“It is easy” they said. “You just take your boat along to the next harbour where they have a harbour office and he will sort it out for you”.

 We arrived in Croatia by plane, we needed to check out of Croatia by boat. We thought it would be easy … we were wrong!

 “The port police were just about to change shifts, this meant that the next shift wouldn’t be able to do our inspection for a least 2 or maybe 3 hours. Our faces fell. This would seriously upset out plans. We needed to be clear of the Croatian Islands before darkness.”

 I always believe that advance preparation leaves less room for error and stress. I thought I had prepared well. I had checked out all of the official websites we could find online to find the procedure we also called ahead (before leaving the UK) to find out where we would need to go to check out.

   “It is easy” they said. “You just take your boat along to the next harbour where they have a harbour office and he will sort it out for you”.

We arrived in Croatia without anyone even checking our passports. We made our way to our new boat, we paid our mooring fees … an extortionate amount of money for keeping our boat for the two months until we had been able to fly over to collect it. We sailed across the bay to another marina, we went in and paid another extortionate amount to stay for one night in this marina and we asked about checking out of the country at the local harbour office.

 The girl looked confused. No you cant do that here, you must go to Sali. That was not what we expected! We have just paid to stay for the night and this was the wrong place! So much for my preparations. Because of the different information we decided our best option was to go in search of the harbour office and hear it from the organ grinder … so to speak.

We found a tourist office who advised the harbour office was in fact next door … but alas, they had finished for the day. They would be in in the morning though, even though it was a Saturday.

 We arrived back at 8.30am the following morning, hoping they might be able to check us out as we wished to start sailing across to Italy as soon as possible.

 Unfortunately, the harbour office agreed that we couldn’t in fact check out of the office and we did have to sail to Sali on our way out of the country. As we wished to set sail today I asked if they would kindly ring and check that they would be there to receive us. This was a good move as it turned out that this office didn’t open on a Saturday at all.

 It was then suggested that we travel to Sibernik which was open 24 hours a day. But Sibernik was in the wrong direction for our sail. It is not a problem they said. We could get the bus to Sibernik, have your papers stamped, come back and sail off.

 So, we had a plan. There was only 2 buses on a Saturday and the next one was in one hour. We had time for a quick coffee before getting on board. The trip was easy and comfortable. We arrived after an hour’s drive. We had an address which took us to a building behind a large row of street restaurants facing the sea front. On the plaque about the door was a small sign that didn’t even mention the Harbour office. We went inside …. There was a door to the left and then stairs going up. No signs or directions. We went upstairs and searched the building but couldn’t find anyone or any more signs. On our way back down the stairs we heard a voice behind the door on the ground floor. We tentatively opened the door to find the Harbour Office, both open and manned!

 Hurray, now we were getting somewhere. The Officer went through all of our paperwork and passports …. We had everything …. Great. “Where is your ship?” (there doesn’t seem to be a work for boat in Croatia, everyone refers to your vessel as a ship)! We told them, “In Marina Betina.”

 “But your ship must be here … for us to inspect”. We explained that we had been told that we could come with our papers and that would be fine. But this was not the case. We had to therefore decide how we could do this. It was a four to five hour sail … in the wrong direction. It seemed we didn’t have much choice. We were given directions of where we were to sail to so we could report to the port police who would then give us papers to bring back to the Harbour office to proceed with check out.

 It was getting more and more complex. We quickly got a taxi (bus to slow and not leaving for another 4 hours) and returned to our boat (now uprated to ship). Our first sail was going to be 30 miles in the wrong direction. The wind was light so we decided just to go with the flow, or more precisely the wind! This was our first experience of trying to achieve something in the Med. In the next few weeks we realised that everything we want to achieve would take three weeks longer than expected. After living in Cornwall we thought we were relaxed and laid back enough for life in the Med! It appears that Cornwall is SuperFast compared to many parts of the world 

 Our first sail was thoroughly enjoyable. We got the sails up for the first time and in a gentle breeze we made our way south. We navigated the islands towards Sibernik. I smiled as I recalled our training day. Paul had sensibly organised a refresher of navigation before our voyage. It was many years since he had done more than 50 mile trips so he felt it would be a good idea. As a complete novice, I knew nothing! We decided I would join Paul for the day and learn what I could. Actually, I did know a bit. We had lived on a boat for two years and done a few outings. We had navigated each of those trips so I had picked up some practical knowledge along the way. So now sailing down through the islands I realised it wasn’t quite as simple as using Church spires and buildings to work out exactly where you are. We went past umpteen islands with no land marks at all. We bought out the books, compared to the charts and checked the chart plotter. It was a great experience and we made it down through the right channel to find the port police dock in Sibernik.

 “There is bound to be a notice” I said but (not for the first time) I was wrong. The harbour man had said next to the ships (could have meant anything) but there were huge ships moored. So in we went in and tied up alongside them. There were no sign of any Police but he had said the Police hut was at the back of the dock area. So we tentatively started walking. Eventually we saw a Police car and found a hut that looked promising. We made our way around the edge of a long high fenced area and went to find out what we had to do next.

 We had found the Port Police and we had found the customs office. Great news, they were very helpful and soon had checked all of our paperwork again. Now we had to go back to the Harbour office and fill out another form before reporting back to port police for our boat inspection. But there was another issue. The port police were just about to change shifts, this meant that the next shift wouldn’t be able to do our inspection for a least 2 or maybe 3 hours. Our faces fell. This would seriously upset out plans. We needed to be clear of the Croatian Islands before darkness.

 The two offices conferred and came up with a plan. They would drive us to the harbour office in the police car and bring us back! They might just make it then! So my first ever ride in a police car took us around the town and dropped us outside the bustling street cafe. With at least 100 pairs of eyes watching we got out of the police can and headed for the unmarked harbour office. The official smiled and commented on our mode of transport. It didn’t take many minutes for him to go through the papers yet again and give us the stamp we needed. We headed back for the police car which took us back to the port police hut!

Because of the time, they decided a boat inspection would not be necessary. We were free to leave the country. We were asked to head straight out of Croatian waters within 15 minutes. We dutifully smiled and inwardly gasped at the cheek of us having sent over 30 hours trying to check out of the country.

 We were on our way at last!

We are Free to Sail 57

We are Free to Sail 57

We are back on anchor and free to sail.  (In the image above is the bay we are now sitting in). Well that is the theory anyway!  In reality we need to do another shop and we need to pick up a parcel that hasn’t arrived yet So in the meantime we can test all of our...

The Sunday Lunch Club 56

The Sunday Lunch Club 56

Overwintering on a boat in Samos Marina, on the beautiful Greek island of Samos could be quite a lonely affair if it wasn’t for the live-aboard community, let’s refer to them as the ‘exuberant partakers of the odd libation’.... so one naturally forms, The Sunday Lunch...

Feeling Grateful 52

Feeling Grateful 52

I have just arrived back from a great trip back to the UK.  I had a fantastic time visiting my mum right up in the north of Scotland and my son and his family right down in Kent in the south east of England.   Arriving back in Samos I realised I needed my...

Boat Mended….Panic Over 51

Boat Mended….Panic Over 51

Arriving in Leros, we made the preparations to get the boat lifted out of the water so our hole could be mended.  We tried to organise things so we wouldn't be out of the water for too long but we knew they would need to dry the boat before fixing it.  They arranged...

September Sailing South- 48

September Sailing South- 48

We have had another fabulous 2 weeks.  We were actually sailing in the right direction with the wind behind us, not too many waves and generally great conditions for gentle sailing.  Fair Winds and following seas on the nail.   We juggled sailing with work days, we...

Family Treat … 47

Family Treat … 47

We have had such a great week with the family.  Dominic and Robyn and their two children Florence and Freddie with their good friend Sarah and George were great company in Alonissos.

Christmas Comes Early 46

Christmas Comes Early 46

We were very excited to see our family coming to stay and for an extra bonus we had arranged a parcel to arrive at the same time.   So I thought I would run through the traumas of shopping whilst living on a boat. Because we don’t have an address a lot of the time, as...

Leaving The Gulf Of Volos – 45

Leaving The Gulf Of Volos – 45

For the first time I feel sad about leaving a place.  The Gulf of Volos has been our home for six weeks.  With no sailing (because there has been no wind), we have just settled into a summer life of swimming, writing, relaxing, swimming, reading, planning, joking and...

Propeller? What Propeller? 42

Propeller? What Propeller? 42

We have been battling against the winds for months, now is the time we decide to change our tactic and go where the wind says we go. Instead of going to explore Lesvos and Limnos as we had planned to do, we head west with the wind behind us.  It is a beautiful sailing...

The Evia Channel 40

The Evia Channel 40

We timed the crossing of the Dora Strait well and we got across without any dramas.  The wind and waves were actually higher coming up the first part of the Evia channel so we decided to take a break and have breakfast in the lea of the first island.  We then set off...

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