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DESTINY DIARY 2009, - Croatian Tour Part 4.

Montenegro Montenegro
Amazing view of Montenegro. Budva viewed from the bus.
So 'Destiny' and 'Argos' left Kavtat in Croatia on August 25th. We arrived in Tivat in Montenegro in the afternoon and cleared customs in Tivat, paid 127 euros for a cruising permit valid until Sunday October 6th. We then went looking for Porto Montenegro, a brand new Super Yacht Marina being built on the site of an old Navy dock, which offered free mooring, only water and electricity was being charged. We found the entrance and were showed to a berth which happen to be next to 'Halcyon'- fancy meeting them again. Roy and Moira were not on board and came back at midnight so we were obliged to talk and drink until 1.30 a.m.!
Les filles Les mecs
Girls on deck - Margaret, Moira and Me. Boys in control - they think!- Roy, Phil and Skipper.
Tivat is in the Gulf of Kotor which is Europes southernmost fjiord. It's made up of three large lakes surrounded by mountains linked by a narrow channel; quite a spectacular scenery as the height reaches 1000 meters at some places, the most Impressive place being Kotor.
Before Halcyon left, the boys (Roy, Phil and John) decided to go for a sail on Roy's boat, but we girls, decided that a shopping trip to check the local boutiques was more interesting, we all had a good time in our own way. The following day we all went for a picnic on 'Destiny', passing in front the two islands of Gospa and Sv Djordje. The first one is artificial and was created by the people of Perast dropping stones on a reef, some say they filled captured pirate ships with stones and sank them on the reef. The island of Sveti Djordj was once a Benedictine abbey.
We dropped anchor in the north basin near Donji Morinj, swam, ate and drank, in moderation of course, and generally had a great time. On the way back the boys wanted to know how fast 'Destiny' could go, so we reached 8.9 knots (using a lot of fuel!)- once is enough, nice to know but we won't do that again.
In the evening we went for an ice cream treat, at 18 euros for 6 big ones, cheap!
Next day Harry and Denny on 'Malua' arrived and that evening it was BBQ on 'Argos' for some wonderful roast lamb and an Eagles concert of the DVD! Life is tough sometime!
Kotor Kotor
Kotor - the old city walls. Kotor - Main gate from the Harbour.
Since the marina was free we decided to leave the boat and visit the country by bus. So with Margaret and Phil, Harry and Denny we went to Kotor. The bus trip was quite an experience, driving on a narrow winding road along the shore with just enough space for 2 cars to pass, but the trip was worth it.
Kotor is located at the end of the north eastern lake, it's a very old town with impressive defensive walls climbing up the mountainside behind it. The town was badly damaged in 1979 by an earthquake but with the help of Unesco has been completely restored. It is believed that the Greeks started a settlement here and the place was later ruled by Illyrians, the Romans, the Venetians, France, Austria and even briefly by Russia, then Serbia, Hungary and finally Bosnian before Montenegro independence. (n.b. not all at the same time).
We entered the town through the old gate, strolling through the narrow paved road until we reached the first coffee shop to recover from the bus ride, then on to the harbour and the local market which had great fruit and vegetables. I bought some delicious dried figs and dried cepes (mushrooms), then we visited the maritime museum before heading back home.
Our next bus trip was to Podgonica, the capital of Montenegro; the town itself was not very interesting, but the bus drive was, going up the top of the mountain we had a birds eye view of the costal town of Dubva and the large inland lake of Skadarsko.
We stayed a week in Porto Montenegro and on our last day we met on Chris and Elaine on 'Ginny' from England.
Sailing Statue
Boys going out to play. New friends in Podgorica.
John and Phil had decided to team up to buy duty free diesel - the more you buy, the better the deal, but it has to be organised through an agent, John had arranged to take on 2500l and Phil 2000l, even after paying for the agent, the pilot boat (which never appear) the land crew and firemen it was still a good bargain at 0.43 euro/litre.
The weather forecast being good, on september 2nd we left with 'Argos' at 8h30 for Bar. We arrived at 14h30 and had to wait for our turn for another interesting experience. Bar is the main commercial harbour and the main fuel tank storage for the country, so we parked on the main fuel dock (for ships) and were helped by one man whilst 4 others watched. Most of these guys did not do any work the whole time we were on the docks, (but I think we were paying for their time). We took in the 2500l (about two and a half tons) and the boat was happily loaded again, then it was Argos's turn for her two tons. As we were waiting for the agent to come back with clearance papers we had the visit of two customs officers who suggested that it was hot and they could do with a drink, Phil gave them a beer each, but they really wanted a bottle of whisky - but neither Argos or Destiny drink whisky so they had to settle for a beer!
Very close Lune
Met with some big ships on the way to Italy. Crossing in a full moon.
Finally on 2nd of September at 17H30 we said good bye to Phil and Margaret as they were going to Corfu and we were going to Brndisi a 100 miles west, but an hour and a half later Phil called us on the VHF and said they were coming to Brindisi too!!!!
We had a good crossing, which means no wind and by 9.00 on sept 3rd we entered Brindisi, where Mark and Amanda on 'Balvenie' greeted us on the town quay. The whole town was preparing for a big fiesta so we couldn't stay on the town quay for long. The yacht club was full so unfortunately we had to move to the marina located a long way out of the town after two nights, which meant quite a lot of walking and bus catching.
We spent 6 days in Brindisi, first because we wanted to see the fiesta, then because the weather was too bad to leave. But we had a good time with 'Argos' and 'Balvenie'. Saturday night we watched a great fireworks display and had a good meal in town with Mark and Amanda. That night there was a big thunder storm with a lot of lightning the sky had decided to have its own fireworks!
The following day we walked to the airport to rent a car to see 'Alberabell' but there were only small cars available, so 'Argos' and 'Balvenie' went on whilst John and I went in Brindisi to sort a new USB modem with a local SIM card. Mark and Amanda left Brindisi on Wednesday but we decided to stay on and went to visit Lecce by train with Phil and Margaret. Lecce is a very interesting old town with lots of palazzi, churches and roman ruins. We had a very good lunch in La Trattoria di Nona Tetti.
Lece1 Lece2 Padlock
Lece. Double Lece. No bikes, only the padlocks were left.
Finally it was time to leave. At 6 a.m on Thursday 10th September, together with 'Argos' we left Brindisi. We were going to Santa Maria di Leuca and 'Argos' was this time going for Greece. The sea was still rough and there was 15kts of wind. The first 3 hours were bad, everything was rattling inside the boat, I had to make sure everything was secured. We put the main sail to try to steady the boat, things went better once we left the shallow waters and the waves were on the stern. We arrived in Santa Maria di Leuca at 15.00, exhausted. 'Balvenie' was on the quay to help.
The weather did not improve for the next two days, we attempted to leave on Saturday for Gallipoli and then Crotone, but after fighting the elements for 4 1/2 hours we went back to St Maria, both very unhappy. We tried again the following day, leaving at 6 a.m, there was still quite a swell but with the main sail up and the floppers out it made it a more comfortable ride. We arrived in Crotone at 16.00. On the way we saw some storks flying to Africa (we assume - couldn't read their tickets), winter's coming!
Next day we continued to Roccella Ionica, a good crossing, with the Italian customs, maritime police and even a helicopter checking us, part of some exercise we think. We reached Roccella at 17.oo where we met with 'Balvenie' again. Had a great pizza, the only place in the world that sells pizza by the metre - 0.5 meter of pizza for 7 euros!
Sta Maria Sta Maria
Santa Maria's fancy houses. Santa Maria - checking the sea state.
The last long leg of 100 miles was to Syracuse (Sicily). We left with 'Balvenie' at 6.a.m, it started fine, but gradually the wind and the swell turned on to the nose which made it very rough and reduced our speed as the boat crashed into the waves. We finally arrived in Syracuse at 21h and dropped the anchor tired but relieved to be in. We made it with no damage but it was our worse trip so far. 'Balvenie' didn't have a good time either, we saw them the following day, they had arrived at 4 a.m., they said it was their worst trip since Tasmania!!!
We were not alone in the bay, we saw Peter and Sandra on 'Bondi Tram' we had met previously in Skradin, they introduced us to Roger and Sacha on 'Ednbal' -NZ, we also met John and Linda on 'Seabird' -USA.
Destiny Syracuse
We got stuck here for 6 days. Syracuse from the Fort.
We were planning to go cruising around Sicily before reaching our winter berth in Malta, but the weather being against us we decided to stay put in Syracuse and hire a car, so with Mark and Amanda we rented a little Fiat Panda and went to see Mt. Etna. We took the lift to the top and had a guide to show us around. It is an impressive volcano, still smoking, what an amazing place, but it was winter up there, luckily we were prepared with warm clothes. On the way back we wanted to visit a roman villa, unfortunately we did no make it in time as is was further than expected, but the scenery was worth seeing. Late back to Syracuse for a quick pizza and then bed, exhausted!
Etna Etna
Walking on the slopes of Etna. Etna - Pretty impressive views.
Etna Etna
Letta me explain, issa lika zis. It was back to winter.
The following day we visited Noto, a small town destroyed by an earthquake (another one) in the 17th century and rebuilt in the baroque style.
We stayed 6 days in Syracuse and enjoyed the town a lot more than our first visit in May. We took our time to visit the town, including the Castello Maniace (the Maniacs castle?) at the end of Ortegia built first in medieval times and modified many times since.
Noto Noto
Noto. Not a Lotta Noto.
The weather was still not very good, wind and thunder storms were everywhere, but I wanted to stop and was not enjoying this trip anymore. There was a break in the weather so on September 21 we left for Marzamemi at 10 a.m. There was still a swell but we arrived at 14.30 and anchored outside the harbour so that John could clean the propeller as it was fouled. The harbour was full and we were taken at the inside end of the pontoon - a bit tight with 26 tons and only one engine, but we managed a perfect mooring. We walked in to the old fishing village - an amazing place, once a very important fishing port and now all in ruins but trying to revive itself with tourism.
We decided to leave early the following morning for Malta as the weather forecast was good (for once). Up at 6.a.m, John started the engine check first and found water in the bilges, not good! After investigation he found that the water cooling pump of the engine was leaking. I spoke on the Dragnet at 8.00 and Mark and Phil both proposed their help from a distance - good friends. I did not really want to have to go back to Syracuse, but we took the pump apart and found some spare seals on board and remounted it. We started the engine again and there were no more leaks. At 9.30 a.m. we were finally off.
We had a good crossing, still with a big swell, but not uncomfortable. We left Sicily covered with big thundery clouds and arrived in sunny Malta at 18.00, our berth on H17 at Grand Harbour Marina was waiting for us, and next to us was 'Bondi Tram' who magnificently provided the beers that evening.
Friends Johnny
Trying to forget the bad weather. Happy Birdy!.
So we are back to Malta for the winter as John has some work to do. But first, we had a nice break with Andre and Heidi Chassort who sold us the house we have in France. They came to stay on 'Destiny' for four days and luckily we had good weather, so were able to take the boat to Comino Island for a picnic. I was looking forward to some swimming since the sea was still warm, but unfortunately it was full of enormous jellyfish,..Yuckkk, about 40cm diameter Yuckkkk, Yuckkk...., in fact the whole coast of Malta is surrounded by these aliens. I didn't stay long in the water but Andre was brave to swim among them, and John had to clean the propeller again, which was very dirty with barnacles.
I think that that's it now for this years cruising, we don't have any plans for any more trips until next spring.
Heidi Andre
Where to Next?. "Paradis" il dit!
So this is the end of my 2009 diary. Our plans for the 2010 season is Greece and Turkey, probably starting in early May, but like all plans they are subject to changes. In any case we will keep you informed. Thanks to everybody who has contacted us through the year and special thanks to our guests and short-term crew members.
Middle Sea Race Middle Sea Race
Middle Sea Race. Middle Sea Race.
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