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:

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.