The Monty B Sailboat, Montenegro

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Montenegro is a country that revolves around the sea—it is a place defined by islands, seaside abandoned castles, and local legends of famous sea captains and pirates.  So it’s not surprising that some of my favorite memories there involve being on a boat. During our first year living in Prcanj, we were lucky enough to meet the young British couple, Katie and Tim, who had sold their home in England to purchase a 44-foot sailboat named the Monty B.  Katie and Tim have lived permanently on their craft since 2007, and offer a variety of excellent custom tours around the Kotor Bay area and neighboring coastal regions.

The Monty B is unpretentious and comfortable, and offers everything you would need for an adventure out to sea.  It also has two furry adorable doggie mates—Louie and Mollie (Mollie was rescued from out front of a local supermarket). Katie and Tim let you design your own tour, but they do have several itineraries to suggest as a guide—some focus on the Bay of Kotor, with the beautiful Perast Islands and the city of Kotor itself, but my favorite rides were those when we actually got farther out.

Throughout the trip, Katie and Tim offer wine, beer or other refreshments.  You can either curl up on a cushion in the sitting area of the cockpit, or stretch out on a towel on the large open front deck.  Or even better, you can perch on the very front part of the boat and feel like it’s just you and the sea.  An added bonus is that your hosts take pictures of your group throughout the entire voyage, and present you with a DVD when they drop you off. Katie and Tim will even teach you how to steer the boat and will occasionally ask for your help if you are willing to learn a little bit about how to sail.  Tim is extremely knowledgeable about local history and will explain the stories behind everything you pass by along the way.

I have a feeling they are most busy during the summer months, when the weather is hot and the water is always bath temperature.  But since we only lived in Montenegro during my husband’s water polo season (September – May) we usually set sail on what might be considered “off times” to most.  And although it was a little cold and windy at times, we were still able to jump off the boat and swim and explore.  Plus you can’t beat the feeling of having everything to yourself—no tourists.  That’s why I usually recommend September and May as the best months to travel in Europe.

One of our most memorable trips began with a pick-up in Prcanj, where we were living at the time.   After embarking, we proceeded to sail by Perast, out of the Bay of Kotor and into the Bay of Tivat. Our first destination was the island of Mamula, with its strategic location at the mouth of the Tivat Bay, opening up onto the Adriatic Sea. The island boasts the remains of an impressive fort built by an Austro- Hungarian general in the mid 1880’s, and is populated by large seagulls and black rabbits.  We moored the boat nearby and dove into the crystal blue water to swim to the island.  It almost feels haunted—maybe because it was used as a torture prison by the Italians during WWII.  In any case, it’s fascinating to wander the grounds and take in the spectacular views.

After leaving Mamula, Katie and Tim steered us to a secret beach where we parked the boat for lunch.  Katie prepares a delicious vegetarian Mediterranean-style lunch, replete with couscous, fresh Greek salad and hummus. Next we were off to the Blue Cave, or Plava Spilja, which gets its name from the clear blue color of the water and the light that comes out from under the water and casts a brilliant blue shadow on the walls and ceiling.  It's ideal for snorkeling, swimming and exploring, and even cliff jumping (which Tony loves to do).[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ojsfw8We36g&feature=plcp]

On the way back we passed several WWII submarine pens which are huge hidden spaces carved into the sides of the mountains that once held military submarines.  On other occasions we have actually gone inside these giant “caves” and discovered chairs and chests and books that look untouched since WWII.  It’s pretty incredible!

Our trip ended by sailing back into the bays and around the island of Sv. Marko.  We dropped anchor at sunset to sit and watch the sky while sipping Gin & Tonics, or G&Ts as Katie and Tim like to call them. Then once the sun went down, we glided slowly back towards home, where they dropped us off, happy and refreshed from a wonderful day out at sea.