Hot Hot Hot 2018 - Montenegro

Posted by Judy Lambourne on 24 September 2018

Far too early on the morning of Saturday 15th September 2018, 31 HOEOCA members departed from Birmingham Airport bound for Dubrovnik Airport in Croatia. An uneventful Jet2 flight saw us in the sunshine by 1030 local time. Slight panic when there was no sign of the pre-ordered transfer however, eventually a non-English speaking driver turned up with 1 mini bus with the promise that his mate wasn’t too far behind.

We left just after 1130 and drove through the beautiful Croatian countryside before leaving the main road and taking a minor road, presumably to avoid the rumoured long queues at the border. Despite this, it still took about 25 minutes at the 2 borders of much collecting of passports, official stamps and rather grumpy staff.

Now in Montenegro, we soon caught our first glimpses of the beautiful coastline which we were to sail for the week. Descending into the Bay of Kotor we drove the 30 miles around the perimeter which took about an hour due to the sharp bends and bottle necks in every town. The bay is about 17 miles long and has a coastline of 107K. It’s a ria of the vanished Bokelj River that used to run from the high mountain plateaus of Mount Orjen.  

Our boats, chartered with Simple Sail, were located just beyond Kotor at “Marina” Muro, really just a bit of quay with an office and a van. The lack of a bar or restaurant was temporarily a worry but there was a Mini Market where cold beers and picnic lunches were bought whilst waiting to get onto our boats. They even provided a table and sun shade.

There were 6 boats and 34 crew in our “not so mini” flotilla of Sun Odysseys ranging from 38’ to 45’ all with dancing names; Twist, Foxtrot, Reggae, Salsa, Lambada and, our boat, Disco. The afternoon was spent with handovers of varying standards, victualling the boats (either from afore mentioned Mini Market or by taxi to a bigger one back in Kotor). Much to our disgust, the evening featured RAIN but most took the very cheap taxis into Kotor itself and dined in the beautiful old town, which is part of a UNESCO World Heritage site, a fortified town characterized by winding streets and squares where it’s only too easy to get lost! Sadly though, the cruise ships have already found it.

Happily, Sunday morning dawned blue and sunny and so we were able to leave after the normal first day messing around. There was little wind in this inner part of the Bay of Kotor so we motored out past the picturesque man made islands of Otok Gospa and Otok Skrpjela – they were made in the 15th Century!  As we passed through the Verige Straits some wind came up and we sailed across to Otok Prevlaka where we anchored for first swims and lunch.

A great sail east across the bay toward Herceg Novi was somewhat curtailed when Lambada advised that, whilst 3 boats were safely moored up, the harbour master was not going to let anyone else in for at least another hour until the wind had died. Luckily this information proved correct and, with the help of aforementioned harbour master, we were all eventually tied up together and were greeted by Ron and Sue Morgan on their Sun Odyssey Silver Cloud, prospective members who had sailed up from Corfu.

Herceg Novi sits at the mouth of the Bay and is an ancient town with an abundance of mimosa trees and numerous flights of stairs. It’s also apparently enjoys many days of sun. We were charged €50 to moor and innocently asked where the facilities were to be told there were none, this was to be the pattern all week. Boats that evening mostly ate apart but many ended up post dinner on Reggae for more drinks.

Monday, we headed out to sea and enjoyed a gentle 20 mile downwind sail toward Budvar, the centre of the tourism industry in Montenegro, known as it’s “Miami”. After an unusually shallow approach we were helped to moor by 2 pleasant young men on a proper pontoon. The harbour fees here, paid over in a beautiful air conditioned office, were €77 and we were told there were showers. Whilst correct (and to be fair with hot water at high pressure) they were in dire need of a lot of TLC, or rebuilding. This was the busiest place we were to visit so plenty of choice for another fishy meal and another lovely old town to visit.

Just south of Budvar lies the famous island of Sveti Stefano which we visited for photos before heading further down the coast towards Petrovac. Having watched Lambada being turned away, we anchored just off the town until 1600 when we approached and, after some negotiation were allowed to moor alongside on the town quay on the understanding that we’d leave by 0900 as the tripper boats would start then. At just €25 for nothing this was a bargain and we were soon joined by Twist, Foxtrot and Reggae. We enjoyed the sunset afforded by the west facing aspect and all ate a very good dinner together at La Cantina as “suggested” by the man who had taken our money.

All off by the deadline on Wednesday and anchored off the islands again for early morning swims and breakfast. Some boats swum over to the Mama Mia like island and rung the bell from the top. Sadly, time to head back north and not a lot of wind to help us so we mostly motor sailed up to Bigova where a very nice man in a RIB helped us to moor alongside the jetty. Bigova is a sleepy little fishing village where we weren’t charged to moor but suspect all the revenue goes back into one family. However there were 2 restaurants, a little shop and a beach with sun beds which we were able to use and swim in the lovely sea. What more can you ask? Dinner on the terraces, now laid up with smart white cloths and good glasses, even if the menu had become a bit restricted by the time we got to it!

Thursday it was back into the Bay of Kotor. Another lovely sail and then an hour wasted refuelling before proceeding to Perast for the night.  A pretty waterfront marred by a most unpleasant smell and a charge of €50 for the privilege as well as needing to be away by 0830. Lambada must have had insider information as they wisely headed for Risan, about 4NM further east.

Another good evening and a bit more of a party on Foxtrot (probably anticipating our early start on the Saturday!) before our last day. Some chose to spend it swimming and sailing, some headed to see a bit more of Kotor and the lovely old town (Stari Grad). For our final evening, the advance party had booked us a private space at the Citadella Restaurant adjacent to the city walls. Here we were served a Montenegron feast comprising

  1. Charcuterie / Salad of Tomatoes, Cucumber and a Feta like Cheese
  2. A Risotto AND a Pasta
  3. Fillets of Sea Bream
  4. Traditional slow cooked Pork, Chicken and Lamb dishes plus more rice and potatoes
  5. A Crème Caramel / Fruit Skewers

Talk about stuffed! But a lovely end to a very good week before Saturday saw us in mini buses at 0730 and home by 1500 to the rain and cold.

Best bits: The stunning scenery, visiting an undeveloped cruising area, blue sea and sky, some great fish and seafood

Downsides: Expensive to moor, smelly Perast!

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