Wintertime = Project time
We didn't spend all our time socializing, birdwatching, jetsetting across Europe, and doing good deeds: wintertime was project time, and we had a long list of them that we wanted to get done while Awildian was in Montenegro.
Our goal is to make Awildian - a former charter catamaran - into a comfy, efficient cruising catamaran. During our first three months on Awildian, last year in Italy, we began this process. This year, in Montenegro, we hoped to move it even farther along.
Some of the tasks we completed in Montenegro included:
• adding three more solar panels, bringing the total number to 8, and our total available wattage to 3250,
• programming the Raspberry Pi to measure, display, and control several operations,
• finding and buying a kayak,
• buying and installing lithium batteries (and all the controllers and the other necessary accessories that make them safe and operational) to store all that solar energy,
Happy day! The batteries arrive!
We also made some changes to our galley, and added a cockpit fridge. This is what our galley and cockpit looked like before we started adding things...
• installing a combination microwave/convection oven to replace the small microwave and the crappy propane oven that came with Awildian,
Our new convection/microwave oven
• replacing our propane cooktop with an induction cooktop
• installing a fridge in our cockpit, which involved Eric cutting the biggest hole he's ever had to, in a boat...
...and me lying on my back in a very tight space, to fiberglass the bottom of the support shelf in place.
Eric mixed the epoxy, and dipped the fiberglass pieces into it, before handing them to me to use.
The new fridge!
• converting one of the former heads into a storage closet
• changing the bathroom doors so they open OUT instead of IN.
We also took care of the dozens of repair, replace, and maintenance tasks that needed to be done when they arose. In other words, the usual stuff.
We had Awildian hauled out at Navar Boatyard for about ten days in March.
Because the facilities there were pretty basic, and the price of Airbnbs was pretty low, we enjoyed staying in a lovely apartment during that time.
While Awildian was in the boatyard, we did these projects:
• replacing our two fixed-blade props with Max Prop feathering props,
• installing underwater lights (blue/white),
The starboard prop and underwater light
• replacing several thru-hulls,
• installing a ground plane for the SSB radio,
• buying some new anchor chain, adding it onto the existing chain, marking it at 30-foot intervals.
We had some of the boatyard's techs take care of some things, too:
One of our rudders had been "clunking" for several months. Eric, correctly predicting that the problem might be a worn knuckle bearing, had ordered the parts to fix it; he'd even doubled the order, in case the other rudder might benefit from the new parts as well. The techs pulled the rudders, fixed the one that was clunking, using one of the new part sets, and reinstalled them. Now we have two quiet rudders and a spare knuckle bearing.
One of the rudders going back in
We also had some engine techs service Awildian's two saildrives. As soon as Awildian was swinging in the air in the travelift slings, these guys came with a beat up station wagon, removed the saildrives, and took them back to their workshop. A few days later they brought them back, all clean and serviced.
And since it was time for Awildian's spa treatment, we had his bottom paint redone and his props painted with PropSpeed. This should keep the critters off for awhile.
Awildian ready to splash with his slick new bottom paint
Back home in beautiful Porto Montenegro
We'd also planned to remodel our galley when we went all-electric, and we'd even had a local contractor come by to have a look and a chat with us about it, in October. When he left, he said it would be no problem to do the job, and he asked Eric to draw up the plans for what we wanted. When he received them, he said, he'd be in touch with an estimate.
Eric drew up the plans and sent them to the contractor. No reply.
A week later, Eric sent an email asking whether the contract had received the plans. No reply.
Two more emails, same thing.
By this time it was November. We had travel plans and other projects in the pipeline, so we said screw it and decided to put off the remodel for another time. With a more reliable contractor. But we still added the new electric cooktop and oven, so we could enjoy them right away.
When Awildian left Porto Montenegro Marina at the end of April, he was an even more comfortable, safe, reliable, self-sufficient, and energy-efficient sailing home, than when he'd arrived.
So there you have it, a snapshot of our eight months in Montenegro. It was a great place to spend the winter. We liked it so well, in fact, that we've already made plans to return there in October 2023, for another winter.
In our next blog post: as April draws to a close, we leave Montenegro begin heading south...