Saturday, 1 October 2011

Cruising Croatia

29th departed Tivat for a drift in Kotor Bay, then anchor off Budva.

Kotor Bay is the next fiord inlands from Tivat. There are strict regulations of not allowing washing on ships and also not any other discharges. Most likely due to pollution prevention as the water circulation I suspect is not that fast. In addition they have exorbitant charges for anchoring in place, hence we were drifting as per the advice from our pilot (which also was compulsory).

Sea entrance to Tivat and Kotor, old guard tower

The scenery was very beautiful and we first passed the "Lady of the Rock" monastery and they rang the bell after we gave them 3 long blasts on the horn. After this we went slowly south towards Kotor Town where one could see stairs going up the hill towards another church or monastery. Once done we set course for Budva and arrived there in the evening. There was dinner at Bruno's restaurant.We also checked out another restaurant at Sveta Stefan Bay with a very nice landing jetty but they were full and said a reservation was required. The anchorage in Budva was otherwise ok except for the treacherous string of shallow rocks that crosses the anchorage (it is marked on the chart). It could be a disaster for the uninformed tender driver.

Lady of the Rock

30th Departed Budva & arrived Dubrovnik

At 6am we heave up anchor and proceed to Zelenika for outward clearance from Montenegro. We drift there for abt half an hour and we get the documents back from the agent all stamped and signed and I set the course for Dubrovnik. We take pilot and berth inside the harbor at the cruise ship jetty.

We depart the port in the evening to go and anchor in front of the Dubrovnik old town. The scenery there is beautiful with the old castle and bastions. Tendering is a must to drop off guests and crew.

31st Departed Dubrovnik & arrived Korcula Island

Again it was an early departure and we headed for the Croatian archipelago, first stop Korcula Island. At forst we anchor for the day near Badija Island and do some sightseeing there before going stern to at the Korcula. It is very historical as it is the native town of Marco Polo. The holding at the jetty is not very good as we experienced some dragging and had to heave up on our anchor chains to prevent the stern from eventually hitting the jetty. Luckily nothing of that sort happened.

1st Departed Korcula, visited Bisevo Island and arrived Hvar Island

The trip continues in same fashion and we left Korcula at daybreak for Bisevo Island where the point of interest was the Blue Grotto. As the bay in front of the grotto is fully occupied by smaller sailing boats we decide to drop on the other side of the grotto in the next Bay. The water is pretty deep and we have to do a second attempt to get good holding. The view is spectacular with the jagged rocky shoreline. Visitors to the grotto have to purchase tickets to enter the grotto with local rowing dinghies that seat up to 8-10 persons. The entrance is pretty low and people have to duck so as not to hit their head. Inside is totally dark to start with until the grotto widens up and shows daylight that is shimmering through the bottom as the cavern is open under water. The blue color inside is very beautiful. It is recommended to visit the grotto in the morning when the sun is shining into the underwater hole as the day goes on the sun moves on the other side of the cavern and the light gets weaker and weaker. At the shoreside where one buys tickets I bought some locally made wine from the woman selling the tickets. The wine has a very strong taste that would go well together with a red steak. We also did a roundtrip of the Island and found a small village on the other side called Porat that had some delicious seafood available in local tavern's.

2nd Hvar

We heaved up anchor early in Bisevo and set course for Hvar and arrived there under hours of darkness. At Hvar we manage to find good anchorage on the opposite side of the town. Here yachts have to pay for anchorage based on their LOA, our dues went up to 982€ and the port said it was half price as the season was almost at its end.

3rd Hvar

Stay the whole day in Hvar. As I had to make a run early morning to town with our Purser to meet the agent I take some breakfast at the plaza that is next to the marina while we conduct our business with the agent. The place looks really nice but I can imagine how deserted it is during the winter months.

4th Departed Hvar, visited Brac Island and arrived Split from where we departed a few hours later for Malta.

In the morning we heave up anchor and sail for Brac Island with destination to anchor in front of Bol village. The town is not very big and we scout out the marinas and landing places. We also check out the Dugi Rat beach (moving beach) that is also famous here. It consists of round pebbles rather than sand and I can well imagine it moves with the prevailing weather. Later I send our Purser to Stari Grad on the next Island as he is signing off and taking the ferry to Split. It was a nice tenderboat ride as the weather was fine. Later in the afternoon we weigh anchor again and head for Split. In Split we take pilot and are greeted on the wavebreaker by our 3rd Engineer Alen who is waving there at us. We make fast amid the hoot and hollering of gays that are on the deck of m/y orient Queen, a cruise ship opposite us and making ready to leave. We make clearance, discharge rubbish and make ready to sail again. Meanwhile Zeljan and Alen have brought some Croatian food for the crew to enjoy. We receive a pilot and depart for Malta at 2230hrs.

6th Arrived Malta.

We arrive in front of Valletta at noon and embark MTU technicians for seatrials and we drive the crap out of our main engines with 1200 rpm for a couple of hours and after that we proceed inside to make fast at Manoel Island. My reliever is also embarking once alongside and I handover to Tsvetan as I am scheduled for vacation the next day. This trip also finished the summer season for Indian Empress as she enters a service period for her main engines.
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Friday, 26 August 2011

Voyage Italy - Montenegro

On the 24th morning we leave behind the shores of Macaronia. It was a short and hectic visit, not much to write home about but whats done is done.

Stromboli (Copyright John Seach)

Same evening I am on duty and we are passing the Stromboli Island where there is an active volcano for the last 13.000 years. We watch with binoculars miles away and one could see how the lava was spewing out of the mountain top. At first we thought it was lights from cars or the houses on the island but then we consulted the chart and realized it must be the volcano. Pretty awesome to witness the power of nature.

Arrival Montenegro

As we passed Stromboli we came into the Strait of Messina. There was the usual VTS communication and following the traffic separation scheme. No incidents and hardly any traffic, like a walk in the park. The following day went at sea and the weather was good for us.


On the morning 26th we arrive to the shores of Montenegro and take pilot to enter the fiord. This area used to be a major submarine base for the Sovietunion in its hey day but now it was merely an attraction. I did not learn whether the mountain caverns were accessible but we could spot the entrances.

Sunset in Tivat

It took us abt 2 hrs to arrive Tivat and we made stern to at the Porto Montenegro Marina. The arrangement is very comfortable, there is ample space to the yacht next to us and we could even put down the tender if we'd prefer to. Another trip completed.

Tivat Marina, Porto Montenegro

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Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Climbing Mount Vesuvius

Art at the roadside

View over Napoli

Having seen the scavi at Pompeii we discussed where to go for our next destination. Some of the crew wated to go back and then there was only me, Andreas and Andrei who shared same interest to climb Mount Vesuvius. 

Lava road from the last eruption


Well, all said and done we gave our marching orders to the taxi man and off we went. The Mountain is nowadays declared a National Park and the road up is beautiful with greenery and art posted on the roadsides. 


Volcano is still smoking...

We arrived to the base of the caldera and had to walk up the rest of the way. My legs were under pressure as I had exerted myself the previous evening with my stint down Mount Faito. It hurt but I just took it plodded onwards and upwards. The caldera was pretty much lifeless and consisted of rubble and rocks. There was a path leading up and once there the path continued along the edge of the caldera. 



The view was fantastic although the visibility was not that great as the air was a bit hazy. Peering down the caldera I could still see smoke rising up in the air testifying to the fact that the volcano was only sleeping, not extinct. We continued walking and came around about 180 degrees. 

View over bay of Napoli

From this point we could clearly see Pompeii that was covered by the volcano in it's famous eruption during the Roman era. As the path ended there was a souvenir shop cum bar and we sampled some local wines while admiring the scenery. 

Andreas, Andrei & me

As we finished whetting our whistles we turned back and headed for the parking lot. During the walk we passed another 2 souvenir shops cum bars and had a cup of wine in each of them. Finally we came back down to the parking lot and headed back to Marina di Stabia. 
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Last time I did not have enough time to discover Pompeii so I decided to join the other crew on their excursion to the ruins.

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Monday, 22 August 2011

Climbing Mount Faito

As I had some time on my hands I went ashore for a walk, in flip-flops. I ended up to the cable car and bought a ticket to go up to the top of Mount Faito. While waiting for the scheduled ascent I had an Italian Peroni beer at the station bar. Finally the car came and we inserted ourselves into the "bubble". People could only stand and I was clever enough to go stand in the aft so I could get a good photo shooting view.
Castellammare di Stabia

View over Bay of Napoli

It exactly 8 minutes to get up to the top at the speed of 7.5m/s according to the data placard in the station. The placard was not far away from the truth as the ascent was quite rapid and it seemed we were on top in no time.

More higher

M/y Indian Empress in Marina di Stabia

I disembarked the car and walked about the premises, I must say it was a bit disappointing. The top was covered in high pine trees and there were a few restaurants and souvenir shops. I took to walking along a path that advertised a restaurant but as I git further on it the path was siding with big satellite dishes and some utility buildings. I never saw the restaurant as a hole in the fence leading downhill caught my attention... 

View from the top towards Mount Vesuvius

Flora - thistles

I took off my flip flops as they seemed more slippery on the cover of pine needles on the sandy ground. And so I was surfing downwards for some good photo angles. I was looking back and saw myself about a hundred meters from the fence and the ground appeared soft and sandy so climbing would be hard. I turned my back on the top and started my descent towards civilization.

Way down

The only living things I met 

The going was easy as the slope was not too steep at first and I was frequently crossing over the road that was going up to the top (or down to Castellammare di Stabia). Then I came to such steep places that I could not think of trying going down without climbing gear and I did not think my toes and fingers were enough. The bare rock was really sharp and not really suitable for barefoot wandering either. So, I had to double back to the road and I started walking.

It's a long road...

Sometimes I went straight down through the bush

I walked and walked, at times I came across breathtaking vistas and I took some great shots but the sun was going down and I was not even near the town yet. There was not much choice and I kept on plodding downnwards along the road. The sun went down and it became dark. very dark as there was no street lights. I could still see the road from the ambient light from the sky and the town below me.

Someone before me had had beer on their trip

View from about midway

Some hour after sunset I started passing houses at a more frequent interval. I was entering town. I managed to find myself to the main road of Castellammare di Stabia that led to Marina di Stabia. At this time my feet were rather sore not to say in the least and I was lucky the flip flops had held together. I arrived to the Marina gate around 2300hrs and they were of course locked and closed. I had no other solution so I climbed over the gate, whatever the consequences. I needed a shower and some rest.

Marina di Stabia

Bay of Napoli

I arrive dthe ship a few minutes later and I found Anil, Andrei and some other crew sitting on the jetty discussing. I sat down for awhile and had some water after a long time. It had taken me 4 hrs to come down by foot. Some excursion...

Hot and sweaty

Coming to town
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