Sailing with friends

LEG 5_29_7

Montenegro to Greece

12/7 Day off in Cavtat

The beauty of the bay of Uvala Tiha swayed us to stay on anchor an extra night – the complete absence of wind was also a factor.  The crew made the most of the free day by swimming in the crystalline waters and baking on the deck under a cloudless sky. We took turns taking the tender into the quaint town of Cavtat, some admiring the architecture of the old town and others following Brazil’s embarrassing exit from the World Cup.  A satisfying day was had by all, and with another stunning sunset we bid farewell to Croatia.

13/7 Day 20: Cavtat – Herzeg Novi

As it turned out, Croatia would not let us leave so easily! During our check out with the customs, scamming officials tried to fine us for docking and a simple run to the bakery for fresh bread. Unfortunately, this was only the beginning of what turned out to be an incredibly trying day.  The weather was making up for days with no wind, and Lotos was rocked by rain and winds up to 25 knots.  Even sailing on a reefed main and a half genoa, the boat was strained to its limits, and a storm straight ahead created a tense situation for our crew.  The wind and rain made for chilly conditions on deck, yet down bellow was even worse sideways with high waves.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Finally, the skies began to clear as we finished the 10 NM journey to the town of  Herzeg Novi at entrance of Kotor Bay, our first stop in Montenegro! Clearing customs (hassle free this time) we docked in the marina, grateful for steady ground.

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Later in the evening, some of us mustered up the energy to explore the town and catch the final match of the World Cup.  While the coastal walkway was cluttered with clubs and fast food joints, the interior of Herzeg Novi was rich with ruins.  Given its strategic location, Herzeg Novi had changed hands several times over the ages.  The steep stone cliffs over the town boasted three forts, an Italian, a Turkish, and a Spanish fort, each one higher and with a better view than the last – if you had the endurance to make the hike.  Needless to say, we all slept well that evening, despite the club music bumping from a bar right outside the boat.

14/7 Day 21: Herzeg Novi – Stradioti (Sv. Marko)

The following day we all slept in on a well-deserved lazy morning.  After a filling lunch on the boat, we left the marina and motored further into the Bay of Kotor.  With dramatic mountain scenery as a backdrop, we discussed some issues that had arisen among the crew.  In such a small living space, one can imagine that it is not harmonious all the time.  Different personalities can clash and divide the crew – making communication and personal skills as essential as technical expertise on such a small boat. We managed to sort out our issues temporarily during the time it took to motor the 9 NM to an anchorage near an abandoned tourist resort on the island of Sv. Marko. That evening we enjoyed an outside dinner accompanied by crickets and the rhythmic hoots of the rare Montenegrin night fowl.

15/7 Day 22: Stradioti – Kotor

Leaving our anchorage early, we motored the final 12 NM to back of the bay and the town of Kotor.  Along the way, we admired several old towns sitting on the coast in front of the massive limestone mountains.  The wind was nonexistent but the view was breathtaking.  Arriving in Kotor, we filled up on fuel and made way to the marina, where we conveniently moored right in front of the street market.  Several of us disembarked to haggle with the street vendors for some fresh fruit and veg before we all went our separate ways in the afternoon.  Luigi and Angelo explored inside the city walls, Bryn visited the barber shop, and Dominik and Gabby undertook the arduous hike to the high fortress of Kotor, a climb that included over 1,000 stairs in the heat of the day.   That evening, we all joined up for dinner on the boat followed by a drink in the town at an appropriate bar – The Mariner.

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 16/7 Day off in Kotor

We made the decision to stay an extra day in Kotor.  The charm of the city warranted more time and we needed to make sure the wind would be with us for our upcoming passage to Greece.  Bryn and Gabby took the bus to the neighboring town of Perast while Dominik and Luigi enjoyed an acoustic concert in Kotor.  Everyone joined up for a dinner out on the town.

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17/7 Day 23: Kotor – Sv. Stefan

Exiting the bay the next day, we began motoring before hoisting up the full main sail.  For lunch, we anchored so that we could lunch on a final treat from Kotor: fresh sea bass, exquisitely prepared!  After lunch, we put up the sail again and cruised just under 40 NM to the bay of Sv. Stefan.  While the bay was beautiful, it was not well-sheltered.  Lotos was rocked relentlessly by waves all night and most found it difficult to sleep – an unfortunate prelude to our overnight passage to Greece.

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18/7 Day 24: Sv. Stefan – Ericousa

Despite a difficult night, the excitement of our upcoming night sail supplied us with adrenaline energy.  After checking out of Montenegro in Budva, we set our heading towards the open water and Greece.  Leaving the mountainous Montenegrin coast that we had been hugging for the past week, we found the perfect NW wind and put up the full sail.  We moved at a steady clip all day, making for good progress and suburb sailing.

Although Albania was out of sight, Luigi managed to hook a 5 kilo tuna, sorting us for dinner (and almost every meal for the next few days).   The waves began to pick up as the sun set prompting us to buckle up our life jackets and clip into the boat.  It was the start of 36 hours of non-stop rocking with the waves. We took turns working 4 hour watch shifts throughout the night.  While one couldn’t exactly say it was exactly “smooth” sailing due to the sheer size of the swells, the wind continued to blow from an ideal N NW direction and we made good time.  Away from the light and noise pollution that characterizes most of the Adriatic coast during the summertime, the night sky was stunning.  The sun rose early, around 5 a.m. and we caught sight of the Albanian coast for the first time.  With only the general sail up and a steady wind from behind, we finally arrived to our first Greek island in the early afternoon, the isle of Ericousa.

All said and done it was a ideal night passage with good wind and without incident.  At our farthest point we were at 25 km from shore and we traveled a total of 180 NM at an average speed of 6 knots! In Ericousa, a few of us took the tinder to a beach bar for our first taste of cold Greek lager.  Once back on the boat we all dined on tuna fillets and toasted with Prosecco to our safe passage and arrival in Greece.

20/7 Day 24: Ericousa – Corfu

Exhausted, everyone slept in the next day.  Just before noon we lifted the anchor and began motoring to the giant of the Ionian islands, Corfu. We arrived a few hours later on the motor and berthed in the Gouvia Marina.  This large marina marked the end of the cruise’s 3rd leg.  Both Bryn and Angelo left Lotos in Corfu; Angelo heading back to Italy and Bryn continuing his journey in Greece.  It was sad for those left behind to see them go.  In their stead, we welcomed Mark and welcomed back Clara.  With a new leg of the journey ahead and a new crew, we planned to spend the next few days exploring the island of Corfu.

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