Splitska Vrata is narrow channel at the west end of Brac on its southern side, between Brac and Solta. It is said to one of the busiest shipping channels in the Croatian Adriatic with many of the ferries to off-shore islands and also to International destinations passing through the straights.
At its narrowest it is barely 500 metres across with depths ranging from 8-33 metres and should be considered to be a confined channel in terms of large vessels manoeuvring. Yachts should aim to keep clear of ships where ever possible and this is best achieved by sticking towards the shore of either Brac or Solta.
For those sailing in Croatia and particlarly the Split cruising area (boats coming from Split and its surrounding marinas, Trogir etc and including Vis, Hvar, Korcula etc) it is almost inevitable that at some point you will have to pass through the Splitska Vrata. Treat it like any other narrow, busy channel and have respect for larger vessels with limited manoeuvrability constrained by depth.
Having passed through this channel a number of times, experience suggests that the wind often dies and/or bends around the headlands of Rt. Razanj (Brac) and Rt. Livka (Solta) making it tricky to sail through. It has not been uncommon in our experience to tack towards the channel from the north just to find the wind dying or heading badly (or both) once you are in the centre of the channel at its narrowest point.
Be prepared to motor sail!
During one transit from south to north, in a rain storm (in late June) we witnessed an Italian catamaran sail confidently into the channel, reaching right down the middle, only for the wind to die in the shadow of Brac (see the photo below). As they sat, considering what to do next a large ferry appeared out of the gloom and was forced to into an emergency manoeuvre to avoid a collision.
All of that said - on at least three occasions we have passed through Splitska Vrata without seeing a large vessel of any kind. Do not be put off by the narrowness or the busyness, just be prepared as you approach, stick towards the shores where possible and be ready to get out of the way of something much larger and faster than you. The detours either around the west end of Solta or the east end of Brac are definitely not worth the extra distance unless you were going that way anyway.
Click on the chart to enlarge
Saturday, 9 February 2013