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Why Sailing Croatia with Med Experience Was One Of The Best Weeks of My Life…
“Alright! Everybody in the sea!” Our tour leader Greta yelled in her thick pomme accent to the six excitable strangers sitting in the yacht before her. This sleek and modern 30-foot piece of wood and fibre-glass was to be our home for the next eight days – for better or for worse. Greta ushered us to the buoy dragging violently behind the boat like a dolphin on crack.
“It’s team-bonding time, jump in and hold on!” she said with a sly smirk, which we would all come to realize was one of her many signature quirks.
My head was throbbing from the night before but as far as hangover cures go, this was probably the best. It wasn’t a bad choice for a cool-off either; the sweat from the less-than-comfortable 2km walk in 34 degree heat and 99% humidity from the main harbour to our boat’s birth was starting to gather underneath my tog top. Not the most relaxing welcome to the week but that was soon a distant memory. Oh, how that was soon a distant, distant memory…
I stripped of my beach dress, took a deep breath and bomb-dived into the crystal-clear turquoise waters of the Adriatic. I surfaced after a few seconds and clung to the rope (and my togs) for dear life while the boat dragged everyone laughing and sputtering through the chilly water. Little did any of us know that these six strangers, accidentally-on-purpose climbing on-top of each other to stay afloat, would end up becoming a close-knit family of friends after just one week.
Welcome to Sail Croatia’s Med Experience. Welcome to one of the best weeks of my travel life.
Those who follow A Modern Wayfarer will know I don’t take that phrase with a grain of salt. There has to be something really special about the experience for me to say it’s truly unforgettable. There has to be a diversity of flavour. It has to tick all the creative travel boxes and appeal to the imaginative traveler within me.
The experience needs beautiful and soulful surroundings, random unexpected situations to keep for another day’s yarn, good food and booze, and most of all, meaningful connections with people – whether these folks are locals or live closer to home doesn’t really matter.
Sailing the southern islands that dot the Adriatic coast with Med Experience ticked all of these boxes for me. And I’m going to give you 6 reasons that epitomise why it was one of the best experiences of my travel life.
But first, a bit about Med Experience…
Med Experience is like the big-kid version of Sail Croatia. Don’t get me wrong, everyone wants to get their drink and tan on, but it’s a little more subdued and shall I say ‘classy’ than your 40-odd teens packed like sardines on a boat drinking jaeger-bombs and goon all day long. And although I can chug shots with the best of them, I was after something a tiny bit more relaxed with an intimate group.
Cue Med Experience: a week long Croatia sailing adventure floating from one picturesque island to another, on an eight-passenger state-of-the-art yacht with your own Skipper and Tour Leader. Seemed like the perfect idea to me. And it pretty much was…
6 Reasons Why Sailing Croatia with Med Experience Was One Of The Best Weeks of My Life…
1. Boisterous Boat Christenings (otherwise known as “how to take a perfectly good boat name and re-christen it as a Pokemon character”)
It’s such an Aussie thing to give nicknames to people, so why not yachts too? It’s a sign of love and affection and when the drinks and life stories were flowing the first afternoon we couldn’t help ourselves – especially considering most on board hailed from Australia! It was hard to go past the similarities between the actual boats name “Jubilo”, meaning “joy”, and the Pokemon character of “Jiggly Puff”. And the name just kind of stuck.
2. Food Bonding (otherwise known as “The Gherkin Armageddon”)
When you’re spending an entire week on a boat with strangers you tend to suss out each others eating habits quickly, especially when you have to supply your own snacks and food during the day. Luckily for us, wine and a good goats fetta weren’t the only sustenance we had in common. The Jiggly Puff crew also shared a similar unhealthy love for your friendly neighbourhood gherkin. At any given moment there were at least ten open jars in our ice chest. It gives me the warm and fuzzies when I bond with people over food. And that we did. .
3. Adopting The “We’re The 7 Best Friends That Anybody Could Ever Have” Hangover reference… (otherwise known as “team bonding” or… “the cool boat”)
I’m going to be honest here, I thought our Jiggly Puff crew were the shit. We slyly yet affectionately referred to ourselves as “the cool boat” in stealth communications which were, on occasion, not so stealth. Only once or twice did we catch foot in mouth when someone from the other two yachts in our convoy overheard it. As a side note, I want to give a shout out to anyone on the other boats (if they are reading this) – you were all cool (actually you were all really awesome and we got lucky with the group).
If you don’t want to take potluck with people then you also have the option to grab 7 or 8 friends and book an entire boat together. The price stays the same as if you were going it alone.
4. Crystal Clear and Clean Croatian Waters (otherwise known as “Croatia has the best beaches – period”)
I feel like I’m on a never-ending search for the perfect-blue coloured ocean. And every time I visit Croatia I’m reminded that the beaches here are some of the best I’ve witnessed in the world. There’s something to be said about seeing a country from the water. The sheer peacefulness of it all, the vivid sunsets, the secret bays where you can just dive off the boat into the clearest turquoise water imaginable – water so pure that you can see the entire 10 metres to the very bottom.
5. Where Else Would You Get Your Own Personal Skipper-Motor? (otherwise known as “Your Chariot, My ladies”)
That fine-looking specimen in the photo is our awesome captain, Jaksa. One day a few Jiggly Puff girls and I went for a little excursion into town but on the way back, the dingy ran out of fuel. Needless to say, Jaksa came to the rescue! (Thanks Jaksa)
6. Hanging with the Locals (otherwise known as party-crashing farewell shindigs”)
The week I was sailing just happened to be the last one of the 2-3 month Med Experience season, which meant our skipper and team leader Greta were constantly chucking late-night smoke-bombs from the boat and attending intimate little farewell gatherings at places on the islands. The locals would put on some amazing food and wine for those guys as a “thank you for your business” type of thing. One night, my partner-in-crime who also happens to be called Steph (but spelt differently), decided to stay up late and secretly follow Greta as she made her way from the boat to the tiny Croatian eatery we had all eaten dinner at earlier in the evening. We knew there was something special going on and we were prepared to gate crash! Fast-forward 2 hours and this was the result (apologies for the grainy quality)…
As well as too many homemade reds out of a gigantic 2L plastic bottle, gourmet cured meats and freshly-caught tuna sashimi carved right off the bone. It definitely pays to stay-up-late…
And there it is – some of the many reasons why this was one of the top travel experiences of my life. Stay tuned because starting tomorrow, I will be publishing a day-by-day recount of what really went on, as diarized by a fabulous couple I met on Jiggly Puff. Guest writer’s Ryan and Ellie’s witty stories of the week’s bliss and debaucheries will be worth the read.