Blagger’s guide on how to sail in Croatia

Hvar town

Learning how to sail in Croatia is easy with our Blagger’s guide; it will make it look like you know what you are doing and that sailing in Dalmatia comes naturally. Before you go on holiday, check out these basics to make you look the part, rather than a bit of a spare part. Become a (semi) competent crew member and learn how to talk to the locals:

How to sail in Croatia – Look the part


A few fundamental knots can really help to make it look like you know the ropes. The bowline is a great knot to get to grips with. It is ultimately very cool to dive into a remote bay with a line over your shoulder to tie the shoreline ropes for a night on the anchor…. but it is really uncool to get it wrong and float off in the middle of the night! Grab a piece of rope and practice, it doesn’t take long to learn when you aren’t under pressure. Remember ‘the rabbit comes out its hole, round the tree, and back down’ (maybe just say it in your head though to maintain the illusion). The running bowline is also good to have in your repertoire.

When you rock up at a harbor it is a great opportunity to look the business by helping with the mooring lines. Throw your line to the dock hand (ideally not straight at his head) and once he has passed it around a post he will chuck it back to you to tie off. Try to keep the rope out of the water as much as possible, marinas and harbors are not the cleanest of places, then all you have to do is nail the cleat hitch to secure the boat.

Picking up the line is a job that requires speed and accuracy. You must use a boat hook to pick up a rope, then quickly maneuver to the front of the boat and tie it off (again with the cleat hitch), without losing the boat hook or dropping the line. This rope spends all its life floating in the marina water, so you can imagine how nice it is to handle… be quick, precise and make sure to wash your hands after!

Dropping the anchor

You may get to oversee dropping the anchor, this is a fairly simple button pressing exercise, but communication is key. The anchor chain is marked every 10 meters and as you pay it out you should indicate to the skipper each increment. Remember that it can be hard to hear above the noise so use hand signals as well as shouting it out. Exactly how much chain needs to be deployed depends on water depth and weather conditions so listen out for the skipper to say when to stop.

If it all sounds too much like hard work, lie back and let your skipper get on with it, maybe you can let your skills show at the end of the day by rustling up a G&T!

How to sail in Croatia – Sound the part


Slavic tongues can take a bit of mastering and there are some weird letters and sounds:

Letter Sounds like
nj ni in minion
lj lli in million
j in joy (only slightly harder)
č ch in charm
ć t in tune (pronounced ty)
đ d in duke (pronounced dy)
š sh in shoe
ž s in measure

Basic words

Some basic pleasantries never go amiss, put the emphasis on the part in bold and don’t forget to roll your r’s:

English Croatian Sounds like
Please Molim Mol-im
Thank you Hvala H-vala (the H almost just a huff of breath)
Good morning Dobro jutro Dobro yu-tro
Good afternoon Dobar dan Dobar dan
Greetings (inf) Pozdrav Poz-drav
Bye Bok Bok
Sorry Oprosti Op-rust-ti
Bill Račun Ra-chun
Coffee Kava Ka-va
Beer Pivo Pee-voh
Wine Vino Vee-noh
Lovely Lijep Lee-yep (Lee is quick)
Tasty Ukusan Uk-us-san
Cheers živjeli  je-iv-u-lay (je-iv is quick)

Dalmatian place names

You can really look like you know what you are talking about if you can pronounce the place names along the way without the natives looking confused:

Name Sounds like
Biograd Bee-oh-grad
Brač Bratch
Hvar Hvar (the H almost just a huff of breath)
Kaštela Cash-tela
Korčula Kor-chu-la
Kornati Korn-a-ti
Krka Kr-ka
Mljet Millyet (the mill should be very short)
Plitvice Plit-vits-cer
Primošten Preemo-shten
Šćedro Sh-ty-edroh (the Sh-ty is very short)
Seget Donji Seg-et Do-ni-ey
Šibenik Schib-en-ik
Šipan Ship-an
Šolta Shol-ta
Sukošan Sukoshan

If all else fails, a smile works wonders and loosening up your tongue with some of the local Zlatan Plavac or Pošip is a positive pleasure!

So now we have armed you with some basics on how to sail in Croatia, it is time to book that sailing holiday!

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