Trip on Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 35 starting 2008-07-12 in BSAOct08

Charter in Croatia 12th – 26th July 2008 – report by Bill Thomas

I chartered a Jeanneau Sun Oddyssey 35, based in Split, through Sunscape Yachting. The crew consisted of my wife, Heather Thomas, and 2 friends Steve & Sue Greenfield. Steve obtained his Day Skipper about 10 years ago, Sue had no big boat experience, but she and I had raced Mirror dinghies together in our early teens, and Heather had little sailing experience apart from our honeymoon in the Ionian, 28 years ago; and since then a couple of weekends in the UK and a week or so on Angus’s Jeanneau 29 in Mallorca. Heather had severely bruised her left knee playing Rounders a couple of week’s before, which hampered her usually spritely mobility. Our children Siobhan and Huw joined us in Split and sailed with us for 3 days

We flew out to SplitMap from Bristol by EasyJet, arriving to temperatures in the 30s Celsius. The boat was in the ACI marina which is near the old part of Split – about 40 mins in the Taxi from the Airport. Although we arrived at about 1400 and had been advised that we would be able to accept a handover earlier than the 1700 mentioned in the holiday notes, there was no-one available to deal with the hand over and it was gone 1800 when we were able to check the inventory and sign all the necessary forms. Sue and Steve arrived just before and we waited for Siobhan and Huw, who were travelling back to Split from one of the Islands, and decided to make an early start next day, rather than getting a flying start that evening, as planned.

The first destination was HvarMap town, on Hvar Island. The Pilot book was not complimentary about the delights of Hvar Town, as a place to moor for the night, so we aimed for Parmazana, a marina on one of Hell’s Islands about 2/3 miles from Hvar Town, to which access by water taxi is available. We arrived about 1500 and the Marina was full. The wind had increased and the forecast was for more wind from the North that night. We decided to sail to Milna, a small village on the South of Hvar Island, which was sheltered from the North wind. We picked up a mooring buoy, belonging to a Restaurant, had a swim and then went ashore to eat. The mooring was free, provided we frequented the restaurant. We had a fantastic meal and the owner insisted on launching his own fishing boat to give us a lift back to the boat. The wind was getting up and it started to rain. His last words to me were “I should put your anchor out tonight”. Although we were sheltered from the worst of the wind, the swell came around the point and into the bay catching the boat broadside on. We experienced a very uncomfortable night and at first light we made our anchor, slipped the mooring buoy and ran back down towards Hells Islands in 24-28 knots, with a quarter of the Jenny rolled out. We found a bay well sheltered from the north-easterly, which continued to blow hard, anchored and had breakfast about 0630 and then caught up on our sleep.

We were all refreshed at 1400 and the wind had moderated to about 15 knots so we set off to VisMap Town about 15 NM away. We set off on a fast reach, but the wind veered and decreased, finally dying away and we motored the last 5 miles or so. There was room on the quay in the main part of the harbour, and we were able to moor stern to, with a lazy line handed to us by one of the Harbour officials. Vis Town was really nice. Showers and toilets were available on the purchase of a card, and handing in of the Ship’s papers, which was pretty much the norm wherever we went. We spent a couple of days there, as it was blowing hard again, and we relaxed on the beach which was half a mile away from the Quay. As the wind continued to blow, the swell coming into the harbour increased. We were pretty much sheltered, but those boats further out in the main part of the harbour and in Kut on the eastern side of the bay were moving around too much to keep their gang-planks in place.

Siobhan and Huw had caught the ferry back to Split on Tuesday and on Thursday with the wind moderated, we set off for Vela LucaMap, on the western end of Korcula Island. This is a working fishing port and gets a pretty unflattering comment in the Pilot. In fact, it was unspoilt and apart from a small problem involving the Lazy line and the propeller, when we moored, we really liked it. We had another fantastic meal ashore and coming back through the square discovered a festival in full swing, with various stalls and a band and impromptu folk-singing from the locals.

Friday we set off reasonably early for LostovoMap. This is a National Park, formerly off limits as part of Croatia’s defences and when we arrived we found a lagoon, with a wooded island in the middle and surrounded by mountains. We moored in front of the Hotel Solitudo, one of only 5 boats with spaces for another 10-15. Apart from a plague of wasps, this was a stunning location. The water was as clear as gin and the facilities attached to the hotel really clean and commodious. The pilot referred to them as ‘planned improvement’, so we were pleased to find them completed.

Saturday and we set off for Korcula town – at the Eastern end of Korcula Island. We had a 10-15 knot breeze which allowed a broad reach and we flew the Cruising ‘Chute for the first and last time. Unfortunately, there was nowhere to anchor the block for the sheet and my lashing on the stanchion rode up and caused riding turns on the winch. This wasn’t satisfactory for such a big sail on a gusty day. We decided to stay in the marina at LambardaMap, which is some 5 miles from Korcula Town and was where Jane Jenkyn and her Flotilla were based. There was not much in Lambarda itself and we caught the bus to Korcula Town, which was lovely. It is a Venetian walled citadel, which withstood the might of the Ottoman Empire. All the alleys/roads lead up to the centre of the citadel from the sea and so there is usually a cooling breeze. We ate lunch in Marco Polo’s house, had a swim and looked around the Cathedral before catching the bus back to Lambarda.

Next day we sailed along the South coast of the Island back to Vela Luka. The forecast was for strong northerly winds and there was little shelter on the north side of the Island. We anchored in a small bay for lunch and a swim, with a couple of the large local Gullet type sailing boats. When we arrived in Vela LukaMap, the harbour master wouldn’t let us moor where we had been before; he was saving the space for the Gullets and sent us up the harbour, where we had to anchor and we were joined by a number of other yachts. We spent an uneventful night and set off next morning, with a grey and overcast sky and in a 15 Kt north easterly wind for Parmazana.

We motor sailed, as the wind was on the nose and had a straightforward trip. However the wind increased and the forecast was for very strong winds, again from the north. We arrived at Parmazana about 1400 and guess what? There were no spaces in the marina. We decided to go around the back of the Island to a small bay at Binogradisce. We arrived at 1500 and the bay was already crowded. We threaded our way through the yachts and anchored in a reasonable space and 6.5 metres. As the afternoon turned into evening, the wind increased and more and more yachts came into anchor. By dark it was blowing a steady 20 knots across the deck and just as I was going off to sleep, there was a violent squall – shortly after which I heard someone hailing us. I went up on deck to fine we had dragged down onto the yacht anchored astern. We had to make our anchor in a hurry and creep around the bay trying to find a decent space to anchor again. Needless to say, it was dark and blowing hard by this stage. We found a likely spot and anchored again. On the advice of the chap behind us, I let out all our chain – about 50 metres (again in about 6.5 metres) and we sorted anchor watches for the night. When dawn broke, the wind abated slightly and we saw that a number of boats had left during the night.

The next day, the sun was out for some of the time, but the wind continued to blow and increased towards nightfall. We were able to walk about half a mile across the island to the Marina at Parmazana and picked up some provisions and a weather forecast, which was still for strong winds from the north. We had another interesting night – one of our neighbours dragged across the bay onto the rocks fouling a number of anchored yachts on the way and a big catamaran came in and tried to anchor next to us. In the end, he rafted up with the bloke behind us and the other yacht was finally towed off the rocks by the Coastguard/Lifeboat, shortly before dawn. Over the 2 days, the wind rarely dropped below 18 knots and the highest wind speed we noted was 29 knots – and this was in a sheltered bay! I contacted the Charterers in Split as I was becoming worried that we wouldn’t get back for the handover on Friday. They advised that the wind would moderate the next day, Thursday and that the Marina at Milna, on Brac Map(not Hvar), which we had phoned to be told it was full on the Wednesday, would have plenty of spaces as the people who had been holed up for the last 2/3 days would be keen to get off.

Thursday morning was cold grey and overcast, but the wind had moderated and we set off – making our anchor without difficulty. The wind off Hvar Town was 17 knots, but this increased as we neared the headland at the end of the Island. The sea became rough and the wind increased with the odd gust of 27/28 knots – as had been common throughout the holiday the wind was initially on the nose. We weathered the point and bore away fro Brac and both wind and sea moderated. My wife, who ribbed me unmercifully for taking my waterproofs, was pleased to borrow my jacket as we took a couple of green uns over the bow. We arrived at Milna about 1300 and Caloo Callay! - there were plenty of spaces. There are two marinas in Milna and also yachts and Gullets mooring side on on the quays in between them. We liked Milna very much and had another good meal in one of the many restaurants in the town. Friday, we were able to sail back to Split arriving just after 1400, as the wind died and booking our handover. Because of the strong winds, the charter company sent down a Scuba diver to check for underwater damage and we were pleased that he didn’t find a problem on our hull. We ate out in the restaurant near the Marina that night and flew back to Bristol Airport on Saturday.

We enjoyed the holiday thoroughly but for a number of reasons will not be returning there immediately.

The Islands were almost completely unspoilt and Croatia lived up to its billing on the adverts as “the Mediterranean as it used to be”.

The seafood was abundant, fresh, reasonably priced and delicious. The local lager type beer was good but the local wine was not particularly distinguished.

There were not enough marina places for all the yachts requiring them when the wind got up

The weather was volatile and the ‘Bora’, (the granddaddy of anabatic winds) which can blow at any time during the year, is unpredictable and unpleasant. This is what we experienced for 4 days during our trip.

The weather forecasts in English were generally available from Marinas, Harbour Offices or internet cafes, but covered all the Adriatic, and it was difficult to interpret which part of the forecast applied specifically to the location we were in. The radio forecasts were not any easier to work with.

Mooring in the towns and marinas was generally expensive – e.g. £32 per night on the town quay in Vis and £40 on Lostovo, but this included a fee for the National Park

The sailing was not just a drift in the sun; the wind was often strong and invariably on the nose or directly astern and, as a result, we were undercrewed for much of the time. The Jeanneau 35 was a good boat, but something larger would have been better suited to the conditions we experienced. It was not particularly well specced for stronger weather – e.g. although tethers were supplied, there were no anchor points for them in the cockpit, nor on the deck and there were no crutch straps on the life-jackets.

Finally, the boat was supplied with an English translation of an official Croatian pilot book, which we did not find very useful. We took the “Croatian Cruising Companion” by Jane Cody and Paul Nash, which was good on the entrance to the various harbours and anchorages and also on restaurants and other facilities – best of all it was up-to-date. We also took “777 harbours and anchorages in the Eastern Adriatic”, which was also up-to-date and excellent for the smaller bays and coves. Using them in conjunction, we were able to make sensible decisions about destinations and where we could stop on the way. If anyone is sailing in Croatia and wants to borrow them, please ask.

Split  43.5015,16.4303
Hvar  43.1729,16.4411
Vis, Croatia  43.06,16.1941
Vela Luka  42.9602,16.7094
Lostovo  42.7478,16.8202
Lambarda  42.9251,17.1719
Vela Luka  42.96,16.7104
Milna, Brac  43.3269,16.4486