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A Week At Sea: Sailing the Adriatic

Yacht Week is a hugely popular event in Croatia. Contrary to the name, it’s not a single week during the year, but any week during the sailing season (May to September). To confuse things further, one of the sailing companies is called “The Yacht Week”.

Permission to come aboard?

I decided on sailing with Sail Week Croatia, one of the newer companies to offer sailing trips on the Adriatic Sea. They have three different options to choose from: Party Sail, Adventure Sail, and Ultra Sail.

Not wanting to be on a booze cruise for seven days straight, I opted for the Adventure Week sail. The main difference being that you do more on shore activities. As opposed to getting wasted every night on the boat or at clubs. Plus, I figured it would have a little bit of an older crowd than the party boats. 

Arriving at the marina to check in, I was anxious to see who I’d be sailing with. Is it going to be a boat full of other solo travellers? I knew that the composition of the crew was going to either make-it or break-it when it comes to having a good time. 

I hopped on to our boat, the Split Kiss, and was surprised by who greeted me. Five women from Australia and two guys from The UK. The skipper, Andrew, was the only other Canadian on the boat. 

L to R: Dani, Me, Claudia, Annelyse, Orianna, Richard, Erin, Mark

Orianna immediately offered me a sip of her drink: Jägermeister and Coke. It was at this moment that all fears of having a dud crew melted away. This is going to be a great week. 

The next seven days will take us south, departing from Split and arriving at Dubrovnik. All the while stopping off at the many islands off the coast of Croatia. 

The first night we stayed in Split and with the help of some alcohol, got to know the rest of the crew and skipper a little better. We had a great mix of people. Mark was a pig farmer from the UK, while Orianna was a Veterinarian. 

Early the next day we left the marina for the open water. With full sails out we headed southbound in moderately rough seas. Ori was getting sea-sick, so we put her at the helm to keep her mind occupied and to help out with her stomach. This would be the worst day on the water for the entire trip. 

Our first stop was Hvar, one of the largest cities on the Croatian islands. The crew got all done-up for a night on the town where we hit up a beach club called Hula Hula, then moving on to the tiny Kiva Bar for more dancing. By the time I got back to the boat, it was well past midnight and I was exhausted. 

Enjoying the hammock above deck.

I was sharing a tiny bunk bed with Dani and the nights were hot and stuffy. So I decided to sleep out on the deck to keep cool. Plus, I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to sleep under the stars on a sailboat. Our skipper was kind enough to bring along his hammock, which I took full advantage of almost every night. I felt like a baby being rocked to sleep.

The crew continued to bond as we made our way further south, stopping along the way to do some swimming or make lunch. There is something to be said about being able to just stop the boat, jump into the salty ocean to cool off, then hop back on and continue on your way. 

At one point we decided to do a little “water skiing”. Andrew rigged up some rope and threw our stand up paddle board into the water and asked: “Who’s first?!”.

I jumped in and went for a ride.

“Water Skiing” behind the boat.

We were doing the perfect mix of partying and excursions. I was also taking this opportunity to learn a little more about sailing. Andrew was happy to oblige and teach me a few things about skippering a boat. It’s a lot like flying, but much, much slower. I jumped at the opportunity to help out when needed.

The days were quickly winding down, the entire crew was having a great time and we were keeping busy with so many activities. 

At one stop, we all decided to take a dune buggy tour of Korčula. Being able to view this ancient island at dusk was amazing. 

Going for a ride

Spending seven days on a boat with complete strangers isn’t as bad as it sounds. All throughout the week you had the opportunity to meet other people when we were anchored in a bay or docked in a marina.

The next week Split hosted a large electronic music festival called Ultra Europe. This would be the busiest week for Sail Week Croatia and they needed extra crew to help them out. I jumped at the opportunity lend an extra hand. This would be a great way for me to see what it’s like “on the other side” to work as crew.

Kicking it with Ori and Dani

Once we all said our goodbyes, I headed to the airport with my intention of buying a cheap ticket westward. I still hadn’t heard back from the company if I was working for them or not. 

At the last minute, I get the email I was waiting for! I needed to get my ass back up to Split in about three hours to help out with check-in. 

I head to the car rental desk, grab a car and hit the road northboud. I was excited and confident that I would do an amazing job of whatever they asked of me. What I wasn’t prepared for, was the level of insanity that the Ultra Sail week would bring…