There are so many beautiful anchorages and interesting towns here in Croatia, I often leave each place with a feeling that it is my new favourite, as I did after spending a few days at Stari Grad.
We motored out of the long bay with our course set to travel towards Vela Luka on the northwest coast of Korčula island.
Once we had passed along the top of Hvar island the wind picked up, so with full sails out, we continued south between Hvar town and the Paklinski archipelago. Lots of large motor boats were anchored at ‘night club’ bay on the party island.
It was great to be sailing along at 6 kts but unfortunately the wind was coming from exactly the direction we wanted to go, so Ziggy could not sail on our intended course. Instead of tacking back and forth we changed our plan and headed towards Šćedro island instead. As we approached we still had a constant wind blowing us along at a good speed, so we decided that we had enough time to keep going on to Lovište on the Pelješac Peninsula. However, not long after passing Šćedro the wind dropped and we ended up motoring the last few miles to ensure that we arrived before dark.
After a long day travelling approximately 45 nm we were happy to find a good space to anchor in the bay, just in time to watch the sun set and the full moon rise. There were some strong winds throughout the night and several boats around us dragged and had to re-anchor, thankfully not us this time!
Lovište bay kept us sheltered for few days until a good force 4 northerly wind gave us a great downwind sail south, through the windy channel between Korčula and the Pelješac Peninsular. Fortunately, it wasn’t so busy with water sports as our last journey through here so we were able to easily weave our way through the kite and wind surfers.
We had a great view of Korčula town as we sailed slowly by, enjoying our right of way over the various motor boats and ferries.
Otok Badija is a small island just off the northeast coast of Korčula. We anchored on the south side in front of a large Monastery that dominates the island surrounded by tall trees with mountains beyond.
Early the following morning was a perfect opportunity to explore the island before the crowds and the heat of the day arrived. The island is forested with pine, oak and cypress trees and bordered by rocky pebble beaches. We followed a pathway which took us on a 5km walk around the perimeter of the island giving great views of the blue sea, surrounding islands and Korčula town.
It was easy to see which way the prevailing winds blow on this side of the island. Paul said it reminded him of an old episode of Batman!
There are many (apparently forty-three) tame deer roaming around the forest to keep us company!
After completing our walk, we were the first customers at the cafe (along with a small gecko) where we sat down for breakfast before going to have a look around the Franciscan Monastery.
The Franciscans from Bosnia arrived on the island and started construction of the Gothic-Renaissance style Monastery at the end of 14th century.
Later, in the second half of the 15th century the large Church of Our Lady of Mercy and a Chapel of the Holy Cross were added.
At the exact centre of the Monastery complex is a square cloister which was completed in 1477. The cloister is surrounded by a hallway with a cross-vaulted ceiling. The arches and columns are carved with leafy details surrounding the central area where there is an open and raised rain water cistern in the middle. Along with a similar cloister in Dubrovnik, it is considered to be one of the most beautiful on the Croatian Adriatic coast.
The monks maintained a presence on the island for centuries but the Monastery also had many uses over the years including a hospital, orphanage and boarding school.
Following WWII the Franciscans were removed from the island and the Monastery was used initially as a penal and corrective institution before being handed to a local hotel in the 1950’s to operate as a sports complex. During this latter period it had steadily fallen into a state of disrepair and like many religious sites it was badly damaged during the civil war.
The care of the Monastery and the island was handed back to the Franciscans in 2003 who then embarked on an extensive program of renovation, giving the Monastery its current well maintained appearance. It is now a popular tourist attraction with a constant stream of trip boats arriving from Korčula and the mainland.