Our Ever-Changing Backyard

22 August 2023 | Montenegro
18 April 2023 | Monopoli, Italy - Zadar, Croatia
09 April 2023 | Korčula, Croatia
01 April 2023 | Otok Badija, near Korcula, Croatia
15 March 2023 | Mljet National Park, Croatia
11 December 2022 | Uvala Przina, Pelješac Peninsula, Croatia
20 November 2022 | Uvala Podškolj, Croatia
05 November 2022 | Lopud, Croatia
21 August 2022 | Monopoli, Italy
03 August 2022 | Croatia

Montenegro Part 5 - Wintertime = Project Time

22 August 2023 | Montenegro
Vandy Shrader
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...

Montenegro Part 4 - A 100 knot bura, a trip to Germany, a bottle conundrum, getting fingerprinted in a Dubrovnik police station

21 August 2023 | Montenegro
Vandy Shrader
It's COLD here (and windy...)
Even though it doesn't snow in Tivat, the weather can get quite cold (occasionally down to freezing) and damp. We managed just fine with Awildian's forced-air heaters, our little electric heater, and a fabulous dehumidifier. Winter is also bura season: "bura" being the Montenegrin spelling of the "bora" that I mentioned in some of my Croatian blog entries. In Croatia, we'd experienced the summer boras, which we now know are like "bora light." While windy, they were nothing compared to the full-on winter variety. In February of this year, Tivat experienced a strong bura that lasted for several days and packed winds of up to 100 knots! We happened to be visiting our family in the States when this happened, but we could "watch" the action via the WhatsApp posts of our friends who were in the marina. Fortunately, some of these friends made sure that Awildian's lines were secure, and kept an eye on him. It was apparently very intense.

A couple of our friends made a video of the conditions in the marina during the bura. You can watch it here Intrepid Bear bura videobeginning at 16:27. Of course, if you'd like to see more lovely scenes around Montenegro and Porto Montenegro Marina, including some lovely snowy mountain areas, you can watch their whole video.

A Trip to Germany
In January we flew to Germany. Before going, we rented a car and went shopping for heavy winter coats. We didn't own any "real" winter clothing - hadn't needed any since moving aboard our first boat, SCOOTS, in 2014 - and we were going to need it, in Germany.

We did need those winter duds.

Our reasons for going to Germany were to attend the Düsseldorf Boat show, and to visit our friends Heike, Felix, and Milena in the village of Roetgen, near Aachen (which is itself near Cologne).

Felix, Milena, and Heike

Flights to Berlin from Montenegro were cheap (30 euro without luggage, 50 euro with), so we flew there and began our time in Germany with five interesting and though-provoking days exploring Berlin.

We spent an entire day at the Mauer Museum ("mauer" means "wall" in German), located at Checkpoint Charlie. Beginning its existence at about the same time as the Wall, it chronicles the many desperate attempts - some successful, some not - of East Germans to escape to the West. With displays encompassing dramatic photos, riveting first-person accounts, and some of the escape devices themselves, the Mauer Museum is a fascinating dive into the abhorrent policies and actions carried out in Berlin during the Cold War.

Checkpoint Charlie during the Cold War

Checkpoint Charlie now

Checkpoint Charlie guardpost then

Checkpoint Charlie guardpost now

Anyone who was alive during the Cold War, and knows what went on in this intersection, can't be there without experiencing very strong feelings.

We spent two days at the boat show - which was massive, with seventeen huge halls displaying everything from deck mops to superyachts - talking with reps about various pieces of equipment we were thinking of buying, though our main goal was to find a kayak. We'd been unable to find a "sit inside" kayak, despite looking in Italy, Croatia, and Montenegro over the past year. If we'd wanted a "sit on" kayak, we'd be set. But I'm picky and wanted one that I could sit inside and tuck my backpack and binoculars into. We did find a very several nice kayaks,

Some of the contenders

and I even had a good time paddling one of them on the indoor river that had been built for the boat show.

In the end we didn't buy any of them because just the shipping to Montenegro would have been 700 euro. We eventually found a kayak, which we ordered online from a Montenegrin store, and had delivered to Awildian in Porto Montenegro for less than the price of the shipping of the other one.

Our kayak

Also at the boat show, we surprised our friend, Jeanne Socrates, who was giving a presentation about her record-breaking, non-stop, unassisted, solo circumnavigations (yes, she's done more than one). We had a good time palling around at the boat show with Jeanne for one of the days.

A Bottle Conundrum
One day, when Awildian was anchored at Kotor, we wanted to buy some beer, so we stopped into a supermarket. Eric pulled four large bottles of beer from the cooler and brought them to the check out. The checkout clerk looked at the bottles and told Eric (in quite limited English) that he couldn't buy them.

Checkout woman: "You cannot buy. You must have bottles."

We were perplexed. Fortunately, the woman in line behind us was Montenegrin, and she spoke English pretty well. She had a brief conversation with the checkout woman, and explained to us:
"You cannot buy these full bottles unless you are also returning some of these bottles empty."

Eric: "But I don't have any bottles, because I haven't bought any yet. Can I just pay the deposit or something?"

Another discussion ensued between the two women in Montenegrin.

Helpful Woman: "She says no, you must have empty bottles to return, in order to buy these bottles."

Eric: "How do people get their first large bottles, if they can't buy them? Are they gifted some at birth? Do they have to find them in the trash?"

Helpful Woman: "I don't know. But you can't buy them without returning others."

The Checkout Woman said something to the Helpful Woman, who translated. "She says that you can buy the smaller size bottles, just not these."

Eric: "Oh, Ok. Can I buy some of the smaller bottles."

Helpful Woman translates. Checkout Woman shakes her head, says something back.
Helpful Woman. "She says 'No, we don't sell those.'"

So we left the big bottles behind and didn't get any beer that day. From then on, we always bought our Montenegrin beer in cans, just to be safe.

A trip to the Dubrovnik Police Department
While we were in Croatia last year, we began the long process of applying for Croatian citizenship, based on some of my ancestors having lived in Korčula. In addition to collecting the relevant birth certificates, we also had to have an FBI background check. If we were in the States, this would be a simple, digital process, which could be accomplished quickly. Because we're overseas, it's more complicated: the FBI doesn't allow digital prints from international locations: they require paper prints, taken in a specific way, on a specific form, sent back to their headquarters by postal mail. They will then send the results back via postal mail.

The Expat in Croatia website mentioned that some police stations in Croatia would take fingerprints, but they were - not unexpectedly - mum on Montenegro. Hoping that the US Embassy in Podgorica might be able to help out, I gave them a call. They were friendly, and answered my questions, but were only marginally helpful.

Me: Does the US embassy take fingerprints for the FBI background check?
Embassy: No. But we have the official FBI fingerprint cards. If you come to the embassy, we can give you some.

Me: Where can we get our fingerprints taken, according to the FBI's requirements, in Montenegro?
Embassy: You can't.

Me: OK...how does a US citizen get a background check done, in this part of the world?
Embassy: I don't know.

Me: (sigh) When can I pick up some fingerprint cards?
Embassy: How about 10am next Monday.

We rented a car from Mirko, looked up the location of the US embassy, and made the two-hour drive over the mountains to Podgorica, where we picked up four copies of the official FBI fingerprint cards (a couple of extras, in case of mistakes), and drove back to Tivat.

Once we had the fingerprint cards, I scoured the Expat in Croatia list of Croatian police stations that might do fingerprinting. One of them was in Dubrovnik, which was only a couple of hours' drive from Tivat. I sent an email to the address given, asking about getting our fingerprints taken. When several days had passed with no response, I sent another. A few days after that, I found the phone number for the station's public relations officer, and gave her a call.

Fortunately, she spoke some English. She asked me what I needed, and when I told her we needed to get fingerprinted, she seemed perplexed, but she said she'd try to find out, and asked if I could call her back in ten minutes. I figured she was just brushing me off, but when I called back, she said, "You can come on Thursday at 10am." We texted our buddy, Mirko, and scheduled another car rental.

On Thursday, we drove to Dubrovnik. Once we located the police station, and a place to park our car, we entered the large, austere stone building. When we checked in at the front desk, we were relieved to see our names on the daily schedule. A burly man came down the stairs to meet us. He said his name was Ivan, and he led us up the stairs...to the crime scene lab. Ivan was very friendly and chatty, though he spoke only a modest amount of English. He told us that, among other things, he was responsible for fingerprinting all the people who were arrested, and taking their mug shots. He let us sit in the swivel chair that was in front of the height markings, and showed us the placard with its places for putting the name and date using letter and number tiles. Just like on TV.

Ivan was a highly trained fingerprinting professional. He took our prints efficiently and expertly, and within 20 minutes we were both done, our official FBI fingerprint cards decorated with sharp imprints, signed, and dated. It was good that we'd brought them, because he only had the European fingerprint forms and who knows if the FBI would have accepted them. As a backup, Ivan even sent us scans of our fingerprints, by email.

When we got back to Tivat, we sent our fingerprints to the States via DHL, beginning the months-long process of proving that we aren't criminals.

Eight Months in Montenegro - Part 3 - In which we navigate the Montenegrin medical system and learn about voodoo PT, seek (and find) some rare birds, and experience Montenegro's version of Niagara Falls

08 August 2023 | Montenegro
Vandy Shrader
How do you say Ouch! in Montenegrin?One day in September, shortly before we were scheduled to move into Porto Montenegro, I decided that it had been too long since I'd done pushups. The last time I'd done pushups (admittedly a couple of years ago), I could do 25 at a pop. So I did 25. No problem. Until the next morning, when my left shoulder didn't work, and my upper arm hurt - a lot - when I moved it. Neither ibuprofen nor acetaminophen (known as paracetamol, by everyone outside of the US) made any dent in the pain. I expected that if I treated my arm and shoulder gently for a few days, whatever I'd done to them would soon heal.

Nope. A month later, I decided that it was time to see a doctor. How would I do that in Montenegro? I looked online and was surprised to find a place called Monte Medical that was located in Tivat, and had employees who spoke several languages. I owe this to the fact that Porto Montenegro Resort caters to lots of international clients. I called Monte Medical and explained what had happened to my arm and shoulder. The woman told me that she'd get back to me soon.

Less than fifteen minutes later, she called to tell me that she'd arranged for an orthopedic doctor to stop by and examine me. She needed to know where I was in the marina, so he could meet me at the boat. The cost would be 40 euro.

"Is 40 euro the cost of the visit, on top of the cost of the exam?" I asked.

"No," she said. "The total cost is 40 euro." I was floored. Half an hour later, the doctor arrived at Awildian. He came on board, examined my shoulder, and prescribed some NSAIDs. If it didn't improve in a couple of weeks, I was to call him back.

At this point, I should mention that, everywhere we've been in the world - outside of the US - Eric and I have found medical and dental care to be reasonably-priced enough that we could pay for it ourselves. Still, Montenegro's medical care was stunningly inexpensive.

How inexpensive was it?
The doctor's first visit was 40 euro. His return visit two weeks later, when he recommended that I have an MRI, was only 30 euro. The MRI of my shoulder was 185 euro; for 270 euro I could have both shoulders imaged, so I went for the two-fer. This price included the MRI procedure, a CD with all the images, and a review by a radiologist.

Voodoo PT
Following my MRI, my doctor recommended that I visit him at the hospital in Risan, a forty-five minute drive halfway around the Boka, where he would introduce me to a physical therapist. It was bucketing rain for the third day in a row, when Eric and I rented a car and made the trip. The hospital was on a narrow road, halfway up the side of a hill. The parking lots were dirt (now mud) and crushed stone, pocked with large and small potholes that were filled to the brim with rainwater. The buildings were old, built in the "Soviet bloc" style (unimaginative cubes); their exteriors, which may have once been white, were now a dingy gray, covered in mold and mildew stains, their stucco cracked and crumbling. Not a particularly confidence-inspiring appearance, for a hospital.

We parked in the muddy car park, and stood in the rain with our umbrella, trying to figure out where we should begin. You might say, "follow the signs," but all the signs were in Montenegrin, some of them in Cyrillic text.

Seeing a line of people outside of a door, we figured that was a good place to start. So we stood at the end of the line. A few minutes later, a young woman in scrubs came by and asked us (in English) what we needed at the hospital. When we told her we were looking for the orthopedic section, she pointed up a staircase to another building. "That's where you need to go." We thanked her and went on our way.

In the second building, we stood in a long hallway with doors all along its length, gaping at more unreadable signage, again trying to figure out where we should go. The hallway was crowded with people, coming and going, or sitting in the chairs that lined each side. Outside one open door, people were waiting to go in to see the woman who was sitting at the desk there. Many of these people were holding x-rays. Maybe this was the place? We got in line behind them.

After a little while, the man in line in front of us asked (in English) whether we'd signed in at the reception desk yet. When we told him we hadn't, he pointed to another room, farther along the long hallway. We thanked him walked into this room. For awhile, everybody just kept carrying on with what they were doing, walking around us, ignoring us. Eventually, a woman at one of the desks motioned us over and asked us (in almost-English) what we were there for. When I told her that we were there to see Dr. Gazim Cobaj, she made a phone call, chatted with someone, and, pointing at the chairs lining the hallway, said "Sit there. He is busy but will come when he is done."

We sat in the chairs for a few minutes, watching the people in the hallway, until Dr. Cobaj came by. He took my Montenegrin residency card, disappeared into the reception room, and reappeared a few minutes later. "Come with me," he said.

We followed him down the long crowded hallway and turned the corner into a short, narrow hallway, with benches along one wall and a couple of closed doors along the other. "You will see this physical therapist," he said, pointing to one of the doors. Then he was gone.

During the time that we were waiting, three or four other people came down our hallway. Every one of them went to one of the closed doors, knocked on it, and opened it, and were told by the occupant that they would need to wait on the bench. At this point they would shut the door, turn around and stare, as if noticing us - and the bench - for the first time. Then they'd decide where to sit. Most sat at the end of the bench. One person tried to sit ahead of us on the bench, but a Montenegrin man who was sitting near us told them off and they slunk to the end of the bench.

When it was finally our turn, we entered the small, cluttered office of Dr. Renate Bergam-Grandis, physical therapist, a solidly-built, middle-aged woman, with a no-nonsense style, and a strong voice to back it up. She spoke passable English, though we had to work through a few sticky translations; she had a long, in-depth chat with me about my shoulder, looked over my MRI report, examined both of my shoulders, and announced that she would schedule me for physical therapy. She told me that she has a physical therapy studio in Tivat, where I should come for my sessions.

I'd been expecting her to prescribe some exercises that I could do on Awildian, so I was surprised by having to attend her studio, and said so. She stared at me for a moment, an odd expression on her face, and then said, brusquely, "Where are you from?"

"The United States," I said.

"Do you know what physical therapy is?" she asked.

"Well, I've never had physical therapy before," I admitted, "but I thought it mainly involved doing exercises."

"No, no," she sniffed, getting up from her desk. "Come with me." To Eric, she said. "You stay here."

She opened the door of her office and led me along the hallway, past the people waiting on the bench, around the corner, and into a room where about a dozen people sat or lay on cots. "THIS is physical therapy," she said, sweeping the room with her arm.

"This is electric therapy," she said, indicating a woman who was having her leg wrapped with a stretchy band from which protruded electrical leads that were connected to a small machine on a nearby table.

"This is magnetic therapy," she said, indicating a woman who was lying on a blue mat that had been draped onto a cot.

There was not a stationary bike or exercise machine in sight. Just lots of gray boxes with knobs and blinking LEDs, and electrical leads snaking out of them. It looked like voodoo, to me.

Back in her office, Dr. Bergam-Grandin prescribed a muscle relaxant, Mydocalm, which, she said, "works here" (tapping her shoulder), "but does nothing here" (tapping her temple), as well as fifteen one-hour sessions of physical therapy in her studio. At 20 euro each. Yeah, I could afford that.

After saying goodbye, we returned to the reception room, where we again waited for several minutes while people ignored us. Finally, the woman waved us over and wrote out an invoice for our hospital visit. Twenty-five euros.

I attended all fifteen PT sessions, where I received two kinds of electrical therapy ("voodoo PT"), and was prescribed some exercises. The Mydocalm is great, by the way; it really does relax your muscles without affecting your thinking. We now keep a supply on board.

Over the next few months, I gradually regained most of the movement in my left arm, so that, by the time we left Montenegro, five months later, it was almost as good as before, and continues to improve. I can once again scramble all over Awildian's decks, climb up his mast, and pull on lines; I can scratch my back and carry grocery bags with my left arm, and give two-armed hugs again.

I have no plans to do pushups anytime soon.

Rare Birds
In October, I contacted a woman at Lake Skadar, a huge lake that's known for providing habitat for large numbers of birds, and one rare one in particular. Located near the capital city of Podgorica, a two hour drive over the mountains from Tivat, it was almost in my backyard. (If you paid attention to my lesson from Zoran, you'll know that's pronounced Pod-gor-eetsa.) Most of the places we've been in Europe have been underwhelming in terms of bird life. But Lake Skadar is a world-renowned birding site. I wanted to visit there, and I was curious when the best time to visit would be.

The woman, whose name was Milica, was very friendly and informative. She told me that the best time to see birds at the lake is the springtime. But if I wanted to see some birds in the meantime, she added, I could visit the deserted salt ponds (solana) near the town of Ulcinj (pronounced "ul seen ye" - although according to Zoran, I never did get it right). Ulcinj was a two-hour drive south from Tivat, along the coast. The main attraction at the Ulcinj Solana was a large group of wild flamingoes. Flamingoes!!

A few days later, we texted our buddy Mirko, rented a car and drove to the salt ponds. The site of a now-defunct, communist-era salt production facility, the entrance was blocked by a gate and a guardhouse. We parked our car under a carport and walked to the guardhouse. A man came out to greet us and we told him that we were there to see the flamingoes. He nodded and led us into the guard house, where he took a look at our passports and had us write our names in a guest book. Our credentials accepted, we went through the gate and began walking along the dirt road that ran along the river, and deeper into the salt ponds.

Some of the old salt industry buildings

It was a kilometer or two, out to the broad ponds that the flamingoes frequented. Along the way, I looked non-flamingo birds.

We encountered sheep and goats foraging in the dry and dusty former salt pans. It seemed an odd place for them to be trying to find a meal.

Eventually, we reached the ponds and there, looking like a magenta band in the distance, was a large flock of flamingoes!

As we scanned the pond, we saw other flocks, some close enough that we could make out individuals. I never expected to see flamingoes in Europe, especially not in Montenegro. But here they were.

I checked off "greater flamingo" (Phoenicopterus roseus) in my European bird guide and added it to my life list. We drove home happy and satisfied.

In the springtime, I contacted Milica again and arranged to take a tour on Lake Skadar, in one of the boats run by her small tour company, Boat Milica. This time, we were in search of the Dalmatian pelican (Pelicanus crispus). The largest and rarest species of pelican, the Dalmatian pelican breeds on Lake Skadar, where conservation efforts have been underway for years. Last year was a particularly difficult year for the pelicans: "human disturbances" caused the few pairs who were breeding, to abandon their nests, and bird flu - which is running rampant in bird populations worldwide - claimed several thousand Dalmatian pelicans.

Here's a short video - with some beautiful visuals - about the pelicans at Lake Skadar, and the efforts that are being taken to help them.

Lake Skadar

According to scientists, 2023 is looking pretty good: 165 adults, and at least 32 young birds, were counted in this year's census. While this number of babies is only half of what it was in 2021, it's a lot better that it was in 2022.

Around Lake Skadar

Look what you can do with a lily pad!

Milica's guides had a good idea of where they might find some pelicans, and in fact brought us within binocular range of one of these big, scruffy-looking birds.

A Dalmatian pelican!

A happy twitcher

Niagara Falls, Balkan style
On our way back, we stopped in to see Montenegro's Niagara Falls (yes, that's really its name), a place recommended by our friend, Zoran, as something that "you must see." So we did.

Located a few miles outside of Podgorica, Montenegro's Niagara Falls wasn't quite as big as North America's, but it was pretty, and well worth the trip.

The surrounding geology was interesting, too: the rocks along the river looked something like a moonscape.

Eight Months in Montenegro - Part 2

02 August 2023
Vandy Shrader
A Home for the Winter
At the beginning of October, it was time to bring Awildian into the marina for the winter. Eric steered him into two adjacent berths, a lovely spot at the marina's landside seawall, near the long Customs quay. I particularly liked being in this spot, as it was near some grassy areas and shady parks, and it allowed me to easily feed the many homeless dogs and cats - and pigeons - who came by.

For the next seven months, we enjoyed being temporary residents of Montenegro, and the Porto Montenegro Marina and Resort in Tivat. While the resort is the glitzy sort of place where you could drop a grand or two on a pair of shoes or a shirt in one of the high-end designer shops,

Springtime in the resort

the town of Tivat is unpretentious, with reasonably-priced shops, grocery stores, produce stands, and hardware stores within easy walking distance of the marina. All of which stay open year-round.

Some scenes from around Tivat

One of the many waterfront restaurants

A New Cruising Community!
One of the most delightful benefits of spending the winter at Porto Montenegro was meeting all the other cruisers who were doing the same. After many months of being mostly on our own, Eric and I finally had a cruising community again!

Many of the other cruisers at Porto Montenegro were new to cruising, and had never experienced a cruising community before, so Eric and I and some of the other more "seasoned" cruisers helped to introduce them to some of the nicer aspects of a cruising community. For my part, I instigated the Ladies' Lunch, based on the one that I'd been a part of in New Zealand. It was a big hit! Every Thursday, women who were interested in meeting for lunch would meet at the Porto Montenegro sign at 11:45. Those who turned up would decide where to go for lunch. We even have our own WhatsApp group - where we can vent or discuss things.

A couple of the cruisers had set up a WhatsApp group, which more than a hundred of us overwintering cruisers participated in. On Wednesday nights, we gathered to enjoy drinks, curry, and conversation at The Blue Room restaurant, near the marina. Thursdays were Ladies' Lunch. On any other day or night, there might be parties; gatherings to share information about anchorages, immigration, customs, equipment, repairs, weather, or other topics of interest to the cruiser; or small private get-togethers. It was so nice to be a part of this community. Now that we've all gone our separate ways, we still keep in touch through the old WhatsApp group, and we meet up when we find ourselves in the same anchorage.

One day, our friends, Tim and Korina, invited a group of us to come on their boat, Matilda, to visit and explore the Blue Cave and one of the submarine hangars, near the marina. We brought our dinghy and tied it behind the big boat, using it to shuttle groups into the cave and hangar while Matilda was anchored nearby. Both were really cool: the cave in a sparkly, colorful way, and the hangar in a James Bond villain kind of way.

On our way to the Blue Cave. Rosie is looking bored.

Our dinghy coming along to help out

The outside of the Blue Cave,

and inside...

Next, we visited one of the submarine hangars.

An attempt at camouflage

Check out this website for a fascinating description and photos of the secret tunnels and hangars in the Bay of Kotor. Secret sub tunnels

Eric and I also got to know some of the local Montenegrins, our favorite being Zoran, one of the three guards who was posted at the Customs dock near Awildian's berth. I had many interesting conversations with Zoran, in which we shared aspects of our respective cultures. Zoran loved America, especially Houston, Texas, where he'd visited many years earlier during his time as a navigator on a cargo ship. Zoran liked to teach me Montenegrin words, and tried tirelessly to teach me how to pronounce them correctly, which often ended up with both of us laughing. One particularly hilarious lesson was how to pronounce the different sounds of the letter "c". If it's just written as "c" it's pronounced like "ts" (the ending sound of "bats"). But then things got murky for me. If it has an accent (ć) it's pronounced like "ch". If it has what I call a "cowlick" (č) it's pronounced (to my ears) like "ch" too, but to Montenegrins like Zoran, it's different.

Zoran: "ć"
Me: "ch"
Zoran: "č"
Me: "ch" (it sounded the same to me)
Zoran (shaking his head): "No. č"
Me: "ch"
Zoran (shaking his head again): "No. č"
This went on until he gave up or we were laughing too much for me to talk. I never did figure out how to pronounce the different sounds, but we had a good time.

Merry Christmas! And again!
A large proportion of Montenegrins practice the Eastern Orthodox religion, which adheres to the Julian - rather than the Gregorian - calendar. Because the two calendars have different lengths, their dates have diverged over the years, so that they now differ by 13 days. This means that Eastern Orthodox Christmas is celebrated on January 7, thirteen days after Christian Christmas. Both Christmases are celebrated in Montenegro, though only the January 7 Christmas is considered a public holiday. There are also two two New Years and two Easters. Just to keep things interesting.

Christmas(es) decorations

Lit up for New Years(es)

The Porto Montenegro crane decorated for the holidays

Doing Good Deeds
During the time that we were in Montenegro, I did what I could to help some of the many stray dogs and cats who lived there. I put food on the seawall for them, and I petted them when they wanted some love. Strays are prevalent in Montenegro; sadly many of the locals don't care for their animals or value them, in the way that some other cultures do. I'm not someone who can look away from an animal in need. It feeds my soul to help them, and I like having them around. But it saddens me that I have to.

Sometimes the need goes beyond a meal of pet food and a pat. One friendly young dog in particular, who was roaming the marina when we arrived, became the focus of my life for a few months.


Rolo, as we cruisers called him, was happy sleeping on the docks during the warm summer and fall. When the weather turned cold and rainy, he had figured out how to let himself into the heated shower/bathroom building using the automatic door. At night or in bad weather, we'd often find him curled up in a little ball in an out-of-the-way corner. One day I gave him a towel to lie on. The next day, someone brought a thick blanket to use under the towel. Next, a big, fluffy pillow appeared, which Rolo loved to sleep on.

Waiting for a belly scratch

Most people at the marina liked him, but apparently someone didn't. This someone conspired to have him quietly removed from the marina and taken to the local shelter, an awful place, where many dogs die of disease, injuries, or starvation, and most dogs never leave. When we learned that Rolo been taken to the shelter, some other cruisers and I began trying to find him a home. About ten days later, we went to the shelter to visit him, and found him dirty, shivering, and starving. We knew that if we left him there, he would die. So, even though we didn't know exactly how it would work, we took him back to the marina. He couldn't run free anymore, so he lived on Awildian with us for about three weeks, while we continued trying to find him a home, somewhere outside of Montenegro.

Living on Awildian


In the end, our efforts paid off: we found him a loving home in Germany, and, with the help of volunteers from the local dog welfare group, Friends of Dogs Montenegro, we were able to get him there.

Here's a short video that tells Rolo's story. Coming Home:Rolo's Story

In April we had a fundraiser for Friends of Dogs, which included a presentation by Fiona, one of the founders of the group, after which we played "Playing Card Bingo." Participants - all eager to donate to Friends of Dogs - ponied up 2 euro each per game. The pot was supposed to be split between the winner and FOD, but everyone donated their half to the cause, and it was common for the coin cups to turn up stuffed with euro notes as well. We raised a good amount for the dogs that night, and everyone had a good time.

Driving in Montenegro
While in Montenegro, we had occasion to rent a car from time to time. The first time, we chose to rent from the local SixT office, which was located at the Tivat airport (a fifteen minute drive away). They also offered to bring a car to Porto Montenegro, and pick it up there when we were done. So we did that. A friendly Montenegrin lad named Mirko brought our car to the parking lot near Awildian (so near that we could see him from the boat). He gave us his phone number, and from then on, every time we wanted to rent a car, we'd just text Mirko, who would set us up, bring the car to the lot, and wave at us.

Trying to do us a favor, Mirko began giving us a larger car each time we rented from him. The third one was a small SUV, which though quite comfortable, was really too big to navigate anything but the widest roads. We took it on one of the scenic mountain roads near Kotor, but after having difficulty negotiating a couple of tight turns and having to pull to the very edge of some steep drop-offs when a car approached from the opposite direction, we thanked Mirko but asked if he'd please stick to smaller cars unless we asked him for a larger one.

During the off-season (October through early April), renting a car cost between 9 and 17 euro a day, less if we rented for a longer time, including full insurance coverage and unlimited miles. After Easter, the price rose to more than 60 euro a day.

Montenegrin drivers are an odd mix of terrifying, annoying, and polite.

Terrifying: (1) On any two lane road (which most are, in Montenegro), cars will come right up behind you at high speed and zip around, cutting back in front of you just before the oncoming car smashes into them. This includes blind curves on twisty, two-lane mountain roads. (2) On mountain roads, where a third lane has been added as a passing lane for the use of traffic in one direction, Montenegrin drivers coming in the other direction will also sometimes use this lane. Once, while I was using the passing lane (for traffic in my direction) a sports car came around the blind curve from the other direction - also in my passing lane! Instead of pulling back into his lane, he kept coming, playing chicken with me. I ducked back into the regular lane. We both knew he was in the wrong, but I don't want my headstone to say, "She had the right of way."

Annoying: In town, where the roads are usually two lanes, or less, if a Montenegrin driver decides that they want to get something from a shop, they'll just stop their car in front of the store, right there in their lane, and go inside. Now, everyone in both directions has to maneuver around their car until they get back. This is considered normal practice.

And yet, they can also be very polite drivers: Montenegrins will almost always let you into the line of traffic in front of them, if you're waiting to enter a road, or slow down so you can turn across their lane.

Go figure.

Eight months in Montenegro - Part 1: Getting to know Montenegro & exploring the Bay of Kotor

27 July 2023 | Montenegro
Vandy Shrader
Here in the Med, most people prefer to park their boat somewhere for the winter, rather than sail around. This is because, beginning in the late fall, the weather turns unpredictable at best, and downright snarly at worst. And it's cold. For several reasons, we opted to spend the winter (actually September through April) in Montenegro.

Don't feel bad, if you don't know where Montenegro is. A year and a half ago, Eric and I couldn't point it out on a map, either. Now we've spent eight months there. That's one of the cool aspects of cruising: you get to spend time in a place that you previously knew nothing about, and that you will learn lots about while you're there.

We left Cavtat, Croatia, on September 6, and motored the 30 miles to Tivat, Montenegro, where our winter home of Porto Montenegro Marina is located. When we turned the corner and headed into the Bay of Kotor (also known at the Boka), we were treated to vistas of jaw-dropping beauty: huge, craggy mountains plunging down to the calm water of the Boka, which reflected them back. Wow wow wow! You should Google some images of the Bay of Kotor. It's really that stunning. This sublimely beautiful place would be our home for the next eight months!

We motored past concrete bunkers perched on the rocky hillsides, and submarine hidey-holes bored into the hillsides at sea level, reminders of World War II, the Cold War, and the various other wars that the Balkan countries have fought.

Fortified island

Sub hideout

We continued on until we reached Porto Montenegro Marina, where we tied Awildian to the Customs dock, and checked into Montenegro.

Farther along the same pontoon was the Black Pearl, at 350 feet, one of the largest sailing vessels in the world. Black Pearl would be our neighbor for most of our stay at Porto Montenegro.

Black Pearl

Why Montenegro?
One of the reasons that we chose Montenegro as our winter home, is that Porto Montenegro Marina arranges for its customers to obtain temporary Montenegrin residencies for the duration of their contracts. This was great for us, because otherwise, we would only have been allowed to be there for 90 days out of any 180 days. This is inconvenient, when your boat is your home.

Another reason was that its location was convenient for our travel plans: it was a short trip from Croatia, where we'd spent the summer, and would be a short trip to Greece, where we planned to spend the following summer.

Montenegro at a Glance

Montenegro and its neighbors

Situated between Croatia to the north and Albania to the south, Montenegro, at 5,333 square miles, is smaller in area than the state of Connecticut. It's also much less densely populated - 621,000 Montenegrins vs. 3.6 million Connecticuters (that's the real term for someone who lives in Connecticut, I looked it up). The Montenegrins call their country "Crna Gora" (pronounced "tserna gora"), which means "black mountain." An apt name for a mostly vertical nation.

The capital city of Montenegro is Podgorica. Formerly known as Titograd (named for Yugoslavia's president, Josip Tito), this sprawling city covers about ten percent of Montenegro's area, and is home to about a third of Montenegrins.

Montenegro - along with modern-day Croatia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Macedonia, Serbia, Slovenia, and Kosovo - used to be part of Yugoslavia. Beginning with Croatia and Slovenia's declarations of independence in 1991, Yugoslavia eventually disintegrated. Montenegro joined forces with Serbia for awhile, becoming the unimaginatively-named country of Serbia and Montenegro, but re-declared its independence on 3 June 2006.

The official language of Montenegro is...Montenegrin. This language sounds surprisingly similar (some might even say identical) to Croatian, Bosnian, and Serbian, because they're all varieties of the same language, Serbo-Croatian, which would have been known as Yugoslavian a generation ago. Some experts have said that these are considered different languages because of politics, rather than because of linguistics. But don't ever make the mistake of telling a Montenegrin that he speaks the same language as a Croatian, Bosnian, or Serbian. You'll get a very icy look and will be instantly corrected. I did this once, and I won't do it again. How does one say "faux pas" in Montenegrin....

The Montenegrin diet can be summed up in one word: meat. Montenegrins love their meat. There are entire restaurants devoted to grilled meat, where you order meat by the number of people who will be eating it, or by the kilogram if you prefer. There's a guy whose job it is, to stand in front of a big grill all day long, grilling meat: pork, beef, lamb, chicken, sausages.... If you're feeling a bit guilty, for the lack of non-meat in your meal, you can order french fries to go with it, or a salad or grilled veggies, if they have them. Montenegro is not a good place to eat out, if you're a vegetarian.

Exploring the Boka

The Bay of Kotor

The first month or so that we were in Montenegro, before we moved into the marina, we explored the Bay of Kotor, anchoring in one stunning anchorage after another, visiting medieval cities with walls and drawbridges and buildings that have been in continuous use for hundreds of years, exploring a defunct Club Med that was abruptly abandoned when the war with Croatia began in 1991, basically living our lives and getting to know our new surroundings.

Eric and a friend on the way back from grocery shopping

Some photos of the old Club Med

Some of the old huts

Check out this link
Abandoned Club Med for more info about the former Club.

Kotor was built more than 2000 years ago, and has been continuously inhabited ever since. It's a fascinating place, with narrow, cobblestone lanes

a moat and a working drawbridge,

and many cats, who are looked after by Kotor's residents and shop owners.

Tucked between the Boka, a river, and a mountain, Kotor was easily defended. The old city wall runs up and along the steep mountainside just behind the town and is lit up at night. There's a hike that goes up there, too.

We celebrated our 35th wedding anniversary with a dinner in a restaurant that had been built in the 1200s.

Built in the 1300s, this heavily-fortified old city stands on a hill across from the mouth of the Boka, looking out at the Adriatic Sea, with modern Herceg Novi sprawled out around it. We enjoyed exploring its walls and fortresses, and having a look at its statue of King Tvrtko I (who clearly needs to buy a vowel).

Herceg Novi from the sea

The sea from Herceg Novi

We walked up these steps (and lots of others) to get to the upper fortress...

...to find that it was closed for a function that day.

A flowering caper bush

But we explored the lower fortress

Herceg Novi's water polo stadium. Water polo is very popular in this part of the world.

We never get tired of following these narrow lanes

Besides the spectacular scenery, the other reason we came to Morinj is because other cruisers had reported that they'd taken their dinghy up the river that flows into the Boka here. Not ones to pass up a dinghy safari, we brought Awildian to Morinj. We were surprised when we took our dinghy to the river (really a stream),

The "river"

and discovered that it was only a couple hundred meters long, ending at the pretty grounds of a restaurant that had been established in an old mill.

So we had lunch.


Near the end of September, the weather was predicted to get a bit nasty for a few days. Our friends, Kerstin and Andi, had their boat, Venus, at a tiny marina in the village of Prcanj, near Kotor. They checked with the owner, Maja, who said that she had space for us, if we wanted to come. So we did. Eric tucked Awildian between two other boats, and we spent about a week in this sweet little town. When the weather did eventually turn nasty, we were tucked up snugly in the marina to wait it out.

The pretty little marina at Prcanj

Awildian squeezed in

Feral pomegranates grow everywhere

When the weather was nice...

...and when it was not.

A beautiful friend who frequently visited the boat next to us.

A Road Trip Around Montenegro

One day, we took a road trip with our German friends, Andi and Kerstin, who had also traveled from Cavtat to Montenegro aboard their 21-foot sailboat, Venus. On our road trip, which lasted about twelve hours, we saw most of Montenegro, traveling inland from the coast through the scenic interior,

A scenic view of part of Lake Skadar

to beautiful, rugged Durmitor National Park in the northwest corner of the country.

Black Lake

The four of us

On our way back to the coast, we traced the beautiful Tara River Canyon, the deepest canyon in Europe, second in the world only to the Grand Canyon.

Tara River Canyon
Look closely and you'll see the zip lines going across

We declined to try the ziplines that were strung across the canyon, preferring to view the lovely river gorge from the relative safety of the bridge or strategically placed turnouts along the road.

In the next installment, we'll move into Porto Montenegro, meet lots of new friends, and I'll share some snapshots of what life is like in Montenegro.

Southward in Croatia - Aug/Sept 2022

04 May 2023
Vandy Shrader
Southbound through Croatia
August-Sept, 2022

Here is a link to the animation showing our entire trip,
with a few photos.

Southward in Croatia

Below I've given you some more details and photos about each place we visited. Each one merited a blog entry of its own, but, sadly, they'll have to share this one.

Zadar to Lumbrak
After picking up our friend, Sharron, from the ferry dock in Zadar, and exploring the city for a bit, we headed south, back the way we'd come, and anchored again at Lumbrak. As before, the anchorage was packed with boats when we arrived in the afternoon, but by evening, only three remained to enjoy the placid water.

In the morning, Sharron and I took the dinghy to shore. She went for a run and I went birdwatching.

When we reconvened on the beach an hour later, a naked man was standing near our dinghy. Then he turned and walked along the beach toward us. That was a bit awkward. Both of us kept our eyes on his face and smiled when he passed us.

The forecast called for thunderstorms in the afternoon, but by the look of the sky, the weather was going to arrive in late morning. We took the dinghy back to Awildian, lifted his anchor, and got underway.

Lumbrak to Uvala Stupica Vela (Otok Žirje)
The rain started as we left Lumbrak. Lightning accompanied us for the entire trip, often spearing down closer than we'd like, followed by loud thunder. Fortunately, our helm station has an enclosure, so whoever was keeping a lookout could stay dry, because the rain fell in buckets. We followed the storms in real time using the Weather Radar function on Windy.com (it's nice having internet all the time), so we could see where they were forming and drifting. We knew we were in it for awhile.

When we arrived in Uvala Stupica Vela, a small cove dotted with dozens of bright orange mooring balls, Sharron pitched in to help with snagging and tying us to one of them. It was intimidating, to be out on the front of the boat, picking up a mooring with lightning spearing down nearby, but the three of us worked together well and got it done quickly. Once Awildian was secured, we enjoyed some hot chocolate.

The mooring balls were owned by the little restaurant in the cove, so we made reservations for dinner.

By dinnertime the storms had passed, the sky had cleared, and everything was calm and dry. We tied our dinghy to the small quay at the restaurant - Konoba Stupica GRILL FISH WINE - and perused their menu, written on a chalkboard. It didn't take long: there were three kinds of local fish, a pork dish, and a beef dish. Sides were a mixed salad or a potato salad. We enjoyed a really nice dinner with local wine, and pancakes stuffed with nuts and honey for dessert. After that, we sampled some Croatian grappas infused with either dark cherry (višnja) or walnut (šokac).

The next morning, a man came by in a little boat, with bread and pastries for sale, which we enjoyed for breakfast. Afterwards, we climbed the hill behind the restaurant to explore the ruins of a 6th Century Byzantine fortress. It was fun to wander around and over and through the stone walls, and enjoy the view of the sparkling Adriatic Sea.

Uvala Stupica Vela (Otok Žirje) to Vinišće
We sailed today! It's rare that there's enough wind for us to sail, but today we did. We anchored near the town of Vinišće, which lies at the head of a narrow inlet on the mainland. We enjoyed a lazy afternoon and then in the evening took the dinghy in to explore the small town, which extends along the waterfront at the head of the inlet.

Vinišće to Split
Today we motored to Split, and dropped our anchor in a wide open bay on the "back" side of the city. From there Eric, Sharron, and I could dinghy into the marina, and walk or take a bus into the old part of town, where Diocletian's Palace is located. We spent a couple of days exploring the Palace on our own, and also as part of a very small paid tour (just the three of us). Split's old town is an amazing place, well worth a visit.

When the time came for Sharron to continue her travels by air, we dinghied across the bay to Marina Kastela, and after a lunch of yummy čevapćići (small sausages) in a tiny restaurant, she caught a taxi to the Split airport.

Eric and I stayed in Split for several more days. We caught up on housework and boatwork, listened to the cheers and songs from the nearby soccer stadium when the Hajduk Split team played, and one day we caught a bus to Trogir, the old town at the other end of the bay.

Trogir is a fascinating old city, with thick stone walls, fortresses, and bridges. Even the ride to Trogir was interesting: along the coast road are seven small harbor towns, each originating from a castle "kaštel" that had been built by a rich family in the 15th or 16th Century.

Note the date

Split to Omiš
Our next destination was Omiš, which is one of our favorite places in Croatia. Lonely Planet says this about the little town: "The legendary pirates' lair of Omiš has one of the most dramatic locations of any town on the Dalmatian coast. Situated at the mouth of the Cetina River, at the end of a picturesque canyon, it's backed by sheer walls of mottled grey rock topped with craggy peaks."

During their heyday in the 12th and 13th Centuries, pirates plundered ships and terrified crews all along the Dalmatian coast, spotting their quarry from lookouts constructed on high cliffs,

We anchored Awildian in clear water to the south of the river,

View from the anchorage

and took the dinghy into town. After finding a place to tie the dinghy,

we climbed up to and through one of their lookout fortresses,

walked through the quaint town,

The sign says that it's forbidden to tie your boat to the bridge.

and explored the river by dinghy.

High overhead, a bridge was in the process of being constructed. The roadway was being extended out from tunnels on each side of the gap, and would eventually meet in the middle, where they would be joined.

The bridge has since been completed. We'd love to take a drive across it!

Here are links to a couple of short videos showing the construction of the bridge.

The bridge being built

The nearly-finished bridge

With its stunning mountains, quiet river, beautiful anchorage, and pirate hideouts, Omiš has a lot of appealing qualities. What is not appealing however, is its (deserved) reputation as a "bora accelerator." You may remember that a bora is a strong N or NE wind that blows down the sides of mountains along the eastern shore of the Adriatic Sea. Often, these are forecast. In some places, though, the terrain accelerates the wind. As we found out, Omiš is one of those places. While the forecast predicted a night of light wind in the anchorage, we were blasted by 30 knots all night long. Two nights in a row. Our anchor held fine in the sand, but I don't sleep well when we're anchored in wind like that.

Omiš to Vrboska
Our next anchorage was near the town of Vrboska, on the north shore of Otok Hvar, around the corner from Starigrad, where we'd visited earlier. We dinghied over to an American boat, Orinoco, in the anchorage with us and learned from Ken and Pam, its crew, that the only approved place to tie a dinghy is in the town itself. So we followed them into town, tied our dinghy and went exploring.

Vrboska has the usual quaint white stone block buildings, but it also has a series of arched bridges over the stream that runs through town.

After walking through the town, we crossed the largest bridge, walked up a hill and across the main road, down a dirt road through some trees, which ended at the edge of a beautiful, rocky cove with clear water. What a find!

Vrboska to Lovište
We enjoyed several quiet days in Lovište, relaxing on the boat and exploring the small town.

Lovište to Uvala Račišće
Uvala Račišće is a long, narrow inlet on the east coast of Korčula island, near the town of Lumbarda. Several comments in Navily mentioned that the small restaurant (Konoba Gavuni) on the shore of the inlet had tasty, inexpensive food, and a dessert that was not to be missed: vanilla ice cream topped with roasted pumpkin seeds and pumpkin seed oil. Even the contributors commented that it sounds terrible, but tastes really good. So we had to give it a try.

I can report that yes, the food was tasty and inexpensive, the wait staff pleasant, and the vanilla ice cream with pumpkin seed oil was out of this world! We have since kept a supply of pumpkin seed oil on Awildian, and even bought some for our family in the States. It can be used in other foods as well as for a topping for ice cream.

One day we walked into Lumbarda. Neither of us was particularly impressed with this town, which seemed kind of dumpy and not very interesting.

Uvala Račišće to Prožurska Luka
Our friends on Orinoco had told us about this great anchorage on the north shore of Otok Mljet: Prožurska Luka, so we decided to check it out. The harbor is split into two lobes by a small peninsula; both have mooring balls. Several rocky islets guard the openings of the lobes, so there is very little wave motion inside. We entered the smaller of the two lobes, and swung through the anchorage. It was behind the mooring field and at 60 feet was deeper than we wanted to deal with, so we picked up a mooring, which was owned by the restaurant on shore, Marijina Konoba.

In the late afternoon, a young man, the son of the restaurant owner, came by in a small boat to take our dinner order. Because he came a couple of hours before dinner, we were finally able to order peka, a Croatian slow-cooked dish that everyone raves about. We really enjoyed it!

A few hours after we arrived, a small sailboat came into the mooring field - under sail! This is very unusual. The woman at the helm seemed calm and confident; her male partner was on the bow. He dropped the anchor, then swam to the mooring ball and tied their boat to it. We were impressed. Later, on our way to dinner, we stopped by their boat, Venus. We met Kerstin and Andi, friendly Germans who had sailed their 21-foot boat down from northern Croatia, with the goal of sailing her all the way to Greece (which they did). Over the next couple of days, we had fun playing music together on Awildian during a shattering thunderstorm, we shared meals and stories, and built a friendship.

Prožurska Luka to Čajkovići (on the Dubrovnik River)
We passed under the iconic Franjo Tuđman Bridge over the Dubrovnik River on a Friday afternoon. Motoring along the river on the back side of Dubrovnik, we passed old churches and new buildings, and a big marina, before eventually arriving at the wide spot just before the ACI marina, at the town of Čajkovići, which was the anchorage. That evening's entertainment was watching the return of hundreds of charter boats, each of which had to fuel up before entering the marina. The line they made was more than a half mile long.

The next day, we took care of some boat jobs - visiting some chandleries, carting our propane tank to the INA and having it filled, buying some groceries - but we also found time to explore the river with our dinghy. It wasn't as wild or as long as the Cetina, but we saw some ducks and found a waterside restaurant where we enjoyed lunch.

Čajkovići to Cista Luka
We returned to our first anchorage in Croatia, which was also our last. Andi and Kerstin anchored near us, and we enjoyed some more fun times in this beautiful spot.

Clearing out in Cavtat
Awildian and Venus cleared out of Croatia on the same sunny morning in early September,

and headed south to continue their adventures in Montenegro.

Vessel Name: Awildian, previously SCOOTS (2012-2021)
Vessel Make/Model: Leopard 48
Hailing Port: San Francisco, CA
Crew: Eric and Vandy Shrader
About: We've been living aboard full time since September 2014. We sailed our Able Apogee 50, SCOOTS, from 2012-2021, and are now aboard our Leopard 48, Awildian, since March 2022.
Awildian, previously SCOOTS (2012-2021)'s Photos - korcula
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