Part One: What to know before you get ON the boat
Summer holidays are always looked forward to with lots of excitement and anticipation. There are so many things to think about. What to pack, booking flights, making sure you know how you’re going to get from the airport to your accommodation when you land…
A sailing holiday departing from Kings Landing itself is the stuff of dreams for many. And the main marina where summer charters will depart from in Dubrovnik is called ACI Marina Dubrovnik. Whether you want to spend a few days exploring the historic old town or you are itching to get off the plane and head straight for the boat, here are a few very useful things to consider BEFORE you land in Croatia’s most southern-most city.
ACI (Adriatic Croatia International) is a Croatian chain of marinas, with facilities also in Korčula, Rovinj, Pula and other places throughout Croatia. ACI Marina Dubrovnik is located outside of the main part of Dubrovnik city itself, in an area called Komolac. This is about 15 minutes drive (just under 10km) from the old town of Dubrovnik and about 30 minutes drive (23km) from Dubrovnik International Airport. If you arrive in Dubrovnik by bus or ferry, the bus from the old town will pass through and you can catch it from Gruź, where the main ferry port and bus station are located.
Settled at the end of the inlet called Rijeka Dubrovačka, the marina has lots of facilities inside its’ gates, including a small Konzum supermarket, paid parking, two restaurants, a pool, plenty of bathroom facilities and a marine store.
For more information on how to get to ACI Marina Dubrovnik, what other services they offer and how to contact them, visit their website.
If you are chartering in the summer,
If you are chartering in the summer, then traffic will highly likely be busy. Very busy. Especially if you are making your way from anywhere in Dubrovnik to the marina like the throngs of others who are also chartering a boat! Making sure that you have pre-booked a transfer car/van makes this process a lot smoother. If you are staying in a private rental or a hotel, you can often ask your host or reception to recommend or organise this for you. Make sure that you confirm the price of the transfer IN WRITING before you confirm the booking! This is often just an extra precaution to ensure that the price is clear to both you and the driver. Your driver will well know the frustrations of the traffic between where you are staying and the marina, so feel free to ask their advice about when to leave and approximately how long it will take.
During the height of the season, the full force of the summer sun can take a heavy toll. To help combat the summer heat while you wait, we highly recommend that you take advantage of the pool facilities. Adults can order a beer from the nearby YachtClub Zephyrus and the kids can tire themselves out tearing around in the water. And the marina facilities are close by, with unisex shower cubicles, ideal for cleaning the kids up afterwards!
If you’d like to stretch your legs and you don’t much fancy sticking around the marina, you can also take a stroll through the village of Komolac and up to the Ombla, a miniature waterfall that has provided Dubrovnik with its’ fresh drinking water since 1438. Just make sure to leave a contact phone number with your charter company office so they know how to contact you when your boat is ready.
Check in time is officially listed on the charter agreement issued to you by the charter company at the time of booking, and is generally between 2pm and 7pm. You would be surprised at how many people turn up early thinking that they might be able to sneak onto the boat prior to check-in. And they end up waiting for hours at the hot, crowded marina when they could have used their morning exploring, swimming or sleeping in! Don’t be that guy!
My biggest piece of advice for anyone beginning their charter on a Saturday is: Be prepared to wait. The charter companies have multiple boats that they have to check the previous guests out of, clean inside and out, and then prepare for you, the new guests. This takes time. When you have 30 boats in your fleet, it takes a lot of time! Please be patient with the staff in the offices, as they are juggling many things at once and are doing their absolute best to get you on your boat as promptly as possible.
You can, by prior arrangement with your charter company, pay for an early check in. This will make you a priority and bump your boat to the top of the cleaning list. And we highly recommend that you talk to your charter agent about this when you organise the booking of your boat. Obviously these priority spots are limited and if you leave it to the day of, you are going to miss out! The charter company will then be able to let you know approximately what time you will be able to go through check in and then load your whole crew onto the boat!
Speaking of prior arrangement, make sure to have an early a conversation with your charter company if you wish to add any extra’s to your yacht charter. Depending on which charter company you are using, you might be able to pay extra for things like a stand-up paddle board, child-safety netting, other water-sports equipment and sometimes even an ice-maker! Again, the charter companies only have so many of each item available and it is a case of first in, first (re)served. Get in first and don’t miss out!
Hopefully you’re waiting at the marina with a cold beer in hand when you do get the call from your charter company that the boat is ready to be checked-in. Please do not take all of your crew and luggage and provisions to the boat straight away! We know that you and your group will be eager to step on board, and yet the check-in process with the technician will go a lot smoother and more quickly if only one person (maximum two if necessary) goes to the boat for check-in. The person who will be the main skipper of the vessel needs to go through the check-in process, as this will cover things like the electronics of the boat, where the safety equipment is stored, engine starting procedures and how to access/operate toilets and holding tanks. Play attention and take note of any damages or malfunctions on board the boat and make sure to document them visually with your phone as soon as you notice them. This documentation is useful for both you as the charterer, but also useful for the charter company.
When it comes to provisioning (the yachtie term for stocking your boat with the necessary yummy foods and drinks to be consumed once you’re out on the Adriatic!), our advice is, be prepared and know what is in the area.
At ACI Marina Dubrovnik, there is a small Konzum supermarket located IN the marina itself. And you can imagine how overrun it gets in summer when hundreds of enthusiastic charterers want to provision for their sailing holiday. Our advice, if you are going to be provisioning here, is to get in early to make sure you don’t miss out on certain items.
If you are arriving at the marina from Dubrovnik, there are larger supermarkets that you can use for provisioning on the way. There is a Super Konzum located in Gruž, right next to the ferry port, and another Super Konzum (for some reason labelled as ‘Maxi Konzum’ in Google Maps) behind the Ina fuel station on Ulica Vladimira Nazora. These two large super markets will make provisioning much easier!
Many visitors to Dubrovnik stumble across the fresh market behind the Church of St Blaise in the heart of the Old Town. But you don’t have to go all the way to the Old Town for fresh local produce. There is actually another fresh market in Gruž, where the main ferry port and bus station are located, making it more accessible to vendors from outside of the city. This is a far more local market, so there is less emphasis on pretty jars of product and more focus on fresh, locally sourced fruits, vegetables, meats and fish. Make sure you stock up on locally-made olive oil too.
Being prepared as to where you will be staying for the first night out on the boat is also important and something that can be very stressful if left until the last minute to arrange when the sun is going down. Checking out anchorages within short distances from the marina, making sure that you have provisions to make dinner for that a night or maybe planning to stay in the marina and leaving early in the morning are all good things to think about and to discuss with your crew before your sailing holiday starts.
If you leave from ACI Marina Dubrovnik, then there is a very high likelihood that you will return to ACI Marina Dubrovnik for the last night of your charter. Stay tuned for Part Two: What to know before you get OFF the boat