Gradski Luka, Split
Split Harbour, also known as Gradski Luka is one of Croatia’s busiest international harbours along with Rijeka and Dubrovnik. A large natural lagoon on the south facing shore today it is sheltered by a long concrete breakwater to the east and a rock armoured breakwater that makes up the outside of ACI Split to the west. The approach to the harbour is an easy one with no real dangers though there are a few submerged rocks close into the shore. The square obelisk lighthouse (now disused) makes a useful target during daylight, until you can identify the harbour entrance itself. At night this is lit to a range of 5 miles (red - west side) and 10 miles (green - east side).
The port is busy and you should be aware of the fairly constant traffic of ferries of all sizes at all times. These range from small local ferries heading out to the nearby islands through to large international ferries heading for Italy and also fairly large cruise ships. Outside the harbour wall there are also likely to be a number of larger vessels at anchor, under sail in bad weather or at night you should be particularly aware of the possibility of these and watch out for their lights.
Inside the harbour most large shipping activity and mooring is to the east (starboard on approach) where the international jetties and regional ferries moor up. Smaller gullet type cruise ships tend to moor up beyond the ferry quays in the north east corner of the harbour.
For yachts the options all lie on the western (port on approach) side of Gradski Luka and as such once in the harbour you should be well out of the way of the larger vessels. The large ACI Split marina is accessed by means of a narrow channel at the back of the bay on its western side, be aware of unlit buoys and shallows hard against the shore of the bay and watch for the ACI dock hands who are usually sheltering in a small cabin at the end of the pier by the entrance to the marina; they will direct you either verbally or by VHF towards a berth - if they have one. As a major charter base they are particularly busy at the weekends and though they will try they may struggle to fit you in.
Beyond ACI Split is a second local marina wedged right into the western corner of Gradski Luka. This is the home of the Lapud and Mormar yacht clubs. It is very unusual for there to be space for visiting boats in this facility. If you do head into this basin again watch for the unlit buoys and submerged rocks/shallows closer to the shore.
If ACI Split is full, or you prefer not to stay in the marina, then on paper you have two other options. You can anchor in 4-7 metres in the western half of Gradski Luka, keeping clear of the main shipping lanes and also several underwater cables. This is a popular option but be aware that in places the holding is poor and may consist of a thin skim of mud over large plates of rock.
The pilots also suggest that you can moor, either where the gullets tie up, or just in front of Diocletian’s Palace against the harbour wall. Other advice however suggests you may not be allowed to stay at the latter and the former is likely to be fully occupied by cruise or excursion boats. In 6 years of sailing in Croatia and visiting Split we have only ever seen one boat (a 60ft yacht) moored in front of the palace, this was alongside and it is not clear how long it was allowed to stay. It is also worth bearing in mind that there may be less than 2 metres of water against this quay. This location is however handy for the customs and Kapitanja offices which are located in the buildings immediately to the east of this harbour wall.
There are various scattered submerged rocks and obstructions around Gradski Luka, though most are close to the shore and are well mapped - refer to your pilotage charts if considering one of the harbour walls particularly. The fuel berth is to the west of the harbour entrance just northeast of the entrance to the marinas. It is not unusual for there to be a circulating queue waiting to use it, particularly on a Saturday morning (or Friday night) when charter boats are being returned. Be aware also of the east cardinal marker (lit) around half way between the fuel berth and the entrance to ACI Split.
Generally the harbour is well sheltered from all directions except the south and southwest, and if the wind blows from these directions a swell may also effect the anchorage. Larger maritime traffic also causes surges and swells of its own. If in doubt about the conditions then the ACI marina offers good all round shelter.
Split is a must see at some point when sailing in Croatia and particularly when cruising the middle Adriatic and the with the highlights of the city being located around Gradski Luka there is no better way to visit than by boat. If however your aim is a crew changeover with an eye to departures or arrivals from the airport than Trogir is more convenient with better options for mooring and anchoring if ACI Trogir has no spaces.
A. ACI Split
B. Yacht Clubs marina (Lapud and Mamar)
C. Fuel Berth
F. Kapitanja and Customs
G. Rail and coach stations
Click on the chart to enlarge
Monday, 13 June 2011