!

4. Check shelter carefully, (covered for each port in the Croatia Cruising Companion). Whilst you will find that nearly all marinas are sheltered from all weather conditions, the town harbours and moorings don’t always afford all round protection, particularly where the best mooring options for yachts are towards the outer end of the harbour,  and sometimes on the outside of the breakwater.

5. In some municipal ports there are toilets and showers but this is the exception rather than the rule. In nearly all of them you will find lazy lines to tie up securely. You will normally be approached to pay your fees when you arrive and can expect to receive an invoice which will also include the nominal tourist tax charge for your stay. Also expect to hand over your passports briefly, and occasionally your other papers, so that the details can be taken. The overnight fee usually includes reasonable electricity and water where available. Out of season and in some smaller harbours, you may simply be expected to dine at the local restaurant in return for a berth. 

6. As we suggest above, the fee is normally around half the amount you would pay at a marina though there are some exceptions where the standard of facilities are higher. The Brijuni islands in Istria, a favourite for superyachts, are one example; Lastovo is another.

On the whole, you get the best of both worlds in most town harbours – a comfortable berth at a reasonable price, but you still feel part of the local scene. Below are a few of our favourites:

Pučišća on Brač island – Pučišća seems to be oblivious to tourism though very welcoming to visitors. It’s a thriving town as a result of the white Brač stone it quarries and there’s evidence of this everywhere including statues and intricately carved stone lamp-posts. The long narrow bay has plenty of space and the depths for yachts, and electricity and water pedestals are generously scattered around it. There’s also a good supply of bars and restaurants and our only problem was the chiming of bells, from a number of churches, throughout the night.

Sali on Dugi Otok – Sali is picture postcard perfect at sunset with the pastel hues of the houses reflected on the water. Electricity and water are available and there’s a boatyard and engine repair facilities. No shortage of cafés and restaurants either and, as with Pučišća above, you can expect to find life all year round though its prosperity centres on fishing and fish processing.

Vrboska on Hvar – Vrboska is a sleepy village that calls itself Little Venice because of a number of bridges over the inlet. It also has an ACI marina (see Marinas In Croatia) but the enthusiastic harbour manager knows every trick in the book when it comes to diverting boats hovering around the marina entrance. Though Vrboska has a few bars and restaurants, for more facilities it’s a lovely walk of about an hour along the coast (and past some lovely houses) to Jelsa, a bigger and upcoming town with a ferry service to Split and Brač. Jelsa also has good berthing but it’s exposed to the Bora and the berths are beside a clutch of noisy restaurants so not the place for a quiet night!

Prvić Luka on Prvić Island – The Šibenik Archipelago has many hidden gems. Prvić Luka, our favourite, is a charming small town but has a newish boutique hotel, Maestral, that also act as a base for swimming holidays (Swimtrek). Berthing is inside the breakwater on lazylines and there are toilets and electricity and water available. If you fancy spending a little more time in this area, Zlarin and Krapanj island are well worth a visit and have good facilities. However note that Krapanj acts as a base for flotilla holidays and therefore the lovely Hotel Spongiola (which also provides the berthing facilities) can get a little raucous on changeover night.

Bol on Brač – These berths are not the most sheltered in all conditions but Bol is such a picturesque and compact town that it’s worth the trip. Electricity and water are available and if the weather conditions are not right you can always get a boat trip from Jelsa which lies  opposite (see above). Bear in mind that the iconic Zlatni Rat beach, featured in most tourist literature photographs, and popular for wind surfing and other water sports, is a good walk away from the town centre. Also note that, despite its appearance on the photographs, its a pebble and not a sandy beach.

There are plenty of other great stops – Vis town on Vis island is one of the most popular, but those above are some of the less obvious. Today’s photo is of Rogač, the main ferry port on Šolta Island which provides a great illustration of how yachts and local boats co-exist in harmony on a quiet island. Šolta, the island, hides a number of gems and you can read much more about that on sister site Croatia Online. The link takes you to the last of four postings on this very special island just a short sail from Split.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Croatia – A Place For All Sailors?

SC trip

Many people seem to feel that a sailing holiday is beyond their reach, either because they don’t know how to sail, or because they imagine it’s way beyond their budget. This posting aims to dispel a few myths.

Whilst a round the world trip might not be a good idea for a novice and nervous group of sailors, a sailing holiday in Croatia could be just the job. Obviously you have to pay attention to the weather and basic navigational and safety rules, but if you charter a yacht with a skipper you can learn as much or as little as you like about sailing whilst exploring Croatia the way it was meant to be discovered – by sea.

As for budgets, if you do your research carefully you will find plenty of bargains to be had this year. If you compare the total cost of the charter holiday with what it would cost you to stay in a hotel, you could get a pleasant surprise.

Croatia, particularly the Dalmatian Coast and Islands, is particularly friendly to a variety of nautical travellers.  The many islands mostly lie close to the mainland so you are never very far from land if the sea roughs up. Similarly, it’s easy to pick a route to stay in flat water if the weather conditions change. If you happen to be in a group of mixed bravado and tastes then you can leave some of the group in a fascinating historic city while the others go chasing the winds in the nearest channel. If some like to party and some don’t then seek the peace and quiet of the Pakleni Islands and send the party lovers by water taxi to Hvar town. Deserted bays may be the order of the day for romantic couples, and for families perhaps Bol on Brač, or Vodice and Biograd on the mainland, provide the ideal children’s playground for a daytime stop.

Those that haven’t sailed before often aren’t aware that charter yachts are relatively luxurious – the floating equivalent of three star hotels, without the room service but with a good sized kitchen. So if you just want to potter around and enjoy cocktails on the sun deck then you can do that in style too.

We’ve yet to meet any sailors, novice or otherwise, that haven’t had a great time when they’ve sailed with a skipper. The skipper takes all the responsibility, makes himself scarce when necessary, and knows exactly where to go to keep everyone happy. Those that choose a bareboat charter (without a skipper) also can’t fail to have a good time in Croatia if their sailing skills are up to it and they find other means of getting the best of local knowledge.

Below are a selection of  links to charter companies of which we’ve had excellent first hand reports. However the quality in Croatia is very high, as long as you stay with licensed charter companies, so you’re unlikely to go far wrong:

Adriasail Charter

Dalmatia Charter

Sail Croatia

And here are ten tips for making the most of your sailing holiday:

1. Travel light – pack your gear in foldable bags so they stow easily. Include a pair of jelly shoes for the pebble beaches.

2. Beware the sun – make sure a bimini (sun cover) comes as standard on your yacht and that you take a hat, sunscreen, sunglasses, etc

3. Embrace the unexpected – don’t be to rigid in your itinerary so you can enjoy the ad hoc experiences which will make your holiday

4. Treat yourself to a bit of luxury half way through – maybe an overnight stop at a marina as a change from the quiet anchorages, see Croatia Cruising Companion - Marinas In Croatia

5. Learn a little Croatian  - it will make the locals happy though most speak good English. For a handy phrasebook link to the Croatian Language School

6. Leave everything except Marmite, Branston Pickle and teabags at home. The local produce is excellent, particularly olive oil, eggs, all fruit and veg, smoked ham (prsut), cheese and of course fish

7. Communications – for a relaxing holiday it’s best to leave the laptop behind but you’ll find WiFi in an increasing number of marinas. Mobile telephone signals are good in most places too.

8. Respect the weather – if you’re skipper suggests shelter to avoid a summer storm then he’ll almost always be able to find you a nearby town with plenty to explore. At worst it will be a sheltered bay with a restaurant and bars.

9. Prepare and do your research so that you can let your skipper know what sort of places you like.

10. Don’t forget to pack your copy of the Croatia Cruising Companion!