The sea was dead flat calm like a mirror and there was an eerie mist over the water as we left Badija and weaved our way through rocks and small islands. Croatia is generally very well organised with navigation aids and thankfully there were plenty of cardinal and isolated danger markers to help us manoeuvre through the narrow channel avoiding any underwater hazards.
After a full day travelling south with very light winds we eventually arrived at Slano bay on the mainland where we intended to anchor. The weather has been continually hot and there had been reports of forest fires around the Mediterranean. As we approached we could see smoke rising from the hills overlooking Slano.
At the entrance to the bay a police boat intercepted us and told us to keep very close to the shore on our starboard side. It soon became apparent why they had told us this when a large sea plane flew directly overhead, landed in the bay to collect water and then took off to douce the fire.
It was impossible to anchor without being on the flight path of these fire fighting planes. Luckily there is a small marina here so as it was already early evening, and the sun was on its way down, we decided to treat ourselves to a night in the marina.
From our mooring we could see the fires raging all evening and several planes were flying over continuously back and forth collecting water until darkness.
As night fell, the wind increased which was spreading the fires along over the hills and down towards the town and marina.
Thunderstorms were all around us with lightening crashing down on the hills behind us. It was quite an apocalyptic scene.
The brave local firefighters fought the blaze all night and managed to stall its progress by directing the fire into a dead end valley. The planes started again at first light.
We walked into town the following morning and could see the locals shaking the hands and waving to the fire crews that had just finished their long nightshift.
Later that morning it was to everyone’s relief when heavy rain came to help further douce down the smouldering embers.
Stormy weather was due over the next few days so we stayed an extra day in the nice new marina which had good facilities and a small swimming pool to cool down in between the storms.
Much of the seafront here is taken up with a large hotel which has claimed a long stretch of beach for its private use.
It doesn’t take long to walk around the small town where there are a few cafes, bars and local shops. In the main square some war memorials commemorate the fact that Slano was badly affected by the civil war and the local community are very proud of their largely rebuilt town.
A 16th Century Franciscan Church stands in the centre of the small town.
Up the hill beyond the Church is the Rectors Palace. We walked through the landscaped gardens to the stone building which has a courtyard and terraces with great views overlooking Slano bay.
An inscription above the entrance door confirms that the Palace was originally completed in 1447 when Count Dragoje Rafael di Gozze was the first to take residency.
The Count’s role was as the areas representative for the Dubrovnik Republic and the Palace served as an administrative and defensive centre. It included an armoury, powder magazine, watch house and a prison. I couldn’t resist!
An external staircase leads to an apartment for the Count on the first floor with a large loggia.
Over the centuries, the Palace has been damaged by political troubles and was finally destroyed during the war in 1991.
The abandoned Palace underwent a complete reconstruction which commenced in 2014. It took three and a half years of work to restore the Rector’s Palace to its former glory, with particular attention to traditional characteristics and landscaping. It was opened in 2017 to the public for cultural and social events.
With the fires all distinguished, the planes had finished their work and it was possible to anchor in the bay, so we relocated to the anchorage for a few days to wait for the strong winds to pass. Our plan is to continue south towards Dubrovnik to meet up with our next visitors.