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What’s it really like when you charter with a group of friends who have never sailed before? We’ve interviewed five London newbie sailors who chartered an Oceanis 54 in Croatia in June. Let’s find out how they got on….
Tell us a little bit about yourselves, what’s your name, job title and where do you live?
James: I’m a charity manager from south-east London.
Frank: I’m a client portfolio manager’s assistant in London.
Carl: I live in Wimbledon and a management consultant.
Paul: I’m in marketing and live in Sydenham.
Richard: I’m a researcher at an international charity and live in Peckham.
As you’ve never sailed before, what were you most excited about before the trip?
Frank: Sailing, doing the ropes and the sails, and learning how to handle the yacht.
Carl: I’ve always wanted to do a sailing trip, so it was really exciting for me just to go along.
Richard: I wanted to experience the freedom of life on a yacht and visit small harbors.
Were any of you nervous about anything?
James: Getting hit by the boom.
Carl: As a novice sailor, I was cautious if I would have sealegs.
Paul: Sharks. I’m always nervous about sharks but there weren’t any!
What expectations did you have??
Frank: I wanted to relax, rejuvenate and do some sailing.
Carl: I misjudged the weather and thought it would be warmer and less wet. I underestimated the need for a good waterproof!
Paul: I wanted to catch a fish.I didn’t manage that, but I did get some excellent sailing in.
Did any of you feel sea sick and how did you cope?
Frank: I did on the first day and took some seasickness tablets.
Carl: I did once in bad weather and took a tablet, which helped.
How did you find having a skipper you don’t know living on the boat with you?
Paul: LateSail recommended a skipper one that matched our location and age. It worked perfectly and was just like having another good friend on board.
James: Bruno, our skipper, was good fun and instantly part of the group, He sorted us right out!
Frank: Yes, Bruno was amazing. He was very useful about local knowledge and cooked a good goulash as well.
Richard: He was considerate of our holiday expectations and interests, as well as easy to get along with.
Would you go sailing again?
All say a resounding yes and Paul said: Just tell me the dates and I’ll be there.
What was the highlight of the charter?
James: The Krka National park waterfalls were amazing and dropping anchor at Primosten was exceptional.
Frank: Yes, Krka falls were beautiful. For me, I enjoyed sailing on the second day, because it was difficult and we had to do a lot.
Paul: Canoeing in a bay near Hvar, and Honey Grappa.
Richard: The experience of going where the weather lets you was liberating.
What was the low point?
Frank: The weather on the first day of sailing was a low point as I felt really sick.
Carl: That first day sailing in bad weather was a real challenge.
Paul: People snoring, so bring good ear plugs!
What was the best thing about Croatia?
Carl: The islands and ports were amazing and very beautiful, especially when the sun was shining.
Richard: Relaxed lifestyle and welcoming people.
Paul: So many things, but I really enjoyed wine.
What did you love about sailing?
Carl: Time with friends, the islands, exploring new places, learning to sail and understanding more about wind.
Richard: Having everything you need while surrounded by peaceful, blue ocean.
Frank: The freedom to go where you want.
How was the food?
Carl: We had a good mix of trying local cuisine and cooking on the boat. I don’t think we had a bad meal and tried some new foods. The octopus salad was very tasty. We had an evening at a family run restaurant that opened for us, which was incredibly kind. They had good food and local wine. The local Plavac wine is also very nice.
Frank: We went out for the first three days and the lamb was amazing.
Paul: It was easy to eat out, or get great local produce for cooking on board.
Where do you want to go next?
Carl: I would happily go back to Croatia as there is plenty to see and do. I would also like to go to Italy and anywhere with interesting islands.
James: I’d like to sail near Dubrovnik.
Paul: For me, it’s Montenegro.
What advice would you give someone else going sailing for the first time in Croatia?
Richard: Do it! Also, get supplies for breakfast and lunch to eat on boat, then dinner in ports. Bring earplugs and sleep eye masks, gym gloves can double as sailing gloves and a cordless bluetooth speaker.
Frank: Try not to be dead set on what you want to do and where to visit as the weather often dictates your route.
Carl: I highly recommend going with people you know well, as it is extremely close quarters. Try the octopus salad.
Paul: Bring a telescope and see the Krka Waterfalls, which are worth a quick dip even out of summer.
Would you consider learning to sail so you could charter without a skipper?
All said they wanted to learn, except Carl: I couldn’t imagine being in control of a large boat and responsible for the welfare of people. For now, I’m happy to be a crew member taking instruction and enjoying downtime.