Montenegro to Brindisi

The Appian Steps

Having motored out of the bay of Kotor we found that the wind was pretty much perfect for our crossing to mainland Italy. 130 miles to the SSW. a journey we expected to take around 26 hours. To begin with we sailed with the main and the head sail but soon Ian was itching to fly the genaker.

In 12 knots of wind we were tonking along at around 6 knots which is a great conversion speed…At this rate we would be arriving in Brindisi in the early hours of the morning!

For some hours the huge mountains of Montenegro continued to be clearly visible on the horizon behind us.

Although the sea wasn’t particularly lumpy I wasn’t feeling too good. I must have lost my sea legs in the Bay of Kotor. At dusk we took down the genaker and put the genoa back out. We continued to make good time and Ian was able to grab a little sleep during the evening and then take the midnight watch. The almost full moon was up and gave off its comforting glow well into the night. There was very little traffic about, in fact we didn’t see another vessel until about 35nm off the Italian coast.

I woke at 0400h to go up and keep Ian company. The moon had disappeared and the clouds had gathered on our port side and behind us and we were watched the ensuing lightning show with some trepidation: Hoping that the wind would blow the storms away from us.

Finally, the sun came up and we could make out the low lying coast ahead.

We needed to run the engine for a while because the auto pilot uses such a lot of the battery power. We started the engine but after about 20 mins noticed a strong smell of burning and a great deal of heat coming from the engine bay. Ian’s first thought was that the alternator had developed a fault, as it was that which had caused us problems towards the end of last season. We shut down the engine and wondered if it would be okay to start the engine again without causing further damage.

Anyway, we sailed on and decided that we would sail as far into the harbour as possible only putting the engine on to steer into a mooring in the marina.

Outside the harbour wall, which is HUGE, at least 2nm long, we dropped the main sail. We were going to sail the remainder of the way with the head sail only.

On we went, I called the marina to book a berth. I made a few snacks to eat and prepared the boat for mooring.

As we rounded the inner harbour wall Ian started the engine…..NOTHING!

He tried again….NOTHING!

After I had a melt down we tried to decide what to do. We could get the dinghy off the davits and use it to push us into the berth, we could call the marina to ask for assistance, we could sail in!

I called the marina up and asked for help. They said they would be there in 5 mins.

We managed to lower the dinghy into the water but it was just to tight on space to give us time to put the engine on and attach the dinghy to the side of the boat.

We tacked back and forth in the bay playing for time.

The marinero called us on the radio to say that their rib was not working and they couldn’t come to help. Argh!!! We were instructed to come in port side to the second pontoon.

I rigged more lines. We tacked at least six or eight more tiimes so that we could get sufficiently up wind. I certainly got my work out that morning winching and pulling repeatedly. The wind was fairly strong at about 17kn. Ian reduced the amount of head sail that was out. Finally, we were in a good position to be able to head towards the pontoon at the right angle.

We were about 50m from the pontoon when the marinero told me to lower the fenders. I had about 20 seconds to undo them and re-position them all at the most crucial moment.

I then had to dash back to release the genoa sheet to reduce our speed. I threw the bow line; Ian adding pressure by saying it was a one chance throw and to make sure it was a good one.

It was!!

Ian threw the aft line and we were secure.

The marineros were fantastic and neighbouring boats were also giving a hand to slow us down and fend us off. We were secure 23 hours after setting off.

I think, after all that, I was perfectly entitled to swear loudly in Italian!!!

Phew! Mark and Jan of Lyra of Beauleigh, (whom we had met last year in Kalamata after the engine wouldn’t start) happened to be in Brindisi and welcomed us. We were in no fit state. I certainly could barely string two words together! We neither of us had had much sleep.

We agreed to catch up later.

First, we had to put the boat to bed and tidy up all the lines. The electrician would be coming round soon and the boat looked like a bomb site. I set to tidying up and cleaning. We decided to have a nap whilst we waited.

Marco arrived and we woke up with creases embedded on our faces.

As he worked, we slept on.

He was finished…it was the starter motor that was the problem. A corroded cable had caused a short and the starter motor was kaput.

Marco left to order a new one.

Passport control sign

We had to then muster the energy to go into town on the bus. It is a requirement to register with customs and the port police having entered Italy from a non EU country. Luckily, the bus would take us right to the port police. Except, it didn’t. so we ended up walking about 3km. Paperwork was duly completed and we had a quick look round the old town of Brindisi before heading back to Linea.

We needed pizza so I made delicious tortilla pizza using a new stove top method. ( Courtesy SV Kittiwake) I am pleased to report that they were delicious. They took mere minutes to cook, saving us gas and added cabin heat from the oven.

On thursday we met up with Mark and Jan for coffee. After a good night’s sleep we were feeling back to normal. We enjoyed having a catch up with them and met up later for dinner in the marina restaurant.

On Saturday Marco came to fit the new starter motor (900 Euros plus labour!). All was going well. The engine started; the alternator seemed to be producing electricity and feeding it into the batteries; the instrument panels appeared to be in working order. Fantastic. Marco gathered up his tools and shook hands with us. Grazie! Grazie!

Just as he was about to step off Linea, Ian tried to switch the engine OFF. No joy. the connection to the fuel solenoid seemed to be broken. Marco climbed back on!

He spent a couple of hours trying to figure out the problem. We await his return.

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