With our 90 day tourist visa coming to an end it is time to leave Croatia and our last journey will be 20nm to Dubrovnik where we can check out. It was another dead flat calm day as we motored out of Broce.
On arrival at Dubrovnik we went back under the suspension bridge and up the river towards the marina where we stopped at the fuel dock for some much needed diesel (after all of the motoring that we have done recently).
The forecast showed that there would be a good northerly sailing wind in a couple of days so we anchored just outside of the marina (along with lots of birds) to wait for it to arrive.
The river valley looked pretty in the evening with the lights along the shoreline reflecting in the still water.
In Croatia you have to check out and leave the country immediately by the quickest route, keeping at least 12 miles off the coast. On our day of departure we set off at sunrise and went around the corner to the immigration/customs dock. In Dubrovnik it is a very straight forward procedure with all offices in one building and a nice big harbour wall directly in front to moor while you complete the formalities.
All of our documents were checked and stamped within half an hour and we were ready to set off south towards Greece.
Our route was plotted to do an overnight passage 185nm down the coast of Montenegro and Albania to the small island of Othonoi just north of Corfu. There was a bit of swell and unfortunately the forecasted wind hadn’t appeared so we motorsailed at first. As we were going along we suddenly felt a strange vibration on the propeller. Not being sure what had caused it we put the engine into neutral, and could see lots of dolphins swimming under the boat so think that they may have been playing with the propeller?
After a couple of hours, the swell reduced and the wind increased enabling us to turn the engine off and we were sailing at 4kts (slightly off course).
By the evening the wind dropped, we were rocking and rolling around and not really going anywhere so the sails came down and the engine went on, now at least we were able to go in the right direction and get back on course.
We enjoyed a lovely evening with a great sunset.
A bright half moon rose quite early but disappeared by midnight leaving the sky pitch black and full of stars.
Apart from a couple of large passenger/cruise ships (which you can’t miss as they have so many lights!), it was an uneventful night with no other boats around. (Apologies for the blurry picture).
The wind picked up at 3am so the sails went up again for a few hours. Still alone at sea, the sun rose through the morning clouds for day 2 of our journey.
The water became much flatter and it was a hot sunny day as we navigated our way past Albania, skirting around the old mine fields. They have apparently been cleared but are still marked on the charts and the advice is to avoid them where possible and remain outside of Albanian waters (at least 12nm away from the coast).
As the day went on it became obvious that we wouldn’t make landfall at Othonoi in daylight. The harbour here is very small with a tricky entrance and it is never recommended to approach such a place for the first time in the dark. So we switched to an alternative plan which was to change course and continue another 100nm down the east coast of Corfu to Lefkas island. We had heard that checking in to Greece would be more straightforward at Lefkas rather than Corfu.
By the afternoon the stronger northerly wind finally arrived and with just the Genoa out we were surfing down the waves at 7kts.
The sun went down taking the wind with it and so the engine was soon back on.
We continued through the channel between Corfu and Albania avoiding the rocks, these were all well marked on the charts and had corresponding lights to aid navigation. The bright half moon set early again behind the mountains of Corfu.
Day 3 and the sun rose over mainland Greece bringing the wind back with it, giving us a few more hours of sailing.
We noticed that a kamikaze flying fish had landed on the back deck during the night which Paul had to evict (thankfully it didn’t land in the cockpit while I was on watch as it would have given me a fright!)
Eventually we arrived at our final waypoint, the very familiar Lefkas floating bridge, just in time for the 3pm opening and then continued to the bay at the end of the channel where we dropped the anchor.
Having come further south it feels much warmer now, the sea temperature is back up to 26°C and once the anchor was set we were ready for a swim and then a snooze!
The passage had taken us 57 hours in total. During that time we travelled 284nm and watched 3 sunrises, 2 sunsets, 2 moon rises and sets. We saw 10 million stars and 1 pod of dolphins. Caught 1 flying fish and avoided 4 Albanian mine fields. Between us we listened to 12 podcasts and read 2 books.
The winds had been much lighter than forecast and we ended up only being able to sail about 40% of the journey. However, all in all we had a good passage to end our time cruising around Croatia.
We used some of the time while travelling to think back to our highlights of Croatia and decided on the following:-
- Historic towns – Trogir and Korčula.
- Roman buildings – Pula.
- Luxury marina – Baotić.
- Hidden gems – Opatija and Ston.
- Nature – Skradin and the lake, Kornati Islands and Mljet.
With just one lowlight being the grumpy ‘so and so’ that decided to cut our dinghy loose!