Part One: What to know before you get ON the boat
Often, when you book a charter boat to cruise for a week out amongst the glorious Croatian islands, the focus is so heavily on the time spent on the boat that the hustle of before and after are often left to haphazard chance. Which can cause a lot of unnecessary stress and anxiety, not exactly how you want to begin and end your sailing holiday!
We have been dealing with charter companies in Marina Kaštela for five seasons now and want to share with you some tips, tricks and things to organize before hand to make sure that you begin your sailing holiday as you mean to continue, prepared and relaxed!
If you are chartering in the summer,
then traffic will highly likely be busy. Especially if you are making your way from Split to Kaštela like everyone else who is 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 before you confirm the booking! Your driver will well know the frustrations of the traffic between Split and Kaštela, so feel free to ask their advice about when to leave and approximately how long it will take.
If you are like me and like to be early for everything, then once you have let the charter company know how to contact you, I highly recommend checking in your luggage at the marina so you can then go explore Kaštela! Either wander along the waterfront in the general direction of Split airport or take a local taxi to one of the other six parts of Kaštela. A few of the places that we love to hang out at are:
Located across the road from a quaint little beach, this new hotel is a fabulous place to grab a cocktail or coffee and enjoy the view. They also have a lunch menu that is offered in their restaurant although the hours are limited so it pays to check with them beforehand to avoid going hungry!
Don’t let the word ‘bar’ in the name put you off. This cafe serves coffee tea and cold drinks, has an amazing pancake menu (pancakes in Croatia are thin crepe style), loads of outdoor seating, an amazing outlook over the bay and even a play area for the kids!
Formerly known as Caffe Bar Twister, this spot right on the waters’ edge was revamped in 2020 and now serves lunch, dinner, coffee and cocktails. In style! With simple sophisticated decor and friendly service, this is a firm new favourite for us.
There are lots of other little caffe/bars and eateries along the Kaštela coast so feel free to pop in and try one of those too!
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!
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.
Marina Kaštela has three large supermarkets within walking distance, Konzum, Plodine and Aldi, and one small market, Ribola, on site. Do not make the mistake of thinking you can rely on the little Ribola for all of your provisioning needs! Most people head up to Konzum to do their grocery shopping, which also means that even this very large supermarket gets VERY BUSY and commonly runs out of stock of basics very quickly on a Saturday. Getting your shopping back to the boat can also be an issue. There are often many unofficial (yes, technically illegal but totally safe) taxi’s waiting outside the marina or the supermarket. If you don’t fancy lugging all your groceries to the marina by yourself, grab one of these local drivers! Make sure to agree on a price with your driver before you load anything into the car.
UPDATE: As of 2022, STOP SHOP Retail Park has now opened up across the road from Plodine and Lidl in Kaštela. With shops like Muller, Tedi and Spar, there is now much more variety to choose from when provisioning in the Kaštela area.
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 Marina Kaštela, then there is a very high likelihood that you will return to Marina Kaštela for the last night of your charter. Stay tuned for Part Two: What to know before you get OFF the boat