Sea Change

Cruising on our Catamaran, Murihiku, in the Mediterranean

Vessel Name: Murihiku
Vessel Make/Model: Lagoon Catamaran 380S2
Crew: Deborah and Ange
About: From New Zealand, possibly suffering midlife crises, cruising for several months then home to replenish the kitty.
20 June 2014 | Slano, Croatia
11 June 2014 | Bar, Montenegro
18 September 2013 | Lastavo
18 September 2013 | Lastavo
16 August 2013 | Montenegro
16 August 2013 | Albania
16 August 2013
17 July 2013 | London, Devon, Rome, now Nidri
12 July 2013 | Abelike Bay, Meganisi
21 September 2012 | Athens
18 September 2012
31 August 2012 | Milazzo, Sicily
23 August 2012 | Abelike bay, Meganisi
18 August 2012 | Gaieos
13 August 2012 | Corfu town
10 August 2012 | Corfu, Greece
09 August 2012 | Santa Maria di Leuca
30 July 2012 | Straits of Messina
29 July 2012 | Milazzo, Sicily
Recent Blog Posts
20 June 2014 | Slano, Croatia

Back on Murihiku

Facebook connection:

11 June 2014 | Bar, Montenegro

New Zealand to Montenegro

New Zealand to Bar, Montenegro, May and June 2014

18 September 2013 | Lastavo

Croatia

We had an easier trip into Croatia and dutifully tied up at the Cavtat customs wharf. Our crew, Jenny, Vicky, Anne, Angela and Kate had now reached top form as they were due to depart the next day, and were complimented again by the person taking the ropes on shore. They were all confined to the boat [...]

18 September 2013 | Lastavo

Croatia

We had an easier trip into Croatia and dutifully tied up at the Cavtat customs wharf. Our crew, Jenny, Vicky, Anne, Angela and Kate had now reached top form as they were due to depart the next day, and were complimented again by the person taking the ropes on shore. They were all confined to the boat [...]

16 August 2013 | Montenegro

Montenegro (and mountains)

August 11 - 16 Montenegro

16 August 2013 | Albania

Transiting Albania

August 1 - 10 Albania

Back on Murihiku

20 June 2014 | Slano, Croatia
Ange, calm hot sunny
Facebook connection:
Dear family and friends, we tend to post much more regularly on Facebook, do come join us there also, we love news and contact. The account name there is Murihiku Murihiku.

Back on the boat, and floating in Slano, a small harbour town that was bombed flat during the 1990s war. Only the church and a couple of buildings survived, however it has risen again and seems pleasant and relatively prosperous. There was even a monastery where young monks are in training, perhaps the church being the only surviving building helped with recruitment.

The boat is in great condition, having wintered over safely in Montenegro. We had the hull polished, engines serviced and winterised, through hulls checked, zincs changed etc. Was a hot slog hauling the upcoming season’s groceries in 34 degree heat, and really lovely to be back on the water to cool down properly. After a couple of quiet nights at anchor back in Bigova, a favourite bay, we had a good trip up from Montenegro to Dubrovnik. Timing was perfect as we had some work done in the Dubrovnik marina while a Low sat over us for a few days, sending us electrical storms and a lot of rain. Sitting here today the temperatures are rising, humidity dropping and we are seeing the sun again.

We still have some more time before Philip joins us in Mljet, so we are dawdling and swimming, and even making bread.

New Zealand to Montenegro

11 June 2014 | Bar, Montenegro
Ange, 34º
New Zealand to Bar, Montenegro, May and June 2014

From Wellington we spent a few days in Melbourne, attending Deborah's brother Simon's 50th birthday, and hanging out with Rebecca in the city.


Not much eating joy for Deborah as she suffered a bad stomach flu from New Zealand, however Ange and Rebecca made up for that.

Next stop London, where we spent lovely family time with Sarah, Clare, Kate, Georgie and Alex. We had a few days in Paris, doing a nice mix of touristy things, art, walking about, eating, and shopping.



After another spell in London, we headed to Bologna, or "La Grassa - the fat one" as the city is informally known. We'd been drawn there as it seemed less touristy, and also quite food focused, and can happily report we had a great time. Our first night was an Italian "homefood" experience, where women who have been accredited as cesarina, or keepers of food tradition, get accredited to cook and serve meals to guests in their homes. It was really interesting to travel outside the central city and into the home of our host, Luisa. Fortunately she had invited a couple of young locals along, as Luisa herself didn't have much English. She was the size of a pocket handkerchief, seemed in her late 70s, yet determinedly brought us plate after plate of food. A highlight was the sfogliatine, a buttery pastry filled with seasonal vegetables. The homemade semi-freddo was also pretty fine.

Bologna is a charming city, the old town is intact and easy to walk around. A university town, it feels safe and lively, we both highly recommend a visit.

A highlight of our time in Bologna was a food tour called Italian Days. We both were worried we would feel hostage, as the tour ran from 7am until after 5pm. However it was really great. The tour started so early because we were getting to see parmigiano reggiano being made, and the milk was delivered early in the morning. Alessandro the tour guide was really informative and passionate about produce from his region, and for good reason, it is thoughtfully and consistently produced to a high standard, and uses the same methods that have been deployed for 7 centuries. We watched the cheese forming in large copper vats, then being scooped out and tied a bit like you might do making paneer with a cheesecloth. All the ingredients for the cheese, including what the cows eat, has to be from within the boundaries of the region. Except, that is, for the rennet, which comes from New Zealand. We saw the cheeses through their various stages, being formed, dipped in a salt bath, wrapped, polished, turned, sitting on wooden benches until they are ready, which can take up to 3 years. We learned about the completed cheeses are inspected by officials (would like to see the cheese inspectors' facial expressions, as they tap tap tap and listen to whether each cheese is solid and lacks any hollows). Importantly, we ate more cheese than a person should at that hour of the morning.



Next up was the Balsamic Vinegar of Modena DOP. The DOP is important, as it assures the quality - and the minimal ingredients - grape must being the first and most important. We learned that a new line of vinegar is started at the birth of a daughter of the house, an excellent form of dowry, and the contents can only start to be used after seven years, and then it is only a tiny amount each year. We saw the barrels, each different sizes and types of wood, to add a complexity of flavour to the vinegar. Happy to report we have some good quality vinegar stashed in the boat to bring home. Look for the DOP!

Finally, we visited a factory where parma ham is produced. From the first salting through to the rooms where the hams hang, it was a familiar yet different process. They leave in the Aitch bone, then remove it during the process. We ate rather a lot of ham too, and have more with us on the boat, which we are really enjoying. The flavour and texture is really good. After about two hours of demonstration and lectures, it was alarming to hear one of our tour group only then realise the ham wasn't actually cooked. We concluded the tour with an enormous and delicious lunch at a local restaurant. Strangely we found one of those table soccer games and mid-meal had an intense match - Ange won. Prelude to the world cup.

Our plane from Rome made it to Montenegro in spite of the extra load of herbs, cheese, ham and balsamic.

Croatia

18 September 2013 | Lastavo
Deborah and Ange
We had an easier trip into Croatia and dutifully tied up at the Cavtat customs wharf. Our crew, Jenny, Vicky, Anne, Angela and Kate had now reached top form as they were due to depart the next day, and were complimented again by the person taking the ropes on shore. They were all confined to the boat while I did the formalities but they did get off briefly to help a boat flailing around wildly after the staff had left the flailing boat in disgust. They found out why when Vicky had caught their rope and asked the chap what he wanted done. He stopped and looked skyward for some time as if pondering an unanswerable philosophical problem, and said let me think about that. She came to the conclusion there really was danger on the high seas.

Perhaps as a hangover from communist times the officials were some of the worst. It is not permitted to have more than one person in the air-conditioned office despite it being very spacious, the next person has to stand outside in the heat. There was never a seat for the visitor inside either and you have to stand while the forms were produced. The only surprise was that Croatia has computerised systems, as different from Greece, Albania and Montenegro where it was all handwritten and photocopies. That did make it even slower though for the aged harbour master official. From there I had to go to the Port Police, who weren't really even pretending as they had the Croatian soaps on TV as they grumpily checked us in. I also saw the Rarotongan passport scandal in action as a dubious looking non-Polynesian, non-English speaker turned up with his Cook Islands passport. The Cook Islands obvious doesn't figure in Croatian soaps though as despite very obviously being a bit nervous there was just the same bored unquestioning processing of paperwork for its own purpose.

We left the crew on the boat the next morning recovering from a big final night, threatening mutiny of sailing off instead of packing and leaving, while we bussed into Dubrovnik dragging carts of laundry and camping gas tanks. Three hours later we had had quite an aerobic workout on the hills but still hadn't had any success with either and had discovered Croatia was a very Catholic country with many things closed on Sunday. Eventually we flagged a taxi and sorted both and returned to Cavtat to meet Sarah, Clare and the kids ready for their adventure.

The twins are 6 now and Kate 10. They had had an extended holiday in Perth for my sister Paulette's 60th with lots of second cousins their age, rarely out of the pool so are now accomplished confident swimmers. We went out to Lopud, an island just north of Dubrovnik where there was good swimming and kayaking. We had just got clear of the bay the next morning when the starboard engine alarms went of and we limped back in to the bay to check what was wrong. After checking fan belts were ok and Ange diving over the sea water inlet which seemed clear we called a mechanic hoping to get someone out but the only answer was to come into Dubrovnik marina. The boat can travel quite well at speed on one engine but it is difficult to manoeuvre at slow speeds so we were very pleased to find the marina staff had men on shore as well as in a dingy to help us in. The sea water pump as well as a couple of other problems were very efficiently fixed and there was a really nice swimming pool for the kids. After an extra night to avoid a storm we headed out again for a brief look at Sipan we overnighted again on Lopud and the next day Sarah and Clare hired a sun lounger an umbrella on the beach and they and the kids had a big beach day. Both Georgie and Alex (and of course Kate) can now kayak by themselves the 500 metres to shore and Kate can easily swim it.

The kids were very excited by the two-day crossover with Rebecca, Bridget and Patrick and Rebecca's boyfriend Jamie. When told Patrick got up at lunchtime, Alex in particular wanted to know "Was it the beginning of lunchtime? the middle? or the end of lunchtime?". The big cousins and the younger cousins had a great time together swimming and the younger kids followed the older ones in jumping into the water from higher places on the boat. All 11 of us were on board for three dinners but Rebecca and Jamie stayed ashore and it didn't seem too crowded. We anchored beside an island outside the old town but were chased off by a thunderstorm, a bit of a foreteller of things to come. After Sarah and Clare and the kids left Sunday night we were held up by the weather Monday so we were keen to go on Tuesday when the forecast looked ok but an hour out we started seeing black clouds then lightening so turned tail only to have the storm overtake us with driving rain and 40 knots- Spewsday the kids called it. The next afternoon the wind turned, the skies cleared and the sun came out and we were off to Lopud for the night and Rebecca created a new cocktail,"Cavtat's Revenge". From there we went to Polace, on Mljet, a national park with fiord like entrance and a beautiful bay. We went to the inland saltwater lakes to an old monastery on an island with crystal clear water and Jamie and Rebecca did a swim, walk, swim walk to circumnavigate the lake. Then it was back to Cavtat, via Lopud for a lunch and swim. On the last night Rebecca and Patrick's friends, Nadine and Dave came on board for dinner so it was a surprise everybody was in reasonable form to leave in the early hours of the morning. Sad to see them go but they we will all be together for Isabelle's 21st in November.

The next crew, Johnny, Richard, Angus, Robynne and Diana we picked up at Dubrovnik marina. Having made several trips on our folding bikes, cycling one-handed hauling a cart, collecting laundry, shopping, 1km to the camping gas filling station, we were amused to see a new exercycle being loaded onto the superyacht beside us. I suppose if you employ enough staff to meet your every whim your biggest problem is then exercise. Something of a growing problem in the western world. We headed out again to Lopud as a first easy trip and a lovely overnight stop. From there we were off back to Polace and then on to Badija, an island monastery off Korcula. The monastery was being repaired but unlike the Mljet one it had an eerie feel to it. We left some of Richard's friend's ashes as we departed so Richard was part of the ceremony in Wellington. We remembered Philip being very sad on the boat the year before when this friend had died.

Korcula is an impressive walled town, made much prettier by trees around the ramparts. With a solid tourist trade we were able to find a couple of good restaurants. Robynne and Diana left before 6am one morning, and Nicky and Jean joined us, and a couple of days later the Jonny, Richard and Angus left us. We spent an extra night in Korcula as a more pleasant place to wait out rain then we sheltered for a few days on Polace from the next bout of thunderstorms. Even Ange and I hired bikes on day and cycled over the hill and around the inland lake. It was Ange's first experience of a bike with gears you can cycle up hill, and we were both very impressed with our newfound sportiness. We sailed out of a sunny calm Polace and wound around the channel into a very rough sea that immediately had glasses breaking and things falling everywhere but we persevered until we saw Lastavo covered in cloud possibly waterspouts and headed back into Polace to have a much smoother crossing the next day.

Lastavo was a military post until the 1990s with very restricted entry and is now a national park The first anchorage in the southeast corner was an almost totally encircled bay, Skrivena Luka. It very barren but good for waiting out more thunder and lightening. The restaurant had very friendly and light hearted staff which we really hadn't seen in anyone over 25 in Croatia. It has been very difficult to personally engage with anyone as they seem unaware of any concept of customer service and thoroughly sick of tourists. The only time was when after Spewsday Tuesday we had got water into the carb of the outboard motor, I kayaked in and asked a chap backing a boat trailer where I could find a serviceman. He rang the brother of a chap, Evo, who he said was old but very good. Evo turned out to be over 80, with an outboard stand and a few tools on a kitchen chair. Rather alarmingly he smoked as he cleaned out the carb but he painstakingly dismantled and cleaned and rebuilt it. When he slowly limped inside to get anything I was worried he would forget what he was doing and not return but he always did. Disappointedly it didn't start and we agreed he would try again the next day as he was clearly exhausted. We were walking away when we heard it fire and very excitedly came back.

We are now at the other end of Lastavo, having travelled down the south then wound our way through very pretty tree clad islands and fiords to Mali Lago. It is very sheltered but full of new holiday house building. The storms seem to be passing north of us and the sun has come out so we will leave tomorrow heading back to Dubrovnik stopping somewhere for a couple of days depending what the weather brings.

We are hauling the boat out in Bar Montenegro, after much research and negotiation by Ange. We head towards Montenegro on Saturday, haul the boat on Tuesday and fly to England Wednesday, arriving back in Wellington 1 October. It has been a good summer, we have been more confident this time and travelled shorter distances. We'll be coming back next year and possibly even the year after that......

Croatia

18 September 2013 | Lastavo
Deborah and Ange
We had an easier trip into Croatia and dutifully tied up at the Cavtat customs wharf. Our crew, Jenny, Vicky, Anne, Angela and Kate had now reached top form as they were due to depart the next day, and were complimented again by the person taking the ropes on shore. They were all confined to the boat while I did the formalities but they did get off briefly to help a boat flailing around wildly after the staff had left the flailing boat in disgust. They found out why when Vicky had caught their rope and asked the chap what he wanted done. He stopped and looked skyward for some time as if pondering an unanswerable philosophical problem, and said let me think about that. She came to the conclusion there really was danger on the high seas.

Perhaps as a hangover from communist times the officials were some of the worst. It is not permitted to have more than one person in the air-conditioned office despite it being very spacious, the next person has to stand outside in the heat. There was never a seat for the visitor inside either and you have to stand while the forms were produced. The only surprise was that Croatia has computerised systems, as different from Greece, Albania and Montenegro where it was all handwritten and photocopies. That did make it even slower though for the aged harbour master official. From there I had to go to the Port Police, who weren’t really even pretending as they had the Croatian soaps on TV as they grumpily checked us in. I also saw the Rarotongan passport scandal in action as a dubious looking non-Polynesian, non-English speaker turned up with his Cook Islands passport. The Cook Islands obvious doesn’t figure in Croatian soaps though as despite very obviously being a bit nervous there was just the same bored unquestioning processing of paperwork for its own purpose.

We left the crew on the boat the next morning recovering from a big final night, threatening mutiny of sailing off instead of packing and leaving, while we bussed into Dubrovnik dragging carts of laundry and camping gas tanks. Three hours later we had had quite an aerobic workout on the hills but still hadn’t had any success with either and had discovered Croatia was a very Catholic country with many things closed on Sunday. Eventually we flagged a taxi and sorted both and returned to Cavtat to meet Sarah, Clare and the kids ready for their adventure.

The twins are 6 now and Kate 10. They had had an extended holiday in Perth for my sister Paulette’s 60th with lots of second cousins their age, rarely out of the pool so are now accomplished confident swimmers. We went out to Lopud, an island just north of Dubrovnik where there was good swimming and kayaking. We had just got clear of the bay the next morning when the starboard engine alarms went of and we limped back in to the bay to check what was wrong. After checking fan belts were ok and Ange diving over the sea water inlet which seemed clear we called a mechanic hoping to get someone out but the only answer was to come into Dubrovnik marina. The boat can travel quite well at speed on one engine but it is difficult to manoeuvre at slow speeds so we were very pleased to find the marina staff had men on shore as well as in a dingy to help us in. The sea water pump as well as a couple of other problems were very efficiently fixed and there was a really nice swimming pool for the kids. After an extra night to avoid a storm we headed out again for a brief look at Sipan we overnighted again on Lopud and the next day Sarah and Clare hired a sun lounger an umbrella on the beach and they and the kids had a big beach day. Both Georgie and Alex (and of course Kate) can now kayak by themselves the 500 metres to shore and Kate can easily swim it.

The kids were very excited by the two-day crossover with Rebecca, Bridget and Patrick and Rebecca’s boyfriend Jamie. When told Patrick got up at lunchtime, Alex in particular wanted to know “Was it the beginning of lunchtime? the middle? or the end of lunchtime?”. The big cousins and the younger cousins had a great time together swimming and the younger kids followed the older ones in jumping into the water from higher places on the boat. All 11 of us were on board for three dinners but Rebecca and Jamie stayed ashore and it didn’t seem too crowded. We anchored beside an island outside the old town but were chased off by a thunderstorm, a bit of a foreteller of things to come. After Sarah and Clare and the kids left Sunday night we were held up by the weather Monday so we were keen to go on Tuesday when the forecast looked ok but an hour out we started seeing black clouds then lightening so turned tail only to have the storm overtake us with driving rain and 40 knots- Spewsday the kids called it. The next afternoon the wind turned, the skies cleared and the sun came out and we were off to Lopud for the night and Rebecca created a new cocktail,”Cavtat’s Revenge”. From there we went to Polace, on Mljet, a national park with fiord like entrance and a beautiful bay. We went to the inland saltwater lakes to an old monastery on an island with crystal clear water and Jamie and Rebecca did a swim, walk, swim walk to circumnavigate the lake. Then it was back to Cavtat, via Lopud for a lunch and swim. On the last night Rebecca and Patrick’s friends, Nadine and Dave came on board for dinner so it was a surprise everybody was in reasonable form to leave in the early hours of the morning. Sad to see them go but they we will all be together for Isabelle’s 21st in November.

The next crew, Johnny, Richard, Angus, Robynne and Diana we picked up at Dubrovnik marina. Having made several trips on our folding bikes, cycling one-handed hauling a cart, collecting laundry, shopping, 1km to the camping gas filling station, we were amused to see a new exercycle being loaded onto the superyacht beside us. I suppose if you employ enough staff to meet your every whim your biggest problem is then exercise. Something of a growing problem in the western world. We headed out again to Lopud as a first easy trip and a lovely overnight stop. From there we were off back to Polace and then on to Badija, an island monastery off Korcula. The monastery was being repaired but unlike the Mljet one it had an eerie feel to it. We left some of Richard’s friend’s ashes as we departed so Richard was part of the ceremony in Wellington. We remembered Philip being very sad on the boat the year before when this friend had died.

Korcula is an impressive walled town, made much prettier by trees around the ramparts. With a solid tourist trade we were able to find a couple of good restaurants. Robynne and Diana left before 6am one morning, and Nicky and Jean joined us, and a couple of days later the Jonny, Richard and Angus left us. We spent an extra night in Korcula as a more pleasant place to wait out rain then we sheltered for a few days on Polace from the next bout of thunderstorms. Even Ange and I hired bikes on day and cycled over the hill and around the inland lake. It was Ange’s first experience of a bike with gears you can cycle up hill, and we were both very impressed with our newfound sportiness. We sailed out of a sunny calm Polace and wound around the channel into a very rough sea that immediately had glasses breaking and things falling everywhere but we persevered until we saw Lastavo covered in cloud possibly waterspouts and headed back into Polace to have a much smoother crossing the next day.

Lastavo was a military post until the 1990s with very restricted entry and is now a national park The first anchorage in the southeast corner was an almost totally encircled bay, Skrivena Luka. It very barren but good for waiting out more thunder and lightening. The restaurant had very friendly and light hearted staff which we really hadn’t seen in anyone over 25 in Croatia. It has been very difficult to personally engage with anyone as they seem unaware of any concept of customer service and thoroughly sick of tourists. The only time was when after Spewsday Tuesday we had got water into the carb of the outboard motor, I kayaked in and asked a chap backing a boat trailer where I could find a serviceman. He rang the brother of a chap, Evo, who he said was old but very good. Evo turned out to be over 80, with an outboard stand and a few tools on a kitchen chair. Rather alarmingly he smoked as he cleaned out the carb but he painstakingly dismantled and cleaned and rebuilt it. When he slowly limped inside to get anything I was worried he would forget what he was doing and not return but he always did. Disappointedly it didn’t start and we agreed he would try again the next day as he was clearly exhausted. We were walking away when we heard it fire and very excitedly came back.

We are now at the other end of Lastavo, having travelled down the south then wound our way through very pretty tree clad islands and fiords to Mali Lago. It is very sheltered but full of new holiday house building. The storms seem to be passing north of us and the sun has come out so we will leave tomorrow heading back to Dubrovnik stopping somewhere for a couple of days depending what the weather brings.

We are hauling the boat out in Bar Montenegro, after much research and negotiation by Ange. We head towards Montenegro on Saturday, haul the boat on Tuesday and fly to England Wednesday, arriving back in Wellington 1 October. It has been a good summer, we have been more confident this time and travelled shorter distances. We’ll be coming back next year and possibly even the year after that……

Montenegro (and mountains)

16 August 2013 | Montenegro
Ange and Deborah
August 11 - 16 Montenegro

(if you are from Owairaka Kindergarten looking for photos of Kate, look in the photograph albums on the right above)

Soon after tying up we had an enormous thunderstorm with torrential rain and thunder directly above us. We realised how much we used the outdoors when we had 9 of us inside, like a caravan in a rainy campground. When the storm passed, we went in three taxis up to the old town to an Ottoman restaurant Angela and Kate had researched. Delicious food and very different by obviously still devout Moslem (no alcohol and no pork anywhere on the menu).

The rest of Montenegro though seems very Christian with lots of Churches and lots of English spoken. At least on the coastal areas we have seen tourism is the only industry.

After a couple of days in a marina in Bar we were keen to get to some clean water so we headed to a bay Fez near Budva expecting it to be relatively empty but found it covered with 2000 umbrellas and lounge chairs. Though we were buzzed by jetskis all day it was quiet by night as we saw a traffic jam trailing, miles around the cliffs of the beach goers going back home. It was quite a contrast at our next stopover in the bay Bigova, full of very nice holiday homes, and swimmers who clearly owned the bay. We ate well at a local restaurant with its own fishing boat and strangely waiters with Montana t-shirts on and Montana on the menu(one staff member had worked in NZ). We were a little sad to leave the next day but we didn't get far before alarms sounded on the port -engine and we were heading back on the starboard engine to anchor manually and discovered the Corfu electrician had over tightened the alternator belt and it had broken. Our fish restaurateur from the night before called a mechanic, whose promised half hour arrival turned into six hours later. Clearly he was a land based mechanic, he gave a thumbs up and a great toothless grin when he got it fixed, and when I dinghied him back to land, he leapt off the dinghy with great enthusiasm but no skill leaving me to lift his enormous toolbox up to him.

Kotor is our last stop and we are anchored at the end of 16 miles of fiord like inlet, all very built up. Kotor first settled in the 3rd century BC and it too is a UNESCO world heritage site. It has been fought over and owned by many empires since. Kate, Angela, Jenny and Vicki climbed the mountain behind this morning to the fortifications high above us. Financial collapses and war fallout has resulted in tourism being all that's left, leaving a hollow but beautiful town. We have an amazing berth, just below a mountain with churches and forts rising vertically to well above the snowline.

Happy to report Deborah's new knee is performing extremely well.



Transiting Albania

16 August 2013 | Albania
Deborah and Ange
August 1 - 10 Albania

Our new crew arrived, fresh from New Zealand winter (Jenny, Anne, Vicky and Gaylene), and from Fiji (Karen). It's a lovely part of hosting friends to see them relax, and for their worlds to shrink for a while into the daily routines of life on a boat, including gossipy reporting of interactions with locals and neighbouring boats.

We had a night in Corfu, a reasonably painless trip with all of us trundling through Greek customs and harbour police to exit the country, a last dip in San Stefano, then off to Albania.

The crossing was rough, and we were pleased to arrive in Sarande. The distance across is only 7 nautical miles, but the differences between the places extraordinary. The Albanian coast is dry and dotted with very small two person bunkers. Agim, our Sarande agent, met us and showed us where to berth, and took our paperwork to the various authorities and back to us (a relief to have someone else do it).

Through Agim we arranged a visit to Butrint, a very well preserved Unesco World Heritage Site about an hour from Sarande. We had an air-conditioned van (bliss) and a well informed guide (Luis), and spent the morning there. Butrint dates back 2500 years and the site covered 20 hectares. It was founded by exiles fleeing the fall of Troy, and been occupied by various nations over the centuries, including Greeks, flourished as a naval base, then a Roman Christian Centre, Normans, Ottomans, then finally Butrint lay abandoned. Excavation continues, and it was fascinating to imagine the different lives there. My favourite was the "Friends of the Nymphs" well that had been donated to the city by a wealthy landlady.

Our next visit was to the "Blue Eye" spring, a bit of a lurching trip over winding roads, but well worth the effort. Lovely to see there was a green interior after the arid coast. The spring was freezing cold, a bit like Wai Piupiu springs back home, although we were able to bathe in this one (Ange the only one going for the full immersion). There were a few restaurants downriver of the spring where we lunched and quizzed Luis about life in Albania.

From Sarande we travelled a long day to Orikum. Coming into the broad harbour area, our crew spotted an improbable sight - an Italian on his back on a pink lilo, 4 miles out from shore, in a vigorous 25 knot wind. He clearly was in trouble, and actually lost his lilo as he started to paddle towards us. The lilio reared on it end and was quite a spectacle as it soared across the bay. Good practice for our man overboard skills, we pulled him, where he dripped rather sheepishly as we carried on to Orikum where he went off in his togs to try and get back to his family. He was definitely going to have the togs togs togs undies experience. We most likely saved his life, but we suspect his story will be he came on board to help translate for us. The most worrying this was we called Channel 16, emergency channel, to say we had picked him up, in case they were in the process of launching a rescue, but there was no answer (concerning in itself).

Orikum was the only marina in Albania, jointly owned with an Italian company, but still not that flash. Great to have showers though, and we had a good poke through the local town, as well as a dingying to swim with local holidaymakers on the sea shore - beautiful location, the hills looked a bit like Central Otago.

Our final Albanian stop was Durres, a bigger city towards the north. We were parked alongside massive ships, and had to move the boat a few times as different ships came into unload their cargo. It was a hard place to stay - very noisy and industrial. On our last night we had a ship unloading with cranes 50 metres away at the same time as a local nightclub pounded music at us until around 5am. Interesting to see a city however, and we did manage to find some well priced leather goods from Italy. Albanians had been forbidden for some years from owning boats, first by the communists, then by the current regime as part of an EU deal to stop illegal emigration. It meant that the seas were eerily empty and the dock hands had no clue about rope handling. The agent in Durres we had arranged by email leapt out of the way in fright when a rope was thrown to him then tied it in a knot a 5 year old sea scout would have been ashamed of.

It was painful to see a country in the state we found Albania. It has had a series of challenges in the past decades - including occupation by Hitler, Mussolini, a dictatorship, communism, and now a faltering democracy. Everywhere there are buildings that have stopped halfway, the legacy of enthusiastic entrepreneurs who ignored building codes in favour of speed, or went bust after half the foundations were up. Roads are in disrepair, the infrastructure is chaotic, we didn't see evidence of schools, and the citizens seem underfed and low-spirited, even though many we saw were on vacation. Very aware as customers of the impact of spending our money in one place or another on the retailer. We are lucky to live where we do.

Leaving Albania and travelling to Bar, Montenegro was a gruelling trip, with wind, waves and current all pulling us in different directions and making for a choppy sea and some unwell crew. Customs initially directed us in to the main harbour which was an enormous empty oasis of flat calm which allowed us to take a breath and our stomachs to settle. Clearly though we were in the wrong place and we were soon directed out again into the wind and have to go into the marina entrance side on to the waves with crew carefully watching the waves. It was great to arrive and to finally surf into our marina, and to have witnesses, Angela and Kate, coming via Rome laden with kilos of parma ham, cheeses and salamis.
Murihiku's Photos - Main
Wellington, Melbourne, LA, London, Paris, Bologne, Bar, Montenegro
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Created 22 June 2014
Here are some pictures of Kate, for the kids at her kindergarten who are looking to see her on holiday, 21/9 and now a lovely mix of photos from Jenny
44 Photos
Created 16 August 2013
Getting the boat ready for 2013 season
7 Photos
Created 16 August 2013
Maddy Clive Daisy and Oliver, then Robyn, Ali and Karen S
20 Photos
Created 16 August 2013
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Created 21 September 2012
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Created 21 September 2012
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Created 21 September 2012
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Created 21 September 2012
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Created 23 August 2012
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Created 9 August 2012
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Created 26 July 2012
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Created 6 July 2012
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Created 15 June 2012
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Created 8 June 2012
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Created 28 May 2012
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Created 21 May 2012
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Created 21 May 2012
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Created 21 May 2012
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Created 21 May 2012
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Created 21 May 2012
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Created 3 May 2012
random snaps
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Created 27 April 2012

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16 August 2013
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21 September 2012
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