Agana to the Island of Solta, Maslinica.
We begin our sail log of our charter boat Nina on the central coast of Croatia, Marina Agna, just north west of the city Split.
We chartered with the company Sunsail and upon arrival we were immediately impressed by the professionalism of the of the company and supporting staff. Lauren and I attended our captain briefing which gave us an overview of the cruising grounds. The briefing mostly consisted of which harbors will provide the best shelter for any given wind direction we may encounter.
We were then notified that our boat was clean and ready to board. We received a very through boat briefing by one of the expert boat technicians where we were introduced to all the major systems on the boat. We inspected the standing and running rigging, and were ensured the boat was “ship shape” before our week on the Adriatic. After time spent provisioning for the week, we relaxed and settled into our new home.
During our first evening, we both attended the Medsail welcome reception, caught up with old friends, and enjoyed our first night on our boat.
The next morning, after a glorious slumber, I attended my first series of lectures -all part of the conference- “Medicine for Mariners and Saftey at Sea”. We covered a few basic topics including Sea Sickness (etiology, prevention and treatment) as well as topics surrounding solar injury.
We then enthusasticaly set sail to Maslinica, a picturesque village on the island of Solta.
Our track in green, taken from our ipad Garmin Blue Water App.
Conditions were quite good for sailing, a low pressure system passed through overnight resulting in exciting downwind sailing and brisk winds out of the north.
Initially we hoisted a full main and unraveled a full jib, but quickly realized the gusty 20 knot winds slightly overpowered Nina so we rolled in the jib to the first reefing mark, reducing her heel.
After making our turn to the south, we preformed a series of long jibes before entering the beautiful harbor of Maslinica. The marina was quite busy when we arrived, creating quite a bit of congestion at the harbors entrance. We decided to circle outside the entrance to allow other boats who arrived before us time to tie up to the marina dock. The idea was to clear up some mauvering room for Nina as we were inexperienced with Meditation Mooring. While circling and waiting our turn we enjoyed our first close look at Maslinica.
Entering Maslinica, Solta Island
Circling outside Maslinica
On a side note-Prior to entering a new harbor, I get a good look at the digital chart to get an appreciation of any obvious obstacles to avoid. I also find it useful to take a look at google earth to gain an understanding how boats are situated through the marina. Perhaps a bit of overkill here, but planning is part of the fun for Lauren and I and its gets us excited about our new destination.
Google Earth, Maslinica
We were able to successfully mediterranean moor on the south side of the marina. We also found the facilities and marina staff top notch. We were offered all kinds of support when docking. Marina officers were zipping around in zodiacs, aiding in the docking process as boats squeezed into the marina, side by side, stern to, throughout the day.
Overall our first leg was a fantastic shake down sail for us. We completed our first docking stern-to and loved every minute of it! Next stop, the Island of Vis!
Distance Sailed 12.0 nm
Maslinica to the Island of Vis, Vis Town
Our next leg was an exciting 20 nautical mile crossing, 180 degree south, to the Croatian island of Vis. The weather was warm, and the our predicted wind forecast was perfect; Constant 15-20 knot which had shifted Westerly.
Before sailing off, I attended our next series of lectures: “Onboard Medial Emergencies, Responsibilities of the Medical Officer, and Marine Envenomations”, just fantastic stuff! We had a good long slog ahead of us and Lauren and I were eager to make way. When I returned to Nina after the conference, Lauren and already set up the boat for sailing, completed all our pre-sail instrument checklists and we were ready to push off.
Our GPS track in Green
As Lauren mentioned in a previous blog, our sail to Vis was quite similar to our experiences sailing in California to Catalina Island. Vis is approximately the same distance off the mainland as Catalina, with a similar shape and topagraphy. The manner in which Vis unveiled herself as we slowly approached created a cozy, nostalgic feeling of home. Notable exceptions included the lack of any significant ground swell, fog, or worries negotiating enourmous cargo tankers that we invariably encounter crossing the channel to Catalina.
182 Degrees South, Vis coming into view
Winds were ideal. Our gauges displayed boat speeds over 7 knots, just reaching our calculated maximum hull speed. Wind speeds were occasionally recorded at over 25 knots, however, we did not trust our gauges, and attributed the wind high wind measurements as an apparent rather than true wind velocity (our thinking was that our down wind boat speed was additive to the true wind speed with some sort of calibration error in our electronics).
25 knots? Probably around 18.
Regardless, it was an exhilarating sail to Vis under a full jib and a fully hoisted mainsail. Just the right amount of heel to keep our speed optimized.
As we entered the harbor, we prepared our boat for docking by taking down the sails, setting out our fenders and tidying up all our loose lines. We faced bit of cross wind during our approach, but we had plenty of room to maneuver and safely secured Nina and enjoying our first views of the island.
Overall it was a very memorable sail for Lauren and I. Exploring the island of Vis was spectacular!
Distance Sailed 21.3 nm
Vis Town to Palmizana
After an action packed visit to Vis, including some time off the boat exploring the island via motor scooter, we were excited to head back out to sea to our next destination, Palmizana. After two very interesting lectures, one in dive medicine, the other a review of recent dive accidents, Lauren once again had Nina ship shape for our next crossing.
Our track in Green
Palmizana is a small uninhabited village on the Croatian island of Sveti Klement (San Clemente). Evidently, Palmizana’s marina is situated in one of the safest natural harbors in the Adriatic, only 3.5km from the neighboring island of Hvar.
Towing our Dingy (the Phat Fish) Vis in the distance
The sun was out and the weather was beautiful, winds shifted towards the SW, but unfortunately dropped down to 5-10 knots. With our sails full, we averaged only 3 knots of boat speed. I set the autopilot in these light winds, freeing our hands to enjoy delicious snacks. The conditions were glorious so we decide to take a short detour and drop anchor in a bay on the south side of the island.
A number of large catamarans arrived before Nina. They expertly dropped anchor in a shallower, more ideal area of the bay closer to shore, forcing us to anchor in approximately 40-50ft. At this depth, I ran out 150 ft of chain, resulting in a 3:1 scope. The anchor set well. At that scope and depth I would not trust the holding as an overnight anchor, but it worked out perfect for a lunch stop! We enjoyed a peaceful lunch with beautiful island views.
After our lunch stop, we motored around the east end of the island through a tight passage, then preceded to north side of Palmizana. Winds were light while securing Nina in the well protected, beautiful, natural bay.
A delightful passage!
14.8 nm sailed
Palmizana to the Island of Brac, Milna-Marina Vlaska
As Palmizana is largely uninhabited, it lacked the facilities or support to host our pre-sail lectures. Understanding this, the “Medsail” conference organizers planed our morning lectures on Hvar Island, just a short ferry ride across the channel. Topics included; Man Overboard, Safety at Sea, Seafood Toxidromes, Decompression Sickness and Issues Surrounding Arterial Gas Embolism when diving.
And yes! I did diagnosis myself with Scombroid in Dubrovnik, (Read Lauren’s blog!) a topic discussed in detail on Hvar. A self diagnosis that I certainly would have missed without attending the lecture on Seafood Toxidromes!
Charming Dingy in Hvar
After an exciting visit to Hvar we set sail towards the town of Milna on Brac Island. Initially, forecast called for light winds, 5-12 knots out of the SW, plenty of sun and easy sailing.
After rounding the west end of Hvar, we quickly realized a storm was approaching. Nothing was reported in any of the forecasts! Winds shifted from SW to Northernly and the temperature quickly dropped about 10 degrees. Now heading North towards Milna, Lauren observed frequent distant lighting strikes along the coastline. Visibility slowly worsened and we eventually lost sight of Brac Island. We continued onward, somewhat reluctantly. Light rain began to fall, and the winds picked up to 15 knots. At that time we decided to take down our sails and prepare our boat for storm conditions. Lauren and I put on our rain gear, we made sure Nina’s hatches were tight, and we organized loose items below deck. I even prepared the fenders early…. probably overkill… but my thinking at the time was that I did not want to be fumbling on the foredeck, tying the fenders to metallic lifelines in a lighting storm!
So now we were ship shape. We motored North towards Brac, winds continued to increase to over 35 knots. Despite the conditions, we felt safe and secure on Nina. However, we did consider motoring to a nearby harbor if conditions continued to deteriorate. We felt we had lots of options and plenty sea room if we got uncomfortable.
In order to get more information about developing conditions, I radioed ahead to a fellow flotilla captain who was positioned well north of our track and in a great positon to give us a wind report. I was told that winds had eventually died down to around 18 knots as they approached Brac Island. They also mentioned that our lead Sunsail Flotilla boat instructed all boats lower all sails! I guess I missed the radio call, or the lead boat forgot about good old Nina! However, all was well, and conditions improved as we approached our destination.
So after a bit of excitement, still under motor, we turned East towards Milna. As we entered the bay, the wind dropped to almost a standstill and the sun slightly emerged. We tied up at the marina, safe and sound; but amazed on how quickly the conditions can shift. I love it!
The best part of sailing
13 nm Sailed ( around 6 under motor)
Marina Vlaska, Milna to Trogir
I believe I enjoyed two espressos and one delicious cappuccino during our MedSail Conference on the morning of the 25th! We learned about marine wound care, management of drowning, cold water immersion, and we were presented an analysis of recent sailing tragedies and “lessons learned”. Very informative and expertly presented topics!
The weather was beautiful, light winds forecasted 6-12 knots from the NE for our planned sail to the city of Trogir.
Our sail from Milna to Trogir turned out to be an easy, sun filled relaxing sail. Winds were light at times, allowing us to really soak in our environment. We enjoyed a long NW reach before dropping sails and entering Trogir.
Trogir is a beautiful and historic city, situated on the Croatian coast just south of the city Split.
As we entered the Trogir, we noticed a significant current passing between the islands running from east to west. By adjusting our angle of approach, and applying a bit more engine speed against the current, we secured Nina smoothly and easily in the ACI marina, situated on the south side of the harbor.
After a lovely sail, Lauren and I were eager to explore the city of Trogir. We were off the boat and exploring in no time
17.4 nm sailed
Trogir to Agana Marina
Our last sail, a short 6 nm sail back to “Sunsial’s” home base of Agana Marina. Sadly, this was our final day at sea.
Before setting off, I enjoyed our last group of lectures, “Updates on travel medicine, Marine infections”, and “Shark attacks and Health Maintenance at Sea”. We said our goodbyes, exchanged contact information and made exciting sailing plans for the future. Overall, I was very impressed with the conference. I learned an enormous amount and I look forward to continuing my work towards a Diploma in Dive and Marina Medicine.
As we prepared to set sail, conditions quickly changed. Strong gusts up to 45 knots whipped through the harbor! I then went to the marina office to pick up an updated daily marine forecast.
Warning! in the morning locally along the coast wind gusts 35-45 knots
Our plan was simple…. just wait a few hours until the winds lighted up.
While waiting out the winds, enjoying coffee, we watched a fully crewed boat attempt to enter the marina in these strong winds. Unfortunately, the boat got caught up in the gusts, lost total control of the bow, and got pinned up sideway. Trapped on its side between the dock and the strong winds. The boat was fine, and they received plenty of help to right themselves.
However, as we waited, the winds just did not lighten up! I started thinking seriously how to get Nina home safely. Particular when observing other boats in distress.
In order to exit the harbor safely, we would need to
1. Drop the mooring line off the bow, (this takes a bit of time)
2. Keep the boat strait, perpendicular to the dock using the engine and windward spring line
3. Drop the both stern lines (without getting the lines caught in our propeller once free)
4. Gain forward momentum, (careful as the strong wind is behind us)
5. Make a quick, controlled turn to starboard (right) against the force of the strong wind and current (careful to not get pinned against the other two boats directly facing us, just a few feet downwind and down current
6. Finally, when exiting the marina, (assuming I could make the turn in time) I would need to avoid other boats mooring lines that extend off their bow, effectively narrowing our exit even more
“The turn” Looked worse when standing on the bow and calculating the turning radius!
My concern was the strong wind gusts and underlining current would make it extremely difficult to turn our boat safely. If attempted, it was likely that the wind would push on the right side of our boat as I turned Nina towards the exit into the wind. Also, Nina would have very little maneuvering room in the tight marina. As a result, I would lack the necessary engine speed to counteract the forces of the wind. I assumed, as we turned, Nina would invariably pivot to the left, giving way to the strong forces of the wind and current. It was very possible I could loose control, get blown downwind, and crash into the two boats just across the finger!
Lauren and I discusses this. I told her my concern that I honestly believed there was a good chance I would smash up our boat! Nothing like that could happen to our beloved Nina! We agreed had we not had to turn in the boat by the evening, we would of just stayed put in Trogir waiting for conditions to improve. Since this was not an option, I decide to ask for help.
Some of the other conference members don’t sail, or they choose not to so they can relax! These boats have a paid Sunsail Captain on board. Having these experts close by, we decided to get some help from Eddy, A Sunsail Captain and master sailor who has always been available to help out in situations such as these.
After some discussion with Eddy, who nervously laughed when he saw the tight and difficult conditions of our exit, we decided to use an extremely long spring line, and keep this line attached to the windward stern cleat and connected the dock as we motored out. The line would prevent us from drifting into the other boats and we could use the line to twist the boat up wind. Eddie controlled the line and the helm, letting out slack as he motored forward. Lauren took care of all the other mooring lines as we moved off the dock. I positioned myself on the bow. I used a boat hook to grab a hold of the bow of the boat on our right as we turned. These maneuvers prevented Nina from twisting downwind. Eddy’s skilled work controlling the helm and the spring line, made it possible to exit the marina safely.
We did it! Well, Eddy did it! But I learned a new technique and Lauren was impressed I understood my limitations. Thanks Eddy!
After dropping off Eddy along the dock in Trogir, we enjoyed a fun sail back to Agana. Winds dropped off as we sailed West along the coast. Marina Agana was well protected and we had no difficulty securing Nina safe and sound in Sunsail’s home marina.
Lauren and I loved our time in Croatia, we can’t wait to return and sail with family and friends.
6 nm sailed
Signing off until California!