Sunday, 7 December 2008

Sunday, 30 November 2008

Šibenik In Winter


This photo shows the view from land, over the rooftops of Šibenik Old Town. The way out to sea is to the left of the yacht in the background. Heading to Šibenik, once you've negotiated the well controlled channel, you'll be greeted by a magnificent view of the Old Town and its UNESCO protected Cathedral.
Šibenik has a regatta every year to celebrate St Nicholas Day on 6th December so we'll be bringing you news from that next week.

Saturday, 22 November 2008

Skradin, Near Šibenik


ACI's marina in Skradin is a very special place to moor your boat. It's not just one of the very few Croatian marinas that is in fresh, rather than sea water, but from here you can explore the River Krka and its waterfalls and the delightful town of Skradin itself. In July and August it gets very busy as many of the organised trips to the waterfalls, by boat, start from here. Its popularity as a tourist destination has given rise to a number of good restaurants, one good hotel and a number of apartments to rent, mostly closed in the winter, but off season is the best time to explore the town away from the crowds.

We'll be covering more of the onshore attractions on our sister site, Croatia Online and of course you can read more about it, including how to get there, in our Croatia Cruising Companion (page 107). In brief, head up the Krka estuary past Šibenik and it's about 8 miles upstream.

Today's picture shows the view of the town and marina from the road bridge. Sailing to Skradin you will be approaching from the left of the picture and will see the tall church tower in front of you and the marina to port. The marina has 153 berths with water and electricity and an overnight berth for a 12 metre boat will cost you €49, increasing by 10% in July and August. Many people choose to winter their boats here because of the fresh water - annual berths are therefore hard to get but cost €2,67o for a 12 metre boat.

Friday, 21 November 2008

Kornati Islands


We've just spotted an article, ostensibly about sailing, in the Independent back in October, in the Home and Garden section of all things! Whilst it does major on the vegetation, or lack of it, there are some extremely vivid descriptions of the scenery which most people, including ourselves, normally describe in just a few words as stark or lunar.

Follow this link - http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/house-and-home/gardening/woman-overboard-a-croatian-sailing-holiday-provides-a-horticultural-treat-969478.html It's a good read!

Look out for our next posting on the unique attractions of ACI's marina in Skradin - we've been exploring there today and there's plenty of news.

Saturday, 8 November 2008

Cost Of Cruising Croatia


We've mentioned Miggy and Neal's blog before - they've been cruising Croatian waters this year but are now "resting" in the Ionian Island of Lefkas. Their most recent posting is a round up of their year's sailing which makes very interesting reading. Although they stress that the benefits far outweigh the difficulties, they did mention a couple of problems specific to Croatia. Here's an extract below:
The principal difficulties that we have experienced during our travels this year have been:
Getting camping gaz refills in Italy and Croatia
Lack of internet access in Croatia particularly WiFi
Expensive marinas, quays and cost of living generally in Croatia
Overcrowded moorings during the July and August mania
The WiFi situation seems to be improving with several marinas now offering it but, if you're prepared to invest about £80 you can get a "web and walk stick" from T-com which you top up on a pay as you go basis. It's extremely simple to use - just plug it into a USB port, connect, and you're away.
As far as expense is concerned, Croatia is no longer the bargain it was, particularly the marinas which have increased their prices by 10 to 20 per cent each year for the last three or four years. Despite that, they're still pretty competitive compared with other cruising areas. Town moorings are normally about half the price of marinas and there are still plenty of anchorages which are free - all are detailed in our Croatia Cruising Companion. To give you an idea of current marina prices, ACI, the market leader with 21 marinas, charges €41 per day for a 10 metre boat moored in its Split marina and €100 a day for a 20 metre boat. The price increases by 10% in June and September, and 20% in July and August. Most of their other marinas are similarly priced except generally there is a 50% reduction between November and February inclusive and the summer surcharge is generally capped at 10% in July and August.
Croatia is a victim of its own success as far as overcrowding in the summer is concerned though the Italians have, for many years, sailed over en masse in August. However if you pick your stops carefully and avoid the flotilla routes and more popular areas you can usually find somewhere but, as Miggy and Neal found out, it often means heading to your destination a bit earlier in the day in the high season. September is one of the best months to sail as the water is still warm enough to swim (and sometimes, like this year, in October too!) and the crowds have gone. May and June are also good.
Thanks to Miggy and Neal for a fascinating read - link to http://miggyandneal.blogspot.com/2008/11/annual-cruising-round-up.html for the full story.
Today's photo is of a boat moored at Kaštel Lukšić, near Split, one of Croatia's mooring bargains though it's not suitable in all weathers.

Friday, 10 October 2008

Reader's Report - Southern Dalmatia Part II


Today's photo is of Sučuraj on Hvar island. We've acclaimed it several times as one of the most photogenic villages we've visited. Ian Shaw, who captured this image, has also been kind enough to round off his most recent voyage around Dalmatia with his latest report. See the immediately preceding posting for Part I.
***
Following our overnight stay at Cavtat (would have liked to have stayed longer), we returned to Okuklje and the same mooring. No more to be said here (see prior posting). Our intended destination was Vrbroska, but steadily worsening weather forced us to change our plans. We decided to take a look at Lovisće, even though the wind had started to blow from the North. As an anchorage only it may be OK, but since that was not what we were looking for, we moved on. Quite frankly, the whole village had a depressing air about it, and offered nothing at first glance which would have encouraged us to stay. The two rusting trawlers moored at the jetty had an air of gloomy permanence.

Our options were narrowing as quickly as the Bora was increasing. A quick look at the chart threw up Sučuraj and the Croatia Cruising Companion confirmed good shelter for the prevailing weather conditions. The Bora kept us here for two nights and we thoroughly enjoyed our stay. We berthed starboard side to on the (nearly) new wooden jetty immediately to the west of the ferry terminal. The harbour master's office is one of the three kiosks immediately adjacent the wooden jetty. Mooring fees 300 kuna for a 15m boat, including electrics (16 amp) and water. The ferry provided us with entertainment and we continue to be impressed by the ferry services offered to the islands we have visited.

The Bora was still blowing the next day, but we decided to take a look to the North and found conditions perfectly managable for a trip to Stari Grad, our favourite port of those we have visited so far. It was interesting to note the change in weather conditions in the Hvarski Kanal, in the space of half a mile or so the wind would vary from force three to six and back. In narrowest part between Brač and Hvar, Brač seemed to offer some protection from the wind, and then the two islands acted to funnel the wind. Whilst this posed no difficulty, it was interesting to observe and take note of. The sky to the west was clear and we sailed into warm, sunny weather and calmer seas before turning to port and starting our run into Stari Grad. Arriving late lunchtime we found plenty of berths available; by late afternoon, however, all the berths had been filled and some yachts were obliged to lay up alongside the trip boats. We ate that evening at Restaurant Antika which had been recommended to us on our last visit in July. Thoroughly enjoyed the meal and atmosphere (Aussies and Scots) and will go back and eat there again.

Next day was our last full day and a sail back to Marina Frapa. Always a surprise when we arrive since we never know which berth we will have. It bothered us at first, not having an allocated berth. But since there is room for all, it doesn't seem to matter so much.

An early start next day for the EasyJet flight to Gatwick, then onwards to Geneva and back to France - a long day.

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Reader's Report - Southern Dalmatia Part I



Whilst we've been exploring inland Croatia (see sister site Croatia Online), we are once again indebted to Ian Shaw for putting the Croatia Cruising Companion through its paces and supplying us with some incredibly useful and detailed updates. Below is Ian's report on his travels to Hvar, Korčula and Mljet, as well as an update on Marina Frapa's progress with its underwater restaurant and a new Wireless Internet System. Thanks also to Ian for the photo of one of his favourite restaurants - more information below.

***


Leaving Marina Frapa (the new, underwater restaurant is under construction adjacent to the superyacht transit pier) on the Friday, we stopped over in Maslinica before heading to Hvar Town. Very picturesque; the harbour is a plethora of cafés and restaurants, but the lazy lines were a real spaghetti. We checked before leaving the following day and found a line around one of our props, so yours truly had to go over the side and cut it off.
The mooring rings are not well secured and with a very heavy swell from the East, our boat managed to pull one ring and spike almost out of its drilled hole on the jetty. A number of sailing yachts to seaward nearly touched masts and rigging on numerous occasions. The overnight mooring fee for a 15.60m boat was 840 kuna; wow, these are top South of France prices, and the harbourmaster's office weren't too keen to give the change for 850 kuna either!
I don't know what time the clubs turfed their customers out, but most of the noisy drunks seemed to be English and Scottish!
I am sure a lot of people will like Hvar Town, busy and bustling, but I don't think we'll be visiting again.

We then headed to Korcula Town for two nights. A fascinating town with plenty to see and several internet cafés for those who are wedded to the internet. One can just wander and there is a surprise at every corner. The ACI marina is excellent, with a reception manned by a formidable lady who warmed to us greatly when we told her how much we had disliked Hvar Town and that Korcula was much nicer! It is a very pleasant marina, on the ball staff, and a nice restaurant-we ate there one evening and were not disappointed. Well recommended. We also ate at Pizzeria Doris (turn right out of the marina entrance and it can be found 250m on the left. Pizzas and wine for five for 400 kuna and it was all good!

Our next stop was the island of Mljet and the bay of Okuklje, as you say a well-protected anchorage. We arrived at lunchtime to two locals waving and offering a mooring. We moored at Konoba Maran, the first restaurant to starboard, and the place where most of the yachts seemed to make for. It was blazing hot, my wife went straight for a swim and the rest of us for a beer or a glass of wine. We liked it so much that we returned two nights later. The mooring is free on the implicit understanding that you eat at the restaurant. We did on both nights and the food is excellent, especially the black (squid ink) risotto. As good as the other restaurants we have eaten at on our trips to Croatia, and the chips are also good! Bearing in mind the mooring is free a three course meal for six (on the second visit) plus wine a gogo and coffee came to 1200 kuna, brilliant. One tip, book your table as soon as you arrive, the restaurant was packed both nights we ate there. Contact details: phone +385 20 746 186; +385 98 931 96 01. Website: http://www.okuklje-maran.com/

After our first stay at Okuklje we headed for Cavtat to pick up a passenger arriving from the USA. We picked Cavtat since the CCC advised clearing in formalities were much quicker than Dubrovnik. Nevertheless this did entail a certain amount of toing and froing on the day. Like Korcula, we were charmed by Cavtat and found all the harbour staff friendly and helpful. We moored at Cavtat Luka. The quay moorings are rope passed through holes drilled in the stonework, no lazy lines you have to drop anchor. We were very doubtful about the holding ability of these lines and passed a short length of spinnaker line through the holes on the quay to give us some comfort, especially since the Bora was causing some swell.
As regards the formalities we caused some confusion at the harbourmaster's office, who were fully expecting a list to which amendments for incoming crew/passengers would be made. Not so in our case. In the confusion we were given a new list bearing the names of only the passengers/crew aboard. If it is any help to others this is the way we set up our cruising and this is what we have learned:

-we set up our list of crew/passengers at the beginning of the season, some 20 in all. This list bears the detachable part of the vignette. When we sail from Marina Frapa we take the original list with us. The marina issues us with an A4 sheet for each person aboard (foreign visitor), showing passport details. In effect, the marina is carrying out the duties of the police registering the foreign visitor. You must sail with the original list and the A4 sheet for each person aboard. So long as the persons aboard are on the list of crew/passengers no visit to the harbourmaster's office is necessary. If the original list needs to be changed, then a visit to the harbourmaster's office to effect that change is necessary. Where there is no facility for issuing the A4 sheet above at the marina, then visit the local police station with the incomer's passport and they will complete the formalities. The incomer need not attend the police station personally, but you shouldn't sail with that person aboard until formalities are completed.


PS Marina Frapa is now a wi-fi zone.

***

Thursday, 2 October 2008

A Flavour of Inland Croatia


Space and editorial constraints meant that our Croatia Cruising Companion necessarily focused on the sailing heartland of Croatia - the Dalmatian Coast and islands. We did however endeavour to pinpoint inland highlights that were not too far away from suitable ports and anchorages. On our blog we have a little bit more leeway just to tease readers with the delights of inland Croatia. Today's picture is of the small marina in Osijek, on the river Drava, a major tributary of the Danube.
Osijek is almost as east as you can get in Croatia, more or less due north of Dubrovnik but separated from it by the widest part of Bosnia and Hercegovina, close to the Hungarian border, and the capital of the green, fertile and mostly flat Slavonian region. Here you'll experience a Continental rather than Mediterranean climate so, before or after your summer cruise, why not hire a car and explore inland Croatia as spring and autumn show it off at its best.
You can read more about inland Croatia on our sister site Croatia Online. More news soon on this site as our travels take us back to the Dalmatian coast for further updates to add to our Croatia Cruising Companion.

Thursday, 25 September 2008

If Only The Rules and Regulations Were As Crystal Clear As The Sea!


Just as superyachts were beginning to feel more assured of a warm welcome in Croatia, a new twist to the already murky rules and regulations has arisen. This time it's the unfortunate story of a megayacht that legitimately fuelled up in France, but ends up having fuel dyed a similar cover to the fuel used by Croatia's fisherman which apparently is illegal in Croatia.
This appears to be the first reported incident of its kind and not something that the international yachting industry has come across before, including those with a great deal of experience in the Adriatic. The unfortunate yacht was delayed, fined and its visitors refused permission to embark, though it appears that the authorities have now conceded that the yacht was not breaking Croatian law and are endeavouring to redress the situation.
You can read the full story by following this link http://www.the-triton.com/megayachtnews/index.php?news=2801 and we agree with the comment there that Croatia still has some way to go to reassure nautical visitors that there will be a warm welcome and no unpleasant surprises. This is particularly the case for superyachts, a market that Croatia has specifically stated it wants to attract in greater numbers. Croatia's natural beauty is one thing, but these customers, and the captains with the responsibility for carrying out owners' wishes, need, above all, a smooth and trouble free administrative passage. Just one story like this, circulating fast as it will through a small elite network, is enough to deter many visitors just as they might have been beginning to believe that Croatia really had made the rules and regulations easier for superyachts to meet in all areas.
Today's photo is of the fuel station by Sumartin on Brač Island.

Monday, 15 September 2008

Cruising Croatia - First Hand


Just a quick posting to let readers know that Miggy and Neal's blog is "on air" again with a detailed account of their trip round the Dalmatian coast and islands and an interesting visit to Montenegro as well.
Follow this link for their latest news and I hope they don't mind me "borrowing" one of their photos! http://miggyandneal.blogspot.com/2008/09/croatia-revisited-and-montenegro.html

Sunday, 14 September 2008

Superyacht Marinas In Croatia


We were lucky enough to be asked to write the lead feature for Boat International's Superports' Directory 2009, a few months ago. That involved a review of the trends in the superyacht industry around the world and an anlysis of major new developments. It also enabled us to try and ensure that Croatian marinas were properly represented in the directory and, as we wrote, it was clear that Croatia and neighbouring Montenegro have all the potential to emerge as significant superyacht destinations. Montenegro has the advantage of being a small and newly independent country that can write the rules sensibly for superyachts without the constraints of the often cumbersome and confusing legislative process that Croatia suffers from. It also has the advantage of a brand new dedicated facility, with exceptional geographical and infrastructural advantages, due to open in 2009. However, when superyacht visitors are satisfied that the Croatian rules and regulations are more transparent and easier for them to meet, they can enjoy an ever increasing number of berthing options.
Readers who can't get their hands on the hard copy will be pleased to know that Dockwalk, a member of the Boat International Group of companies, is now publishing the Directory online and we were pleased to be able to facilitate a number of new or updated entries for Croatia and Montenegro. The Dockwalk site has only recently been launched but is well on the way to completion. You'll already find Marina Frapa, Rogoznica on it (pictured), one of this year's new entries for its recently completed megayacht transit pier.
For those that want to know more about Croatia as a superyacht destination, see our earlier posting Boat International - Superyacht Owners' Guide: The Best of Croatia

Saturday, 30 August 2008

Baška Voda


We spotted a great account of nautical and on shore life in Baška Voda, near Makarska, by some Australians who purchased a yacht there. Also interesting for the details of the paperwork involved in buying and exporting a yacht from Croatia. For the full story go to Seafarers.
Baška Voda has a relatively small marina which has improved greatly over the past few years, in an area - southern Dalmatia - which is much more sparse on marinas than central and northern Dalmatia. Baška Voda is also notable for one of the best modern spas in Croatia - at Russian owned Hotel Horizont (pictured).

Friday, 29 August 2008

Croatia - In An Emergency: Important Update


Croatia Cruising Companion Readers should note that there is now just one number for all the emergency services - 112.
112 is the "official" EU number and replaces Croatia's collection of numbers (93, 94. etc) and separate call centres for the individual emergency services.

Thursday, 31 July 2008

Cruising Blog - Dubrovnik


Readers may be interested to read the exploits of a Canadian couple now cruising Dubrovnik. A little engine trouble has forced them to stay there longer than intended which means they've time to describe Dubrovnik in a little more detail! We hope they get it fixed soon and look forward to reading more about their summer sailing Croatia. The link is http://chinookofcanada1.blogspot.com/2008/07/summer-cruising-2008-photo.html

And if regular readers suspect us of having laid down tools and turned delegation into an art form, please rest assured that we are beavering away on updates over the summer. However whilst the Croatian cruising season is in full swing we believe it's helpful and useful to report on other people's experiences here. There's nothing to beat a wide variety of accounts and discoveries and we hope that this blog adds to the fun and complements or reinforces the information in our Croatia Cruising Companion.

Croatia Cruising Companion Reader's Report - Vis, Hvar, Brač and Šolta


Thanks again to Ian Shaw for today's posting - the second part of his July visit. We look forward to more updates in September and are most grateful to Ian for his very pertinent and helpful comments, and a real flavour of what Croatia has to offer to first time nautical visitors. Ian also supplied today's photo of Hotel Tamaris in Vis. Sorry for the delay in getting the posting up Ian - an urgent deadline to meet!


***


Continuing from the last message, we left Vela Luka for Vis on Monday, 7th July. We had intended to try Ugbi but there was heavy swell from the SE plus a 12 knot wind from the same direction, so we decided to go with the elements and head for Vis. A big change from our visit at the end of May. All the town berths were taken and the town was heaving. We headed to Kut where we were in the lee of the land and dropped anchor. A charter yacht gave us an hour's entertainment when, seeking to anchor, it snagged our anchor chain, despite us displaying the required black sphere. We have 100m of inch chain, of which we had run out around 75m, so we had about 25m on the sea bed. The yacht's crew were exhausted after a number of futile efforts before figuring that they needed to rope up the chain and disengage their own anchor. It was interesting to note the number of yachts that failed to display the required black sphere and anchor lights.
We used the RIB to shuttle back a forth from Vis Town and Kut, but in the end were pleased we had stayed away from the town; it was noisy that night.

The next day the wind and swell had dropped, so we headed for Stari Grad. We were really impressed with the town. It had a terrific atmosphere, not too big or small, busy without being too busy. We were a ten minute walk to the swimming area (direction Ferry berth) with an adjacent café and 100m from the first bar in the town! That evening we tried one of your recommendations - Restaurant Cod Barba Luke which was first class and probably vied with Pod Bore at Vela Luka and Trica gardelin at Vrboska as the best restaurants we ate at. The food, as always, was good and meticulously served. We drank a white St Klement and a red Faros(?). The following night it was a toss up whether to eat on board, but it was hot so we plumped for pizzas, salad and pasta at the Pharos on the quay. Simple, but good, and the pizza bread with rosemary was a revelation. It was worth the visit just to eat that. In total, for 4 salad starters, pizza or pasta main course, 4 ice creams and a couple of bottles of wine, I paid 600 Kn. As always the staff were first class. Mooring charges 20 Kn per metre, which seems to include tourist tax

We were sad to leave Stari Grad and decided to try Bol. The small quay was exceptionally busy and pressed everyone close to the boats. That and the adjacent cafés would have made for a noisy night. We noted that the two outside berths on the eastern edge of the inner breakwater were vacant, but after watching those boats already berthed rocked up and down by the swell from the "sixpenny sicks" (trip boats) for several minutes we decided to give it a miss. So we made for Vrboska. Once again another revelation, a beautiful small town.


Clearly there is competition between the ACI marina and the town berths. If there is a spare town berth a whistle is blown, arms are waved to attract attention and lazy lines made ready. The young man and his brother who supervise the moorings are certainly on the ball and a couple of "fixers" - restaurant to eat, wine to taste (and buy) and so on. Apart from the ACI marinas, this was the most expensive berth we had 40 Kn per metre, but I reckoned it was worth it. Incidentally the bornes here have a 32 amp supply as well as 16 amps; the ACI marina only has 16 amp so far as I could see. We ate on board the first night and the second had a meal at Restoran Trica gardelin. This is quite a large restaurant and was busy lunchtime and evening the day of our arrival, so we booked for the second night. One of the best restaurants we ate at.

For our last night before returning to Rogoznica we made for Maslinica. Once again we were stunned; a small village, but with bags of character. We berthed to the South; there aren't many berths, around 12, depending on the size of the boats. A lot of work appears to be going on at the jetty, but I'm not sure for what. In any event, there are only two bornes with eight 16 amp sockets each. The fortified villa is now an upmarket hotel with beautiful gardens and a posh restaurant called "Martinis Marchi". Surprisingly, there was no menu posted outside the restaurant, or any indication that sailors were welcome, so we took our custom to the restaurant at the head of the bay. It was packed, there was an accordionist, and we thorougly enjoyed ourselves; sod Martinis Marchi!
We had a drink at the Konoba Moni before dinner. We were made welcome, even though we weren't dining there.

A couple of points about Maslinica. We arrived during the day from the South and the red/white light to starboard is hidden by trees until one is abeam of it. We also found a number of swimmers in the entrance to the inlet and around the lazy lines of the moored boats, which need to be watched for.

The next day we returned to Marina Frapa. We left early and were glad we did, since we had a Scirocco on our stern, which strengthened as the day went on. Some boats arriving at the marina after us had a real problem berthing.

Overall, we are very impressed with Croatia. The people are friendly and welcoming, and that doesn't appear to be forced. The kids are well behaved. Compared to marinas in France and Italy, everyone made an effort. Invariably, the bornes supplying electricity and water work first time. The mooring fees are cheaper than high and mid - season France and Italy.

Any complaints: one, we couldn't find anywhere that sells Schweppes tonic water in small bottles/cans!

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Readers' Report - July 2008 - Trogir, Šolta, Brač, Hvar


Many thanks to Ian Shaw for today's posting with some great detail on his recent travels. Note particularly that Ian reports some changes in Rogač on Šolta. Ian has promised us another instalment on his trip when he has time.

***
Our friends arrived early on Monday morning and the following day left for Trogir to refuel. Unfortunately, a very large motor yacht had sucked the fuel dock dry and we were told we would have to wait until around 18 00 for fuel. Since it was only 11 00, we decided to head for Rogač on Šolta to refuel. There appears to be a new ferry berth here, further to seaward, then a new or refurbed fuel dock, before the town moorings. Looking at the Croatia Cruising Companion plan on page 150 it would seem the two have changed places. We liked Rogač - it was quiet, we could swim from the small beach which was a two or three minute walk around the inlet to the South side, and we enjoyed an inexpensive meal at Restaurant Pasarela (021 654-505), of fish/pizzas. The restaurant is signposted and is a two minute walk from the beach.

I paid 240 Kn for a 15m boat for one night, including tourist tax for four people. On our side of the harbour, adjacent to the fuel dock, there is only one electic "borne" from which long connecting leads to the berths were laid. It didn't seem to be working when we were there.

We had intended eating aboard the boat that evening, but a generator problem put paid to that (hence the visit to the Pasarela).

We needed to have the generator fixed. The problem was the generator motor water pump, which wasn't functioning and causing overheating. Dismantling was a difficult job, so we decided to head for ACI Milna on Brač to see if we could find a mechanic. This was our first stop at an ACI marina. How different from France were you can spend hours on the phone or VHF trying to find a berth, and when you do you are generally left to find the mooring yourself with no help from the marina. So far, the general practice seems to be "first come, first served", with a marinero to guide you to the berth and pull up a lazy line for you. The marinero seemed very keen to have the Croatian authorisations as soon as possible which puzzled us a bit, but we soon got used to it and it saved us a walk to the reception or harbour master's office (unlike France or Italy, where in some marinas it could be quite a hike). The marina was able to provide phone numbers of mechanics/electricians etc. Ours found the problem in less than a minute (a worn drive belt on the generator motor water pump) and it was quickly rectified. The mechanic was excellent and clearly knew generators.

We spent two nights in Milna and thoroughly enjoyed our stay. It's not stunningly beautiful, but had character (we were treated to the equivalent of the Croatian declaration of independence around midnight on the first night!). We ate two nights running at the Palma restaurant which is directly opposite the entrance to the boatyard on the town side of the marina. We had excellent fish each time and a three course meal with a couple of litres of house wine cost around 700 Kn. Highly recommended, and the waitress spoke better English than we did!

We did want to have a look at Hvar Town, but felt that it would be busy, so decided to head for ACI Palmižana. Once again, no problem with a berth. A one night stay turned into two as we launched the RIB and pottered around. The Captain's restaurant at the head of the jetty offered breakfast, lunch and dinner. The breakfast we had was excellent; we reeled off the order to the waitress who wrote nothing down. We were sure she would get the order wrong, but it was us who were wrong, it was exactly as ordered.

We next headed for Korčula and, specifically, Vela Luka. Of all the places we visited, it was liked the least - mainly by the ladies, but I found it OK. I think the car park adjacent to the town moorings and fuel dock gave it a bit of a desolate air. Part of the town moorings have been refurbed to give space for around 20 boats (depending on size) with new lazy lines and mooring rings. Price 310 Kn including tourist tax. We ate that evening at the restaurant recommended in the Croatia Cruising Companion (Pod Bore), exellent fish and meat and good service too. We paid around 1,000 kn for four.

***

Today's photo is of Milna on Brač Island.

Saturday, 12 July 2008

Croatia Cruising Companion - Readers' Cruising Feedback



Thanks to Nigel Crouch for investing in the Croatia Cruising Companion and for taking the time to give his comments and experiences on his recent trip. Nigel is by no means alone in his comment about rising prices for nautical tourism in Croatia - the exchange rate is largely outside Croatia's control, but the significant year on year increases in daily berth rates at marinas and ports could end up meaning that a sailing holiday in "The Mediterranean That Once Was" (Croatia tourist board strap line) is no longer as affordable as it once was. More important than the prices themselves is that visitors believe the Minister for Tourism has a firm direction to follow and is excercising some sort of leadership on the more excessive price increases, the facilities that go with the tariff, and the overall quality of the cruising area, including conserving the pristine sea conditions that are sometimes under siege from the sheer volume of visitors. Here's Nigel's report with editorial notes in brackets and italics.

***

We really liked Brbinj (Dugi Otok page 68) and Antonio’s restaurant there was excellent with great grilled fish and a sublime view. I did it again on way back with Jenny and once more it was first-class.

Opat (Kornat page 76 - since we visited we understand that both restaurants are now under the same ownership) was lovely as was the lobster we consumed there in the Opat Restaurant (albeit at a lovely price!).

We spent a couple of nights in Skradin (mainland near Šibenik, page 107) and ate well in Toni’s and Canneletto’s. The Krka Falls trip was as good as ever.

Good fun fighting for a place at Primošten (mainland, page 111; recent update on prices and facilities - Croatia Cruising Companion - Primosten Update) and the harbour guy was particularly helpful. Good environment to watch one of the Croatia Euro games.

Vinišce (mainland page 130) was a very tranquil anchorage and we got some tremendous home-made red wine there (despite being in plastic beer bottles!).

Very nice guy, Nick, at outer marina in Milna (Brač page 152), who has replaced Jan and his wife, who were great characters.

We thought Vis Town (Vis page 180) was great and we ate well in the Wine Bar near the quay. On the subsequent passage to Stari Grad (Hvar page 169) we were pursued by not one but two thunderstorms, which tried to catch us in a pincer movement and almost succeeded. Stari Grad very nice and we had good meals at Pharia and Antika. Jenny had an interesting experience getting locked in the public loos there.

Trogir Marina (mainland page 132) remains the best spot by far to see people doing everything in their power to write off their boats – and everyone else’s.

Maslinica on Šolta (page 149) was a super spot and, again, a very helpful Harbour Master. Ate well in Konoba Saskinja.

We really like Rogoznica (mainland page 127) and Marina Frappa is absolutely first-class and no more expensive than the other marinas. They are just opening a very nice pool there.

We thought Tribunj (mainland page 99 and see recent update
Croatia Cruising Companion - Tribunj Update) was a nice place but the marina there was the most expensive we visited.

Could not get on to a mooring buoy at Soline on Pašman (page 50) despite early arrival – it was packed! – but turned out to be a blessing in disguise as we then went to Luka Žut (Žut page 84) and highly recommend Konoba Sandra, which had wondrous fish.

Luka Telašćica (Dugi Otok page 62) was fantastic and had superb overnight there eating on board in an idyllic spot up near the head of the channel.

Zadar (mainland page 32) was a very interesting place and Jenny had her only pukka cocktail of the trip there – an outstanding Marguerita lovingly made with infinite care by the barmaid. Had a superb meal at your recommended fish place there. Vjeko runs an excellent operation in the marina there with his Kiriacoulis team.

Despite the bizarre weather, it was a wonderful trip and we think that the overall quality of food everywhere had improved significantly. Our one worry was that with the adverse Sterling/Kuna Exchange Rate and high inflation in Marina Costs and Harbour Dues they have got to be careful not kill the golden goose in these difficult ‘credit crunch’ times.

The bottom line, though, is that Croatia is a fantastic sailing area and the people are great – thanks, again, for all your help in making it an unforgettable trip.

***

And again thanks to Nigel for taking the trouble to send in his comments. It's incredibly helpful to us to hear other first hand accounts of how the various destinations stand up to the test and the consistency of various restaurants that may just have been good on the day(s) we visited. We hope that such reports also provide readers of the Croatia Cruising Companion with added depth and will make sure the book stays as up to date and helpful as possible.

Today's photo is of Opat on Kornat Island.

Friday, 11 July 2008

Reader's Update - Customs Clearance and Regulations in Croatia


Many thanks to Mike Forbes for today's posting and photo.

Mike shares his boat with 3 co-owners and is thus one of the unintentional victims of the Croatian legislation introduced in 2005, aimed at preventing illegal chartering, but carelessly drawn up to frustrate a number of yachtsmen simply wanting to enjoy the delights of Croatian waters at an affordable cost.
The government tells us it wants to encourage superyachts, and turns a blind eye in that respect - what about fractional owners?

For more information on the rules and regulations, follow this link - http://www.mmpi.hr/default.aspx?id=668. For an update on clearing customs at Gruz, Dubrovnik (don't - go to Cavtat!), link to noonsite.

Mike tells us that he put the Croatia Cruising Companion to good use on his travels and particularly enjoyed Uvala Pokrivenik on the north coast of Hvar (page 175). Mike is a fan of deserted anchorages and probably won't thank us for mentioning another of his favourites, Uvala Rasotica on Brač island, for which he kindly supplied excellent photos (page 12 and 160).

Mike's photo above shows his yacht in splendid isolation at Neum.

***

To circumvent the Croatian limit on the number of people allowed to sail on foreign-flagged vessels (28 in our case, shared between four owners) we decided to carry out our mid-cruise crew change outside Croatia, namely at Neum in the short coastline of Bosnia-Herzegovina.

On arrival from the UK I went to the Harbourmaster's Office in Split and told them my plan. The Duty Officer told me that all my crew, due to leave me in Neum, would have to appear on the List of Persons, the official List making up the 28 authorised people. I remonstrated saying that people who disembarked outside Croatia did not have to be listed; unfortunately the 2005 e-mail from the Croatian Ministry of the Sea that outlined the Rules, including out-of-Croatia crew-changes, was at home in UK. He was adamant - and so was I. He was eventually persuaded to telephone his boss - it was a Sunday - and grumpily agreed to issue me with a Crew List with their names NOT having to go on the List of Persons. We now have a copy of the all-important e-mail with our Ship's Papers.

Ten days later we checked out of Croatia at the unlovely industrial port of Ploce. All went well until the policeman who came to stamp our passports asked where and when had we registered with the police on arrival in Croatia. This is normally done by hotels, but arriving as we do and going straight to the marina it is not a practice we have followed. The policeman was taking this very seriously and returned to his HQ for further research and advice. When he returned he said the marina at Split had not reported us but he had found reference to me when I had attended some language training at a hotel in Porec in April. After muttering that ignorance of the law was no defence and laboriously taking down our details he let us go.Two hours later we arrived off Neum.

We flew a Bosnia-Herzegovina courtesy flag (made from a computer print-out) but this was the only flag we saw. We were the only yacht there, indeed the largest vessel. It is a somewhat depressing holiday resort with many people for whom we got the impression that this was their first sight of the sea. We secured stern-to the only quay, with an anchor out, and became the centre of attraction to the curious holiday-makers. The only harbourmaster in Bosnia was supremely uninterested in us, neither did the police want to know. I felt it unwise to leave the boat unattended so we dined onboard on excellent take-away pizzas.

Next day my three crew-members departed to Dubrovnik airport by taxi and were replaced several hours later by five others, including my wife and American grand daughter. I was not sorry to leave next morning, and when we checked in to Croatia at Ploce - flying Flag Q - the policewoman arrived armed with arrival registration forms which she filled in before stamping our passports. Within an hour we were off for a very welcome night at the little Hvar village of Sučuraj.

I am not sure whether other yachts use Neum to change crews, or prefer to go to Herceg-Novi, Montenegro. The latter has the advantage that there are other fascinating places to visit, such as Kotor. Whichever we use, the requirement constrains the cruise and provides a complication we could do without. But this has been a fact of Croatian cruising for foreign flags since 2005 which we have learned to live with. Hopefully, eventful EU accession will consign the Rule to history.

***

As a postscript to Mike's note on registering as a visitor in Croatia, this is an area where we have heard that the police are tightening up. By the letter of the law, all foreign visitors are required to register with the local police within 24 hours of arrival. If you're staying at a hotel or campsite, or on a charter holiday, registration is normally done for you. If you're staying with friends, or otherwise doing your own thing, the onus is on you, and if renting an apartment you should check that the owner has registered you.

Thursday, 10 July 2008

Tribunj - Update


On page 99 and 100 of our Croatia Cruising Companion, we focused on Tribunj's stylish marina, arguably the focal point of the village. Marina Tribunj continues to attract high class visitors and provides facilities accordingly. It's also blessed with extremely friendly and efficient staff. 2008 prices for daily berths are €46 for a 10 metre boat rising to €55 in July and August, and €127/€152 for a 20 metre boat, which isn't too much of an increase from the prices we quoted for last year in the book. The move of the charter fleet to sister Marina Kremik should mean there are plenty of transit berths available every day of the week.

Those cruising on a budget, in clement weather, might want to consider the town moorings on the south west side of the small island that contains the old town, and is linked to the mainland by a stone bridge. There's space for 35 boats here, stern or bows to on lazy lines, with electricity and water laid on. Depths are around 2 to 3 metres in most places. The cost is 20 kunas per metre, about half of what the marina charges, which is a fairly standard ratio throughout Croatia. However these berths are exposed to winds from the south east, south, south west, and, to a cetain extent from the west, so don't afford the same all round protection as the marina. You'll also be mooring up right next to a number of cafe bars so don't expect too much privacy. The harbour master, Vlado, has a small office by the moorings (19 Podvrh, just right of the travel agents as you face the houses with your back to the sea), and can be contacted, 24 hours a day he assured us, on VHF Channel 9 or mobile 091 564 6573.

A further limited option, for relatively shallow draft boats, is the protected bay of Sovlje, west of the town. There's a small pier on the east of the bay, where you can more alongside, in depths of up to 2 metres, and that gives you the chance to enjoy a secluded bay and
Restaurant Plavi Val.

Perhaps the best kept secret of the area is the boatyard in Sovlje though trying to find out more about it from the workforce was like pulling teeth so don't expect communications to be too easy. Fortunately, after some persistence, we eventually stumbled on Toni Stipaničev who spoke reasonable English and seemed a little more keen to help us. The main focus of the yard seems to be building classic wooden fishing boats. The one in today's picture is due to be launched in the middle of August and goes under the generic name "Pobiednik" which roughly translates as "winner". There's a spacious hangar, a lift ("about 50 tons"), and a slip, so if you're in need of assistance and have plenty of patience, then they may be able to help. Tel 091 752 5175 (mobile) for more information.
***
Read more about onshore news on Tribunj on our sister site Croatia Online, and if you're looking for a good base, combining the traditions of a fishing village, with the night life of neighbouring Vodice, you could do a lot worse.

Friday, 4 July 2008

Amazon - Search Inside The Croatia Cruising Companion


Those considering whether to buy the Croatia Cruising Companion can now look at some of the pages of the book by following the direct link to Amazon - Croatia Cruising Companion.
Here you'll find the front cover, contents page, a few pages from Chapter One, the index and the back cover.
The excerpts from Chapter One cover the first main town of Zadar and are on a scale that's easy to read and will give you a flavour of the content and format of the book.

Thursday, 3 July 2008

Reader's Report - June 2008

Many thanks to Ian Shaw for today's posting. Ian is currently sailing around Dalmatia and contacted us via this site. Ian's report is particularly interesting for his comments on entering Croatian waters and facilities, etc, in Vis and Marina Frapa.

***

Well, we made it to Marina Frapa. We were lucky with the weather; sunshine all the way, with only a heavy swell on the starboard beam to contend with during the leg to Bonifacio, and a force 6 to 7 in the Straights of Messina. Flat calm on the leg to Ischia accompanied by dolphins at the bow of the boat for about half an hour. We sailed each leg overnight and then spent a day in port before the next one.We spent one night at Messina before crossing the straights to Reggio di Calabria. Neither have anything to commend them. We then overnighted at Marina di Leuca right on the heel of Italy, before setting a course for Vis the following afternoon just North of Otranto (the marina at Brindisi was allegedly full).We arrived at Vis on the Saturday morning, 31st May, around 9.00 am, where we eventually completed the entry formalities on the Monday morning. Strictly, our port of entry should have been Ugbi, but no one seemed to mind. The order was harbourmaster first, then police.We ate at the Hotel Tamaris restaurant on the jetty. I went for a beer first to get a feel for the place and came across Darko, the waiter from Zagreb, who could have graced any five star restaurant here in France. He was knowledgeable about the menu and the wines, enthusiastic for the food he served and gave good advice about what we should order. The five of us had a terrific meal of local fish, T-bone steaks with excellent white and red wines. Recommended.One issue left a bad taste in our mouths and it was nothing to do with Croatia. A flotilla of around 25 charter yachts, crewed by young French doctors and partners arrived on the Sunday afternoon. Their fancy dress party continued until breakfast time the following morning when one of the crew on a nearby yacht decided to cool down his friend with the hosepipe. The locals had had enough by this time and had called the police, who arrived only to be hosed down as well through the open window of the police car. Whether this was deliberate or not is difficult to say, but the guilty party was indentified I suspect, by his own colleagues, otherwise all aboard looked likely to be detained "for questioning", and taken off in the police car. On the positive side we met some charming Americans from the Seattle area, when we helped them repair the propeller on the dinghy outboard. They had a "wobbly" arrival and having made up their lines proceeded to remove the outboard from the dinghy which they had been towing. The skipper, unfortunately, was defeated by physics since he stood up in the dinghy cradling the outboard in his arms only for the dinghy to suddenly slide forward dumping him overboard. I was having a beer at the bar opposite and jumped up since I was concerned he might have injured himself in the fall, but as I did a hand appeared over the jetty clutching the rope attached to the outboard followed by a very wet skipper. The sacrificial pin on the propeller broke, but we fixed them up with a temporary repair. They showed their gratitude by kindly inviting us aboard for a drink before dinner.We eventually left Vis late Monday morning for Marina Frapa arriving just after lunch. It is certainly impressive. We moored the boat on the seaward side of the last pier until the marina master had completed his berth planning. A bit strange since the berth had been booked and paid for in February. So we had the long walk to the heart of the marina.
The system there seems to be that you book anything you need through marina reception...boat cleaning, engineering, electricals etc. One fills in a work sheet and it is then processed. It’s too early to say how well this works and the service manager was new.There is an excellent laundry at the marina, to the extent that we left a lot of our clothes there and will pick them up this weekend.We walked to Rogoznica and back, road surfacing and drainage works all over. Not a particularly interesting walk and I think the answer is to take the RIB across to the village if we want to go there.We found the Croatians we met charming. They were interested in us and what we thought of their country and showed real pleasure when we said how impressed we were. I got a good "feel" about the country and I am sure we will enjoy our visits there. Croatia deserves to succeed.

***

Thanks again Ian - looking forward to more news!

Today's photo is of the the view from Hotel Tamaris, in Vis, across to the small islet, now attached to the mainland.

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Boat International: Superyacht Owners Guide: The Best of Croatia


When asked to write this guide for Boat International, I had no idea it was to be packaged with such an auspicious issue of the magazine. Now I've seen the "complete" July 2008 edition, I realise that July 23rd, also a notable date for personal reasons, is the silver jubilee of the monarch of yachting magazines.
To celebrate its 25 years, Boat International's July magazine not only includes the superyacht owners' guide to Croatia, but also a bumper jubilee special issue magazine. Amanda McCracken, BI's Editor explains "this special issue is a celebration of yachting....we set out to find 25 of the most innovative yachts and 25 people who have been instrumental in changing the path of yachting in some way."
With some innovative skills of their own, the BI team started off this research with a poll to established leaders in the industry, collated the results, and used them as a basis for insightful one to one interviews with the 25 most influential people, and a review of the 25 most significant yachts. The result may well become a definitive reference guide to the world of superyachting over the last 25 years - a 222 page glossy and highly visual, yet authorative, guide to the movers and shakers over the past 25 years, and the yachts that exemplify the excellence that has been achieved.
For those of us that can't yet aspire to owning or chartering a superyacht of our own, the July 2008 magazine, at £4.95, has to be one of the wisest investments you can make if you want to find out about the best of Croatia, the highlights of the superyacht world over the last 25 years, and get a hands on taste of this exclusive world.
For those of us that enjoy sailing Croatia in smaller vessels, the Croatia Cruising Companion will help you make the best of all that Dalmatia has to offer - from deserted bays with rustic konobas (for traditional grilled fish and meat), to the more cosmopolitan towns with 5 star restaurants where you can splash out on those special occasions.
Follow the direct link to our sister site, Croatia Online, for more details on the Superyacht Owners' Guide To Croatia.

Monday, 16 June 2008

Primošten - Update

We covered Primošten in some detail in the Croatia Cruising Companion, on pages 111 and 112, and it's become even more well cared for since then. The new gardens just outside the old town are now maturing and yesterday, when we revisited, the berthing area and moorings were in high demand.

As we said in the book, the breakwater provides good protection, but winds from the south-west can cause a heavy swell and the moorings are not protected by the breakwater. However, in clement weather, and as evidenced by yesterday's popularity, it's a favourite Sunday stop for sailors.

A 10 metre boat now costs 260 kunas to berth; a 20 metre boat 338 kunas. Add on the nominal tourist taxes. Water and electricity are included in the price and, reassuringly, there are signs on the water and electricity pedestals threatening a 200 Euro fine for emptying waste tanks while berthed!

You can read more about what's onshore on our sister blog Croatia Online.

Monday, 9 June 2008

Crystal Clear Waters and Pump Out Facilities

Much has been made about Croatia's crystal clear waters and we very much hope they stay that way for generations to come. However, if that's to be the case, Croatia needs more enlightened marinas such as Marina Preko who have just installed one of the first integrated pump out systems in Croatia into their new marina on Ugljan island.

Although the Croatian government has passed legislation on the dumping of nautical waste, few marinas offer much other than the possibility of arranging a tanker on request. It's therefore not easy for nautical tourists to dispose of the waste in an ecologically friendly manner and so, unfortunately, much of it is still dumped at sea. Marina Preko talked to John Nash of Marina Facility Solutions, based near Split, at an early stage of the marina's development plans and, with the help of manufacturers, LeeStrom, who John represents in Croatia, came up with the perfect solution for Marina Preko. John has been endeavouring, for most of the five years he has spent in Croatia, to encourage marina owners to install integrated pump out systems more widely. "Not only are they essential to the sustainability of first class nautical tourism in Croatia, but the cost is more affordable than many marina owners believe". John explains "most ethically and ecologically minded nautical tourists value the service and have no objection to paying marinas a fair price for utilising the system."

We hope that any readers of this blog, or of our Croatia Cruising Companion, will support Marina Preko and Marina Facility Solutions in their ecological leadership and encourage other Croatian marinas to provide a similar service.

Sailing Croatia - First Hand Account


It's great to see an increasing number of blogs on sailing Croatia, and we came across one yesterday which makes for a fascinating read. It's a detailed account of a couple's sailing adventures and good for highlighting a number of the good and occasional not so good points about cruising Dalmatia. Not so good was the price that Miggy and Neal were charged to moor at Dubrovnik marina - €45 per night. Amongst the many good points was the ease with which they cleared customs and formalities at Cavtat. Miggy and Neal suggested there was so much to report on in Dalmatia that they could write a book about it. Cheekily we left a comment on their blog telling them that we already had!
Today's photo is of Polače on Mljet Island - one of the best in the area and referred to in Miggy and Neal's blog.

Thursday, 5 June 2008

Croatia Cruising Companion - Where To Find It


Today's photo was taken during our book promotion at the new Split Library. You can read more about it on sister site Croatia Online. There you can also read about our latest completed project - Superyacht Owners' Guide: The Best of Croatia - out now with the July 2008 edition of Boat International Magazine.
Today's posting follows a deluge of enquiries about where to find the Croatia Cruising Companion (Dalmatian Coast and Islands) in Croatia.
Here is the latest list of book shops that we are aware of:
Split International Bookshop - Split Riva
Knjizara Matica - Šibenik - just off the Riva
Algoritam - Zagreb, Osijek, Split, Dubrovnik, Pula and Varazdin - check location and availability by following this link http://www.algoritam.hr/?m=0&p=knjizare
Profil - Zagreb, Rijeka and Split (Joker Centre) - follow this link for contact details of the individual shops http://www.profil.hr/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=212&Itemid=236
VBZ - Zagreb, Rijeka, Karlovac, Split, Zadar Tuzla - go to www.vbz.hr, click on "o nama" at the top, then "VBZ knijžare" and select the store nearest you to get contact details.
In the meantime, we are in the process of finalising agreements with a number of marinas who wish to stock the book as a service for their customers and many charter guests will already find that the Croatia Cruising Companion is the English Language nautical guide of choice for discerning charter company managers.

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Croatia Cruising Companion Promotion - Split Library 21st May 2008


Regular readers of our sister site, Croatia Online, will know that we have already reported on the fantastic facilities at the new Split Library. As will as being an outstanding book and media resource, the library also holds regular events and book promotions.
We are fortunate enough to have been invited to do a promotion of the Croatia Cruising Companion there on Wednesday 21st May 2008 and we have a number of eminent guests.
Introducing the book will be Mili Razović, President of the Split County Tourist Board and Joško Pilić, President of the Dalmatian Skippers Association and owner of Adriasail Charter.

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

Croatia Cruising Companion At Work


We stumbled across a great blog today, notable to us for two things: firstly it's put the Croatia Cruising Companion to the test and secondly the guest dog looks remarkably like our canine cruising companion, Rosie. Many thanks to the Sparkes family for such an entertaining read and I hope they don't mind us borrowing this photo.
This is one family who really seems to know how to get the best out of sailing Croatia and the blog provides a great first hand account of what to expect from a number of places. It's gratifying to see that, on the whole, the Croatia Cruising Companion seems to have stood up very well to the demanding requirements placed on it. We did read that, in one destination, one of the restaurants we suggested was good, turned out to be a bit of a disappointment so we'll be following up on that. However it does raise the salient point that things can change very quickly in Dalmatia and every restaurant has its good days and bad days. The most notable example of this is the newish Chinese restaurant near Trogir which we reported on in our sister blog www.croatiaonline.blogspot.com. We had a great meal on the one time we ate there but everyone else we have spoken to since reports various problems so we guess we were just lucky. In general though we refrained from comment, one way or another, on any restaurant we did not try out personally and did our best to feature the better restaurants that we found, though, a mention in any guide can occasionally be the kiss of death to some restaurants!
We've contacted the Sparkes to see if they have time to send us some updates from their trip. In the meantime, link to http://www.travelblog.org/Europe/Croatia/Dalmatia/Split/blog-273255.html to follow their adventures in Croatia.


Saturday, 26 April 2008

Nautical Tourism News

Recently published statistics for 2007 confirm that nautical tourism is on the up in Croatia.

The total number of moorings available was 15,834 and although it's no surpise that Austria and Germany were the biggest international permanent "occupiers" of Croatian berths, USA flagged vessels were an astounding third with Slovenia, Italy and the UK (323) following.

There were 220,875 vessels in transit during the year with Italy, as usual, providing the highest number of foreign visitors, followed by Germany, Austria and Slovenia.

Today's photo is of the classic, Croatian built yacht Galatea. More details from http://www.ocean-matters.com/.

You can read more about the nautical tourism infrastructuire in our Croatia Cruising Companion. Go to our Home Page for more information.

Sunday, 13 April 2008

Split Boat Show And Other News

Today was the last day of the Croatia Boat Show in Split. Other committments have meant that we haven't had the time to report on it as fully as we might like, and the weather has not been kind to the organisers this year. That being said, we did pay a number of visits and talk to a few exhibitors and visitors. Anecdotal evidence suggests that attendance might have been down this year and certainly there were a few more unfilled spaces exhibitor wise. The entrance fee of 70 kunas probably has something to do with that - yes boat shows are for serious punters but why not make them family friendly as well? On that note we also heard that Sunseeker were actively discouraging anyone who was not a serious buyer from looking around their yachts. Just how that decision is made is a conundrum in itself and, in any event, today's ten year old might be tomorrow's Bill Gates. On the plus side, the show included the first Croatia Property Show and hopefully that will grow in the future. It was also highly refreshing to see Vicem's classy 92 and 72 high on the list of "must sees" for discerning visitors. Link to http://www.vicemyacht.com/ for more information.

For more news on the boat show go to http://www.croatiaboatshow.com/. It's good to see a list of events, in English, on the site this year - in previous years finding out "what's on" has been a bit of a struggle.

Other News:

Our Croatia Cruising Companion continues to hold its own on Amazon maintaining its position in the top ten of all travel and holiday books on Croatia, and the top twenty for sailing books anywhere. Go to our home page for more information.

Our sister site, http://www.croatiaonline.blogspot.com/ is thriving on healthy competition from our Australian/Croatian friends Shane and Julie on the rare times we get to meet up with them at the same event. That happened today at an equally rare cricket match and we had a race to get the posting up, which I'm glad to say Croatia Online won! Joking aside, they have a great blog (http://www.blog.lifejacketadventures.com/) and , if you read it, you'll wonder how they have time to keep it going. In their spare time (!) they're renovating a property and an old wooden boat. For business they run kayaking tours in Croatia, a laundrette in Split, and much more besides. Their two young children seem to thrive too!

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Croatia - Nautical News Update


We've posted our latest general news on sister site Croatia Online. It's a busy time at the moment but who's complaining - we get the chance to discover, all over again, what makes Croatia a world class cruising destination, this time for superyacht owners. The essence is the same - the rich natural and cultural heritage, spectacular scenery, clement conditions, diversity...... but it's revealing and fascinating to cast an objective eye on how Croatia is adapting to the luxury end of the nautical tourism market.

Today's photo is of Cavtat, near Dubrovnik, a favourite superyacht port. Read more about this, and much more, when Boat International's Superyacht Owners' Guide To Croatia comes out in early summer.

Saturday, 1 March 2008

Sailmakers - Zadar

We came across a number of interesting stands at the Zagreb Boat Show and made good friends with a company specialising in quality, competitively priced sails. Sail Select is a Dutch company with a number of branches around the world. The company that has the Croatian franchise, Sunce i More is based in Zadar. We had plenty of time to find out about them and it looks like a well thought out, quality operation. The sails are made in Thailand, hence the prices are competitive, but the manufacturing process is under western management - the eagle eye of Rolly Tasker an Australian sailor of America's Cup fame. All in all it seems to be an extremely professional set up and we wish them well in Croatia. For more information go to www.sailselect.nl.

Saturday, 23 February 2008

Zagreb Boat Show - Day 4

It’s the first day of the weekend, the Zagreb boat show is awash with visitors, and we’ve been promised the full low down of news and statistics from the press office early next week. The Croatia Cruising Companion is doing well and, after a bit of a struggle for information on the boat show yesterday, we’ve been awash with that as well.

As promised yesterday, we have some more news on NCP’s new October Boat Show. The full details have yet to be drawn up but it seems that it will focus on used boats rather than new ones. That seems to be an entirely logical move for NCP who probably have the largest independent shipyard in Croatia for newbuilds and refits, suitable for megayachts and small boats alike.

Towards the end of last year, NCP announced a deal with IGY to develop Croatia’s first Megayacht marina, on and around their site in the Mandalina area of Šibenik. The boat show is obviously a neat step towards that, and to developing the synergy that exists between their existing shipbuilding facilities and Croatia as a potential superyacht haven. Hopefully NCP will be able to help persuade the Croatian Government to continue to try and improve the regulations that discouraged superyachts when I first reported on Croatia as a potential superyacht destination for Boat International back in early 2005. For more comment on this, link to Croatia Online - Boat Show Special April 2006.

Just how far NCP have come, in a short space of time, can be seen from a report we did on the Croatian shipbuilding industry Croatian Shipbuilding Industry back in February 2006.

More news next week when we’ve had a chance to assimilate and digest the information available, and perhaps spend a little time back on "dry ground" and on Croatia Online.

Friday, 22 February 2008

Another October Boat Show In Croatia

NCP, based in the Mandalina area of Šibenik, announced today, at the Zagreb Boat Show, that they would be inaugurating Croatia's third October Boat Show and the 6th Boat Show of the year nationally. The Split and Zagreb shows are the only two of any size, so far, though the October Biograd show filled an important gap in the market. As with the competition between the London Boat shows in the winter, it remains to be seen whether the market can take this amount of "exhibitionism" but we're hoping to get the low down on the details tomorrow. Let's hope that if any of the Croatian Boat Shows want to attract more international visitors and exhibitors, they will make an effort to brief foreign journalists better. Certainly in the boat show press offices you get the idea that the jungle drums have beaten locally many days before the press releases come out on paper and, disappointingly for Zagreb, we've yet to see a press release in English since the pre opening one.

Thursday, 21 February 2008

Zagreb Boat Show In Pictures

Super Rib
Our Hosts


Opening Speeches


Classic Boats



Onshore Relaxation




Lighting Effects





Light Relief






Some Fashion







Friday, 15 February 2008

Zagreb Boat Show and The Marina Industry


The Zagreb Boat Show (officially the Sports and Nautica Fair) takes place next week from 19th to 24th February. Co-author of the Croatia Cruising Companion, John Nash, has a stand there (Stand Number 32, Hall 8) which will have a healthy supply of the book for sale.

John's day job is with Marina Facility Solutions based near Split. He represents many of the leading UK manufacturers of marina equipment in Croatia, Montenegro and Slovenia and now has a long track record of successful installations in this area (pontoons, water and electricity pedestals, pump-out systems, travel lifts and cranes, etc). Over five years he has got to know the Croatian marina industry inside out and built up an invaluable store of local knowledge and contacts to go alongside his international marina and sailing expertise. Not only did that prove invaluable when writing our book but he's become much sought after by foreign investors looking to invest or extend their interests in the Croatian, Slovenian and Montenegrin marina industries. John is probably one of the very few people who could offer constructive and detailed advice on any stage of a marina's development or operation in this region. Just as valuable is his knowledge of, and familiarity with, the best tried and tested local experts, contractors and suppliers.

Go to http://www.marinafacilitysolutions.com/ for more information on John's business and to www.zv.hr/index_en.html for more information on the Zagreb Boat Show.

Have a look at our sister site http://www.croatiaonline.blogspot.com/ for more information on Boat Shows in Croatia - direct links:

http://croatiaonline.blogspot.com/2007/10/croatia-online-autumn-boatshows.html

http://croatiaonline.blogspot.com/2007/04/croatia-online-boat-show-photos.html (and the immediately preceding postings).

Today's photo is of the Split Boat Show which takes place in April each year.

Tuesday, 5 February 2008

On Sale At The Joker Centre, Split

We're delighted to report that you can find the Croatia Cruising Companion (Dalmatian Coast and Islands) on sale at Profil, in the Joker Centre in Split.

We reported on Profil on our sister blog http://www.croatiaonline.blogspot.com/. It's one of the largest bookstores in town and has a great international section.

The Croatia Cruising Companion is also on sale in Algoritam's bookstores in Zagreb, Osijek, Pula, Dubrovnik, Varazdin and Split - good news for us and also for English speaking sailors who don't want to load up their baggage allowance!

Today's picture is of the Joker Centre in Split. It's by the new five star hotel Atrium and Brodarica area.

Saturday, 26 January 2008

Sailing Croatia - Times Online

Times Online has published an insightful article on sailing Croatia. It's particularly relevant for those of mixed sailing abilities and experience. The author, Jonathan Gornall clearly likes nothing better than a strong breeze and a long sail, whereas you get a feeling that his companions might prefer calm conditions and a little island hopping!

Jonathan is also firmly for overnighting in anchorages rather than being " a bird in a cage" in a crowded marina. Fair enough but there are options in between and if you want to keep everyone's morale up then perhaps there's room for a little of both. John Nash, co - author of the Croatia Cruising Companion, has a strong preference for good windy sailing conditions; me a little less so. When we did the sailing for most of our research on the book, we took crew that covered the whole spectrum.

Fortunately, Croatia is a cruising ground that can keep everyone happy. The occasional overnight stay in a marina will refresh and reassure those still getting used to being at sea, anchoring in an idyllic anchorage allows the tranquility seekers their bit of heaven, and finding a remote village harbour with berthing facilities (and sometimes electricity, water and showers) bridges the gap between the two extremes.

You can read the article in full by following this link:
http://travel.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/travel/destinations/croatia/article3233113.ece

Today's photo is of Polace on Mljet Island - you can anchor in the large bay, or berth at one of the restaurants on lazy lines. You'll be expected to eat at the restaurant that provides the facilities but otherwise you'll have the freedom of the village and the chance to explore Mljet's saltwater lakes.