A sail in Croatia isn’t complete without spending some time in the UNESCO world heritage city of Dubrovnik. This beautiful walled port claims to be the best remaining example of an ancient fortress city. It would be hard to argue against that lofty claim. After a fascinating day wandering the marble streets and narrow stone alleys, topped off with a tasty fish dinner at the open air cafe Kamenice (Croatian for oyster), we were up early to meet our charter agent at the ACI Marina.
After the usual preliminaries, we’re ready to motor out the long narrow channel to the Aegean Sea in our 41ft. Bavaria sloop, ‘Aneesh’. It’s a perfect blue-sky day with 15 kn of wind. Hoisting the roller furling main is a breeze and were sailing! We’re on a close reach heading NW to the lower tip of Lopud Island. Here we drop anchor for a midday swim. What a nice start to our week!
We spend a couple of hours relaxing in this pretty cove because our dinner destination is a short sail away on the northern tip of Lopud.Upon arrival, we find a med mooring near Obala Kanoba (restaurant) where we’ll have the finest (and by far the most expensive) seafood meal of our trip. We splurge because it’s the birthday celebration of the crew’s octogenarian father, Bill, who is joined by his son, also Bill, and granddaughter Shanon and friend Katie for this birthday trip. Our feast is a heaping plate of delicious local grouper plus a wine and garlic stew of crab, shrimp and oysters.
Our first day was so nice that we decided to repeat it. An early lunch and swimming at the south tip of Sipan Island, a longer afternoon sail to the northern tip, an excellent but more conservative dinner at Kanoba Marco and a short motor into Otok Jakljan to overnight at anchor.
On day 3 we cut through the northern, lesser Elaphiti Islands into the southern end of the Mljet Channel. With more open sea, we do some long lazy tacks enjoying the 15+ kn of wind. Aneesh is showing some ‘weather helm’ in the gusts so we ease off the main a bit. We’ll spend the next few days along Mljet’s coastline. It’s less than 25 miles long and about 2 miles wide so our plan is to circle it. As we sail into Prozura we sight the huge private sailboat, The Maltese Falcon, at anchor. The 87.5 meter yacht is fully automated with three masts which rotate with wind direction.
It’s a short sail over to Okulje where we med-moor to The Moorings restaurant’s dock, grab a lazy mooring line, tie off Aneesh and crack a beer. Our dinner table on their open air dock includes views across the small cove as well as the cost of our overnight mooring We enjoy cevapcici, a local spicy sausage, pag cheese, pizza and end with a taste of raki, the ubiquitous local and often home-brewed brandy.
Shannon and Katie must catch the ferry back to Dubrovnik the following day so we’re up early to sail to Sobra, drop them off and we’re heading back out to the Mljet Channel. The prevailing maestral NE wind continued to give us super conditions. We take long downwind jibes on a broad reach back towards Prozura. Here we find a quiet corner of the small cove near Maria’s Kanoba to eat heartily on barbecued goat and boar.
On day 5 we awake to a sunny morning and light wind. With the whisker pole holding the jib we lazily sail north along Mljet’s coast on a gentle beam reach. It’s a fine day for a relaxed lunch on board so we sail along until the wind picks up and we need to lower the whisker pole. Along the way we pass a fishing boat with its nets out. The friendly captain waves us over to ask if we would like to purchase some freshly caught fish showing a sample of his catch. We round the northern tip of Mljet leaving the small island of Glavat to starboard. The entrance to Pomina is a narrows formed by Mljet to port and the small island of Pomestak to starboard. Because the water drops straight and deep from shore, we’re able to tack through the narrows to Pomina.
It’s another stern-in med mooring at the docks in front of the local restaurants. The lazy mooring line often in place at these dockside cafes make the mooring easier. It is a dock line anchored about 20 meters out from the dock and runs along the seabed back to the dock. It’s then passed to you when your stern is close enough to the dock and you run it forward to a bow cleat. With the stern tied in, you pull the line from forward tight to secure the yacht for the night.The forecast states good wind for the next day. We have an early night so we can enjoy the nearby National Park before a long downwind sail on the western coast of Mljet.The park is a nice diversion with two pretty lakes surrounded by pines where you can swim, bike, kayak or stroll along the paths. On a tiny islet in the middle of Lake Veliko Jezero there’s a former Benedictine monastery dating from the 12th century. Now a restaurant, it’s reached by small boats. We head west out of Pomina, admiring the nice private yachts at anchor. As predicted, there’s a NW wind at 10 kn as we turn south along Mljet’s coastline.
After a perfect sailing day, we cross the Mljet Channel and cut between Sipan and Lopud. Zaton is up a narrow inlet just north of our final destination, the ECE Marina of Dubrovnik. At it’s top, we find a small dock to tie off for the night and stroll to Kanoba Orsan for dinner. Orsan is an interesting spot just above the waterline. It was a sturdy shed to drag the fishing boats out of the elements for repair. Now, with its curved wooden ceiling and rough nautical décor, it’s a perfect spot to enjoy a delicious fish dinner and a view of the cove. On our final day, we sail south to Lokrum, the small island off Dubrovnik that is a frequented by locals and tourists for the large flat rock sunning and swimming area and the chance encounters with semi-wild peacocks. According to legend, it’s where Richard the Lionheart was cast ashore after being shipwrecked in 1192. Anchored off the beach, we savor our final lunch of seafood risotto negro made with a dash of squid ink and red wine. Stuffed, we motor sail back up the long inlet to the ECE Marina and yield Aneesh over to the charter agency. we spend our remaining two nights in Dubrovnik. A wealthy maritime port since the middle ages, it is brimming with amazing architecture. There are lots of small but airy alleys, uniform white stone walls, an open plaza for each day of the week, restaurants and shops. The gelato is superb.