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.

Time in Split by bus

Ian and I decided to take a quick day trip to Split from our anchorage in Vinisce. This involved a couple a buses from Vinisce to Trogir and then from there to Split. All very easy to figure out. We arrived in Split around midday and headed to the old town. Here we wandered round taking in the sights.

It was of course very warm and we soon ran out of the impetus to wander round much more. We headed for a fabulous health food bistro Step by Step and ordered some yummy salads and ravioli.

Having re-fuelled we felt better and were able to summon up the energy to walk back to the bus station. The bus times worked perfectly for us and although we arrived back after dark there were no problems getting back to the boat.

A good day out.


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.

An action-packed island tour with Keira and Lucy.

Lucy and Keira in Ston

Following our whistle-stop tour of Split only yesterday we left our anchorage really early to make sure that we arrived at the head of the queue for a spot on the town quay in Milna on Brac island.

We wanted to be there in order to meet Keira and Lucy who were coming into Brac on the ferry from Dubrovnik.

We tootled into the beautiful harbour area trying to identify a suitable gap. If we got it wrong we would potentially be paying marina prices, which are always huge, PLUS a massive August supplementary charge. This we wanted to avoid.

Milna on Brac

It certainly takes some persistence and just a little bit of good fortune.

First, we hovered around the quay

An official looking chap directed us to the marina.

I said that we want to go on the town quay.

He shrugged. Why, he asked.

I said that we preferred to be there. I asked him where we can moor.

He said to anchor off in the bay and wait til his colleague comes on at 1500h.

We anchored off as instructed.

At 1600h we are called and asked to come in alongside the quay.

RESULT! 300kn (about £28 including free (delicious) water and right in the heart of town.

Our patience and gentle insistence seemed to have paid off. In the marina we would have paid in excess of £100.

Later that evening we strolled round the gorgeous harbour to the ferry terminal and watched the maneuverings of the ferries with some awe. Keira and Lucy had safely arrived after a full on night and day in Dubrovnik.

I won’t go into great detail as Lucy has written a guest blog but will include a brief summary of our journey and a few photos.

Milna, Brac to Smrka Bay, Brac***Swam, explored the submarine pen, swam and chilled

Smrka Bay to Vis Town, Vis***Chilled, ran, swam, did military tour, saw Bohemian Rhapsody in the open air cinema.

Vis to Prizba Bay, Korcula***Listened to the third test. What a match! Chilled and swam.

Korcula to Ubli, U Kremena, Lastovo***Chilled, wandered around Ubli, hired bikes, cycled miles, explored Lastovo town, had lunch.

U Kremeno to O. Cesvinica, Lastovo***Chilled, quiet night, swam and girls went up the mast.

Lastovo Archipeligo to Korcula, U Badija***Sat out strong winds, rescued a dragging charter boat, walked round Badija island, went ashore to Korcula in the dinghy and set off for Kobas on the Peljesac peninsula.

Badija to Kobas nr Ston***Moored to a restaurant jetty, took on water, had dinner (fish and chips) expensive but fun as met the crew of the huge motor yacht Polauris, visited Ston and the Great Wall of Europe

Kobas to Cavtat, U Tiha.***Anchored off and found reasonable holding. Strong winds during the eve. Nice spot despite noise from shore. Dropped Keira, who cadged a lift to the airport with the chief electrical engineer on Eclipse (Roman Obramovich’s motor yacht).

A great time was had by all. We ate some gorgeous vegetarian food and Lucy’s speciality Overnight Oats and Chia Puddings, too! (See Pages for more detail about the kind of food we eat on board Linea)

Guest Blog; Keira and Lucy on Linea


A few highlights from a fantastic two week holiday in Croatia…

After a flying visit to Dubrovnik with Keira, we travelled 4 hours by ferry on Wednesday to Milna on the island of Brač. Sarah and Ian were on the town quay awaiting our arrival and we walked to where Linea was moored. After a long catch up, a delicious homemade curry, and a few glasses of wine, we were ready for bed, and slept soundly for the first night on the boat.

Thursday, we set off to Smrka bay, which was beautiful, it even housed an old Military tunnel left over from the Former Yugoslavia, and an old house left in its ori​ginal state.

The house was complete with an outside shower and toilet, as well as a large open fire in the main room of the house, used for cooking a traditional supper for dinner guests who wish to enjoy a traditional Croatian meal.

Friday, we managed to sail the full 19 miles to Vis as we were lucky with the 5.6 knots of wind in our favour.

The incredible dolphin sightings out at sea- thanks Ian for always spotting them whilst we were deeply involved in our respective books

Saturday was by far the most interesting day as we set off from Vis town by Land Rover to visit three different military bases. Equipped with helmets and headlamps, the tour started in the underground tunnels. We explored the labyrinth of tunnels and bunkers, saw the remains of cannons and abandoned warehouses.

The views from the top were incredible! The tour guide pointed out Tito’s cave and informed us that the leader used this as a Partisan hideout from the invading Nazi forces during the Second World War. We were left fascinated by a tour so rich in culture and history that afterwards, we spent some time discussing it with our guide over a well-earned beer.

The view from the top

Sunday, we sailed 30 miles to Korčula.

I think now it is the right time to mention that England thrashed Australia in the Ashes. Despite mine and Keira’s disinterest in the cricket, I know that S+I will be thrilled that I mention this here, it did create a buzzy atmosphere on the boat and we celebrated by enjoying G+T’s on the top deck and were introduced to ‘Black Mariah’.

The following three days were spent in Lastovo’s Archipelago Nature park- the most idyllic place of all. We were spoilt by the luscious vegetation and marine life that surrounded us. Some personal highlights from this wonderful island: locals who travelled around by dinghy delivering bread and pastries to any anchored vessel, the four of us star gazing on the top deck- mesmerised by the little air pollution, the exhausting yet thoroughly enjoyable 20 mile cycle around the island topped with a fantastic lunch in ‘Fumari’.

Next up was a 30 mile sail to Ston, we spent the evening in a restaurant where a large table of crew members dined from the world’s second largest super yacht named ‘Perlorus’.

The ‘much talked about’ Pelorus super yacht

We indulged in freshly barbequed fish and home grown salad and chips and enjoyed conversing with the crew members and learning how ‘the other half live’! Keira and I spent our last night on the boat in Cavtat before S+I took us to shore to wave us goodbye as we parted ways. A truly unforgettable holiday filled with cultural discoveries, delicious food, some exercise, and great company- thank you Sarah and Ian for a wonderful boating experience. 

I don’t know if you want to put this in the blog but I just wanted to say a special thank you to Ian for teaching me the basics about sailing, I can confidently work out the maths when it comes to calculating the distance, speed, and duration from destination to destination (just about!) Sarah, thank you for inspiring me with your cooking and acting as nurse when I fell over and cut my knee. I am so grateful to you both for inviting me onto the boat, you spoilt me! I look back with such fond memories that will stay with me forever. Thank you, thank you, thank you!