We arrived in Cavtat, the most southerly port of entry into Croatia. Antigone was the first of us to arrive and given the designated customs quay was full, anchored off and preceded to head ashore in the dinghy to go through the check in formalities. We arrived shortly after and dropped the hook not to far from Antigoni. Dan returned to say he had been on the receiving end of a rather rude and frank exchange with the police who had insisted he must move his yacht to the customs quay to check in.
So we upped anchor and followed suit. At the wharf, which now had berths available, the official looking fella who took our lines charged us 100 Kuna ($A20) for the pleasure of “handling our lines”. Nice. We then proceed to check in with the police, harbour master and customs with no further issues – none of them seemed to care that we were on the official wharf…this was the first, but by no means our last experience of croation money grabbing!
If you are a sailor, it’s worth noting that upon arrival in Croatia you need to pay both a cruising tax and a tourist tax. The calculation of the cruising tax is bilwereding including displacement, length, beam, engine horsepower and other random parameters. For a 42ft yacht with a 50Hp engine this came in at around 250 Euro (you can pay in Kuna or Euro). It was the first cruising/tourist tax we had come across on our travels. Greece have been talking about implementing one, but, for the time being have bigger economic issues to resolve.
Dubrovnik and it’s islands
Dubrovnik is an impressive place and the old town simply magnificent. Its only down side is that it is seriously busy and the fact that both large chunks of Game of Thrones and Star Wars were filmed here has done nothing to ease the numbers – It has become a tourist milking machine, which I guess is natural, but its also kind of sad to see the hords of people shuffling their way along the city walls.
Another challenge in Dubrovnic is visiting it by yacht, reason being there are only really two places to leave a yacht, the ACI Marina or the Port of Gruz – both of which are expensive at over 100 Euro/night! The ACI is full of charter boats on Friday, Saturday and Sunday so there are no berths for visiting yachts even if you wanted to pay.
Other than the these two marinas, options are limited – you can anchor in the channel off the ACI Marina, but I wouldn’t leave a boat there unattended too long as the holding is patchy. There is an anchorage just off the old port (which you can’t take a private boat into) but it is deep and very rolly due to all the day-tripper boats plying the area. I think that if you are visiting Dubrovnik on a yacht you are best leaving it at Cavtat and getting the bus (45mins) or the ferry (30 mins) into Dubrovnic. In Cavtat you can either anchor if its calm or leave your boat on the quay for just 40 euro making it probably the cheapest place in Croatia to moor a boat 😉
The islands immediately around Dubrovnik are nice enough, but their anchorages are generally exposed to the prevailing northerly winds and suffer poor holding. This makes it hard to go ashore and leave your boat and have any hope of it being there when you return. The islands are also very touristy and with the exception of Lopud, I would recommend giving them a wide berth, which is a shame as they are really accessible…just not that nice! Lopud, however, is lovely with a nice bay, clear waters and a bunch of great bars and restaurants.
While in Dubrovnik we picked up Cathy, Hendrik and kids Kai and Fin, friends from Australia. Cathy is a nervous sailor and has a fear of water so she was brave enough getting on board in the first place, but she had to dig even deeper as we experienced big swells heading out to south east Mljet on the first day then non stop high winds and thunderstorms for the next two days….not quite what the brochures promised!
One night it was so rough poor Cathy was sick at anchor, the bay should have been sheltered in the forecast nor-easter, but the swell wrapped around the headland making it quite uncomfortable, but I decided to stay put rather than subject the crew to 40 knot winds and the breaking seas just outside the anchorage. But as you always do with good friends, we had lots of fun, despite the weather. Between the storms we explored Dubrovnik, had some good sails and some beach time, but it was hardly picture perfect Med sailing – sorry guys !!