Monday, 5 May 2008

A boating life for me

Well, the reason for my fairly downbeat mood of late has been revealed: my old enemy, claustrophobia. A catalogue of factors including the rain (which literally does keep me captive in a small space), being in the same spot day after day with the ancient walls and towering mountains shutting out sunlight and hiding the sky and having a fairly predictable, unadventurous day were taking their toll.

The fear of our boat collapsing then the job/no job debacle were the final nails in the coffin of joy.

“Never bloody satisfied, that girl”, “Better than being at work”, “At least you are not in Nottingham”, I hear you say. Well, yes, I agree with all of these statements. However, I need a level of stimulation beyond exactly the same scenery every day and looking after my man and dogs. I am not a natural housewife; that is why I chose this life rather than mortgages, marriage and breeding. Looking after my dogs is enjoyable (most of the time) and so is cooking good food – but it ain’t enough. Not by a long stretch.

So, Tim finally got TWO days off work in a row last week so we headed off on Monty B, together with our friends Jason, Birgitte and Rosie (their gentle-natured but huge American Bulldog). Our destination was Zanjica, a small settlement with beach on the coast, just outside the mouth of the Boka. It was their Mayday celebrations and the opening of the beach bars so it was busy with youngsters getting pissed and dancing to Serbian pop music (which seemed to consist of the same four inane and terrible songs being played over and over again at a volume far beyond that of the speaker’s capabilities). The four of us and the dogs struggled over in Billy (our tender), who is not used to carrying such a weight, and joined the straggling crew of Brits downing beers on the beach. We were supposed to be heading back into the Boka before nightfall but were persuaded that the forecast was calm and we should stay over (we were on mooring buoy). The desire to watch the sunset and continue drinking beer was too great so we decided to stay. This would ordinarily be a stupid decision – but we took the advice of friends who are ex-liveaboards, live in the village and have moored their boat here many times.

And on this particularly occasion, it was a sound move. But I suspect more by luck than judgement as despite the calm conditions there was quite a swell all night; enough to put us off returning to shore in darkness once we’d returned to the boat for dinner. The anchorage is only sheltered from northerlies and completely open to the sea.

As nothing did go wrong, it was fantastic to awake to hot sun, an open sea view and to be away from shore. To celebrate (and cure the hangover), I donned wetsuit and dived off the boat. One of my favourite things. Though the water was too damned cold – head-hurting cold. I put on snorkel, mask and fins and swam to the rocks to check out the fish and found a few underwater caves. But it was just that bit too chilly to enjoy; but it stimulated the senses and the cold water shower on deck felt warm in comparison which was a bonus.

As we neared Kotor, back to towards the end of the Boka the following day it suddenly stuck me that we really didn’t need to go back onto the quay. Let’s drop anchor in Dobrota, I suggested. We had discussed possible anchorages with our ex-liveaboard friends and they told us there are only three decent places to drop anchor in the Boka: 1. at the end of the bay by Muo, 2. in a small indent near Ellas in Dobrota and 3. at Risan. The Dobrota location was exactly where I was hoping we could spend the summer and I’d been to check it out a few times. Our friends also have sunken mooring there which we can use once we have made it operational (got a diver down to attach chain) – which is all rather fateful as it is pretty much spot on where we want to be.

So, three days on, I am sitting on deck in a sarong and sunhat swinging around in a superb anchorage. We are the only boat anchored in the bay, the views are incredible and I am back on my own private island with only the lapping of the water, the whistle of the wind and bird-song for company. Since the moment we left the quay at Kotor, my mood lifted beyond all recognition. And this is despite the fact that the Bora has kicked up about 11pm till morning all three nights that we have been anchored here and I spent the first night on anchor watch until 5am. It doesn’t matter. Neither does it matter that the outboard ran out of fuel (schoolgirl error) whilst on the way to a friend’s barbeque, in the dark, alone, the other night. That is what a paddle is for.

I am alive again. I also have a couple of new possibilities for work lined up; all of which involve boats.

Last night, the sun turned the mountains pink and the water looked like you could walk on it, so glassy it became in the still of dusk. I lay in my hammock on the foredeck, rocking gently and sipping cold beer as the dogs played beneath me. Everything felt in its right place again. Which would have been perfect had my phone not rang, making me jump and struggle out of the hammock, knocking my beer flying over the deck and terrifying Louis. Ahh, bliss!