Around Hvar by Sails
Around Hvar by Sails is a sailing route 80 nautical miles long. From Cape Pelegrin to the Hvar Port, along the southern shore of the island to Sućuraj, then along the north side all the way to Cape Kabal and Stari Grad, you’ll be carried by the mistral (maestral) and tramontane (tramuntana).
When you’re sailing from the west towards Hvar town, which will reveal itself as soon as you turn in its direction, you won’t need to lower your sails. If the mistral or tramontane are blowing from the west or northwest, they’ll carry you straight into the Hvar port.
If the wind and waves are coming at your prow, you’ll manoeuvre from one shore to the other, slowly approaching the small island of Klement on one side, and the Vela Bay and Mala Garška on the other. Next you’ll see Ždrilca, Marinkovac and, finally, the Hvar port. Only seen from the sea does Hvar reveal itself in all its beauty. You’ll see amazing landmarks such as the Cathedral, the Arsenal with its theatre, the Fortress, the Franciscan Monastery, and the seafront under the Factory, once the anchorage spot for the Venetian fleet and hundreds of moored boats.
The port is open to the south and west, with an ever-rolling sea, and you can find refuge in the Pakleni islands.
The Pakleni islands is a must-sail. If you watch out for the shallows, the experience is amazing. You’ll need to sail upwind and downwind, follow the currents, sail through Ždrilca, squeeze past Jerolim, and all that in a short period of time. However, the lebić (wind from the sea) can cause rough seas, so you should be cautious even though the islands and their coves are safe heavens.
The most beautiful time to sail from Pakleni Islands to bays Milna and Dubovica is when the mistral is blowing. Raise your spinnaker, prepare your crew and, as you cut through the waves, the only question on your mind will be whether to make a stop in one of the two bays. The mistral can make it challenging to sail into Milna Bay, except into the western part, Small Milna. If you have the time, make a stop in Dubovica as well.
The sailing continues along a steep and unapproachable coast, and a small cove open to the south and the mistral, but your next destination will be Šćerdo Islet.
The islet is mostly uninhabited during the Winter, but the first rays of the spring sun bring back life to this mysterious islet
There are a few houses in the Lovišće port and Vinogradišće bay, with more and more sailors in the sheltered coves.
Since ancient times, Šćerdo has been an important port, the only shelter for sailors during strong jugo (south wind) on their way from Korkyra to Pharos. In 49 BC, important historic battles took place here between the Pompeii and Caesar, during which Caesar’s commandant Vatinius, with a smaller fleet but greater skills, overcame Marcus Octavius in the port of Taurus.
In the Middle Ages, Dominican priests resided in the monastery in Mostir cove, after whom the cove got its name.
The best place to anchor in the entire island is its western part, in the port of Lovišće. Although there are even more yachtsmen visiting every year, this port still exudes a peace and quiet, like it did in the past. Like in its neighbouring cove, Mostir, you should only watch out for the strong bora wind.
If’re you’re sailing along the southern coast of Hvar Island, it will be difficult to stop before Sućuraj, except in the time of the summer bonaca (calm sea). The beautiful landscapes that this route will provide you with, make it worth your while to sail closer to the shore.
On your way to Sućuraj there are a few small settlements like Torac and Smarska, and several coves where you can drop you anchor: Kozja, Smarska and Mrtinovik. However, if you’re not on a smaller boat, these aren’t safe to spend the night; the only safe cove is in Sućuraj, the most eastern Hvar settlement.
The northern coast of Hvar Island, from Cape Sućuraj to Jelsa, is exposed to northeast winds, which you need to be cautious with. The coast descends steeply into the sea, creating only smaller coves and strands the most interesting of which is the Pokrivenik cove which holds a beautiful strand along with several houses. You can anchor and have a swim here as long as bora isn’t blowing, since the cove is open to it.
Further along, towards Jelsa, you’ll find the coves Vela stiniva and Mala stiniva, followed by the coves of Jelsa: Crkvica, Zenčište, Grebišče and Mina, suitable for swimming, but definitely not an overnight stay.
For that, you’ll need to sail on to Jelsa, the former Pitava port. In the time of sailing ships, many of them moored at the Jelsa waterfront, while their owners, the captains, lived in noble houses which adorn the Jelsa waterfront to this day. The sailing ships, along with the Jelsa nobility, disappeared with the arrival of steamboats.
The port is protected by three breakwaters, and is safe and pleasant except when the bora blows from Biokovo. Sailing into the port is not recommended if a strong bora already started to blow.
A mile and a half north of Jelsa, you’ll find the village of Vrboska, anchored more than a mile inland. A small, quiet place, if we don’t count the yachtsmen. To sail in and out of the bay surrounded by a pine forest, which at first broadens and then narrows, is a really beautiful experience.
This former Vrbanj port bends along the both shores of the bay which are connected by several small bridges. Wherever you moor in Vrboska you can rest at ease; the bora in the bay feels good but doesn’t create waves or disturb the moored boats. The southeast wind creates waves, and it is only dangerous in times of the stormy southeast wind when the sea level rises suddenly so berths should be monitored.
The sailing route to Stari Grad is 15 nautical miles long, without sailing into any of the 40 big and small coves along the way. Such indentation, which forms some of the most beautiful Adriatic coastlines, is complemented by the islet of Zečevo, half a mile north of Cape Glavica at the exit of the port of Vrboska. Such rugged coastline, which forms some of the most beautiful Adriatic coastlines, is complemented by the islet of Zečevo, half a mile north of Cape Glavica,the exit of the port of Vrboska.
If you want to anchor, have a swim, or spend the night, do it in the bay on the south side of the islet. If bora starts to blow – have no fear, Zečevo will give you shelter. However it will be much more uncomfortable during jugo.
With the exception of Basina, all coves to Žukova, 6 nautical miles away, are uninhabited and open to bora.
When you turn around the Plane Cape and sail west during a summer afternoon, you will be blown away by the maeštralun wind, which, originating far out in the Adriatic, reaches its greatest strength here, in the narrowest part of the Hvar Channel acting as a sort of funnel.
If you’re sailing using a motor, expect to be splashed and rolled, but if you want to sail with a well-prepared crew using just your sails, this is a good opportunity for a sharp volley against the wind.
After such a sailing route, you should stop at Žukova Bay. The bay is sheltered from all winds especially in its south arm, and it’s also good for swimming.
Cape Smočiguzica is just over 1 nautical mile away. Today, this not very hospitable part of the coast, is known around the world as one of the most famous Adriatic panorama.
When you pass Cape Kabal, the eighty-meter-high cliff, you enter the Stari Grad Bay, which cuts 5 nautical miles into the heart of the island. Sailors love it because there is always wind in it. For this reason competitive sailors have been training there for years, so don’t be surprised if you see a laser or an optimist speed in front of you as you sail.
The most common wind that blows is the northwest wind which can be uncomfortable if it’s strong.
If you sailed into this bay on one of those crystal clear days, you’ll see everything as if it were in the palm of your hand. It’ll seem as if you sailed into the fjord; in the south you’ll have the high hills of Bruška that descend steeply to the sea, Stari Grad in the far depths of the bay, and the port Tiha on the north, another famous nautical destination.
Tiha Port is comprised of seven coves with the northern ones sheltered from all winds, the western ones not safe during jugo, and Hobonj not safe during lebić. It is, however, a safe anchorage point and a good place to spend the night. After Tiha, there are several more coves before you reach Stari Grad there, the largest of them being Zavala.
The entrance to the Stari Grad Port is enclosed by Helios Faros Hotels in the north, and Cape Fortin in the south.
In the port of Stari Grad berths are located on the New Waterfront (Nova riva), in front of the Port Authority Office. You can also moor at the old ferry dock or at the anchorage in the middle of the bay. Feel free to spend the night here anytime because this oldest island town, the town of Hektorović’s Tvrdalj, is one of the safest ports in any weather.