We left early for the Tube and express train trip to Heathrow airport. The flight to Split, Croatia was about 2 hours. Upon arrival, we caught the Sunsail bus to their charter base in Agana, about 1/2 hour north of Split.
Sunsail has everyone departing on the same day so it was pretty crowded with people anxious to get on their boats and leave. Because we had a skipper, we didn’t have to go through the normal checkout routines on the boat.
Emily and Patrick had arrived earlier and were waiting for us, beer in hand! We met our captain, Roko, a nice young guy who’s English was pretty good. He got out the charts and suggested a route for the week. As soon as our pre-ordered provisions were on board, we cut the dock lines and headed out.
Croatia is on the Adriatic Sea across from Italy.
We cruised around the islands of Solta, Brac and Hvar.
Our first views from the water were beautiful – rocky shores, mountains in the distance and clear deep blue water.
The marina in Maslinica on Šolta, the closest town, was full so we spent our first night in a little cove nearby called Šešula. The cove has one restaurant which is also called Sesula. The owner comes out in his dinghy and directs boats to moorings.
Moorings are very different from what we’re used to. You use lazy lines to pick up your bow lines that are connected to concrete blocks anchored to the sea bottom. All boats keep rows of fenders on both sides that allow you to squeeze between other moored boats.
Explanation of mooring from the Sunsail guide.
I couldn’t believe how many boats they jammed together all along this small cove!
The boats kept coming and coming, even into the dark. Somehow, they all squeezed in. I have to say that the Europeans were very respectful of their neighbors. In the US, people would probably be very chatty or party too loud. Not here. In all the crowded anchorages and marinas throughout the week people ignored their neighbors. When we put music on we usually asked our neighbors if it was too loud and honored their requests to turn it down. Dinner at Sesula was good, not the best we had all week as our captain predicted. Most of us shared a whole red scorpion fish that was delicious.
After the meal and some very potent grappa we were waiting for a dinghy ride back to the boat when Eva decided to step into the shallow water to test temperature. She slipped on the slimy rocks and landed in the water. She was laughing as we were all trying to pull her up. First casualty of the trip!
We took a walk in the morning over the hill to Maslinica in search of some fresh bread and fruit.
It took me a few days on the boat to relax and realize that I didn’t have to do anything. I’m not used to that!
For lunch we feasted on fresh bread, cheeses, tomatoes and prosciutto. Next on the agenda, swimming in the clear chilly water.
We motor sailed around to Bobovišcá where we picked up a mooring at the dock.
The small town had 2 restaurants that Roko said were just average. He arranged a taxi for us to go up into the hills for a lovely local meal near the town of Dračevica, about 20 minutes from the dock.
The restaurant owner greeted us warmly and invited us to try her home-made flavored grappa – almond, pear, lemon, herb… We were the only guests in the beautiful place that looked like a movie set with wooden tables under a spreading 100-year-old tree. Everything served in the restaurant was grown or sourced locally.
Appetizers included anchovies (can’t believe Skip ate one!), tomatoes with cheese and olive oil, fresh vegetables, ham and plenty of wine. Thank goodness the wine was better than the swill provided in our Sunsail provisioning. The red was drinkable but the white was awful.
Monday brought calm seas and clear blue skies. We motored across to the Pakleni islands near Hvar and tied up at a large municipal marina in Palmižana.
Oh joy, the marina was full of Yacht week boats. There were about 30 boats of kids in bikinis and speedos partying furiously. At least they were 2 docks away from us.
After lunch we took a water taxi over to Hvar town, a stunning, vibrant city with a fortress sitting high, ancient castle walls and cathedrals.
In the evening we walked to the other side of the island for dinner at Toro. I had monk fish in a white wine sauce with a lovely sparkling Rosé. Others tried octopus, prawns and squid ink risotto.
Tuesday we awoke to a breezy sunny morning. Roko had planned for us to sail to the distant island of Vis but there was no space at the marina. The weather was keeping people in port. With predicted 30 knot winds and building, we decided to stay put for the day.
Many boats left in the morning, some having difficulties with the cross breeze and a power boat that was sticking way out in the fairway. Free entertainment (we’ve all been there!)
We just chilled for a while and then walked to the other side of the island for lunch.
Our lunch at Zori was delicious. The experience was marred by our waiter who we believe scammed us for more money. We left cash on the table and split up to wander back to the boat. He came running after me claiming that we didn’t leave enough money. He said we left 2 20 kuna bills instead of 200 kuna bills. I gave him more money. When I got back to the boat Emily, who left the cash, said that both she and Pat counted it and they didn’t have any small bills. Her cash was all fresh from the ATM and the 2 bills he gave back to me were crumpled and used. If he hadn’t been a bit of a jerk serving us, I probably would give him the benefit of the doubt. Moral of the story – don’t leave the table until the waiter picks up the bill! I wrote it up on Trip Advisor and the owner responded kindly but stood by his waiter’s story. They probably just think we’re stupid Americans. At least maybe he’ll think twice before trying that scam again.
To be continued…