When the SeaHelp operations center in Punat announces that the overhaul of the first SeaHelp rescue boats for the coming season has been completed, it is virtually an unmistakable wake-up call for the coming water sports season in Croatia. Already in mid-February, Punat reported “completion”: the Bolero, stationed in Tribunj, had to undergo extensive maintenance measures in the shipyard so that the rescue boat can continue to perform its duties reliably in 2021.
First missions already in January 2021
Engines, drives, electronics and, of course, the underwater hull as well as the hoses were the subject of critical examination by the trained eyes of the SeaHelp service crew. When the rescue boat was then put back in the water, it headed straight for Tribunj, Dalmatia, to be back in time to help members at the start of the coming season.
Engine problems off Korčula’s coast
However, anyone who thinks that SeaHelp’s emergency response teams are not prepared to provide assistance during the winter months in Croatia is proven wrong: Already on 14. January they had to move out in the Korcula area to tow a yacht back to the ACI Marina Korcula. On a test run, problems suddenly arose, so the crew was grateful for the quick SeaHelp help that prevented major damage.
Leash in the propeller
On February 5, a line had become entangled in the propeller of another yacht, which could only be removed by a dive.
Operation with announcement
And just four days later, a Slovenian skipper was still saying goodbye to the randomly met SeaHelp staff at the pier in Punat with the words, “I’m going out now, but hopefully I won’t need you guys…” What was meant more in jest turned bitterly serious shortly after. His dinghy, pulled by the yacht, was visibly filling with water due to the wind and swell, he was unable to repair the damage due to the stormy seas. SeaHelp personnel were of course immediately on the scene and resolved the precarious situation by pumping out the dinghy and escorting the skipper, yacht and dinghy back to safe harbor.
First owners in Croatia
Even though at the moment the borders are still largely closed and quarantine or PCR testing is threatened because of the Corona pandemic in Croatia, some owners do not seem to shy away from this and are already with their vessels. Apparently, when it comes to valid reasons why the boat or yacht urgently needs to be visited, the commitment literally knows no bounds.
Marinas report: Hardly any storm damage
At the same time, not too much has happened so far. As the SeaHelp editorial staff learned from numerous marinas, the damage caused by the winter storms, which have so far been rather moderate, has remained within limits; minor damage, as occurs every winter, is handled by the marineros in most marinas on their own.
New corona infections are dropping
And the Corona pandemic also appears to be on the decline with the first warming rays of sunshine. Incidence numbers are dropping sharply; in Istria, the 7-day incidence on February 8 was below 20 newly infected persons per 100,000 population. From February 15, if the positive trend continues in this way, further relaxations are planned. Cafés would then be allowed to sell drinks outdoors again, and the gyms so beloved by Croatians would open under restrictions, according to Croatian government circles. A further reassessment of the situation will take place on March 1, they added.
Tourism minister warns against opening too quickly
The Minister of Tourism and Sports, Nikolina Brnjac, also expressed satisfaction with current developments, but also found words of caution: “Let’s not forget what happened in Portugal, which gave in on New Year’s Eve and is now in an extremely bad situation.”
Croatia’s tourism prepares for 2021
The Ministry of Tourism has also already started preparing for the upcoming tourist season with the project “Safe Stay in Croatia”. Details will be communicated in the coming days and weeks.