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Wednesday, June 1, 2016

MedSailors: The Only Way to Sail in Croatia

We've just finished a week sailing around Croatia with MedSailors, a sailing company owned by 3 Kiwis who run group sailing holidays around Croatia, Turkey and Greece for 20-35 year olds! It was our first experience sailing and I'm happy to say it was one of the most incredible weeks travelling we've had in all our years of traipsing around the world. As an Aussie I gravitate towards the sunshine, salt, sand and sea and after two years in the UK I was in serious need of some Vitamin Sea. There's nothing better than waking up and diving off your yacht into the crystal clear, aquamarine waters of the Mediterranean Sea and then spending your days sailing, stopping in gorgeous bays, paddleboarding, relaxing and then docking up on a beautiful, new island each day to explore historic towns, try wonderful new cuisine paired with local wines and relax onboard your own yacht with your new friends, some who will become friends for life. A sailing holiday with MedSailors is truly the perfect way to holiday and we're already planning our next one!



There are countless companies offering sailing trips around Croatia but we chose MedSailors as they seemed the perfect fit for us! MedSailors have built a reputation in the both the sailing world and travel industry as market leaders who offer the highest quality sailing holidays in the Mediterranean! The skippers and staff are all trained to the highest level and know where to find the most beautiful hidden swimming bays, the most authentic restaurants, the best bars and of course the most incredible, unspoilt islands. MedSailors also are known for their laid-back, relaxing holidays which is just what sailing should be and whilst there is plenty of opportunities for partying it is generally not the primary reason people sign up which is something that drew us to them. We do love a good afternoon beverage on the boat and the odd night out but aren't drawn to holidays that promote non stop drinking and partying as we're closer to 30 than we are 20 now! I really feel that MedSailors have perfected the balance for a perfect holiday with a mix of relaxation, sightseeing, sailing, fun, adventure, culture and partying and we wouldn't hesitate to jump back on one of their boats today if we could!



DAY 1 - STORMOSKA
I was so excited for MedSailors that I barely slept a wink the night before, I felt like a kid on Christmas Eve! This morning we caught a bus from Split to nearby Trogir which is a beautiful 13th century town that has been nicknamed "the stone beauty" and is well worth having a stroll around before you head out to the marina! MedSailors are based out of Baotic Marina which is about a 30 minute walk or 10 minute taxi from Trogir. Our week of sailing began on a Saturday afternoon and once we'd checked in we boarded our yacht and met our fellow sailors who we'd be spending the next week with! Everyone was really excited for the week ahead and whilst a few of the group had sailed before most of us were virgin sailors!

Our skipper was Colin from the UK and we'd be sailing on Marot with Yasmin and Shayne a Kiwi couple, Casey from Australia, Karim from America and Laura from the UK. Everyone seemed really nice, friendly and easy going and once we'd all put our luggage in our cabins we set sail! Colin taught us the basics of how to turn the boat on and off as well as gave us all a go at steering. Much to my embarrassment in front of our new group of friends I managed to turn our boat in a 180┬║ direction, the wrong way oops! Luckily Colin was a really patient skipper and I'd have plenty of opportunities to redeem myself with the group throughout the week!

We were really blessed with perfect weather conditions on our first day. The sun was shining, the sea was a beautiful azure colour and was lovely and calm. We sailed for a few hours until we reached Stormoska, our first stop for the week! Stormoska was a beautiful little town in a tranquil bay on the picturesque island of Solta. Here we explored the beautiful small fishing village which boasts a colourful waterfront, a crystal clear beach and charming little restaurants. We then headed to welcome drinks on the beach where we indulged in plenty of MedSailors punch provided by our lovely crew as we got to know the people on the other boats as well. As we were the first sailing trip of the season we had three guest boats and one crew boat and it was really nice to have a small group where everyone got to know each other!

After welcome drinks we headed across to a charming konoba (restaurant) for a delicious dinner where we watched a beautiful sunset across the bay and toasted to a fantastic week with what we'd already decided was an awesome bunch of people! We then bunkered down for our first night on Marot which comprised of four cabins (three doubles and one twin with bunk beds) and were gently rocked to sleep by the sea. It was the perfect way to end an amazing first day and we couldn't wait to see where the rest of the week would take us!







DAY 2 - VIS 
After our first brekkie on board our yacht which consisted of a great spread of fresh fruit, cereal, yoghurt, fresh bread, spreads and tea and coffee we headed off to the ex-military fort of Vis! The weather and water conditions were perfect with blue skies, sunshine and glassy, flat seas, so much so that it actually felt like we were cruising along on a lake, not the open seas! As we sailed along we spotted beautiful dolphins frolicking in the waters ahead and we couldn't believe it when a few minutes later they were at the bow of our boat! It was a pretty magical moment for everyone to share together and one that we spoke about countless times throughout the week, especially when it was the first time a lot of people on our boat (mostly the non-Aussies) had seen dolphins in the wild!

Colin gave me a chance to redeem myself after my terrible attempt at driving the boat yesterday and I'm happy to say that today's effort was exponentially better. As the sea conditions were so smooth and the weather was amazing we stopped the boat to try some paddle board surfing behind the boat! A few people had a go with Shayne being the best by far and inspiring the rest of us to want to try it out later in the week.

We stopped in a beautiful, secluded bay for lunch and whilst Colin was whipping us up a feast in the kitchen we all took the opportunity to dive off the boat and have our first swim of the week! Being the first week of the sailing season the water was a little chilly but so clear, calm and refreshing! All that swimming and paddleboarding helped us to work up an appetite and we all tucked into the pesto pasta, salad, tuna and bread with olive oil and balsamic.

After lunch we set sail into beautiful Vis Town. Vis is an ex-military fort that is rich in mindblowing history and famous for its wine! Vis Town is an explorer's dream and everyone set off in different directions with some choosing to hire scooters to explore the island, some set off on a military tour, others went wine tasting, some explored on foot and we hired bicycles! We cycled around the bay through the old and new towns, past beautiful bays and coves with the most incredible turquoise and azure waters and stopped to explore historic forts and castles. Vis is such a beautiful island and I guarantee anyone who visits it will fall in love with its charming old town, incredible history and breathtaking natural beauty.

That night we caught an amazing sunset on deck and whilst it was a free night we all decided to dine together at a beautiful restaurant near the marina. We all chose seafood and had our first taste of incredibly fresh, amazing Croatian seafood! Everyone was looking a little more tanned by this stage and couldn't wipe the smiles off their faces after what was literally a perfect day in Croatia.




DAY 3 - HVAR
Today we were due to be heading to Gradina Bay on Korcula Island but due to the weather conditions and extremely high 35 knot winds the skippers decided it would be unsafe to make the crossing and so we headed to Hvar instead! We all trusted the knowledge and experience of the skippers and knew that wherever we went we'd still have an incredible time, I mean we are sailing around Croatia, life truly doesn't get much better than that!

The high wind conditions were apparently the ideal sailing weather and so Colin decided it would be the perfect opportunity to have our first full sailing experience with both our sails up! The crossing to Hvar was one of the craziest experiences of my life and whilst I do get sea sick it was the only day I felt unwell of the whole trip and Colin was really helpful and kept checking to ensure I was okay. Despite feeling unwell I, like everyone else on the boat absolutely loved the sailing, it was such an adrenaline rush! The yacht was at full lean at around a 45° angle with the edge of the boat underwater for about 2-3 hours straight and it was fantastic to see Colin and Gary (another skipper who was on board for the day) absolutely in their element! (A word of warning - make sure you properly lock/seal your window hatch in your cabin as I accidentally left ours slightly ajar and to say our room, bed and some of our clothes were a little damp is an understatement! Oops - luckily it was nice and sunny in Hvar so we dried everything on deck that afternoon and now it is just a lesson learnt and a funny story!)

We sailed into the beautiful (and thankfully calm) Palmi┼żana Bay on the Pakleni Islands which are located just across from Hvar! We had a little bit of lunchtime entertainment in the marina as Shayne dropped his very expensive sunglasses off the side of the boat. Luckily Tijs, one of the other skippers from the Netherlands is a free diver and very impressively came to his rescue by saving the sunnies from about 8m below our yachts! That afternoon we all walked across the island to a beautiful bay with a cocktail bar and beach where we all indulged in a few cocktails and a refreshing swim!

Most of the marinas that we stayed in during the week had toilet and shower facilities and we all showered and got dressed up for a night out on the town in Hvar! Hvar boasts ancient ruins, medieval churches, a gorgeous Old Town and a fantastic nightlife! We all headed into Havr on water taxis and had a few hours to explore before dinner. We decided to walk up the Fortress which is well worth the hike for the incredible views you are rewarded with at the top! There's also a bar inside the fortress and I'm pretty sure we had the best seat in town for a sunset drink.

We had dinner at an incredible seafood restaurant before heading next door to the cocktail bar for a night of old school classics, shots, cocktails, dancing and just a few more drinks to top it off! The night out in Hvar was the biggest party night of the week, just make sure you don't miss your water taxi home!










DAY 4 - MILNA
Everyone was feeling a little worse for wear this morning and the weather certainly matched that! The weather prediction for the week had been spot on and this morning we woke up to heavy rain and thunderstorms. The skippers decided we could have a quiet morning before setting off to nearby Milna on Brac Island. Luckily the seas were a lot calmer today than yesterday and we had a nice, calm sail into Milna where Dan had a good chance to steer! Again we stopped for lunch in a beautiful bay. Lunch on MedSailors is one of our favourite meals because it means we stop in secluded, private, beautiful coves and work up an appetite swimming and paddleboarding whilst Colin prepares us a delicious, Mediterranean feast!

Milna is a beautiful, charming town with colourful houses and a lot of cafes, bars and restaurants along the waterfront and the sun even came out once we sailed into the bay! Everyone on our boat decided we'd have the night onboard and cook ourselves up a feast after our big night out in Hvar the night before. With Yasmin as the head chef we whipped up an amazing cheese & meat platter along with a delicious couscous salad packed full of nutrients and had a night filled with delicious food, drinks, a breathtaking sunset and so much laughter onboard Marot! MedSailors ask you a few questions when you first book which helps them to pair you up with like minded people on your yacht to ensure you have an unforgettable week. Each of the three yachts during our sailing week could not have been paired up any more perfectly and it was incredible just how close each of the boats had become during the week.








DAY 5 - SESULA
Today we awoke to learn that the conditions were perfect for the MedSailors Regatta Sailing Race! Towards the end of each week, each yacht put into practice the skills and knowledge that they've learnt throughout the week in a friendly race against the other boats. Colin wasn't allowed to take part and so we had Yasmin as driver, Casey and Karim on the ropes, Laura as photographer and Shayne, Dan and I as the counterweights off the side of the boat and I'm very happy to say we sailed ourselves to victory! We did have a fairly competitive boat and whilst we joked about it being a "friendly" race I don't think any of us actually meant it, so much so that I skinned my knees as I was scrambling from one side of the boat to the other as we tacked! The race was really fun though and it was great to put into practice what Colin had taught us throughout the week and it was even better to cross the finish line with drinks in hand "modestly" singing "We are the Champions!"

After our race we kept sailing until we reached the beautiful bay of Sesula, located on the other side of island of Solta where we'd spent out first night. Sesula is a gorgeous, tranquil bay where we spent our first night anchored in a bay rather than docked in a marina. The weather was incredible and we spent the afternoon playing music, swimming in the crystal clear waters, having paddle board races and relaxing on the boat before catching a gorgeous sunset and indulging on tantalising Croatian cuisine at Sismis, the only restaurant in Sesula!










DAY 6 - STARI GRAD, HVAR
It is an incredible feeling to wake up, get out of bed, walk out of your cabin and dive off the side of your boat - there's truly no better way to start your day! After our morning swim in beautiful Sesula we set sail for Stari Grad on Hvar! As per our amazing daily routine Colin found us a bay for swimming and lunch which turned out to be the most beautiful bay of the whole week! The water was such a vibrant, crystal clear aquamarine colour that begged you to dive in!

The conditions were also okay to give the paddleboard surfing another go and Dan jumped in and mastered it within seconds! We had skipper Tijs onboard today as well and so him and Dan had a go at surfing together with they nailed so quickly! Shayne then jumped in as well but they couldn't quite master surfing with three people but it did provide a lot of laughter and entertainment for the rest of us!

Stari Grad is one of the oldest towns in Europe and is a charming, historic town with cobbled pathways, cute cafes and incredible wineries. For our final night of the trip MedSailors had something fantastic lined up for us: wine tasting and a traditional peka dinner at a beautiful winery that is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site! We spent the evening tasting delicious Croatian wines, exploring the beautiful farm and tucking into incredible food which also included peka - a must try dish when in Croatia! After dinner we were also awarded with our trophy for winning the Sailing Regatta which we proudly posed with for a lot of photos! I couldn't think of a more magical way to celebrate the final night of an unforgettable week sailing around Croatia with MedSailors.






DAY 7 - TROGIR
We all woke up on our last day at sea as we'd left Stari Grad around 7am. We were all feeling a quite sad that it was our final day but still wanted to make the most of it and enjoyed one last delicious brunch on board Marot as well as stopping for one final swim in a gorgeous bay!

We sailed into Trogir around lunchtime and as our whole group was going back to Split we said our goodbyes to Colin and the fantastic MedSailors staff and caught a taxi back to Split. In Split we shared a lot of hugs with our wonderful group who we'd become incredibly close with throughout the week before heading off on our separate ways with plenty of adventures still ahead of everyone.


Photo: @sportraveller

Our week sailing around Croatia with MedSailors has been a highlight of our travels this year and hands down one of the best weeks we've had travelling ever. We both fell in love with sailing and cannot wait to get back to Australia to try it again. Every morning since we left our yacht we've woken up and said "I wish we were on Marot" and there really is no place we'd rather be than sailing around beautiful blue waters of Croatia on a MedSailors yacht, stopping off at a new island everyday! It's actually been really tough to put into words how much we loved every single moment of our week sailing around Croatia with MedSailors and would certainly recommend them to anyone and everyone we know. We're already trying to work out when we can sign up for their Greek Islands route next! x


The Aussie Flashpacker experienced our amazing week sailing Croatia as a guest of MedSailors.
Our opinions are as always, our own.

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