Blagger’s guide to looking at home on a Croatian yacht

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:

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!

Sound the part


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

nj              like ni in minion

lj                like lli in million

             like j in joy (only slightly harder)

č                like ch in charm

ć                a bit like t in tune (pronounced ty)

đ               a bit like d in duke (pronounced dy)

š                like sh in shoe

ž                like 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:

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

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!