Weather and Char­ter­ing

Cruising World - - In The Shadow Of The Black Mountain -

Sum­mer weather in Mon­tene­gro is beau­ti­ful: hot and sunny. Light breezes from the north or south pre­dom­i­nate.

In spring and fall, the weather is more var­ied. Our May cruise there was like sum­mer, our Oc­to­ber trip had mod­er­ate winds from the north and south, which in­creased in the nar­row fun­nels be­tween the head­lands and is­lands. Bora winds from the north are bright and cool and can blow hard for up to three days. We spent 24 hours at an­chor dur­ing a bora with wind gusts to 50 knots. The sirocco wind blows from the south, with rain, clouds, thun­der and light­ning. Our sirocco was very dra­matic, with white clouds tum­bling down the black moun­tain faces, il­lu­mi­nated by hor­i­zon­tal and ver­ti­cal light­ning. The rain­squalls had Scar­let heel­ing at an­chor and tack­ing back and forth as the fronts changed di­rec­tion. We stood an­chor watch all night, and in the morn­ing the wind sub­sided. The area also has kata­batic winds, cold blasts down the moun­tain faces, but we were spared those.

Weather in­for­ma­tion is easy to get in Mon­tene­gro. Wi-fi is read­ily avail­able in mari­nas and restau­rants, and mar­itime weather fore­casts like those found at me­teo.hr are easy to ac­cess, usu­ally in the lo­cal lan­guage and English. Most mari­nas post fore­casts at their of­fices. VHF weather is avail­able, though the sched­ule can be hard to track. Be wary of non­ma­rine fore­casts, which reg­u­larly un­der­es­ti­mate the lo­cal wind strength.

Nearly ev­ery ma­rina men­tioned in this ar­ti­cle is also a char­ter-boat base. (And in nearby Croa­tia, there are said to be about 4,000 char­ter boats!) Two of the lead­ing char­ter com­pa­nies are Navis in Porto Mon­tene­gro (nav­isy­achtchar­ter .com) and Yachtico in Bar and Herceg-novi (yachtico.com). The boats look new and well cared for, and run the gamut from 34-foot­ers to 60-foot­ers, with crew or with­out, and avail­able in flotil­las or in­de­pen­dently. There are also clas­sic yachts and gulets, those stately mo­tor­ized ketches one sees through­out the east­ern Med. If you char­ter in Mon­tene­gro and wish to cross the bor­der to Croa­tia or Al­ba­nia, check with your char­ter com­pany first.

in­sur­ance. “It is not enough,” he said. I was be­gin­ning to get a sink­ing feel­ing, but a call to our in­sur­ance agent upped our li­a­bil­ity cov­er­age the next day. The of­fi­cer was also tak­ing too much time with the boat doc­u­men­ta­tion. “It is out of date,” he said. And, sure enough, it was last year’s doc­u­men­ta­tion, which had ex­pired a few days prior. (Since we were on the boat when the new doc­u­ment was mailed to my home ad­dress, I’d asked to have it emailed to me on board. I re­ceived last year’s doc in­stead and never no­ticed.)

The of­fi­cer was un­der­stand­ing but firm: We needed the new pa­per­work be­fore we left Bar, but in the mean­time, we could en­joy our stay there.

Mon­tene­gro also re­quires a “skip­per’s li­cense” to get a cruis­ing per­mit, or “vi­gnette.” We couldn’t get a def­i­ni­tion of what con­sti­tutes a valid skip­per’s li­cense, but my state-is­sued boat­ing safety card was ac­cepted. The au­thor­i­ties un­der­stand that Amer­i­cans of­ten don’t have boat­ing li­censes or cer­tifi­cates, as many Euro­peans do. Nev­er­the­less, the reg­u­la­tion is en­forced.

We be­came reg­u­lars at the har­bor mas­ter’s of­fice. We used its fax ma­chine, copier and Wi-fi to send and re­ceive doc­u­ments, and chat­ted with the staff. For two days. Fi­nally, we re­ceived our pa­per­work and vi­gnette, and were at last ready to cruise Mon­tene­gro, one of the most beau­ti­ful sail­ing grounds I have ever seen.

he coast of Mon­tene­gro is small, only 55 miles from the bor­der with Al­ba­nia to Croa­tia. Af­ter decades of iso­la­tion, Al­ba­nia is only be­gin­ning to be ex­plored as a cruis­ing ground, and Croa­tia, with its hun­dreds of is­lands, is now a well-es­tab­lished sail­ing des­ti­na­tion with thou­sands of char­ter boats cruis­ing its pro­tected wa­ters.

But Mon­tene­gro is an anom­aly. It has only been an in­de­pen­dent coun­try — as it was in the past — since 2006, fol­low­ing the breakup of Yu­goslavia. War took a heavy toll on Mon­tene­gro, and the fi­nan­cial col­lapse of 2008 de­railed some large con­struc­tion projects, which stand empty to­day. But in­vest­ment is now flow­ing again into the coun­try, as wit­nessed by two deluxe mari­nas: a fin­ished one at Porto Mon­tene­gro and an­other de­vel­op­ment un­der con­struc­tion at Herceg-novi. The Mon­tene­grin stan­dard of liv­ing is now one of the high­est in the area.

On a hazy, over­cast day, we came upon the is­land of Sveti Dorde as well as a monastery and church near the town of Perast (right).

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