Jim Hutton writes about his BN Sailing Group flotiilla to Greece last year;
For the last three years, the BN Sailing Group has organised a flotilla to Greece. In 2019 we decided for a change to explore the highly rated sailing of the Croatian coast – and we were not disappointed. We found well-equipped marinas, beautiful scenery, quiet bays, and historic ports to visit. My ‘blog’ of our first day’s sailing will give you a feel for it -
“Lovely sunny day, with a bit of breeze. All three boats set off from Kremik at different times, heading north. We had planned lunch at a beautiful bay on the way. Our boat 'Sun Elli', skippered by Rod, arrived first and anchored in 4m. The other two boats - 'Balvanida' skippered by Sandy, and 'Veseo' skippered by Steve, arrived soon after. The water was 26 deg and crystal clear, so we had a lovely swim, followed by a 'greek salad' lunch - our skipper's specialty. It was nice to see that Croatia's reputation for being naturist friendly was upheld - everyone on an adjacent boat was naked too.
After lunch we had a great sail on a close reach up the W side of Zlarin Island and into port. A lovely meal at a restaurant above the town, then home in the dinghy. Truly a perfect first day.”
In past years we have based our trip on a commercially run flotilla, with lead skipper etc. Our trip this September was based instead on self-chartered boats, each with a BN member as skipper. This approach worked really well - each boat was free to do it's own thing, to choose where to go and what to do, and to meet up with the other boats if and when they wished to. So some nights we were together in a quiet bay, other times some of us moored in a smart marina, or on the quay of an old fishing port. We shared group meals, or found our own special place, or cooked on board. In fact we did meet up quite a lot, and the whole group had a lot of fun together.
Exploring the Krka Falls
One of the highlights of Croatia sailing is a trip up the Krka river to the waterfalls. On your own boat – up the river through the mountains in an amazing deep gorge. The waterfalls cover a vast area, dotted with little pools full of fish. We spent the night in the marina at Skradin, some 17 km inland! Clear blue sky and calm weather to wake up to. Down river to the coast, and across to Jazera Marina to join our other boats. Lots of good chat with the other crews, and a pleasant meal in town.
Sailing in the Islands
Awake at sunrise before heading out to explore the Kornati National Marine park. Amazing scenery, but very little wildlife that we could see. A nice overnight link up with Veseo, one of our other BN boats - rafted in a secluded bay. No internet or phone signal, so we had to talk instead… Lovely to get to know our intrepid new sailors, who all seem to be enjoying the experience.
Fresh winds and some really good sailing the next day, towards another quiet bay. Clear blue sky, and warm. Since leaving the marina yesterday morning until this evening's meal onshore we have been able to be stripped off throughout. Wonderful !
Up with the sun next day, and a walk round to the bakers for our breakfast bread. Another lovely day, calm and clear - just hope there's some wind out there…In fact the wind was perfect - force 2/3 and almost behind us, so we alternated broad reach and goosewinging, to the satisfaction of the skipper.
In the meantime, one of our boats was in Trogir to swap crew - sad goodbyes to Karen and Vincent, hello to David and Malcolm. It was a quick start for them – in the first hour skipper Steve found some good wind. We are all now together again in the pretty port of Masljnika, enjoying a meal in a quayside konoba (restaurant).
Moored on the naturist island
Very peaceful day today - almost no wind, so motoring to our next destination, Hvar. This is the 'Monte Carlo' of Croatia, and some of us went and had a look (by water taxi). All very smart and expensive - our boats were moored (for free) on the island of Jerolim opposite. This is an official Croatian Naturist island, so the rest of us spent the day on the beach - au naturel including at the bar under the trees. Hot sun, warm sea, bar = heaven…
The forecast for today is for very light winds, so two of our boats succumbed to the delights of the Naturist island and stayed put, while ‘Sun Elli’ headed for the island of Vis. As it happened, the winds blew strongly and we had a really good sail. So I am typing this in port in the pretty fishing village of Komiza, after a meal in a restaurant overlooking the port.
Next day was a flat calm, so we explored the old town of Trogir, destroyed by the Saracens in 1123, rebuilt, captured by the Venetians, etc. No chance to sail so we didn't mind a day ashore too much.
Our little flotilla is together again this evening. There are strong winds forecast so we are in a sheltered bay with anchors dug well in - fingers crossed !
It's been great the way each boat has supported the others, and all the crews have got on well and become friends. Some of them had very little sailing experience before joining us, and all have coped well and enjoyed the new challenge. Lovely warm sunshine helps...!
“Leave her, Johnny, leave her”
Final meal this evening with all the group. We enjoyed sharing stories about our two weeks together, and started making plans for next year.
We are going to Croatia again in 2020 - the dates are 5 – 19 September 2020. Four boats are already booked, so if you are interested in joining us, do get in touch. No sailing experience is required. Read my blog on the BN website to find out more.
Please note that whilst we are happy to support and promote this holiday it is not an official BN trip but organised by BN members for others.