Bye Bye Montenegro

Montenegro: no wind in the Adriatic

The Rivercafe is ready to set sails again. In three days ashore in the shipyard, Rivercafe was made ready for the season again. The port saildrive was fixed and the keel was painted with our favourite antifouling in our favourite colour. In light grey. This allows you to quickly see whether everything is OK on the hull under water when snorkelling or diving past. Visibility is not that good with dark colours.

Rivercafe haul out

While the Rivercafe was being maintained in a busy shipyard, we did the same with ourselves at the Regent Hotel in the marina. We took the rain and cold off in the spa of the chic hotel. Without the Russian guests – who also annoyed the staff with their bad behaviour – it would have been perfect.

break for us too, Porto Montenegro by night

After three days back on board, Dragan and his gang of mechanics installed our generator and everything was back to 100%. Out of sheer joy, I immediately filled our diving tanks with our compressor, which is not possible without a generator.

Not to forget something important for Montenegro sailors: as soon as you leave your mooring or enter the country by sea, you need a cruising permit. This is a listlessly disguised fee for the transfer of money from visitors to the state coffers. For us it’s €44 for a day or €165 for a month. It is strictly controlled and sailing Montenegro without a permit is expensive.


Kotor, Lady of the Rocks, Mittelmeer in die Bucht von Kotor

Speaking of fees. There’s something similar in Greece. Tepai is the name of the tax/entry fee/way fee that everyone who wants to sail in Greece has to pay. For us it’s €110 per month – and of course it has to be paid in advance. Thankfully, the website is also available in English. This is the link for those interested: (

Filling up for 1.5 million

Now that the Rivercafe is clear, it’s time to prepare everything for departure. We stock up on provisions, arrange our tepai and refuel the Rivercafe. Tax-free petrol is no longer available in Montenegro, even though it is still reported. This hits the mega yachts harder than us. Because they sometimes fill up with 1 million litres, such as Abramovitsch’s Eclipse. We already met her in the Caribbean in St. Barth – but here she disappeared before we arrived – after she had emptied the petrol station. The refuelling took 22 hours and the bill was 1.5 million euros. “Filling up” once takes on a whole new meaning. Curious as I am, the petrol station attendant told me that such fuel bills are not paid by credit card, but by instant bank transfer. It would also be funny if a mid-range car was charged as a credit card fee every time you refuelled.

In our own tiny maritime world, it’s only a few hundred litres. After paying €2.20 for a litre Diesel in Sardines, the €1.48 per litre in Montenegro is quite fair and the bill remains in 3 instead of 7 figures.

Lake Skadar

One of the advantages of Porto Montenegro is its regular events. One Saturday, we travelled with a few other sailors to Lake Skadar, the second largest lake in southern Europe. Montenegro and Albania share the 370 km2 lake between mountains, which is 7 metres above sea level and therefore has no connection to the Mediterranean. There are wineries around the lake that endeavour to produce good wine. In our opinion, this doesn’t happen very often. However, during our time in the Balkans, we were also unable to make friends with the wines of these countries. The view of the marvellous landscapes and places, however, easily compensates for the fact that the contents of the glass have a lot of upside potential.

Lake Skadar und Weinprobe im Schloß, Sveti Stefan


Bosnia-Herzegovina begins just 30 kilometres from Tivat – but not really. The border leads into the “Republika Srpska”, which is part of Bosnia-Herzegovina, but one of the country’s two entities. This is where all the confusion of the former Yugoslavian states becomes apparent, with wars, expulsions and plenty of evil. The who’s who of the most famous war criminals had their fingers in the pie here. The “Srebrenica massacre” must still ring a bell for some of you. Srpska is still an active powder keg, because separatists want to become part of Serbia. It’s hard to understand the senseless problems people have with each other in this beautiful country and why nobody likes each other.

Trebinje town, hardly any inhabitant in Bosnia-Herzegowina

We were confident that the powder keg would not explode on the day of our visit. Our destination was the town of Trebinje, 55 kilometres from Tivat (Montenegro). The journey takes 1.5 hours because there is a ferry across the Bay of Kotor. The route runs over picturesque, lonely mountains and very special landscapes. However, a beautiful valley is sometimes used as a stinking rubbish dump. Trebinje is a cute little town with just over 30,000 inhabitants, with a beautiful old town centre, street cafés and an Italian-style market.

Very friendly, not very touristy and natural. A worthwhile destination for nostalgics, because everything is reminiscent of 30 years ago and you even pay in marks (KM) instead of euros. Even the exchange rate is almost exactly the same at 1:2.

That’s it for our discoveries in Montenegro, Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. We are ready to head south.

The time begins when we are constantly watching the weather forecast. Like a mouse to a snake. Constantly staring at weather apps is probably more like it. The weather changes very quickly here. After 30 degrees 2 weeks ago, the last few days have brought rain and storms. One recent night, there was even snow in the mountains. A delicate powder covered the heights around us. Would be romantic if it wasn’t so cold. And now, a few days later, it’s summer without a transition.

Snow in the montains, few days later summer

Preparation for Corfu

The distance to Corfu is just under 200 nm. As we don’t want to stop in Albania, this means the first stretch of the season is sailing overnight. However, we will make one more stop in Montenegro, in Bar. This is a coastal town on the Mediterranean, with the largest harbour in the country. A marina and an industrial harbour. We want to see Bar while it still belongs to Montenegro. The chances that the harbour will soon become Chinese are very high. The Montenegrins have pledged the harbour as collateral for a loan as part of the belt & road initiative. The outcome is pretty obvious.

From Bar it is another 140 nm to the first islands of Corfu. It remains overnight, but we don’t have to hurry to arrive in daylight. In the Adriatic, the wind usually blows along the Adriatic – with northerly or southerly winds. We need northerly winds so that we don’t have to sail against the current and wind.

As you’re reading this, we’d actually already be on our way. But there is absolutely no wind and we don’t want to empty our diesel tank right away. The wind – or better lack off – has postponed our departure by a week. But this way we can still enjoy the Orthodox Easter that is now celebrated here. Maybe the chocolate bunnies will work out now / Holger Binz

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