Our last visitors to Croatia were due to arrive so we sailed out of Slano bay and headed 12 nm south towards Dubrovnik. There had been a steady southerly wind blowing for the previous few days, which although it was due to reduce by the evening, would leave behind a nasty residual swell overnight. So we planned to anchor in the protection of Zaton bay just a few miles from Dubrovnik.
The seabed here has patches of weed and sand so we had to try to find a good patch of sand to drop the anchor to ensure the best holding. It is always difficult to see the bottom to position the anchor when the sea is choppy, thankfully we had success on our third attempt and managed to dig the anchor into a good sandy patch.
The Graham family arrived and checked into the ‘Royal’ hotel for the week. Their requirements were to spend the days onboard making the most of the sea, a little day sailing, visit Dubrovnik old town, a few drinks and a restaurant in the evenings before returning to their hotel! Again, this all seemed to be well within our means.
They came to meet us at Zaton on their first day and were excited to have a ride in the famous Fred and Ed.
We had a great time in the water jumping off the boat, swimming around the bay and making good use of the paddle board and unicorn.
The boys had fun on the unicorn!
In the evening we went to a lovely family restaurant for dinner. Zaton is a pretty bay with several restaurants around the small harbour. The 11th century Parish Church of St Stephens and the surrounding houses were all lit up behind the trees.
We spent a couple of days here and then the wind changed direction so we were able to move on to the next bay. The anchor was so well dug in, it was definitely holding fast and once we managed to release it, up it came with a large clump of the seabed!
We motored 2.5nm out of the bay and across to Lapad bay where we anchored close to the busy beach overlooked by the ‘Royal’ hotel.
There were light winds so a good opportunity for a calm day sail. With our guests onboard we lifted the anchor and motored out of the bay, heading around rocks and the small island of Koločep towards Lopud island. We anchored in Uvala Šunj on the south side of the island, a busy bay which was frequented by many local day trip boats playing music and giving it a party atmosphere. We stopped for lunch and enjoyed more fun in the clear water making the most of a mask and snorkel to look at the large variety of fish here. At the end of the day we returned to Lapad bay arriving just in time for the sun to go down.
The following day was rather overcast and so we decided that it would be a good time to visit Dubrovnik old town. We went ashore and walked along the promenade to the ‘Royal’ hotel to meet up with the Graham’s. From here we took the bus to Dubrovnik which became very busy with more and more people squeezing their way in at every stop!
Our previous visit to the old town was early last year just after things had started reopening following the Covid lockdown. It was very quiet and we were almost the only people there, local boys played football in the main square and we had the old town walls to ourselves when we walked around them. However, this year was completely different, crowds were walking along the streets all wanting to explore the main sites at the same time, cafes and restaurants were full, even the canoe hire was busy.
We managed to find a seat in a cafe bar perched on the cliff face below the old walls, with a view down to the sea.
It was still possible to escape the crowds in some of the less popular narrow side streets.
After walking around for a couple of hours we returned to ZigZag in Lapad bay. The paddle board was launched again, but then the wind and swell picked up quite suddenly and it was a big mission trying to bring the board and it’s crew back to Ziggy (funny how it was only the girls trying to rescue it while the boys sat onboard watching!).
The wind and swell died down in the evening but returned the following morning so we moved back to the protection of Zaton bay where we were happy that the anchor set solidly on the first attempt (or so we thought). We spent the last couple of days of the holiday here perfecting our paddle boarding skills. The first achievement was with 4 people on board. We did eventually manage all 5 of us, the board was slightly submerged and it had taken several attempts before we finally succeeded. Unfortunately there was no one to record this momentous event.
Later that night the wind picked up again and it became apparent that we had not found such a good spot this time after all. During the early hours our anchor started dragging and we were getting closer to the shore. Luckily we were moving very slowly and as we didn’t want to re-anchor in the dark, we took it in turns to keep watch until the sun started rise at 5.30 am giving us enough light to reset the anchor in a better position. By this stage we were nearly able to shake hands with the early morning dog walkers and street cleaners on the shore.
Having been in the area for a week the Port Police started to take an interest and the following day they pulled up alongside us and asked to see all of our documents which they took onboard with them for a while to check. As far as we were aware we had all of the necessary paperwork in order but it’s always worrying when this happens, especially when you’re in a country like Croatia who have a reputation for enforcing fines for the smallest indiscretions. Thankfully, after about 10 minutes they returned them to us and confirmed they were happy with everything.
We rounded off the week with another meal ashore on the Zaton waterfront before the Graham’s headed home. We have had another wonderful time with guests messing around on the water and it was sad when the week was over.
When we have visitors on board it’s a bit like being on holiday ourselves. Now it’s back to just the two of us and time to focus on our plans for the rest of the summer following our imminent departure from Croatia.