- by Jovan Djukanovic
Stephen Bierman and his family have been members of our PMYC community for several years now and active participants of various activities around the Yacht Club and marina village. Given a slightly different concept of the summer, we had a brief chat with him on how their summer was this year.
PMYC: You have been our member for several years now, what do you like the most about being a part of the Porto Montenegro Yacht Club?
SB: The sailing. I know that’s kind of an obvious answer: “What do you like most about the yacht club? Uhm …The sailing.” But it is so. It reminds me of that famous quote from the bank robber Willie Sutton. They asked him: “Willie, why do you rob banks?” And he said: “Because that’s where the money is.” For me, sailing is where I find the value. And I am equally enthusiastic about it as Willie was about money.
The J’s are great boats. They are super versatile. You can go out for a leisurely daysail and swim, or you can race and extract performance out of all points in the craft, fine-tuning and tweaking. I’m not gonna crow about my own racing abilities. Not much to crow about. But…. but … it’s a skill to learn and I have been learning. And speaking of sailing and performance does bring me to a point where I can deepen my answer. The people at PMYC are really great.
Jenny and Ben and the gang are super at giving sailing tips when you ask for it. They are always around in an unobtrusive way to help whenever I might have needed a hand. And hey, these are boats, those moments are always there. And beyond that, it’s just a really friendly atmosphere which makes it all pretty easy. My boys take sailing lessons. Mostly on the Picos. They are a bit easier to manage and more kid-friendly – although I take them out too. They enjoy it. So we are all doing it.
And then the bay is comfortable, it’s protected. There isn’t much wave motion but still plenty of wind. And it is just a spectacular backdrop with the island monasteries and villages. There is an amazing amount of history right here, from Illyrians and Romans onward. Pick a spot, and there’s a story. So for me, what I like the most is the sailing and the people that create that atmosphere. The pool is great too. The rest of the family uses it more than me. But I like it too. And I just dig looking at the building, which I think is such a cool design – with the different levels of terraces and bold lines. It’s so clever – great views and spaces.
PMYC: This summer you took part in the Superyacht Games, how was that experience?
SB: The Superyacht Games were a hit. I think it’s mostly because there was a great mix of people. It had that interesting balance: There were lots of people I knew and lots I didn’t. There were captains and crew members and locals, I had a team with some teachers from Arcadia, we didn’t do half bad. More importantly, the games themselves were a marvellous icebreaker, good-natured competition. And with all the different events from archery to sailing to brain teasers, there were always different places where different team members could contribute. So the experience was great. Then the finish was fun with the barbecue on that massive lawn in front of BlueRoom in the evening with the string of hanging lanterns and the live music. Super party.
PMYC: How would you describe being in Montenegro during the Covid-19 pandemic?
SB: One unexpected benefit, if continuing from the above answer, was that since the yachts stayed in place for that period instead of cruising, a sort of instant community developed. PMYC members, cruisers in the marina, superyacht captains and crew, locals – we all got to know each other much better than otherwise because we were in the same place. That gave the Superyacht Games a little extra spice as we’d been spending weekends previous to the Games in different competitions sailing the J 70s.
The lockdown period itself was taken very seriously. So obviously, we were all mostly at home or waiting for signals from the Montenegrin government. And Montenegro did really well all around. I remember driving back from Albania in late February and Montenegro already had someone at the border taking people’s temperature. I hadn’t seen that anywhere else yet. So there was undoubtedly early awareness and reaction. In fact, there were no corona cases at all here for a long time, which helped ease the stress.
Then when restrictions eased, everyone felt a little blessed to have lots of safe outdoor activities – to get out sailing again. I did a lot of hiking, like most people. There are lots of paths and wellmarked trails through the hills behind Tivat, and it’s a peninsula with mobile phone reception so you can’t get that lost.