“Wild swimming” on New Years Day, fortresses, resting up and enjoying the weather
A few years into this new lifestyle and I’m beginning to see how life has broken into several distinct seasons now. There’s the obvious Cruising Season when we’re out and about travelling with Matilda, exploring new destinations day by day. This runs from May to October. Then we roll into Projects Season from November to mid-January (and a bit again in April undoing all the winterising) where we’re very much focussed on getting things fixed, making lists, organising work and winterising the boat as well as a bit of travel somewhere.
Then there’s the period we’re entering now — the Waiting Season which runs from now until the end of March where the immediate rush of work is completed, our travel is more or less done and the projects are either underway or can’t be completed until the weather improves. We can travel (and we will), but you also know that everything is shut and the prime tourist destinations aren’t at their best to experience. It’s killing time until we launch and start cruising.
Personally I’m excited by it. While it sounds dull, I actually love this time of year — it’s where I create coffee tours, start podcasts, get back into writing, teach English or any of a myriad of other personal projects I’ve thrown myself into over the last few years to keep me amused. There’s a long list of things I’m looking forward to having the time to do!
Time is a funny thing too — you’d think we have a lot of time a day, but between sleeping in (longer these days because it’s cold), catching up with friends for coffee and meals, walking the dog and enjoying the sunshine there’s not THAT much time for projects, so being able to sit down and work on something personal guilt free is a pleasure knowing you’re not pushing off an essential boat project to do it.
Which by way of long winded introduction is suggesting that we didn’t really do much this last week!
We’ve learnt about “Wild Swimming” recently which is very popular amongst the Brits these days. In Australia, I’m pretty sure we just call this “Swimming” — it’s going to a beach or a lake instead of swimming in a pool, but it’s very popular in the UK. Along with this is a British tradition (I’m not sure how widely spread this is, but we’re told it’s a thing) of swimming on Christmas Day and / or New Years Day.
Which is how you find us with a bunch of other expats here at the shores of the Bay of Kotor going for a dip into 15C water on New Years Day. As of the 1st of January we’ve now officially completed our first swim for the year. Yes, it was cold. Karina threw herself into the experience and was the first in and the last out.
While we were in Norway, Ella and Inge both had colds / the flu which I proceeded to catch and then Karina was hit hard with it this week. Perhaps not-so-coincidentally she really felt it after the New Years Day swim and wasn’t in fact hung over like she thought, but ended up in bed for several days this week. She has almost fully recovered now though (a lingering cough for both of us) which is good.
While Karina was resting up I set off with Ollie to go and explore a couple of the abandoned Austro-Hungarian forts which dot the hills around here and take Rada on an adventure. These forts were built during the 1880’s and had big guns to protect Budva, Kotor and Tivat from the top of the hills.
Like many places in the Balkans, visiting them is a very different experience from say a ruin in Australia, the US or the UK. It’s very much, yes, here’s a ruin, there’s a warning sign saying “Be careful” and go nuts. BYO torch for sure!
We had a lot of fun with our urban exploration although the creepy part of the experience was entering into several rooms in the pitch black and seeing women’s high heel shoes lining the walls. It’s a “thing” that locals seem to have taken to doing and I can genuinely say that turning the corner in the dark and seeing creepy shoes everywhere was a real WTF experience.
Boat wise there was a few small jobs this week. We washed Matilda thoroughly — although there’s no salt build up sitting in the marina, there was a lot of dirt coming in from our shoes and actually mould spots starting to build up with the constant damp. We’ll have to keep on top of that every couple of weeks. We also completed grouting the kitchen and got to the bottom of the missing water!
Last week I said:
Don’t worry though, I think there’s something wrong in the system somewhere, it’s not all suddenly perfect — we’re getting less water out of the tanks than we think we should, so there’s got to be some issue to fix later there. Plenty to keep me busy!
I was correct that there was still a problem, but for once, incorrect on how long it would take to fix. It was the simplest problem ever. We ran out of water again at 260 litres (the tanks should hold about 650) and the water gauge appeared to be broken (was showing full all the time). Finally with time to deal with it, we pulled up the mattresses to get under the bed and I immediately spotted the problem. When the mechanics had been down there in the back of the boat (fixing the rudders), someone had bumped a ball-cock valve and switched it to closed. This stopped the water running from the top tank into the bottom tank (which is where the supply feeds from), so we were only using water from the bottom tank. It also explained the “broken” gauge. It wasn’t. The gauge is only in the top tank, which wasn’t empty and was correctly showing “full”. Ten seconds later, valve is opened and problem is fixed.
The weather here this week has been sensational, cool overnight (5C) but getting to 17C or so and sunny during the days which has sent us out walking and exploring with the dog once Karina was feeling better.
And that’s the week. Happy Birthday to my little brother Ben who just turned 50 — I thought me turning 50 would make me feel old. It didn’t, but when your little brother turns 50, well yeah, that starts to make you feel old!
Until next time,
Tim & Karina