Paikea Mist's Ode to Our Shores

the wet coast, the wild coast the mighty magnificent west coast. water spills from your snowy peaks and fills my soul. may your winds push me onwards yet always bring me home.

07 June 2015
16 May 2015
15 April 2015 | Antikyra, Corinth Gulf, Mainland Greece
11 April 2015 | Aigina Island
21 March 2015 | Kas Marina
17 March 2015 | Kas Marina- on the hard
26 October 2014 | Lindos, Rhodes island Greece
19 October 2014
18 October 2014 | Cruising from Kas
28 September 2014
13 July 2014 | Pacific North West, near Vancouver BC
14 June 2014 | Woodhouse Bay, Kekova Road, Turkey

Tunisia and Travel Advisories

05 October 2016
Most likely many adventures I have undertaken in my life, and certainly our entire voyage aboard Paikea Mist could have warranted a travel advisory. After all, "Oceans are known for deadly storms, one should avoid all non-essential travel". For many, a trip like ours, which has taken us across vast endless oceans to discover some of the smallest communities in the world would be just too much of a perceived risk.

But consider what would life be worth without any risk at all?

I've noticed something out of sync with our fast-paced screen-glued culture before, and I will say it again. The rest of the world is just not as scary as our western news makes it out to be. And what, I ask, is the ultimate risk if we believe everything we hear, that we fear everything, everybody and every culture or religion that is different to us?

Before leaving for Sicily, there was a lot of bad news in the press. In Nice, a crazy man had driven a truck through a crowd of innocent people. Trying to make sense of such a hideous crime, the sole fact that the man was from Tunisia gave me pause for thought. Do I want to travel to a country that harbours people who would do such a thing? Our Canadian Travel advisory, typically fairly cautious by nature, warned against all non-essential travel to most parts of Tunisia. Hmmm.

Our reason for wanting to go to Tunisia was essential, at least to us. We needed to leave the EU to avoid paying the VAT (value added tax) on our Canadian registered yacht. We had alternatives, but Tunisia was both a country we had not visited before, and very close. Hovering with our decision, we opted to buy both the Albanian and the Tunisian courtesy flags.

When we arrived in Marina Di Ragusa, we happened to be dock neighbours to Dave and Trish, US citizens who had also needed to renew their cruising permit. They had sailed to Monastir just recently and said they enjoyed their travels, and felt totally secure. In one hand I weighed the crazy Tunisian in his truck, to the English speaking Tunisian tourist guide they highly recommended. Should one good man not outweigh one bad I thought? The thought was enough to swing the pendulum, and as soon as we could raise our sails we were off to Africa!

We used Malta as a stepping stone for the passage. When the weather presented itself with a safe weather window, we pointed our bow to Monastir, a 172 nm passage. We had less wind than we hoped for and motor sailed most of the way. In the early morning, approaching land, we were met by a small Tunisian Navy boat, who stood off our starboard side as they took photos and who knows what other information about our vessel. Eventually they contacted us on the radio to ask where we were headed, before speeding away. An hour or so later, the city of Monastir came up over the horizon. The Bourgiba mosque with its double minarets and the huge Il Rabat fortress beckoned us back to the land of morning prayer.

Clearing into Tunisia at Monastir was the typical smiles and stamps garnered in most entry ports, and very quickly we were cleared into the country and securely situated in the marina. Good thing as no sooner had we arrived than Tunisia received its first rainfall in over a year! Wow did it pour. We waited out the rainstorm most of the afternoon and ventured out for dinner at a dockside restaurant. I have to admit, that the travel advisory warning was still a red flag in the corner of my brain. But in looking around, all I could see was everyday people enjoying the seaside town, with no hint of aggression, or anything but a welcome mat laid out for us to their tourist stripped town.

The next day we organized a private tour through the marina and met with our tour guide for a 3 day trip through southern Tunisia. Every single town we visited or stayed in was named and referenced on the Canadian Travel Advisory to avoid all non essential travel. What were we thinking? Every where we went we saw men with Jihadist paraphernalia, carrying guns, sneering at us, calling us out as infidels- NOT! The most annoying moment of the three-day trip was when the boys at the Star Wars lookout with their vultures accosted Michael as a group, placing their vultures all over his arms and shoulders and then insisted he pay them each a dinar. Do not attempt to negotiate with an Arab. You will lose. This was the risk you face travelling through Tunisia.

I don't mean to make light or insignificant the risk of a terrorist attack, anywhere. But truly we all know that it could happen anytime, anywhere in the world. Knowing ahead is not something that comes with the territory anyways. But why do our western governments single out some countries and not others? Why are there no cautions about travels in France who obviously has terrorist cells waiting for the next strike?

We thoroughly enjoyed our private tour with Mahir, especially our long and easy conversations during the long drive through the south. Mahir told us so much about his country, his hopes for his country and his faith in his fellow citizens to overcome adversity. He also told us that his religion has been hijacked, and the Koran misinterpreted by non-arab speaking people from other parts of the world. He is proud of the tolerant form of Islam that his country follows, especially the rights women have there. He feels his country is utterly safe and secure. I hope he is right, not just because I am in Tunisia, but because his country needs security to stand a chance.

Tunisia is a country in transition, the only Arab democracy after the Arab Spring. They are proud and finding their way, but they have a new constitution and an elected president. There is good reason for hope.

Tunisia has a long way to recover. With tourism down, unemployment high, ISIS through the terrorist attack on the beach got exactly what they had hoped for. A scare, a downturn, and a crack.

But a crack is what lets the light in, and I hope it shines on Tunisia and its people.

Where'd you go Paikea Mist?

09 June 2016
Sometimes life knocks out a curve ball, and sets you on a path you were not quite anticipating. After six years of uninterrupted cruising, we have found our life mainly focused back in Vancouver, with short bursts of cruising time on Paikea Mist. Without going into the details, suffice to say that we are both healthy and more than happy to base ourselves in this beautiful city once again.

Vancouver at its finest

The spring of 2015 saw us sailing through one of the most spectacular cruising areas in the Med, finally leaving behind Turkey (after 57 anchorages) and sailing though the Aegean Greek Isles, past Albania, into Montenegro and Croatia. We left the boat in a small but reasonably priced Marina Batisda for summer months before returning in September to sail the boat south to Sicily.

Funny part was, when we arrived back to the boat in Croatia, we found that we were aground in the protective corner berth they had given us, and had to wait for high enough waters before we could literally scrape our way out of the place! For a while we wondered if we would ever float again!

Looking pretty aground

Our plan was to sail the boat to Marina di Ragusa, which is found along the south eastern end of Sicily, where we would leave the boat for the winter. The distance is not too far, but the weather was the most complicated part. We first sailed south in big winds to an anchorage just north of Split, where we made arrangements for a quick rendezvous with my brother and wife on the islands. We enjoyed a great 24 hours with them before dropping them off in Hvar. From Hvar, we sailed directly out to the southwesterly island of Lastovo where we waited for a big system to pass over before we checked out of Croatia. Lastovo turned out to be a bonus, where we enjoyed a well protected anchorage close to a WW2 submarine hide.

We had an outstanding sail across the Adriatic in calm sea conditions and ideal sailing on a comfortable and fast broad reach. We nosed our way (well and kind of bumped, running lightly aground on the sandbar near the entrance) into the small port of Crotone, Italy in time to weather out the second storm system in as many weeks. While everyone else hunkered down, Michael spotted a small weather window between successive fronts to continue our journey towards Syracuse. As we passed by Mt. Etna, on my early morning watch a fireball screamed across the sky ahead of me, and fizzled out in the water. I will always wonder what exactly that was!

Storm coming in Crotone, Italy

Syracuse offers a huge and secure bay for cruisers, and indeed we saw more cruising boats anchored here than we had since leaving the marinas of Turkey. We loved the old town of Ortigia and especially enjoyed the food there.

But nasty weather continued to pummel in, with adverse and strong winds which made our progress towards Marina di Ragusa impossible for days! No matter, the anchor was well stuck, the city was gorgeous and we rented a car to explore Sicily instead!

We finally left for a calm overnight passage which carried us into Marina di Ragusa in the early morning hours. We spent the next few busy days taking down sails and bringing in all of the lines. Our friends who had already wintered here had told us to beware of the damaging red sand which covers and stains everything. We were able to make arrangements with another cruising couple who ran a small business looking after and cleaning boats over the winter. Perfect! We had a final dinner out along the beautiful waterfront, enjoyed our chocolate croissants in the morning and in the blink of an eye, we left our cruising life and Paikea Mist behind for the longest period since leaving Vancouver in 2009.

Back in Vancouver we took advantage of the red hot market to sell our home in the suburbs in favour of a small apartment on the Vancouver waterfront. We also jumped back into the work a day world! Lucky we both love our careers! Over the winter months we enjoyed weekend skiing from our Whistler home, and the chance to reconnect with our family and friends. Our new location and turnkey lifestyle is more than perfectly suited to us. From our apartment we can cycle and walk everywhere. We even have some opportunities to cruise! Our daughter and family left Vancouver in September to do a one year cruise south to Mexico, up to Hawaii and then Alaska. In the middle of this endeavour, they also provided us with our second grandchild! (For a more active blog go to In January we flew down to spend time with them in the Sea of Cortez, which very sweetly sharpened our cruising memories of those early days. In March, we met up with our cruising pals from Fly Aweigh, staying with them in their waterfront home in Oxnard and enjoying a short sail in the Pacific Ocean with them on their new boat Risa. In July we have plans to go out sailing in our local Pacific Northwest waters with our good friends Beth and Norm on SV Sarah Jean 2, and finally we will head to Alaska to rendezvous with the kids again near Juneau.

But for the moment, we are back on board Paikea Mist exploring Malta! Life is good.

Last night on the hook in Croatia

10 June 2015
Last night was our final night anchored out in Croatia, and today we will head to the marina where we will get Paikea Mist ready for her time alone at the dock.
We were treated to an amazing thunder, lightning show last night with dark clouds which were literally pouring and plunging over our anchorage. Very dramatic. In the middle of it all, this guy decided to make lemonade out of lemons, enjoying the stiff breeze which came with the storm. He timed it perfectly and exited the water just as the first few drops of rain started.

Cruising Croatia

07 June 2015
Enjoying the company of our son and girlfriend!

After a tumultuous and windy start to our time in Croatia the weather pattern has settled out into long sunny days, windy afternoon sailing opportunities and quiet anchorages. The glassy smooth waters are perfect for sitting in the cockpit enjoying the early morning sun with my cup of coffee, watching fish rise to the surface, and listening to the birds chatter and sing: quite a lovely combination.

Since leaving the Dubrovnik area with our son Nick and girlfriend Emily we have made steady progress northwards up the Croatian Coast. The scenery is gentle and the peaceful sailing conditions can be enjoyed pretty easily, especially in the off season before the charter fleet really arrives. Already we are seeing a jump in the number of charter boats in the anchorages, but we know the real season still lies ahead in July and August. Despite the charter boats, at anchorages we are often the lone boat in the bay once the late afternoon rolls around.

Croatia is designed with charter boats in mind, with mooring buoys in front of restaurants and town quays all gauged to meet their demands. Charter yachts are often packed to the gills; it is not unusual at all to see 7 or 8 men on a 42 foot yacht. With an open attitude towards the full flesh package, it is also not unusual to be anchoring next to 7 or 8 nude men who are climbing on and off the swim grids as they enjoy a cool off in the sea. With all makes and models under the sun, this is sometimes good, sometimes not so good! Certainly coming from our 'only wear a bikini' if you have the figure to prove it attitude of North America this takes a little getting accustomed to. With a large crew and on a short vacation, they think nothing of sharing the dock fees amongst them and enjoying restaurant meals every night. They usually exit the anchorage after a swim and a beer to med moor side by side along the town walls or marinas. We checked prices at the quaint but busy town of Sali, near the Telescica National Park. For our boat, we would be charged $90 CDN to stay the night without water or electricity.

Other than a lovely couple on an American boat we met in Sipan we have had virtually no interaction with other sailors. This is likely a sign of being in the Med, where most sailors are on a much needed holiday and value their privacy and time alone. Out in the islands, we have had very little interaction with the locals, something we are not that accustomed to. It could be they categorize all sailors in the same drunken bunch, and are kind of tired of their antics. Just yesterday I watched a drunken group of Russian yachties walk into a private yard to provoke a resting donkey. Not so nice, but they thought it was fun. In any case, while usually we have had no problem meeting locals, it has been a different case in the islands. The opposite was true though on a day trip we took by ferry to Zadar where the locals were friendly and engaging. Not sure what is happening with this dynamic, but it does give us a strange feeling.

Dad and Nick enjoying great sailing conditions in the Adriatic

We have enjoyed many anchorages and have not had any problems with the much feared concession buoys we had heard cruisers complain of before arriving. We have all the concession bays downloaded right onto our electronic chart, so these have been easy to avoid and most places have easy alternates close by.

One of our first stops with Nick and Em was a great anchorage off the walled town of Korcula, where we holed up during a rainstorm and enjoyed playing cards. During a break in the rain, we took a dinghy ride and walked through the town, up the church bell tower and around the water front. On the way back we got caught in a very dramatic down pour. A quick stop in a café for some pastry rectified that pretty quickly though!
Near Hvar, we anchored in the Pakleni Island group, a spectacular meandering chain of small islands offering a quiet anchorage close to the big island. Although a popular anchorage during the day, only a couple of boats stayed overnight with us. From our anchorage it was a short dinghy ride across the channel to the spectacular Hvar town, where we enjoyed the walk up to the fortress for amazing views across the islets.

Nick and Emily cornered in Solta

In the narrow bay and winding Luka Sasula on the island of Solta we picked up a mooring ball in the far reaches of the inlet. After a great day of exploring the island by scooter bikes we enjoyed a delicious dinner in the restaurant overlooking the bay. When we arrived in the mid morning, the bay was virtually empty, but by the time we came back, every mooring buoy had a boat on it as well as 3 boats anchored further up the narrow inlet from us. Having had so many anchorages to ourselves, this was a reinforcement of just how the crews of charter boats love this set up. As the next morning was quite windy, it was fun watching yachts shake off their lines to shore to extricate themselves from the crowded quarters. Interestingly enough, they all seemed quite expert at this activity.

Up wind sail to Trogir in 25 knots True

From here, we enjoyed a crisp sail across to the mainland where we anchored off the walled town of Trogir and took the ferry into Split. This was an easy way to visit the Split without the hassle of the charter fleet and other traffic in the busy port. We even had enough time to climb the hill above Split to the Zoo, where Nick and Em found they had a tiger! Not sure what to make of that.

River bliss

One of my favourite anchorages was off the riverside town of Skraden which we found after winding our way up the river to explore the Krka National Park. Despite the park and waterfalls being a very popular tourist destination, the town of Skraden has a lovely lived in feel and in afternoon the light on the colorful town buildings was picturesque. The navigation up river was well worth the trip, although we did have to be careful of some pretty pesky swans as we stepped in and out of the dinghy at the anchorage.

Meandering Skraden, golden light and an icecream a perfect end to the day

On our way back down the river we dropped off Nick and Emily in Sibinek, where they continued their holiday, planning to rent motorcycles to ride into Montenegro. We are still missing their lively and youthful company and really appreciated our time with them both.

We are now on our way to Telescica National Park, and then will make our way to the Betina Marina, where we will put Paikea Mist to bed for our summer trip home to Vancouver.

Windy Croatia!

16 May 2015
Paikea Mist at anchor- beautiful but short-lived Cavtat

It is safe to say that Michael and I have anchored Paikea Mist thousands of times together. Since leaving Vancouver in 2009 to head across the Pacific we have tried to limit our time in marinas, preferring to trust our heavy chain and oversized anchor we call Mr. Spade. We like to think we have a solid approach to anchoring, and once our anchor is set we can usually sleep without a worry in the world.

Not quite the case here in Croatia! As luck would have it, after anchoring off the lovely town of Cavtat following our check in procedure the weather took an unexpected turn. Dark clouds rolled in with bursts of lightning and cracks of thunder. Later a sudden and also unpredicted wind change blew straight into the anchorage, putting all three boats anchored deep into the mooring field. Not good. With supposedly good protection from the NE, the bay was open to the winds now piping in from the W/NW. We never got to see if it was good protection from the NE winds that were predicted. Instead of a celebratory drink and a nice dinner aboard, we were weighing anchor and skidaddling . Just before dusk we found our new home, dug the anchor in and spent the night listening to it grind away. Hmmm.

The next morning, expecting strong NE winds to build overnight we once again raised the anchor to reposition ourselves in the bay, and try to stop that awful grinding. That grinding? Seems we hooked a nice piece of fibreglass boat frame with our trusty Mr. Spade.
We went through our standard anchoring drill again, laying out the required ratio of chain and pulling back to set the anchor. We take this anchoring business seriously; after all we are trying to find both a comfortable and safe home for ourselves and Paikea Mist. If either Michael or I are not completely sure we are stuck we start all over again. Mr. Spade went in and didn't budge. We spent that night with 30-40 knot gusts bustling down the mountainsides challenging our well stuck anchor to a fight and making the night, well, less than sleep worthy. Tired, and feeling overwhelmed by the relentless bora wind, but also knowing we hadn't moved an inch, we decided to stay put. When the wind finally lightened up enough to launch our dinghy we headed out around the point to the next bay to realize that we were sitting in a nice wind funnel. Although the mountains were blocking a direct NE path of wind, the swooping valley was perfectly redirecting it from the NW. Oops!

Our next anchorage was a beauty, we dropped the hook in perfectly clear water off the heavily wooded island park of Lokum, just off Dubrovnik. With the Old Town of Dubrovnik within easy reach of our dinghy it was a totally fun and exciting way to visit the city. Taking the dinghy in through the old moat was beyond cool. We especially enjoyed our walk along the castle walls with some sections dropping straight to the sea below. Stunning.

Lunch? Just an easy dinghy ride away to whip up a fresh salad and sandwich back on Paikea Mist. The late afternoon included a refreshing dip, some snorkelling with the fish and yup, more fun and games.

We had our fingers crossed that the wind predicted for that night would escape us, we had seen this anchorage in complete calm while our previous one was still being buffeted. But as the wind began to build late in the afternoon it veered to the east and into the bay, making it once again time to be on the move. Would we ever get a break?
Not quite yet.

Around 6 pm we pulled into the totally protected glassy waters of our next anchorage to the shouts from an Aussie boat charter noting our Canadian flag " Arrived in Paradise eh?". Well, so it would seem. We again laid the anchor down in clear waters and tested Mr. Spade for strength. Thumbs up. We should be good. That night the wind changed yet again (seems usual around here for the wind to change direction several times in a day), funnelling straight into the bay, again veering more easterly than predicted. Hmmm... this is getting bloody annoying. Up anchor in the morning and bouncing through a 3 foot chop away we go.

Are you counting? We headed for our fifth anchorage in 3 days. Lovely, calm waters. Anchor sticks. Walk the island. Gorgeous. Sunny....windy. Wind develops into the bay YET again. And so the story goes.

Michael and I are beginning to wonder if we can ever find a place to call home for a stretch here in Croatian waters. We both hit the books, check out anchorages, look at google earth to try to understand further how wind might curve and deflect off mountains and islands. We finally pick the anchorage of Milo Zaton for the prediction of strong NE winds. Amazingly enough, that night the winds do come from the NE and are around the predicted values. Life is good. We stay put for 4 nights while we explore the area by walking, running and rental car. Eventually a strong storm rolls in again, this time from the SE. We stay put, and even with some wind blowing down into the far reaches of the bay we are still comfortable, finally!

Our anchoring procedure:
• Check weather prediction- we use Predict Wind and have found this a very reliable source including the effects of land formations on wind direction and strength (the only time we haven't has been in this area, where the funnelling effect and strength exceeded the predictions).
• Find anchorage with protection from wind direction, referring to as many sources as possible (guidebooks, charts, google earth) This activity increases with increased wind in the forecast
• Arrive at selected bay and do a visual survey of the opportunities to drop the hook, depending on other boats anchored, mooring buoys and other obstructions such as ferry paths . In areas with big mountains and valleys we try to re-examine how we think the predicted wind will be affected by topography. By doing this we often find areas where there is little or no wind, such as anchoring off the tip of a cape, or hunkering in close to a steep shore with lines ashore.
• Once we decide on exactly where to anchor, Gloria goes to bow, looking for sandy area to lay down the anchor and directs Michael with hand signals and voice to the sandy patch.
• Anchor goes down, laying out chain in slow reverse
• Once appropriate amount of anchor chain is laid out, Michael puts boat into reverse and increases the revs to 1800 rpm. If we both know the anchor is stuck we put the bridle on. If either of us is unsure, up comes the anchor and chain to try again. We would rather humiliate ourselves in front of multiple boats than ride out a big wind on an anchor neither of us trusts is really in there for good.
• Once anchored, Michael often does a fly by in the dinghy with depth alarm to ensure there are no unmarked obstacles.
• In windy conditions (18 knots plus): If after we are anchored Michael thinks there is a part of the bay that is even better than where we have chosen, he will take our dinghy on recognisance and make a decision whether it is worth it to move. This often results in turning a suitable anchorage into a comfortable and sleep worthy one!
We hope that our anchoring woes are over for the time being, although we have two more storms in the forecast, a big SE blow followed by another nor'easter. Will let you know how she goes.
Note to cruisers entering Croatia: We flew our Q flag into Cavtat, where a friendly man with an official name tag whistled us to come alongside the cement wall and the cordoned off quarantine area and throw him our lines. Our check-in was painless other than paying our 260 Cdn cruising fees for three months. Returning to the boat, the guy at the Q dock collected a further 100 kn (20 Cdn) for use of the Q dock! That is the first time in 19 countries that we have ever been charged to tie up to the Q dock. We have been warned that cruising in Croatia is very expensive, with fees even being collected to anchor. Over the past year, Croatia has reduced it's cruising fees substantially and we have also been informed that areas commissioned with mooring buoys can no longer charge for anchoring off them, a practice which has incensed many cruisers in the past. Our biggest concern is being forced to anchor in deep waters in bays where commissioned mooring buoys have taken up all the suitable space. We have zero intention of taking a mooring buoy which could be both poorly serviced and too close to others for safety. We will keep you posted as to what we find.

Magnificient Montenegro

09 May 2015
Paikea Mist tied alongside in Perast, Bay of Kotor
Our last night in Montenegro was spent swinging in the far corner of the Bay of Kotor near Morinj, where a steady stream of fresh water gushed into the bay from a bubbling brook . Elsewhere the water was perfectly still, and the mountains reflecting in the clear waters made a picture perfect moment to remember Montenegro by. What a gem, another highlight in our cruising path here in the Med.
We cleared into Montenegro in the sea side town of Bar. This was a relatively easy clearance procedure with friendly officials. The only hassle was actually locating the port authority office, which proved difficult to find. Michael was asked for an international captain certificate and produced his Canadian Pleasure Boat Operator card which satisfied the port official. We paid for a week long sailing vignette, predicting that this would be enough time to explore Montenegro. Turns out, I could have happily stayed in the off season lap of Montenegro a lot longer.
Not being able to anchor off in Bar, we had to stay in the Marina which was pricey (93 Euro for our boat) especially considering it was basically concrete pontoons we tied up to. But the town of Bar was a perfect introduction to real life in Montenegro. Arriving on May 1st the town was swarming with families, friends of all ages out enjoying their day off. The seaside promenade stretches the entire length of the bay. The town itself is situated in a stunning setting on a flat plain which is juxtaposed against majestic mountains.
Bar had the feel of a real town, with industry and reason beyond tourism, something both Michael and I appreciate. On first impression was that the Montenegrins seemed incredibly active and the town of Bar was a vibrant place. Every one was walking, cycling, running: kids were kicking soccer balls, playing in the park or riding bikes. We haven't seen this much physical activity since leaving Vancouver! As we walked further we came across a well played soccer game, serious (and I mean serious) tennis matches as well as track and field events. We enjoyed watching these elite athletes perform at the 2015 Cross Mediterranean Games. Later when we returned to our boat the Latvian captain of the large yacht behind us brought us a 2 liter bottle of cold beer to celebrate the Canadian win over Latvia in the world hockey series. We were falling for this Montenegro quickly.

Not wanting to spend another night in a marina, we left Bar in a mash of waves from an overnight SW blow, these do get pretty ugly here on the east side of the Adriatic. Even though the wind had blown itself out Paikea Mist was still struggling in the leftovers. The swell kept us out of many of the other outside anchorages along the coast but we managed to tuck into the small fishing village of Bigova, where the water was calm and the locals invited us to tie to their mooring buoy without charge. Here we enjoyed an early morning run through the hilly country side accompanied by a friendly yellow lab. He sure seemed to love running with us!

The next day we turned the corner into the famed Bay of Kotor. Many of our cruising friends had stayed at the Porto Montenegro Marina, a five star mega yacht marina located in Tivat. Although the thought of being pampered in the marina was appealing, we find that marinas have little appeal to us, so we eagerly headed through the slot of Europe's largest gorge into the main inner bay of Kotor. We didn't get far before tying off the wall at Prevast, a beautiful seaside town across from the Lady of Rocks Church which sits in the middle of the bay. Legend has it that the church was created by locals throwing rocks into the sea, until they had a small island on which to build the church. There is still an annual celebration whereby villagers still paddle out to the island to throw rocks!
We loved hanging on the Perast town wall watching the locals go about their day to day routines, as well as a few tourists who sprinkled in throughout the day to fill some of the seats at the seaside restaurants. From Perast we dingied across to Stoliv and hiked up and over the hill (Mt. Stephan) to Kotor, catching a bus back to Stoliv to the waiting dinghy. With views to Perast, Kotor and Tivat this hike was a highlight of our visit.

It turned out that long term 'parking' at the Prerast town dock was not really allowed and we would never have gotten away with it a high season. I suppose the laid back and friendly locals found it easy to turn a blind eye during low season. The entire scene was just so sublime, I could imagine taking up permanent residence somewhere in this exact fashion. But nothing lasts forever, and when we saw three cruiseships arrive the same day, we thought it was time to move on from our wall of bliss, heading for the Stari grad, or old town Kotor.
The old town of Kotor is delightful, complete with an intact wall and moat. This time we anchored off, with a great view of the medieval fortifications which rise high above the walled old town. Even inside the walls of old town, the entire area has a very lived in feel, despite being on the world heritage list. Of course some of this feel might be lost in high season, but it is very apparent that unlike some prime tourist spots we have visited here in the Med, Kotor retains a sense of authenticity.
There was no shortage of activities on offer. We climbed the 1350 steps to the castle and cycled the road that runs along the water front out towards Tivat through small seaside towns with shuttered windows, laundry flopping in the breeze and steepled churches. We rented a car for two days and scoured the stunning inland secondary roads, making our way up high above the marshy Skader lake. We also hiked to the Mausoleum atop one of the peaks overlooking the Bay of Kotor where one can see 4 countries in a 360 view.
In fact, every corner offered yet another stunning view. On one high mountain pass we had the good fortune of meeting Andreas who lived in a small and very personalized shack along the side of the road. Although his real home was down in the lush and verdant valley, he told us that in summer he was just 'happy' living up here, with everything he could ever want. He had a special talent for making new friendships as well as his own alcohol, including a walnut sherry, pear and apricot schnaps, wine, honey and skin tonics. He enjoyed showing us his natural ingredients. What a great way to spend a half hour!
Back at Paikea Mist, my favourite activity was swimming in the fresh water. The Bay of Kotor has very low salinity as it is well fed by fresh water, which is now melting fast from the snowcapped mountains. After years of salty swims off the back of Paikea Mist swimming here was so refreshing- very close to swimming in a lake. Complete with loons and ducks, you might think you were on a lake, if it weren't for the dolphins that gave it away. Yes, the bay of Kotor is a true little gem.
We cleared out of Montenegro at the custom dock of Kotor, vying for space with the small boats that were trundling tourists back and forth from a nearby cruiseship. Even though we were anchored off in direct sight of the customs dock, the customs officials insisted that we bring the boat alongside their concrete wall. We thought this was pretty funny considering in Greece we checked out at the main port of Corfu having taken a scooter ride from our boat which was about 12 km away! With all our bumpers out the concrete wall wasn't all that bad, but it did have a nasty corner that we had to negotiate to tie alongside.
As we pulled up our anchor to go to the customs, the anchor freed itself and came almost into its cradle on board before refusing to complete the journey. Michael soon discovered that our solenoid for up function of the anchor windlass was no longer in our service. We sailed in light winds to the far end of the bay near Morinj and tied to another public wharf while Michael installed a spare solenoid to get the windlass back in shape, before re-anchoring off this sleepy town for our last night.
Tomorrow we will sail a total of 25 miles to Cavtat, Croatia.
Vessel Name: Paikea Mist
Vessel Make/Model: Beneteau Custom 50
Hailing Port: Vancouver, BC
Crew: Gloria Hanssmann, Michael Hanssmann
We left Vancouver for our Pacific Voyage in July 2009, spending the first summer unwinding in our beautiful cruising grounds of the Pacific Northwest, and getting reading for big adventure. Our journey has taken us down the coast of California into Mexico. [...]
Our Custom 50 Benneteau has been a comfortable and dependable cruiser. Paikea Mist is equipped with a Code Zero, full spinnaker, 140 % Genoa, Stay sail and a full battened main. Of all the sails we have used the Code Zero the most as we crossed the Pacific. The Code Zero is brought up by halyard [...]
Paikea Mist's Photos - Aqua Verde
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Added 14 December 2009

Paikea Mist's Adventures

Who: Gloria Hanssmann, Michael Hanssmann
Port: Vancouver, BC
"I am acutely aware of the perfection of the moment, we are balanced between wind and water, between travelling and arriving, between closing one door and opening another" Beth Leonard, Blue Horizons