Croatia - Prvic

By Mark Stevens • Photographs by Sharon Matthews-Stevens

The sun rises over green hump-backed hills, backbone of an island called Prvic in the Adriatic Sea, off the coast of Croatia, in the region of Dalmatia. We’ve docked overnight in one of the most beautiful cruising grounds in the world. 

The hills look across a blushing expanse of water riffled by winds whose names we discovered yesterday morning at the chart briefing that began our Sunsail charter flotilla near a village called Primosten. 

Bora, Pura, Yugo. Winds that nuzzle the grey-green slopes of the Dinaric Alps, winds once wooed by Roman triremes. Winds that carry us north and east and west on exhilarating romps for six days, that skim waters traversed by Turkish warlords, that skirt havens where fisherman have returned nightly for nigh on seven centuries. 

These winds with names buffet my wife and I this morning when we go ashore to explore a medieval village hunkered down beside a stone pier while our friend and able crewmember Elizabeth makes coffee in the cabin of “Neve”, our chartered Jenneau 36’. 

Croatia - Pavle GaleryWe pass Pavle Gallery, huddled inside a fifteenth-century house. Eve, the proprietor, wears a white-and-blue bikini. Her husband, sporting a Speedo, tinkers with the outboard engine on a dilapidated wooden runabout on a stone quay just outside. 

We stroll serpentine cobblestone streets; we enter a churchyard, negotiating weathered crooked headstones in the shelter of a stone steeple circa 1461. We climb a stone alley behind the church; we look down at a sun-dappled harbour where history abounds, where a fleet of white sailboats sharing the characteristic scarlet Sunsail furled foresails are lashed, Mediterranean-style, to a wharf built from ancient stone blocks.

Now we return to “Neve,” straining at her dock lines in a gentle swell.

Elizabeth sets steaming cups on the cockpit table. I sip and sit, looking around in awe, entranced by the scene before me, a Technicolor travelogue.

Now we finish our coffee and saunter down the pier to a path skirting the shore, occupied by rusty ladders that descend to crystal waters. 

Croatia - Krka FallsWe dive into the Adriatic. 

Sharon, Elizabeth and I splash about, cooling off, gazing, with a dolphin’s-eye view, at a multitude of islands scattered across the horizon line like the ransom of a Roman emperor (that’s no mere simile: the emperor Diocletian built his retirement palace a couple of hundred miles south of here around 400 A.D.), islands we’ll explore by sail, chasing fair winds, islands that will shelter cool swims on hot days. 

This morning we’re taking a dip in Dalmatia.

Yesterday we traced a rhumline of roughly eleven nautical miles out of Base Kremik, Sunsail’s second largest base worldwide. Nine miles under sail, velocity made good, steady at six knots. A multitude of emerald islands rose up from waters that sparkled like diamonds, mist shrouding the further ones. Our own boat was heeling; white triangles ahead and behind marked both our flotilla and those nominal winds blowing out of a cloudless sky.

Croatia - Krka FallsLast night we proved the efficacy of going with a flotilla: Ana, the “social director” hosted a dockside punch party replete with hors d’oeuvres and great company. “Eat, eat,” she said, playing the fleet like a Savannah socialite. Then she found her way into my heart. “Drink, drink,” she added.

We made new friends doing the flotilla and we had built-in escorts and tour guides: to suggest ideal stops, to make arrangements in a different and difficult language, and, most important, to guide us through the trials and tribulations of Mediterranean Mooring. 

These thoughts and images – the memories of yesterdays perfect sail, my anticipation of the next few days – float as lazily in my consciousness as I now float during my first Dalmatia dip.

We’d take our next dip late that afternoon at Krka Falls.

But first a charting briefing from Mr. T., our lead skipper, in the shade of a grove of cypress trees. His name is Tvrtko but no one can pronounce it. He suggests perfect lunch spots, identifies potential hazards. But he finishes the session with a pessimistic prognostication for the day. “Winds light and variable,” he intones in a solemn voice. 

Croatia - SkradinAn hour out from Prvic with ten perfect knots of Mistral (“The sailors’ wind,” Mr. T. told us yesterday.) off the port quarter, making for a massive Renaissance fortress, we wonder about the forecast. 

“Do you think he does that on purpose?” asks Elizabeth.

“Then we get great winds. Could be.”

But the winds aren’t a factor for long. We soon enter a long twisting canyon, past sheer cliffs where hermits once lived, past Sibenik on the port beam, host to a Croat king a thousand years ago. 

We sail where we can, motor where we have to, at long last pulling up to a marina beside the village of Skradin, a picturesque settlement climbing steep hills in an emerald valley, a place once populated by Turkish warlords, dominated by the ruins of a stone stronghold high above the harbour. 

Tonight we will march en masse to a traditional Croat kanoba (traditional restaurant) we never would have found ourselves. We’ll dine on a traditional dish called a ‘peka’ – a sort of metal Croatian crockpot, comparing notes, exaggerating boat speeds.

But first my wife Sharon, Elizabeth and I will make our way upriver to Krka waterfalls, carved out of limestone cliffs. Eight or nine cascades plummet from high overhead, sending up a fine mist, a welcome spray on a thirty-degree-plus day. 

We clamour down a steep shore and lower ourselves into the rushing current. 

We enjoy another dip in Dalmatia.

 It is a day and a half before our next Adriatic immersion.

Next morning we make for open waters. Seas are flat; winds cooperate. We glide over glittering expanses past green islands sporting fishing villages with makeshift wharves; we chase the winds rather than either course or velocity made good. We make landfall at Tribunj: a shower in the new marina, a stroll to the old town over a stone bridge, an early start next morning.

For today we sail for the far islands – the Kornatis. We get ten miles out of Tribunj in perfect conditions. The islands loom ahead, swathed in haze and mystery. George Bernard Shaw described this one-hundred-fifty member national park archipelago as being made from “tears and stars and breath.”

To me, once we see them up close when we drop the hook at Smokvica Vela in a bay we share with only two other boats, they look like Mars meets Death Valley, but with water.

Swinging gently here at the edge of the world, I fire up the barbecue. I wait for the coals, I watch the sun fall behind a barren grey slope decorated by low stone walls built here by shepherds twelve, thirteen centuries ago.

Tomorrow we will make for Zlarin. We will stop and drift in the company of cavorting dolphins. Next day we’ll race other boats past the wreck of a World War II submarine, we’ll take a rollercoaster ride over six feet waves in twenty-five knots of wind. We’ll lunch in a bay with waters Caribbean blue. We’ll have another dip in Dalmatia.

But for now, nursing a Karlovacko beer in the cockpit, swinging on the hook in the waters of history, I wax pensive, gazing out to sea. 

Then I stand up; I go forward, balancing on “Neve’s” toe rail.

“Anyone for a swim?” I yell. 

Then I take my penultimate dip in Dalmatia.

 

To check out more destinations, stories and photography by the award-winning team of Sharon Matthews-Stevens and Mark Stevens, log on to www.travelwriteclick.com.

 

Ship's Log

Sunsail and Moorings both maintain extensive fleets in Croatia. Our charter explored rustic villages and relatively deserted islands. The flotilla option is an excellent one for sailing here. For all your options go to www.sunsail.com/destinations/mediterranean/croatia or www.moorings.com/destinations/mediterranean/croatia 

For background on the newest member in the European Union along with information if you tie your charter to a land-based adventure, check out http://croatia.hr/en-GB/Homepage 

 

Photo Captions:

Photo 1 - Ships of the Sunsail flotilla lined up on the seawall at Prvic, a medieval fishing village.

Photo 2 - Many of the out-islands are retreats for artists like Eve, co-proprietor of Pavle Gallery on Prvic.

Photo 3 - A cool oasis on a hot day - Krka Falls is spectacular and popular.

Photo 4 - After a long cruise up a picturesque canyon, boaters can take another boat ride to a National Park encompassing Krka Falls.

Photo 5 - One perfect overnight spot for sailors who dip into Dalmatia is the village of Skradin, once the haunt of Turkish warlords.

 

 

Related Articles

An Abacos Adventure

Great Guana CayBy Mark Stevens; Photos by Sharon Matthew-Stevens

It’s a perfect Sunday morning jaunt.

We’re gliding through green-blue waters, colours so vivid and bright they hurt your eyes. We’re set for a close reach out of a harbour guarded by a necklace of tiny emerald islands decorated by palms that dance in fifteen knots of wind.

Our boat, “Tropical Escape II” (perfect name for both the boat and our adventure), is a 44-foot Robertson and Caine catamaran, chartered from Sunsail’s Marsh Harbour base on Bahamas’ Great Abaco Island.

Read More about An Abacos Adventure...

 

Lifestyle

  • Prev
Stuart Walker a legend in competitive sailing passed away on November 12, 2018 in Annapolis. Stuart ...
“In Grenada, we had about 80 cruiser kids visit our boat...by dinghy of course! Sometimes you ...
Austin Edwards told students and parents at the Saanich School’s “Parents as Informed Partners” ...
As the sole arbiter of the Photo of the Week I, your editor, get to make the choice. This week, ...
Michele Stevens pointed us to this interesting project which recently came to fruition in Cape ...
Our Photos of the week this time come from BC where our friend Rob Stokes sent us a very nice ...
Our little treasure: Montague (Monte) taken at Pirate's Cove in the Gulf Islands. Monte is a ...
It has been a long, hot summer here on Georgian Bay and we miss Adamant 1 terribly. We did manage ...
On Thursday last week, at age 88, Bruce Kirby has been invested into the Order of Canada for his ...
The Olympic Qualification Regatta is now being held in Aarhus Denmark with unlimited entries. That ...

Boat Reviews

  • Prev
At the boat shows, the Ranger Tugs’ classic tugboat lines always grab the crowds, with the wives ...
Sometimes a great idea requires an encore, and French yacht builder Jeanneau got that with the ...
Tactical Custom Boats announces the sale to a North American client of a custom Tactical 77’ – Fast ...
Bruce Elliott is an inventor. And when he sold the technology he developed to build utility poles ...
One often asks of a winning achievement or a fabulous design, could it have possibly been done ...
The latest new model from Cruisers Yachts is the Cantius 42 and this yacht made its debut in the ...
The Sabre 45 Salon Express is new for 2017, making its debut at the Fort Lauderdale International ...
Jeanneau’s newest NC model is the NC 33, and it’s an exciting and innovative inboard cruiser ...
The Four Winns H290OB combines two of the most popular new big boat trends to come up with a great ...
Commodore’s Boats is a full service shipyard with over 50 years of generational history and ...

Hanse 388

Hanse 388By Katherine Stone

The Hanse group produced their second most popular boat of all time with the Hanse 385. The trick was to build on that winning formula when they upgraded to the Hanse 388, which they have done in spades. The German build quality is first rate and true to the Hanse tradition. Leaving the hull the same with a steep stern and straight stem for an optimal long water line, they went with a slightly stiffer, heavier displacement, new deck, interior layout and window line. Hanse’s highly experienced yacht construction team, judel/vrolijk & co., have combined ease of sailing, comfort and performance into the newly designed Hanse 388.

Read more about the Hanse 388...

 

 

 

DIY & How to

  • Prev
A recent conversation with a fellow contractor got me thinking: With all of the information out ...
As the cold approaches, shrink-wrapping is a hot topic, and I’ve heard more than a few debates at ...
Nothing stops a vacation faster than a problem with the fresh water system – be it leaks, smells, ...
Pyrotechnic distress flares have been around for decades, while electronic strobe distress flares ...
Most of us don’t give a second thought to our sacrificial anodes – those curious knobs of raw metal ...
In this time of boat show afterglow, many boaters are counting the days until launch. 
This one-day course consists of both theory and practical demonstration sessions, is designed to ...
 Since the initial article of this column we have identified a wide range of apps and ...

Ask Andrew – How to hire a boat repair contractor

hiring a contractorBy Andrew McDonald

A recent conversation with a fellow contractor got me thinking: With all of the information out there, including: Websites showing repairs, YouTube tutorials, Instagram pages and snapchat streams – let alone books, magazines, service manuals, and years of practical experience – how does a boat owner know which method(s) are ‘right’, who to trust, and who to hire to do the job? In short: How do you find and select a contractor?

Unfortunately, most people are forced to hire a contractor due to a circumstance where something has broken or failed, or the task...

Read more about hiring a contractor...

 

  

Marine Products

  • Prev
Sail shape is long gone. They have stained, feels thin and you see broken threads everywhere. Your ...
Stripping the antifouling paint from the bottom of a boat is physically demanding and is one of the ...
The 2019 Ultimate Sailing Calendar highlights the drama and excitement of blue-water sailing, as ...
Weather nerds and boaters of all stripes will be absorbed by Bruce Kemp’s account of the monstrous ...
Canada Rope promises that its new Night Saver Rope will illuminate at night and act as a reference ...
Take a look as a 68-foot yacht docks itself in between two Volvo Ocean 65 sailing yachts at the ...
Industry Firsts Include Direct Injection and Integrated Electric Steering System
Verviers, Belgium, 18 May 2018 — Mercury Marine, the world leader in marine propulsion technology, ...
Again, we return to the beginning. We started this column with a look at marine navigation for ...
Ga-Oh (spirit of the winds in Algonquin) creates bags and other items from re-purposed sails.