Opportunities from Vieste to Trani

Thu 29 Jul 2010 08:09


We woke up near the beautiful little town Vieste, where we safely anchored, apparently... Little did we know of what was to come.

9.45. Went through our pre-departure and departure procedure (yes, soon we can be ISO9002 certified), then motored out of the sheltered pier, onto the sea. NW3, so no biggie. Sails raised, set course and of we went. Little later, we noticed we made somewhere a navigational mistake, the land in front of us was luring and came closer and closer. It looked like we had to go over land a little piece, in order to stay on course. Apparently we did not keep the overview of the total trip from Vieste to Trani when planning steps of a few miles at a time. Luckily, all we had to do was switch of the Auto-Pilot ("AaPie", as we call him her; the 'Aa' pronounced like the 'A" in 'Aha!' and 'ie' as an 'e').

A good hour later, we decided to switch on the engine. With the current electrical problems we still have on board, we need to run the engine for at least 4 hours a day, despite our careful and economic energy consumption on board. So, motor sailing is not a bad word on board, and the ship goes faster when both motoring and sailing. We stuck in the motor- key, turned it, and ...nothing. Again, turn, nothing.
Sweat appeared on A's bald forehead. G just shaved of A's hair, that is, the remainder of his hair. Sweat drops previously being able to hold on to some spare hairs, now had no other choice than to follow the gravity rules. Anyways, after a final try, holding the key turned excessively long, the engine did start. Things looked normal again. Or did they? Something was wrong. Then we realized we could not use the engine, despite it being switched on!
You need to know that the gas-handle/power-stick, you know, the thing to push or pull to go forward or backward, is an electronic device on this boat. There are 3 of them on board, Outside on starboard and on port, inside at the 'chart table'. At each position you can take 'control' over the engine. Not today!
We decided to press the 'Stop' button. So far during this trip, this would stop the engine. Not today! Bummer! What now. We discussed rough measures like disconnecting the fuel supply and calling out a PAN PAN for help etc, but then G suggested we would turn the key just once more. Usually this is not a good idea, as it can ruin the starter-engine, or at least that what is between the engine and the starter-engine. But, at sea, without Vodafone signal and ready for a quick solution, we turned the key just briefly.
The starter-engine complained shortly with a sharp metal noise. YES! the engine control lights started blinking and the 'Take control - Take control' beeps were sounding. Perfect! We took control on the starboard control unit. Rev'ed the engine a bit, put it in forward, and hopla, no sweat (anymore). Things were looking great again. But hold on, now some other meters did not work?! We concluded it was better to keep the engine running, motor sail to Trani, clear customs while letting the engine run, motor the boat in a berth in the marina, and THEN look at the motor problems we had.
Of we went. NW4 wind, estimated 2200 Rpm, about 8 knots, not bad. After dodging a few tankers for anchor (and FOR HIRE' or 'FOR ORDER'; we have a device on board called AIS, with which you can retrieve boat details of boats around you like name, speed, direction, length, draught etc, apparently also indicating if they are looking for a job) and trying to make pictures of very busy fish around us, we arrived in Trani.
As we sailed for about 2 hours , then motor sailed for about 4 hours, we had plenty of time to communicate with the harbour authorities of Trani. Only two problem we found with them:
1. When calling them on the VHF/marifoon, on the indicated channels, there was NO response
2. When calling them by mobile phone, when we were closer to shore, they did answer, pronounced several Italian words, but then hung up. Little did we know...

On arrival in Trani, mainland Italy, so safely back in the EU, we tried to identify the customs/immigration/harbor master/port authority, but no luck. This little old town, with a nice natural harbor had remained in the medieval type, lack of fine communication. English, German,,French, Dutch, Swahili, anything would do, but no. Someone was waving at us. We slowly motored towards him, in the meantime hanging the fenders overboard. With wind in the back (astern) and the 'marina person' waving and shouting Italian, we came to about 1cm of metal bolds sticking out of the pontoon. If we would have looked at the fenders when hanging them overboard ,we could/should have noticed they were way too high! Another 'marina crew' person suddenly showed up, and both of them started pushing the boat to prevent having damage, while shouting in Italian. So far, we loved Italians...No damage. We tried to hand over a line to secure the boat but they kept on pushing, accompanied by unclear statements and questions. It looked like they were trying to understand our boat name. This was no piece of cake. Other boaters started to help, spelling the boat name, model. type length. The marina crew kept being completely unclear, kept on pushing us away and to our questions where the customs/immigration was, they only responded with that we could not stay there, at least that is what we concluded, and they did not take our mooring line. Luckily the BOW thruster was working, so we could safely reverse back to the middle of the marina, thinking of another plan to go ashore, having had barely time to deal with this event emotionally :)
Onto the fisher boats area then. in reverse, against the wind, easy does it! Our 2 big 'druppel' fenders were nicely doing their job, and with 2 lines we had the boat solidly connected with Italy.
Now, where to go from here? Onto something Maritimo.. Got off the boat, rang the bell in front of the gated garden. Someone walked to me, spoke Italian only. I tried in French, Dutch, German, and finally Italian too, but the communication was poor. He pointed out that I had to go to the Polizia. On I went, walkie talkie with me, so if any disaster onboard, I would know about it.
Rang the bell of the Polizia. No sound. Pushed it harder. Nothing. Knocked on the door, which was locked. I could see mister Polizia sitting. Finally he came outside. He only spoke 7 or 8 words english: 'We are closed, come back tomorrow at 8'. I tried in French and with local help, I was hinted to go 'West'. Anyway, I walked back to the boat, informed G about the failure via walkie talkie, but then spotted a big 'I', as in Information. Walked to it, nothing but Italian. Bummer dude! I then spotted a local. Asked him for customs/immigration, the works. He simply pointed behind me, Dogane! Perfect!, I thanked him, walked inside. Knocked on the open door, and waited. Finally someone shouted something, and finally2, someone appeared. This guy, lets call him, Mister Small, spoke absolutely no other word than Italian. With hands and feet, and using any word I knew in any language, nothing happened.... Then, he started waving, to me, to follow him. I did, we walked to the Maritimo... I knew what would happen. He rang the bell, someone walked over to us, they spoke Italian. Mr Small indicated I had to follow him which I did, and then, after a few minutes, we arrived... at the Polizia... Rang the bell. Again. Knocked on the window. After a while the same Polizia dude came out. They spoke Italian. Mr Small now pushed me in another direction. I followed him. We arrived at the.... Dogane.... He took our passports and started faxing them, then made 2 phone calls. He returned with passports, and somehow I understood that he was closed, come back tomorrow at 8..... I thanked Mr Small and walked back to the 'Batello', at least I learnt something :)
So, almost 2 hours later, I hopped back on board. G almost exploded hearing the non outcome, the non support, the non signposts anywhere. Time for plan B. We talked to H in Holland, whether he had once returned to the EC by sailboat, but he had not. He suggested we should not worry about customs and stuff, and just assume it was fine. Which we then did.
As the motor was still running, we could simply just drop the lines and depart. O, wait for the fishing boats now all coming in... 30 minutes motoring and we were in Biscegli, about 1900. Before entering the harbor we tried VHF, no response, then calling them by GSM. Again no english, but my questions about whether they had a berth was answered with NO and whether we could anchor behind the pier was YES. We slowly entered the marina. Another 'marina crew' guy was waving and shouting. Only Italian. We were debating, anchoring as planned, or talk to the marina crew guy in the middle of this small fishing harbor with a NW4. Despite the Trani experience we moved up to Mr Marina. Behind him someone jumped up and started the role of translator! Yahooo!!!! Bisceglie rocks!!!!