Sometimes we really underestimate others. When Kevin and I decided to spend 4 nights on a sailboat in Croatia with our baby I just assumed this would be a lot of work. It wasn’t easy but Otto made it so enjoyable. I assumed he would get sea sick, try to go overboard numerous times a day, or be totally bored. None of that happened.
Kevin and I arrived at the airport in Split, Croatia with Otto. The worst part of the flight was that I actually remembered my sunglasses only to leave them in the back of the seat pocket on the plane. We made our way to one of Croatia airport’s few baggage claims. Otto crawled around on the ground while Kevin waited to pounce on our luggage.
We went outside and found an Uber, who took us into Split to meet our friends at an Air B&B. Once we met our friends in this very modern little 2 bedroom we walked down to the water. Suddenly it was spring break city. Stands that sold iced margaritas and flimsy sun hats stood just in front of giant yachts that lined the harbor.
We walked just a few yards inside the ancient castle walls and found a square with hundred’s of outside tables and managed to order a few cocktails. We took turns walking Otto in his stroller to get him to take a nap. He did!
Later we found this outdoor restaurant even further inside the walls. I expected to see people wearing the garb of Julius Caesar. We ordered a few bottles of red Croatian wine. Apparently Croatia only sells their own wine. And I am so glad they do. We drank our way through Croatia and I enjoyed every glass. I knew that the restaurant would be amazing when the waiter brought out a bib for me to wear! You can get the freshest seafood in Split. Otto enjoyed the food but he was getting a little restless. Outside of the USA dinner’s are not rushed, they are meant to be long and enjoyed. Even more so in a city whose history dates back to 295AD when Diocletian ordered a residence to be built there. I could have stayed within his palace walls for the entire trip, laying down on the cool stones and looking up at the stars, while the scent of fresh fish passed by me.
After dinner we walked back to the Air b&b, and luckily that meant meandering through all of these tiny ancient streets. Otto decided he wanted to feel the stones beneath his knee caps.
The following day we took an Uber to Marina Frapa. Our sailboat awaited! We met our skipper from Germany and we went aboard. We folded down Otto’s stroller, tucked it away inside the ship, threw our packs in our rooms, set up Otto’s pack and play, and we were off to Skradin. Everyone says you have to visit KRKA national park. You harbor in Skradin and take a small ship to the amazing waterfalls that await up a river. The river was totally different than the blue ocean water that you find in Croatia. In fact, we passed a ton of jellyfish! The waterfalls were beautiful, as long as you proceeded through a journey artificially created for tourists. I would say you could go to Croatia and not see KRKA, actually don’t go to KRKA, instead go see the smaller towns and islands.
The best and worst time on a boat with the baby is when it sails. When the engine is on its actually a very smooth, easy ride. Otto was always in the shade often downstairs. I could put him down for naps in his pack and play and the movement of the water was better than our best white noise machine we use in SF. But when the sails came out it was difficult. Otto would fly across the boat if I wasn’t holding on to him. Kevin would have to help the skipper so I was generally on my own! But when you look up to a 38′ Bavaria ship and you see those sails come out, it’s beautiful and its worth keeping your baby tight in your arms. Otto also loved sailing.
Our favorite time was when we were harbored in Trogir. It is a UNESCO world heritage site. Its a tiny town that is a gazillion years old. When you dock in their marina, there are restaurants at the ready, a mere 100 yards from your boat. Everyone goes to them. Please, don’t go to them. Walk a few minutes into the very narrow alleyways of Trogir and find a restaurant that makes Peka, make friends with the waiter, order a bottle of Croatian wine and try not to trip on the cobblestone on the way to the restroom.
The following day we decided to go to the beach. Otto had spent all his time jumping off a boat into his Pa’s arm’s who was waiting in the blue lagoon. But a life vest, sun hat, and full body SPF clothing is not super freeing. At the beach in Trogir we could get an aperol spritz and he could enjoy the waves lapping up into his lap.
That night we returned to the boat. We realized that we would not sail again, as Trogir is just a 10 minute ride to the airport and it was actually easier to just take a taxi from this harbor. We walked the cobble stones again, we ate more fish, we drank more wine and Otto crawled about. Before we left Kevin wanted to do 7 days on a boat, I wanted to do 1 or 2. We compromised with 4 and I was sure that was too long. But I was not ready to leave. As I write this now I am sad to be home. I loved Croatia. Otto could not have been more at home on the sea and I take back every negative thing I said about sailing on a boat with a baby. Next time we would skip KRKA though and head further south. We will do that actually, we have to go back.
- The cobblestones are so old it will wreak havoc on your stroller. Our sleek, small, agile nuna stroller had difficulties when its wheels constantly got caught in the cracks. If you can rent/bring a stroller with big wheels. This goes for everywhere in Europe actually.
- Sunscreen is the key when sailing on a boat with a baby. Not even for the actual risk of sunburn but also for the peace of mind. We just loaded his little body up every morning when he was still naked, like we were waxing a car. Then reapplied as necessary.
- Bring a good sunhat for baby.
- Bring those waterproof/wetsuit looking shirts and pants with UV protection. Otto lived in those.