Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Keeping The Croatian Adriatic Clean

Perhaps not the most glamourous image on this blog but being a good sailor means keeping the sea clean, and that means using pump-out facilities. Co-author John Nash runs Marina Facility Solutions a company operating from Kaštela, near Split, set up some six years ago, to service Croatia's marina industry.

Building on his established career in the international yachting and marina world, not only has John brought the best of UK manufactured marina equipment to Croatia - pontooons, water and electricity pedestals, pump-out systems and more - but he's also become an expert on Croatia's marina industry working closely with local experts on new developments and a number of other marina linked projects.

Marina Preko are, as far as we know, the first Croatian Marina to include a state of the art pump-out solution as a standard service for berth holders and guests, though some other marinas will call a tanker on request. Though Croatia has been talking about new legislation and enforcing existing legislation better, to protect its crystal seas, real results have been slow coming.

Follow this link to Euromarina to see their report, in the February 2009 issue, on a visit to Marina Preko (page 32) and learn about John's significant input into what is quite a breakthrough for those that care about the purity of Croatia's Adriatic waters.

Saturday, 21 March 2009

Šolta Island

We've covered Šolta Island on pages 149 to 151 of our Croatia Cruising Companion and have just been lucky enough to spend three days there. You can read more about inland Šolta on sister site Croatia Online (this link takes you to one of a number of postings on Šolta), but we would be remiss if we didn't specifically address it, in a Cruising Companion update, on this site.

Perhaps the most important development is in Maslenica where Martinis Marchi have completed an extremely painstaking restoration of the Baroque castle on the south side of the bay. Now the exclusive hotel and lovely restaurant are preparing to open for business in a couple of months. Next project is to get the marina up and ready for business and work on that is scheduled to start in September 2009. In the meantime berthing facilities are still as written.

As far as restaurants in Maslenica are concerned, we reported that Konoba Moni claims to be open all year round though it didn't seem to be last week. In fact the only establishment that we found open was the Pizzeria at the head of the bay, Konoba Picerija Gajeta (tel 021 659 104). In the winter it's only open till 6pm but will stay open later if you book ahead. It was a very welcome sight both for a coffee break and food, as the only other restaurant we found open on the island in March was Konoba Šolta in Rogač (a short walk up the hill, tel 021 654 540/www.villa-solta.com), and the only other open cafés seemed to be inland in Grohote (next to the post office) and in Rogač, the main ferry port.

Visitors to Šolta will mostly find that cash is king, post offices and tourists information are in most of the main settlements and there is just one fuel station, for cars or yacht, in Rogač, the main ferry port.

Today's photo is of the newly renovated castle, complete with heliport.

Sunday, 15 March 2009

Krka Estuary Revisited - Zaton and Rasline

Once you've absorbed the historical, architectural, culinary and cultural delights of Šibenik, you could do worse than head upstream along the Krka river. In fact you could spend a week or two going inland behind Šibenik and really discover what Dalmatia is all about - see our sister site Croatia Online for more.

However, by yacht, you can head to state owned ACI Marina Skradin and use that as a base for exploring the Krka National Park and its waterfalls. On the way you'll pass under a 27 metre high road bridge - see page 108 of the Croatia Cruising Companion for a chartlet and navigational notes - and you'll also have the opportunity to check out Zaton. Though the harbour itself is quite shallow, there's a small inlet to port before you get there which is the base of the rowing club and a large restaurant. If you're lucky you may get a space on the pier, and if you're shameless you may choose to tap into the electricity that powers the street lights, as many of the locals seem to do!

Zaton itself has plenty of cafes, a few restaurants, a couple of supermarkets, a post office and a tourist board. Today we spotted a new, but so far nameless, hotel that looks ready on the outside but with the interior yet to be completed. We also saw one electricity and water pedestal, to starboard, just after the green light as you head into the bay. It's a well cared for town, with an impressive war memorial and seems to have quite a life of its own, outside the tourist season. On a lovely early spring day like today, it was positively buzzing with life.

Further upstream is Rasline without perhaps quite the same charm as Zaton but with a campsite, restaurants and bars. Navigation is challenging so perhaps its better to visit by car.

Today's photo is of the small inlet, with rowing club and restaurant, just before Zaton, looking downstream towards Šibenik, with Zaton behind us.

Saturday, 7 March 2009

Ten Reasons For Sailing In Croatia

Over the last six years we've been lucky enough to experience most of what Croatia has to offer, particularly at sea. We've also had the chance to speak to a vast number 0f experts, drawn from all corners of the sailing world - visitors and locals alike. Foreigners sailing Croatia for the first time are, on the whole, spellbound by the Dalmatian Coast and Islands. Local mariners wouldn't want to go anywhere else, and trained skippers, after many years of nursing foreign charter visitors, still seem to revel in their guests' enjoyment. Here's our understanding of some of the aspects that qualify Croatia as a world class sailing destination.
1. Accessibility
In Dalmatia, you can easily visit 4 or 5 islands on a weeks's charter. You're at sea, but never very far away from land and passage distances are short.
2. Diversity
There's something for everyone within relatively close distance - party spots, deserted bays, cultural and historical sites, upscale venues or rustic restaurants.
3. Safety
There's a port for the occasional storm always close at hand. Flat waters can quickly be traded for rough seas. It's a sea faring nation with the infrastructure to suit and a geography that is designed for optimising safe enjoyment of the Adriatic.
4. Good Climate
5. Clear Waters
Enough has been said and you can read all the cliches on the internet. If you're travelling to Split from London on a clear day, sit on the right hand side of the plane (left is not quite so good) and see the outline of the islands descending into the bottom of the sea.
6. Hospitality
It's in the Dalmatian blood - there's an odd rogue wherever you go but if you behave as good and discerning guests, you're likely to be well rewarded.
7. Living History
You can sail right up to, and sometimes into, cities with a vast wealth of history, that are treated with respect rather than reverance. The history continues rather than being set aside as a spectator sport.
8. Entertainment
Traditional folk music or international Dj's - pick your spot. Better still to just pick a location and be surprised.
9. Serious Sailing
There are a huge number of regattas and competitions, mostly off season, and they are taken very seriously.
10. The Islands
You can get a taste of all that Croatia has to offer in a week or two, but you won't know it properly until you have come back several times. The inhabited islands still have a vibrant life inland, that is still almost totally undisovered. You can miss a lot chasing an itinerary from port to port.

Friday, 6 March 2009

Croatia Cruising Companion - How Does It Compare With The Competition?

As co-author of the Croatia Cruising Companion, it could be argued that this site’s editor is not best placed to draw an effective comparison with its competition. However previous experience suggests that all healthy competition should be embraced as a good thing. From a reader's point of view, hopefully specialist authors are likely to know more about the competition, and of course the subject, than most others!
Below we try and give readers the opportunity to decide for themselves, hopefully based on facts, and ordered around what we consider to be the Croatia Cruising Companion’s top five strengths.

1. Area and Content: Dalmatia - Nautical and Onshore

As far as we are aware, the Croatia Cruising Companion is the only publication covering Croatia’s sailing heartland (the Dalmatian Coast and Islands), that also includes detailed information and contact details once you get onshore. That’s over and above all the nautical information you would expect.

If you want to maximise your overall sailing and onshore experience of Croatia’s best cruising grounds, then we would suggest that the Croatia Cruising Companion has no rivals.

If you want to find out about all of Dalmatia’s islands, especially the most undiscovered, then we would suggest that the Croatia Cruising Companions offers more than most guides, sailing or otherwise.

If you prefer an excellent, highly visual, chart based, guide for navigation in Croatia, Slovenia and Montenegro, without too much narrative, then consider 777 Harbours and Anchorages.

If Croatia is just a small part of an Adriatic itinerary and you just want one book that covers the lot, then head for Imray’s Adriatic Pilot.

2. Local Knowledge Ashore and Afloat

John Nash has worked within the Croatian Marina industry for over 6 years. It’s a standing joke amongst John’s Croatian business contacts that they need to talk to him to find out what’s happening in the industry – new marina facilities, change in transit prices, additional breakwaters, etc. John is also an experienced round the world sailor and spotted Croatia’s intrinsic potential as a world class cruising destination long before most others.

Whilst writing the Croatia Cruising Companion, Jane Cody became involved in many other Croatian projects – she’s working on Time Out's Visitors’ Guide To Croatia for the fourth consecutive year – feature writing and area reviews - and last year she wrote a book supplement on Croatia for Boat International.We aren’t aware of any other authors of comparable publications that are, and have been, so intensely immersed in Croatian nautical and tourism matters, let alone have a base in Croatia. We hope the results speak for themselves.

3. Up To Date

Part of the joy of spending so much time in Croatia is that it is one long voyage of discovery. The more you get to know it, the more there is to learn, and this site is for nautical news and updates. Sister site Croatia Online was conceived a little earlier and now has over 3 years worth of postings on Croatia. We are lucky that our blogs have attracted some delightful readers, who have made the time to provide valuable additional first hand information. Many have become friends. Again we’re not aware of any similar product that is as up to date.

4. Publication Quality

Quality issues are highly subjective and therefore we must refrain from much comment other than to say that the Croatia Cruising Companion’s 256 A4 pages are packed with photos, port plans and detailed information.

We’re also told “it’s a good read” and that a good number of landlubbers have also enjoyed dipping in and out of it when contemplating their next ideal summer break.

5. General Information - Introduction

The 23 pages of introduction cover cruising strategies, weather, navigational matters, safety, boat maintenance information (including contact details for engine, sail, hull, electronic and other repairs), a guide to the Croatian language and pronunciation, communications information, “getting there” details, and background information on provisioning, entertainment, beaches, rules and regulations, health matters, etc. Again we struggle to identify rivals in this respect.

Pricing and Amazon Ratings

The Croatia Cruising Companion retails at £ 24.99, the Adriatic Pilot at £32.50, and 777 Harbours and Anchorages at £28.50. Last time we looked for the Croatian Hydrographic Pilot it cost 330 kn (about £35).

At the time of writing, price and ratings on Amazon UK were as follows:

Croatia Cruising Companion – £17.49. Ranked 4 (Croatia), 18 (Sailing), 12,384 (books)

Imray Adriatic Pilot - £32.50. Ranked 71 (Italy), 36 (Sailing), 22,002 (Books)

777 Harbours and Anchorages – not listed on Amazon

HHI Pilot – not listed on Amazon.


Standing back as far as we can, Croatia, particularly Dalmatia, is now readily acknowledged as one of the world’s best cruising grounds and if that’s the place you want to explore, in depth for a week or two (and it takes years to distil it properly!), then we think the Croatia Cruising Companion is just that – the one and only book you’ll need, devoted to the best of the Adriatic.

If you'd like to cover a wider area – on a delivery or passage perhaps - then there’s more of a choice for just that one book but, of course, some detail has to be sacrificed for the bigger quantity of coverage.

Marina Vinišće Near Trogir

There are two marinas in Trogir bay: Trogir itself, part of the state owned ACI chain, and Marina Agana in the small town named Marina. However just outside Trogir bay, to the west, is the quiet and charming village of Vinišće, with its own sheltered bay, and a marina with a chequered history.

When we finalised our Croatia Cruising Companion in late summer 2007, we reported on page 130 "It's difficult to think of a quieter, more secluded spot than Vinišće....after much disruption to the locals, the marina looked to be fully up and running...with the pontoons filled with boats, a reception area, a shop and more to come."

We first met the owner way back in around 2004 as the marina was starting to take shape. He told us proudly that he had been camping out in Zagreb for 2 years obtaining the necessary permissions to build and operate the marina and he had nearly succeeded despite almost unanimous opposition from the local inhabitants who were quite content with their quiet and idyllic sleepy village with a couple of restaurants and shops. We first sailed there a year or so later - pontoons, berths, electricity and water pedestals all working well but the marina was unable to take our money as it didn't have a full operating licence. So we spent a lovely couple of days there free of charge. More recently, it's been a thriving, good value, operating marina but that all stopped last year and there are a number of people trying to contact the owner. In true Dalmatian fashion, it seems likely that the raft of permits required may not be complete - we can only guess. However, be prepared for the unexpected if you do decide to visit!

Today's photo shows a view of the bay from the north west.