7th June: We arrived at the Croatian customs check in port of Cavtat with some trepidation bubbling within. We were running on empty after not a lot of sleep due to rolly seas overnight and we’d read some not very enticing reports about the officials there.
First item to check off the worry list – no wind. It was 9:30am and there was barely a ripple on the water. That would make manoeuvring easier.
Check list 2 – where do we go? The large yellow Q sign we were to look out for was hidden behind a superyacht but once past the blockage we saw it in plenty of time. And – oh we were so happy – there were no other boats on the customs quay.
Check list 3 – will we have to do the dreaded Med moor? As there are no other boats we decide to prepare Emerald for an alongside mooring and we line ourselves up. Then we see a man in white waving to us. As we get close enough to hear he tells us to drop our anchor. I point at the dinghy on the davits and suggest it would be easier for us to continue on our course of action. And – happiness be unbounded – he let us!
The sun was shining, we were safely tied up. Just the official stuff to sort out now. I ran off to the the bank (continue along the waterfront and just around the corner there are two cash machines) to get some Croatian money whilst Colin finished fettling Emerald. When I got back a young port policeman had arrived, I gathered up our documents, locked up and we both got off the boat and went towards him. Oh no, we are told, only one can go, the ship’s captain. So I reluctantly hand over the papers and money and hope Colin can find everything we need (Colin doesn’t like paperwork).
20 minutes pass, no Colin. I send a text to see how its going. All ok, except a mistake was made by the port captain on the paperwork and luckily the policeman spotted it – they had us down as being from Pakistan! New paperwork was issued amid smiles and laughter and by 30 minutes Colin was back on board and we were casting off. We did pay the 100kn to the ‘official’ help – we didn’t have the energy to argue and we were grateful at having being allowed to go alongside. They really could do with some laid lines rather than Med mooring style. Maybe we can live in futile hope that those 100kn is going into a laid-line fund……
With that task easily done and out of the way we could go and relax. We choose to anchor in the northern bay, Tiha, and we had a choice of the whole place as there were no other boats, making it easier for us to play spot the sand patch. Colin snagged one and we were well held.
Should we Stay or Should we go?
We left you last with a decision to make in Brinidisi. Having got away with one night on the town quay, we knew that we had to move the next morning. Our options were the marina way out of town or the Lega Navale section of quay where you had to pay. Neither held much appeal but the marina out of town seemed a slightly better choice in that it wouldn’t be dirty and noisy.
Or perhaps there was a third option? Winds later in the week were from the south, a good direction for our planned next stop in Vieste but forecast to be strong and stormy. The weekend looked a better prospect so we were potentially stuck nearly another week with some paid for nights in a marina. As we dashed off to the supermarket we talked about heading across to Croatia today instead. The predicted winds weren’t ideal but could give us a close hauled sail if they went more west.
Decision made, we set course for Croatia. Maybe we would thank the regatta organisers later for kicking us off the quay.
We motored off with a gentle northerly, and a rippled, sparkly sea. As the day wore on, on either side of us over Italy and way over to the east were bubbling, marshmallowey masses of cloud. They looked all fluffy and innocent but the storms they spawn wouldn’t be. We played at spotting cloud shapes and hoped they stay well away from us. One did light up the sky in the night, way to the south over Albania; it looked like a lightbulb with the lightening as its filaments. Our dolphin escort helped ease any thunderstorm worries, their clicks and snorts telling us all would be fine.
So now we glad to be in Croatia, a long motor sail but we’d have spent the money on marinas instead of diesel and now we were making much better use of our time.
After a good snooze a trip ashore beckoned for a leg stretch around the town. We spotted it was Happy Hour at the Hotel Cavtat and as it was a Tuesday thought it would be rude not to keep the HH tradition going. They had very good cocktails and large beers for only 15kn at HH prices. Welcome to Croatia!
Cavtat has some lovely walks – from Tiha we could walk around the Rat peninsula as a long route to town, along the waterfront and then on out to the next peninsula. There are lots of trees for shade. A longer walk took us out into the countryside heading to Cilipi. Unfortunately we didn’t make it there as I’d misread hours as miles on the map and after 2.5 miles a signpost told us we were still only half way. It was nearly 4pm and another 3 hours of walking to get there and back didn’t appeal. There is a bus from Cilipi back to Cavtat but they don’t run very often and we’d missed it. So around we turned; the countryside we saw was beautiful, full of yellow flowers and the first section was lovely and cool under the trees.
A regular bus (number 10, 25kn for a single journey) runs from Cavtat to Dubrovnik, taking about 45 minutes. We went for the 8am bus which was possibly a mistake as we hit rush hour. We also got off at the wrong stop (it’s not obvious you’re near the old town) and had to walk 15 minutes back on ourselves.
Then we arrived at the walls of Dubrovnik. Wow! We could imagine being an invader being put off by the sheer height of the walls as we approached the Pile Gate. First stop was to fortify ourselves with breakfast and there were more than enough places to choose from.
Our main goal of the trip was to walk the walls and we weren’t expecting to pay, so it was a shock to find it cost 120kn each. Maybe it’s a new charge or maybe we just didn’t read the information clearly. If I’d known in advance I would have bought a combined ticket for not much more which gave entry into a few museums too.
So we paid up and headed up. We started at the Ploce Gate as it wasn’t so busy and joined the line heading anti-clockwise around. There were only a few bottlenecks and we were able to take our time wandering around, stopping regularly to enjoy the sights and take another photo. Looking down from the heights of the inland section of wall down across the town and out to the glittering sea was my favourite view but it was all pretty stunning. Blue skies complimented the terracotta tiles on the roofs of the houses; bright, new tiles for those destroyed in the 1990’s war. It was shocking to see such a visual image of the extent of the damage as there really weren’t many roofs that still had their old tiles.
After nearly two hours walking the walls, it was back down to street level where we visited a memorial to the people who died defending Dubrovnik and looked at the photographs of the destruction caused. An amazing job has been done to restore the buildings to their glory, however you can still see shrapnel holes in the walls and there are still a few destroyed buildings dotted around the edge.
After more wandering up and down the lanes and alleys, finding Games of Thrones filming scenes and visiting anything that was free, lunch called. We found a groovy place that had octopus burgers and was decorated with wooden forks coloured in by the visitors. Of course we coloured in a couple of forks to add to the decor!
We took a boat for the journey back (60kn per person) and it was a bit of a rollercoaster motoring into a choppy sea against a southerly F6. We were a little anxious about Emerald in the anchorage but there was barely a breeze in the shelter of the Rat peninsula.
The Night of the Sky Falling Down
That evening, just as it was going dark we heard a few rumbles from the sky and flashes of lightening. We switched everything off and dashed to get things inside before any rain arrived. The flashes and rumbles got closer and some heavy rain washed us down, but it soon moved off south. We breathed a sigh of relief. However, that was just the warm up act.
For three hours, until 1am, we huddled in the covered cockpit fearing a hit as every few seconds lightening touched down on the land and sea all around us. The lights of Dubrovnik went out and later half of Cavtat went dark too. Torrential rain and hail bucketed down on us. The noise of the thunder was as if the mountains around us were coming down and every crack made us wince. We prepared as best we could – putting electronics in the oven and making an evacuation bag for the worst case scenario. It just didn’t seem to be moving away and time passed very, very slowly. Finally we felt an easing in the rain and a lengthening between cracks and flashes as it moved away or wore itself out. An unsettled night’s sleep followed as further distant rumbles disturbed our rest.
There was one small positive – Emerald was now well and truely cleansed of any red sand!
Cavtat is a pretty, pleasant holiday town with most services provided. The only thing missing for us was a fuel provider.
The Tourist Information office were very helpful providing us with bus times, leaflets on walks and info on where to buy internet.
Internet – bought from the post office, T-mobile sell a SIM card package that costs 85kn and provides unlimited surfing for 7 days. Once the time is up it can be renewed or there are other packages that can be selected. See their website for details.
Supermarket and a fresh fruit and veg market in town.
We dropped the anchor second time round in a patch of sand, into which the anchor buried itself well in. We found the holding to be good though the thunderstorm squalls and some katabatic winds on the first night of around 20kts from the NE.
6th June to 7th June: Brinidisi, Italy to Cavat, Croatia – 122nm travelled
Anchored in sand in position: 42 35.049’N 18 13.270’E
Weather: dry, clear skies. Wind mostly from NNW, light at start, up to F5 overnight. S at end.