While no two days on one of our sailing holidays are the same, let me paint you a picture of the kind of experiences you can expect when on board with 45 Degrees Sailing. Bear with me. It is long. And it is worth the read, I promise!
It is 6am and the sun is well up.
The swallows are flitting merrily around the old stone buildings that line the riva of Stari Grad and you can hear the clang of the church bells from the one of the town churches. While you relax in bed, enjoy a morning run or watch the peaceful sunrise, you know that we are preparing for the day ahead. Reprovisioning at the local market has already been done. The smell of freshly brewing coffee and banana pancakes wafts through the cabin as you feel your yacht leaving the dock.
As we pull up into a bay, not far from where we stayed last night, you remark how blissfully peaceful and calm it is. Everyone onboard starts to stir and slowly they all emerge from their cabins.
Breakfast takes place above the crystal clear waters, where you can see the rock formations and spy the fish swimming around the hull. You are impressed to see that in addition to the banana pancakes for breakfast, there are also pancakes set aside separately for your daughter, without the banana that she detests. The kids watch Nick take a flying jump off the swim platform into the crystal clear waters of the Adriatic, and you laugh as they all quickly follow suit. With the paddle boards already in the water, a paddle board race is organised as more piping hot, fragrant coffee is brought up to you.
After your swim, you are able to stretch out in the sun for half an hour or so uninterrupted while the kids are fully absorbed with their paddle boarding. They took the paddle boards to shore and collected some beautiful stones that they found on the beach. Of course, they bring the stones back to you, very proud of their gifts and adventures!
Back on board the boat, everyone gathers together and we have a quick chat about where we are going today. With the north easterly wind, known as Bura, coming down off the hills of Brač, Nick and I remind everyone how to secure the lockers and items in your cabins to keep everything safe. We will be sailing for a couple of hours to get closer to our destination for the night and the kids are keen to play the playlist that we all contributed to on the first night of the trip. There are some fabulous dance hits on the playlist, so we all have a dance party in the cockpit. Which is harder than it sounds! Doing dance moves and staying upright is certainly a challenge as the boat heels and leans over! You laugh as you watch the kids topple over, and they laugh as YOU topple over a fair few times too. After an hour or so of sailing and dancing, the playlist tempo chills out and the kids end up curling up on top of you for a short snooze.
We pull into our lunch spot just after midday. You come up onto the bow with me as the anchor drops down and we talk about how the water here off of the shores of a small island called Zečevo, is stunningly clear. You can see the anchor as it lays on the ground. It’s incredible!
Lunch is handmade gnocchi in a mushroom sauce (your favourite!), with platters full of local sides, including hearty Croatian cured meats, locally pickled gherkins and mortar (which grows on the rocks everywhere we go!), a delicious goats cheese and fat, juicy looking baby tomatoes. And of course, it’s not a complete lunch in Croatia without a pile of fresh, crusty bread and a bottle of grassy green olive oil. The lovely ladies at Hora, the farm where we went for dinner last night, were kind and gifted all of us a bottle of homemade cordial flavored with elderflower and lemon to share. It is so refreshing and is a brilliant lunch-time drink!
Nick announces that it is time to head into our port for the night. We are not in a hurry and he thinks that the wind is ideal for a bit of light, cruisy sailing. One of the older kids is still enjoying the sun up on deck and asks if he needs to move or help with the sailing. He is reassured that he doesn’t need to move a muscle if he doesn’t want to! He can enjoy watching as we put the sails up and make our way around the point. Once the sails are up, you take the helm for the first time, under Nick’s guidance of course, and it is amazing how much power you can feel in the wheel. Once you get the hang of it, you begin to really enjoy it!
Sailing is a lot of fun, and not being in a hurry means that there is no pressure. Everyone seems to be enjoying themselves. As we start to get closer to other boats, you get a bit nervous, but Nick is very reassuring and gives you some great direction on how fast to drive up the channel and how far over to the right to steer the boat. You learn about the contour lines on the GPS and where on the helm to read the depth. There is so much to learn!
You hand the helm over to Nick and you ask one of the kids to grab your camera from in your cabin, because you have heard how stunning the approach into Vrboska is and you are dying to take some photos. And they weren’t wrong! You admire how expertly Nick and I dock the boat on the village riva, as the kids bring to your attention how close the ice-cream stand is. You gather everyone together to explore the village of Vrboska, apparently the fishing museum here is a must-see and there is a park on the other side of the inlet so the kids can take their ball to kick it around.
When you come back to the boat a couple of hours later, it is beautifully clean, both inside and out. The kids are dirty and sweaty so you bundle them straight into the shower, emerging clean and fresh and ready for dinner.
Just up around the corner from where the boat is docked, is your dinner spot at a lovely family owned restaurant called Trica Gardelin. You are welcomed warmly by Milena, and she shows you your table especially laid out for your family right alongside the water. The kids have plenty of energy left, and you are glad that they can run around as you sit down and enjoy a glass of the house-made sweet wine that I talk so much about. The kids don’t even need to be called back to the table when their pizza comes and you are impressed with the size of your seafood pasta serving! In fact, all of the servings are huge and everyone comments on it. The atmosphere is buzzing all around your al fresco dining table. It is a fabulous people watching spot, watching the kids chasing each other up and down the inlet on both sides, watching the family who own and run the restaurant greeting potential customers, watching the odd bike pass by too, sometimes with fishing gear attached! The meal is very satisfying and you thoroughly enjoy yourself. As dinner draws to a close, Nick and Mahina offer to take the kids back to the boat early, leaving you some quiet adult time to enjoy a glass of wine or two as the sun sets.
By the time you get back to the boat, you can’t believe it as the kids are all changed into their pj’s, teeth are brushed and they are all cuddled up in one of their cabins listening to a bed time story! You kiss them goodnight and head up to the cockpit to open that bottle of wine that you bought yesterday from Yvan at Za Pod Zub, a very cool little gourmet deli shop in Stari Grad. The sound of klappa singing floats down the riva and into the cockpit, a Croatian style of harmonized singing unaccompanied by any instruments. Even with boats on either side and the people still walking past, it feels surprisingly calm and relaxed. The cockpit cushions are cosy as you kick your shoes off and stretch your legs out in front of you, soaking up the ambience. What a stunning way to end a day!