Most pleasure craft passing to and from Dubrovnik to Split, or visiting Korcula Town from the north will make the passage along the length of Korcula by means of the Peljeski Kanal which is the shortest route on the coast at this point to travel west-east for those sailing in Croatia.
This is a narrow stretch of water of little more than 1nm for much of its 10 nm length. It is a busy water way with restrictions on vessels over 500 tonnes, but which does see small and medium cruise ships particularly. Winds can be funnelled down its length particularly from the west towards evening and though spacial care is required to ensure that you are aware of all the vessels around you through out its entire length, at its central point this is particularly the case as there are generally windsurfers and dingy sailors taking advantage of the consistent westerlies to ply back and forth across the main channel. These vessels tend to be based in the Kucisce area of Peljesac (on the north shore of the channel.)
Windsurfers (often moving at speed) ply the centre of the Kanal
While the entrance at the west end of the channel is narrow (ca 0.75 nm) it is relatively un restricted and is marked by two clear lights (white on the south side and green on the north side) both of which can be seen for at least 4 miles (the white light should be visible out to 8 miles). Depths in the Kanal are not an issue as much of its width is at least 20 metres with maximum depths of 50 metres. Even close to shore there is generally 7-10 metres of water with few submerged rocks or wrecks.
A small cruise ship in the centre of the Kanal
Towards the east end of the Kanal things get a little more complicated. In the area immediately west of Korcula Town there are cable and pipelines crossing the channel from Peljesac to the island and the surface traffic tends to increase significantly. This is also an area where cruise ships visiting Korcula Town tend to moor up. These ships may be surrounded by small flotillas of smaller craft including tenders and small dingys.
Between Korcula Town (Luka ferry terminal to the east of the town) and Orebic there is a fairly continuous ferry service that steams (apparently without any regard to the rules of the road) between the Island and the mainland. There are also a string of smaller ‘water taxis’ that ply the same route.
A ferry moving at speed in the Kanal
The eastern entrance to the Kanal is more complicated than the west end, with a number of smaller islands impeding a direct passage. Charts suggest lay-lines for use in daylight particularly utilising the spire of the monastery of St Nikola (to the west of Korcula Town) and the red light at the northern tip of the town. If lined up these two should keep you on a clear line free of obstructions on the northern side of the Kanal and east out along the south coast of the Peljesac headland. and to the north of the light on Otocic Stupe Vela.
The light on Otocic Sutpe Vela
The southern side of the Eastern approach to the Kanal is a patchwork of small islands and rocky shoals, many of which are not lit at night. While there are clear safe channels extreme caution should be taken in this area particularly at night as there are unmarked submerged rocks and depths can shallow quickly in the vicinity of even the larger islands such as Otocic Badija. There is a red light on the end of the pier at Lumbarda Marina, however there is not a formal lay-line for approaching it through the islands.
Generally you should keep an extra watch for other traffic in the Kanal (particularly in the centre and eastern ends) and treat any large craft (including the ferries) as if they are limited in manoeuvre due to depth.
Click on Images to Enlarge
A - Luka Banja Anchorage
B - ACI Korcula
C - Korcula INA Fuel Berth
D - Lumbarda Marina
E - Orebic Harbour
Monday, 20 February 2012