"Greetings from Split, the capital city of Dalmatia. This is where the Roman emperor Diocletian came to retire after (voluntarily) renouncing his throne…and I can see why. His enormous palace here in the center almost looks like a whole separate town unto itself: if you have even just a few hours to spare while waiting to check in to your boat, this UNESCO Heritage site is really worth a visit. As an Italian, I’ve seen some Roman ruins in my time – and this place is pretty impressive.
After wandering around the lovely Old Town in the morning (I hate the word “picturesque”, but when it comes to Split it really does apply), I began my working day at the ACI Marina the city’s tourist harbour. Split is one of the most important stops in my Croatian sojourn, as Sailogy already has several partners in our network that are seeking the ever-important Sail Hunter Certification. As always, I went with an open, objective mind, hoping – without expectations or bias – to like what I see. And I did. First of all, the marina is really conveniently located – it’s just a short (maybe 15 minute walk) from the center of town, along a very pleasant promenade. This base is especially suitable for sailing southwards towards the islands of Korcula, Brac, Vis, Mljet, and Lastovo.
The first person I met at the ACI Marina was Dragana, the booking manager of a charter company with 14 sailboats. Over a coffee, I explained the Sailogy project, our company’s desire to simplify sailing holidays for our customers, and my job as a Sail Hunter. It’s not unusual for people in the charter industry to be a little sceptical of the internet, but when I walked her through the website she agreed it was very simple. While her boats looked great, I walked away without having closed the deal. This sometimes happens. After all, I’m a Sail Hunter, not a Sale Hunter: I’ll never insist if it doesn’t feel perfect. That said, I have a feeling I’ll be hearing from Dragana someday soon.
My second visit was to a fairly large company with three different bases in Croatia: Split, Trogir and Dubrovnik. I had a long chat with the manager, Inga, who explained how the company initially began as a sailing school in 1995, but now have 30 year-round employees (increasing to 50 during the summer), and more than 40 sailboats. Needless to say, everything was very organized and well-maintained: you don’t grow to be that successful unless you know what you’re doing. Talking with Inga was a pleasure,and she understood the Sailogy philosophy (“we search, you sail”), right away. She needed no convincing,and signed up right there and then. I look forward to sending her some bookings, and would love to hear from anyone who has sailed with her. In the afternoon I met with two companies which already entered our network a few weeks ago, so my aim wasn’t to explain Sailogy or sign them up, but rather to personally verify the quality of the yachts listed on our website.
Ema and Nikolina (owner page) work for a medium-sized company that’s based entirely in Split, and have been in the tourist charter business for a long time. Their boats looked very well-maintained, and I was happy to give them the Sail Hunter Certification! I have to say, looking at all of these boats made me itch to get out on the water. Instead, I had to settle for a very pleasant stroll along the docks with Katarina, who was already a partner in our network and with whom I’ve always found to be extremely reliable and trustworthy during our email exchanges. She was just as helpful in person, and she took me to see the fleet, which I found to be in great condition on the whole. Her company also has boats in Biograd, where I’ll be heading next week. At the end of this very productive day, when I was already on my way back to my hotel, I received a call from Matilda, the manager of a company I have been “hunting” for a very long time. We discussed some aspects of the website together and I listened to her suggestions carefully, as she runs a large charter company and therefore has a lot of valuable insights. I’d checked out the boats on the dock, and added another Sail Hunter Certificate to our offer in the noteworthy Split.
So far, Croatia has been great. I’ll be here until Easter, and am already imagining how many happy customers will be coming back here after a week out at sea – tanned, relaxed, and enthusiastic – later on in the season. You are all so lucky. And I’ve got pretty much the best job in the world. Off to “hunt” for dinner. Another pleasant surprise: the food here is excellent!
And we Italians take eating very seriously. Almost as seriously as sailing. Ciao for now!"