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Croatian Archipelago


The eastern coast of the Adriatic Sea belonging to Croatia really is a series of islands and coastline surrounded by Europe. The Germans, Austrians or Czech and Hungarians must travel south to reach it; the French must travel towards the east, the Italians northeast or north and the Greeks depending on where they’re coming from, from the northwest. The Adriatic aquatorium has cut deep inland, while its eastern coast is adorned with 1185 islands, islets, reefs and rocks. Owing to its extensive intendedness the Croatian coast is 5951 Kilometres long. Even in ancient times, before the Croatians inhabited this region, it was one of the most important waterways. Greek colonies stretched across towards the north, all the way to Tragurium and later it was the inner sea of the Great Roman Empire. In the Middle Ages navigation through it was controlled by the Venetians, later the French, then English and Austrians. Croatians were also great and able seamen. Sailing ships of the Dubrovnik Republic in the 13th century navigated across the entire Mediterranean, while a few centuries later sailing ships from the Pelješac and Lošinj, after great geographical discoveries, sailed to the shores of the New World. Uskoci and pirates of Senj and Neretva, never conquered, ruled the interior channels and seas. The time of battles for domination over the seas in the heart of Europe is long gone. Today the Adriatic is visited by sailing enthusiasts from throughout Europe searching for the best atmosphere for their sailing adventures and using the very developed nautical infrastructure. Many of them keep the boats in Adriatic marinas, while others keep there yachts stationed on the Italian coast of the Adriatic. There are an increasing number of those hiring boats and many also arrive from faraway Mediterranean ports and coasts to sail on the Croatian part of the Adriatic. What is that attracts them here? First and foremost the number and diversity of the islands and coastlines, followed by the towns and people, the fish and wine and special ambiance. Another reason may also be that on the Croatian part of the Adriatic people can see life as it once was on the Adriatic decades ago, they can still find people living in symbiotic harmony with the sea and nature, they can still find lonely coves where the beach will for a time belong to them alone, with the sound of the waves and chirping of crickets in the background. The islands of the Adriatic Sea are ideally dispersed, especially for sailors. They stretch, with a few small gaps, along the entire length of the coast, in a chain running from Rijeka to Dubrovnik. Rarely separated one from the other more than ten nautical miles they create numerous channels between themselves and between the mainland coast. There are over a thousand and a half bays and harbours on the islands and mainland coast where berths and anchorages can be found to pass the night. These are ideal spots to navigate under sails or cruise on a motorised yacht or sport fishing barque. Nothing is far away, and if you want to you can spend another entire day in sailing. If the weather turns bad or if a strong winds picks up there is always somewhere nearby to take easy and safe refuge. The Adriatic Sea, like any other sea, is not a dangerous water. One ought to know its winds, rules and temper and sail by the book in order for sailing to be safe and thereby pleasant. Sailors are for the most part well acquainted with the chief winds that blow on the Adriatic Sea. These are the north-easterly (Bura), the cyclonic and anticyclonic Bura, the southerly (Jugo), the cyclonic and anticyclonic Jugo, the south-westerly (Lebi?), the north-westerly (Maestral), the easterly (Levant), the winter Levant, the westerly Pulentada, the northerly (Tramontana) and the light north-easterly breeze (Burin). Each of these winds has its own specific characteristics, the details of which you can find in any better guidebook. Nevertheless, during the sailing season the conditions for sailing, including navigating under sails, are most often favourable. The Maestral and Tramontana are the most frequent winds and are pleasant for sailing. The same goes for the Levant, while a strong southerly is rare in the summer. Even the Bura is weaker during the season, even thought it and summer squalls should be kept well in mind. The indentedness of the coastline, the currents and local winds make navigating interesting. There is always something happing on board a ship. Always something to keep in mind. To make our destination we usually have to adjust the course and way we sail. On a sailboat, one moment you are sailing down wind, and then you need to turn into the wind, and then navigate a narrow channel or sea gate. The diversity is the same if sailing a motor launch. The landscape is endlessly changing as you sail. In places the coast is a practically uninhabited wilderness, battered by the winter Bura, like those to the north sides of the islands of Rab and Pag. The southern exposures are usually, especially as you make your way further south, rich in vegetation. One moment you will be sailing along a thick pine forest descending right down to the sea, like those on the islands of Lastovo or Jakljan, the next moment your view will be screened by macchia or the rocky terrain of the Karst. You will pass by and make harbour alongside both Mediterranean cities and small fishing settlements. You will often come across bays with only two or three houses. To say nothing of beaches like Zlatni rat on the island of Brac, which changes its shape depending on the prevailing wind. Island localities are diverse and interesting and well worth getting to know. The historical continuity of many of them, like Korcula, Hvar, Vis, date back to ancient times and as a result they bear the markings of urban life of long ago eras. Other places are younger and emerged as fishing ports or ports of large island settlements further back from the sea. As many of the inhabitants of the Adriatic islands lived off agriculture they built their settlements in the interior and as rule on the slopes alongside fertile fields. Such places have for the most part preserved their autochthonous appearance, admittedly with few inhabitants, but when you visit them you will experience the spirit of times long past.   The Adriatic can be divided in various ways. Most often it is divided into the north and south, with the halfway point at the point Planka between Rogoznica and Primošten. However, for the purposes of navigation, we can divide the northern part into three sections. Istra, Kvarner and sub-Velebit islands and coast; the Zadar and Šibenik archipelago and coast; the southern Adriatic encompasses the section from Rogoznica to the point Prevlaka on the border with Montenegro. Each of these sections is very different and interesting in its own way.

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