Yachting around the islands of Croatia – Best week!

Our week of sailing through the Adriatic Sea, departing from Split, sailing through the islands just off the coast of Croatia and finally docking back in Split after 7 days, with Mark and Luke, was nothing short of amazing! It was one of the best weeks I’ve ever had and truly a week we won’t be forgetting anytime soon!

As a result I am writing this post-trip as I was either having too much fun to worry about blogging, or I was holding onto something so as not to fall off the boat as we did some pretty hectic sailing.. more about that later!

We set sailing about 5pm on 29th July, after a few hours of getting to know our new boat roomies and grabbing some last minute supplies from the shop. The flotilla was made up of four 8-man yachts that sailed together.

Our yacht was named ‘Go-With-The-Flow’ and our skipper was Zoran, a local Croatian and seasoned boatsman. Zoran and Luke (Pammalukke) became good mates over the week (otherwise referred to as their bromance) .

We also shared the boat with two champions from New Zealand, Sabrina and Tania. They taught us many a card game and some novel drinking games that we have continued to whip out on our travels. They were good fun to have on the boat, and were great sports enduring us making them say “six” and “sex”and “fush and chups” in their Kiwi accents!

Abbey was a friendly English Med Experience representative who also slept on our boat but shared herself around between our boat and the other boats during the day. While it was an 8 man yacht it was often just the 6 of us and Zoran so there was plenty of room to chill on the deck or sunbake on the front of the boat.

Brac 

We arrived at the island of Brac (pronounced brar-ch) by sunset with time to dive off the boat for a swim and chat with our other boat compadres. Here’s a pic of us in the dinghy being driven to the mainland ready for dinner.

We were taken to a restaurant which had the oldest olive oil making contraption on the island. Dinner was lamb on a spit, veggies and an array of strong fruity liqueurs and a brandy based grappa. I enjoyed the red wine and left the table to polish off the paint-thinner-like rakia!

Tragically for Marky one of our dinner companions announced who won the Australian Masterchef, something which he had so carefully managed to avoid the whole trip. If you weren’t listening to the conversation all you would have heard was the overriding whale coming from Mark when he heard the results, and then again when it was revealed that his favourite Georgia placed second runner-up. After dinner the boys played a quick bit of soccer with some local kids.

Makarska

On our second day we sailed to the port of Makarska which is part of mainland Croatia. Makarska is recognisable for its palm-fringed promenade where bars and cafes overlook the harbour where boats dock.

That afternoon we used wi-fi and enjoyed ice-coffees in a nearby cafe, went for a swim at the beach and organised our marine-themed costumes for the night. In the evening we had a group dinner at a local restaurant, and then played drinking games on the boat deck. I dominated the Presidents card game the girls taught us and Jase nailed the art of blowing a single card off a pile stacked on top of a bottle. Dressed as sailors, we then walked to a club that had been carved out of the rock face of a cliff. It was hot and sweaty inside Club Deep as many sailors were squished in like sardines, so we spent most of the night dancing on the shoreline of the beach next to the cave. Mark and Jase caught up with their friend Michael-Paul from Zimbabwe after he threw an ice-cube their way. PK had been working on another 35 man yacht that had docked in Makarska just for the night (small world)!

Jelsa

On our third day we sailed to a port near Jelsa which is part of the island of Hvar. We decided the best way to see the island was to hire bikes and ride around.  Here’s our cool team picture. We stopped to swim, and played a game of ‘keepy uppies’ with a tennis ball, next to a group of kids that seemed to foster endless energy to do running dive bombs into the water over and over again.

In the evening we went to a bar specialising in the world’s strongest mojito’s, then to a waterfront bar to play drinking games, and then onto a club where we started the D-floor going – the place was absolutely rammed with people by the time we left. We ended the night by sniffing our way to a bakery that had just started pumping out fresh bureks (Croatian pastry filled with cheese and spinach or meat). Unfortunately all bureks after this did not live up to the high standards set by the fresh 3am burek.

Hvar

On our fourth day of sailing we docked at the port of Palmizana, which is approximately a 10 minute speed boat ride to the major island of Hvar. We enjoyed a proper shower at the specially built facilities for those docked in the marina, the girls in particular taking advantage of the ability to whip out their hair straighteners. The boys went out for dinner with Zoran while Tans, Bri Bri and I made a snack on the boat and then played games with the other boats. Once the boys returned, we took a speed boat “ferry” over to Hvar to meet up with everyone at 10pm.

The multi-million dollar boats docked in the Hvar port were monstrous, and what I would call palatial mansions of the sea. Not surprisingly they were all guarded by security, and a few of them even had staff standing at the end of a red carpet walkway with clipboards as if they were exclusively scanning which nightclub patrons could enter. According to our skipper, the owner of the biggest boat docked in the Hvar port at the time was also the owner of the British Chelsea Football Club.

We moved between four different bars/clubs that night. Of note, I had a hilarious conversation with Mark’s alter ego “El-Capitan” for about half an hour while we drank beers overlooking the harbour. I asked him varying questions from how long he had been sailing boats, to how quickly he could pull a mast down, to how many pirates he had fought off during his time out at sea.

Here is a video of our first round of jager bombs on Med Experience whoop whoop!

Our journey home back to the boat was eventful. The whole group of us, minus Mark, Sabrina and the Norwegian boat (one of the four boats in the flotilla was 8 Norwegian friends) hopped on the wrong ferry. It wasn’t until we saw Sabrina standing on the peer looking at us confused did we realise. By the time we got back to the same port we decided we wanted to get home quickly, so we paid for another speedboat ferry back to Palmizana. To my amusement a random guy next to me spent the whole way trying to light his cigarette while the boat was speeding along at 70 km/hr. Somewhere the girls on our flotilla found the energy to sing all of the most popular Spice Girls songs. When we got out at the port, the driver dramatically threw all of our change in the water grumbling that he was unimpressed with our ‘small money’. Hey pal, at that time of night money is money. Mark (or El-Capitan) who had smokebombed from the clubs earlier, beat us home 😉

Sailing and swim stops

One of my favourite experiences of the week was the swim stops. Our skipper Zoran would leave a port and about an hour in when it was starting to get a bit warmer he would turn off the motor and the boat would just drift while we cooled off for a few minutes.

The best swim stop of the week without a doubt was the surprise rum party stop off. I am no fan of rum, but there was alot of fun in pulling up in the middle of the sea, anchoring, jumping off and hopping into a floaty, popping on some sunglasses/hat and then swigging white rum flavoured with pineapple juice while chatting to everyone. The day of the mid-ocean rum party was also the day that one of the Norwegians was celebrating his 30th birthday so the whole of his boat celebrated by all wearing fluro yellow or green speedos. Attempting to be anything but modest, they all did chin-ups in their fluro speedos, using the side of the boat as their home gym.

Below are some photos of that day taken by a professional photographer that followed us for the week as the company was re-doing its marketing campaign. There’s me in the floaty next to the yacht, and Jase is at the back of the boat enjoying a swig of rum.

The best photo and perhaps one we wouldn’t have got without a professional photographer stalking us for the week was this photo of Jase diving into the water.

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The sailing for the majority of the week was mostly through very calm waters, so much so our skipper had to engage the motor. In addition to the swim stops, the sailing was my favourite part of each day as we played card games, looked for dolphins (which we spotted on one day), and of course enjoyed a few brewskis.

Here is a video of us all relaxing on the front of the boat listening to some tunes post-swim stop.

Of all the sailing we did, I would say two of those days involved some pretty hectic sailing. With the boat tipped at a 45 degree angle, I mostly sat on what became ‘the bottom’ of the boat. On one of those two days, it was so bumpy I lost my lunch out the back of the boat. Below is a video of when we did some proper sailing – quite a cool experience!

You can see the horizon in the picture versus the slant of the yacht here. While I understand the mechanics of sailing a bit better after this trip, I still think its amazing no-one fell off the side into the drink!

At one of the swim stops we were towed by the boat while we held onto a rope. Both Jase and I nearly lost our swimmers, and I eventually had to let go of the rope before my costumes let go of me! Luckily there is not a high chance that a shark will come along in the Adriatic Sea as I waited for the boat to turn around and pick me up! One of the days we also tried to balance as many people as we could on a paddle board. Here are some photos taken during our swim stops – some of these photos are courtesy of the lovely Sabrina and her GoPro camera.

Vis

The port at the island of Vis was lovely, and I really enjoyed stopping here. In the afternoon when we arrived we watched the Croatians beat the Norwegians in a friendly soccer match (basically the skippers of our yachts plus Pammalukke, versus the boat full of Norwegians). Afterwards we went shopping for groceries and then headed for a swim at the beach – the only downer was the sea urchins at the beach and the rocky waters (if you didn’t have rubber shoes to wear in the water you couldn’t last long). In the evening Jase and I made dinner on the boat together and sat on the hull in the cool breeze of the air. We finished off the night by all going to an outdoor cinema, armed with a bottle of red wine to watch the Will Smith and Margot Robbie movie Focus.

Sesula Bay

Our second last night docking at Sesula Bay on the island of Solta was also pretty awesome. To get across to the restaurant you either had to swim, catch a ride in a tinney, or be pulled over in the blow-up dinghy using a rope that was tied to the shore.

After we finished eating, the dinner tables were converted to play beer pong. Jase, Mark and I were a team. Jase killed the first game, winning the majority of the shots for our team. Mark killed it in the second game, and I made the winning shot. However we came second to the Norwegians in the grand finale championships.

Mark and Jase both tried their hand at paddle boarding 🙂

On the way to Sesula earlier in the day, we went past the site previously used by the former Yugoslavia to hide submarines while they refuelled during wartimes. After that we stopped off at one of the local tourist attractions, the Blue Grotto. The Blue Grotto is a cave, where the sunlight reflects an iridescent blue at certain times of the day. A man claiming to have waited for 3 hours to jump onto the transfer boat which takes you to the site, launched himself and his family on our transfer boat like a pirate, making it quite squishy. Ordinarily it would be fine to squash up closely. However given the guide said we must immediately duck when directed in order to make it safely inside the small opening of the cave, the fact we had an extra family of 6 on the already full 16-man boat wasn’t ideal. The amount of tourists trying to get in meant we could only stay a few minutes. It was however very beautiful in the cave, and I wondered what it would have been like to scuba dive up into the cave (formerly the only way to have a look inside).

Life on the boat 

As you can see, life on the boat in general was pretty awesome. We made all of our breakfasts on the boat, usually before we set sail each day. Below is a pic of the girls eating their morning muesli 🙂 Jase and I had eggs and mushrooms pretty much every day, and Mark and Luke enjoyed their heavily noob taxed prosciutto (having paid $50 for it when the shop-keeper short changed them). Also below is our El-Capitan with his popular fluro green party pants on. The other photos were taken at one of the beautiful bays where we had a swim stop for a couple of hours, some are pictures inside the boat in our room and in the general living area where the kitchen was, and the last photo is one of Jase helping with the sailor duties.

 

Split

Our last afternoon docked in Split was spent playing more rowdy card games while knocking back a few pre-drinks. At night we all walked into town, enjoyed some fire works on the way, and then met up at a bar with the world’s biggest straws. From here, we drank more, danced alot, and reminisced what a mad week we had and how great it was to meet everyone.

The next morning we said our goodbyes and then Jase, Mark, Luke and I headed off to enjoy Split for our final two days together. The first of the two photos below was the last photo taken at the beach together in Split before the boys left for home in Aus – what a great time we had over the month – it really wouldn’t have been the same without them. The other photo is our last dinner together when the boys met up with their friend PK again, and some girls from our flotilla joined us, Emma, Emma and Tash 🙂

Us cruising around the beautiful town of Split.

I cannot recommend a sailing trip like this anymore highly. It was truly a week I will not be forgetting anytime soon! Thanks to Jase, Mark, Luke, Sabrina and Tania for making it extra special.

D x

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