Montenegro

Sailing in the bay of Kotor, a massive inland sea.

In order to leave Croatia officially, it is necessary to complete some paperwork. First, you have to moor stern to the customs quay; then visit the harbour master who checks you have paid your cruising tax; then pay your respects to the port police who check your crew list and passports. It all takes quite a while especially when boats ahead of you on the quay are getting snagged on each other’s anchors and you, meanwhile, are having to motor round and round in circles whilst they sort themselves out. Hey ho!

So, we left later than expected to sail to Montenegro. There wasn’t so much wind and what there was, was predictably blowing towards us. We sailed some and motored some.

Whilst completing the engine checks this morning Ian noticed that water was leaking into the sail drive. It is not good when salt water gets in to those delicate gears and so we knew we had to find a yard to lift us out and replace the seal, etc. We contacted a yard in Dubrovnik to the north and one in Montenegro. The Navar Yacht Services Tivat in Montenegro offered a very good price to lift us out fix the problem and put us back in. We wanted to go there anyway so it made sense to head south.

We arrived in Zelenika where we had to check into Montenegro. This took some time and so we arrived at our chosen anchorage just as it was getting dark. We anchored in a bay south of Sv Marko island which used to be a Club Med Resort before the civil war and is now derelict. The holding was excellent and the shelter from the north also good.

We spent a couple of nights here prior to motoring towards the boatyard We met up with Tim, Katie and Molly on Monty B who run a day charter company around the Bay and who know lots of our friends from Marina di Ragusa, where we over-winter Linea.

Linea being lifted in Navar Boat Yard.

We had an appointment for 1000h in the yard. The weather was perfect and we reversed into the slips with ease. Within an hour and forty minutes we were being lowered back into the water. Fixed again!!

For the next few days we explored the bay of Kotor. Its dramatic surrounding black mountains truly are remarkable. We headed north past two islands with churches on them and anchored in a bay at the mouth of a small river. Ashore we found an old mill building which still uses the power of the river water to turn the olive press wheel.

Next day, we motored past the church islands to get a better view and headed further into the bay down to the town of Kotor. We were able to anchor off in the bay well out of the way of the three visiting cruise ships.

Here there is a walled town rather like a mini Dubrovnik. We enjoyed an evening stroll around the town but were determined to come back early in the morning so that we could walk around in complete peace before the cruise ship passengers were disgorged.

Fresh mussels

On our return we found a fantastic market and met some guys who had just come back from harvesting mussels. We bought a kilo of mussels for tea for an astronomical 3 Euros.

After a couple of days here we moved back to Tivat because we had arranged to hire a car to explore further inland.

We had a good walk along the impressive promenade at Tivat, past the pristine superyacht harbour with its designer shops and along to the Maritime Museum. Here we happened upon a tour which was about to start around a Yugoslavian submarine. What an interesting half hour. The guide explained all about the submarine in impecable English and Italian. I even got to look in the periscope!

We met Bojan the car hire guy and picked up the car. First job was to get the gas bottle refilled which we did at an INA gas station close to the boat yard. We were then able to re-stock the larder at a huge supermarket. Jobs done we headed back to the boat.

We were up early next day and drove from Tivat to Budva on the south coast of Montenegro. Although the touristy Stari Grad old town was quite quaint the rest of Budva held little or no appeal for either of us and we couldn’t wait to leave. We drove up to Cetingje which is the former capital of Montenegro and is at a higher elevation and delightfully cool. The streets are largely pedestrianised and the buildings painted in various pastel shades. Its streets are lined with trees and there are many parks. The old embassy buildings are still there and fairly well preserved, housing a variety of museums. We enjoyed wandering round there for a couple of hours. It was very charming.

Next stop was the Lovcen National Park. The road continued to rise up the mountain side and the vegetation became increasingly sparse. There were pine trees and more rocky terrain. Such buildings as there were had a distinctly alpine look. Round the next bend we spotted a T bar and fields which are clearly pistes in winter.

Ski bum!

We jumped out at the Visitor Welcome Centre but were rather underwhelmed at the total lack of interest in us or lack of any information about walking trails and so on. We accidentally came across a ‘Bare Foot Trail’.

Ah, we thought, this is more like it.. However, on closer inspection it was totally ruined and neglected. Such a pity because there was massive potential for any number of activities in this huge and beautiful park.

Further up the road we made a sharp turn to the left on a brand new road. Not even evident on Google maps. It led us down the mountain towards Kotor. It would have been impossible to get lost because we could see an incredible vista beneath us. Both the Kotor and Tivat bays were fully visible though the clothes. Cruise ships were dots below us. We could even make out Linea – a tiny speck far below.

We stopped for a bite to eat near the top of the mountain and it was surprisingly chilly sitting out on the terrace above the clouds – lovely.

We began to drive back down to Tivat, carefully negotiating 20 tight hairpin bends along the narrow road. Called the Ladder of Kotor. Many of the road-edge barriers had crumbled and I was at pains to point out (entirely unnecessarily!) to Ian that he needed to stay well away from the edge! We squeezed through impossible gaps besides cars coming up. Occasionally knocking wing mirrors. Even full length coaches were taking this hideously vertiginous route!

Yes! Some people cycle UP the Ladder of Kotor!!

Soon, we were back at sea level and it was very much warmer.

We dropped off the car and went back to Linea. Later that evening Rob from Pablo Neruda came over and we shared a few beers with him. He knew a few people in common and it was interesting to chat to him about his travels.

My ‘Ink Stamp’

Next day, we were going to head back to mainland Italy but first we wanted and take advantage of being able to buy duty free fuel at a bargain price of approx 60 cents per litre. In order to be able to do this we had to have a boat stamp. Hmm, we don’t have an official ink stamp so I set about making one by carving the boat name and registration number on a potato!

Thank you to Helen Peyton for her coaching in lino printing classes. I think I made a fairly good attempt. However, the fuel dock manager was not impressed by my creative talents and refused to let us have the duty free fuel. We had to move to another part of the fuel quay to fill up (still only 1.21 Euros per litre) and then move again to the customs quay to check out of Montenegro.

Finally, we had completed the official tasks and were heading out of the Bay of Kotor out into the Adriatic Proper.

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