Vela Luka on the north end of Korcula island was our chosen bolthole for some strong southerly winds that were forecast to blow for Thursday into Friday. We knew we’d be on buoys for a few nights at 150kn a night but at least we’d be safe from the risk of charter boats and their insufficient anchor chain dragging around in an anchorage somewhere.
We had another mostly motorsailing day interspersed with slow and short sailing from Mljet and it was getting on 6pm before we closed on our target. Vela Luka port charges not just for berthing on the town quay and the buoys but also to anchor and it’s zone of impact spreads several miles from the port itself. We fancied a night in the anchorage of Gradina which unfortunately falls into the charging zone but reckoned as it was getting later in the day, the officials might not bother coming out. Nope! We were busy looking for an anchor spot when they arrived in their dinghy, visiting the buoys at the south first. If we were going to be charged to anchor, we might as well pay a few kunas more (100kn to anchor compared to 150kn on the buoy) and be more comfortable, so we nabbed one of the last buoys, good timing as we could see at least 5 more boats heading in. Given that we haven’t picked up a mooring for many, many years we did fantastically well, hooking on the first attempt and tied on in no time.
All the buoys ended up being taken with 6 more boats anchored. It seems Tuesday night is the night the charter boats visit this area.
The next morning we continued on down to Vela Luka itself and picked a buoy on the end, snagging it first time again.
Vela Luka is pleasantly not over-touristy, just a normal town with a couple of hotels around the edge and some funky artworks along the prom. Up on a hillside is the Vela Spila (translates to Big Cave!), a cave where prehistoric man lived over 17,000 years ago. It’s a hot slog up the well marked path in the middle of the day but the views are fabulous and distracting. We paid 15kn each to have a look around inside where it is lovely and cool. There are some information boards in Croatian and English and you can look into the holes that are being excavated by archaeologists, some from Cambridge university. They’ve found bones, pottery fragments and jewellery and the cave is helping give an insight to how our ancestors lived all those thousands of years ago.
The tourist office has a map with other walks and cycle routes marked on it. We chose to walk around the coastal edge to the next bay rather than face any more hills in the heat.
The next day the forecast wind arrived, a constant 25 to 30 knots for the afternoon and evening with gusts up to 40kt. We can confirm the buoys are really well sheltered from southerly winds and have very good holding, although they are a bit tightly packed, so we were glad they weren’t all taken.
A bus runs the length of the island several times a day down to Korcula town. For 60kn each we got a return trip; an hours journey through pretty little villages and high up along windy roads with amazing views across the fertile valleys way below, although at times it was best not to look down the side of the road at the fear inducing drop offs. The valley bottoms were bright green with row upon row of grapevines, the craggy hills covered in trees or bushes.
Korcula is a historic walled town sat on a small promontory with narrow streets running off the main central one in a herringbone pattern to help the wind keep things cool when it blows from the west and to protect from strong winter easterlies. It is lovely for a slow wander up and down the stepped streets and there is a museum or two to visit, a church and a bell tower to climb. The town claims that Marco Polo was born here rather than in Venice and there are a couple of tacky museums trying to make on that claim. Lots of cafes and restaurants too; we chose to eat outside the walled area for better prices.
Back in Vela Luka we joined the locals for a beer or two whilst they watched football and were entertained by some crooner over at one of the hotels into the evening. The next morning we dropped off the buoy for the fuel pontoon for diesel where everything we could fill was filled up for the exceptionally reasonable price of 8.4kn (about 90p) a litre.
14th June: Mljet to Gradina, Korcula: 44nm travelled (6nm sailed)
On buoy in position 42 58.36’N 16 40.42’E
15th June: Gradina to Luka Vela: 2nm travelled
On buoy in position 42 57.66’N 16 42.77’E
Vela Luka has a tourist office, banks, bars, restaurants, supermarkets, bakeries, post office – most of what you might need.
Buoys – 150kn a night
Anchoring (also covers Gradina) 100kn