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Dubrovnik Sailing Journal by Helen Inder, Nautilus Yachting

Sailing Journal - South Ionian, Sun Odyssey 440

Arriving from Dubrovnik airport, once we are dropped off by our Uber at the marina entrance it is a short pleasant walk to our yacht that we are boarding in ACI Dubrovnik. The marina is built on the site of a ruined Venetian palace and medieval pine and cypress tree park. As we walk under the shade of the trees and the ruins, we get our first glimpse of Rijeka Rubrovacka river and our route out to the islands of the Southern Adriatic. After picking our catamaran, a Lagoon 52, we receive a very informative technical briefing from the technician before heading to the nearby supermarket for our provisioning. The wind predicted for the week is coming from the south/south-west so we are hopeful for some good sailing with the catamaran. Stocked up, we head out of the marina and navigate down the river until we see the huge bridge over the mouth. Despite the size of the catamaran, it is 45m high, there are still no concerns about clearance. Under motor, we keep an eye out for cruise ships heading in and out of the UNESCO world heritage site of Dubrovnik old town and then bear northwest. The wind is coming over our port stern so we get the sails out and set for a broad reach, the catamaran’s favourite point of sail.

Sailing Journal - South Ionian, Sun Odyssey 440

Day 1 - Sipanska Luka, Sipan

Our first stop of the trip is Sipanska Luka on the island of Sipan, part of the Elafiti archipelago. We have a reservation for dinner and mooring at a local konoba (the meaning of this word is usually translated as a tavern or cellar, meaning an authentic Croatian a taverna-style restaurant. Sipanska Luka is a fantastically sheltered, small fishing harbour with a little quay, a few restaurant mooring buoys and a depth of 3-5m for anchoring. We enjoy a slow approach navigating between the islands of Jakljan and Sipan, you can see the passage down to Sipan and the beautiful calm turquoise waters below the hills where we hook up our mooring buoy on the northern side of the of the bay. It is a very short dingy ride to the shore and to our table on the waters edge at the konoba. They have a pig turning on the spit but also their fisherman’s catch cooking on the charcoals. As its our first night we all tuck into a beautiful dinner of local octopus and bream before heading back to the catamaran for a very calm and peaceful night’s sleep.

Sailing Journal - South Ionian, Sun Odyssey 440

Day 2 - Mljet National Park

We are up early to explore Sipanska Luka before the heat of the day. Sipan used to be the island for the Dubrovnik nobility to holiday in the 15th & 16th century, so there are several ancient palaces and churches on the island. We take a walk around the small fishing village and up the hill to the historic church for a great view over the bay. Strolling back through the tiny streets in between the ancient architecture, carob, and pine trees we pick up some fresh bread and spinach bureks from the local bakery and head back to get underway.  Today we are going to Mljet National park at the northern end of Otok Mljet. As we enter the channel the wind is on our port stern again and blowing 10-15 knots with some gusts off the huge hills on either side of us so we set our sails on a broad reach and take a very leisurely sail up to the national par  Dropping our sails in the channel between Kobrava and Miljet when entering the park.

Our final destination is Luka Polace but first we can enjoy the stunning channel and do some superyacht spotting. Each corner we turn reveals another vast yacht at anchor enjoying the beauty of the national park. We anchor ourselves near Tajnik for some lunch and a swim in the crystal-clear water, later motoring towards Luka Polace at the very end of the channel in the national park anchorage area. We drop the anchor in about 8m depth, not too far from the beach and have time for another swim. Then we must journey to shore to pay our fees at the national parks office and acquire some local maps. A few of the crew opt for bikes and others choose to explore this forested national park by foot, with its abundance of wildlife and nature. We enjoy an easy dinner of freshly made pizzas at one of the local konobas, sat out on wooden decking over the water watching the sun sink behind the yacht masts and hills.

Sailing Journal - South Ionian, Sun Odyssey 440

Day 3 - Korcula Old town

Today we are all looking forward to visiting the home of Marco Polo; the UNESCO World heritage site Korcula Town. We have already reserved a mooring in ACI marina Korcula which means we will have water, power, and shower facilities plus be able walking distance to the ancient walled town. As the yacht heads north from the shadow of Mljet island, the wind picks up on our beam and we finally have the catamaran’s favourite point of sail; a great beam reach to take us across to Korcula at 6-6.5 knots. To make it even better, while we are underway a crew member sat on the forward netting spots a pod of bottlenose dolphins on our port bow.

Everyone’s eyes are on deck as we have our first glimpse of the southern end of Korcula and the Skoji Archipelago. There are a few hazards (all well marked) in this area and it is very busy so care is needed for the pilotage, but it is so beautiful it is worth the slower passage. We anchor for a swim stop in front of the impressive 14th century Franciscan monastery before continuing to Korcula town. The staff at ACI are there to assist us mooring astern with lazy lines inside the marina.

Now there is time to explore Korcula old town and the tiny, cobbled streets, although first a glass of crisp cold Posip (the local white wine that Korcula is famed for). We walk up the ancient stone steps to the old town’s land gate through Revelin tower, entering the walls of the city. For the next few hours, we enjoy slowly meandering through the tiny streets, taking in the jewellery and souvenir shops, and trying some of the local wines. Before dinner we have time for a cocktail at Massimo, a bar perched atop one of the 15th century turrets. Once we have made the climb we are treated to gorgeous evening views of the Peljesac channel and the rooftops of the old town.

Luckily we managed to obtain a reservation at Konoba Marco Polo for dinner. After our cocktails we sit down at our table on the narrow street and enjoy an amazing traditional dinner of Scampi Buzzara. It is a bit messy but delicious! As we dine, we all agree Korcula town has exceeded our expectations.

Sailing Journal - South Ionian, Sun Odyssey 440

Day 4 - Uvala Luka Banja, Korcula

Today we are relishing an easy day. We take advantage of all the facilities at ACI and ensure our tanks are full. In the morning we enjoy a walk around the edge of the town to peruse some of the impressive sailing yachts on the quay. We also stock up at one of the local supermarkets and the fruit and veg stalls. Once we have manoeuvred out of the marina and got underway, we head north navigating around the eastern side of the walls and into the Peljesac channel. Taking in the walled city from the water gives us a wholly different perspective of how unique and beautiful it is. There isn’t much wind today and the sun is shining so it is an easy passage under motor. We are not travelling far, just to a bay on the northern side of Korcula called Uvala Luka Banja. There are mooring buoys owned by a restaurant and hotel as well as an easy anchorage to free swing; we choose to anchor. Time for some paddleboarding and swimming! There is a small beach on shore that we take the dingy in to and enjoy a Karlovacko (Croatian beer) on the beach in the late afternoon sun before heading back to the boat for a few sundowners on board. This evening we head to Mimi’s Bistro and Beach lounge for a relaxed evening with some great cocktails and food made from some tasty local ingredients.

Sailing Journal - South Ionian, Sun Odyssey 440

Day 5 - Prozura Mljet, Konoba Marijina

Today brings a longer sail to get closer to our base for returning the catamaran tomorrow. We have a reservation for mooring and dinner at Konoba Marijina in the bay of Prozura on the south-east end of Mljet. We enjoy a varying sail in the Peljesac channel and around the Skoje archipelago, as the wind is gusting off the vast hill range on the mainland. Then as we sail in between Mljet and the Peljesac peninsula the wind dissipates, and a ghostly heat haze permeates the atmosphere. Time to turn on the trusty motor and head south to Prozura. There are two very small islands just outside the bay that we need to look out for and then as we bear south into the bay there is the small green circular island of Planjak that shelters the moorings. We navigate around to the western side and then come into the aqua marine waters of this lagoon like bay. It is stunning with the bright blue waters and the luscious green hills surrounding it and just a couple of konobas on shore. We pick up our mooring buoy in the eastern section of the bay and spend the afternoon swimming, snorkelling, paddleboarding and just enjoying this beautiful water. The restaurant tonight is the treat for the week. They have a wall of charcoal fired kiln like ovens where they slowly cook their unique version of the Dalmatian dish ‘Peka’ in huge metal trays at the base of the ovens. It is a bit of a wait for the food as expected, but once we receive our mixed meat and octopus dishes, they are worth the wait and incredibly tasty.

Sailing Journal - South Ionian, Sun Odyssey 440

Day 6 - Uvala Lopud then ACI Dubrovnik

Returning to the marina today, we have to fill up with fuel before returning the boat and know there is only a small fuel dock in the river so we do not want to arrive too late in the day. However, we still have time for a swim stop and early lunch at the anchorage of Uvala Lopud on the small island of Lopud. This spot is quite a busy little port for day-trippers with a small ferry dock and beach due to its proximity to Dubrovnik. It is an easy anchor, once we work out the path of the pleasure boats and ferries, and we drop the hook in about 6m. It is a pretty anchorage with an impressive 15th century church on the hill and cypress trees dotted around the bay. We cool off with a swim before getting underway to head up the river and back to the marina. It is just as impressive going under the bridge for the second time and we enjoy slowly motoring up the river. We then pass the entrance to the marina and after a short queue go alongside at the fuel berth. The ACI staff are there to show us to our berth in the marina and then the technician is ready to do our technical debrief. There is still time to enjoy the pool and yacht club in the marina before getting an Uber to Dubrovnik old town for the evening before our flight home.