Captain of the privately owned 25m Princess Fly 82 new build, James Carlyle arrived in Porto Montenegro back in October 2013 and has been managing the yacht in terms of its navigational and technical requirements while his crew mate Steph provides all the service elements of a superyacht experience. Previously aboard yachts up to 90m, together they bring 15 years experience to the new Princess, which will be based here for the next 12 months.
Porto Journal (PJ): Can you tell us what first brought you to Porto Montenegro?
James Carlyle (JC): We joined the boat last October in France. It was a new build and a new owner for us, and we really had an open book on where we could go. The choice was between Majorca, South of France or Porto Montenegro, which we’d heard a lot about. When we looked up the website, we really enjoyed what we saw and thought ‘well we’ve never been there before…’ so we registered online there and then. After speaking with the owner, he was really pleased that we were looking into coming here because of his interest in the area, and that was the decision made!
PJ: From a superyacht perspective, how have you found the marina so far?
JC: I think it’s great, especially the logistics side of things. The guys on the dock are amazing, you can give them a call about anything and they’re with you in half an hour. We have fast internet access, we have assistance pumping out the black tanks, the fuel station is right on the dock and in 24 hours notice we can get tax and duty-free fuel. Novica and the Yacht Assist team are excellent, from the second we arrived we were greeted, shown around the marina, Tivat and the local area whilst highlighting points of interest. Since then, Novica’s always been there to help, whether it be a SIM card, a hire car or fuel, he’s our point of contact and always brings a smile with him! It’s service like that that makes this marina stand out above the rest – and you don’t get an invoice at the end of the month for it.
PJ: What about the other facilities in the village?
JC: I think the mix of restaurants and bars here in the port is good. There is a Sports Club with loads of facilities – gym, squash courts, yoga and a bunch of other classes. The yacht club also has rowing and sailing sessions. There are really so many things to do in Montenegro. It’s just a matter of getting out and finding them.
PJ: Can you tell me about your experiences outside of the port?
JC: We have been quite lucky arriving at the start of winter, whilst we were busy with the new build and winter work, we have been able to take the car at weekends to go and explore. I think we’ve done around 10,000km of driving around Montenegro so far. We’ve been to Zabljak a couple of times and Kolasin half a dozen times, for a mixture of snowboarding and hiking. There is also rafting and loads of other adventure sports to do up there. It’s great being so high up, the scenery is amazing! Going from the capital up to Kolasin, up the winding valley roads, it’s gorgeous and with the change in seasons, especially winter, it’s all snow-capped mountains, spring it starts to melt away and everything looks fresh, whilst now in summer it’s so lush and green. When we’ve been up in the mountains we’ve stayed with locals via Air B’n’B. They’re so friendly and welcoming, introducing us to the local cuisine and even the rakija (a local grappa). Experiencing these things is all part of being in a new country and I think we have been really lucky to see what we have in the last 7-8 months.
PJ: What benefits do you see from a financial standpoint of being based in Porto Montenegro?
JC: I think when we joined the boat we had the opportunity of going to the Balearics, South of France or over this way, the cost difference over six months and even a month was quite substantial. It is definitely a lot cheaper here in Montenegro than the South of France or the Balearics and not just in terms of the berth. There are really good contractors here meaning maintenance is a lot better value for money. Also, if you have a large crew, just feeding them can be costly, but here it will be half the price. On a long term basis I can see it has vast benefits.
PJ: So is it just a question of value for money?
JC: Oh no, it’s about the service standards. In the South of France you’ll wait a day or so to get something done. Here, if you ask for something to get done within the hour it actually happens, it’s the standard level of service here. Also, if you want to leave your berth they very rarely keep you waiting longer than 15 minutes! It’s definitely up there with the best marinas in the world in terms of service and facilities.
PJ: What does the Adriatic offer in comparison to the traditional grounds in the South of France?
JC: Berths! If you try to go down to the South of France, even if you want to go back to the same marina you’ve been to for the last few seasons, there is unlikely to be availability. It’s so difficult to get a berth down there or if you are lucky enough to find one, you are changing it every 2 weeks or even having to move marinas, which could be 30nm down the coast. Here, we have taken an annual license, and can sit in the same berth throughout winter to do work on the boat, and prepare for the summer season without any hassles. The marina is in a great position to explore Croatia, pop down to Greece and even go along the Italian coast. That’s one of the main attractions of this place, you’ve got so many anchorages nearby. In the South of France you’ll go along the coast and it’s absolutely packed. People are always fighting for anchorages, but here you can anchor quite easily, and you can usually sit there and enjoy it for a couple of days.
PJ: So, what’s on your summer cruising itinerary?
JC: Croatia. Taking a trip down from Split visiting Korčula and Hvar and stopping at various anchorages around that way. There are
so many islands available to you, and lots of sheltered spots. For a longer trip, I’d probably venture up from Split and do the coast towards Venice. I’ve also got an itinerary planned for Greece. Generally, picking out an itinerary is quite easy because there’s so many anchorages in this part of the Med and if you use an agent they can send you lots of suggestions. We’re in a hub here, with the Ionian Islands and Corfu only a day’s sail away, which then takes you onto the Aegean Islands and the Corinth Canal.