Thursday, 31 July 2008

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!

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