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Thursday, June 27, 2013


Envoy is currently in ACI Marina Dubrovnik, Croatia.
Cruisers generally talk about Montenegro being expensive to visit but this is not really so. The Vignette (cruising permit) costs 125 Euro (about NZ$208) for one week – so that is expensive, but it only increases to 225 Euro (about NZ$375) for a month and 405 Euro (about NZ$675) for three months, although it’s hard to see why you’d want to stay more than a month in Montenegro as the total coastline is only 45 miles long (plus the Gulf of Kotor) and there’s only about a dozen locations for the cruiser to visit.

Apart from the Vignette everything is super-cheap. For example:
- The excellent local lager beer is called Niksicko and costs about 1.20 Euro (about NZ$2.00) for a large glass. The New Zealand wine industry was started by “Dalmatians” from this general area, and their wine is excellent to taste and a fraction of the price in New Zealand – we were buying 500ml bottles for around 4.50 Euro (about NZ$7.50).
- For breakfast at a very good taverna we could have Eggs Benedict with smoked salmon for 6 Euro (about NZ$10.00) or a Full English Breakfast of two eggs, bacon, mushrooms, sausages, beans, tomatoes and French fries for 4 Euro (about NZ$6.70).
- Shopping in the fresh food markets we find the prices very reasonable. We bought a selection of potatoes, asparagus, carrots, beans, lettuce, avocadoes, kiwifruit, strawberries, bananas, mint, parsley for 21 Euro (about NZ$35) and Diane says this would have cost about $50 in New Zealand. A whole salami cost 4 Euro (about NZ$6.70) and a litre of olive oil 7 Euro (about NZ$11.70).
- I got a haircut for 4 Euro (about NZ$6.70). Admittedly I don’t have much hair to cut, but in New Zealand get charged $10 to $15.

This market was only a few metres from Envoy's berth

And included a beautiful flower market

The main gate of Kotor's walled city is adjacent to the market

Our purchases from the market on Envoy's dinette table

We met some British cruisers who’d had a bad experience at a village called Risan in the Gulf of Kotor. They were moored alongside the town jetty overnight and awoke in the early hours of the morning to a loud bang. Some idiot had cast their mooring lines from the jetty leaving their boat to drift across the bay until it hit an anchored vessel. Little damage was done but it could have been a very serious situation. A few days later we visited Risan finding it has little to offer.

One morning we awoke to find this traditional sailing vessel alongside

We spent 16 days in Montenegro and it rained all but one of them, ranging from light showers to torrential rain with thunder, but overall we had a great time and particularly enjoyed anchoring in Bogova and mooring to the town quay in Kotor.
Another excellent reason to visit here is you can buy duty-free fuel on the day you leave (provided that you have a ship’s rubber stamp), and we bought our estimated year’s requirement of about 1,600 litres for 0.73 Euro (about NZ$1.22) per litre whereas the usual price is 1.22 Euro (about NZ$2.03) per litre. A large Italian motor yacht was fuelling next to us, buying an incredible 70,000 litres for a cost of 51,100 Euro (about NZ$85,800) – a good argument against large planing vessels.

This Italian motor yacht loaded 70,000 litres of diesel

The last time we bought fuel was 800 litres last August at NZ$2.76 per litre, and fuel we purchased during 2012 in Greece averaged 1.61 Euro per litre. That is NZ$2.68 per litre or 6.12 Euro per US gal or approx US$8.13 per US gal. Turkish prices are very similar.
It’s difficult to be specific about Envoy’s fuel economy as the diesel we buy is used in the Lugger, our NL 8kw genset (which probably uses about 3 litres/hour) and our Yanmar wing engine once a week or so. We estimate the Lugger averages about six litres per hour.
The most reliable info is that on the North Atlantic Rally the Nordhavn 46s reportedly cruised at an average of 6.3 knots and averaged 1.3 litres per nm, which is about 2.92 nm per gal. Patrick of Nordhavn 46, Frog Kiss, reports using two US gal per hour at 1,650 rpm for 6.2 knots – that is 3.1 nm per gal if my math is correct.
Anyway one thing’s for sure – with a Nordhavn 46 your annual fuel bill is not a major consideration in the scheme of things.

TECHNICAL – nothing to report

Wednesday, June 19, 2013


Envoy is currently at Polace, Mljet Island, Croatia

THE THINGS YOU REGRET ARE THE THINGS YOU DIDN’T DO - These are the banner words of Kadey-Krogen Yachts’ advertisement in Passagemaker magazine, along with “Working hard is one thing, living your life to the full is another. You get only so many spins around the sun – what will you do with yours?”
I was pretty impressed with this, and thought it nicely summed up why Diane and I are cruising at this stage of our lives. Of course your dream doesn’t have to be living on a boat, but whatever your dream is – do it, because your clock is ticking … tick, tock, tick, tock, get the picture? (quoting noted cruiser, Scott Flanders)

One of the rusting warships mentioned in the last posting

Kotor is a stunning medieval town where we spent four nights with Kevin and Diane moored to the town quay, waiting for stormy weather to pass.

Envoy moored stern-to in Kotor

Kotor has been fortified since ancient times but owes much of its present form to the Venetians. Extensive fortifications include a wall that stretches high into the hills behind the town, and we walked to the upper fortress for incredible views of Kotor and the Gulf.

The Venetian winged lion symbol is common throughout areas of the Med they formerly controlled

The Gulf of Kotor viewed from the upper Castel of St John. Envoy moored below

It takes nearly an hour to reach the upper fortifications up a steep winding track

The flag of Montenegro is a particularly attractive, but one that not many would recognise

Kevin’s birthday coincided with Kevin and Diane’s last night with us so we had a great last dinner together before they caught the bus to Dubrovnik the next day.

Kotor street scene

TECHNICAL - for the whole time we’ve owned Envoy, once in a while the Lugger doesn’t start first turn of the key, and this has happened twice so far this year. The cause is a sticking starter solenoid, and all we need to do is tap the solenoid with a plastic mallet, and then she starts. Reminds me of my friend Warwick Spedding’s saying about solving technical problems; “If in doubt give it a clout, the bigger the doubt the harder the clout”. If this problem occurs more than a couple more times this season we’ll fit our spare.

Thursday, June 13, 2013


Envoy is currently in Porto Camaro, Mljet Island, Croatia. We've had a delay in Blogging while we arranged internet access for Croatia, but will now be back to posts every five days or so.
When we first arrived in Montenegro we bought a SIM card for our iPad for 16 Euro (about NZ$25) giving us 3Gb and 30 days usage. There is no Vodafone here so we weren’t able to get a SIM card for our Mobile Broadband and solely used our iPad for internet. The iPad has been a great investment - thanks Brooke!
Bigova turned out to be a gem of an anchorage - well protected from all except strong SW winds with clean, clear water ideal for swimming.

Ashore was a rustic taverna called Grispolis, full of ancient relics from shipwrecks brought up in fishing nets over the years.

Grispolis had their own beautifully maintained fishing boat alongside the jetty and offered a large variety of freshly-caught fish as well as surprisingly large lobsters - looked the same as New Zealand crayfish.

When we entered the bay we saw several vacant moorings marked “Grispolis” and avoided them assuming they were something to do with Police. We later discovered they were owned by Grispolis and available for use by restaurant patrons.

Envoy anchored in Bigova

Kevin relaxing with a good book and cold beer in Envoy's cockpit

We were pleased to find the local people far more friendly and chatty than at Bar.
Cruising further north to the Gulf of Kotor we found a dramatic inlet that looks like a fjord, with three large bays surrounded by rugged mountains over 1,000 metres high.
This Gulf used to be a base for the once-formidableYugoslavian navy, but now you see rusting hulks of warships and abandoned submarine pens built-into the cliffs.

Submarine pen with blast protection

Unfortunately the Gulf is rather spoiled by large amounts of floating litter, but it’s still very picturesque with by far the most atmospheric town being Kotor – a very ancient settlement largely developed in its present form by the Venetians.
Here we moored stern-to the harbour wall for a cost of Euro 42 (about NZ$67) per night including power and water. Unlike Greece there is no requirement here to report to authorities when entering a new harbour, but only on arrival and departure from Montenegro.
After a promising start in Greece the weather has been surprisingly cold here at 16-20 dC, with persistent rain and thunderstorms, so we’ve been back to wearing jeans, sweatshirts and raincoats. The Gulf of Kotor is fed by many mountain streams reducing the sea temperature to a chilly 15d – too cold to swim.
Montenegro has a fragile infrastructure and power outages are common during these storms, causing havoc for tavernas catering for tourists.
But we made the most of it and enjoyed getting lost in Kotor’s narrow cobbled lanes, and Kevin and I also visited Kotor’s Maritime Museum while the two Dianes explored some of the quirky shops.
In Kotor we met an Australian couple, Greg and Julia from yacht Mojo, and have enjoyed spending time with them. They’re heading the same way as us so we’ll be seeing more of them in Croatia.

Australian yacht, Mojo, departing Kotor

TECHNICAL - nothing to report except that the saloon window seals Chris and I replaced have had a darn good test with lots of heavy wind-driven rain and don’t leak at all.

ENVOY LOG (TO 31/5/13) - 65 days aboard so far this year, 432 miles cruised for 86 engine hours.