16 May, 2016
Sailing in the heart of Lošinj Archipelago
From the pen of our associate we bring you a cruise in the waters of Veli and Mali Lošinj: highlighting the prettiest spots of the Lošinj Archipelago and offering our suggestions for visits to lovely and hidden coves where you will find incredible natural shelters, rich historic legacy and – the bottlenose dolphin
It is warm like any other summer day, but today, 26th July 1985 is different, a special day for me… It is my birthday, and not just any birthday, but my 16th! I see my grandpa and take a walk into town with him. The legendary Marina ferry lazily passes through Bocca Vera and into the Lošinj port, grandpa is having a coffee, I am having a hot chocolate, and we wait. We wait for the truck pulling a trailer carrying my brand new sailboat. After I aged out of the Optimist, perfected the Laser, I am getting a 505… Today, after nearly twenty-one years, my 505 is, surprisingly, in better shape than ever before and I regularly take my daughter sailing on one of the most magnificent sea surfaces in the world – the waters of Lošinj. We leave the picturesque bay of Sveti Martin (from which today’s Mali Lošinj evolved). We sail south, by Val di Škure cove, where the blue of the water and the green of the pines leave us breathless. The next bay is the port of Veli Lošinj. There is a small red lighthouse at the entrance and above it an Austro-Hungarian vista point where, in the crisp north wind, guests with respiratory problems breathe in the air filled with sea salt to feel better. Veli Lošinj is now smaller than the neighbouring Mali Lošinj, but in the years past it was the island’s pride and joy, home to sea captains and ship owners. Those who have been there say it looks like Portofino; the small wooden boats in the town centre add to its charm. Watching over the town is the tower which was used for defence against the Uskoks and the spectacular parish church of St Anthony the Abbot.
As I am telling you about Veli Lošinj, we pass a monumental Rovenska bay breakwater, dating back to 1856, its foundation stone laid by the Archduke Maximilian of Habsburg: the monarchy warships were stationed in this bay. We approach the Islet of Vele Orjule, as usual meeting members of the bottlenose dolphin colony, who are permanent residents of our waters, studied by friends at the Blue World Institute in Veli Lošinj. To the right are the extraordinary coves of Javorna and Kriška with a gorgeous beach and a small breakwater to protect them from the north wind. The mistral is fantastic and this ‘east’ side of Lošinj is even more of a delight to sail as there is not a single wave, the island is our great breakwater… Orjule, yes, I was here that day, 27th April 1999, aboard the Zvonko, when the 2,000 years old bronze Apoxyomenos statue was lifted off the seabed to be restored and finally returned to the island. It can now be seen at the Apoxyomenos Museum in the centre of Mali Lošinj. We drop anchor between Vele and Male Orjule. Many boats pass the shallow channel, but the colour of sand on the seafloor is amazing. Nearby are Kozjak, Sveti Petar and the southernmost island of the Lošinj waters: Ilovik, connected to Lošinj by several daily boat lines. Only a hundred islanders live here during the winter, but in the summer it is crowded. The channel with an anchorage between Sveti Petar (where the local cemetery is) and Ilovik is a mandatory stop for navigators travelling from the north towards Silba, Olib or Zadar. There are a few excellent restaurants here. We sail south through the channel. We go around the Radovan Cape we call the southernmost point of North Adriatic. This is where Dalmatia begins.
But we stop our 505 in the Pržine cove. This large sand bay of Island Ilovik is hidden and south facing; the kelp on the shore makes a perfect sunbed. On the nearby boat is the retired legendary Captain of the Lošinj Port Authorities, Zoran Tomić, a long-time guardian of our extensive maritime zone, stretching from Unije, Susak, to Ilovik; the territorial waters and large areas towards the neighbouring islands of Rab and Pag. It is late afternoon. The mistral is subsiding and we are now returning along the west side of Lošinj to the Čikat bay. We pass by the turquoise cove of Plieski, the always full Balvanida, a shelter from the night wind and home to a fine seafront restaurant. The next is Krivica, aka The Millionaire Bay, looking just like a mini fjord. Beside the anchorage, it is well worth seeing the deepest inlet of the bay, with its small jetty and a couple of stone ruins telling their stories. Above the coast passes a unique walkway known as the Dolphin Road, along the entire south part of Lošinj, connecting Mali to Veli Lošinj. The Sunfarna cove hints the return to civilization. The first small fishermen’s houses surrounded by hundred-year-old pine trees are here. We are ten minutes late, the mistral is now completely quiet, Zita and I are floating along the small chapel of Lošinj sailors, the Church of Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, at the entrance to Čikat – our finish line. A long time ago, navigators used this bay to wait for a favourable wind to sail out, while we are doing the opposite, waiting to sail in. Down at the shore, by the church, mothers, wives and girlfriends were seeing off and welcoming their sailors. A slight north wind begins and we sail into this bay, dotted with high-end hotels and villas. To the left is a small marina, we tie our boat at the pier in front of Jugo Sailing Club, which has been gathering sailing fans for over 60 years. The night is clear and the gentle north-east wind promises a pleasant evening. But first, a grilled grouper and a glass of red wine to complement this rich day.