***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:
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 provisions