Catamaran cruising

Who: Carolyn & Chris Gebbie
18 September 2017 | Brindisi
11 September 2017 | Brindisi
01 September 2017 | Bigova
23 August 2017 | Kotor and Stradioti
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

Close Down Week 2017

18 September 2017 | Brindisi
Jeff and Sandra got off on their flight nearly a week ago and since then we have been hard at it to put Splice to bed for the winter. We only gave ourselves a week this year and have thought that we might have cut it fine but it seems to have worked well so far. This was partly due to us recently having changed the engine and sail-drive oil and so this job was not on the list, and as the weather co-operated and gave us the first two mornings with no wind. We were able to get the two foresails off the first day and the mainsail the next. This speeds up many other tasks that are dependent on having stripped off the sails first.

So far the main jobs accomplished are:
- Main, genoa and gennaker sails off. Chris has had to climb the mast three times this week - a grub screw had come loose in the foil and prevented the sail dropping - as he took the wrong size tool the first time so he had to climb again! Then again to check the rig properly before we leave the boat
- Mainsail repaired (torn at the second car joint as the top car failed during our crossing from Montenegro - that’s on the list to fix) and returned and all three folded and stored below
- Dinghy gear stripped out, plug out so she will drain rainwater during the winter and winter cover on (this took two attempts as the wind kept blowing it off the first time!) and ‘Fid’ is hoisted onto her davits
- Port trampoline removed and repaired where the weight of descending bodies had torn the supporting rings out of the fabric
- Running rigging (the lines that control the sails) washed and dried for storage
- Winter mooring gear in place. These are strong metal springs linked into the mooring lines with shackles to help cope with the surging water in strong winds
- All the external safety gear stowed away below
- Outboard engine serviced and cleaned and stored below
- Port heads and piping filled with a mix of fresh water and vinegar in an attempt to restrict calcium growth in the pipes overwinter. Starboard will be done at the last minute for obvious reasons!
- Water-maker sterilized and stopcocks closed
- Cockpit surround panels dragged out of the port forward berth where they have languished all season and reinstalled to keep the weather out.
- Halyards and lazy-jacks moved away from the mast to stop banging in the wind – it drives us nuts when people don’t do this and you have to listen to the crashing all night from their vessel.
- All the stores checked for use-by dates sorted into ‘use now/give away/retain for 2018’
- All the spares and other paraphernalia checked and lists made of additional or new items needed for next season – as usual the list stretches to three pages on A4 with two columns on each – there’s always plenty of things to do on board

We have also found a local man who will look after Splice, check her mooring lines, run the engines and open her up to air out on nice days. He’s always around the marina here and seems a nice guy, well connected to the local tradesmen as well which will help.

We are now about 36 hours away from the time we need to leave Splice and all that remains is final packing, tighten up the lines, turn off the fridges, gas and shore power (the solar panels top up the batteries as there is no power being drawn whilst we are away) and make tracks for the airport.

Thank you for reading, a very big thank you if you have been reading the blog throughout the year. As usual there will now be a winter 'blog intermission', we expect to be back out here in April sometime next year for the 2018 cruise.

Have a great winter.

Photo: Splice in her winter berth at Marina di Brindisi

Kotor, Bigova, Bar and across to Brindisi

11 September 2017 | Brindisi
Jeff and Sandra joined us in Kotor on the 4th September and after 24 hours there for them to explore, we set off for a return to Bigova. The weather has become much more ‘autumnal’ recently and we motored out of the Gulf of Kotor under grey clouds and, as usual, with the wind on the nose. It was a straightforward trip of about 3.5 hours before we were able to pick up a buoy in the bay at Bigova with the assistance from the ‘Grispolis’ restaurant dinghy. We had emailed ahead and Marc and Anne joined us for tea on board, bringing with them a local version of apple strudel – it went down well and we spent a couple of hours chatting about sailing and life.

‘Afternoon tea’ on board Splice (l-r) Anne, Sandra, Jeff, Chris and Marc

We ate at Grispolis that night and all had the catch of the day which we really enjoyed – a must visit place.
The next day we set off for Bar with the wind treating us to a F2 on the nose – motors on as usual. The marina in Bar is to the north of the main commercial harbour and has six pontoons, four run by the council and two independents. We had read that the second pontoon in was cheaper and they had someone there to wave us in and secure us side –too. We’re not sure what the price was on the other pontoons but at E95 a night in September this place was not somewhere to stay long. The town itself was modern and somewhat uninteresting; it was almost completely rebuilt after the war and is not particularly attractive to visit. We ate at a cafe style place on the road into town and the food was quite good, certainly very filling portions!

The main purpose of the visit was to check out of Montenegro which was easy the next morning with visits to the Harbourmasters office and the Police/Customs at the port. The officials were all polite and efficient. Having got the formalities done we relaxed until our 16.00 departure time.

The forecast was for 10-15 knots from the SE with a 1m swell, after a calm first couple of hours the wind built to 20+knots with a 2m swell. To make it worse the direction was more south than SE so it was much more on the nose and forcing us to motor-sail as Splice doesn’t do 30 degrees to windward if you want to get there this year! We spent a rather bumpy 12 hours or so overnight until we started to get some shelter from the Italian mainland for the last couple of hours and things calmed down somewhat. Not our most comfortable passage but the crew were more bothered than the boat and she plugged away without any problems despite the ‘banging and crashing’ as the waves hit. We arrived in Brindisi around 09.00 the next morning and headed for the customs quay. Chris had assumed that as we were coming from outside the EU they would want to check us in. The Police however just said ‘you are EU – not needed’ and waved him away? We’re still not sure that’s right but you can only do as you are told in these situations!

We spent the day recovering and then the next evening caught the bus into Brindisi town for a meal at an unusual restaurant that specialises in meat. You have to go inside and choose your cut from the selection of chunks of meat they have available. It was different but the quality of the meat was not as good as we’d expected when it came to actually eating it. Not worth a recommendation but we had a fun evening. Chris also had a surprise that evening. About 15 years ago in the Jura in France we bought an unusual beer glass. It is covered with little pink elephants and has ‘Delirium Tremens’ written across it (well, he thought it was amusing). We’ve never seen another one since but when we visited a bar in Brindisi, his beer was served in an identical glass.

Chris with his duplicate glass

Jeff and Sandra have now hired a car and after helping transport the shopping, have gone off for a day or two to explore the region. We are sitting in Brindisi Marina which will be Splice’s winter berth. We have multiple lines on the boat now as we sit out the storm that’s passing through. We’ve just seen 37knts on the anemometer- the waves and spray are flying but we seem OK so far. We will move across to the Danese shipyard (for the second time this year) tomorrow morning when it’s calmed down so we can have the damage to the cleat repaired.

Jeff and Sandra leave us on Wednesday and we then have a week to settle Splice down for the winter before our flight to the UK on 20th September.

Main Photo: Bar is not the most attractive town but the setting is impressive


01 September 2017 | Bigova
Bigova is an inlet off the main Adriatic coast about 6 miles south of the Gulf of Kotor. Whilst the Gulf is very nice we have been hanging around a while and were getting rather bored (Chris particularly!) so decided to find somewhere else for a while. It only took a couple of hours motoring in flat calm seas to exit the Gulf, chug down past a small island with a fort on it (maybe another time) and enter Bigova bay. Whilst it is enclosed from most directions there’s a very long fetch to the northern side of the inlet so any strong winds from the north-west or west are likely to kick up a good swell at Bigova itself, however, whilst we spent our three days there though it was very peaceful. The southern end of the bay has all the local mooring buoys plus a number for the restaurant but there is the chance to anchor in around 10m outside this which is what we did on company with a French yacht.

When we had settled and were looking around we both thought the small catamaran at the other end of the bay looked familiar but couldn’t place her. Later that afternoon two people in a small boat came out past us and started chatting to the French yacht. They then motored over to us and, when he took of his hat and sunglasses, we realised that this was a French guy we had met in the Balearics last year, now accompanied by his wife. He had then been in the process of loading his Cat onto a transport ship to bring her around to the Adriatic and had clearly now settled in Bigova and recognised our boat as we came in.

Marc and Anne invited us to visit their house the next day and we spent a couple of hours talking sailing and hearing the story of the house purchase. They were just walking by a year ago and were spoken to in French by the householder and ended up buying the property which has a lovely terrace with a view over the bay. The house came with the small boat and the Cat is on a buoy within sight of the terrace – a rather good set-up for a ‘slowing down’ stage in a sailing career. They are a very interesting couple with a lot of sailing experiences so we had a very pleasant afternoon.

We spent three days in the bay, the water is incredibly clear, even in 10m you can see the bottom from the deck which is very unusual. Marc told us that the salt water there is mixed with lots of rainwater running from the hillside caverns which helps the clarity – it also makes it colder than normal but still pleasant for a swim once you’re in.

'Grispolis' restaurant by the quay at Bigova

On the Saturday night we went for a meal at the restaurant there, ‘Grispolis’. They claim to use only locally caught fish and it shows in the resulting dish. We enjoyed the starter of local ham and the sea bass that we shared was fantastic, filleted at the table for us and with firm and tasty flesh - the best fish this year. We will return there before we leave the area and recommend a visit if you’re in Bigova.

At the table next to us that night was a couple from a different French yacht that had arrived in the bay that day so we got chatting. Marc and Françoise of ‘Glaz’ also came over for a coffee the next morning so we could swap tips about Croatian waters (their destination) and Greek waters (our next year’s plan) Glaz is a ‘race oriented’ 59ft with a tall mast and a draft of 2.8m! - that’s deep (we are 1.2m and most mono-hulls come in well under 2.2m) it does restrict where they can visit and even refuel but no doubt does wonders for sailing performance!

We have concluded that Chris’s thigh problem was originating from his lower back rather than the leg and have been working on that with exercise, massage (Carolyn enjoys the bit when he winces) and regular swimming. Its improved things but he is still unable to bend down or put strain on the leg. It’s frustrating as there are many jobs that could be done but all require contortions and small spaces! The chiropractor is booked as soon as we return to England.

Kotor from the anchorage at night. This shows the extent of the fortifications built up the mountain - its a very big yacht in the foreground!

The last few days we have returned to the anchorage off the island of Stradioti for three nights spent Wednesday back at anchor off Kotor and are now moored on the quay there as we need to do some restocking of the food and booze supplies. We will probably stay here and try to relax until Jeff and Sandra join us on Monday.

Main Photo: The bay at Bigova with Splice at anchor in the background

Kotor and O Stradioti (and boat damage)

23 August 2017 | Kotor and Stradioti
The last week or so since Steve and Tina departed has seen little mileage for Splice as we have tried to rest Chris’s leg. We spent the first 4 days on the quay at Kotor doing very little initially but then as the frustration grew we started the various boat jobs that were waiting for attention. The worst was fixing the blockage in our owners side heads system.

This took us most of two days to sort. Initially we tried to unblock the pipes but found we were making no progress, so we had to get the pipes out of the boat. This is not easy, as they are fitted tightly through holes in the bulkheads under the floorboards and are both long and in inaccessible places. Much swearing and grazed knuckles later we extracted them to find that after only two years the calcium build-up in them had almost blocked the whole pipe (urine and seawater combine to create a calcium deposit that is the bane of all sailor’s heads systems). The easy bit was then getting this out – you just bang the pipe on the quayside and it all comes loose. Then we had the fun of fitting them back through all the same holes and tight spaces! It was not fun and probably didn’t do Chris’s leg any good either.

Chris’s leg wasn’t really improving so we found a local Doctor who was very helpful and prescribed muscle relaxants and anti-spasm pills to stop the worst of the issues. It helped a little.

Then on the 17th August a motorboat that had been badly moored next to us swung violently in a gust of wind and smashed into our port stern. We had already fendered this side well having seen the motorboats previous movement but the force of this collision ripped our port stern cleat straight out of the deck. Lots of hassle later we have found the owners details and set our insurers going but they are telling us the chances of any response to a British claim since Brexit is minimal, so we will probably lose our £800 excess due to some idiot not putting spring lines on his boat or any fenders. The cost to repair the damage and refit the cleat is likely to be over £1,400. Chris’s leg wasn’t the only thing that wasn’t relaxed!!

The remains of our port stern cleat after the attentions of motorboat 'Victoria'

We then left Kotor and anchored for four days in a nice bay near Tivat to the south of the island called Stradioti. This used to be a holiday island and you can see the ruined huts on shore. It’s a lovely spot and well protected from most directions other than due west. We spent most of the time here reading and relaxing though the swimming stopped when very large brown jellyfish started drifting by!

The view east from our anchorage at Stradioti

We are now back in Kotor to restock and take up the offer of further attention to ‘the leg’.
Boris, the doctor had suggested a sports therapist who works with one of the Montenegrin 1st Division football teams. At 20.00hrs last night this guy picked us up, drove us to the football club near Tivat and treated Chris’s leg to ‘electro therapy’ (passing a small current through the offending muscle) and then a serious (read painful!) massage. This does seem to have made a big improvement today so we are now hopeful of further progress.

Both Boris the doctor and Dejan the sports therapist were really helpful and put themselves out. They both only charged E30 for the consultations which we felt is very reasonable. We would recommend them if you have any medical needs in the Kotor area:
Dr Boris Maslovski, Monte Medical Montenegro / +382 68 702 480 / montemedical@dr.com
And Dejan Djukic, the Sports Therapist / +382 68 289418 or via Dr Boris Maslovski above

Concerns about Chris’s leg and his ongoing (though minor at present) toothache issues have forced a change in our plan for the rest of the season. Visiting Albania, which is not set up for yachts and involves high quays meant for big ships, needing to move mooring regularly to fit with ship movements and probably less reliable medical support makes such a trip a much greater risk and we have decided to stay in Montenegro before returning to Italy for the winter.

Our last guests of the year, Jeff and Sandra, have kindly switched flights to come to Tivat to explore the Gulf of Kotor for a few days and then join us for the passage back across the Adriatic to Brindisi. For the next few days we will try and rest the injured limb and them try and explore a bit more widely whilst we wait for them to arrive.

Main Photo: the daytime view west at Stradioti and below one of the lovely sunsets we watched whilst anchored there

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
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