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Mountains, Mausoleums and Meet-ups

19th - 20th July 2022 - Sazan Island, Albania - Zelenika, Montenegro (146.9 nautical miles)

After a lovely evening with Lucy, Jig and Darcy onboard Falkor, we weighed anchor at 6am to make our way as far up the Albanian coast as possible in daylight hours. Lucy and Jig were going to take Darcy for a walk on the island and explore the semi-abandoned military camp before following in our wake. It was a beautiful calm morning as we motored up the coast. By 11am we had about 13-15kn from the NW so we were able to sail with full main and jib, achieving 4.6kn SOG. For the rest of the afternoon we had absolutely beautiful sailing conditions. Wind on our beam and practically no swell in glorious sunshine. A message from Lucy confirmed they were enjoying it too - ‘Why can’t it always be like this?!’

It was approaching 6pm and we were nearing the bay just south of Durres. We had identified a few anchorages to stop off at on the way up and, having passed one to try and make it to the next one.... the wind died. Looking at the forecast we were in for a bit more wind overnight and nothing the next day so it was around this point that we decided to do an overnighter to Montenegro. It was unlikely that we would arrive at the next anchorage just north of Durres before sunset and we didn’t fancy motoring the 80-90nm to Montenegro the next day. Never ideal to change plans at the end of the day, as you haven’t quite rested or prepared yourself for an overnighter, but it seemed like the sensible option. As predicted, the wind, which had been languishing around 5kn built to 17kn by 8pm and we could sail again, albeit with one motor on in order two achieve a decent angle to the wind and keep our speed over 4kn. The swell had picked up to so my attempt to microwave a couple of jacket spuds was thwarted. Can microwaves ‘find’ the spud if its rolling around in the oven?? The emergency pot noodles saved the day.

I opted for the 9pm til midnight shift. Before Carl went to bed we put a reef in the main as the wind was hovering around 20kn, just as a precaution. Both engines were off. We were achieving about 4.5kn SOG so all was reasonably good. However, for some reason, I was uneasy on this shift. Our plan was to continue heading up the Albanian coastline towards Shengjin and then tack along the Montenegrin coast. We had heard reports of the Albanian port police approaching boats near Shengjin and I could just see a blue light in the distance to my port side. It was pitch black and this light seemed to stay off our port quarter for a long time. There was chatter on the radio too but we still didn’t have a helm radio, connected to the mast aerial. We had our handheld portable one but the range was not very good so I kept coming inside to hear if Rockhopper was mentioned. True to form the wind was steadily dropping and I was trying to determine how long to hold course before making the tack towards Montenegro. That blue light was still hovering. Around 11:30pm I made the call to tack. We were now heading away from Shengjin and eventually the blue light disappeared. It may have been nothing at all but your mind conjures up all sorts in the dead of night at sea. Unfortunately the wind did not pick up and I ended up starting an engine. I sheeted in the main but it was making a god awful creaking sound in the boom as we rocked in the swell which was doing my head in. Approaching Montenegrin waters I heard over the radio that some military exercise was happening and to avoid some area which I didn’t catch. To be honest, at this point I was just praying for midnight when Carl would come back on shift. The handover was ‘I had it, you got it’ and I was off to bed.

Again, true to form, the wind picked up for Carl and within an hour or so he was able to switch off the engine and achieve 5kn SOG. By 4am when I was back on watch the wind had dropped off again and an engine was started again. Still with the creaking of the boom... On the plus side, there was a glorious sunrise and we were gliding along the Montenegrin coastline. When we were both up we took down the Albanian flag and hoisted the Q flag, ready to check in to a new country. As the wind was just not there we decided to lower the mainsail in order to get rid of that creaking sound in the boom which was driving us both crazy.

Our good friends Steve and Carol on Innamorata II had given us some info on where to check in and what to look out for. They had warned us to use long mooring lines as the bollards to tie to on the dock at Zelenika were a bit far away from the edge and there was a double set of tyres along the dockside as fenders.

Both Carl and I had never been to Montenegro and I for one was really looking forward to it. I had in my mind lakeside James Bond villain mansions. I later found out that those were all in Italy but I was not disappointed by the place. We motored into the narrow opening of the Bay of Kotor at around lunchtime, dodging day tripper boats on their way out. The occasional super yacht drifted by as we made our way towards Zelenika and the Q dock. Steve had informed us of the sequence of reporting to the port police and then the harbour master which seemed straightforward so I readied the long mooring lines. Through the binoculars I could see that the dock was clear of boats and was reasonably long. There was no wind at all so happy days. Carl brought her in and it was then that I saw the tyres and the bollards. OMG! The tyres were about 12m apart from one another along the dock and stuck out, two tyres deep, held on with rusted metal brackets. The bollards were about 1.5m away from the dock and about 20m apart. The dock was clearly designed for cruise ships. Trying to sandwich Rockhopper between two tyre ‘fenders’ had disaster written all over it so Carl aimed to get one at mid ships. I, in the meantime, readied myself to do an almighty leap from the boat to the dock with a long line in my hand. What could possibly go wrong?

Well, in fact, nothing. Carl brought her in nice and slow, I made my leap and ran to the first bollard. Upon reaching it I realised that I wasn’t entirely sure how to tie off to these things with two ears on them but gave it a go anyway. Luckily it held and I ran back to the boat to retrieve the other line that I had helpfully trailed over the side so I could grab it from the dock, although I had to stand on one of the tyres to reach it. Carl meanwhile was concerned that our fenders weren’t low enough but through luck more than judgement they seemed to provide enough cushioning. Anyway, drama over, all tied off and ready to check in.

After seeing the port police in their little booth, the man pointed us in the direction of the harbour master. We presented our papers and qualifications and paid the cruising tax fee. Steve had also helpfully mentioned that their was a kiosk there where we could pick up a local SIM card and a supermarket. Unfortunately our super duper Spanish SIM card on the boat did not cover Montenegro. It was here at the supermarket that we realised that Montenegro doesn’t really do fresh milk or sell ice cubes. After a long passage and a dodgy docking Carl spotted a seaside bar so we headed there for our post passage beer.

With that done, we headed back to the dock and got our passports stamped. We were officially in! In the time we had been away another boat had come in behind us and another little monohull was on its way in. I hung around to take one of their lines so that the woman did not have to do the almighty leap. Unfortunately their lines were too short and there was a bit of faffing about and some choice words in German but eventually they were settled. There was still plenty of daylight left so we untied the lines with the help of a guy on the dock and headed out towards the island of Sveti Marko.

20th July 2022 - Zelenika - Sveti Marko, south side (6.3 nautical miles)

The motor through the bay was stunning. There were mountains either side of us. We passed by the swanky Porto Novi marina and on towards Sveti Marko. The island is situated just south of Tivat, quite close to the airport. There are anchorages marked on both sides of the island and we opted for the southern side. There were plenty of boats anchored there so we found ourselves a spot and dropped the hook in 12m. The water was murky but apparently good enough to swim in which was great as it was still pretty hot. Plenty of jet skis about so we kept reasonably close to the back of the boat. After a swim and a bit of a chill we lowered the dinghy ready to go and explore the mainland. Along the shore to the south of the island were plenty of hotels. Decent music was coming from the Nikki Beach resort but we opted to carry on towards Solila Beach at the head of the bay. There was a small marina there and a restaurant so hopefully we could get some dinner there. The marina had a few fishing boats and the rest were day tripper boats. There were even a few catamarans for charter. We tied up just outside the marina on the harbour wall, next to a ladder. At least we were able to lock it this time. The restaurant had a beach bar underneath it and we made our way to a table to have a cocktail before dinner. The place was full of pretty loud Russians. After waiting for ages to get served, looking expectantly at a group of the waiting staff who were hanging around at the bar chatting to one another, Carl eventually got up and placed our order. We weren’t getting the best impression from the Montenegrin folk to be honest. The woman who served us in the supermarket was pretty miserable and these guys pretended like we weren’t there. After a very friendly reception in Albania from practically everyone we met we were a bit disappointed. This was to change when we went upstairs for dinner. The restaurant was empty but a woman came out and pointed us in the direction of a great table overlooking the bay. She was prompt with the orders and stopped for a chat at every course. She was a student from Podgorica who was working there for the summer. In a few short hours she changed our view. It was such a great spot to watch all the day tripper boats returning to the little marina and tying up. After a lovely meal and a beautiful sunset we made our way back to the boat.

22nd July 2022 - Sveti Marko - Kotor (10.7 nautical miles)

After a couple of days enjoying being stationary we decided it was time to head round to Kotor. It was a day of no wind and to be honest, there was a narrow channel that we had to pass through with ferries constantly moving back and forth so not having to bother with sails was a plus. We motored past Tivat and Porto Montenegro marina with some of the largest super yachts that we had seen so far. Then came the channel. For us travelling at 5kn it was a mission to time our crossing between the fast passenger ferries and the slower car ferries. They would not deviate their course at all so it was up to us to time our slow meander through the carnage. We put both engines on to make sure we could shift if we needed to and Carl took us through.

On the other side we were rewarded for our efforts with an absolutely stunning vista. We were surrounded by steep mountains rising up from the bay. At the shoreline were rows of houses with the most elaborate churches and chapels clinging to the mountainside. It really was fantastic and exactly how I imagined Montenegro to be. We steered to starboard to head down the narrow passageway towards the old town of Kotor. In the distance we could see one cruise ship docked at the harbour wall and another large one at anchor. Closer in towards the town we saw a few sailing vessels but not too many so we were assured of a spot. It was the height of summer and a popular place so it was not a given. The anchorage was pretty deep so we wanted to make sure there was space to put out plenty of chain. We’d read the reviews on Navily for the anchorages in Montenegro and heard some reports from Steve and Carol about a vicious katabatic wind that comes out of nowhere in the Bay of Kotor. As the bay is surrounded by high mountains, this wind develops when higher density air at the top falls under gravity to a lower density region at the bottom. This area was prone to this phenomenon. It was not forecasted so you’d just have to deal with 30+kn winds if and when they came. We dropped the hook in 13m and put out 73m of chain. Or at least this is what we thought but more on that later. Possibly excessive but we had the room and wanted to sleep easy. In actual fact we were quite lucky in that we did not have a breath of wind the entire time we were there.

Well, what a spot. This anchorage was one of my top spots in our entire journey so far. When the cruise ship that was docked eventually left we were treated to a beautiful view of the fortified city of Kotor. From our vantage point you could see the city walls climb from the harbour, up the steep slopes of Mt Lovcen around and back down to the waterside. At night they were lit up and resembled the head of a lion. Within the city walls the narrow stone streets surrounded little bars, restaurants and souvenir shops. That first afternoon we just wandered the streets, which were packed from the cruise ships in the bay. By the evening both had gone and the town was not nearly so packed. We hadn’t managed to get a Montenegrin courtesy flag yet so that was a priority. We eventually found one in one of the souvenir shops which did the trick.

While we had been making our way up the coast of Albania over several days, Mike and Jo in their motorhome had zipped up to Montenegro in an afternoon. They had found an idyllic campsite on the opposite side of the Bay of Kotor with a pitch right on a river, complete with a little dinghy dock. They had brought their bikes with them so had a plan to cycle the coast road, cross the narrow channel using one of those ferries, and meet us in Kotor. The plan was to have lunch with us then cycle back.

Whilst they were on the way to us we took the opportunity to climb the steps up the mountain towards San Giovanni castle. The serpentine steps are a well worn path up passed the Church of Our Lady of Remedy, a little chapel on the steep slope. The castle at the top was really not much to see but the view from there was incredible. By the time we got back down into town we really only had sufficient time to head back to the boat, get showered and back on the dinghy to town to meet Mike and Jo. After they locked up their bikes we wandered in through the Gurdic gate, the southern entrance to the city, and stopped off at a bar for a beer. The lunch that we were going to have with the Pages turned into an epic one! We found a lovely place to have lunch in a square and well, we didn’t really leave it until after dark.

Throughout the course of the afternoon there was a full on orchestra that played, then a guy on a guitar and later a woman with a violin when we’d moved to another bar for a nightcap. It was a lovely afternoon/evening amongst friends. The later it got the more apparent it was that they would not be cycling back that night. In fairness their bed was still set up from when they were onboard so late that evening we all piled back into the dinghy and the Pages were again guests onboard Rockhopper. It was a still night so everyone got a good nights sleep. Possibly helped along by the boozy lunch/dinner.

24th July 2022 - Kotor

The next morning Mike and Jo decided they would do the walk up to the castle and then cycle back. They had shown us were they were camped and told us of a lovely restaurant nearby. There was an anchorage on that side of the bay, where the little river that they were camped beside exited into the Bay of Kotor. We made a plan to take the boat over there the next day.

Continuing on the social whirl, Lucy and Jig had caught us up and were on their way to Kotor. Around lunchtime we saw Falkor coming around the corner. As they were scouting out a place to anchor I yelled over to them to not get too close to the port as large cruise ships docked there. We had been lucky as, apart from that first day, we hadn’t seen any big ones since. Within about 30 minutes of Falkor settling in the most enormous cruise ship came round the corner and docked at the port. I got a message from Lucy, ‘When you said big…’ It was massive, completely blocking the view. Luckily for us, they only stayed for a few hours and by the early evening it was off.

We met up with them that evening in town for our last night in Kotor. It had been a real treat to stay there.

25th July 2022 - Kotor - Morinjsk Zaliv, Risan Bay (7.02 nautical miles)

The next morning at 10:20am we weighed anchor and waved goodbye to Falkor and to Kotor. It was a short hop across the bay to Morinjsk Zaliv in the Risan bay. No wind to speak of so we motored across, soaking up the sights again. Risan bay was another spot where katabatic winds could develop so we were again going to put out a lot of chain. Since we installed the chain counter at the helm we have a specific anchoring routine which works for us. I’ll go up on deck and release the shackle that stops the anchor swinging about on passage, then use the remote anchor windlass control from the generator locker to lower the anchor to the waters edge. Once I see a good sandy spot to drop her in I’ll signal to Carl to lower the chain. As he has depth indication from the the helm he can determine the right amount needed for the depth we are in. In this instance we were in 12m and I couldn’t see a bloody thing so I signalled for him to just go for it. He was aiming for 75m. I was sitting on the bow thinking gees that’s a lot of chain and suddenly I heard a clunk. I quickly said over the headset ‘Stop Stop!’ Then opened up the anchor locker. There was no more chain. Just an empty locker with the end of the chain fixed to a shackle at the base of the locker. It was all out. The boat comes with 75m of chain as standard but we had explicitly asked for 100m. Carl told me the chain counter read 75m. Straight away 'angry Jo' started to come out and I thought we had been short changed. They hadn’t given us the 100m!

Before I sent some angry messages out to our boat broker, I put out a message on our L42 WhatsApp group to just check what setting they had input on their chain counters. To calibrate the chain counter sensor, you need to measure the circumference of the windlass gypsy wheel and input that value. The chain counter then shows the amount of chain released using this value and the rate at which the chain is released. We’d measured it but Tony had come back with a different value. So had Miles. When we did a quick calculation between the two settings and realised that at our setting we would show three-quarters of what Tony’s would see. 75m instead of 100m. Oops, really glad I didn’t send that angry message. On the plus side we had nailed the katabatic wind prep, with no chain left on the boat we weren’t going anywhere. It also meant we would swing in a massive circle so we did in fact bring up 20m just in case another boat decided to anchor near us. What we did learn was the chain was shackled directly to the boat. In naval terms, the ‘bitter end’ is the bit of the rope or chain that stays connected to the boat so that you don’t lose the anchor when you are paying out the chain. From a safety perspective, it is a good idea to have that last bit as rope rather than chain in case you need to dump your anchor (and chain) in a hurry. You can then just cut the line rather than try to unshackle a chain under load. We’d never noticed this before as we had never had all the chain out. It was almost like we’d planned it!

Anyway, back to Morinjsk Zaliv - we had anchored in front of a little beach and resort. Off to the left we saw the river entrance. Mike had very kindly walked over to the restaurant and made a reservation for us that evening at 7:30pm. There was time for us to take the dinghy up the river and dock at their campsite for a pre-dinner drink.

As we made our way up the river their campsite came into view. It was indeed a lovely spot, complete with their own little dinghy dock and some ducks about. Under the awning they had a table and chairs set out. It seemed really peaceful, we could just imagine how their week there had been - Jo doing her crocheting and Mike reading a book, looking out over the river. After a G&T it was time for us to make our way up to the restaurant. It was set in well manicured gardens. We tied up our dinghy to a wooden dock and walked up to the restaurant. We’d been used to beach side bars and restaurants but this was something different. We were sat outside but under a veranda, looking out over a lawn with trees and bushes lining a meandering river with wooden arched bridges over it. We were surrounded by the steep 800m peaks and everything looked so green. Mike had secured us a great table looking out over this vista. On Mike and Jo’s recommendation we had the fish platter for a starter which was so fresh and delicately flavoured. The meal was reasonably pricey but it was worth every cent.

Over dinner we discussed our plan for the following day. It was still stinking hot and we had been at anchor since our one night in Bonifacio. We decided to treat ourselves to three nights in Porto Montenegro Marina in Tivat. We needed to get the generator serviced and we thought we could hire a car and explore a bit more of the country inland. Apparently water and electricity was included so we could put the air con on continuously too. Ashamed to admit how much I was looking forward to that.

26th July 2022 - Morinjsk Zaliv, Risan Bay - Porto Montenegro Marina, Tivat (5.01 nautical miles)

Keen to make the most of our time in the marina we weighed anchor at 9:30am. It took a while with that much chain out but we were eventually on the move. The wind was due to pick up that afternoon so the sooner we were in the better. We had to negotiate back through the narrow channel with the constant ferry traffic but once that was done it was a short trip round the corner to Tivat. This was a super yacht marina. Coming round the corner straight away you are presented with the Black Pearl, a 106m sailing vessel with three carbon fibre masts similar in design to the Maltese Falcon. Owned by a Russian oligarch who had died the previous year of covid... allegedly.

Nearing the entrance Carl called up the marina on the radio. After a bit of hovering they informed us that we were a bit early but could dock at a temporary berth until ours was ready at 12pm. We came in alongside a tall concrete wall with big bollards to tie to. It would have been a bit of a climb to get off and tie up so luckily there was a marinero at hand to take the lines. We didn’t quite realise how far the bollards would be away and we’d used reasonably short lines so I asked the marinero to just tie it off at the bollard rather than loop it round and back to the boat. I expected him to tie a bowline and just loop it over the bollard but the poor guy was making a meal of it and ended up with some slipknot with several additional knots for good measure. Not quite what you’d expect from a marinero at a smart marina but hey, we all have a mare every once in a while. I assured him that we’d sort it out once we were settled. In fact we had plenty of time to sort it out as midday came and went, so did 1pm. There was no power on that dock so my air con was having to wait. Eventually we got the call that we were good to go, slipped the lines and motored round the corner to Jetty 2, tucked in close to the town. It was just the other side of the concrete dock that we had been on but had a floating wooden pontoon to attach to. Just like Puerto Banus we were put in next two two tiny speedboats so our fenders were inappropriately high and there would be no way to push off if needed but Carl brought her in square so all was good. It was then that we found out that our ‘free’ electricity and water was only €5 worth and the rest we’d have to pay for. After faffing about with lines and docking in the heat of the day I was putting it on!

We were in ‘selfie’ heaven. Across from us was a row of super yachts. Gorgeous women in flowing dresses were posing in front of them with their friends taking pictures. So I guess strictly not a selfie, just lots of posing. A definite Insta spot. They’d then do the slow walk while their friend’s filmed them, then spin round and more pictures. Jetty 1 was where the enormous super yachts were but it had a security gate across it. This was Jetty 2, slightly smaller super yachts but with public access across the back and to the side so plenty of opportunity to pose. This went on all day and well into the evening. We lowered the tone by hanging out our washing but later on, not to be outdone, it was definitely a night for SV Rockhopper to put on her underwater blue lights.

The marina was surrounded by smart restaurants and high end clothing stores. It was a lovely promenade but hunting out a supermarket and a reasonably priced beer was a challenge. But who goes to Tivat to do that?! I resisted the urge to buy an Alexander McQueen outfit and we went for a cocktail instead. I wore the other dress that I had onboard that night to try and blend in.

27th July - Tivat

We had been struggling to get hold of an authorised service agent for our generator (needed for the warranty) and had gone to the marina office to ask for help since we were getting no answer on the phone. The woman in the office did not have much luck either but said she would keep trying for us. Later on a guy approached us on our pontoon and said he knew of a service agent and gave us his number. We were to call a man called Bozo! Not particularly filled with confidence we called Bozo and he agreed to come that morning. Three guys in a van turned up and did the filter, oil and belt change. They did find a tooth missing on the impeller and replaced it so it seemed like a fairly thorough job. And it was less than we were expecting so all good. Later on that afternoon we organised a hire car for the following day. We’d do some touristy stuff plus the obligatory visit to a chandlery to see if we could buy anything on the ever-growing boat list.

Lucy and Jig had decided to take Falkor in to a smaller marina just north of ours. There was space for only 6 boats. Later that evening as we had a drink in one of the bars across from the marina we saw them walk by with Darcy and waved them down. After an hour or so of chatting we started to see the wind pick up. We both decided to go and check on our boats as it had been so calm the past few days and we just wanted to make sure all was good. By the time we got back to our boat it was a decent 20kn and we started the engines to motor forward in order to tighten the lazy lines at the front of the boat and hold her off the dock a bit more. We also put some breast lines on to stop her moving about. Once secure Carl and I went out for dinner. When we got back to the boat around 11pm I sent a message to Lucy to see how they faired. Not well was the answer. They had arrived back just in time to see the two boats either side of them crashing into theirs. Their pontoon wasn’t well protected from the swell and the boat next to them had not tightened their lines very well. Lucy and Darcy couldn’t actually get onboard since Falkor was bouncing around so much so Jig managed to leap onboard and drop their lines a bit to move her further away from her neighbours that were going crazy. Unfortunately their lovely Caribbean sailing yacht sustained some damage to the wooden rub rail. They decided not to risk spending another night there.

28th July - Road trip to Budva & Mount Lovcen

We set out at 9:30am with our VW Polo, looking alright from the outside. As soon as we took a corner we realised that the bearings had gone in the left front wheel and it made an awful crunching sound whenever the wheel was turned in a tight right. We persevered and headed to our first chandlery. Armed with the usual list and one or two items from Jig’s list, we stopped off at a few. After a less than successful meander through the boat shops we carried on towards Budva. A coastal city that we had sailed right on past on the way up to Zelenika. The traffic was awful and to make matters worse the air con was a bit dodgy. We queued for 10 minutes to get into an underground carpark (one in one out) with two lanes so you had to be quick on the button to get through the barrier). Once parked we headed down to the old city for a wander. It seemed like a smaller version of Kotor with its charming narrow streets and restaurants tucked away in corners. After lunch we retrieved the car and headed out on the road again.

The lovely waitress at the restaurant where we ate that first night in Montenegro had recommended a trip up to the Mausoleum of Petar II Petrovic-Njegos, at the top of Mount Lovcen. He was a Bishop-Prince of Montenegro, a poet and a philosopher in the 19th century. The building and viewing platform was supposed to offer a good view of the Bay of Kotor so we made the trip up there. It was a steep climb and the Polo was not filling us with confidence but eventually we found the right road and a place to park up. The mausoleum was up a set of steep steps through a tunnel. Once through the tunnel the building housing the remains of Njegos lay before you. Through and out the other side was a walkway to an observation point overlooking the bay. Our waitress was right - it was a spectacular view of the bay. From up here you could look down on Tivat and the bay housing Kotor itself. It was a very peaceful spot too, even with us tourists milling about.

The drive back down the mountain was hair-raising. About 20 switchbacks every 300m. A line of traffic coming down and the occasional coach coming up a very narrow road.

Every time we had to do the right hand switchback turn the crunching noise would make us wince. And the air con had completely packed up so it was hot as hell in that car, sat in traffic. By the time we got back to the marina, tempers were frayed and we both decided a bit of alone time was warranted. Carl went to drop off the car and have a beer and I retreated to the boat with the air con on full blast. Not the best of road trips but we got to see a bit more of the country and the mausoleum was a worthwhile trip.

29th July 2022 - Porto Montenegro, Tivat - Sveti Marko, north side (2.21 nautical miles)

31st July 2022 - Sveti Marko, north side - Sveti Marko, south side (1.13 nautical miles)

Our stay at the marina was over but we weren’t going far. After the rush to get out of Italy we were really enjoying taking our time, making short hops. Firstly we needed to fill up with fuel at the marina. Porto Montenegro marina no longer offered duty-free fuel but it was still a fair bit cheaper than Olbia. We motored round to the fuel dock and found that there was only one smallish pontoon for us and a boat was already on it. As we were hovering about another cat came by. The skipper started to move in front of us but I very politely stated that we were next in line. Also whilst we were hovering a super yacht came barrelling through. Initially I thought they were going to push in too but they simply wanted us to get out of their way so they could get to their berth. Eventually we made it to the dock and filled up. Boom, €652 gone. We slipped lines and went back to Sveti Marko on the northern side, opposite Tivat. Falkor joined us there too.

A couple of days later we both motored round to the southern side of the island as the wind was due to be coming from the north. The England women’s football team were in the Euros final and we invited Lucy and Jig onboard to watch the game. On this occasion we managed to stream the match via our VPN onto the telly reasonably successfully and, with the air con on and a few beers on the go, we watched the ladies bring it home. Fantastic result!

1st August 2022 - Sveti Marko, south side - Herceg Novi (8 nautical miles)

It was time for us to start making our way out of the Bay of Kotor. We had family flying in to Dubrovnik on the 9th of August and we wanted to check out a few places first so we decided to anchor at Herceg Novi, just past the customs dock at Zelenika, visit the town there for a few days, then check out of the country. As we were getting ready to depart I noticed that my bikini top had blown off the back of the boat. The transom at the back always seems quite protected but I had forgotten to put a peg on it so that was that. It would have floated to the shore but we were heading off soon and didn’t really have time to traipse along the beach looking for it. I saw that Lucy and Jig were walking Darcy on the shore so messaged them to say if they saw it please grab it. A long shot but no harm in asking. At 10:15am we started to raise the anchor and Jig came racing over on their tender with my bikini top in his hand. Can’t believe they found it!

Whilst we had been at anchor we had changed out the number 1 reef line. It appeared to be chafing in places so Carl had threaded through a new one. As we motored away from Sveti Marko we raised the main and put the first reef in to make sure it was all working well. There was only 13kn of wind but it was enough to float passed Porto Novi marina for a bit before the engine had to come on. At midday we dropped the anchor in 6m of sand with loads of space around us. The castle town of Herceg Novi was a short dinghy ride away and the beach across from us was lined with bars and restaurants. The cacophony of music from several bars could be heard loud and clear. The entrance to the Bay of Kotor was the other side of us, so we had a great view of the huge cruise ships coming in and out. Lucy and Jig had stayed in Sveti Marko but later that afternoon I got a message from Lucy: ‘You guys see that fire?’ Somewhat confused I looked around to the steep mountain to the right of the entrance and, directly opposite from where we were, the mountainside was on fire. There was a 25kn breeze blowing from the ENE so the smoke was heading straight down towards where Lucy and Jig were. In about 5 mins it had gone from a small blaze to engulf the whole side of the mountain. There was a row of houses just below it and just at the point where I was thinking ‘Has someone called the fire brigade?’ I heard the siren wail along the roadside. They didn’t seem to be able to do much and seemed to be just monitoring it. I kept on thinking that we would see a fire plane or helicopter with a big bucket come round the corner but nothing came. If the wind had changed direction we would have had to move as the smoke was coming thick and fast. Eventually a tiny yellow plane came over and dumped what looked like a cup full of water on the blaze before retreating to the airstrip to stock up again. It seemed a bit hopeless but the pilot kept on coming. Lucy messaged to ask how our anchorage was. I said, apart from the god-awful music it was decent and it was clear of the smoke. She responded that they were on their way as the boat was covered in ash and they were finding it difficult to breathe where they were. A couple of hours later we saw them anchor up next to us. As the afternoon turned into early evening we were both treated to a DJ yelling out over the mic ‘Put your f**king hands up in the air!’

Text from Lucy: ‘Wow, lovely family resort!’

Text from Carl: ‘Don’t know about you but my hands went up!’

The music carried on until 4am when it was exchanged for drunken singing from the lads who had piled out of the club. It’s all par for the course. It’s not like we had to get up early for work or anything. We spent the next day having a walk around Herceg Novi, a pretty little town with a great square at the top of the hill next to the castle where we had dinner. Over our fish supper we contemplated having to deal with the bloody dock again with its rusty tyres and crazy bollards. Still, Croatia next, and two sets of family visits to look forward to!



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