We left Dubrovnik Marina and planned to go just a few miles to anchor in the next bay along the coast called Zaton. However, as we approached, a big black cloud was looming and we started to see lightening strikes in the sky, the wind was starting to get stronger and the swell was picking up so we turned away and headed in the opposite direction to try to avoid the storm.
The storm was coming from the north so we went towards the island of Kolocep opposite to see if we could get some shelter on the south side but it was still coming quite strongly over the hills and the storm was moving towards us, we could now see lightening all around us.
We continued ‘zigzagging’ across to Lopud Island which was just on the edge of the storm.
We found a reasonably sheltered bay called Uvala Sunj which looked to be protected by the surrounding hills so we dropped anchor. After 3 hours of motoring in a choppy sea, we had only travelled 9 nm but were pleased to have finally found somewhere calm to stop. Thankfully the storm passed after about an hour and we just caught the edge of it with a few spots of rain. The swell calmed down, the sun came out and we had a quiet night at anchor here.
The next day we travelled 26 nm to Mljet Island, it was a lovely calm day but unfortunately the very light wind was coming from directly in front of us so we ended up motoring all of the way.
Mljet is the southernmost and easternmost of the larger Adriatic islands of the Dalmatia region of Croatia. The entire northwest of the island forms the Mljet National Park which is one of 8 National Parks in Croatia. It is the oldest marine protected area in the Mediterranean Sea and was declared a National Park in 1960.
We anchored in Uvala Polače, a very well protected bay with a small pretty village within the park. Here we met up with some friends and this turned out to be not such a quiet night!
The following day we went ashore for a walk around the park. Mljet Island is often called ‘The Green Island’, all of the land area is covered with a dense forest of oak and pine. We headed off through the forest towards the Great Lake.
I’ve never seen so many butterflies in one place! (They are more difficult to photograph than dolphins!)
There are two saltwater lakes known as Malo Jezero and Veliko Jezero (Small Lake and Great Lake). With crystal clear water, they are fed from a narrow saltwater inlet and therefore not strictly lakes, but they are rich with life and have the largest coral reef in the Mediterranean Sea.
In the middle of the Great Lake, there is the small island of St Mary (Otok Svete Marije). We went across the lake on one of the solar-powered catamarans which run regularly to the island. (Yes, we were the only people on it!)
As we approached the island we could see the large building of the former Benedictine Monastery, erected there in the 12th century.
Overlooked by a sturdy defensive tower, the Monastery Church features an unusually chunky altarpiece carved from local stone and colourful windows.
As we walked around the island there are various places of worship and the tomb of St Mary, who died in 1916, overlooks the lake.
They certainly seem to have upgraded the ferries over time!
At one point, Paul had gone off ahead (I was busy trying to take photos of butterflies!) and as I turned the corner I found him having a foot spa with the shrimps nibbling his toes!
After looking all around the island, we took the ferry back and walked back through the forest to the village. The remains of a Roman Palace dating back to the 4th-5th Century are situated in Polače which was named after the Palace. The Palace was thought to have been built in one of the safest bays on the Adriatic coast protected from the winds. Once a big complex which included Roman baths, a reconnaissance tower, two early Christian basilicas and a ship pier, it is the third largest Roman building in Croatia.
Once back at the boat, we found a cheeky visitor on board! (He was a bit slower and easier to photograph) Such a lovely fluorescent green colour, we didn’t have the heart to evict him, thankfully he left of his own accord and flew back to the forest.