Before leaving Korcula and Lumbarda Marina I had a nice local guy called Zoran prepare the boat for the summer. He changed a couple of seacocks, cleared the raw water intake, changed the anodes, added a coat of antifouling and waxed the hull. Zoran had his boat at the same marina that we did and he was looking after a number of the neighbouring boats. The only problem was that the boat had to be lifted to enable him to do what he had to below the waterline, and the only yard with a crane large enough to lift a lady of Saoirse’s stature was in bankruptcy. But in true Croatian fashion the local staff had been told by the owner that whilst you do not get paid you do get the use of the equipment in the yard as long as you do not tell me what you use it for. This meant that a bunch of unemployed and uninsured islanders used a 50-tonne crane, that probably was well overdue for a service, to lift my future home.
The haul out went well and after a few days of provisioning and installing a new anchor and 80 metres of new chain I set off towards Cavtat to pick up the boys. Cavtat is a lovely seaside town perfectly located between Dubrovnik and its airport. It is also where you clear out of Croatia if you are going south towards Montenegro, Albania or Greece. Croatia is not a part of the Schengen area yet and as I understand it, they are under observation at present and therefore need to show that their border security can live up to the expectations of the remaining Schengen countries. I remembered the experience we had when we entered the country three years earlier. We had sailed from Corfu and decided not to stop in Albania or Montenegro as we did not want to go through the hassle of leaving and re-entering the EU. Having sailed all the way from Sweden, through thirteen countries without any border controls, the thought of clearing into Croatia did not even enter our minds. We stopped in a bay just after the Croatian border and dropped the anchor for a well-deserved rest, only to be approached by the Croatian Coast Guard. I was ordered over to their vessel and told to bring all passports and documentation on Saoirse. And most importantly, a credit card. After an hour of lecturing and having paid a €185 fine I was told to lift anchor and rush off to Cavtat to do the whole thing again at the border police station. When registering the second time they informed me that they had monitored our movements all the way through Saoirse’s AIS signal.
Needless to say, it was with bruised confidence and only after a big bite of humble-pie that I attempted to clear out. I went to the Port Authority, Police and Customs offices the day before to make sure that I understood what was required of me and in which order that I had to meet them. I was told that I had to reverse in ‘med-style’ at the Q-Dock, pay 100 Kuna to the local ‘boat parking attendant’ at the dock and then I would be the only one that would be permitted to leave the boat to clear out. At the end of the day the process was very smooth and the various officials that I met were very pleasant. But I was told that I should leave in a straight line and not stay in Croatian waters any longer than necessary. Twelve miles west before I could turn the nose towards Greece. We followed these instructions, aware of that our movements no doubt would be monitored via AIS as we got the hell out of Dodge. We had spent three fantastic years in Croatia but were now on our way again. It felt great!