Sailing holiday in Croatia – where, how, what and how much?
Adventures, spartan, exotic, unfamiliar, dangerous and expensive. If you mention sailing holiday to average person with no experience in sailing at least three of these attributes will come to mind. To some grumpy persons even all six, and some may add terms like tight, wet and uncomfortable. However, none of these terms can describe sailing holiday on rented boat accurately. Those who wishes can stick to their prejudice but in general sailing vacations have never been more simpler, affordable, comfortable and adjustable to individual needs, wishes and possibilities then today and here. From all world seas Adriatic is by combination of sea, winds, distances and infrastructure the best destination for tourists that wish to enjoy sailing vacation.
Who can afford this?
This is first question that most people ask. Well the answer is – practically everyone. There are very few limitations, mainly in relation with health. Even the famous seas sick is more the fear of sea sick then real problem. This is easily solved on the boat in first few days. In contrary to uninformed opinion sailing is perfectly safe and suitable even for small children and babies.
What I need for sailing holiday?
It is desirable that someone from the your company knows how to sail but this is not necesarilly. Important thing is that the crew is aware how much they know about sailing and boats, or in two words to be reasonable and mature. Formally for renting a charter boat up to 12 meters or 36 feet one of the crew members need to have a valid permit for driving these type of boats. These permits usually don’t mean that the person have the real knowledge because it is very easy to obtain one but it is formally paper that is needed to independently rent a boat. Extensive experience is not necessary to drive a boat if all crew members are willing to help and listen orders from the captain. The worst thing that can happened is that some storm blocks you in some marina for a day or two. If you or a crew member doesn’t have a permit or if you are insecure in your ability to drive a boat you can always hire a professional skipper. Price of a skipper is from 100 to 150 Euros per day including his meals but for that you will get security and somebody which will take care of boat while you enjoying your holiday. Most of the skippers knows what they are doing, they are full of useful advices (like all the good spots for swimming, restaurants, local people etc.) and they behave discreetly and unobtrusively.
With whom to sail?
Well, this could potentially be the biggest problem on your holiday although most people don’t event think about it until they experienced it. It is not enough to know someone for a long period of time and to be a good friend with that person. You must try to predict how certain person will behave in certain situations while staying on limited space which boat is. Two weeks are sometimes too much if you don’t have much privacy and you are sentenced to limited possibilities and sharing daily routines. Seemingly simple things like time of departure every morning, choice of place and time for swimming, food preparation, cleaning and sharing other tasks can become tough obstacles. Ability to compromise is a key thing, and in general it is good to choose people who like same things like you. If you have free beds on the boat it is better to have them unused then to bring someone who is not get along just for lowering the costs.
Children on the boat are not a problem. On the contrary, they enjoy, listen and eat well, in general they behave even better then on the classic holidays.
How to pick a boat?
In most cases choice of the boat depends of size of the group, starting place, time of year and price. Price per person is lower the group is bigger but keep in mind that sailing boats up to 12 meters don’t have more then 8 beds and usually only 6. All charter boats have cabins and saloon with little kitchen. Saloons can sometimes can be used for sleeping in which case the number of passengers can be increased for one or even two which can further reduce the price per person. Keep in mind thou that the persons which sleep in the saloon usually don’t have much privacy. Most of the sailing boats in Croatian charter agencies are more or less look alike so average crew doesn’t need to worry much which one to take. Some of them have two bathrooms which can be advantage if the group is bigger. One of the most important parts is cockpit on which you will spend most of your time on the boat so keep in mind that this part of the boat need to be as big as it can.
What charter boat must have?
More or less all boats in charter in Croatia today have all standard equipment needed for safe and pleasant sailing vacations. Less experience you have it is better to take the boat with many automatic devices like electrical anchorage mechanism (today is standard equipment), mechanic front roll-sail and if possible even automated main sail. With automatic sails you loose on the performances but they are incomparably easier to operate then manual ones. Standard charter boats have electric pumps for water and in many cases electric toilet. On the other hand a lot of electrical equipment will ask for more energy so you will need to keep your engine running more often to fill the batteries, or to go to marinas more often to get the electricity. Good ratio between comfort and saving can be achieved if the crew take little care of all the rules. All that is necessary for navigation will surely be on the boat and this is obligation of a charter company to provide all standard navigational equipment like nautical maps, compass, and GPS devices. You can bring along some nautical guide of the area that you plan to visit as they are full of useful informations. Linen, dishes and things like that are included on the boat so you don’t have to worry about that. Before sailing out check the capacity of fridge so that you can plan how much stuff can you storage in it.
Planning and packing
This is pretty much individual thing but as we already said the boat is limited with space and you don’t need to exaggerate with cloths. Although is it summer keep in mind that sometimes night on the boat can be little colder so bring some long sleeves along with some light waterproof jacket. While on the boat, do not use flip-flops and similar shoes in which your feet are not stable. Find some light shoes with rubber sole or simply walk barefoot. High heels are absolutely forbidden and if you wish to wear them on a night out put them on in front of the ship and take them off before you climb back on board. Use soft bags for packing because luggage spaces on boats are mostly irregularly shaped and suitcases are not convenient. Forget the golf clubs, you are going on a boat for Christ sake!
Planning food supplies is very important. It is best that you buy all the food that you plan to bring at some shopping centre before boarding because stores in the marinas are usually more expensive. Water in the boat system is not for drinking so plan to bring a lot of water, best in the plastic bottles because glass can be broken and small pieces will then surely hurt someone.
While on the boat don’t plan too cook some sophisticated meals which demands lot of special groceries and time. Eggs for breakfast, pasta for lunch, and lot of fruit will do just fine. When you buying vegetables and fruits don’t buy for more then 2-3 days. Capacity of boat fridge is too small to store it inside so it will probably stay outside. All greenery should be kept in the paper, not in the nylon. For a start don’t choose isolated places without stores until you get to know how much and what you spend during the day.
Where to go?
Unless you have some special reasons it is best to sail in area that provides most flexibility. In the Adriatic this is Split, Sibenik and Zadar archipelago. Zadar and Sibenik area with starting points in marinas Zadar, Sukosan, Bibinje, Tribunj, Vodice, Jezera, Murter and Rogoznica are perfect for beginners because sailing distances between destinations are short, there is many interesting little towns, coves, islands, restaurants and beaches. If you sail for about 10 miles a day in this area you can have a great time on different beautiful locations. While in this area be sure to visit Kornati archipelago which is also one of the Croatian National parks. This archipelago is pretty crowded during summer season but it is worth spending at least two days there. Except from Kornati it is advisable to visit islands Dugi otok, Molat, Iž, Žirje, Kaprije and Zlarin. In general Croatian island are much more beautiful then coast and thy are real essence of sailing holiday. If you start your trip from Split, Trogir or Kastela you can visit islands Solta, Brac and Vis. If you plan to spend at least 14 days on boat you can visit islands Korcula and Lastovo also. In this archipelago distances between islands are little bit bigger as well as islands and to visit them all requires more time.
How much does it cost?
In general, most expensive season is from 20th July to 20th August, but experienced sailors will tell you that best time for sailing in the Adriatic is September with easy predictable and still beautiful weather. According to that prices depends on time of season, length and age of the ship. Renting a boats older then 8 to 10 years is not advisable but there is no need to rent newest one also because their price is higher. It is better to rent from companies that have 10 or more boats because in the case of malfunction they can easily offer you replacement boat. When renting from private owners be careful and check insurance and all other contract papers. Owner of the ship need to give you a contract, register all crew members in the local harbor master office and sign then all in the boat list of passengers.
As for specific numbers, renting a sailing boat in most expensive season, 10 meters, 2 cabins, 4 beds (6 people if someone sleeps in saloon) will cost you about 1.500 Euros per week which is 500-750 euros per person for two weeks trip. September is 10-20% cheaper. Bigger boats, like 12 meters with 8 beds costs around 2.500-3.000 Euros per two weeks in high season, while in low season you can find boat like this for 1.500-2.000 Euros. At the end you get this kind of boat for 300 Euros per person for two weeks. On top of this prices you need to count final cleaning price which is usually 100-200 Euros, skipper fees (100-150 Euros plus food), fuel, water, mooring and marina fees and food. If you use sails you will spend less fuel but it is expected that for two weeks average group spends around 70-100 liters of fuel. That is enough for 3.5 hours of motor work daily. For a bigger ship (12 meters) add 50% more. When you use your own anchor you do not paying anchorage. You pay only mooring and harbor services which is usually 20-30 Euros. Marinas that offer electricity and water will cost you 40-60 Euros for 10 meters boat and 60-100 Euros for 12 meters boat.
Having all that in mind you can easily count that sailing holiday is not more expensive then the one in the hotels and it is certainly much more fun and you get to see much more places this way.