Eine Gruppe von Segelbooten in einer ruhigen Bucht
15.12.2015 Autor Luka Fabris

From Finland with love: How to sail in Croatia

Knowing a local or hiring a local tour guide is likely to bring an authentic, multifaceted and insightful experience of a destination. Yet, nowadays, a more comprehensive online keyword search on a destination and its landmarks, activities and experiences (especially of gastronomic kind) can truly yield itineraries which would intrigue the savviest of locals.

 

Simply relying on either approach to discovering a destination does not guarantee success, does it? Ultimately, it will come down to our curiosity, wishes and planning going against weather conditions, logistics, and financial capabilities. And that’s okay. That’s the challenge to almost any(one’s) holiday.

 

I am by no means an experienced sailor. A few leisure sailing trips do not give the right to generalize and make rules & to-do list suggestions. But, I do know Croatia – what to expect and what not to expect from it. And I definitely know what an active holiday encompasses. So, let me cover a few random topics relevant to anyone’s sailing trip in Croatian Adriatic.

 

Online

As a Croatian living in Finland, I love to repeatedly put TripAdvisor’s credibility to a test: whenever I visit a town or an island, I ask my friends and locals to suggest trusted restaurants and visit-worthy new local joints. I’m still amazed how their input is well-aligned with online top-lists, rating sites, etc. Leads me to believe tourists can really get the best-possible experience relevant to their purchasing power.  So, suggestion No.1 for your sailing trip – before picking a marina or mooring, look-up most recent photos and review. My decisions were based on our skipper’s suggestion, quick online skim through and hunch/aesthetical appeal.

 

Town of Vis

 

Logistics

Air travel tends to work surprisingly well (enough flights flying into Split/Dubrovnik on Saturday AM time, allowing you to head straight away to the marina and sail away). Taxi service is reliable and competitively priced. But the biggest logistical hurdle occurs when arriving to the marina and waiting for your boat to be checked-out/checked-in. Many (most) marinas lack protected (or roofed) storage facilities, transport carts for your baggage, shuttles to supermarkets, and most importantly – a clear timeline for boat availability. Suggestion No.2 Fly-in a day or two earlier, ensure you can bring your luggage and groceries to the marina only after the boat is ready, and sail-off to a less-popular spot on the first night to avoid all the boats flocking to the same bay located 2-3 hours away (everyone’s in a hurry due to delays at check-in).

 

Skipper

Anyone sailing knows this is a human component potentially crucial for the success of the trip. Interestingly, when talking about their guests, skippers place a lot of value on presence/lack of team effort and unity. While I agree with their point of view, I probably place more importance on the management of the skipper. Yes, he or she is there to secure safety, efficiency, and truly man the boat. But guests must have somewhat of a leader too, someone who establishes a more direct and determined tone with the skipper – ensuring that your wishes as a customer are cared for first and foremost. It’s no secret skippers have preferred arrangements with marinas, restaurant and local establishments. But, I am always in favor of their role as advisors. It’s no fun overpaying a mediocre dinner which you felt stirred towards. It’s healthier if the crew makes those sort of mistakes. Suggestion No.3 Put friendships aside and remember that skipper and your crew have specific roles. Don’t mix them.

 

Pakleni islands

 

Speed maters

In feet or meters – length is the same. And it matters. But so does the speed. Having witnessed our Dufour 44 smoke all our boats on two occasions, I was proud with our choice. Similarly, when stacked against all other sailing boats in Vis marina, proudly boasting the tallest mast, I knew we were the cool crew. However, that extra cockpit leg space looked so good at our neighbor’s sailing boat. Suggestion No.4 Be clear what you’re after and accept the risk that comes with the decision: get a faster (likely less-comfortable) boat and have a sporty sailing experience or get a slower, wider and more comfortable boat. Adriatic Sea and climate does not make it easy for you – there are summers with virtually no wind making your speedy Dufour uncomfortably useless.

 

Experience info

Crew:

6 people + Rafa the dog

Skipper:

Valentino Sinovec

Boat:

Dufour 44, year 2008

Time:

First week of September

Route:

Split – Palmizana (Pakleni islands), Korcula (Korcula island + Badija), Polace (Mljet island), Lastovo (Lastovo island) – Vis (Vis island + Budikovac) – Split. Done in 6 nights with last night being in Split marina.

Most impressive: nature (Mljet), visual landscape (Lastovo), gastronomy (Vis + Budikovac)

Favorite sailing board game:

Dixit

Must-do:

morning run on every island. Two on Mljet island.

Don’t forget:

Bluetooth speakers and cash

Must eat:

“Darko Agroturizam” Zena Glava, Vis island

Useful websites:

 www.croatia.hr, TripAdvisor and Facebook

Advice:

Control your spontaneity - know what you’re after and don’t let different options derail you.

 

Luka Fabris

Brand Manager, Sales & Marketing Professional; Helsinki, Finland

Passionate golfer, seeking active holidays with plenty of hot sunshine, salty sea, running routes, delicious food and good shopping. 

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