The Staatenlos Catamaran Maiden Voyage Part 1: Bisevo, Vis, Lastovo and Hvar
After a bit of a hiatus, I’m back and finally ready to catch you up on the last month. My birthday, Heuereka and August came and went with the blink of an eye. It’s probably safe to assume that it was an eventful summer. For instance, and to keep you in the loop, up until about a week ago, I was detained in Montenegro. 😱
It was only for about a week, and it’s not as bad as it sounds; they allowed me to move freely within Montenegro. Our boat, however, couldn’t go anywhere.
If you read about the export and import of my boat, you know that the registration papers left much to be desired. And among other issues, this one, in particular, was hard to let slip. You see, the documents basically stated the length of the boat in meters, when it was supposed to be in feet. 🤦♂️ According to my old registration, my boat is 11.6 feet long. 😂 Our boat is 38 feet (11.6 meters).
Oddly enough, this wasn’t an issue in Croatia, but in Montenegro, they freaked out. They gave us a lot of trouble and essentially kept us “detained” inside the marina. The whole ordeal took about a week to resolve, and for this entire time, we were not allowed to move our boat.
In theory, that’s not the best-case scenario, but at the end of the day, being stuck at a fancy marina in a beautiful port in Montenegro is not the worst thing that could have happened. This little inconvenience opened up some time for me to get a lot of work done, date some Montenegrins, and even discover Montenegro, even if that meant by land only…
All in all, I still managed to have some fun while being pretty much a prisoner in Montenegro. 😎 Eventually, we got the amended registration with the correct boat length, and that’s when we were finally allowed to leave the country. Anyways, that’s just a short update of my life currently. To keep my chronicles flowing, I want to pick up where we last left off in my previous post.
To recap: After the export and import of my boat(link), I spent two weeks in Germany and Slovenia.
In my last post, I told you all about my time in Slovenia and what it was like to collect my final European capital.
As you may recall, my friend Felix and his lovely Colombian girlfriend were doing me a massive favor by delivering some essential purchases for our boat from Austria to Croatia. The best part is that they also agreed to pick me up [in Slovenia] along the way.
After I returned my rental car in Ljubljana, I still had about five hours before they arrived, and I didn’t want to just chill in the capital for longer. So, I took a bus to the Postojna Caves. By now, you should know that these caves are famous for their intricate display of stalagmites and stalactites… oh, and they are also the home to one of my favorite animals, the olm. 😍
The timing worked out beautifully; just after I was done touring the cave and exploring its surroundings, Felix and his girlfriend showed up. From there, we immediately embarked on our 5-hour drive, straight down to Sibenik, where my boat was waiting.
The drive was pretty scenic, and the border crossing was super easy and straight-forward. It was just about a minute for both the Slovenian and Croatian border control, and before we knew it, we were in Croatia taking the autobahn all the way down to Sibenik. Traveling on this road was beginning to feel like coming home.
In Sibenik, along with my boat, my skipper Josh and Sheila (our newest crew member) were also waiting for our arrival.
Side Note: Sheila will be part of most of these stories; she is a lovely German girl who is a sailing superstar. She has sailed all around the world – but more on that later.
Oh, and for this trip, my good friend Christian (German guy living in Switzerland), his Lebanese wife, and 6-year old son would also be joining along.
After our long drive from Ljubljana to Sibenik, we finally arrived at the marina in the late evening, after having made a quick pitstop at McDonald’s. 🙈 Initially, we planned to leave the next morning. Sadly, there were still a few upgrades that had to be done to the boat, so we didn’t actually go for a few days.
During the two days, we spent at the marina in Sibenik, I simply got work done and also did all the shopping in preparation for our 3-week maiden voyage around Croatia.
To equip ourselves with everything we needed for the three weeks, we did a massage haul at Kaufland. It ended up being a very, very long receipt. I kid you not; it was about 10 meters long. The cashier even had to implement a new procedure to ring in the purchase. Apparently, there is a maximum limit of 8,000 kunas (1,000 euros) that you can spend on one purchase?
We basically had to start a new purchase every thousand euros, and we did this more than a few times. It was about 4 – 5 shopping carts filled to the brim. 🙈 So yeah, it was a big shopping spree. We got everything we needed in terms of food and drinks, though.👌 – Even though this stuff only lasted us for the three weeks, and when it was all gone, we had to do it all over again.😅
After shopping at Kaufland, we drove all around Sibenik looking for natural gas. We got pointed to 25 different directions trying to find some tanks, and none of the places had any. This purchase was particularly necessary because it’s the gas we needed to run the BBQ!
Eventually, we found some, and at that point, we had all the items we needed to leave Sibenik finally.
We mapped out our route to cover the parts of Croatia we hadn’t seen yet. Spoiler alert: we didn’t manage to do and see everything we wanted to. We had a bit of bad luck following us around in the form of crummy weather. We even endured our first big storm – but I’ll tell you more about that later.
B-lining it to Bisevo
On the first day of our trip, we sailed the longest and farthest stretch of the entire 3-week journey. We went from Sibenik to Bisevo island over Sveti Andrija.
Sveti Andrija is an offshore, deserted island owned by a family who lives in the neighboring islet of Vis… I plan to go there next summer to cut their grapes.😉
Bisevo island is quite beautiful, but it’s pretty far away from the shore. Because it’s situated in the middle of the Dalmatian Archipelago, about 70 kilometers southwest of Sibenik, it took us quite a while to sail there.
It was actually during that first sail that we experienced our first thunderstorm on the boat. Luckily this one came and went pretty quickly. Everyone managed to stay inside except me; I was navigating the ship. This was also back when we didn’t have shields yet, so I got completely soaked.
To our favor, this storm was moving quite quickly… and to be honest, in retrospect, I wouldn’t even call it a good thunderstorm. It was more like a big, dark cloud that brought about heaps of rain. We simply sailed right through it for about 20 minutes until we found sunshine again.
When we first encountered the cloud, we thought about turning around to out-run it. This was Josh’s initial idea. Had we done that, we would have probably been sailing under that cloud for hours.
So merely biting the bullet and driving right through it was definitely the best way to go. Eventually, we made it to this small trio of islands (Vis, Sveti Andrija, and Bisevo). We sailed around them for a bit, flew our drone, and got some pretty cool shots.
Towards the end of the day, we arrived in Bisevo, we anchored for the night and took a dinghy to the island. We walked around Bisevo for a little bit and had dinner in town. That night we went back to the boat and bed early; we were excited about seeing the famous blue grotto of Bisevo the next day.
The Blue Grotto
Did you know? The blue cave is one of the best known natural beauty spots on the Adriatic, mainly because of the glowing blue light that illuminates the inside of the cave at certain times of the day.
There are actually many caves on the steep shores of Bisevo, but the most famous by far is the Blue Cave, which has a natural entrance that was carved in the limestone by the sea. It is located on the eastern side of the island and is one of the most important attractions of the Adriatic.
The only way to the entrance of the cave is by boat, which was cool. The cave itself as well was pretty impressive, and definitely worth the trip to Bisevo.
Onwards to Hvar!
From Bisevo, I wanted to see some of the other offshore islands nearby, but Josh didn’t want to – we could have made it to Palagruza or Susac, but we opted for the shorter route.
Keep in mind we also had a 6-year-old kid on board, and some other guests like Felix and his girlfriend, Christian, and his wife… They were also part of why we decided to head towards Hvar instead, which was only about 20 nautical miles away.
So the route we opted for had a midway swimming stop on the island of Vis in Stiniva Bay. This was a really beautiful day and we got a bunch of drone shots of our boat and the bay. This spot is arguably one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. You have these massive cliffs closing in, and there is a little tiny gate in between the rocks. The opening is only about 100 feet wide, but after, the bottleneck widens into a beautiful bau with a stunning beach.
The best thing is that getting there by land is very difficult, making it quite exclusive. Thankfully, getting there by sea is super simple. When we arrived, we couldn’t enter the main bay because it was already full of boats, so we anchored at the next bay and took the dinghy over to have a swim in this beautiful bay.
We had already visited the central bay in Hvar before, during the first charter I did with the Twin Star. This time, however, we couldn’t even get in the harbor – it was full of mega-yachts. Thankfully, we managed to find a nice place to anchor in front of the island, but unfortunately, we ran into some problems with our anchor winch.
Basically, the winch broke, and the anchor dropped entirely, and we weren’t able to stop it. We lost around 120 feet of chain, and the winch remained broken for the remainder of the 3-week trip.
Luckily, we could still drop the anchor without trouble, but getting it up was a huge hassle. Anchoring became a two-person job -which was mildly inconvenient.
By now, we already have a brand new anchor winch, so it’s no longer a problem; but for those three weeks, we had to endure having this broken thing. Looking back, it not only made anchoring annoying and complicated, but it also made it dangerous to anchor in some situations… – But we managed, and it all worked out. 😅
That day, as we tried to anchor in front of Hvar, it took about 2 or 3 tries to get the anchor to catch finally. We attempted to anchor a few times by the bay, and then we opted to move to a better spot, directly in front of Hvar, where the anchor finally caught.
From there, we took a boat to Hvar town since we wanted to see the 700-year-old castle walls again, this time with Christian and his family.
We did the touristy things, walking around and hiking up to the wall. We enjoyed the views from the top for a bit and then walked back down to town. Before going back to the boat, we had dinner at a lovely little restaurant in the town.
Lastovo National Park
The next day we were going to the island of Lastovo to check out the national park there. This is basically a spot where the rich and famous like hiding with the super-yachts. It is a stunning cruising route, with lots of pleasant surroundings and plenty of space.
Keep in mind that the island of Lastovo belongs to the central Dalmatian archipelago and is one of the most remote inhabited islands in the Adriatic Sea. If you’ve been following my Croatian adventures thus far, you probably know that other islands in this group of ‘remote and inhabited islands’ also include Vis, Brač, Hvar, Korčula, and Mljet.
We actually visited many of these islands on this trip. Keep an eye out for them!
The Lastovo archipelago contains a total of 46 islands, all of which became the Croatian Nature park “Lastovsko Otocje” in September 2006. Today, the Lastovo Archipelago is the eleventh nature park in Croatia.
I’m actually happy to say that I’ve seen quite a few of the 11… maybe I should start another collection… National Parks seems appropriate!
Upon arrival to Lastovo, we ended up anchoring in this one bay along with what seemed like all massive yachts in the area… one yacht even had a huge slide going from the top deck right into the water. We spent a bit of time at that spot, enjoying our surroundings and the ocean.
That day we also explored some other submarine bunkers and eventually trekked around the island.
I mean it’s a big island, so we just saw some parts of it and of the national park.
After our hike, we went back to the boat to enjoyed the afternoon with our toys.
We had tested a few of them out on different occasions, the manta you probably know about, it’s fantastic! This underwater scooter has almost 2 hours of battery life in the water.
If you snorkel, you can easily use it to check out all the best snorkel places in the area. You can also use it for diving; personally, I’m not a diver, but it’s great for my visitors that the option is there.
This afternoon we also ran further tests on our drones, both the above and underwater ones. Actually, we tested out the underwater drone the next day, but if you’ve been paying attention, you know that we have actually taken it for a spin before.
However, this time we wanted to try a penetration test to see it working near its max depth capabilities… But I’ll tell you more about it later!
So, in Lastovo, we found a beautiful spot for nice and easy anchorage; this time, we made a line to shore to hold in place better. In the evening, we had an enjoyable time having a lovely dinner on the boat beneath the stars. I think this was the night we tried our grill for the first time and made some delicious steak.
Oh, I should mention that we lost all of our guests the next day in Lastovo. Sadly, Christian and his family had to leave. It had been pretty cool having his 6-year old son aboard.
He truly enjoyed his time with us, being in the water a bunch with the toys, and loving the boat-life; we had so much fun together. Alas, they had a wedding to attend in Germany, and that was that.
Felix and his girlfriend decided to leave early; his girlfriend had been seasick most of the time she was on board, so that decision made sense. We brought them all to the ferry port in Lastovo, where they took a ferry to Split.
And then there were three
After all our guests decided to leave us, it was just Josh, Sheila and I left. I guess this is a good time to tell you more a little more about Sheila, as I promised. First things first, she’s our newest crew member. Initially, the plan was for her to come help us sail the boat to Tunisia and beyond. But as you know, plans change, and as it turns out, we stayed in Croatia much longer than anticipated, so she only sailed with us in Croatia.
She is a lovely German woman who has already sailed all around the world. She’s even done a sailing trip from Germany to Germany. Needless to say, she’s super experienced, and having her help us out was excellent. Both Josh and I learned a lot from her and her experience. Without her, we would have for sure had some pretty tricky situations. – So if you’re reading this: Thank you, Sheila.
From Lastovo, we sailed to Mljet- a bigger island located further south, close to Dubrovnik. But I’ll leave all the stories from the second half of our 3-week maiden voyage for my next post.