Exploring the Dalmatian coast of Croatia on an ASA Flotilla

The 2016 ASA Flotilla in Croatia was organized by Sea Safaris Sailing School in Chicago with Capt. Jean De Keyser and his wife, “Admiral” Mila, as the experienced flotilla tour guides.

The 2016 edition counted three yachts, a Lagoon 450, a Lagoon 420, a Sun Odyssey 469 and total crew of fifteen hardy and adventurous souls.

Our base in Szeget Donji, near the medieval city of Trogir, was the starting point for a weeklong odyssey and, while waiting for the yachts to be ready, we could enjoy the marina pool, gulp down a few cold beers and devour some delicious Dalmatian food.

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After the skippers were briefed on the boat systems, the yachts departed for our first overnight stop on the island of Šolta. Our plan was to dock in the picturesque little port of Maslinica on the west side of the island but we could not get a reservation and decided to take a mooring in the bay of Šešula. The place was crowded and we had to maneuver delicately with our Lagoon 450, Filina, to get the mooring ball and to have a stern line affixed to the rocks on shore. The restaurant where we would have dinner that night sent us one of their attendants to help with the stern line but it got wrapped around the portside prop. As this young man was a heavy smoker, he did not have the stamina to dive under the boat and cut the line and Capt. Jean had to take the plunge.

Dinner at the restaurant Šišmiš (The Bats) was excellent and was the first time all our crewmembers got together to know each other. A few bottles of great Croatian wine really helped setting the mood and happy sailors soon retired to their boats. Eragon, the Lagoon 420, was safely anchored for the night and Galene, the Jeanneau, was moored next to Filina.

The following morning, we set sail for the island of Vis, one of our favorite spots, where Galene and Filina anchored at Tito’s abandoned submarine base. Our crewmembers went for a refreshing swim and took the dinghies inside the tunnel.

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Next stop was the city of Vis where we spent the night and brought the crew to our most popular attraction, Konoba Magića, a vineyard-restaurant high in the mountains where we enjoyed a fabulous local Peka meal generously accompanied by the locally produced wines and grapas. Denis and Bise, the owners, have become good friends and their place is an annual tradition for all our ASA Croatia flotillas.

Monday morning, we motored out of the Bay of Vis, raised our sails and headed for the east side of the island to visit the Green Cave on Ravnik island where we dropped the anchor, lowered the dinghy and motored inside the cave being careful not to be hit by young risk takers who were jumping from the top of the entrance of the cave. Inside the huge grotto, we were in awe of the sunlight beam shining through a hole in the ceiling of the cave and reflecting in the water. Swimming through that beam of light was quite an experience!

After a Mediterranean lunch on board, we sailed to Komiža where, unfortunately, there was no available space at the wall. We spent the night at the buoys which was a blessing in disguise as it was way more quiet than being at the seawall. Komiža is a very attractive typical fishing village with an interesting history, a fishing museum and it is our pizza and beer stop. The thin crust seafood pizza at Konoba Hum is definitely our most favorite one.

Tuesday and the week is well underway now. We are “in the groove” and everything seems to be going smoothly. Well, not exactly. The wind has turned from the northeast and is blowing big time. Normally, today, we would visit the Blue Cave on the island of Biševo, about ten miles across from Komiža but the weather would not cooperate and, with the waves hammering the entrance, the cave was closed. On to Hvar then, the new St. Tropez of Europe, playground of the rich and famous like Bill Gates, a frequent visitor; we have been told. The port of this gorgeous city is so popular with mega yachts that smaller boats like ours cannot easily find a docking spot and we chose to dock across the Pakleni channel at the much quieter ACI marina Palmižana on Sv. Klement island which gave us the excuse to visit the very elegant restaurant Zori, also a must-experience for our crew members.

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After a relaxing night in the marina surrounded by nice smelling Mediterranean pine trees and with the cicadas singing us to sleep with their never ending chirping lullaby, we took the water taxi to the old town of Hvar where we climbed the steep street to the medieval Spanjola fortress built by Spanish engineers during the Venetian rule of the island and from where you have an unforgettable view over the Adriatic and the islands.

After a visit of the fort, a couple of drinks at the on-site bar, we headed back down to the old town where “Admiral” Mila did her obligatory annual shopping at her preferred little jewelry store. Before you knew it, most of the female crewmembers had invaded and raided the store too. All that walking and shopping called for some rehydration and, after several mojitos and other more intriguing tasty local cocktails, we boarded the water taxis for the return to the marina.

The late departure on Thursday was actually planned that way. While plundering the jewelry store, the owner had spilled the secret of a well-hidden small restaurant near the anchorage of Vlaka. Konoba Dionis, according to him, featured excellent food and, always eager to discover new experiences, we decided to give it a try. As the anchorage is only about twenty minutes from the marina, we opted to drop the anchor there, enjoy some good swimming and sunbathing on the beach followed by a short hike to the restaurant. The food was delicious and the house white wine was refreshing. The vegetables that accompanied the meal were harvested on the spot and went straight from the garden to the kitchen. This place will become a yearly stop from now on.

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One more day to go and we must be back at the base by 5:00PM on Friday. No gallivanting, we must go on to our last anchorage, the bay of Lučice on the island of Brač. It was such a great afternoon sail to Lučice that we reluctantly dropped the sails when we already where well inside the anchorage.

The local boat boy who looked like a real pirate, hooked us up to the buoy and then came on board to tell us that he actually was a sculptor artist and if we, pretty please, would by some of his work. Lučice is a beautiful anchorage surrounded by pine trees and with two small restaurants on shore. It does not get more Mediterranean than that. Really! Our place to go there is Konoba Marino. They have the best scallops on the grill and their lamb meat is delicious.

Over the years our Croatia and Spain flotillas have evolved in sailing foodie events and we are always eager to discover new places with often bizarre specialties.

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The night in Lučice was quiet and restful and the following morning reality set in that this was Friday, our last day on the water. We would have loved to spend another day in this enchanted bay but we had to leave and, after a brief detour into Milna, just to show this attractive fishing port to our crew, we set course to the base where, after an exhilarating sail, we had to do the “diesel dance” at the fuel dock, waiting for our moment to dock and replenish the tanks.

Soon we were back at the dock, checked out and ready to go back to the hotel in Trogir for a real hot shower, a last dinner and a good night sleep in an air conditioned room.

As with previous years, the 2016 Croatia Flotilla was again a huge success and our happy crewmembers went home with unforgettable vacation memories. We all made new friends and look forward to sailing with them again.

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We are already counting off the days for the 2017 edition, which will be one-way trip from Trogir to Dubrovnik with turn-around in Dubrovnik, change of crews and return.
Find Out More About Our 2017 Croatia Flotilla ⟩⟩

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