Dec 27, 2015

October sail in Croatia - part 2: Mljet - Korcula - Dubrovnik

On Wednesday the 7th of October, we continued our cruise in the Dalmatian coast with a leg from Mljet to Korčula town. This was the best day of the week in terms of wind, and we were able to sail most of the 17 nm leg in moderate wind. In the afternoon some dark clouds gathered in the sky and it started to drizzle. We were a bit worried, that the small Korčula ACI marina would be already full in the afternoon, but there were a lot of vacant places when we arrived. About an hour after we had parked our charter Jeanneau in the marina, it started to rain heavily and the wind shoot up to 30 knots. There were still many boats arriving and some had problems with docking in strong cross-wind. Most of the boats sailing in Croatia seem to be charter boats, which means that many of the skippers are not familiar with all the maneuvering characteristics of their boats.

Rainy day in Korčula ACI Marina

Korčula town

Our boat was one of the smallest charter boats, a 35 foot Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 349 from 2015. The boat has a modern hull with twin rudders, which means that her handling characteristics are quite different from Dolphin Dance. Jeanneau 349 is (a lot) more agile boat which is handy especially when going astern and parking the boat in mediterranean style. But on the other hand, she needs also more speed to gain any steerage (forward or astern) due to the fact that there is no rudder behind the propellor. This can be a bit problematic when tight maneuvering in small marinas with no space to gain that speed.

From Korčula we continued back to Mljet island, where we found a beautiful and almost empty wild anchorage near the village Pomena. The day was warm and sea temperature still around pleasant 24 degrees.

Luka Pomena, Mljet

On Friday we had still two more sailing days left, but a storm was forecasted to hit the area on Saturday so we decided to sail back to Dubrovnik marina on Friday evening. Instead of sailing, we rented a car and drove to see Montenegro, but unfortunately, the weather was grey and rainy throughout the day.

In general, Mediterranean Sea is an amazing sailing area with beautiful nature, pleasant climate, interesting history and tasty food culture. In addition to that, Croatian archipelago offers sheltered waters and natural harbours to choose from. It is easy to see why it has become one of the most popular sailing areas in Europe.

Gale force winds hit Dubrovnik in Saturday evening. 

Oct 25, 2015

October sail in Croatia - part 1: From Dubrovnik to Luka Sipan and Mljet

This was the second year that we decided to end the sailing season by chartering a boat from the Mediterranean. Last year we chartered a boat in Italy also in mid-October, and found the timing almost perfect in terms of weather and avoiding the crowds. This year we (together with my parents) decided to head for Croatia, which had been recommended to us by many as one of the best sailing areas in Europe. Although, we saw a lot more boats at the sea than in Italy last year, the high season was clearly already over in early October – one could tell this from the number of charter boats that were lying idle in the large Dubrovnik ACI Marina as we headed for the sea on Monday morning. Clearly the charter business is big in Croatia and marinas and anchorages might get a bit crowded in July and August when all these boats are at the sea.

This year we were not as lucky with the weather as last year: the weather forecast for the week was actually pretty bad with lots of rain and thunder forecasted. Unfortunately, the weather forecast seemed to be truthful as well as just after an hour from leaving Dubrovnik, we found ourselves in the middle of thunderstorm. We were sailing at this time, but decided to lower the sails and continue with the engine. We headed for the nearby island called Sipan and found a very sheltered anchorage outside the village Sipanska Luka. The rain stopped in the afternoon and the evening was actually very beautiful.

The scenery on the first day was pretty grey.

Fortunately the rain stopped in the afternoon. 

Anchoring outside Sipanska Luka. 

s/y Mali Svibor (Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 349) anchored outside Luka Sipan. 

After rainy Monday, the weather took a turn for the better and we got two beautiful days at the sea. During Tuesday the wind was mostly light, so we motored most of the 23 nm leg from Sipan to Polace village on the beautiful Mljet island. In Luka Polace like in other small villages in the area, there seems to be a lot of private docks owned by local restaurants which you can use for free, if you promise to eat at the restaurant. Sounds a pretty fair deal to me given the high marina prices in the Mediterranean. Furthermore, the moorings also seem to have electricity and water available, so there is actually no need to stay in the marinas and pay those high prices.

The following day was sunny but calm

The wind increased a bit in the afternoon, so we got a chance to hoist the sails for an hour or so. 

Approaching the beautiful, green archipelago around Mljet island.  

Moored in Luka Polace. 

 The bay near Luka Polace is also a popular wild anchorage. 

Sep 26, 2015

September Sail

Last Sunday (20th of September) we set sail for a one-night trip to our sailing club's island base located near Innamo. The wind faded towards the evening so we had to motor the last few miles to the harbour. Although the day was still relatively warm, the sauna felt nevertheless great after a four hours' sail.

The island has a beautiful location with views over to the southern Airisto. The downside is that the harbour does not have a very good shelter and thus, adjusting the ropes at 4 am seems to be almost a common practice there.

After a couple of non-sailing weekends, we were happy to be at the sea again, especially as the weather was great. This might have been Dolphin Dance's last trip of the year, but the sailing season is not quite finished yet, as we are heading for warmer waters in early October. More about this later.

Monday morning was sunny but moist. 

Aug 26, 2015

Perfect summer weekend!

Late summer or early autumn has always a bit special feeling: one starts to get back to the work routines and there is a certain melancholy in the air as the summer holiday and the main sailing trip of the year is already over. However, the weather is usually warmer than in the early summer, so there is a good chance of getting nice getaways during the weekends and evening trips.

I guess that we all can agree how weather dependent sailing often is: this hobby can have a completely different face depending on if it is warm and sunny or cold and windy. Less than a month ago in July, we were wearing woolen hats and gloves when sailing in the Archipelago Sea. On the other hand, this August has been great in Northern Baltic Sea and on last weekend it actually felt like we would have been sailing in the Mediterranean.

We decided to take the advantage of the heatwave and cast-off on Friday morning for long-weekend trip. Due to the persistent high pressure, calm winds were forecasted for the whole weekend so we took a pretty relaxed schedule. Fortunately, sea breeze picked up every afternoon so in the end we were able to sail almost two thirds of the seventy nautical miles' trip.

Beautiful Friday evening in Helsingholm. Although the harbour was rather full in the evening, 
we managed to get the last sauna booking from 11 to 12 pm. 

The following day was calm so we motored first to nearby Sandön. This uninhabited island has 
long sandy beaches and on this warm Saturday afternoon, this place was like some deserted Caribbean island.   

 A lot of boats visiting Sandön on Saturday... and also one seaplane! 

 A drone photo of Sandön, which shows the long sand bank in the eastern tip of the island.

The westerly wind increased in the evening, so we decided to hoist the anchor and sail to nearby Benskär which has a more sheltered anchorage. 

Sailing past Sandön on Sunday afternoon. 

Sunday evening barbeque in our sailing club's harbour in Heisala. 

Aug 9, 2015

New anchorages in Northern Åland

Dolphin Dance in Northern Åland

Northern Åland Archipelago is definitely one of our favourite cruising areas in the Baltic Sea. It is not only the breathtakingly beautiful nature that makes us go back there year after year, but also the silence and feeling of being in the wilderness. Due to the strict legislation for land ownership in Åland, there are fewer summer houses than elsewhere in the Baltic Archipelagos. To me this area has same kind of appeal that Lapland has – it kind of feels like the time has stopped beating there.

Last year we stayed in beautiful Simskälä, which we fell in love with. The island does not have a harbour, but there is a small visitor quay for one or two boats. This year we decided to search for an anchorage in the area west of Simskäla. The evening was totally calm and the silence of this place felt magical.

The following day we continued first to nearby Hamnsundet to buy some fish and after that we continued further to HavsVidden, which we visited also last year. This 5-star hotel's guest harbour with pool area offers nice contrast for staying in wild anchorages.

From HavsVidden we continued to nearby Saggö-Ön island which together with Saggö island has some of the best anchorages in the area.

Calm anchorage
Anchorage west of Simskäla

Calm evening in Northern Åland Anchorage in Northern Åland - Aerial photo HR29 in Åland Anchorage in Northern Åland HavsVidden

Sunset in HavsVidden Saggö-Ön View to Koksnan
Saggö-Ön – the view from the northern shore

Saggö-Ön Saggö-Ön_Russian fortress
Saggö-Ön - remainings of old Russian artillery batteries

Old stoned path goes from the harbour bay to the northern shore