Week 128 - Windy Montenegro

The storms finally hit big…

Week 128 - Windy Montenegro
Tigthening the foresail on Fair Isle after the big winds. Some of the aftermath. The clay pots everywhere were blown over and smashed. At least one boat had it’s foresail shredded in the wind — it would have come unwrapped then flapped itself to pieces.

The storms finally hit big…

It’s bad luck to think that things are going well and nothing is happening. Mid week I was talking with Karina about how we had no pictures so far and frankly we really hadn’t done much since returning from Düsseldorf and Athens except relaxing. Which is fine, it’s actually been a lovely week with nice sunny days and we’ve enjoyed spending time with friends and meeting a few new sailors too.

Snow capped mountains flying back from Athens

We had dinner with Claire, Tim and Lucy aboard Matilda which was a fun gathering, hanging out with some of the “young ‘uns” for a while. Tim and Lucy are 24 and 22 and have been living aboard for a few months now.

Friday we met up with John and Deborrah aboard their boat “Golden Eye”, a custom built steel mono hull which is John’s pride and joy and immaculate inside and out. Deborrah is a very talented professional chef and we enjoyed amazing Mexican food. You know you’re good at what you do when you can make it happen without the “right” ingredients available at your finger tips.

Which makes Karina a pretty good chef too! With several food sensitivities she adapted the traditional Greek stuffed peppers recipe and without using Onion or Garlic managed to make it taste even better.

Wednesday evening we met Seb and Suzanne on their Hallberg Rassy, a classic vintage era sailboat and enjoyed drinks with them and learning about each others journeys to Porto Montenegro.

But beyond this usual socialising, we didn’t really do much. I spent some time writing, Karina cooked and played some games, we walked Rosie and we enjoyed the sunshine. All up until the dreaded “nothing’s happened”.

The forward toilet has started leaking intermittently again (similar to how when you flush at home if button gets stuck and it keeps running), but this will need some attention. For now we listen for the freshwater pump and go hit the flush button!

The passarelle is getting a bit more of a work out than usual — we’re at dock all the time and crossing it several times a day. Karina noticed it was wobbling more than normal and we saw that several of the screws attaching it to the boat have sheared and need replacing. After looking at and thinking about it, we’ve reached out to the professionals at Navar. The way it was attached was very much a home made job and the screws holding it into the fibreglass just heavy wood screws, it’s a wonder it lasted as long as it has. They’ll come by this week and design a custom stainless steel bracket which will be fabricated to hold it, then when that’s ready we’ll take Matilda over to Navar and they will remove the old bracket, make fibreglass repairs and paint then attach the new one.

Rada the Lada has been scheduled now for the last little bit of work that needs doing at the mechanics in Podgorica, so I needed to get her up there. Claire was heading to Podgorica Airport on Saturday so I drove up, left the car with the mechanic and caught a lift back with Claire and Ollie from the airport.

Coming back from Podgarica with Claire and Ollie.

And so we arrive at Saturday night. Once again big winds were predicted. Ooooohhh scary. We’ve been through a few of these now and to date they are not quite the big deal they’ve been made out to be. Well this Saturday night it went the other way.

From predictions of 50+ knots, boats around us (like Claire and Ollie immediately opposite us) recorded gusts up over 70 knots! That’s hurricane speed winds of 130 km/h. Nat and Colin, whose boat Saved By Grace is a bit less sheltered on the outside of the marina saw a gust of 97 knots or 180 km/h.

The wind at that speed is a beast. Rosie was terrified to go outside and getting her to toilet at night was a real challenge, I had to go with her with the leash on, just in case she blew away! Every tiny crack in the boat and around the door whistles as the wind pushes through. We were slamming into the boat along side of us, fortunately lots of fenders meant no problems and when we finally went to bed, the creaking of the ropes meant a very unsettled nights sleep.

We were lucky. Several boats were damaged over night. Some people had solar panels blown off, boats smashed into the docks, tenders blown off the deck where they were tied down and a few shredded sails where the foresail unwrapped and then tore itself to shreds. Boats rocked into each other and bent stanchions. Things blew over on shore. It was quite dramatic and the WhatsApp groups was flying with updates until late at night. At least we got to sleep, some were up all night.

I also helped out with Steve and Judy’s boat — they are away skiing and with the massive winds, I checked in with them then put out extra lines and more fenders on the dock side. They’ve also escaped unscathed.

So here we are! Sunday morning, still recovering, tired and thankful that we’re all OK. As someone said on the group chat last night “I knew there would be moments when I got scared while sailing, I never expected it to be at dock.” We certainly had some tense moments, it’s such a strange feeling to basically be helpless — you do your prep and you wait it out. There’s nothing you can really do when the wind hits like that, even tightening ropes is a recipe for disaster, you run the risk of losing the line altogether and at 16 tonne with the wind up, there’s just no chance of adjusting Matilda in those conditions.

Until next time,

Tim and Karina