Italy 2008/Croatia

Italy and Croatia 2008

Vis Italy and Croatia i et større kart 

Click for larger map  Vis større kart

A invitation to sail in Italy and Croatia was too tempting to refuse. The route was from Brindisi in southeast Italy, northwestwards up the coast to Monopoli, Trani and Vieste before crossing over to Lavosto in Croatia.  From there a mydriad of islands was within our reach on our way, Korcula being the first of them.  Our destination was Dubrovnik.
   Planning the trip

We had the privilige of sailing in "Sabbatical" of Leith, a 49ft Jeanneau Sun Odyssey from 10th-19th June.   Our cruising started in Brindisi on the south east coast of Italy. "Sabbatical" had sailed from Greece with Brindisi as the port of entry to Italy. We were welcomed aboard after a (23 euro) taxi ride from the airport.  Brindisi 40.39,6N 17.59,8E, an ancient port with many places of interest, is  approached from the marina by ferry or tender.  The marina, Lega Navale, charged 28,50 euro per night. It had fine facilities and a restaurant serving delicious food.

Jon Erik aboard Sabbatical                         
 Off we go, and up with the tender 
On a tender trip to the harbour proper, we had time to admire the newly renovated Americas cup ship "Shamrock" , once owned by Thomas Lipton, and the local sights. Some of the motor yachts were unbelievably large  
  Shamrock left, less elegant yacht right 


One amusing incident was a family out for their early evening stroll with a little 2 year old daughter in a pedalcar, remote controlled by her father! 
 Remote controlled daughter 
We sailed out next morning bound for Monopoli, 40nm. away. With wind against us we had to revert to motor use.
Monopoli  40.57,5N 17.18,3E, is an attractive little  fishing community , with a fine harbour and very narrow streets hardly wide enough for cars. They certainly drove there though and screeched around the corners at pretty high speed.  We ate dinner at a restaurant overlooking the harbour, helping our skipper to keep an eye on his boat and the possible arrival of more fishing boats. Icecream for dessert was a must : those of us with roots in Port Seton, Scotland, remember so well the fantastic icecream made by the Italian family Di Ciacca.   We were impressed by the cathedral and amazed by the number of churches in the village. 

 Sabbatical in Monopoli harbour

We had a relatively early start next morning heading  northwestwards for Trani 41.17,2N 16.25,5E. Mostly motoring, we reached Trani after 6 hours to find a really picturesque village with surprisingly many exclusive shops, but with few english speaking personell. I was impressed early next morning by the number of people employed in street cleaning and garbage collection, making the village attractive for it's inhabitants and tourists.


Street renovators in action. 

We moored up near the outer harbour without water and electricity facilities and had no fee to pay,  Trani cathedral dating from the 10th century was magnificent. It's difficult to imagine the need for such a large church in such a small place over a thousand years ago.  The fishermen were on strike here, as in the other fishing communities. The price of fuel, something fishing boats are dependant on, was the main complaint.

   Trani cathedral at night  
   Trani Lighthouse

Our next port of call was Vieste 41.53,2N  16.10,1E  which we reached after 6 hours sailing. The well run marina charged 45 euro for the night, water and electricity included. An attempt to purchase gas was unfruitfull, other wares were in abundance, apart from fresh fish. The Italian fishermen were  striking to demonstrate their economical problems with the rise in fuel prices.  At the vegetable, spice and fruit market we found everything we could desire.  At the village cafés all the customers were faced towards TV screens showing the football match between Croatia and Poland. Later the streets were full of supporters and others celebrating St. Antonio's day. Bands were marching through the village and it appeared to be a big family affair with spectacular fireworks at midnight.
    Some of the fishing boats in harbour                            
There are several other possible ports to moor up in along this section of the Italian coast. Our skipper chose his favorites. Our impression of this part of Italy was that the ports of call were of historical interest, imaculate and cosy. Food and wines were inexpensive, eating out was therfore popular. The style, standard and variety of garments in the boutiques was something completely different form that sold from the chains in Scandinavia. 
A typical street in one of Italy's historic towns
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To Croatia       
We sailed from Vieste in Italy over to Lastovo in Croatia, a distance of 50 nm in 8 hours.  The Sun Odyssey 49 sails well under many conditions and is also a comfortable boat to motor in, in the warmer climate of the Adriatic and Mediteranean seas. We enjoyed a delightful lunch served in the cockpit en route to Lastovo when the wind died down. 
  A consentrated helmsman
Lastovo is one of the ports of entry to Croatia so the first stop was at Ubli with a visit first to the police then to the customs officer before applying for a license to sail in Croatian waters. All boats over 8ft in length have to secure this permit to sail/motor each year.  The price for our boat was 2000 Croatian kruna (approx 250 euro) with a rebate of 20% since this was the 3rd. year of sailing there.  The income helps to finance the waterways, beacons, lighthouses, lifeboats etc.
One of the purposes of the system is to prevent "pirate" yacht charter since each boat is restricted in the number of guests allowed on board each year.  Once this registering was over we were free to find a bay to anchor in and to swim.  The water is particularily clear in Croatia, diving and snorkling are of course a popular sport.  We were surprised to see so many fish and birds in the area - there's more life in Adriatic waters then in the Med. 

Lastovo was military area until a few years ago and we saw several signs of military activity and among others things, a tunnel going right through the mountainside from one bay another, previously used for U-boats we presume, now for small boat and scooter tours. This paradise of islands is now a nature park and well worth visiting. There are few buildings and only 600 inhabitantsand few tourists then.    Ubli bay, Lastovo 
   Lastovo  map       
We chose to eat aboard Sabbatical that evening but there were possibilities ashore including one exclusive but reasonable hotel, Solitudo. After a brisk walk ashore next morning we made for Korcula island, lying southeast of Lastovo. Wind and waves were good and made goose-wing sailing a pleasure, and a challenge.
We anchored up in the bay by Korcula town and had a swim in the wondefully clear, warm water -26deg.  Lying at anchor now costs a little there, 180 kruna (23 euro) per night. One advantage was that our garbage was collected by boat, great for those without a tender. We walked over the hill into Korcula itself and were fascinated by the historic town with its fort and many ancient churches. One creative bar was placed on the tower of the fort and was reached by a steep ladder. Only cocktails were served and they were brought up by a mini external lift
Jon Erik climbing up the ladder      On the parapet waiting and enjoying the view          

Our plan next day was to sail south southeast to a bay on Mjlet but with nose winds of 25 kt., an increasing sea and heavy rain we decided to return to Korkula and berth in the marina while the still was room. When the marinas get full boats are turned away, no matter how hard the weather is.  There was chaos in the harbour for several hours. Most boats are charterboats and many of the skippers didn't seem to have the essential competanse to back into a narrow berth.   Sabbitical got a scrape in the gelcoat and the Austrian skipper of the sinning boat paid 100 euros so that he could forget the damage!    Many of the charter boats were lacking attention - bow thrusters and motors not functioning properly, airlocks in the water systems, watertanks with leakages were a few of the problems.  The harbour guys were both patient and competent,  helping to get the yachts placed correctly. 
  Enjoying the sail

Keep clear of us - a helping hand!   

Korcula town was a fine place to be weatherbound. We spent 3 nights there as the wind continued in the same direction. Boats sailing northwards had no problems, only those trying to cruise against the wind . Since we were flying from Dubrovnic and the next guests were arriving there, we hadn't time to sail in the wrong direction. The marina 600 kuna (75 euro) was one of the best with all facilities and an excellent restaurant with knowlegeable, service-minded waiters.   In town there were numerous Internet cafès and a good variety of shops. The old town though was the most interesting part. We were on the point of making another effort to sail south on the 3rd. day but were warned by telefone from the neighbouring boat which had left that the conditions were all but good. 

  Our waiter for the evening

Cruiseships of varying size were numerous. As soon as the larger ferries left the quays other ships lay up to 6 deep. 
   Cruise ships approaching in the evening  
 We leave by ferry for Dubrovnic
Communication between the islands and the mainland was good with ferries of differnent sizes and bus transport. On June 19th it was unfortunately time for our return. Our bus and ferry took us to Dubrovnic in 3 hours for 10 euro each, giving us a couple of hours in Dubrovnic old town before we left for the airport.






























































































































































































































Many thanks indeed to Rob and Alan for a great experience.

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