Sunday, July 7, 2013

Montenegro - Why You Should Go There for at Least a Week

2013 07 07
Lumbarda, Kucola, Croatia
This only costs €40 a week.

Nothing but mountains, protected bays and fjords and inexpensive but good quality cafes will greet the sailor who approaches the daunting coastline of Montenegro. The hardy of spirit will be rewarded.

People are friendly, officials courteous and efficient and the scenery spectacular in a way that is really second to none in the Mediterranean.

How to Enter

Sailing into Montenegran waters a sailboat will call on channel VHF 14 to “Bar Radio” and
The Entrance to Bar Harbour (that cracks me up)
announce that it has entered the country. No one will answer. You will then call on VHF 16 and be told to switch to channel 14 where someone will answer.

The monitors of Bar Radio will assign the sailboat a port at which the boat must conduct its entry procedures. Bar Radio, manned by friendly competent personnel, will ssigns the next port or entry which is enroute to the sailboat's announced destination, in our case Bar.

Bar is a port on the southern portion of the Montenegran shoreline and, if you are lucky, you will be assigned to it for clearance.

Wealthy visitors might be assigned to clear in at Porto Montenegro, a superyacht facility built by Canadian Peter Munk. Services at PM are a cut above the common weal but since we cannot afford them we have no idea about them.

Needless to say, if you have the money you want to clear in and then stay at Porto Montenegro.

At the other facilities: Bar, Zelenika, Kotor you tie up at the customs dock and approach the well identified customs facility. Colours are Blue and White. You check with the port police who are on station in the port and then, in order you attend the following:

Bank (to pay fees and taxes)
Harbourmaster to obtain your vignette
Port Police

It is a lot easier than it sounds and at both Bar and, on our way out, Zelenika, everyone was friendly and helpful. There is even a sign posted advising visitors that if they are treated rudely by police or officials they are to report the matter to a government website.

Fees, Prices, Currency

Our boat, which is under 12 metres in length, was charged €40 for a one week permit to ply Montenegran waters and we were assessed a standard €5 entry tax.

Montenegro pegs its currency to the Euro and Euros are used and accepted freely. Bank machines in Montenegro dispense Euros which is cool to know.

Prices here are well below Italian and Greek prices for food and drink. The local cheese and sausage is very very good.

Diesel fuel is €1.22 a litre, less if you can arrange duty free.  It can be a hassle to arrange but even at €1.22 you can't beat the price.

Cafe prices in Risan were €3.30 for a good sized glass of decent white wine and a 500 ml beer. In Kotor, a tourist trap, the same beverages cost about €5.

Stock Up in Montenegro Before Heading Off to Croatia

Having only been in Croatia for a week now there is no question that you should fill your boat to the gunnels with fuel, meat and cheese in Montenegro. Everything in Croatia is hideously more expensive than in Montenegro or Albania or Greece or Italy.

Anchoring and Sailing

Jaz: After clearing in at Bar we continued under sail to a little bay at Jaz, near to Budva, a tourist trap. Too near as it turned out. A good anchorage but full of holidayers and jetskis and people having fun, many of them hard bodied topless models. It was so unnerving we could only stay two days. Good holding for your anchor, good scenery both mountain and hard body. No services.

I think this is a shot of Jax but maybe not.  If so then
Budva on right and Trsteno on left
Trsteno: Just west of Jaz is a second bay with the little village of Trsteno at its head. None of those holidayers having fun are to be found in Trstena. Water is a bit deeper here but holding is good and it is very private.

Gulf Of Kotor: This is why you go to Montenegro. The Gulf of Kotor is an immense
Somewhere in the Gulf of Kotor
Just nestle up to a mountain and drop the hook
mountain walled gulf containing several cities and offering great scenery, good services, good provisioning and more. Just go there. It is not to be believed.

Risan: We were particularly taken with the tiny Port of Risan in the North East lobe of the Gulf. Here there are good cafes, old Greco Roman ruins to walk about if you have not already seen enough old useless broken stuff and a good grocery and post office. Good holding on a shelf at the head of the bay, anchor in 30 to 40 feet, protection from all prevailing winds.

Kotor: This town which anchors the Gulf is one of those famous walled cities. It is a fascinating walk around and you can anchor off the marina in soft mud. Kotor is crowded with tourists or so we thought until we broached the walls of Dubrovnik old town. Pretty much a rip off but not as bad as Dubrovnik so if you want to see a good walled city pick Kotor.

We also anchored one night at Port of Kotor across from the municipal marina. This had adequate protection with good holding but the anchorage is across from the large cruise ship dock and the next morning the habourmaster chased us off because he had two big ships coming in. No fault to the harbourmaster who was gracious and professional but it is a risk. Besides who wants to spend more than one night in a tourist trap?

Porto Montenegro

If you have lots of loose cash about your person you can treat yourself to a night or two at Porto Montenegro, a luxury marina for superyachts. To give you an idea of the company you will be keeping the marina offers duty free fuel and advertises “additional discounts for purchases in excess of 50,000 litres”.

This very well run marina seems to offer repair and refit services not otherwise found in Montenegro and I am sure nothing they do is underdone.

Why Only a Week?

When purchasing an entry permit from the Harbour master the basic unit of stay is the week. You buy a fixed number of weeks of stay starting at 1.

One week was enough for Connie and me who are touring full time.  Had we come here on vacation to relax from our busy jobs a month would not have been amiss.

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