Way back at the end of August (a lot has happened since then), we were chartered by a French TV company, Canal 5, who were filming for their prime time travel show, Echappees Belles.
The day had kicked off with air in the fuel causing numerous break-downs on our way to the rendezvous point in Herceg Novi. Completely stressful as we hadn't left any time for arsing around and were late to pick them up - though luckily, they were also late so thankfully it didn't cause any massive dramas. We managed to get ourselves onto the tiny fuel dock in Herceg Novi (not really big enough for yachts our size) and filled up to try to stave off any further air in fuel worries (we were low which was why we were pulling air through).
We headed out of the bay into what would have been a surprising amount of swell, had it not been for the immense storm clouds out on the NW Adriatic. We would not usually have headed out with what appeared to be a nasty looking bit of weather headed our way, but hey ho, we were on telly!
We were heading for a well known dive spot, Blue Caves, where on a sunny day, the light refracts from inside a sea cave turning the entire cave and water a trippy deep blue. But not on a day like this, with the wind building and the sea turning an angry green grey. The film crew were undeterred and had already set up on deck before leaving harbour so started filming our journey. They were unexpectedly friendly and laid-back, loved the dogs and we started to enjoy ourselves. It was SO COOL! The rather suave and friendly (womaniser?) organiser type started to get sea-sick within the first 15 minutes (there is always one on a day like that) so I stuck him on the helm.
On arriving at Blue Caves, a small dive RIB picked up the film crew and we then spent an hour circling, much to close to a viscious rocky shoreline, whilst the wind picked up and a storm started to brew further up the coast. Mmmm.
The dive boat eventually emerged from the caves but the director wanted to shoot footage of the presenter, Sophie, and our mate Jack from Black Mountain (adventure travel) in the water by the boat. This was becoming increasingly dangerous, particularly for Sophie, who was clearly exhausted and kept disappearing underwater as waves covered her face. The final straw as I anxiously watched the fast approaching vile-looking clouds was lightning forking down into the entrance of the bay, in the direction we were having to head. We insisted that they got back on the boat and a good job too as by this time they were struggling to get out of the water, with the waves causing the stern to slam and their heavy dive gear weighing them down.
We tore off into the waves but no sooner had we got underway, we were hailed by the dive RIB which was struggling against the conditions so we picked them up, got them on board and towed their RIB behind us. All exciting stuff.
Unfortunately, the camera gear and less hardy amongst the crew were put below decks, the organiser guy being flat out seasick in the saloon (his choice). So none of this was filmed. And it would have made great TV.
This is the TV programme which was screened last week in France. We are on the first 5 mins or so but even though the programme is in French, it is worth a skim through if just for the footage of this incredible country that we live in, particularly the Boka Kotorska which features in the first 10 mins or so. See http://www.france5.fr/echappees-belles/emission/montenegro/video.html
Anyway, to cut a long story short, we made it back into the bay, catching only the edge of the storm which had taken the familiar route into the bay and across the Orjen mountains rather than tracking the coast. So it was exhiliarating without being frightening, we were aware of the risks and took account of them without the situation feeling remotely overwhelming. Which made me realise that we have come a long way since the first few months on the boat where we encountered situations which were way beyond our experience and thus frightening. This was, of course, a minor situation compared to those incidents back in 2007 but all the same, we quite rightly have a lot more confidence now and it was useful to be put into a more demanding situation than usual.