Sailing in Croatia 2017: A Year in Review

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We launched Total Croatia Sailing six months ago, aiming to provide practical information, destination guides and live updates from the Adriatic. As we’re inching towards the end of the year, a recap of the past sailing season with a couple of highlights from the archives on December 27, 2017

1) Why Croatia?

Deciding on a sailing destination means facing a lot of attractive options: there’s Greece, Turkey, France, lots of enchanting islands and coastal towns that make for a perfect getaway. Why choose Croatia? Simply put, it’s a showstopper: the coast is breathtaking, the waters turquoise and warm. People are friendly, the cuisine unforgettable, the wine even more so. Here’s an introductory guide featuring 40 facts about the Adriatic, and a video that will have you itching to charter a boat in 2.09 minutes.

 

2) Charter in Croatia: tips and tricks

So you did some research, saw the photos and fell in love at once, deciding to spend your next summer holiday sailing the Croatian waters. How to proceed? Planning a week on a boat can be a stressful ordeal – but so worth it! – which is why we prepared a couple of handy themed guides to help you navigate your way through charter. Before you set off on your adventure, take a look at this piece for some general information: how to pick an agent, a boat, a crew, and of course – a perfect destination. Now that your basics are covered, you can decide whether you want to charter a boat with or without a crew, put together a list of things you’ll need to pack, and jot down a couple of ideas for a holiday with kids. Speaking about the youngsters, here’s a piece on why sailing in Croatia makes for a perfect experience for the whole family. Round it up with some tips on etiquette: here’s how (and why) to tip your crew, and a case against asking to board early. The more you know in advance, the better!

 

 3) Other side of the coin: working in charter

The customer is always right, says the famous quote. In most situations, the rule applies – after all, you’re the one who’s paying for a well-rounded sailing experience and have every right to expect a decent service. However, we can all get a bit carried away with requests and demands, forgetting that the crew working around the clock to meet all of your needs is composed of human beings who need to eat and sleep and rest. Our sailing editor Tash Peričić did an amazing job presenting the other side of the coin, coming out with a series based on years of experience working as a yacht hostess. Want some perspective? Here’s what a typical day on a boat looks like for members of the crew, who clock as much as 19 hours straight before they get some shuteye. Every single shift is physically exhausting, and the crew often needs to deal with unexpected circumstances. It’s a challenging job, yet they keep coming back year after year – here’s why.

 

4) Keeping the coast clean

The picture-perfect image of the crystal-clear Adriatic waters is one of the reasons tourists have been flocking to the Croatian coast for decades. And yet, the situation is not so rosy – or should I say turquoise – as the first glance would make it seem. Renowned international publications such as The Guardian have been reporting on the Mediterranean getting increasingly contaminated by plastic, resulting in danger to precious flora and fauna. We’ve seen unspoilt nature and protected areas get swamped by heaps of debris and man-made waste on multiple occasion, and we should all think of doing our part in keeping the coast pristine. It doesn’t take much – instead of just leaving everything in the same state you found it in, make it your rule of thumb to leave everything a bit better than it was beforehand. A beach can easily be cleaned up in a couple of hours, and it’s been a pleasure to report on numerous cleanup actions through the summer. Here’s one that grabbed our attention: the Bluebag Initiative, aiming to clean the Adriatic one bag at a time. Read on and join in!

5) Characters, champions and heroes

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Vedran Kabalin / Facebook

As soon as we launched Total Croatia Sailing, we started a series on characters of the Croatian coast to pay tribute to certain outstanding locals and to provide a glimpse into living as one with the sea. There was Leo Lemešić, the first Dalmatian to circumnavigate the world. Lidija Lijić, a freediving champion who thrives on sharing her knowledge with others. The story of the late captain Jerry Nazor and his wonderful family. Vedran Kabalin and Dado Velikić, two sailors who braved the ocean alone in the notorious transatlantic solo regatta earlier this year. And of course, a nod to our somewhat unhealthy obsession with a peculiar character of the sea – The Bench.

 

6) Centuries of tradition: shipbuilding

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Betina Museum of Wooden Shipbuilding / Facebook

Nowadays, a mention of sailing in Croatia usually evokes a glamorous image of sleek yachts and fine dining along the coast. It would be a shame to ignore the incredible history of sailing and shipbuilding in these parts, two activities that used to be the backbone of life on the Adriatic for centuries. Apart from numerous regattas and summer festivals that are keeping the tradition alive, recent years have seen commendable initiatives in regards to preservation of cultural heritage. We’ve presented two museums dedicated to the beloved craft: the Ecomuseum Batana in Rovinj and the Betina Museum of Wooden Shipbuilding on Murter island.

 

7) Sailing the Croatian National Parks

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Kornati

Croatia boasts no less than seven national parks, four of them accessible by boat. Seeing that the tourist hotspots such as Split and Dubrovnik have been getting more than enough attention, we launched a series on sailing the Croatian National Parks to get you better acquainted with our natural treasures, complete with information on mooring, tickets and destination highlights. So far, we have covered three: the Brijuni islands in Istria, the spectacular Kornati archipelago and the magnificent Krka waterfalls. We’ll make sure to present the island of Mljet before the next sailing season rolls around. 

8) Gourmet delights

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Oh, the finer things in life. Reveling in the local cuisine will definitely make for a fond memory of your Croatian holiday, and we couldn’t resist writing up a couple of features on certain personal favourites. The black risotto, a treat that will leave your teeth stained and your heart full. Brudet, a hearty seafood stew with a thousand variations that all taste equally heavenly. Soparnik, a traditional pie indigenous to the wider Omiš area and a part of the list of Croatian intangible heritage. Sardines, humble little fish that make for a meal worthy of kings. The list goes on and on, and you’ll find more features linked in our love letters mentioned above – just don’t read them when you’re hungry. 

9) The crowds

It’s official – the Croatian coast became such a popular summer destination, plenty of international headlines have been dedicated to the increasing number of tourists flocking to Dubrovnik, Split, Hvar and other hotspots on the Adriatic. The enthusiastic hordes have started to present a bit of a problem, as the historic cores aren’t equipped to cope with massive groups of people. Dubrovnik Mayor Mato Franković was the first one to roll up his sleeves and cut back on the number of cruise ship passengers allowed to enter the Old Town, and other destinations followed with talks about the need to work towards sustainable tourism. Another example that stands out is Vis – the Blue Cave on Biševo already has miles of people lining up in front, the entrance to Stiniva bay is crammed with boats, and the island in general is facing a rapid spike in traffic as soon as Mamma Mia 2 comes out. Let’s hope for some thought-out plans for destination management coming to light in near future. In the meantime, no matter how easy it might be to hate on the crowds, remember all those other people are there for the same reason as you are. All things considered, the Adriatic is worth putting up with some unexpected company.

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Stiniva bay – on a quiet day

 

10) A day at sea with the TCN crew

To round up this recap, a sentimental nod to July 15 – the occasion that took the majority of the TCN team to Split for a well-deserved day off. We boarded the lovely Polaris boat and set off for an unforgettable day on the water. From the quaint village of Maslinica on Šolta island to the secluded bay on Brač, we laughed, we danced, and we made a toast to all the adventures the future has in store.

 

What a year it has been. Here’s to you, dear readers – thanks for following and allowing us to be a part of your journey. Happy new year and mirno more!

 

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