Our last 2 weeks in Croatia

After saying goodbye to Joanna and Eugene, we had 2 weeks before our cruising permit expired and we had to either leave Croatia or pay for another month. I’d been in touch with 2 ex work colleagues and good friends Tony and Julie who’d been sailing with us back in Scotland. As luck would have it they were on an island hopping holiday in Croatia and would be at Korcula for a few days.

We checked the chart and found that it was just short of 60 miles away, a relatively relaxing 2 day sail with an overnight stopover. Checking the forecasts and pilot book we decided on a longish first day of 45 miles to Zuljana and just under 15 miles the following day so that by setting off early we could be at the town of Korcula on the island of Korcula by lunchtime.

We set off at 0900 and were anchored behind an island in the bay just south of the harbour at Zuljana by 1700 after sailing 42 miles.

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It really was a beautiful place and we decided that we’d try to stop there for longer than a quick overnight halt on our way back south. Only one other yacht joined us in the anchorage and we thought we must have got something wrong given how busy Croatia had been with flotillas and charter boats. I can only put it down to the bay having no amenities such as bars and shops. Just the way we like it.

We weighed anchor at 0845 the following morning and had a great sail for the 15 miles to the anchorage of Uvala Luka, dropping anchor at 1145.

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The anchorage was fairly busy but nothing to what we’d see later in the season.

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I messaged Tony to let him and Julie know we’d arrived and they walked round to the anchorage from their apartment. I went over in the dinghy to pick them up and we had a great afternoon over a beer or two, catching up and swimming off the back of Coriander.

Around 4pm we all went ashore, Tony and Julie to get changed before we went out for the night and for us to wander round the town.

Wikipedia’s description of the town of Korcula is pretty much spot on,

‘The old city is surrounded by walls, and the streets are arranged in a herringbone pattern allowing free circulation of air but protecting against strong winds.[2] Korčula is tightly built on a promontory that guards the narrow sound between the island and the mainland. Building outside the walls was forbidden until the 18th century, and the wooden drawbridge was only replaced in 1863. All of Korčula’s narrow streets are stepped with the notable exception of the street running alongside the southeastern wall. The street is called the Street of Thoughts as one did not have to worry about the steps’

The old walled town is indeed beautiful and I highly recommend visiting. Be aware though that lots of tourists have the same idea and consequently it is very busy and the restaurants and bars on the expensive side.

We had a couple of drinks and then went just outside the town to a pizza restaurant.

We had a couple more drinks for old times sake before Tony and Julie had to get the ferry to Vis the following morning. It was really great to catch up with them and hopefully we can do so again on our travels.

We left the anchorage at Korcula just before 1000 the next day , getting great views of the walled city on the way.

We had a good sail with the wind at around 120 degrees to the north of the island and the anchorage at Ulva Gradina, just outside the second town of Vela Luka. It seemed as though half of the charter fleets out of Split had the same idea as it was packed and we were nose to tail getting into the anchorage. Deciding that we didn’t fancy fighting for a spot in the centre of the anchorage, we dropped in 6m just outside the entrance.

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So far in Croatia we’d managed to avoid having to pay to anchor but within minutes of the engine going off there was a harbour authority rib alongside asking for 100 Kuna. It should have been 150 Kuna and we learned that it was standard to offer a discount, presumably to avoid some of the inevitable arguments.

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It was a very beautiful place however the sheer number of yachts put us off and the next morning we retraced our steps back to Uvala Kneza, about half way back down Korcula.

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Again we were charged a discounted 100 Kuna for the privilege of using our own anchor. This was a beautiful bay with a nice beach and a restaurant ashore. Through the day it was popular with day trip boats, usually pirate themed with dozens of well lubricated holidaymakers on board and blaring music. They left around 4pm though and peace descended upon the anchorage.

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We spent a couple of days here swimming in the clear water before making our way back south. The anchorage at Zuljana that we’d hoped to go back to was unfortunately untenable in the wind direction we now had so we sailed past it to the Sipanski Luka anchorage that we’d visited with Joanna a couple of weeks prior.

We had a last meal at our favourite restaurant in Croatia and a litre of superb wine which cost the equivalent of £3.50.

This is Coriander anchored just off the restaurant.

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The wind again changed direction the next day so we sailed down to Lopud once more and spent a couple of days there before the sail back to Cavtat, arriving there 2 days before we had to leave Croatia.

As ‘luck’ would have it, it was the day England played (and lost to) Croatia in the semi finals of the world cup. It seemed like all of the town and the surrounding villages were out to watch, including the local fire brigade

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The entire evening was great fun even with England losing. It was incredibly good-natured with friendly bets e.g. if England score first, the Croatians would buy a round of drinks, which they did 🙂 As you can imagine, the party lasted well into the night.

The following day we had a final meal while watching the sunset and reflected upon our time in this beautiful country.

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We checked out at the customs dock at 1522 the following day for the 225 mile sail to Greece, our next adventure 🙂

Reflections on Croatia

Firstly, Croatia is a beautiful country with lots of amazing anchorages. The people we met were friendly and mostly spoke good English – way better than my non-existent Croatian.

Food prices both in restaurants and in the shops was significantly cheaper than the UK and on a par with Spain.

There were plenty of supermarkets and shops for provisions everywhere we went.

Fuel for the boat was easily obtained in marinas. Gas however was a different story and we struggled to find anywhwere to exchange or refill our gas cylinders.

Both the annual navigation tax (860 Kuna) and especially the tourist tax are exhorbitant in my opinion. The tourist tax is based upon the theoretical maximum berths the boat has, not the number of people actually on board. This may be fine for charter boats but when there are only 2 on board it’s crazy. I understand that the tax is to be halved next year.

Checking in and out is currently (pre Brexit) straightforward and quick as long as you have all of the papers and qualifications. All of the officials we met were helpful and friendly.

On top of the taxes mentioned above, most of the anchorages are charged at 10 Kuna per meter per night. You will also be charged (up to 100 Kuna) if you hand your lines to a marinaro on a quay.

Entry into the national parks was 600 Kuna for the boat, whether anchored or on a (pay) quay, and then 50-70 Kuna per person.

It seems that sailors are seen as an easy way to get money.

Around Dubrovnik there aren’t a huge number of charter boats or flotillas but once you head north towards Split and Hvar there are hundreds meaning that the popular anchorages are full be 2pm. The good news is that there are sufficient remote anchorages to avoid them most of the time.