Croatia, Cavtat - check-in
After departing Montenegro with our tanks full of duty-free fuel we were still committed to doing our best to try and sail despite the fact that the authorities in Croatia are supposedly very strict with the need to check in immediately on the closest port of entry and during office hours. Arriving after hours meant being told to go to Dubrovnik without any stop after stopping in the closest port of entry to avoid big tickets.
All our research said Cavtat would be our closest port of entry and since we were already in summer season it meant the port would be open for formalities until 5pm.
We had already been delayed quite a bit by his "Excellency Mr big Motor Yacht" at the fuel dock in Montenegro. And in the bay, the winds don’t really match neither the forecast neither the winds felt in open waters. After experiencing the strong katabatic winds the day we arrived we decided to leave with 1 reef on the mainsail until we could verify the conditions in the Adriatic Sea.
As we crossed the bay we experienced winds from 3 knots to 20 knots in less than a few seconds several times, so we wondered what was expecting us on the other side of these big mountains.
The moment we were in open water the wind was of course of insufficient strength to sail considering it was veering and backing constantly, we had to settle for another motor-sailing day.
As we crossed the limits of the bay we could hear loud rumbles in the distance, was it thunder?! For a long time we couldn’t decide there was only a high light haze in the sky, no big clouds in sight, maybe these were canon shoots echoing in the mountains...
The landscape was just like when sailing from Albania to Montenegro gorgeous with big mountains so close to the sea, not many buildings could be seen.
We arrived Cavtat just before 3pm, the entrance of the bay produced a nice acceleration zone for the light winds we had felt the entire day while trying to sail, the gusts were now around 17 knots and the Q dock (arrival dock) was partially occupied by a huge super motor yacht leaving barely any space for us to dock even in no winds let alone with these strong gusts (for better understanding of the difficulty of our bow thruster is not working). We prepared fenders and lines, positioned ourselves as best as we could, dropped our anchor and started reversing slowly. The motor yacht had only two fenders in our side clearly not sufficient for that spot, we could see the crew stressed inflating extra fenders (super yachts love to use these fenders that need to be inflated every time they’re put to use because obviously, they have no space to store perfectly normal one) as they realised there was just the two of us to perform the manoeuvre of a 50ft Sailing yacht in a big crosswind.
The two staff from the harbourmaster that control the arrival dock were super helpful helping with the lines but the truth was that the spot was simply too small for us and the super motor yacht was completely twisted on his spot instead of perpendicular to the dock making our manoeuvre even more tricky. At the first attempt, we weren’t happy but a second attempt would be just enough for Ana to go do formalities while John kept an eye on everything to avoid any incidents.
The harbourmaster staff wanted for their fee of 14€ to be paid immediately, and then gave instructions of where to find immigration police and then the harbourmaster.
Immigration police were super nice and spoke great English, but as they finished taking care of the passports and were explaining to me where to go next when they realised it was already 3.30pm and the harbourmaster's office closes at 3pm, not 5pm so we couldn’t complete the check-in formalities. My immediate thought was, crap now we need to go to Dubrovnik but the officer kindly ordered that we presented ourselves at 7am at the harbourmaster office to complete the formalities, we should find a spot on the dock, a mooring ball or go on anchor in the next bay and proceed to complete the outstanding formalities by dinghy.
We decided to go to the next bay to anchor, having seen on the map where the harbourmaster office was it would simpler to go by dinghy anyway.
I rushed back to The Dream, untied the lines and we were off to the bay to enjoy the rest of the afternoon.
The following day we went to the harbourmaster to complete formalities and were received by probably one of the nicest people with such job we’ve met so far. No issues raised regarding our arrival time only comment that they should have called her and she would have waited for us. All forms filled in the computer the only thing missing was to exchange Euros to Kunas to pay the cruising permit.
Contrary to all we had read previously regarding checking in Croatia, all authorities involved seemed pretty laid back and friendly. We were also left with the impression that it wasn’t strictly necessary to go to the arrival dock as long as formalities were done in a timely manner, but don’t quote us on that!