On Saturday morning (16 September), we dinghied over to Slano town to reprovision before our next guests arrived that evening. We moored the dinghy at the marina in Slano and bumped into Tom and Susie from Sirena. We hadn’t actually met up with them since Brindisi but we had been following each other through emails and blogs. This was a lovely surprise. We also met Dave and Anne Lovejoy from the Cruising Association walking into town – it is a small world, indeed! The wind had got up during the morning so we had a very wet dinghy back to the boat – luckily the food survived although the figs took a beating. The boys on Limoni had sensibly taken their yacht over to the town quay to shop and take on water.
As we were meeting our next guests, Helen and Nicky, off the ferry at Sipanska Luka, Šipan that evening we decided to moor up on the town quay to make things easier. Easy is not how I would describe the mooring, though, given the strong winds that were blowing through! We also found out that the windlass (that pulls the anchor chain up) has decided not to work so poor Liz has to pull it up by hand now.
Šipan is one of the Elephites Islands that lie close to the Dalmatian coast and means deer – not that there are any left on these islands now. The port of Sipanska Luka is a lovely little place but can’t really be called a port. It’s a small harbour that the ferry calls into, there’s nothing commercial about it.
The wind and sea continued to build during the night but we only had a short passage back to the south east corner of Mljet in a bay called Saplunara so we set off after a leisurely breakfast. Whilst the bay at Saplunara is deep, there are mooring buoys belonging to the restaurants there that you can use for free if you eat at one of them. With five boats and 23 people, one restaurant, Kod Ante, was very happy to accommodate us and even helped us moor. A splendid evening was had once we had all dried off following the drenching we got on the way over.
We were keen to get to the island of Lastovo the following day as it has a reputation for being unspoilt as well as part of a national park. As it is one of the most westerly of the islands, we knew that this may be our last chance to go there given the weather forecast. The weather on the Monday was perfect for sailing so we had full sails up under clear blue skies and reaching speeds of 7.4 knots. Our first stop was the bay of Strivena Luka that was pretty but fairly ordinary when you’ve seen so many pretty bays!
The next day was a short hop around the corner to Jurjeva Luka to a lovely anchorage. Not long after we arrived, the heavens opened and an idyllic anchorage became a scene out of Noah’s Ark.
However, the skies cleared for a while so you could see what all the fuss was about.
Our crew joined others for a walk around the island to a submarine pen, similar to the one on Vis. This didn’t seem as deep but was in fact just as big. This island wasn’t opened to the public until 1989 due to its military operations. On our way out of Lastovo we saw another pen so I suspect that there were more hidden secrets within the island.
We then had a long motor sail back towards Mljet and anchored in the charming bay of Polače. It is part of a national park and I could have happily spent a couple of days there but we needed to ensure the fleet were back in Dubrovnik by Friday evening so it was only an overnight stay. However, Nicky and Helen treated us to breakfast the next morning. This was probably the first day in a while that actually felt warm. It seems that the temperature has really dropped in the last two weeks. We shouldn’t complain as we know that the UK is much cooler.Another 5 hour motor sail for us this time to Sudarad on the opposite side of Šipan to Stipanska Luka. Again, there were mooring buoys here free of charge as the restaurant didn’t mind if we ate with them or not. In the end, we did as this would be the last meal we would have together as a charter (and we were down to three boats by now). However, only after movie night which involved each boat dressing up as a movie. Our film was Thelma and Louise.
A leisurely morning followed as we only had a three hour journey to the south of Dubrovnik. We walked up to a hilltop church that had amazing views.
The other boats needed to be back at base by the evening and we had decided to find an anchorage near the airport so that Nicky and Helen didn’t need to travel far on the Saturday. On the way down we passed by Dubrovnik, still looking impressive. We were here 13 years ago and it seemed like yesterday. The bay we had in mind wasn’t suitable so we continued to Cavtat, which is very close to the airport. It’s a cute little town dating back to the Greeks. We’ve been anchored here for two days now and taken the opportunity to spend a day in Dubrovnik, including watching the sunset from Fort Imperial, high up the hillside overlooking the town. Since we were here last they have installed a cable car Up to Fort Imperial so you get amazing views of the city and the surrounding islands. We also went round the Homeland War exhibition in the fort, which gave you some insight into how the Croatians feel about the 1991-2 war and especially the bombardment of Dubrovnik.