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Montenegro and Albania offer an interesting and safe coast of transit between Croatia and Greece. With less than 60nm between ports, day sailing is feasible. It's worth spending time in Montenegro's Gulf of Kotor, or even wintering the boat in the country.
Montenegro is a small gem to cruise, comprising the very beautiful Gulf of Kotor, and about 50nm of Adriatic coastline. A fairly thorough exploration of the coast and towns would take about 10 days. Marinas and ports are adequately spaced to allow day cruising, and wintering afloat or ashore is feasible, although winter does bring freezing conditions.
changeIn August 2015 cruising vignette charges were considerable reduced. A 12m boat will now pay around €24 for a week, €70 for a month, or €220 a year. This is more than compensated for by a low cost of living, and half price diesel (€0.75 per litre).
Porto Montenegro, near Tivat and close to the airport, is developed as a full service marina complex with lifts able to handle superyachts ashore. .
Read this log for a description of cruising the area.
Port Descriptions to be added.
The Country. The country is outside Schengen and the EU, but is open and friendly towards leisure sailors passing through. Latin script is used, with mostly phonetic spelling. The language has similarities with Italian.
The Sailing. The Albania coastline is a 150nm coast of transit between Montenegro and Greece, Corfu. It's not suitable for a long stay, since it lacks yacht support facilities. Clearance charges on entry or exit are around €50, with a quayside charge of about €10 per calendar day. Agents will usually mark these fees up, but they make life simple. North to south, places en route are:
Schengjin. Old inner fishing harbour with slip, recently dredged, is very crowded. A well sheltered outer harbour, 600m x 300m, just 10nm from the Montenegro border, is surrounded by popular holiday beaches. A small harbour lies just west of main harbour - purpose unknown.
Durrës. Durrës is Albania's biggest port. It's busy and noisy with ships loading and unloading at all hours. Ferry services to Brindisi, Bari and Ancona. An area for smaller craft was under construction on the outside end of the southern quay early 2014.
Vlore. Two sets of quays to the NW of town are forbidden to yachts. The main town is a commercial port of entry, busy with ferries and other traffic. Use the NW quay. Suitable only for short visits.
Marina Orikum. This tiny, Italian run Marina has all the usual facilities, and can be used as a port of entry. There is water and electricity to all berths, but the water is not drinkable and therefore needs to be treated if you put in your tanks. The marina is in the middle of nowhere and therefore more useful as a place to break the journey than anything else. €54 per night for 14.5m loa in 2010. Nice sandy anchorage just E of the lighthouse off the headland opposite, with seasonal restaurant.
Himara/Spile is an old town above the coast, with a busy tourist resort below on the beach. The small quay on the north side of this bay is exposed, usable in calm conditions. Better sheltered in the area is:
Palermos. The water is deep here (30m plus) almost up to the old fish quay hidden behind the northern side of Ali Pasha's fortress. A useful stopping point with good shelter. Nearby fortress to visit. On the coast road joining Saranda and Vlorë, not much traffic.
Sarande. This is Albania's premier seaside resort with a large number of medium-rise hotels densely crowded around the bay, and a pleasant evening promenade. From Saranda it is easy to visit :
Butrint by bus. This important historical site is a half hour journey, well worth the trip.
Reviewed Dec 2014