A NEW Crew of OLD friends Assembled: Preparing for the Open Seas

After a whirlwind visit to Belgrade, I returned to Herceg Novi, Montenegro, accompanied by my friends Dalibor and Milan. Joined by a few more companions, we’d set sail for Athens, Greece, where Damjan and I would embark on the next leg of our journey, venturing into the vast Atlantic Ocean.

Damjan, too, had spent the past few days recharging in his hometown. Now, reunited, our focus shifted to preparing the boat for the long haul. This voyage marked a significant progression from the previous test runs. With a brand new vessel acquired in France, the past month and a half had been dedicated to meticulously evaluating its strengths and weaknesses. We identified areas for improvement, modifications, and additions, ensuring it was meticulously equipped for the challenges ahead.

One crucial element was the dive compressor. After rigorous testing, we installed new air filters, rendering it fully operational. The power generator and other onboard equipment underwent similar scrutiny, guaranteeing their reliability.

Provisioning the boat presented a unique challenge. We weren’t just stocking up for the next month, but for the entire voyage. This meant acquiring a substantial amount of non-perishables – cans, flour, yeast, soups, and anything else with a long shelf life. Each visit to the city saw us adding to the ever-growing onboard pantry. Now, the task at hand was meticulously organizing this bounty within the limited space available.

Freshness, however, wasn’t compromised. We stocked the freezer with high-quality meat, ensuring access to nutritious meals even while far out at sea. A well-equipped medical kit, with a comprehensive selection of antibiotics and general medications, was another vital element, catering to unforeseen situations. After all, over the next two years, anything could happen, and we aimed to be prepared for any eventuality.

One day, while taking a test sail around the bay, we encountered a sudden storm. The tranquil setting transformed in a matter of minutes as strong winds whipped the water into a frenzy. Thankfully, the boat was anchored, but the wind caused the anchor to drift. We swiftly started the engine and navigated away from the treacherous spot. This unexpected encounter served as a stark reminder of the sea’s unpredictable nature, highlighting the importance of constant vigilance and preparedness for any weather condition.

The days leading up to our departure were marked by another significant arrival. Oleg, along with his young son, Damjan (aged five), and my old friend Anka, joined our crew. With their presence, our team was complete. The final tasks involved securing a sufficient supply of potable water, along with a selection of fine wines and brandies for celebratory moments. I even contributed a few prized bottles of wine from my personal collection, featuring vintages from France, Portugal, and Spain.

Our course was set. We would first head to Porto Montenegro to complete the check-out formalities and take advantage of tax-free fuel before setting sail for Corfu, Greece, the first stop on our grand odyssey.

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