Off to Venice

Dick and Irene Craig
Sat 23 May 2009 10:10

To take our leave of Croatia, it was necessary to bring our boat to the dockside at Pula, where a policeman was stationed in a small building on the shore. Tying up there was quite a trial, as the fenders attached to the dockside were hard and inflexible and we had to fend off their fenders, to protect the boat. The other side of the dock, big black tyres had been used and to ensure that they were not user-friendly, huge, protruding logs filled the apertures in the tyres.

Having completed formalities on the dockside, the captain then had to go ashore to the Capitanerie, to complete formalities there also.

We left Pula, just before 5pm and sailed, using the parasailor, for about an hour but the true wind never even reached 10knots. Sailing on a broad reach, we gave up the struggle as the strength of the wind decreased.

Once again the navigation equipment caused countless problems and the captain, having completed his night watch, had to stay up to find a solution. The equipment didn’t settle down until just before my watch.

About 4am there was a heavy thud on the hull, followed almost immediately by another. I put the gears into neutral, so that the folding props might be protected. Then, to starboard, about a metre off, we passed a pole, sticking at least a metre out of the water.

The captain had arrived topside to find out what had caused the thumps on the hull and like myself, was horrified to see the pole so close to the boat. This had been uncharted and unlit as were so many more that we subsequently manoeuvred our way past. Thankfully, it was not now as dark as it had been earlier and, being aware of these potentially dangerous obstacles, I was even more alert than usual.

We approached the entrance to the Venice lagoon as the sun rose on this Sunday morning, with umpteen cruise ships approaching from behind, trying to swallow us up. As the clock chimed 7am, we were taking photographs of St. Marks square, from our own boat, we then sailed around the various islands marveling at the architecture and dodging the other boats, plying their trade.

We were fortunate to find a berth in a small marina where we tied up alongside. This was no mean feat. Most of the marinas around Venice seemed to be equipped with piles and none appeared to have piles spaced sufficiently wide enough to take our boat.

Feeling somewhat jaded, we spent the day chilling out and that evening joined a shore-side barbecue, at the invitation of the young, friendly, marina management team. We met up with a group of young people who have been working together for the last 7 years. They had just arrived from Vienna and were creating an exhibition of art in the huge, brick built storage shed, used during the winter for storing boats. The exhibition opens on 1st June and then they will be off to Japan to start on the next.

On Monday, we took the dingy from our island across the lagoon, to buy some tickets to enable us to use the water buses. The many other boats on the water seemed to be racing each other and the water was very choppy. I held onto the dingy painter to help me from being thrown out of the boat. When the skipper then decided to take it on the plane, there was no way I could stop my body from being thrown all over the place. It was a miracle that I wasn’t thrown overboard before I managed to persuade him to slow the boat down, for the sake of safety.

We took a water bus to St Marks square and did the tourist bit then, after lunch, we took another to the island where they make the beautiful, coloured glass.

We were astonished at the cavalier way the boats crashed against the floating platforms, when they stopped. There wasn’t a fender in sight.

We departed Venice soon after 4 o’clock on Wednesday afternoon, having visited a great number of the islands and traveled on gondolas, water buses and ferries.

We planned to make passage back to Pula overnight but had made sure that we would be well outside of Venice during daylight, to avoid all the navigational pitfalls.

Having left the lagoon, the coastguard passed us, also traveling away from Venice. About 6pm, we noticed that a ship of the Minoan line was stationary with a helicopter circling above and the coastguard close to the bow. After quite some time, the helicopter flew towards Venice. Although we had been watching the scene for quite some time, we had not seen anyone airlifted into the helicopter. The ship turned 180degrees and made its way southward.

On the passage towards Pula, Croatia, we spotted dolphin several times before it became dark, finally arriving at the customs dock just before 7am.

Once we had legalized our entry into Croatia, we were not permitted to remain on the dockside and the very officious policeman directed us the town quay nearby, where we planned to leave the boat and go ashore to buy some provisions.

No sooner were we tied up, in what can only be described as a cesspit, with raw sewage obviously being pumped into the harbour, than we were approached by an official from the port authority who was also very unhelpful and didn’t want us to stop there. In a cross between my very pidgeon Italian and my rusty Spanish, I managed to persuade him to let us stay for 10 minutes so that we might buy some steaks for the barbecue that evening.  

We were not sorry to leave Pula behind, making passage to Kanalic where having dropped an anchor, we breakfasted on pancakes and then slept until lunchtime.

We telephoned a couple, who live in Slovenia and keep a boat in Croatia, whom we had met at the ARC seminar, which was held in Guildford, in March. They are also planning to sail around the world with WARC (World ARC). Coincidentally, they were spending the weekend on their boat, not too far from Kanalic so, on Friday, instead of traveling south, we made a small diversion to Rabac, where we anchored overnight, having  spent a couple of hours sailing en-route. The anchorage was idyllicand just big enough for one boat.

Next morning, we continued our passage to Omisalj, on the island of Krk, where we will meet with our fellow adventurers.


Below: Cruise ship passing at 5.30am, What a way to travel the canals, Even the coffins have to be moved by boat,

            Island off Pula such a contrast to the islands of Venice