High Summer in the Islands of Croatia


From our ‘holiday’ in Tuscany we returned to Exotica and after a day of household chores we left Marina Veruda to explore the islands of the central Adriatic.

Wanderings of Exotica in August 2017

We learnt a lesson on Wednesday August 9th.  after 44 nautical miles of mixed sailing and motoring we arrived at our destination at 3 pm only to find every one of 66 mooring buoys occupied. Late July and early August are high season around here and Italians, Germans and Austrians flood in with their boats and charters.  So, the anchorages, marinas and buoyed areas, which at other times are freely available, tend to be filled up by early afternoon. Thus, the rule is, if you want to get in, you leave early and arrive early.

Gathering storm in Ilovik

On this particular day in Ilovik, our usual safe harbour when storms are predicted, we anchored with some difficulty at the end of the channel, however, when the southerly storm hit the anchor held and the lee of the land gave us shelter from wind and sea, not the most comfortable night, but it was free.

Storm comes closer, boats arriving would not find shelter at this late stage

Never anchor on a lee shore, our life buoy nearly blown off, Homeless crewless!

We returned to one of our favourite bays, Uvala Sonte on the island of Cres to rendezvous with our Croatian friend Marino and his crew.  After a gentle 16nm run in sou westerlies, it was delightfully calm and warm but we made the mistake of anchoring close to Marino in shallower water than we normally would.  Even though there were ominous dark clouds gathering in the west Marino and his crew set off in his diminutive dinghy across the waterway to the nearest town to explore while we stayed on board.  Shortly afterwards the great black cloud produced an enormous storm. It came roaring over the hills of Losinj from the west with lightning, thunder, driving rain and winds gusting to 45 knots.  Boats were buffeted by the wind and the seas, we had our engine on to take the strain off the anchor. At times, the depth under the keel was reading 0.2.  Then instantly the strong wind whipped around from the NE, at least moving us into slightly deeper water. Normally, that would be the end of the storm but within half an hour there was another blast from the west, knocking smaller boats on their sides. Fortunately, both anchors held securely but it was an anxious time.

Marino and crew limping back from Nezerine

Marino and his crew returned in their dinghy three quarters full of water and lucky to be alive.  We then both reset our anchors in deeper water and had an excellent dinner party on board Exotica.



Marino’s boat Homeless at the end of the rainbow

Exotica returning to Rab.

Friday August 11th. saw us set off again for the thirty-mile trip to the island of Rab where we had agreed to meet Juliet and Nick Mason-Jones on their yacht Johanem.  We first encountered them in the marina at Ostia outside Rome three years ago and have kept in touch and followed their progress around the Mediterranean.  It is surprisingly difficult to arrange to meet another boat as you tend to have different plans and the weather may also interfere.

However, we spent two delightful days sailing in company until they set off north towards Pula and we continued our travels south.

Johanem cruising in company


For the next few days we explored the islands, anchoring or picking up mooring buoys, the only “fly in the ointment” has been the plague of wasps this year, no flies or mosquitoes.

We returned to Sv. Ante on island of Silba, one of our favourite spots. Terry made an ingenious wasp trap, there must have been 50 of the little devils drunk on marmalade!

It’s rare to see the mountains so clearly but the bora clears the skies and it’s a fine sight








Exotica sheltering from the next bora in marina Dalmacija


We had a couple of nights in the Marina Dalmacija at Sukosan, one of the largest in Croatia, an excellent place to collect guests from Zadar airport.



Beach Club, Marina Dalmacia.

Julie chose to walk to Sukosan to find a supermarket, and was not pleased when it proved most unsatisfactory and then had to walk all the way back, Marina in the far distance!.






The square in the Old Town of Sukosan, had some charm.

Sunset, Uvala Soline, Pasman Island.


A terrific run under headsail took us around the south of Otok Pasman. The bay we’d hoped to spend the night was full. Hadn’t we learnt our lesson, don’t arrive at 3pm. Luckily, 6nm further up the west coast was an even nicer bay, with plenty of empty mooring buoys.

Most mooring buoys are large solid balls which bump into the bow when the wind drops overnight. This bay used fenders quite successfully.

More crystal clear water in Uvala Soline, Pasman.







Soline 1 Restaurant. Table next to us had the bulldog.

She did clean it.

We liked it so much we stayed for 2 nights. There were 2 restaurants at the top of the bay and we were assured by a very nice, however naked, German lady on the next boat that Soline 1 was the pick of the two. They had come into that bay especially.


Still waiting for the fish – orata.

Terry ordered chops and Julie fish, which we watched being cleaned and ready for the BBQ. Sadly, Grandma (presumably the cook) had forgotten to put the fish on, after a litre of the white wine, waiting, a dog fight where a bulldog at the next table attacked a Cavalier King Charles puppy, the fish arrived. It was, in fact, delicious but had a deleterious effect later that evening.




Following night  we cooked on board in another stunning anchorage – Vela Luka.

It’s always washing day when we get to a marina… Tribunj.


Yet another Bora was forecast at the weekend.  The strong north-easterly wind which comes roaring down the length of the Adriatic from the Alps.  It is a good time to be well tied up in a Marina and so we made for the marina at Tribunj on the mainland just north west of the large town of Sibenik.

Old Town of Tribunj on a grey day from the hilltop chapel

The chapel.




Inside – Good Friday Cross

Graveyard with a view.




Psalms and prayers are said at each of the 15 tiny chapels on the path to the hilltop chapel on Good Friday procession at Tribunj.

Sunset over Tribunj.

We’ve mentioned before that, despite the area being full of yachts of all descriptions and countries there are hardly any English speakers around.  So, we were delighted to see on the quayside a Beneteau Oceanis 55 with an Australian flag and a home port of Sydney.  Deb and Col McKeith, live only a few miles from us in Sydney and have been travelling almost the same route as ourselves over the past few years, so we have much in common.

The fijord-like waterway leading to Skradin and the Krka waterfalls from St Michael’s fort, Sibenik. We’d crossed the impressive bridge in the distance, coming from Tribunj

We all took a taxi, during a windy day, to Sibenik for some sightseeing of the castle and cathedral and then managed to get a last-minute cancellation at the restaurant, Pellegrini, which is reputed to be the best in Croatia.  It was a degustation menu, five dishes from a choice of twenty-five and excellent.  Compared to the average konoba where the choice is meat or fish it was spectacular. By and large, Croatian cuisine is a little disappointing but this was in a class of its own.

Sibenik. St James Cathedral.

They don’t take much notice of Health and Safely at the side of this building overlooking the Cathedral.




Pelegrini Restaurant

View from the table.





Spicy gin and tonic and citrus G & T with a splash of raspberries for the ladies

Egg foam – surprise underneath – snails.

Farewell Tribunj.

Look what was spotted another Senta.










Uvala Stupica Vela on Otok Zirje, the furthest SW off the Sibenik coast. Clearest water yet!

The cold winds abated, the sun returned, our new friends headed north and we set off to the islands off the coast of Sibenik.  We are currently sitting in a bay at the south end of the island of Zirje.  It is half past eight in the morning and already the sun is hot and it is time for a swim in the crystal clear water before breakfast. No wasps here but no internet connection, which is unusual even in the islands.


White rock gives sparking water

and it’s 25.7 C




Julie mastering the outboard. At last

Restaurant at the end of the bay.Very good pork chops




Uvala Stupica Vela – Zirje Island. Every buoy taken by 4pm

Our next appointment is with Terry’s sister Margaret and Lizzy and Tony Dyson who we will meet near Zadar.  We hope the good weather continues for them.

It is hard to believe that there is only another month to go for this season’s cruise.


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