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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