Tag Archives: sailing

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.

Onward and Northward

Heading North from Uglijan opp Zadar via Molat to Olib and back down to Dugi Otok.

After Paddy and Louis departed for Zadar we headed north towards the island of Molat. There is an anchorage on the east side of the island which is protected from south winds that were expected for the next couple of days.

We had a good sail up and were pleasantly surprised by the space available in the anchorage. The depth was 6 metres, the water clear and the swell non-existent. Perfect.

Next morning, we set off to walk across the island to the west side via the village

Post off ice and Post bike in Molat town.

to the harbour of Lucina on the west side where the ferry comes into.

Harbour front in Lucina.

The harbour front was lovely and we enjoyed a chat with some Yorkshire Tikes (Rondy and Dave on Elise) who were proudly flying their white rose.

David and Rondy told us of the traumas that occurred here during the storm of the 2nd August (we were in Uglian with Paddy at the time) when six boats were washed ashore in the eastern anchorage. Trees were felled and all kinds of damage was done. Again, we realised how lucky we had been to be in a protected anchorage.

We left Molat and headed to Olib.

Again expecting south winds. This bay on the west side of Olib offers good protection. We anchored off near a de-commissioned mooring block and had a quiet couple of days here. We decided to walk across the island to look at the anchorage on the other side.

Setting off down a track bounded on both sides by dry stone walls with styles. Just like Yorkshire!

The main track petered out and soon we found ourselves battling through the undergrowth, brambles, bilberry twigs and overgrown trees and shrubbery in an attempt to reach our destination. After what seemed like an eternity, we burst out of the vegetation on to the main concreted path that leads between the two coasts; sweating, cursing, scratched, bleeding, with leaves in our hair and thorns, spikes in our skin.

Definitely beer o’clock even though it was only 1130h!

We heard about an intriguing sounding Donkey Festival

taking place on Dugi Otok some time in August so we about faced and headed south. We found a great anchorage north of Sali town and whizzed into Sali in the dinghy that evening, arriving in the harbour to be shrouded in wisps of smoke and clouds of cordite from the fireworks display floating off into the atmosphere.

The place was buzzing. We discovered that the following evening there would be a parade, donkey music and a donkey race. We were up for that.

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The parade was led by the Old Timers (see pic) followed by a stream of men marching along blowing into cow horns. The noise produced was reminiscent of donkey braying and was accompanied by a beating rhythm created from clanking pieces of metal inside an old fashioned hot coals style of iron.

The marching band playing cow horns and iron!

They beat their donkey tattoo all down the harbour front, sashaying in and out of each other in snaking lines.

It really was quite a spectacle, if somewhat limited in its dynamics, being essentially one note from the horn and one rhythm from the iron. However, what it lacked in musicality it more than made up for in volume. The great cacophony continued to reverberate round the harbour and everyone enjoyed the quirkiness of it all.

Next the donkeys came behind, being alternatively cajoled, tempted and bullied into following along.

One guy leading a donkey had carrots tucked into his belt.

Here we were fortunate to be sitting near a delightful Croatian lady from the island who had lived in California since 1967. She now come ‘home’ every year with here husband Tony who was the flag bearer of the parade.

Then came the donkey race…a mad dash round the harbour on the aforementioned donkeys. This was quite a sight to behold. Poor donkeys.

There was an out and out winner of the eight or so donkeys in the race and he was duly presented with a huge prosciutto ham. I don’t know what the donkey was given.

After all this excitement, we bid farewell to our new best friends and headed back to the boat.

In Murter once more, we refuel-ed, stocked up on provisions and water, did a stack of laundry and prepared for the next few weeks.

We met up with two Brit boats and had a boozy and very late night on Linea with Chris from Windependent and Miles and Bridget from Nirvana.

We then had a good sail south to Rogoznica from where I would be leaving Ian and Linea to pop back briefly to the UK for a reunion with the girls I used to share a house with on Brudenell Avenue whilst at Carnegie – Leeds in the 80s.

Next time, read about my weekend in Leeds and after that about our time with Keira and Lucy as we take in some of the southern Croatian islands.

Back in the MddR!!

Porto Turistico Marina di Ragusa, Sicilia, Italia.

 

So here we are, to para-phrase The Beatles, Back in the MddR!!!

 

We are loving the community feel and the gorgeous November weather. 

On Saturday, Sheena, a great friend from uni, who lives in Rome, came for a quick weekend visit. 

We had a wonderful time catching up with her and phoning Anne, Trish and Clare, our other Brudenell Avenue housemates from 2″1981-84!

 

Sheen had to leave on Monday and so we cracked on with some cleaning detail!

 

 

 

Laundry; in the new mini washing machine!

Polishing; all shackles, blocks and pulleys.

Oiling; anything that can move.

Taking down; all sails.

Removing lines and ropes; Running mousing lines instead of halyards and sheets.

Scrubbing; the bimini and sail bag.

De-barnacling:  the dinghy.

Fixing; De-rusting and cleaning the bikes.

De-rusting the bikes.

Bilges; cleaning and disinfecting.

Kim has been a model member of crew.   She has cracked on with allocated jobs with gusto and been a great giggle to boot.  In amongst, we have been to the beach, the market and to have a fabulous burger lunch at Burger Art!

On Wednesday 7th November Kostas and his friends came to pay a visit.  

 

 

 

 

Marina di Ragusa market on Tuesday mornings. Ian cooked mussels for tea! Yum!

The scrumptious Burger Art for Lunch prior to Kim’s departure.

 

 

 

 

 

 

So far we have had happy hours, coffee mornings, rugby internationals, drinks next door, dinner with Di and John, trash Monday beach cleaning, a presentation about sailing in French Polynesia and much more.  It’s a very active community here.

Now we have  less than a week left to prep the boat for winter, socialise with all our MdR friends and get our heads ready for our winter season in the Sutski chalet.

We return to The Shire on the 19th November!

Preparations in Pilos

The harbour at Pilos.

Having decided on the perfect weather window to get us across to Sicily, a further problem with the alternator meant that we missed the chance to leave when we wanted to.  We then had to wait for a few more days to be sure of a three day window.  Regrettably, this meant that we were not going to be back in MdR in time to see Gaye and Chris.  Bloody boat and weather!

Claire, Paul, Pete and Ian.

On the plus side though, it did mean that we could ask if Kim wanted to help with the crossing.  She said, ‘Yes’, and within 36 hours was travelling to Athens and on to Pilos.  We also met Carol and Paul on Swallow and Claire and Pete on Blue Vigil and had good times with them.

So much could be re-cycled and re-used on these ‘dead’ boats!

We were surrounded  by ‘dead’ yachts that had been abandoned in Pilos. What a waste!

Ian was taken off by the port police because they thought he had been trying to remove some of the equipment on board one of the abandoned boats – as if!

Last of the three Gyros!!!!

On Monday 29th October, we explored a little more of the town with Kim and had our last ever gyros.

We provisioned up for the trip across to Sicily and then spent the afternoon cooking and getting ready to go.

We did not fancy these though!

The next morning we were up at 0530hrs and preparing to drop the lines.  Ian started the engine as he had every morning since we had the alternator fixed.  It wasn’t working properly AGAIN!

We rang Kostas who came out for a third time, to have another look and try to fix the problem once and for all.

He took the offending alternator away to repair it in Kalamata.  Kindly, he offered Ian a lift to Messini as we decided to purchase a generator in case the alternator should pack up during our return to Sicily.  This was our back up plan.

Kostas soon had the alternator repaired and was happy with everything.  He is going to Sicily on holiday next week so we have arranged to meet up.

Milos to the Mainland.

Ian’s chocolaty birthday cake.

Having waved off Alice and Ian we awaited a suitable slightly less windy day to shoot across to the mainland.  Meanwhile, I revisited the very interesting Milos Mining Museum to find out more about the rocks and geology of the island.

The geology of Milos.

The mainland is a fair distance from Milos at 80nm; but the winds were favourable and we just hoped that the sea wouldn’t be too lumpy after the last ten days of strong winds.

We set off in the dark on Sunday morning (14th October 2018) and discovered that the boat next to us had laid his anchor chain over ours.  We managed to resolve the problem quickly and, luckily, they were awake so we could tell them.

Ak Maleas – looks benign enough!

Off we set and had a fantastic sail across making such consistently good speeds that we arrived at our anchorage in the last remnants of day light.   Not before being suprised by 40knot gusts off the forbidding Ak Maleas!

Half an hour later and very gusty!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next morning, we set off round to Limeni bay where we anchored and had a peaceful night.

Great sailing day.

The next hop was to be round to Methoni on the western most ‘finger’ of the Peleponnese but in the morning when we started the engine we noticed that the alternator didn’t seem to be charging the batteries.

Luckily, we were fairly close to Kalamata where most boat repairs can be undertaken so we started sailing north.  We had a fantastic sail for about an hour and then the wind died down and since it was a beautiful sunny day we enjoyed pottering along.

Deciding it was time to crack on we tried to start the engine.

No joy!

After I had come round from a COMPLETE melt down, we lowered the dinghy and attached it to the starboard side of the boat, put the engine on and pushed ourselves along at a 3 knots using the outboard motor.

Only 12nm to go… we made it… just as dusk approached.

It was relatively straightforward to steer into the marina, although we decided to go in bow first.  On the way there, we had phoned repair people and tee-ed up appointments for first thing in the morning.

Vincent, Ian, me, Find and Dianna

Vincent next door supplied a much needed glass of wine and we were beginning to relax.  The next day, we celebrated Ian’s birthday with some new friends.

 

Soon, repairs were underway.  Ioannis replaced the dead engine battery.  Kostos took away the alternator and fettled it with new diodes.  Ian had climbed the mast three more times to fix on a new tri-colour and anchor light and by Monday evening (22nd October 2018) we were all set.

 

We bade farewell to new friends on Fai da Te, Owl and the Pussy Cat, Lyra and Vincent, and sailed round in the cloud, mist and rain to Pylos and the brighter weather further west.

The lovely Kostos who we hope to meet in Sicily next week.

On arriving, we were dismayed to see that the alternator was still not performing as it should.  A quick call to Kostos and he agreed to come the following day to see what the problem was.  He soon had it sussed and we are now prepped and ready to make the big jump across to Sicily.

On Friday 26th at 0154h there was an earthquake measuring 6.4 – magnitude, 30 miles south of Zakinthos.  I actually felt the tremors on the boat at 0158h four minutes later!  It was a weird feeling being bounced up and down without the force of waves. Luckily no one was hurt and only minor damage occured.

Pylos marina from the castle

Pylos bay looking west towards the gap.

 

 

Kim will arrive on Sunday 28th Oct to give us a hand and put her newly acquired Day Skipper Skills into good practice.  Yeah!

 

 

 

We are really looking forward to getting back to our winter berth even though we will only have a couple of weeks to put the boat to bed before we set off to the UK.