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We arrived in Croatia on 20th April 2001 having travelled north from our winter base in Malta. We had originally intended to return south for the winter but we loved it so much that we decided to stay. Croatia is a fabulous cruising destination: the scenery is stunning, anchorages are plentiful, and there is always a harbour or marina within reach. If you are hesitant about heading this way, read on and hopefully you will be persuaded to come. You will not regret it.
Formalities are minimal. You must enter the country at a designated port where you will be visited by the Police (Immigration) and Customs and be asked to complete a form and present your papers at the Harbour Master’s Office. We cleared in at Gruž where the whole process took 45 minutes. A nice police lady looked at our passports (2 minutes), a customs officer asked if we had anything to declare (1 minute) and filling in the form took 15 minutes. The remainder of the time was spent walking to the nearest cash machine and back to obtain local currency for our Cruising Permit: for our 10.7 metre boat this cost 1,295 Kuna (Ł110). For the best year’s cruising of our life we consider it money very well spent. One unexpected benefit of the Cruising Permit is the complete lack of form filling at any other harbour. All one does is to hand in the Permit upon arrival and collect it when you pay to leave. What a time saver that would have been in France, Spain, Portugal and Italy!
Before we left we had been concerned about a statement in the Adriatic Pilot that talks about the need for a ‘Certificate of Seaworthiness’. The Croatian Tourist Office site (http://www.htz.hr/nautic_regulations.htm) also gives prices for what it calls ‘Compensation for attesting the seaworthiness of foreign yachts, sport sailing boats and sport boats’. Worry not about these. If you have normal registration documents and your boat doesn’t appear to be sinking, you will just be asked to fill out the form and hand over your cash.
Some printed information suggests that you need Visas if you are going to Croatia for more than three months. This does not appear to be the case. When you complete the application form for your Cruising Permit you also complete a Crew List. So long as your Cruising Permit is valid and your Crew List is up to date, that is all that appears to be required. However, if you have a change of crew (or additions) you must complete a revised Crew List every time.
The Croatian Hydrographic Office produces two Small Craft Chart Folios at a scale of 1:100,000 which, between them, cover the entire Croatian coastline and all the off lying islands. Known as ‘Male Karte’ they are updated every year and represent superb value at 200 Kuna (Ł17) each. The Northern Folio (north of Dugi Otok) contains 12 charts each 50cm x 35cm and the Southern Folio contains 17. A few of the charts even have large-scale harbour plans printed on the reverse side. Our recommendation would be to equip yourself with a suitable small-scale passage-making chart to get yourself here and buy one or both Male Karte folios when you arrive.
We used the Adriatic Pilot by T and D Thompson published by Imray Laurie Norie & Wilson. It is difficult to find your way around and, by modern standards, the photographs and chartlets are poor. Never-the-less, it gives good quality information and represents a massive undertaking by the authors to whom I am most grateful. We also bought a copy of the locally-produced English version of the ‘official’ yachtsman’s pilot. It looked as if it would be good as it was dated 2001 and appeared to contain some very useful chartlets. However, despite its publication date, much of the information is hopelessly out of date, some of it pre (1991) war. I do not recommend it.
Currency and Cash
On the strength of a statement in the Adriatic Pilot we obtained Master Cards before we left as we normally use Visa. We need not have bothered. Visa, Master Card and Amex Credit Cards along with Cirrus/Maestro and Visa Debit Cards are now widely accepted in shops and Cash Machines. Cash Machines are plentiful in the larger mainland towns but can be hard to find on the islands. However, many Post Offices (it may be all, but I cannot attest to that) have a ‘human cash machine’. You queue at the counter and hand over your card, which the teller swipes through a machine. With Cirrus/Maestro cards you then tap your PIN number into the machine just as you would with an ATM and, hey presto, you are handed the cash. With Visa Debit cards the PIN number does not work so you have to produce ID. They ask for a passport but they accept our encapsulated photocopy of the back page that we keep for such purposes. Having checked my bank statements very carefully I can confirm that the service costs no more than cash from an ATM.
Much humbug is uttered about charges in Croatia. Despite the annual Cruising Permit, the charges in ‘Regulated Anchorages’ and an average of Ł17 per night in marinas, we have had our cheapest year in the Mediterranean. (see note at the end of report for details) The simple reason for this is the huge number of unregulated, beautiful, deserted anchorages where one can lie for as long as one wishes for absolutely nothing. On top of that, most town quays and many marinas will allow from 2 to 4 hours mooring free of charge so that you can shop. However, if you do this, you will usually have to pay a small fee for water. Annual berthing contracts are particularly reasonable and some marinas will issue contracts at the annual rate for periods in excess of 6 months – very useful for over-wintering. Diesel is a fixed price throughout Croatia and is cheap – 5.2 Kuna (44p) per litre.
All marinas have laid moorings, generally tailed back to the quay. Many harbours now have the same but in a few you will have to lie bows (or stern) to your anchor, stern (or bows) to the quay. In many anchorages, particularly south of Split and in the peak season you will need to moor in a similar way. This is partly because that is what all the locals do so it is difficult to do otherwise, partly because many of the anchorages are tight and partly because many are deep. A typical night at anchor on, say, Otok Hvar might entail dropping your bower anchor in 12 metres and motoring back on 40 metres of chain until you can send a member of the crew in a dinghy to tie back to the shore. For this reason you will need:
substantial length of chain on your bower anchor. We have 60m and have frequently used 40m to
b) Some long ropes for tying back to the shore. We usually use a 40m length, which is about right.
c) One or two lengths of old chain for looping around rocks when tying back. We have 2 x 10m lengths.
In the so-called ‘Regulated Anchorages’ in the Zadar Region a charge is made irrespective of whether you moor to one of the buoys or anchor. Much criticism has been made of this system, but we found nothing to which one could object. The buoys are generally well maintained, (but do check!) the charges are reasonable and rubbish is collected.
Weather and Forecasts
Much of the
Good Weather forecasts are published in English, daily at all marinas. They include a three-day outlook and we have found them to be very reliable. An abbreviated form of the same forecast (without the outlook) is broadcast twice a day on Navtex. It takes practice to interpret as it is very much abbreviated and the English can be ambiguous, but once the technique is mastered these forecasts too are reliable. I would, therefore, suggest that, if you do not have one, a Navtex should be high on your list of priorities for Father Christmas! There are automated forecasts broadcast on VHF but the range is very limited. We did not find these useful.
Just one or two other points in no particular order: Many people speak some English, especially in the more touristy areas. Those who do not may speak German or Italian but, if they speak none of these, they are likely to be patient and friendly in finding a way to communicate. Croatian people are northern European in their approach to life rather than Latin. Brits are well received. Supermarkets are small and the variety of food is very limited. Bread, however, is excellent. There are no laundrettes to be found but some marinas have laundries where you can leave your washing and pick it up later. Costs vary from 50 to 100 Kuna (Ł4.25 to Ł8.50) per load. We found wasps to be a serious problem in some places in the summer but we encountered no jellyfish.
Harbours and Anchorages
Slano (page 61) We anchored in the north-eastern arm of the bay just west of the new quay. A well-protected spot to spend the night.
Uvala Kosmeč, Otok Jakljan (page 71) We stayed for lunch only. A very pretty bay with what appeared to be a residential Christian centre ashore. We anchored in line with the end of the quay.
Luka Prožura, Otok Mljet (page 96) A large, reasonably protected bay with plenty of room to anchor. We did not go ashore.
Polače, Otok Mljet (page
94) A superb anchorage – one of the best
Pomena, Otok Mljet (page 97) We anchored in the un-named bay that runs south from just west of Pomena. This deserted anchorage is not mentioned in the pilot, which is a shame as it is large, well protected and beautiful. We went ashore and walked once more to Malo and Veliko Jezero via the village of Pomena.
ACI Korčula Marina, Otok Korčula (page 102) A pleasant marina in a delightful setting. The marina supermarket is very expensive but there is a good supermarket close by. There are banks, cash machines and a rare Internet Café in the town. The Old Town is delightful and a joy to walk around. Charge per night: 210 Kn.
Skrivena Luka, Otok Lastovo (page 98) A large, fully protected bay in beautiful surroundings. We walked from here to the village of Lastovo, the best walk of our 2001 season.
Uvala Sveti Ivan, Otok Korčula (page 112) A large, very pleasant anchorage exposed to the west. We spent several nights here in settled conditions though we were affected by swell in the afternoon sea breeze. Good holding in clear, turquoise water.
Vela Luka, Otok Korčula (page 112) We moored to the town quay without charge for long enough to do our shopping in the town. The recently refurbished quay has electric points but no water. However, we were able to fill our water tanks at the fuel station for a small charge. Visiting yachts lie bows to their anchor, stern to the Town Quay. The narrow arm running NNW from the Town Quay is packed with local boats making it unsuitable for anchoring.
Pakleni Otoci (page 121) On our first night in these beautiful islands we anchored in Uvala Vinogradišće, a large bay protected from all but the south. There is plenty of room to anchor and the holding is good. Unfortunately, this delightful spot is spoilt by a cacophony of noisy generators on shore. There are several restaurants around the bay and it is possible to walk across the island to ACI Palmižana. On our second night we anchored in Uvala Taršće, just over a mile further west. This was less well-protected and deeper than Uvala Vinogradišće but much quieter. Our final night was spent in a tiny bay behind Rt Mlin in the passage between Otočić Borovac and Otočić Marinkovac. We anchored in the centre of the bay but it was clear that, in the season, yachts tie back to one of the many bollards around the bay.
ACI Palmižana, Pakleni Otoci (page 124) A well-protected marina in a peaceful, island setting. There are few facilities ashore but, in high season, there is a water taxi to Hvar Town. We were there in May and managed to negotiate a lift with a local boatman. This is the place from which to visit Hvar Town (page 120) as the quay and anchorage there are both very exposed. Hvar Town itself is another must-do excursion – be sure to walk up to the castle for the splendid views. Charge per night: 206 Kn.
Luka Vela Garška, Otok Hvar (page 124) A deserted bay with limited swinging room. We moored in the north-western arm, bows to our anchor, stern tied back to the shore, our first experience of this Croatian art.
Uvala Stiniva, Otok Hvar (page 126) We moored bows to our anchor and stern to the short harbour wall. There is only room for a few yachts here but there is all-round protection provided you can tuck behind the wall. There are a couple of holiday homes ashore and, we understand, a restaurant in high season.
Luka Zavala, Otok Hvar (page 128) A large, deserted bay with good holding and good protection from all but SW. We moored bows to our anchor, stern to the shore at the head of the bay.
Vrboska, Otok Hvar (page 130) We spent several nights at anchor in the un-named bay on the northern side of the approach to Vrboska, east of the hotel. (see plan on page 131) On one occasion, we rode out a NW gale here and on another remained firmly held in S/SE winds of 20 knots. There is a very pleasant walk along the shore into Vrboska.
Uvala Lučice, Otok Brač (page 181) We anchored in the northern arm with our stern tied back to the shore. The water was deep: we anchored in 17 metres and were still in 9 metres when pulled back close in. There were a couple of holiday homes ashore and a few fishing boats moored in the bay, but it was otherwise deserted.
Uvala Razetinovac, Otok Čiovo (page 160) A delightful anchorage close to Trogir. We anchored in 4 metres tucked in far as we could safely go where all-round protection was available. However, the outer reaches of the bay are open to the north-west. There are no facilities ashore.
ACI Trogir Marina (page 161) The Old Town of Trogir is a delightful place to visit and is highly recommended. The ACI marina is actually on Otok Čiovo but it is an easy walk into the town. There are restaurants, banks and supermarkets in abundance making this a good place to stock up. There is an expensive Internet Café at the marina and a much cheaper on in the Old Town. Charge per night: 203 Kn.
Rogoznica (page 165) Luka Rogoznica offers a choice of anchorages and moorings to suit every cruising style in any weather: we stayed in several of them on different occasions. Our favourite spot was to the east of the peninsular on which the village is built where we anchored between the promontory half way up the island and the causeway. This spot is quite deep (we anchored in 12 metres) and exposed to quite a long fetch from the SE, but it gives good shelter when the wind is from the west. There is a delightful walk around the perimeter of the island. We also anchored in Uvala Stupin and, briefly, at Marina Frappa. The marina is very up-market and quite expensive so we did not stay. Some friends spent a night on some buoys just south of the marina but did not enjoy the experience. They told us that they were much too close together for comfort and they felt that were over-priced.
Uvala Potkućina, Otok Kakan (page 193) We stayed in this very useful anchorage on a number of occasions. There are some mooring buoys in the northern part of the bay for which a charge of 50 Kn per night is made. However, unlike the ‘regulated anchorages’ in the Zadar region, there is no charge for anchoring. On one occasion we picked up a buoy but upon inspection, found the rope to be partly cut through. We moved to a different buoy but its rope was badly chafed. At that point we gave up on the buoys and anchored. There are no facilities ashore.
Uvala Koširina, Otok Murter (page 209) A pretty bay the shores of which are entirely within the bounds of a camp site from which a few basic provisions can be bought during the season. We anchored in 7 metres.
Marina Hramina, Otok Murter (page 209) A popular marina in a pretty, rural location – our chosen place to over-winter. In high season visiting yachts are often put on the outside of the breakwater. In settled conditions this can be the safest place to be as the marina aisles are both shallow and narrow making foul-ups on the mooring lines an every-day occurrence. There is a bank in the village but no cash machine. However, cash can be obtained from the Post Office. There is a new Internet café in Betina that is in within walking distance. [See also my comments on over-wintering at the end of this report.]
Uvala Vela Luka (page 212) A useful anchorage though not particularly pretty. As the wind was NW we anchored SW of the under-water spit.
Uvala Landin, Otok Pašman (page 231) A useful anchorage with plenty of room to anchor and good holding. There are no facilities ashore.
Brbinj, Dugi Otok (page 255) A delightful spot where one is warmly greeted by a very enthusiastic harbour-master. This was our first experience of one of the ‘regulated anchorages’ within the Zadar region though its arrangement proved to be unique. The buoys are set around the northern edge of the bay and each one has a long line to the shore as well as a line to a concrete block. One moors bows to the buoy and stern to the shore, all without launching one’s dinghy. There is a small shop ashore and a walk to a high point behind the village from which one can enjoy superb views across to the Velebit Mountains. [see also my comments on ‘regulated anchorages’ at the beginning of this report] Charge per night: 45 Kn.
Luka Sveti Ante, Otok Silva (page 266) A particularly pretty bay where we anchored in the centre of the northern bite. There are no facilities ashore.
Uvala Artaturi, Otok Lošinj (page 338) We anchored in Veli Zal, the north-eastern bight at the head of the bay. There are many holiday homes around the bay and a tiny supermarket in the season.
ACI Pula Marina (page 307) We went to Pula, our furthest point north on the Istrian Peninsular, in order to see the Roman Amphitheatre and we were not disappointed – it is very well worth a visit. Shopping in the town is disappointingly limited, perhaps because there are several hypermarkets on the outskirts. However, there is a good produce market and an Internet Café near the centre. Charge per night: 178 Kn.
Uvala Kanalić (Saline) (page 306) A very large bay completely protected from the sea. We did not go ashore.
Puntarska Draga, Otok Krk (page 330) A large, shallow bay completely protected from the sea. We anchored west of Otok Košljun, a position that we approached from the north of the island. We walked to Krk Town along an interesting forest track.
Supetarska Draga, Otok Rab (page 276) We anchored in the bay south of the islands and north of the promontory. The bay is shallow but holding is good in sand. There are holiday homes around the bay.
Uvala Sveti Fumiga, Otok Rab (page 274) The approach to this anchorage gives superb views of the many towers in the Old Town of Rab. We anchored off the jetty close south of the convent towards the head of the bay. From this position there is a made-up path all the way back to Rab Town – a worthwhile walk. Whilst in Rab we witnessed severe congestion for fuel with over 20 boats queuing at one time.
Uvala Zavratnica (page 227) Although only a lunchtime stop this was one of the highlights of our cruise. Uvala Zavratnica is a limestone gorge cut deep into the Velebit Mountains. It is quite extraordinary and very well worth a visit. We visited the gorge on a day-trip from Uvala Sveti Fumiga during which we were also able to see the rocky eastern face of Otok Rab stripped bare by the Bora. If anchoring in the gorge, beware the submerged wreck of a wartime landing craft on the northern shore of the ‘pool’. This is not mentioned in the pilot but it represents a considerable hazard when manoeuvring in the confined space. There are rings in the rock to which one can tie back when anchoring in order to limit swinging. There are some superb walks ashore.
Luka Ilovik, Otok Ilovik (page 341) This is an interesting anchorage between Otok Ilovik and Otok Sveti Petar. There are buoys provided in the channel for which no charge appears to be made. There are a few small shops ashore on Otok Ilovik and a quite superb Baker.
Uvala Široka, Otok Ist (page 263) We moored to one of the buoys south of the quay. The ropes and buoys are all new but, unfortunately, the buoys have very small rings that are impossible to catch with a boat hook. We walked across the isthmus to Uvala Kosirača. A few basic goods can be bought ashore. Charge per night: 50 Kn.
Uvala Vrulje, Brguljski Zaliv, Otok Molat (page 261) A particularly beautiful anchorage to the east and north of Otok Brguljski with splendid views of the islands to the south. There are buoys provided. Charge per night: 50 Kn.
Uvala Lučina, Dugi Otok (page 254) We picked up a buoy in this large bay off Zaglav. This bay houses a ferry terminal and is much less attractive than Brbinj just a few hundred metres to the south. However, in south-easterly winds, it is the only place to be. Despite the ferry terminal and the village, there are no real facilities ashore. Charge per night: 45 Kn.
Uvala Telašćica, Dugi Otok (page 252) This has to rate as one of our favourite anchorages of all time – it is fantastic! Uvala Telašćica is at the north-western end of Luka Telašćica, the huge inlet at the southern end of Dugi Otok that is now a National Park. We anchored at various places behind the islands at the head of the bay where we enjoyed complete protection, good holding and superb scenery. A boatman came around each morning selling basic foodstuffs including bread and wine. What more could one ask for? Charge to enter the National Park: 40 Kn per person for 2 nights. However, boats staying for three or even four nights were not charged again. On one of our days in Luka Telašćica we picked up a buoy off Mir and walked around the perimeter of the inland lake, Jezero Mir, a difficult walk in places, particularly around the south-eastern end.
Uvala Modri Bok, Otok Kornat, Kornati National Park (page 246) This anchorage only receives an incidental mention at the end of the entry for Brulje. We chose it as a quiet alternative to its busy neighbour. Although it is not on the list of approved over-night anchorages (see page 243) the Park Wardens raised no objection to our staying when they came for their money. We spent a peaceful night anchored in 9 metres in the northern corner of the bay.
Uvala Stupica Vela, Otok Žirje (page 194) We picked up a buoy here. Charge per night: 40 Kn.
Tijašćica, Otok Tijat (page
192) A very pleasant anchorage well
protected from the north. We anchored in
Jadrtovac (page 169) We spent several nights in this beautiful anchorage, one of them riding out a gale. We anchored to the west of the islet just below the overhead cable. The area SW of the island has silted up and is now too shallow for yachts. Protection from the sea is absolute and the holding is superb in black, glutinous mud. Allow plenty of time to clean your chain when you weigh anchor. Friends obtained basic provisions from a shop in the village.
Uvala Vinišće (page 163) A very useful anchorage with plenty of room though not particularly beautiful. It is protected from all but SE winds and holding is good. We stayed for several nights in September but no one asked us for harbour dues. However, friends were approached by what they felt was a ‘freelance’ boat demanding dues when they visited earlier in the year. They refused to pay and the boat went away and did not return.
Uvala Nečujam, Otok Šolta (page 185) We moored bows to our anchor, stern to the shore in the south-western arm of this bay. Shelter is good for the few boats able to tuck well in as we did but space is severely limited. A delightful spot.
Uvala Šešula, Otok Šolta (page 187) This is yet another superb anchorage. With an easterly gale forecast we moored at the head of this very narrow inlet with our bows to our anchor, facing outwards and our stern tied back to both shores.
Bobovišće, Otok Brač (page
183) We moored bows to our anchor, stern
to the shore in the northern arm of this bay.
(inset 1 on the plan on page 183)
Uvala Beretuša, Prukljansko Jezero (page 172) We moored bows to our anchor, stern to the shore in the north-western arm of this bay. It is completely deserted with just a small fisherman’s quay in one corner and was one of our favourite anchorages in 2001. We walked along a track to a small village above Skradin where we witnessed a lot of damage left over from the war in 1991.
Over-wintering in Croatia
For the first half of our cruise in Croatian waters we were on the lookout for a suitable marina at which to lay up Retreat, both for one month in mid-summer and over winter. We only considered marinas with a Travel Hoist, as Retreat cannot easily be lifted by crane. It is hoped that the following notes on the marinas we visited may be of use to other members.
There is a regular bus service from the marina gates to Dubrovnik. There is an excellent supermarket at the marina that is used by locals and is open all year round. There is also a reasonable chandlery and a nearby gas depot that will refill bottles. On the negative side there are two potential problems: traffic noise and lack of sunshine in the winter. The marina is situated within a loop of the Adriatic Highway that carries quite a lot of traffic. However, when the new suspension bridge at Gruž is complete, this problem will disappear. The problem with winter sunshine was reported to us by a couple that over-wintered there last year. Apparently, as the marina is situated on the south side of a deep gorge, sunshine in the winter months is limited to two hours per day.
Marina Frappa, Rogoznica (page 165)
Marina Frappa is a new, up-market marina with excellent facilities close
ACI Vodice Marina (page 174) Vodice is a pleasant enough small town with a rather ‘touristy’ atmosphere. It is on a regular bus route between Zadar and Šibenik. The marina is of the usual mid-market standard of the ACI chain but, unusually, with a Travel Hoist and a small hard. However, places on the hard were fully booked for the winter period.
Marina Betina, Otok Murter (page 211) Marina Betina is a pleasant marina in a small village at the northern end of Otok Murter built as an extension to a boatyard that handles large craft. It has a small hard for yachts but, once again, they were fully booked for the winter.
Marina Hramina, Otok Murter (page 209)
Marina Hramina is built in a sheltered bay on the edge of the
The marina provides steel cradles for boats on the hard but these are in short supply. We had no difficulties in the summer as most boats are in the water but we were very lucky indeed to be able to secure one for the winter.
The price list for marina berths includes daily, monthly and annual rates. However, they also offer pro-rata contracts at the annual rate for periods from six months upwards. We reserved our place on the basis of a nine-month contract from mid July to mid April for no more money than we would have paid for one month in the summer and six months over winter. This gave us a ‘home base’ for the autumn at no additional cost.
The total cost of our nine-month contract including lifting out and in for both lay-ups, washing off and cradle hire was 1,808 Euros (Ł1,175 or Ł4.30 per day including water & electricity)
Harbour Charges since we left England
The following totals include all harbour and marina charges, lifting and storage for both summer and winter lay-ups and the Annual Cruising Permit in Croatia:
April 1998 to March 1999
Brighton to Almerimar
April 1999 to March 2000
Almerimar to Toulon inc Balearics
April 2000 to March 2001
Toulon to Malta inc Corsica
April 2001 to March 2002
Malta to Croatia