Monday, 31 August 2009

Sights of Dubrovnik then Goodbye to Croatia ..... August 2009

28 - 31 August 2009

***Anchored for a few hours outside the old city walls of Dubrovnik***Cruise boats, ferries and sightseeing boats - Dubrovnik is a busy place in the high season***Feeling like the King of the Castle, high above the city in the fortress atop the city wall, and yes that little dot down there somewhere is Balvenie*** Street musicians, this one is playing a xylophone made out of beer bottles***

The anchorage at the head of Zaton Bay just north of Dubrovnik is large, shallow and protected from all but westerly winds. However the very steep sided hills that encompass the bay seem to draw the wind at night, so just after you tuck yourself in and turn off the lights get ready for the 25knot blasts out of the northeast, they carry on all night long and die away at dawn. The water stays flat, the holding is good but sleep is disturbed, oh well. We had enjoyed another excellent bar-b-que dinner onboard Gone with the Wind, the last of the season and bade them farewell in the morning - they are heading back to Turkey for winter. We took the day off, had a long walk around the waterfront, topped up on groceries from a nearby excellent small supermarket and did some more never ending boat jobs.

Next morning, instead of taking the bus into Dubrovnik, we decided to take Balvenie around and anchor off the old town for the day and if conditions permitted even stay the night there. The weather looked calm and settled so we motored the few miles around and anchored amongst the cruise ships outside the old harbour and city walls. This is a great spot in settled weather and we dinghied into the ancient harbour, the breakwater the oldest in Croatia and first constructed in the 7th century - with several additions and repairs since! Dubrovnik old town is an absolute gem and we decided to do the city walls walk which takes a couple of hours and is a complete circuit high above the town walking on the top of the solid thick walls. The views both out to sea and down into the heart of the town are excellent and we could even keep an eye on Balvenie most of the time. We were also watching the weather as large thunder clouds were building, and although no wind was forecast you never can be sure. The walk was great, if somewhat busy as there were 4 large cruise ships in port. Back down in the town square there was live theatre, musicians and a real carnival atmosphere. Dubrovnik has bounced back so well after the pounding they received in the early 1990 war, two out of three properties needed repairs from shelling, and they have carried these out to blend in with the original materials and architecture as well as possible. It's a lovely place and we would have liked to spend longer wandering through all the alleys but the weather was closing in so we headed back to Balvenie.

Although there still was no wind a large swell had come in which made the dinghy ride back and then getting back onboard a real challenge, both drenched in salt water we finally got on, just tied the dinghy on as lifting it onto the davits was not a possibility in the seas, and we pulled up anchor immediately - motored a short distance into the lee of a small nearby island where the water was flatter, raised the dinghy then headed south in the very wobbly seas the few miles to Cavtat. We were concerned the anchorage there would be exposed to this swell but with no other option but to head back to Zaton Bay we continued on, we could see only 3 others masts in the anchorage but they looked steady, the outlying islands and headland providing enough cover for a reasonably comfortable stay. We were surprised at the lack of boats there but found out later that while we were in Dubrovnik one of the thunderstorms had hit here and they had 40knots through the anchorage and most boats had to leave. The weather this year has been far more unsettled than last, possibly because we are in higher latitudes than we were in Turkey but it has made for a more stressful time, always watching the skies and the wind.

We went ashore for our last night in Croatia, Cavtat is a lovely little place, first settled by the Greeks around 300BC, it's just tiny and is a great option for checking in and out of Croatia. With clear skies, calm seas and a good forecast the next morning we motored around to the customs dock, completed our check out in a matter of minutes, got a couple of loaves of the best bread I have found in Croatia, changed the rest of our kuna into euro, let the lines go and pointed the bow southwest towards Brindisi, Italy here we come!

Cruising Info for Zaton Bay, Dubrovnik Old Town and Cavtat - Croatia:
Anchorages -
Zaton Bay ... 42 41.958N 18 02.555E 14m mud
Dubrovnik Old Town ... 42 38.391N 18 07.024E 10m sand and weed, can see the bottom to find sand patch. We stayed day only but know of boats that overnighted here in calm conditions, possibly pay anchorage if overnight if you are onboard at the wrong time!
Cavtat - Tiha Bay ... 42 35.138N 18 13.175E 10m. We found holding hold both times here but others had problems and boats dragged. In the main bay we have been told that it is an expensive pay anchorage but I have also been emailed by a cruiser who anchored twice over summer and weren't charged. ??!!
Internet - unlocked good signals at both Zaton and Tiha, didn't try Dubrovnik
Money - no ATM at Zaton, plenty at others, also bank in Cavtat to change those last Kuna
Provisions - Great small supermarket in Zaton on road at head of bay, adequate supermarket, good veg stalls and great bakery in Cavtat
Sightseeing - You can visit Dubrovnik by bus from either Zaton or Cavtat. Dubrovnik Wall Walk 50k pp and we also got the audio commentary at 40k pp which gave us more than enough history!

Formalities - Checking out in Cavtat took less than 10 minutes and there are no charges. As with checking in you MUST tie up to the customs dock, it was empty so we side tied.
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Friday, 28 August 2009

Busy Korcula then returning to Nature - Croatia ..... August 2009

24 - 27 August 2009

***Entry into Korcula walled town***Korcula from the sea***The anchorage at the Monastery on Badija***

We arrived mid afternoon in the anchorage just outside the wonderful walled town of Korcula. We had had a great sail in around 10 knots just aft of the beam along the bottom of Korcula island, then turned and went up the east coast a couple of miles harder on the wind before dropping sails and turning west for the last 1/2 mile into the channel between Korcula Island and mainland Croatia. What a difference on this side, the wind was whipping through around 25 knots, the kitesurfers were out in force having an amazing time in the brisk breeze and flat water. We decided to anchor in the town anchorage even though it is a pay one as we wanted to enjoy Korcula by day and night and be close enough to enable this. It's another small anchorage and like all the other town anchorages so far it ended up way too full. The one redeeming fact this time however was that everyone was anchoring in over 20knots so at least their anchors were setting by default!

We went ashore around 5.30pm, stopping enroute to meet Doug and Shanna off American yacht Hob Nob we had heard them on our morning radio net a few times so always great to finally put faces to the voices and say hi. While we were talking with them they spotted the dreaded 'anchor charges collector' doing his rounds, so we did the obvious and all skedaddled ashore to avoid paying, shame on us. Korcula is yet another outstanding example of a well preserved walled town, it's just tiny - set on a compact peninsular with only a handful of alleys running at right angles to each other so they can't have been too worried about the pirates gaining access, and it certainly did appear very well fortified. We settled down at a waterfront cafe and enjoyed a sundowner, reaching a new high for a small beer and a sprite at 40kuna, about 6Euro, oh well rather spend it on this than paying to anchor! Then we people watched a little longer, explored the streets again after dark, stopped for an excellent pizza and just lapped up the atmosphere oozing from this lovely town, priceless.

After a settled night the anchorage emptied out early so we decided to go ashore once again, have coffee and get a few provisions. We spotted Hob Nob whilst partaking in our morning coffee and people watching ritual and whiled a few hours away chatting with them in the town square. Then it was time for a quick top up with fruit and veg before the market closed, however one stall holder must have thought I'd just arrived on a cruise ship wanting 30kuna (4.50Euro) for 3 bananas!!! We found a small supermarket on the way back to Balvenie and got 5 bananas for 7kuna instead. Maybe she was the anchor charges mans wife trying to recuperate our unpaid fee!!!! Still it was the first time I have knowingly had someone try to overcharge me since we have been in Croatia so that's not too bad at all.

Mid afternoon we left the anchorage and motored a couple of miles east around the corner and nestled between some outlying islands by the Monastery on Badija, a delightful spot with the monastery surrounded by pine trees, the massive hills on the mainland as a backdrop and turquoise waters not unlike those in tropical islands lapping at the hull. 15 minutes but a million miles away from the hectic Korcula Town anchorage. We only stayed one night as time is marching on, but this is a place you could bury the anchor for days and just relax.

We continued on further southeast and returned to the sheltered anchorage at Polace in the Mljet National Park on Mljet Island. We still had our park tickets from when we stayed coming up and showed them again with no problems. We have heard they are valid for a year. Last time we were here there were around 60 yachts squeezed in, now on our first night we had 12, the 2nd night down to 7, the end of August is fast approaching. This is a favorite spot, the scent of pine in the air and the clicking of thousands of cicadas is overwhelming, give me the smells and sounds of nature any day over the city smells and traffic noises. We met up again with Maurice and Heather off New Zealand yacht Baracca who we first met last year in Turkey, great to catch up again with them then the next night Hob Nob joined in as well, happy hours whilst cruising are really one of the highlights.

Our good friends on Gone with the Wind were in Dubrovnik getting ready to leave Croatia for Greece and continuing on back to Turkey for winter. We wanted to catch up one more time with them this season so left this tranquil setting and motored in glassy seas back down to Zaton Bay just north of Dubrovnik to rendezvous with them for the last time in 2009.

Cruising Info for Korcula Town on Korcula, Badija Monastery and Polace on Mljet - Croatia:
Anchorages -
Korcula Town (Uvala Luka) - Korcula ... 42 57.222N 17 08.49E 15m sand/mud 10 minutes walk into town. Anchorage is bigger than it looks on chart. PAY ANCHORAGE - Collects around 5-6pm but don't know how much it is
Monastery - Badija .... 42 56.942N 17 09.640E 14m sand, plenty of room and possibilities in this area.
Polace - Mljet ... 42 47.367N 17 27.050E 12m mud, excellent all round cover. NATIONAL PARK PAY ANCHORGE 90K per person tickets valid one year (we think)
Internet - Unlocked signals onboard at all. Signal at Korcula on and off, other two both good.
Money - ATM machine in Korcula and Polace
Provisions - All shops and adequate supermarket (one by bus terminal, another small store on road in from anchorage) in Korcula. Good bakery and butcher, they share a shop! in Korcula outside walled town. butchery closes for siesta though. Polace has 2 small supermarkets and a bakery all quite expensive here. Didn't go ashore at monastery but don't think anything there.
Fuel - There is a fuel dock between Korcula town anchorage and Badija Monastery. We didn't go to it so not sure of depths or prices.
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Monday, 24 August 2009

More Ancient Cities and time for Maintenance ..... August 2009

19 - 23 August 2009

***The busy town anchorage at Hvar Town looking up to the Fort***And now the busy town anchorage looking down from the fort!!*** An evening at the Opera in Hvar***Time to do some sewing, attaching new slugs to the mainsail***

Having secured our parking spot in Hvar Town harbour we sat back and watched with amusement as the afternoons armada arrived. There really was just too much going on around us to go ashore so we just cracked the bar open, sat back and got ready to fend off the odd boat that really did get that close!!! Describing it as busy and overcrowded is totally inadequate, it was manic but by about 7.30pm there were only a couple more late runners on the horizon so we decided it was safe enough to leave Balvenie alone and head ashore for a look around. Every one of these old towns is different and all have been amazing, Hvar certainly was no exception. With one of the largest town squares in Croatia there is a huge arena overflowing with outdoor cafes and stalls selling anything from local artwork to the dried lavender the island is famous for. It is a beautiful place with a horseshoe shaped harbour, tiny local fishing craft crammed into one side and some seriously large super yachts fender to fender on the other, the display of wealth is overwhelming.

We returned to Balvenie just before a light evening breeze off the land filled in. It was time for some of the charter boats to go walkabout again, luckily for all concerned there were no unmanned boats involved. Boats were re anchoring and dragging again, lifting other boats anchors and getting in a tangle, all in no more than 12knots of wind - much entertainment. Once everyone was settled, and when the super yacht tenders stopped ferrying the rich and famous backwards and forwards the anchorage calmed down and we managed a good sleep. Next morning most of the boats had left by 9am, leaving just a handful so we decided it was safe enough to leave Balvenie without fear of someone pulling her anchor out while we weren't onboard. We went ashore and picked our way up through the maze of tiny streets to the Fortress Spanjol perched high above the town with a stunning vista out over the surrounding islands and the sparkling seas of the Adriatic. The present day structure was built to defend the town from Turkish invasion, since then the Austrians and the Venetians have had turns occupying it, along with several others. It was worth the 20kuna entry fee to stroll around and enjoy the vista. Back down in the town square while enjoying a coffee and people watching we noticed a sign for an "Evening of Opera" that evening at 9pm in the Franciscan Citadel, we checked the weather forecast and things looked calm and settled so we decided to chance it and stay another night.

By 7pm it was full on chaos again, by 8pm more boats were dragging - mmmmm only 10 knots this time, we are not sure if some of the charterers know that the anchor needs to not only touch the bottom but that you then should put more chain out, make sure it is dug in, then more chain, then just to be sure put some more out!!! Oh well, more details will come in my special "Anchoring Antics" blog to be done at some stage. By 8.30pm everyone was settled and it looked safe enough to leave, so we did the med thing and put all our fenders out and went ashore - if you can't beat them - join them.

The opera was fabulous, we are not opera buffs but appreciate most live music especially seated in an enclosed stone courtyard setting, vines clawing down the weathered stone walls, just perfect. There was1 Croatian, 2 Slovenians and 1 Canadian performer, they were all excellent and for 50kuna each it was an excellent evening out. We always love to go ashore at night, especially into these old towns, but it is not always practical or safe especially if it is a long dinghy ride back so it is always a treat when we do. We have been lucky with some of the harbours here as they are fairly enclosed and we can anchor reasonably close to shore. As with Split Harbour we expected to have to pay to anchor here but on both evenings we were on the boat until dark and we were not charged - no complaints from us, we are just baffled at how it all works!!

Time to find some peace, quiet and flat water. We sailed south and of course the wind was from the south - always on the nose. Still it was light, the seas flattened once we got away from the powerboats wash and we sailed slowly all day to the southwest corner of Korcula and anchored for 2 nights in the beautiful quiet bay of Tri Luce, amazingly with only 2 other boats, ah peace at last. We were behind on our maintenance so took the day catching up. The mainsail came down and I sat and replaced 3 slugs that had been broken for a couple of weeks, never an easy job getting the main off, repaired and back on again but we managed to get it all done before too much wind came up. Skipper was servicing the outboard engine, it has been chugging away sounding somewhat unhealthy for a while and we blamed it on our 14 month old Egyptian fuel, but we had recently drained it and put new fuel in which it liked even less, so apart it all came, all cleaned out and after a few attempts now runs like a new one and goes faster!!! Next on the list was an oil change but on further investigation Mark checked the log and we have only motored 130 hours so far this season so that has been put back on the 'to do' list for a later date. Only one more job to do, the foot control button for raising the anchor on the electric windlass had been playing up, jamming on then not working at all so all apart it came, everything cleaned up, wires sanded and put back together again, hopefully it will behave itself for the rest of the season. Jobs completed - rest of the day at leisure!

We loved this anchorage, after all the busy ones it felt so remote and peaceful, we didn't even go ashore but there looked to be just a few houses and nothing much else. We kept moving on though as we wanted to meet up again with friends before we all parted ways to head for our winter homes. We had a very gentle sail in light winds along the southern coast of Korcula to the little harbour town of Brna. We anchored in the bay and went ashore for a walk around the very small town, topped up on a few supplies and had a sundowner, not much else to do there. Just on dark the dreaded 'anchor charges collector' paid us a visit wanting 10 kuna a metre to park. We just refused, yet again, and after about 20 minutes he gave up on us in disgust. I expect we are getting a reputation as being tight-fisted, quite frankly I don't mind, we were the only boat in there, it was a nondescript town with no redeeming features, no ATM, 1 average restaurant, an expensive supermarket and the anchorage wasn't great. We left early the next morning before we were run out of town, best really, and had a great sail in about 15 knots on the beam for a change around to Korcula Town.

Cruising Info for Hvar Town on Hvar, Tri Luce and Brne on Korcula - Croatia:
Anchorages -
Hvar Town - Hvar ... 43 10.153N 16 26.312E 18m Very very busy at night. Must anchor to port as looking ashore as ferrys come in on starboard (shame as much shallower over there)
Tri Luce - Korcula ... 42 55.505N 16 40.036E 11m sand with weed patches but could see anchor on bottom.
Brna - Korcula ... 42 54.251N 16 51.533E 15m sand and weed. PAY ANCHORAGE. Fjord like anchorage just behind Brna looked ok, would need to stern tie, supposed to be free
Internet - No signals at any onboard. Found a Internet cafe ashore in Hvar (just off main square - well signposted), free access for 20 minutes with coffee - use their laptops or take your own
Money - ATM machine in Hvar
Provisions - All shops and good supermarket in Hvar town, small supermarket in Brna (no meat or bread and vegetables looked dead)

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Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Romans invade Split, Croatia ..... August 2009

12 -19 August 2009

***The promenade at Split with everyone out for their evening stroll***Roman centurions during the reenactment of the Roman invasion of Split*** We had seen this contraption earlier in the day and had tried to work out what it was - ancient merry go round with the children in baskets having great fun***Contemplating life at the Split fruit and veg daily market***

As we started our journey south back down the coast we were still experiencing a period of very settled weather, clear sunny days with temperatures in the high 20's with low 20's at night, light winds and flat seas and only sometimes an afternoon seabreeze. Mark works very hard at trimming the sails and we manage to sail nearly all the time if at all possible. This really is my kind of sailing, with the apparent wind rarely going over 15 knots, and except for the wakes we generally have flat water. We headed back to Rogoznica, and as there were no strong winds forecast we anchored much closer to the town. We stayed 2 nights, the first night we were joined by 3 other yachts, the second around 20. Plenty of room for all and a good stopover point.

Nibbling away at the miles we kept moving every couple of days. We had a great sail in a rare seabreeze from behind and changed our intended anchorage for the night as the westerly was coming right into it and turned and headed up into a large shallow bay (in Croatia if its under 20 metres we call it shallow!) called Marina. It was a beautiful spot, only one other yacht, calm and peaceful.

The following morning we were joined by Gone with the Wind again, they have been having ongoing problems with their anchor windlass jamming and it was in need of urgent repairs. Only problem was in order to do this they had to remove the anchor from the chain and bring all the chain in, not such an easy feat if you are not in a Marina. So they came up alongside us and rafted to us for the day while Liam, Mark and friend Pete set about doing what blokes to best, pondering for hours on the best way to fix it and after much deliberation actually fix it. Task complete they put it all back together and anchored for the night, testing the new improvements.

Next day we both moved on to Split. You are permitted to anchor within Split harbour as long as you keep clear of all the ferry docks and marina entrance. This is somewhere you wouldn't actually mind paying as you are right downtown with great access, but they don't charge, go figure!!! We spent two nights there and very much enjoyed it. It was Roman festival week, with street theatre, ancient stalls - a cobbler showing the making of original roman leather sandals, a potter busy at work on his wheel, basket weaving and a variety of others, all the people dressed in toga's looking the part. There was an evening of Roman theatre set inside the ancient palace walls, with everyone dressed looking the part, while on the promenade there were stages set with opera concerts. Split was buzzing.

The walled towns in Croatia just continue to amaze us, no two are the same. What I liked most about Split was its state of disrepair. During the day it really did look dilapidated, some buildings tumbling down, it was like a big outdoor movie set of ancient ruins, but it is a working and living town. At night it takes on a whole new image, with well thought out and placed lighting that gives it a mystical glow, it really is lovely. The harbour is pretty smelly though, but if you can cope with that then its an excellent stopover with a secure, free anchorage on the doorstep. Add to that the excellent daily market, closeby supermarket, pizzerias and gelatos stalls - it shouldn't be missed.

As much as we were enjoying Split it was time to move on, we headed south east to the southern side of Brac and the little anchorage of Lucice. It was crowded already with yachts on moorings but both Balvenie and GWTW managed to squeeze into a shallow patch we found and had a comfortable enough night.

A couple of adjustments were needed to the recent improvement on GWTW's anchor windlass so they rafted back up in the morning for a couple of hours for more work to be completed. Then we had a good sail again with light winds to the next island of Hvar. We planned to anchor a couple of miles away from the main town and try to bus in to visit. This was the place on our way north that looked to be totally crazy with bumper to bumper boats so we thought best to give the main anchorage a miss. As we closed in on it though, it didn't look too bad so we took a little detour in, had a snoop around, found reasonable depths to anchor in a good spot so dropped anchor and settled in.

The early evenings entertainment was supplied by an entourage of charter boats coming in to anchor, there is so much to say about their anchoring antics that I shall dedicate a separate blog update to it when I have everything else up to date!!

More on Hvar in the next update

Cruising info for Rogoznica, Marina, Split, Lucice on Brac and Hvar Town - Croatia:
Anchorages -
Rogoznica ... 43 31.850N 15 58.322E 16.5m sand with patches of weed
Marina ... 43 30.897N 16 07.221E 14m sand
Split ... 43 30.324N 16 26.031E 6m sand
Lucice ... 43 18.352N 16 27.142E 9.5m sand and rock. Not ideal but ok
Hvar Town ... 43 10.153N 16 26.312E 18m maybe sand? Lots of wash from passing craft but calm down after midnight for a few hours!
Internet - Rogoznica, Marina both unlocked. Split have a drink ashore and get a code, Lucice has none, Hvar take laptop ashore to wifi cafe
Money and Provisions - Lucice nothing ashore, all the others have everything. Fuel dock in Split with easy access (we didn't tie up, just jerry jugged) - Diesel 6.67kuna per litre, Petrol 7.44kuna per litre Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Up a River and then Reunion Time in Croatia ..... August 2009

07 - 12 August 2009

***Inland to the waterfalls in the Krk National Park at Skradin, apparently this is about half the flow of 2 months ago. There were hundreds of people in swimming, enjoying the cool water, some of them "naturists", yes there is a bare bum or two in the photo in this family environment!! ***

More light northerly winds and flat seas allowed us another leisurely sail further up the Croatian Coast, with many small islands so close to the coast it actually makes going to windward and tacking much more entertaining as we have targets to avoid, sights to see enroute and usually someone else heading in our general direction that Mark can "race" against which keeps him amused.

We could see quite alot of smoke in the distance and as we neared the entrance to the Inland Waterway where
Skradin lies at the head, we could see a forest fire raging inland. We were treated to an interesting display as 3 aeroplanes continually circled, swooped down over the sea into flat water between the mainland and one of the islands, somehow scooped up seawater into something we couldn't see, then headed inland to drop it on the fire. It worked well and soon the fire was completely under control. Most boats had enough sense to alter route and give the planes enough room to come down, but of course not all!

Skradin is in the Krk National Park, about 9 miles inland up a very scenic river and lake system. There is a small anchorage in shallow water where we anchored, leaving just enough room for the constant stream of ferry boats that ply the water from here up to the waterfalls, carrying many a tourist. Skradin is a compact little old town, showing many a scar from the recent Serbian invasion - buildings with some big holes blasted in them, the church damaged from bombings left unrepaired as a timely reminder of the war. There is a tiny riverfront area with small cafes and it generally had a very relaxed, low key holiday feel to it. We enjoyed a couple of meals out with David and Sheryle on Samsara and we also fitted in a free concert in the town square listening to a famous Croatian Male Choir, they were excellent.

We took the ferry up to the falls. It is a heavily wooded area with walking paths and wooden boardwalks throughout, most following the many streams that flow through and join together, then tumble down over the huge boulders. It was really lovely, even with around two thousand other people there -no exaggeration. Must be quite a money spinner at 95kuna (14euro) per person entrance fee.

Leaving Skraden it was time to party, at last we were close enough to organise a rendezvous with some of the boats on their way south again and on our morning radio net we organised to meet at the deserted island anchorage of
Potkucina. Silly us, hadn't someone said last week that it was a pay anchorage in the middle of nowhere - but we were all to excited at meeting up again that none of us put two and two together and came up with many kuna in anchoring fees!!

We mot
ored down the river and then sailed out, again in light winds and flat seas, except for the ever present power boat wakes.
Now I know we have had a few grumbles about cruising in Croatia and I expect it gets worse in the western med but the wash created by the many power boats here really is an ongoing problem. The large power superyachts aren't too bad, they normally have a professional skipper and don't actually go too fast, its the ones under around 60 feet that have very little regard for any other craft on the water, from people lying on lilos, small fishing craft, families in dinghies through to larger boats like us. They go by at speed, creating wakes that could be mistaken for tsunamis at times with large breaking waves. They slow down approaching anchorages, but when they have been travelling at 40 knots, 15 knots through an anchorage is slow for them, they truly are a pest and at times dangerous. Right, that's another gripe out of the way.

So back to Potkucina, a delightful lagoon type anchorage sheltered from all directions by a maze of little islands. It was in the middle of nowhere, there was a tiny restaurant ashore with a handful of tables but nothing else except for about 50 mooring buoys, all in the shallower water!! Destiny, an English boat we had met had been there 3 times previously, most recently just a week prior and there had been no buoys then - someone had been busy. Our first night there was lovely, all the buoys were taken and there were several other yachts at anchor but it was a big enough anchorage for all. No one came to us for money, of course we still weren't expecting them. Next day Gone with the Wind and Argos arrived on their way south, we came up the Red Sea last year with them both and it was great to catch up again. Happy hour on Balvenie saw both of them along with Samsara, also a 2008 Red Sea veteran and Destiny and Kirribilli new friends having a great time until, you guessed it, the anchor fee collector arrived. Well if you ever thought this might all be a scam he did nothing to change our minds. No uniform, no ID, no official markings on his dinghy and he had his young child with him who was about 5 years old, and of course no town within a couple of miles. He had been to all the mooring buoys and fair enough you should pay for them, but he wanted 200 kuna per boat from all of us. Well after much discussion, including a very long phone call to someone else we still all refused to pay and were advised that we would all be fined 2000 kuna each in the morning, who knows who by!! It didn't spoil our evening together but again it makes you focus on the more negative points of Croatia, instead of enjoying all the great things it has to offer.

Of course we all left next morning which was a shame as it had been a good night and too short a time to all be together again. We set sail back to the mainland along with Gone with the Wind to the small cove of Kosirina, another lovely spot with a large camping ground ashore. Now this was an interesting one - the camping ground had optional nudity. Maybe we are just too prudish but I still can't get used to seeing a mum and dad lying back on sun loungers, while the grandparents play with grandchildren at the waters edge - all in the nuddy, while a few feet away the family next to them has their swimwear on, all a bit bizarre really but we are getting used to it!!

Skipper and I had a breakfast board meeting on Balvenie the following morning trying to decide whether to continue travelling north, ultimately to Venice or to turn around here and start heading on back south, calling at all the places we had missed on our journey north. We have both been to Venice before and although keen to go again decided we would rather visit by land in the off season, the decision was made, it was turn around time. We farewelled GWTW as they were heading to Skraden, lifted anchor and pointed the bow down the coast.

Cruising info for Skradin, Potkucina and Kosirina - Croatia:
Anchorages -
Skradin ... 43 48.875N 15 55.468E 4.4m mud Fits about 10boats but several stern tied close by before the anchorage. No charge made, only pay park fee if you visit the falls
Potkucina ... 43 41.807N 15 39.894 16m sand Shallower spots available closer in shore. Be prepared to pay if you get unlucky
Kosirina ... 43 47.662N 15 36.522 11.5m sand and weed
Internet - Skradin had a couple unlocked. The others no signal at all
Money and Provisions - Everything at Skraden. Nothing at Potkucina. Very limited store at Kosirina
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Friday, 7 August 2009

Ancient towns and Pay Anchorages ..... August 2009

03 – 07 August 2009

***Excellent fruit and veg market on the canal in Trogir***Laundry day in Trogir, sure makes the place feel lived in***People watching in the town square, where did all the people go???? ***The anchorage in Trogir, small, noisy and wobbly but adequate***

Our early morning arrival in Trogir was very welcome after our unplanned night at sea avoiding the lightening strikes and high winds. After a well deserved rest we went ashore for a coffee and to explore. Trogir is a delightful small ancient town, another UNESCO site and for very good reason. It is set on a tiny flat island and is a real gem of a place, with a maze of tiny streets, well preserved old stone buildings, an outstanding cathedral and of course a few thousand tourists! They didn’t detract from the charm of the place, and we enjoyed a couple of hours exploring alleys, art galleries, churches and even stopping to look at some of the beautiful restaurants, tucked into courtyards behind stone walls, vines clawing to the walls and laundry hanging from neighbours windows. It is all picture postcard perfect but certainly had that lived in alive feeling. It’s the sort of place you can sit in the town square, sip an espresso and people watch for hours and hours, we just loved it there.

But then there is the story on the anchorage charges. No matter how much you enjoy somewhere ashore, when you have spent over 5 years travelling the worlds waters and anchoring for free it is extremely hard to think positively when someone wants you to pay to anchor. No services are offered, this anchorage was on a ferry route so had constant wash and also by a large shipyard, complete with plenty of shipbuilding noises and dust!. Friends that had visited the week prior had reported that the anchorage was free, well it was then anyway. At around 7pm, with some threatening thunder clouds looming, we were visited by two young men in a tender wearing Port Authority Poloshirts and aiming to collect 15kuna per metre anchorage fee. For us that’s 210kuna, 30Euro or NZD70, quite alot no matter what currency!!! Our friends on Samsara were also anchored and after much negotiation the previous evening they had struck a deal of 200k for 2 nights, we weren’t aware of this and spent about 30 minutes querying just why we should pay to anchor after having already spent 250Euro on a cruising permit. Well we must have worn them down completely (after 30 minutes!), as we ended up paying 20k for the night. The fact that the fees appear to be negotiable almost make it worse, as it makes us believe they are basically just out for what they can get, if you happen to be off the boat when they come then its free. It is just something we can not get used to, there is no signage on the anchorages to advise that it is a pay anchorage, and they come late evening when it is too late to leave. Unfortunately for us, and all the other long time cruisers we know that have cruised Croatia this is a real negative and has soured many peoples opinion of the country.

On a more positive note the old towns are absolutely beautiful, of course in Europe there are so many of them but they are all well preserved here and are just wonderful to explore. We would have preferred to stay longer in Trogir, but couldn't face the anchoring collectors again so after taking the dinghy practically to the front door of the supermarket and stocking up we lifted anchor and headed north.

There were strong nor’easterlies forecast for the next 2 nights, we had a good sail in building winds but flat water up to the harbour of Rogoznica. As we approached we had yachts coming at us from all directions, we were dreading to see how busy the anchorage would be. Everyone but us turned into the first bay of Rogoznica Town and made for the marina, well that got rid of them! We continued a couple of miles around into the head of the next bay Sibenska, it was large, well protected from the north sector, shallow, quiet, free and for 2 nights we just had 4 yachts in there. Things were looking up. Rogoznica town was a pleasant small town with cafes and pizzerias all overlooking the waterfront and bay.

We had a forecast for settled conditions again so sailed in flat seas and light winds around several small islands to the entrance of the inland waterway that leads to Sibenik and further on the 9 miles inland to the National Park and town of Skradin.

Cruising Info on Trogir and Sibenska, Croatia:
Anchorages –
Trogir …. 43 30.861N 16 14.424E 6m in superglue mud. Not much room and large car ferry manoeuvres through anchorage. Official Charge 15kuna per metre, collects approx 6.30pm-7.30pm and possibly only in August
Sibenska/Saline in Rogoznica …. 43 32.343N 15 58.747E 12m in sand with some weed patches
Internet – Unlocked wifi in both, not great signals
Money and Provisions –

Trogir .... take dinghy short ride right up the tiny canal to the 2nd bridge. Good supermarket and fruit veg stalls right there. ATM’s in town
Sibenska ...longish dinghy ride to Rogoznica. Supermarket and veg stalls just on mainland side of causeway. ATM. Great Pizza place first along on island side. Very average chandlery at marina, no fuel dock at marina!Posted by Picasa

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Croatias Dalmatian Coast ..... August 2009

31 July - 04 August 2009
***Overlooking the anchorage of Polace at the Mljet National Park***Kayakers out exploring *** Found a quiet anchorage at Loviste*** Some interesting clouds heading our way at dawn***

Initially when we left the river anchorage at Dubrovnik we intended to just move around the corner to Zaton Bay for a couple of nights and bus in and explore Dubrovnik. As we exited the river a 15knot easterly was blowing so Plan B was hatched and we decided to take advantage of the breeze and head out to the islands. We headed northwest, of course the wind died so we motored for a while then it swung around and we sailed on a tight reach in fairly flat water in search of a home for the night. We have the 808 Anchorages and also the Adriatic Pilot Cruising Guides, so much information but we had difficulty in finding a suitable spot. They were either pay anchorages, too busy, too small, too shallow, too deep, or full of mooring buoys and restaurant docks (both of which you pay for or eat at the restaurant).

At 6.30pm and eager to stop for the day we arrived at Polace in the Mljet National Park, at this stage we were up to Plan F or was it G!, The wind had eased and we sneaked inbetween about 60 others and finally stopped for the day. A lovely bay, set inside a very scenic but deep natural harbour with pine trees down to the waters edge, very similar to bays at home except oh so full. As you are in a National Park there is a 90kuna (13euro) park entrance fee per person - at least it isn't per night! We stayed a couple of nights, explored the island on walking trails, went on the bus and boat trip included in our entrance fee to a monastery on a lake and just enjoyed the birdsong, nature and scent of pine trees.

With light nor'westerlies forecast we moved onto Loviste at the end of the Peljesac Peninsular back on the mainland , we had searched through the guide books and friends notes to try and find big, shallow and free anchorages and this one fitted our criteria (although we had heard of a possibility of being charged). We managed to sail all the way in light winds and comfortable seas and the anchorage met our expectations, a better day! Besides a camping ground and a couple of restaurants there wasn't much there. We were quickly discovering that the charterers liked plenty of activities ashore to keep them amused, so this type of place wasn't as popular, this suited us.

Steady south westerlies were forecast for the following day so we decided to make the most of them and head as far north as we could. Our wind peaked at 30knots from behind, a little steadier than expected but with flat seas between the islands we flew along, ticking the miles off. We passed the town of Hvar on the island of the same name, a must see destination but not today. The boat traffic around here was unbeliveable, the harbour looked totally jam packed with boats still making their way in, the anchorage across the channel would have had over 200 boats in it, there would have been around 50 boats underway in the channel, many of the sail boats totally overpowered in the 30knots, jet skies were buzzing around and huge power boats were cutting in past everyone with absolutely no regard to others around them with the tremendos wakes they produce, absolute chaos - we just kept on going.

We turned and headed north on a tight reach for a few miles aiming for the anchorage outside Milna on the island of Brac. After a couple of attempts we dug in the anchor, a little closer to shore than we prefer but the forecast was for light easterly winds off the land, and it was too deep further out. At midnight we awoke to 25knots from the west accompanied by thunder and lightening and a building sea. We were well dug in but had swung around and land was looking near, chances are the electrical storm would pass quickly, but we always try to look at the worst case scenario and it is easier to lift anchor in 25knots than 35 or 45knots. So up she came and out we went, we do not like to anchor in the dark somewhere we haven't previously been, and there were no big shallow sheltered bays close by to slowly nudge our way into on radar so we motored away from land, rolled a little headsail out, went backwards and forwards for a few hours and did an unplanned overnighter. The storm passed after daybreak and we made our way up to the ancient town of Trogir, set our anchor and went to sleep!!!!

Cruising info for Polace, Loviste and Milna - Croatia:
Anchorages -
Polace on Mljet ... 42 47.36N 17 22.64E 14m mud. Bigger than it looks on chart and good all round protection. National Park fee applies 90k pp
Loviste on Peljesac ... 43 01.539N 17 01.840E 12m sand. We weren't charged. Big shallow bay
Milna on Brac ... 43 19.635N 16 26.122E 2nd attempt, dropped in 13m settled 17m would have been fine if westerly hadn't come up. No charge here but charges further inside Milna Bay
Internet - Unlocked wifi in all, not great signal but enough for weather and email
Money and Provisions - No ATMs at Polace or Loviste, small markets for essential provisionsPosted by Picasa