You Won’t Believe This!

It’s May 30th, rewind 42 days on this adventure, we sailed from Milna, Croatia just 20 miles down the cost to Luka Vrboska on the northern coast of Hvar. We had sailed to Milna to buy a new fresh water pump after ours had exploded violently when firing up the water maker for the first time this season. After I installed the new pump we just wanted to get away from the hustle of the holiday crowd and anchor in a quiet bay, swim, cook dinner, make water and watch a movie. Chill out. Luka Vrboska on the north shore of Hvar fit the bill nicely. I had hopped off the transom onto the town queue at Milna to pay for our dockage, untied the stern lines while Kelly raised the anchor and off we slipped into the quiet blue. We enjoyed a nice short sail and a perfect, nearly empty anchorage.

Find a wallet here….

Where is my wallet? I used it to pay and walked straight back to the boat and took off. Maybe 50 meters tops. We tore the boat apart. Passport…..sigh of relief… still with the others and the boat papers but no wallet! I was beginning to call it my (fill in the blank) wallet. I was sure it was onboard. We checked everywhere. And checked again. I put a bounty of $10usd, then $20, and eventually $50 for any child who found it. Nothing. I called the Milna office. Nothing. We checked the credit cards online. No fishy charges. Just nothing. Crap.

Kelly did some hard phone holding time and eventually got one credit card sent via spaceship to Porto Montenegro where we’d be in a week or two. The sweet lady at the Barclays credit cubicle had the hardest time entering the extremely foreign address into her necessary fields to get it shipped explaining that an upside down space helmet with a line through it and a backwards number 3 were not on her keyboard. When we got back to Tivat, Montenegro I asked each day if there was a package for me. Each day there was none.

When it was time for our weather window to transit Albania down to Greece it was time. Weather has no interest in credit cards or international shipping. We left. I explained over the phone to Porto Montenegro that an envelope was coming, probably last week, but hopefully still coming and could they forward it to Corfu when they see it. “We will gladly do this for you captain. We will simply need $43 euro for the service which you are welcome to pay via credit card over the phone.” (Picture steam propelled brains splattering on the cabin roof). We got it done with Kelly’s card. Thank goodness I have skills the family relies on underway or I’d have fallen into a hole of useless depression.

Corfu came and went. No credit card. “Sweetie….I have no money. Can I buy a beer please?” !$&@%##*+!!!!! Ouch. Fortunately we made a friend in Corfu named Sevestiana who knows the Greek mail, boats, geography, customs, politics, food, anchorages, etc expertly. She stayed vigilant as we continued south and eventually received the envelope and put it on a ferry to Zakinthos where I could get it from her colleague. All worked out. She wouldn’t take payment. Just being another awesome Greek human. At last I can buy myself a beer.

Fast forward to July 9th some 800 sea miles later. I get a cryptic text from a Slovenian telephone number “is this Justin Walling?” Too many weird scams out there. I can’t imagine what someone could achieve by confirming it was indeed me but to be careful I replied “por que?” (“For why?” In Spanish….that’ll throw em off the trail. Brilliant cloak and dagger work as usual).

Here is what followed:

Mystery person: Have you been sailing in Croatia not so long ago? I wrote you on Facebook and Whatsapp. We found a wallet with Justin Walling’s documents and some money while diving. I found this phone number and a website on a business card so im making sure i found the right person

Dumbfounded me: We did not go to the city of HVAR but to the island. On the east side. Did you find credit cards? I am surprised there was money in it if it showed up somewhere we had not been… Thank you so much for reaching out

we did not go to the city as well. We found it in the bay while diving. Maybe you lost in on the way to your destination. We found all the documents and money.. and some extra crabs in it as well!😂

Amazing!

It was likely in our cockpit and fell fell off while sailing. That is amazing

I have sailed to Athens without this.

Incredible

ahahah let us know how you did this so we can take some notes😂😂

Thats awesome

where are you now?

how can we get the documents and money to you?

Downtown Athens eating Chinese food with my wife’s credit

You have a good wife then!

We love chinese food too, So we can use your credit cards now?!😂😂 hahaha

No need saying Rea Sigler, s/y Skone, from Slovenia and her family are my heroes. We had very nice text conversations and are officially invited to Slovenia next year as is her whole crew welcome to visit Folly Beach. They spread the contents of my wallet on their dining table and sent a photo. Literally all intact just wet. Over 40 days at the bottom of a bay. Not on the beach or in a bush but deep, in the middle, like 1 in a million to find if you knew what you were looking for in the first place lucky. Amazing. You just can’t make this stuff up. Yet another reason I am humbled by this life, this luck and this love. We’re downtown Athens now deep, but not with the crabs deep. Rome, Venice and Bari await. We’ll keep writing about our experiences and fortunes both good and ill as we always have. This one is just hard to beat.

Stay tuned. Much love.

Crew of s/y Skone and the captain’s South Carolina drivers license

Biking and Paragliding by Quinn

I woke up and read for a little bit. Once everyone was up, I asked Mom if she could get us croissants. She said yes and went to go get them. While she was out she found a bike place that was about to close. She rented 5 bikes and we ate our breakfast quickly. Once we were done, we got to the bikes and got ready for our adventure. Mom found a beach so we started heading that way.

There were a lot of hills that were really annoying, but we made it. Once we were there we all got beach chairs and relaxed. Eventually, Gherty, Che and I went swimming to cool off. It was a lot of fun but the water was kind of murky. Once we swam we relaxed for a while, and then went to go get lunch. 

We found a really cool little place with really nice people. Mom said we could get anything we wanted so Gherty, Che and I all got banana pancakes with Nutella. Mom got a burger and Dad got a club sandwich. We stayed at the restaurant for a while before Mom remembered the tubes that we saw in the the water. We also saw some paragliding, so Gherty and I checked the place out. They said that we were allowed to paraglide, but we had to do it together. We ran back to Mom, Dad and Che excitedly and told them the good news. 

After Mom finished her wine, we all went back to the place and we asked to pay so Gherty and I could paraglide. Mom paid and we all got on the motorboat. Dad said that it’s really cool when you see the parachute fill up with air and fly into the sky so we all watched. Gherty and I got harnesses on and the man told us to go to the back of the boat and he clipped us on. He told us to sit down, so we did that too. He started releasing the parachute from the boat and it was insane! We lifted off and I yelled, “YOLO” while Gherty did something. After a few minutes, when we were a few hundred feet high, I let go and held my hands up. Gherty did it afterwards but I’m much more epic because I did it first. It was really fun and we stayed in the sky for about 10 minutes before he started lowering us into the water. Once our feet were in, he pulled the ropes so we went back in the sky. Later, we realized Dad told him to do that. We stayed in the sky for about 6 more minutes before he let us down and went back to the dock. It was so much fun but all good things have to come to an end eventually. We rode back to the boat and just chilled which brings me to now, writing a blog while we’re about to go to dinner.

Stay tuned, Quinn

Hydra and Shopping by Quinn

We woke up and we started to head over to a town called ‘Ydra’, not ‘Hydra’, ‘Ydra’. It’s pronounced Hydra though. It was about a 5 hour sail and once we got there, we saw that boats were literally anchoring on top of each other and it was complete mayhem. So we went about 3 bays over and it was really calm. We all took showers and then we called a water taxi to come get us and bring us to the main town. 

Once we got to the town we decided to chill at a restaurant for about 5 hours which was nice. We got milkshakes and read. We decided that now we were going to go shopping for a while. Mom stopped every 3 feet to go into a shop. It was really boring. One of the shops we were at was called the donkey and the cat or something like that. It had some cool homemade shirts and stuff and we shopped there for a little bit. There were mules at most places that were carrying bags or people. They all looked really funny. 

After shopping, we took another, much faster, water taxi back to the boat and it was really fun. We chilled on the boat for a while and ate dinner. Then we went to sleep. When we woke up we decided we were going 15 miles to a place called something. We got to the town key and docked. Right now, we are just chilling on the boat and probably getting lunch soon as it is 12:58

Stay tuned, Quinn

Around the Peloponnese

Even the word Peloponnese is beautiful. The fingers of mainland Greece stretch deep into the sea. Voluptuous mountains of red rock and vibrant succulent plants erupt with olive trees and fall off into the deepest of blue waters. From atop her cliffs, you can see loggerheads feeding in shallow water just alongside of a 500 foot bay. You can see the palest of blue water lapping at white sand. From the coastal cruise, you can look back at land and make out the faintest of trails connecting cliff side monasteries with the smallest of chapels seemingly only accessible by goat. Steps etched into the rock where waves crashed once and again and again until no life could make root. 

Methoni from anchor

We traveled down along the lands’ edge from Katakolou to Methoni.  A most coveted port, Methoni has had her share of dominating suitors. Homer wrote that Methoni was offered to Achilles by Agamemnon in hopes of pacifying his rage.  Methoni was taken by Spartans, Crusaders, pirates, Venetians, and Turks. In many cases, she was taken and retaken. We explored the old town and fort with the tunnels and towers, churches and prisons.  

The views were simply stunning from our anchorages. After Methoni, we set hook just outside of the fort at Koroni. Lit up at night, the old fortress now houses an active convent. Koroni too had its share of conquerors.  Both towns were very quiet with very few tourists. We shared tavernas with only a couple of other tables. The heat of the land radiated in the still air and the kids largely preferred to stay on the boat after our exploration in Methoni. 

We sailed around to Porto Kagio. The bay is tucked in behind tall cliffs which magnify the winds. Fortunately those died down in the evening. A large cave with pale water at its mouth lay along the edge of the opening. Small rickety docks offered a place to tie our dinghy, while we lunched at one of the tavernas. Che and I split a whole fish, which was perfectly grilled and washed with oil and lemon. In the restaurant, they were spinning honey from combs. 

After provisioning in Neapoli, we came upon the prettiest spots in Laconia. Three bays barely disconnected by the most slender of spits. We climbed up the hot sand and jutting rock overlooking the turquoise water. Gherty forgot her shoes so Justin went shoeless in solidarity. Not sure how they managed but they did. Chairs and umbrellas were set up along the shore so we spent the day slipping in and out of the water. The wind picked up that day and while our anchor was firmly set, we decided to escape the persistent roll by switching bays. The wind was the same but the waves from the south did not enter this northeast facing anchorage. 

Dried salt in rock beds at Laconia
Kelly and Madame Geneva overlooking Laconia

Monemvasia was magical. We initially anchored in the south bay but found with the climbing wind, we were more at ease in the north bay. The south gave us a view of the old town. The north gave us piece of mind that should our anchor drag (which it needn’t) we’d have a lot of sea to work it out versus a quick assent to the rocky causeway that separated the two. We spent much of that day on the boat feeling the katabatics. The wind was fast, hot and dry, as it came off the 3000 foot mountain. 

The next day, we did something remarkable. We woke the kids up early. We dinghied under the causeway to the old town quay, a perfect landing spot with ancient bollards and a ladder!  Justin then had the brilliant idea of releasing the kids in the walled city with 10 euros each. Justin and I climbed the well worn stoned path up to Upper Town. The beauty of Lower Town and its narrow roads, brightly flowered courtyards, and carefully maintained structures fell below us as we wound our way up to the ruins of Upper Town.  

Lower Town Monemvasia
Fortified wall of Monemvasia
Upper Town Monemvasia
Agio Sophia
MG from Upper Town
A proper dinghy dock

Our early start meant we could spend that night in a fjord. We set sail with the kite and flew up the coast. We dug into a patch of sand in an otherwise weedy area. The water was “packed” with only six boats at anchor. Justin rowed me over to the quay and we had a lovely linner under the shade at a wonderful taverna. We chatted with some Serbians who were on their way to Monemvasia and all had a complimentary shot of some unidentifiable liquor. 

Our third fjord

The kindness and natural humor of the Greeks is so welcoming. We are constantly reminded that life is good and if it isn’t, you should probably do your best to enjoy it anyway. As a vendor told me yesterday, “There is today and there is tomorrow. Why not enjoy today and worry about tomorrow tomorrow.”

Shrugging Jesus

Much love and stay tuned. 

Whales and Ancient Olympia by Quinn

I woke up right when we started leaving the town key. I ate a hot croissant and read for a little bit. Not much happened, I just read and did stuff like that. Suddenly, while writing this blog, I heard Dad yell “WHALES!” I rushed upstairs and saw small dorsal fins attached to some 20-foot-long Cuvier’s beaked whale. Dad woke Gherty up and we all watched them fish. We started to get closer, and Mom took expert pictures of them.

After that, we were getting pretty close to Olympia. We anchored there and saw tons of jellyfish in the water. We decided that we were too hot to go to ancient Olympia just yet but we would in about a quarter of an hour. Dad went to the customs thing to show them our boat documents and travel log I think. Mom rented a car while Gherty, Che and I had cold drinks.

We started driving and for some reason I had to it in the middle. It was about a 30 minute drive and it was ok. Once we got there, we went to a museum about the ancient Olympics. We heard from a French guy that there were VR headsets that showed you the ancient Olympics and all the buildings and stuff. Mom got 5 of them while the rest of us did the museum. After that, we walked to the ruins of where they used to hold the Olympics. The VR headsets had a map at the bottom and when you got to certain places (example: the gymnasium) they would have the old buildings and usually an interactive thing to do (example: train athletes).

We explored Olympia for about 2 hours and then went back to return the headsets to the guy next to the church. I was starving and hot, so we got some cold drinks. I was still starving. We did the 30 minute ride back to the boat and we were walking up to our dinghy when we saw a dead eel in the water. Anywayssss, we got back to the boat and I realized we had no snack food. I impatiently waited for dinner which was hamburgers and we all watched a movie and relaxed.

The Temple of Zeus
This was the tunnel all athletes ran through into the stadium to a roar of 45,000!

That’s all, stay tuned I guess, Quinn.

Very Hot Days and Italian Food by Quinn

We woke up and Dad gave us chocolate croissants. I naturally woke up way before Gherty and Che, so I had lots of time to read and chill. Once everyone was up and had eaten breakfast, we went clothes shopping. Dad had promised me a Champion® hoodie, so we went to a store that said they had Champion® clothes. It only had a peach hoodie and a light blue one. Gherty got the light blue one and then Mom and Dad realized it was 90 euro after they bought it. So, I didn’t get one, and Gherty, who has like 10 hoodies already, got one. We also bought a bunch of pants and stuff.

After that whole thing, we went to a cathedral, and being the saint I am, I donated 2 euro to the poor. We weren’t allowed to take pictures of the inside, so I can’t really show you it, but I’ll try to explain it. On the inside, we lit candles and explored. We saw lots of pictures of saints, Mary, and Jesus. On the roof there were a bunch of pictures of angels and stuff. The thing is, the church could only be about 60 years old because there was a rector scale level 6.8 earthquake about 65 years ago that destroyed all but two buildings.

After the cathedral, we went to lunch at Alestra, which is an Italian restaurant in Zante. We all had amazing meals and good drinks. Gherty, Che, and I got a mocktail. Gherty and I got chicken sandwiches which were really good, Mom got gnocchi and something else, Dad got a chicken Caesar salad, and Che got some random thing. We decided that we were going to come back for dinner.

It was just about 105 degrees, so we went back to the boat and sweated. Mom did her financials, Dad looked at Facebook and stuff, Che chatted with his friend Carys, and Gherty and I both read. We just chilled doing stuff like that at the boat for a while.

Zante, Zakinthos

We then went to the same restaurant as we did for lunch. We all ate a Caesar salad and Gherty and I got spaghetti. Mom got a burrata pizza which we all tried. Dad got a mushroom pizza. I don’t remember what Che ate but I’m sure it was good.

That’s all for now, Quinn.

Old Friends, Bees and Odysseus

South of Corfu lie two true gems of the Ionian, Paxos and her baby sister Andipaxos. After 2 days swinging safely in a mild gale on the northwest corner of Corfu we were “free” to explore these islands we’ve read about. Lakka, Paxos is astounding. We’d not seen water this vibrant since the Caribbean. Sure, it’s bluer than blue everywhere here but with a fairly rare white sand bottom we could watch the fish pick at our anchor chain as if in an aquarium. Of course, the secret is out so after we anchored, and reanchored to give some room to the scowling Dutch neighbor in a Speedo we sat comfortably dug in and swam and watched the show. It’s a regularly scheduled program in the more popular spots here. The morning is peaceful and as the afternoon progresses a steady stream of chartered boats, most with skippers and crew on day 2 of sailing experience, race into the harbor looking for that prime anchoring location not taken by the early risers or the overnighters. We saw a boat drop anchor downwind and motor into the swirling breeze dumbfounded to be swinging wildly as their anchor caught. An American holiday maker yelled in shrill Michigan accent to a French live aboard “whaaatttt? I can’t understand what you are saying!!!” As the French explained the Americans poor judgement ( not an uncommon French approach). A small charter boat swinging and smacking into a large catamaran, her “skipper” stripping down to his boxer shorts to try to swim a line ashore. We felt so badly for them we eventually dinghied in to gift them a bottle of Croatian wine but after 5 anchorage attempts and a series of collisions they had decided it was time to go out to dinner in town so….best of intentions, Kelly has an extra bottle for another day.

The town is small and lively. Just opening for the season after a devastating COVID year of lost income. We tried to help by eating spinach pies and souvlaki until we were uncomfortable. Not philanthropic necessarily but the least we could do.

The next morning (read:morning to beat the same rush) after a quick stop in Gaios, Paxos for provisions, we hauled the anchor, pulled out the spinnaker and had a lovely ride to the little isle of Andipaxos, full time population 30. Here the cut on the Lee side of the island is sheltered from the prevailing north westerlies and the water is equally vivid. We anchored in 30 feet on pure white sand. Again, I could read the word Delta on our anchor from on deck. Stunning. Sea caves, the whole shebang. Quinn has written expertly on this so no need for redundancy. 

After a most peaceful night at anchor with no charter boat drama we again headed south. This time to rally with some friends we met 2 years ago in Menorca, Spain who’ve been aboard and off board adventuring the entire time in between. Ralf is German and his lovely wife Nina is Kiwi. Frankly I’m not sure which of them is more beautiful. These guys are living the adventure. Sailing, cycling,experiencing it all while raising 2 oddball cats and now a Greek dog as well. What a treat to see old friends so far from home. We had a wonderful 2 days in Frikes, Ithaca with them. We both tied to the tiny town queue and had the town to ourselves for the first part of the day. As I stood in Madame Geneva’s cockpit to watch the lone other boat med moor to the queue I noticed something I’ve not seen before. They had an excellent approach in reverse to the sea wall, one crew jumped on land with sternlines and tied them well. Except…they had neglected to drop their anchor first. If they invent the boat that will stay put in this situation I want one but to date I think it’s still in development. After some gel coat and a bit of fiberglass was crushed on the queue I ran to assist only I don’t speak Austrian German and most of their English was on par with my Bavarian accent. “3 boats out….drop the anchor….come to me….throw the line….not so much schnell…slow. Nine, nicht…gut, gut!” We got it. They asked my name and what I was drinking. It was morning so I said I’d catch them later. Dinner at a taverna with Frida’s crew (including Lola the dog who jumped off the boat not wanting to be separated from her new best friends and had to be plucked from the water by Kelly dressed for dinner) had us seated next to 8 smiling Austrians. It was a really fun Father’s Day. It’s hard to say who enjoyed it more as many of the last bits are hard to recall. 

A long dinghy ride with friends to a secluded beach with swimming, snorkeling and skipping stones followed the next day. It was ideal. We bid our friends goodbye the next morning. I know we’ll cross paths again. Some things you just know.

Frida and Madame Geneva in Frikes, Ithaca

We steamed down the strait of Ithaca to an ideal hidden bay Kalo Limani, likely translated to Lemon Bay as there was a grove of citrus trees, a small handful of houses, ancient olive grove, swarms of bees and beautiful mountains on all sides. We put our screens up in the cockpit and deployed our “bee removal apparatus”, a cup and a piece of paper to catch and release any persistent invaders. We ran our generator to make fresh water and watched The Godfather as a family. A more peaceful night at anchor I can’t recall (except for all of the “murdery” parts in the movie).

This morning I awoke to the sound of kids playing on the beach. No humans present. Baby goats were hopping rock to rock and singing. Then Kelly and I did something new. She manned the helm while I raised the anchor in a swarm of interested if not attacking bees. We motored offshore and then drifted in the windless glass to put the dinghy on deck and take down the screens. There were that many bees!

Now we find ourselves cruising south down the strait of Ithaca to our next island, Zakinthos (ZACK-in-toss- I think). It sounds lively. It will be quite a contrast to the last week. Of course, most things would be.

.


Ghost ships in the Ithaca Straits

Stay tuned. Much love

Sea Cave Exploration by Quinn

We changed bays for about the third time today. Once we got there, we noticed that there was a beach made of rocks, clear water, and even a bunch of sea caves! We chilled on the boat for a while. Mom and Che wanted to go to the beach, so we decided that when they did that, we would see the sea caves. We dinghied Mom and Che ashore and then we went off on our journey to see ALL of the sea caves!

The hills have eyes

So, Gherty, Dad, and I started to motor over to the first cave (I was driving, of course). When we got there, we realized it was a really shallow cave. Once we went inside though, we saw that it had a cool little rock beach at the back. We stayed in the cave for about 5 minutes, and then we realized it’s where all of the mosquitoes hide!

We were going to make our way across the bay to a different cave, but we soon realized it was just a dent. Dad wasn’t going to just call it quits there, so we decided to go over to the next bay in the dinghy, an 11-foot inflatable boat. What could go wrong? Surprisingly, nothing. In the next bay, we saw two caves that looked kind of cool. In-between them, there was a wallish thing that had a hole in it. So, naturally, I decided to get in that hole and pretend to hold up the rocks. There was also something that looked like a huge eyeball close to one of the caves. We explored the caves, but they weren’t too interesting.

Atlas had a tough gig.

Afterwards, we went across the bay to our original bay, and then across another bay to the bay to the right of it. We didn’t see any caves we could explore by water there, but there were some on land. We saw a rock break wall where all of the local fishermen put their boats behind. There were a bunch of submerged rocks that I expertly avoided because I am amazing. After that, we went back to our original bay to pick up Mom and Che at the beach.

That’s all, stay tuned, I guess. -Quinn 🙂

Dawn Patrol. Greece at Last.

Leaving Montenegro for Greece seemed a simple proposition on paper. We had a 23 hour overnight hop down the Albanian coast in store and knew we needed to stay clear of their territorial waters because of security and COVID restrictions in Greece. So, it was 12 miles or more offshore and a straight shot. The weather window was perfect so we went into our typical planning mode and spent the day ticking the boxes on our list for our 5 pm departure time. The kids got their PCR tests at a local lab. The results to be emailed to us later that day. Che got a nosebleed in the waiting room BEFORE the test. Hmmm. We provisioned and spent the afternoon prepping Madame Geneva. I went to the marina office to check out and settle up only to find the office shuttered for the night. Apparently the pandemic has them short handed the same as everywhere else so the nice lady simply locked up and went home. Problem was that they had our boat documents and we owed them money. Omen number 2. After the marinero called her repeatedly for an hour she came back in street clothes, with her dog, and checked us out. Antonio pointed to the mountain tops and said we should wait because the afternoon thunder storm was coming and sometimes it blows 50 knots, sometimes not. It blew up. Lightning, thunder and wind blown rain. The whole shebang. Omen number 3. I watched from the cockpit as a huge arc of lightning struck an electrical power line on the mountain with a giant round ball of fire. Omen number 4? Yep. The rain subsided, the wind shut off and we motored to the fuel dock to fill up. They had no power. The fuel was there, we just couldn’t get any. We waited and I joked with the fuel guys that we should get some beer and pizza since departing wasn’t looking likely. In typical deadpan Montenegrin they offered to call a pizza place for us. My sense humor is lost in the former communist bloc. It hasn’t stopped me from confusing waitstaff though. Dad jokes and New York sarcasm must soldier on translation be damned. After an hour the lights came back on, the fuel flowed and we motored to the customs dock to clear out of Montenegro. The 24 hour offices were empty, doors open, lights off. Another awkward chat, this time with a police officer, got me moving to “it’s a green building over that way”. Harbor master, customs and port police, then we were finally free to go. Despite my superstition we untied the lines and watched the sun set off of our starboard quarter as we headed due south. Our longitude would not change for the entire night.

The gold-domed cathedral of Bar
Thank you Montenegro
A quick intercept by the Italian coast guard checking to see why Americans were coasting Albania.

One of the highlights of this leg so far was insisting our children stand watches overnight with no protests rather full enthusiasm! They ate dinner and relaxed below resting up for their first overnight not as passengers but as bonafide crew. The cockpit tethers were installed and each of us lashed in with sospenders. Kelly rested early as she is best in the wee hours while I typically stay up as late as I can and then take over again when Kelly runs out of steam sometime before dawn. Gherty picked the first watch and she was thrilled. We watched the AIS and strategized how to dodge 500 foot ships steaming out of Durres, Albania at 15 plus knots midnight to 2. Bio luminescent fairies sparkled in our wake. We discussed latitude and longitude, sailing and reminisced about so many other adventures. I passed the bridge to Kelly at 2 and Che, who was so excited he couldn’t sleep chose to swap watches with Quinn who was sleeping below in anticipation of his upcoming responsibilities. When I woke to relieve Kelly at 3 they were having such a good time she told me to roll over and grab some more z’s. Around 5 I was up so we swapped again. Quinn woke up on his own as he said “at 3:43 because he knew it was time for watch”. He and I shared the magic of a red sunrise over the Albanian coastal mountains. They all kept hourly “sit-reps” logging our lat and long, heading and speed on paper tethered in with a headlamp lit. I am still bursting over it. It’s everything. They are over 10,000 sea miles, 27 countries and salty as hell. And…so cool. No troubles, no seasickness, reading their books in high seas and truly absorbing whatever it is we’ve been doing out here all this time. Wether they chase this dragon in their own lives remains to be seen but, most importantly, they get it.

We left the Adriatic and entered yet another sea midday the following day. Welcome to the Ionian! We rolled into Gouvia, Corfu, Greece and tied up. A mellow night onboard with a movie and dinner to regroup on the first night we saved exploration of Corfu town for the following day. Another iconic European city with old fortresses, winding alleyways and coastal vistas over electric blue water was our prize. We enjoyed it immensely and headed around the top of Corfu to Afionas bay, a huge bay protected from the northwesterly gale we knew was coming. Here we sit swinging at anchor in strong winds with only one other boat a day later. The wind will subside overnight tonight and we will make our way further south to Paxi and Andipaxi 2 postcard islands south of here on the way to Preveza on the mainland. We’re in Greece for sure now. After 2 days at anchor, 10 games of chess and as many books read we are good. No complaints. Just enthusiasm. Perfect.

Stay tuned. Much love.

Red Left Returning

The first time we sailed to Montenegro was 2 years ago on our way up the Adriatic.
We crossed from the east coast of Italy’s boot heel with few preconceptions other than knowing it was a part of former Soviet Yugoslavia and was yet to be admitted to the EU so we could clear in and out of customs and reset Madame Geneva’s temporary import status for another 18 months. After a day of blue horizon the hazy peaks crept out of the sea….and kept moving skyward. We glided into the harbor at dark (here in summer approaching 10 pm) and prepared to tie up at the customs dock in Tivat (T-vot). 2 hours later it was sinking in that this was no typical harbor. We were tired and worn out when got to Montenegro last time. We had already sailed from Mallorca to Barcelona to Minorca to Sardinia to Sicily to Malta and then to Italy. Montenegro was a necessity but we had no expectations. after all the entire country is the size of New York City. We stayed for a week and were surprised because by all we saw and did. All of the former Soviet buildings, submarine tunnels, towering mountains, the Tara River Gorge, the list goes on. 

Soviet submarine hideout

Hey! I went to college!!!

In the ruins of Kompleks Bizanti in Tivat. Built as a summer home in the 1600s, acquired by Austrian-Hungarians in the 1800s and later by the Yugoslavia army.

From above the watchtower of the Kompleks Bizanti.

Preservation was not on the agenda of the occupying armies.

On the way to Kotor, we passed by Our Lady of the Rocks. He who casts the first stone in this case creates an island, honoring those perished in the wrecks below upon which the church and monastery were built.

Kelly hikes downhill with a glass of red

The difference this time was that we weren’t worn out and knew a bit about the country. After a quick check in at Porto Montenegro for clearance and an orthodontics repair for Quinn we sailed inland to the ancient city of Kotor. A UNESCO culture heritage site, Kotor sits up a ria which is a flooded river valley surrounded by 3,000 foot peaks. It’s 13 miles from the sea and has walls with ramparts going straight up the mountain. The first inhabitants were from 500BC. Since then the Greeks, Romans, Illyrians,Saracens, Ottoman Turks, Austro-Hungarians, Napoleon, Venetians, English, Soviets and us have invaded and occupied. Kelly, of course, suggested we go to the top of the wall, a 1 hour hike up stone stairs. We did. It was amazing. Quinn has written an 11 year old’s recounting of that hike. It’s perfect. After the hike the kids were ready to rest and read so, since they are so salty these days, we gave them the dinghy and my phone and sent them to the boat…in a fjord, in Eastern Europe, in an empty anchorage. They were happy to do it and Kelly and I held hands watching our sea children race away knowing “they got this”. We looked around the ancient town a bit. I lost my wallet, then found it 2 hours later. The finder laughed herself hoarse at the American whose brand new wallet had only euros- no ID and credit cards except for 5 fake ones that come with a new wallet that say “credit card” on them because my old wallet is a few hundred meters below the surface of the sea somewhere near Brac, Croatia. A rain squall hit so Kelly and I were strong armed into having drinks and tuna carpaccio in an ancient square under a giant umbrella. The kids buttoned up the boat and kept reading at anchor (Read: we got this).  We returned to the queue and called for our dinghy pick up. On the horizon we saw Quinn untie the dinghy, jump into the dinghy, pull the starter rope repeatedly and row back to the boat. After a conference call with Gherty I reminded them they had left the vent open on the fuel tank and likely got water in the fuel during the deluge. I talked them through it and big, strong Che got her running. What a pleasure to see them work together, figure it out, play to each other’s strengths and succeed. Once back aboard we had a nice home cooked meal and the boys had a knock down drag out name calling death match because, after all, they are brothers. It can’t be all wine and roses now can it?

Right now we are in Bar, Montenegro. This is the southernmost harbor in the country. We are a mere 10 miles from Albania. From here it’s 50 miles inland to Serbia and 65 miles to North Macedonia. Fortunately those countries are landlocked because we definitely don’t have their courtesy flags. We’ll overnight here, clear out of the country and fuel up midday tomorrow with a plan to leave around 5 pm for what should be a 22 hour overnight to Corfu, Greece.

As the days pass we find ourselves farther east than we have been before. Today we crossed 19 degrees East longitude. The geology is changing noticeably. It’s still mountainous but drier and with more iron in the strata. The town church from where we are berthed has a shining gold dome and looks more Greek than anything we’ve seen to date.  Bar is not a bustling tourist attraction though it appears to be quite beautiful. There is a seaport and some large fuel tanks long the shore. There are a few smaller decommissioned cruise ships rusting in the corner of the bay. Our dock has English, German, Croatian and Montenegrin flags…oh, and one American flag hanging from the transom of Madame Geneva. (As I write this a small catamaran with the Stars and Stripes home port reading Kona, Hawaii just tied up. I love this!)

Tomorrow we’ll swap our Montenegro two headed golden eagle flag for our Albanian two headed black eagle flag, then, sometime in the night we’ll switch to the powder blue Greek cross and stripes. But tonight we’ll explore the town because as our friends will attest; Kelly and I rarely pass a bar. 

Stay tuned. Much love.