Croatian *Road* Trip Part 4: Island-Hopping In A Sailboat

Have you been thinking my Adriatic adventures ended abruptly… maybe in a shipwreck or seasickness, and that spelled the end of my Croatian travel series? 🤔

If so, think again… and welcome to the fourth installment of my adventures in Croatia!

To recap, in part one, I spent a week driving around northern Croatia with my younger brother.

In part two we explored the waterfalls and lakes of the beautiful Plitvice Lakes National Park before turning to the sea. At the seaside, we met a couple of friends and spent two days sailing on a catamaran with them. There was something about this catamaran that I really enjoyed…

After returning to land, Part 3 was spent exploring Croatia’s infamous Dalmatian Coast and even crossing briefly into Bosnia and Montenegro.

In this installment, well… let’s just say “enjoying” those two days we spent on the catamaran is a bit of an understatement. I had a blast and was even considering buying my own catamaran afterward. Before I made such a serious purchase, I figured it would be wise to charter another catamaran for a week just to be sure 🙂

Island-hopping down the coast of Croatia seemed like an appropriate way to be certain about an important decision like this. I made the reservation. We would be setting sail out of Šibenik for a week-long excursion that ultimately culminated at the world-famous Krka waterfalls.

Home sweet home

Taking on Water

I’m sure there are plenty of seafaring individuals among you, but for the landlubbers in my audience, I’ll bring you up to speed with my new maritime dreams.

For a long time, I’ve had the ambition of buying some kind of sailboat or vessel capable of circumnavigation. Croatia is one of the premier sailing destinations in the world, so spending two days on a catamaran last week was as convincing an experience as possible to pull the trigger.

I still wanted to be sure of what kind of boat I wanted, however. Deciding between a monohull or a catamaran can be difficult for some as they both have pros and cons, but for me, the choice was pretty clear.

Quite simply, catamarans have two hulls and thus are much more stable while sailing or anchored. They have more space, are less cramped, and have shallower drafts which allows for anchoring safely in shallow water that a monohull can’t access.

Also, at 6’7, being able to stand straight up in the catamaran was no small relief 😛

There are many other differences between the two, and I’m sure some monohull purists would fight to the death over their superiority, but I was happy with the creature comforts offered by a catamaran. Plus as someone who works remotely on my laptop, I needed as stable a boat as possible and catamarans are undeniably superior in this aspect.

We decided to charter the same model of sailboat I was considering buying, a Lagoon 380. It made sense to buy one of these as a first boat because it is one of the most popular catamarans in the world. There is an endless amount of tutorials and support information about them on the internet, so getting used to sailing on one of these just made sense.

Setting Sail

We would be setting sail out of Šibenik. As you recall from the second installment of my Croatia adventures, I was accompanied by my brother and my friend Josh who is the experienced sailor in our group.

After stockpiling groceries and other necessities, we left the harbor in the late afternoon with a nice wind on our backs.

Fair winds and following seas

Even a friendly dolphin came to send us off for the first stretch of our journey too.

Our destination for the evening was the town of Primošten about 15km south of Šibenik.

Bridge Town

“Primostiti” means “to bridge” in Croatian. This town was built on a small island and once upon a time was only connected to the mainland by a bridge.

We anchored in the bay and took our dinghy into town to explore a bit before the sunset.

There are still almost no tourists in little towns like this, so we had a very peaceful walk around the city snapping pictures.

Nice quiet evening – thanks corona

Before long the sun was beginning to set, so we took our dinghy back to the catamaran to enjoy our first sunset on the boat with a celebratory cocktail. For the record, I try to avoid having my favorite cocktail, the Dark ‘n’ Stormy, when I’m out at sea. Just in case 😛

No green flash tonight 🙁


There are not many better ways to wake up than on a sailboat in the sun in a peaceful harbor. First things first, we hoisted our German sailing flag.

Hopefully no ones hears us speaking German and gets the wrong idea 😛

Just kidding. As you know from my travels to India, this symbol means quite a different thing in Eastern cultures. We were proudly representing the Kuna Yala tribe of San Blas, not Nazi Germany. My friend Josh had picked up his sailing experience in Panama, so he just happened to have this one lying around.

Anyway, we hit the high seas with the town of Trogir in our sights. Alternating between the sails and the motor we averaged about 7 knots so it took us a few hours to get there.

Trogir harbor can be a bit tricky. It has a reputation as a bit of a party town and gets a lot of overflow sailing traffic from the nearby city of Split, so oftentimes it is very crowded. When we got to the harbor we realized we needed to delegate responsibilities to our makeshift crew.

With the most sailing experience, Josh was the clear choice for Skipper. Many of these ports and marinas have nuances and rules, so we needed someone to research them all beforehand and decide on our route. With all my travel research skills it made sense for me to be the official Navigator. My brother, who was learning from Josh on how to manage the boat, was the obvious choice for First Mate.

With all of that settled, we approached the Trogir marina. With our roles designated now, we didn’t have any issues getting into the harbor but found out it was pretty expensive to anchor there. We found this nearby bay to anchor at for free instead 🙂

Why pay for mooring or anchorage when you can have peace and quiet for free

The reason for our stop in Trogir is that I have a friend named Julia who was joining us from Germany for a few days on the boat. She had flown into Split and taken a taxi to Trogir, so Josh and I hopped in the dinghy to head to town and pick her up.

After picking her up we decided to explore the city a bit. As with many of these coastal towns on the Adriatic, it’s a historic city originally settled by ancient Greeks. In this case, Trogir was founded around the 3rd century BC after Greeks sailed from the island of Vis which we would be visiting later.

It is considered the best-preserved example of Romanesque-Gothic architecture in all of central Europe, with heavy Greek, Roman, and Venetian influence. This, like Dubrovnik, is also one of the many sites in Croatia that were used as filming locations for the TV series Game of Thrones.

Grad Trogir

We were all set to head back to the boat when Josh informed us that we needed to refuel the dinghy and catamaran first. At this point, it was early evening on a Sunday night so despite looking everywhere, we couldn’t find an open fuel shop.

The situation was looking pretty dire… We asked around several yachts and sailboats, but none had the kind of fuel we needed. Eventually, we had no choice but “commandeer” some from a parked car by siphoning it into our jerrycan. Don’t worry, we left a lot more money than the fuel was worth behind the fuel tank door. We are still working on the finer details of being pirates 😛

With our recently pillaged (and paid for) booty, we made our way back to our anchored ship.

The Most Famous Beach and Party Town in Croatia

The next day we were prospecting for gold. No, not a golden pagoda in Myanmar, and not the golden triangle of India either.

We were setting out for the Golden Horn of Croatia. This is also known as Zlatni Rat and is sometimes considered the most famous beach in all of Croatia. It’s a pebble beach that stretches out like a peninsula from the island of Brač.

Getting there required some maneuvering. First, we needed to cross through the isthmus that separates the island of Brač from the island of Šolta.

Brac (left), Solta (right) and Hvar (center)

After that, there is a small channel between the famous Hvar island and Brač that leads you to this unique beach. What makes it so unique is that it’s a small peninsula in the shape of a horn that is made up entirely of golden pebbles. Unfortunately, we forgot to take a drone photo of it, but from a birds-eye view, you can see very clearly how it got its nickname.

Pristine place. Very few people too

Despite being such a well-known beach, the crowds are still very small 🙂

We were able to anchor about 10 meters off the shore of the beach (in a monohull this would not have been possible :P) and had a nice afternoon swimming around and watching the kitesurfers.

Quite the sport

After a while, the wind started to pick up, so it became a little dangerous for us to park there with all the kitesurfers.

We picked up anchor and cut across the channel to the island of Hvar.

We anchored in this perfectly secluded bay called Cove Zhukova Beach.

Nice to have Josh’s drone. If I end up buying a cat I think a drone will be a toy worth having aboard

It was time for lunch. As you all know, I’m a very devoted carnivore. Typically I consider vegetables the food that my food eats. There are some exceptions, however, like white asparagus for example.

There are only a few weeks out of the year that white asparagus is available properly. Julia had managed to smuggle some asparagus and German potatoes with her, which was a nice treat.

As you know from the last post, we were hassled by customs agents at the border to Bosnia who suspected we were muling drugs over the border. I wonder what the penalty is for root vegetables 🙂

See you next year, vegetables

Anyway, after lunch, it was time to explore Hvar. This island is home to one of the most famous party towns in the sailing world. During the high season in a non-corona year, Hvar receives about 15,000 guests per day. Considering it is an ancient bay town surrounded by 13th-century walls with a population of only about 3,500 people it is crazy that all 15,000 visitors can fit.

Hvar Town. Actually drones are prohibited, but ours is camouflaged like a mirror cube

I think that all the residents either work at museums or clubs 😛

To give you an idea of how popular this place is, it costs almost 1000 euros per day to dock in the town itself. I imagine you can buy most docks in the world for that kind of price, so we elected to find a mooring in the bay instead and took our dinghy into town to explore.

I have a hard time deciding between Dubrovnik and Hvar — which is the most beautiful town in Croatia.

We decided to climb up to the fort that overlooks the city so that I could make a more informed decision.

Dubrovnik or Hvar? Note the ship on the right…

I think whichever one is the freshest in your memory wins. They are equally beautiful.

We were admiring the view from this old Venetian fort when all of the sudden the largest mast poles I have ever seen on a seaworthy ship appeared around the corner.

Masts of nearly 100m

This sleek superyacht is called the Aquijo and is the single largest ketch yacht in the world at 86 meters. A ketch is a sailboat whose mainmast is taller than the mizzen mast.

The Aquijo belongs to a billionaire who spent about USD 80 million to build it. It is available to charter if you have a few hundred thousand extra dollars lying around 😛

It was very stunning to see and may have given me some ideas for my future Nautilus

Up close. I wonder how much it would cost me to make it submersible…?

After admiring this massive boat, we headed down to Hvar to explore this famous party town.

It was a little disappointing. The town itself was as beautiful as it gets and clearly has some serious potential for huge parties, but COVID ruins a place like this during tourist seasons.

There were very few tourists and nobody from outside the EU from what I could tell. Most of the beach bars were closed and many of the restaurants too.

Lots of potential

We finally found a little Balkan restaurant and had some more goulash and meat before returning to the boat for our crew’s evening cocktail.

A Visit to Vis

It was back on the open water the next day. We would be sailing to Vis, the Croatian island which is closest to the Italian coast. It is still quite far from Italy, but we had heard that on a good day you can see Italy from the right altitude.

We sailed all morning and finally made it to Vis in the early afternoon. I had some work to do so everyone kept busy and went for a swim while we anchored not far from the coast of Vis.

Vis-a-vis with Vis

These days Vis is very famous for its vineyards. About 20% of the island’s arable land is covered with vineyards. Both the Viognier grapes and the Plavac Mali which is a descendent of the ancient Zinfandel grape originate on Vis island.

Grapes of Wr…Vis

I finished working in the early afternoon, so we chartered a taxi to take us all around the island to try some of these wines on their home soil.

After a few wineries, it was clear that the sun was headed for Italy. We asked our cab driver to take us to the highest peak on the island to watch it go.

A little too hazy to see Italy today, sadly

My friend Julia is half Italian, so I think it was special for her to be so close to Italy. They were hit quite hard by COVID which made traveling there to visit her family almost impossible.

It was another beautiful night on the Adriatic.

Can’t blame the original colonizers for saying this is far enough 😛

With just enough light left, we drove down to visit an old famous Croatian army outpost. At one point Vis was the general headquarters of Tito, the former President of Yugoslavia. It was also used as a home for a squadron of Royal Air Force Spitfires during WWII in the Allies’ fight against Italy.

Until 2000 it was completely closed off to tourism because they kept finding landmines still scattered around the island.

We had a nice dinner in Vis with some of the tasty local wine before heading back to our ship for our last night sleeping amongst the isles.

The Dragon’s Eye

We woke up early the next day for a full day of sailing. Our boat was due back in Šibenik the following evening, so we still had a lot of ground to cover. Waking up anchored in Vis, we immediately headed east back to the mainland.

So long Vis

There was very little wind so we had to motor almost the whole way going only a couple of knots. Luckily I was able to get a lot of work done in this time, as there isn’t that much else to do on the open water if you don’t fish 😛

We arrived back at the mainland in a town slightly south of Šibenik called Rogoznica. We anchored just off the coast and took our dinghy to shore for a small hike to a very unique lake called Dragon’s Eye lake.

Dragon’s Eye is somewhat similar to Sørvágsvatn lake from my trip to the Faroe Islands in that it sits right on the edge of the sea without actually touching it. There are very high cliffs all around and no visible surface connections to the Adriatic Sea.

No boiling today

It doesn’t have any visible surface connections, but far underground the saltwater from the sea and fresh water from the land mix. With the addition of a layer of hydrogen sulfide on the bottom of the lake, it is known to sometimes “boil.”

Lots of popular legends sprung up over the years about this boiling lake, hence the name “Dragon’s Eye.”

After some swimming and cliff jumping, it was time to head back to Šibenik to anchor for the evening.

Krka Falls

We pulled anchor in the morning outside of Šibenik to sail up the inland channel to Krka. It helps to look at a map, but the way Krka is situated it’s actually relatively far inland from the Adriatic Sea. There is a long winding river called the Krka River that takes you from Šibenik to Lake Prokljan.

Sailing up the narrow Krka River canyon

After crossing Lake Prokljan, you sail further up the Krka River to the town of Skradin. From there a ferry takes you to Krka falls.

If you follow this blog you know I have a very extensive collection of waterfalls selfies and consider myself somewhat of an expert on waterfalls. I really like what they symbolize, they never stop moving, kind of like me 🙂

Remember the waterfalls from the movie The Land Before Time?

Krka was very special. It wasn’t as large as the Niagra or as powerful as the Murchison Falls. It wasn’t as unique as Mulafossur Falls, but it was every bit as beautiful. While other waterfalls I have seen are best described as impressive in their raw natural power, this one was more cinematic in how picturesque it was.

My father swam here once in the ’70s, so it felt a little cathartic to get to swim here now with my younger brother. Apparently, they will prohibit swimming here next year, so we visited just in time.

Hurry and swim here while you can

After spending a few hours at the falls, it was time to return our yacht to Šibenik. After crashing several times trying to maneuver the boat up the narrow Krka River we were starting to take on a serious amount of water. We estimated we had about two hours before our boat was completely submerged beneath the surface.

Like the true experts we are, we sailed our sinking boat right up to the dock like Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean and jumped out onto the dock just as it disappeared beneath the water.

Just kidding of course 🙂

Filling up diesel before returning our cat. Just 60€ for one week of mostly motoring around positively surprised me

Sorry to be anti-climactic, but we really had no problems with the boat all week. 😉

Josh masterfully parked the boat in its place at the marina and we said goodbye to our floating home… for now.

If the two days I spent on a boat last week had been encouraging, now I was completely persuaded. I verbally agreed to buy the boat shortly after. All that stood between the official S.V. (Sailing Vessel) Staatenlos being christened was, ironically, some bureaucratic paperwork.

See you soon for the next round of my aquatic adventures and the Staatenlos’ maiden voyage 🙂

Still with 3 weeks left in Croatia… Sailing to be continued