Weather and Chartering
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 “It is out of date,” he said.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).