Catamaran cruising

Who: Carolyn & Chris Gebbie
15 August 2017 | Herceg Novi & Kotor
15 August 2017 | Kotor
15 August 2017 | Risan
15 August 2017 | Porto Montenegro
15 August 2017 | Cavtat
15 August 2017 | Zaton Bay
03 August 2017 | Sipan, Kolocep & Lopud
28 July 2017 | Skrivena luka - Lastovo Island
28 July 2017 | Vieste to Lastovo
24 July 2017 | Vieste
24 July 2017 | Vieste
24 July 2017 | Cantiere Navale Danesse - Brindisi
24 July 2017 | Ostuni/Alberobello/Martina Franca
24 July 2017 | Brindisi
09 July 2017 | Otranto
09 July 2017 | St Maria di Leuca
09 July 2017 | Crotone
02 July 2017 | Le Castella
29 June 2017 | Le Castella

Herceg Novi and Kotor again

15 August 2017 | Herceg Novi & Kotor
We had arranged to drop Tina and Steve in the town of Herceg Novi near the entrance to the Gulf as this had a good bus back to Dubrovnik. We dropped our lines after a leisurely morning in Kotor and spent a few hours sailing slowly or more quickly as the winds changed and gusted around the mountains, allowing Steve and Tina to get engaged in the aspects of tacking and managing the sails.

As the hour neared 14.00 we all agreed that lunch was more important than more practise so the engines went on and we hurried up to berth in Herceg Novi. It’s actually a smaller harbour than the pilot book prepares you for but we moored easily enough and lunch was welcomed.

The afternoon was spent exploring the lower parts of the town. After the mornings climb no one facied the climb up to the main fortifications here! They have a very modern pool stadium right on the sea and were hosting an international water-polo tournament (around under 21 we think). We watched Croatia wallop Australia 14-4, it’s a very tough game to play, those guys were very fit. It was a nice interlude to sit with an ice cream and watch others exert themselves.

International water polo at Herceg Novi

That night was Tina and Steve’s last evening with us and they kindly treated us to dinner at Konobo Feral just on the quay. The food was very good and again the wine was excellent. We’ve been impressed with the local wine here, both the quality and mostly reasonable prices.

Around 21.00 that night the wind got up. We knew a storm was coming in but the forecast suggested northerly winds, either it was wrong or the mountains bent it round to westerly, the direction we had no protection from! The harbour became a rolling mass of boats, particularly the motorboats and mono-hulls. We now know why boats were all widely spaced, they’d have taken out each other’s topsides with the rolling otherwise. We had an hour of thunder, lightning, heavy rain and waves rolling through the harbour but luckily it moved on before any damage was caused and we had a reasonable night.

Steve and Tina found a taxi early the next day and headed off for the bus to Dubrovnik. In the week they had both managed the live-aboard life well in the hottest conditions we have experienced (including the usual fun with sea toilets) and Steve in particular had become a useful crew member. Tina contributed by keeping the crew in drinks and pressing the button to raise the anchor! We had a good week together.

We would have liked to stay and do the washing and sorting out, but a large 30 boat rally was due in and we had to leave, so we motored back to Kotor and took a place on the quay. Cattiva were still anchored in the bay and they came past to chat. As we were talking a large Turkish Gulet tried to moor in the space nearby, got it all wrong and nearly took the bow rails off the boat next to us. He seemed completely unaware of the potential mess he was about to cause as his gangway swung around, the Harbour Master didn’t respond to VHF calls so we spent an anxious 20 minutes whilst this incompetent tried to secure to the shore. In the end a couple of dinghies pushing him got it sorted and the crisis was averted. He could easily have taken all our mast and rigging down as he messed about. Phew!

The Cattiva crew came on board for a drink that evening and we ate together in the town. Three pasta dishes and fish for Grant followed local cheeses and olives and were accompanied by a bottle of good local wine. Another very pleasant evening. Cattiva left to sail towards Greece the next morning but we hope to see them when they visit the UK in October and we head to Australia in November.

Montenegro translates as Black Mountains – you can see why it got its name!

We intended to get on with boat jobs the next morning but Chris’s thigh muscle injury has been exacerbated by surging the mooring ropes tight in the recent strong winds and even walking was painful today. Carolyn has done the washing and Chris has had to sit and catch up with the blog, apologies for the lengthy gap, a combination of lack of internet and having guests on board is our excuse!

Main Photo: The quay Herceg Novi with Splice moored in the centre, Water polo pool showing to the left of picture


15 August 2017 | Kotor
Kotor is the main attraction in the Gulf and is an impressive sight as you approach from seaward. Built against a steep mountain the walled town has extended the fortifications up the side of the mountain to a significant height, presumably to protect the town from attack with rocks etc from above.

The whole vista along this part of the gulf is of huge mountains surrounding the water, a stunning place to visit. We dropped anchor off the town for lunch as the quay was busy and then moored on the pontoon later when things were quieter. Kotor has retained much of its medieval splendour and its streets and buildings are fascinating to walk around. We all felt this place was the highlight of the week and even the crowds from the Cruise ship docked there didn’t manage to spoil the experience.

We had the usual problems getting internet access and then getting it to work. We only had to go to the T-Mobile shop three times on this occasion to get our first real internet access in Montenegro! When it works E10 for 10 days unlimited access is not a bad deal. We ate in one of the main squares that might, the food was OK but the place and the local wines were very impressive.

The steps to the fortress

Steve, Tina and Carolyn taking a break during the climb

We had decided to climb the fortress walls in the morning when it was cooler and they were still in shadow. It was a good decision as the temperatures were significantly down and we made it up in just under an hour of reasonably strenuous walking. The views are great and it’s worth the effort. The guards stationed up there in the past would have had a great early view of potential foes advancing.

The view from the top over Kotor and the gulf

Kotor is lovely and well worth a visit, even flying in to spend a long weekend here would be a very pleasant excursion.

Main Photo: A medieval building in the old town of Kotor

Risan and Spinnaker Practise!

15 August 2017 | Risan
The next day we managed a few bits of sailing to give Steve and Tina an introduction to the white flappy things as we made our way through the narrower channel to the more northerly part of the Gulf. The marina had warned us that they rigorously enforced the 6 knot speed limit here and we did see someone stopped – lots of other high speed craft weren’t though.

Risan is a small town but has a reasonable anchorage – a scarce resource in the Gulf where depths are significant right up to the shore. We dropped anchor in about 13m with the wind gusting up past 15 knots. Chris stayed aboard Splice to monitor things whilst the others ventured ashore, inspecting the mosaics at the Roman Villa and doing some shopping. A restaurant was also visited and pronounced suitable for the evening meal that night.

Cattiva arrived, anchored nearby and issued an invitation to drinks aboard before our shore excursion. By evening the wind had dropped and we had a pleasant hour or so on their bow chatting and sampling the local wine which we found to be very good. With Chris asking questions about how they flew their spinnaker Grant then offered to bring their smaller kite aboard Splice the next day and give it a go. The offer was quickly accepted by the Skipper with the First Mate looking a little doubtful.

The meal that night in the place right on the quay at Risan was pleasant with very cheerful service and locally caught fish being a highlight.

The next day there was no wind so both crews sat around in shade drinking coffee and water in conditions that would soften metal – it was extremely hot (40 degrees plus) and the air was completely still. At last, around 10.30 the breeze started. Splice moored briefly alongside Cattiva and the sail was handed over with Grant and Lesley joining us onboard. As we motored up the waterway the wind was 6-7 knots, ideal for the trial. Steve was gaining confidence at the helm so he took the wheel as Grant worked with Chris on the foredeck and Lesley supported Carolyn on the sheets with Tina as official photographer.

The spinnaker flies on Splice - Photo credit:Tina

We had a good initial run down the gulf with the sail going up and down a couple of times using the ‘sock’ to douse the sail before dropping it (the ‘sock’ is a ring with a long bag attached to it which is pulled up to the top to free the sail and then down over the sail to compress it when you need to drop the spinnaker). By the time we had returned to the head off the Gulf to try again the wind had increased to 15 knots gusting 18. Not ideal for trying out new sails but with a big crew and Grants confidence we again hoisted and dropped a couple of time in the strong winds as we surged down the gulf at 7-8 knots. It was great fun but hard work dealing with the large sail in those winds. Even the First Mate agreed that, having tried one, we should now get one for Splice........ mind you, we will only fly it in lighter winds!!

The Anglo/Australian spinnaker flying team – Carolyn, Lesley, Grant, Chris and Steve - Photo credit: Tina

Many thanks to Grant and Lesley from ‘Cattiva’ for their willingness to demonstrate their kit and let us get a real feel for the process.

Main Photo: Cattiva anchored off the quay at Risan

Zelenika and Porto Montenegro – Montenegro

15 August 2017 | Porto Montenegro
The trip down the coast is only about 25 miles to enter Montenegro, swapping the courtesy flags as we rounded the point that defines the border. We went first to Zelenika to check in. A small town just opposite the entrance to the Gulf of Kotor it has another quay meant for really big ships, large black rubber fenders made marks down the side of Splice but we were checked in with efficiency and courtesy here. Harbour Master first then the Police. It cost about E150 for a months sailing permit and the admin tax.

The new Montenegrin courtesy flag is raised

You enter the Gulf of Kotor from the sea into one of two main areas of water joined by a narrower passage. We turned to starboard towards the major marina in the Gulf at ‘Porto Montenegro’. We stopped for a few hours to swim and relax off the islands in the south of the area before motoring the mile or so back to the marina. This is a huge place, built supposedly with Russian money and really targeting the super-yachts again. They were very helpful and efficient from the directions to the berth, mooring and the electric buggy’s that drive guests around (avoiding the very long walks along concrete quays) and the check in process. Having said that we didn’t like the place much, far too big and all ‘high fashion boutiques’ rather than a supermarket or other sensible stores. Not cheap at E125 a night but at least this included power than worked!

Many of the other boats in Porto Montenegro were bigger than us!

As we walked around we saw that Cattiva were moored on another pontoon so wandered over and invited them for a drink later on. Grant and Lesley joined the four of us about 18.30 and, as often happens with cruiser meets, the conversation clicked and we were still there chatting at 21.00 without having had a meal. Plans to eat out were abandoned and we whipped up a quick pasta dish with sardines, pine-nuts, fennel, raisins and spaghetti.

Main Photo: Entering the Gulf of Kotor 0755


15 August 2017 | Cavtat
To leave the country you then have to check out with the authorities and on the route to Montenegro the port of Cavtat is the most southerly option. It has a reputation as a busy place and a focus for ‘Super-Yachts’ so we set off to arrive in the early afternoon and we found there was space on the quay as we entered the bay. A first attempt at the stern–to mooring with the new crew members went well and we were secured just along from a couple of monster ‘motorized wedding-cakes’ (lots of layers). We expected it to be a bit pricey and at around £123 for berthing it was. We were then told we had to pay another £32 for power and water! I questioned if he thought we were a super-yacht, as we couldn’t use that much power in a week, but of course that was the price and you don’t argue.

It’s a very pleasant quay and the town is good to wander around. We managed some shopping for stores and had dinner in a place on the bay on the other side of the town which was good. When we returned to the boat the power was off and our batteries declining fast. After some hassle we got a phone number and an hour or so later the power was back on........we went to bed, setting up a light that would go out if the power did so we could easily monitor it. Within an hour the power was off again and stayed that way for the rest of the visit. I guess we used about £0.30p in real terms. My texted request for a refund went unanswered!

Even though we were moored 20m from the ‘customs quay’ they insist that you leave the berth and re-moor on their quay before they will check you out. As the office opens at 08.00hrs we left the berth shortly before to find 5 other boats milling around waiting their turn. This whole farce took up another hour and a half with a very rude woman in the office giving me a ‘telling off’ for not having gone to the Harbour Master first despite me simply following the directions of the officer on the quay – who incidentally charges another K100 (£12.50) for ’mooring assistance’. No other country has played this game, we think it’s probably only so they can add one more charge before you go.

The only bright spot in this interlude was a quick chat as we drifted around awaiting our turn on the quay with the crew of another cat ‘Cattiva’ a one-off built boat under an Australian flag. We ended up following them down the Croatian coast as we both motored along in very light winds.

We were happy to leave Croatia. It’s a very pretty country but the people have generally been either dour or outright rude and grumpy. On both this visit and the last time here we felt their focus was only on how much money they could get out of you whilst providing as little service as possible. The only exceptions were our experiences on the island of Mljet, in the bay at Polace and the restaurant in Prozura.

We won’t be going back again.

Main Photo: The quay at Cavtat

Zaton Bay & Marina Dubrovnik

15 August 2017 | Zaton Bay
Zaton Bay is the first harbour to the north of Dubrovnik and we had targeted this as the pick- up point for Tina and Steve joining us so we try and check out the spot in advance. It’s a long inlet with a couple of anchoring possibilities but the nicest is off the town to port as you enter. Its deep in most areas but there is a rock with 4m over it in the centre and shallower areas around that. Just don’t wrap your chain around the rock!

We dropped just inside the rock in about 8m and backed off over the slightly shallower area until we sat in 13m with our anchor on the other side of the ‘hump’. It’s a pleasant small town with some tripper boats coming in and out but space in the harbour to leave your dinghy. There are a couple of flashy restaurants and a couple of more modest establishments. We chose the pizza from the place right by the main quay and it was good.

We then hung around in Sunj or Donje Celo dependant on the wind direction for a day or so until our guests were due.

On the Sunday morning we motored back to Zaton and dropped anchor in much the same place. Steve and Tina arrived by taxi whilst we were wandering around shopping so we settled in the bar on the quay for coffee and water – the daily temperature by now was in the 40’s and water regularly was critical as we were melting all the time.

Splice at anchor in Donje Celo

We then had to go to the authorities to add the new crew members to the ‘Crew List’. You can only do this at ‘Ports of Entry’ – its effectively like passing through customs from a plane. The nearest place here is Gruz, the commercial harbour for Dubrovnik. I had asked about the procedure when we checked in and was told to go to the police/customs. We found the quay and moored to fenders and bollards meant for large ships only to be told this was wrong and we had to move and go to the Harbour Master.

This meant squeezing onto a small quay in the corner of the harbour but, once secured, the admin was quick and easy and they didn’t charge anything extra – a first for Croatia!

The crew strolling around the bay at Donje Celo

Now legal and free to go, we headed off to Dunje Celo and Sunj for a couple of days R&R at anchor. Plenty of swimming and relaxing over beers and wine was achieved.

Main Photo: The view astern in Sunj bay
Vessel Name: Splice
Vessel Make/Model: Broadblue 435 Catamaran
Crew: Carolyn & Chris Gebbie
We have been married for over 25 years and have two grown up sons. Carolyn has dual English/French nationality and speaks French well. [...]
Extra: Contact us at splice435(the at sign)gmail.com
Splice's Photos - Main
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Created 15 May 2015
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Created 15 May 2015
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Who: Carolyn & Chris Gebbie