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Saturday, June 16, 2018

Sailing off Croatia | June 2018

We left Budapest on May 30 travelling to Zagreb to spend the evening at the iconic but dated Esplanade Hotel. The following morning, we were up early and drove another 390 kilometers south to Trogir and the Brown Beach House on the island of Čiovo. After settling in to suite 212, we revisited the quaint port town of Trogir, and the following day lazed about the pool; unfortunately, packed full with rowdy kids and inattentive parents. Our room was comfortable and the food good, but in the main the service was slow and inconsistent.
Brown Beach House - Trogir

Saturday, June 2, was the start of our second sailing adventure on the Adriatic’s Croatian coast. We drove the short distance to Baotič Marina in Seget Donji and met up with Tilen, our skipper, and Cornelia, our hostess – the same young people that so ably looked after us last August. In January I had reserved a spectacular 2018 Oceanis 62 for this trip, the “Thora Helen”. Unfortunately, her mast was cracked and boom broken the week before our sailing dates by some inexperienced and careless sailors; we needed to make a last-minute change with the charter company. I settled on a 2014 Hanse 575, with a nice owner’s cabin, the “Lady S” – an agreeable substitute but still a disappointment.
Hanse 575

Cornelia was off to the store to stock our basic provisions for the week, and Tilen finished our check out. By three, we cast off mooring lines and were on our way motoring to Primošten, 3 1/2-hours and 20 nautical miles northwest – it was wonderful to be out on the water again. The harbor was well maintained; we arrived early enough for a walk around the old town - watched over on the hillside by St. George’s Church, its construction began in 1681.
St. George's Church
Ceiling - St. George's Church

Primošten is a clean, picturesque location. We happened upon a road rally of old Zastavs, a déjà vu moment back to my days with Yugo in the mid-eighties – crazy coincidence. 
Zastava (a.k.a. "Yugo")

Dinner was at the seaside “Toni Konoba” (tavern); a nice seabass for four and a few bottles of the local Pošip. It was a noisy night on the dock; singing and guitar very late into the evening – keeping us all awake.

After breakfast we were off north-northeast for about three hours to the tiny island of Tijat, only about one square mile, and Tijascica cove. It was an idyllic lunch spot to moor, have a swim and enjoy another mouthwatering lunch by Cornelia. After a few hours we were underway east toward Šibenik, a wonderfully historic port city, and then up the channel and the Krka River to the ACI Marina in Skradin. This route meandered by beautiful gorges, rock face and caves; small mussel farms tended by a contented lot of locals doted the shoreline.
Krka River Channel

Mussel Farm

One of many caves

The marina was well maintained, and a nice dinner was on the terrace of Evala Café.  After a bit more wine, it was off to a very peaceful sleep.
Judith & Me - Skradin

Up early, we backtracked down the channel, stopping at one of the floating stands for a large bucket of mussels, fresh out of the water. 
Our mussel stop

It turns out we got about 5-kilos of these, and they were certainly not in “store-bought” condition. The cleaning that followed was a group affair, scraping white worm and seaweed off of what seemed a thousand shells – perfecting our technique with simple kitchen knives so we all got pretty good at it.
While we were at this, Tilen motored us past Šebenik into open water, eventually reaching Zlarin Island and a secluded cove, Uvala Magaran. Here we anchored and rewarded ourselves with a dip in the pristine Adriatic.  Cornelia prepared another perfect lunch.
Uvala Magaran


Up anchor, we motored north a bit more than an hour to Vodice. The ACI marina was full, so we had to settle for a place on the riva. Dinner was our hard-earned mussels, masterfully cooked by our hostess – some of the best I’ve had.
All cleaned up

 Unfortunately, about ten boats also tied up with us, and partied until 4:30 the next morning – not much sleep for us. I recall a “Viva Las Vegas” track blaring for about an hour! In all, a very inconsiderate group of young Germans.
Vodice at Night

We dragged ourselves out of our berths, had a quick breakfast and left our raucous Germans to sleep it off. The morning was cloudy with the weather unsettled. Our original plan was to sail west northwest to the Kornati chain, a group of 140 islands, once densely covered with Mediterranean pine but now a sparse landscape of greyish rock. Our intended destination was to one of the Kornati’s larger islands, Zut.
Being cautious, we opted instead to travel northwest, less than 20 nautical miles, to Murter Island and the protected Marina Harmina. With Tilen’s experience, we easily navigated the very shallow island cuts on the approach. The judgement payed off; rain and wind descended upon us about an hour after we tied up on our mooring; and we enjoyed a lunch of Cornelia’s smoked salmon quiche; we were dry, and safely tucked away in the salon.
After the storm passed, Judith and I explored the town, walking to a picturesque ridge and St. Michael’s Church, built in the mid-16th century and reconstructed in 1770. 
St. Michael's Church

Dinner was in town on one of the jetties at Bistro Tic-Tac. I was put in charge of picking the fish, got a bit carried away and selected what turned out to be a 4.2-kilogram dentex, a local catch. Needless to say, it was a bit too much but a perfectly grilled, tasty masterpiece! Some ice cream on the walk back, a glass of wine onboard and we were all off to a restful sleep.
My Dentex

After a good sleep we were up to sunny skies. Our itinerary took us south, 14 nautical miles to Kakan Island, with a lunch stop off the beautiful waters of the small islets Veli and Mali Borovnjak. 
Heading to Borovnjak

After a good sail, our anchor dropped into water so clear it could have been the Caribbean. Judith and I quickly jumped in, the sea a refreshing but not too cold 23°C (about 70°F). We floated about quite a while, also swimming ashore to the rocky beach. Lunch was a pleasing assortment: bruschetta, grilled avocado, prosciutto, local cheese and more.
Judith & Me

After this idyll, we motored a short way to the Island of Kaprije, and its namesake town, and tied up adjacent to the ferry pier. It was a pretty sad place, abandoned by the young and now populated mostly by those that cannot leave. Still, we made the best of it, having a very good dinner at Liberty Grille. They served a local fish, Romba, slow roasted “peka” style (under the bell) with potato and assorted vegetables – savory!
Romba Peka
Kaprije Bay at night

We were up early and had breakfast at Lola Café; cappuccino and a comically bad pain au chocolat. Another coffee at the Neptun Café allowed us to use their facilities; as the English say, “to spend a penny.” The “Lady S” was then quickly off on a magnificent 30 nautical mile sail in perfect winds to Šolta Island; a long leg on our way back to home port. It was my best day – totally hooked.
Totally Hooked

Late afternoon, we arrived at the town of Maslinica and Marina Martinis Marchi, in a protected cove on the northern tip of Šolta. It is a new and upscale property, with a very nice small hotel. 
Maslinica Bay
Marina Martinis Marchi

Dinner was on the quay at Konoba Sakajet; we had an excellent St. Pierre for four, preceded by a lovely stuffed pepper appetizer. Sleep came easily.

It was yet another nice morning and another nice sail in 15+ knot winds, a broad reach back to Trogir to fuel up before the afternoon rush. This accomplished, we motored back to a small cove on the northeast of Čiovo Island and dropped anchor for our last lunch. Judith took a final swim, I decided not.
About three, we returned to Marina Baotič and said farewell to Tilen and Cornelia; another wonderful week on the water had come to an end. Shortly thereafter, we were in the car heading back to Zagreb through some heavy downpours, staying the night, and then continuing the following day, Saturday, to Budapest.

This was a different trip than last August. Then we hit more of the major spots, mostly south of Split, all more built up and bustling than this year’s destinations. But this year we saw more of nature, pristine sights and open water – and had better wind and weather. The boat was an improvement too; the master cabin made life aboard much more pleasant.   I am sure we will return next year.

If you are looking to do this, Tilen now has his own company, and there is no one better. Here is a link to his site: 

Also, if you want to see our actual itinerary, follow the link to MyMaps: 

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