From Slovenia, it was a short journey to Umag where we checked in which gave us just enough time to lower the Slovenian courtesy flag, finish making the Croatian one and then raise it. First we had to see the police and, whilst they were taking photocopies of passports, they sent us over the the Harbourmaster's office to sort out the rest of the paperwork. As Croatia is not in the EU, you have to purchase a cruising permit which entitles you to sail in their waters for 12 months. Then it was back to the police to pick up our passports and we were all set to explore the Istrian coastline of northwest Croatia.
As it was getting on, we decided to anchor off in Luka Dalja for the night and relax. Our journey up the western Adriatic over, we can now chill out and relax because from now on, we are going south.
Costs in Jul 2009 14m boat
Sailing permit 1864 kunars / approx. 260 euros
Mooring to shore with water and maybe electric approx 16 kunars per metre
Mooring buoy approx 11 kunars per metre
Anchoring in licensed bay approx 8 kunars per metre
Payment can only be made in cash and in Kunars. (approx. 7 kunars = 1 euro)
We decided to visit Piran by bike as it was only 1.5km away, though we could have taken a bus. We took the more direct route that included riding up a steep hill (especially on the way back) in the heat of the midday sun! Needless to say, I got off at this point and pushed my bike. There is a coastal route but you have to cut through a hotel complex to get to it.
Piran was under Venetian control from 1283 until 1797 and the town's architecture owes much to the influence of Venice. The lovely main square is surrounded by elegant buildings and has a statue of Slovenia's famous violinist and composer, Giuseppe Tartini who was born in Piran.
We spent the afternoon wandering around the town, exploring the cobbled streets with tall buildings that thankfully kept the sun out. We climbed up to the top of the bell tower and were rewarded with fantastic views across the town, the sea and the surrounding countryside.
The next day we left the marina and anchored off Koper, Slovenia's oldest town and only commercial port. Not as picturesque as Piran from the bay but once ashore, we again found some great places. Once an island, Koper is a member of the European Association of Medieval Cities. The Praetorian Palace was the seat of the city council and has rich heraldic facade decorations. The Da Ponte Fountain is a reproduction of the Rialto Bridge in Venice, though much, much smaller and the Cathedral of Mary's Assumption dates back to the 12th century.
Our short stay in Slovenia has left us with some nice surprises and great memories and we hope to return in the future to explore its mountainous interior but Croatia is calling.
It was time to say goodbye to Italy for a while and start our journey down the Dalmatian Coast of the Adriatic. A cruiseship was slipping into Venice as we left, a lovely breakfast view for its guests.
We motorsailed for the 58 mile trip unfortunately and the heat that we had experienced in Venice continued. We had hoped to find a space in the small marina in Piran but arriving at 6pm meant that what space there was had already been taken, so we went around the corner and into Marina Portoroz as a thunderstorm was looming to clear the air. The marina was very nice and the staff very helpful. It was pricey but included use of their swimming pool and laundry facilities.
Slovenia declared its independence in 1991, triggering the fall of Yugoslavia. Since then, it joined the EU in 2003 and adopted the Euro in 2007. The Slovenian Adriatic coast is only about 25km long, though the country itself has 1.8 million inhabitants.
Despite being next door neighbours to Italy, we were surprised at how different Slovenia is. The people are quite Germanic in appearance and most speak several languages. The surrounding countryside is beautiful with lots of woodland, all lush green. Outdoor pursuits are obviously a big draw here, as is camping. We were struck by how clean and tidy it is and how reminisent of the South of France the area around Portoroz was with terracota roofed houses dotted into the hills and lots of lovely hotels, the Palace Hotel Kempinski being one.
There are no sandy beaches here so everyone either sunbathes on sun-loungers on the promenade along the water's edge or finds a spot, either on some grass or even the stone floor, to relax.
They are proud of the diversity of their food and we can vouch only for their excellent bread. We did not eat out during our four days there so we didn't have the chance to try the local fare, most of which seems to focus around buckwheat porridge, pork crackling (here 'Pig is King' is their motto), cottage cheese and pigs blood. Think we might have done the right thing!
Marina Portoroz 85 euros p/n 14m July 2009. Rate includes use of swimming pool (not sun loungers or umbrella though) and washing machine and dryers. Water & electric 5 euros extra. Excellent faciliites.
Moor between posts (quite tight)
Supermarket in marina but very small. For better choice, go out of marina, turn right and follow road past the go-kart track and campsite (5 mins on bike).
No cruising permit or customs clearance is required for EU citizens.
Our 15 mile journey from Chioggia to Venice took us along one of the channels of the venetian lagoon, past small towns of brightly coloured houses all lined up along the water's edge. We wound our way around the twists and turns of the channel and turned one corner to see the skyline of Venice a short distance infront of us.
The channels are much wider than we expected and are well defined by wooden posts on either side. Some are large enough for cruise ships to use whilst others have less than a metre depth at low water. Once we were within close range, the whole area came alive with ferries, water taxis, hotel boats, water buses, local boats and gondolas all of which seemed to be shooting around in all directions but which seemed to have a controlled order about it too. Before we headed into our marina, we did a quick trip to the entrance of the Grand Canal and past the waterfront of St. Mark's Square and the Palace of the Doges to take some once in a lifetime photos. It took a lot of concentration on Chris's part to keep out of everyone's way and steer us through the wash from all the boats around us.
We stayed at a marina on Certosa Island, just east of the main island. The small marina was really moorings along a channel which had depths of less than 2m at low water. As we need 2m to float, we awoke each day to find the boat leaning over slightly as we sat on the sticky mud bottom until the water level rose again and we could float. The island's history goes back to 1199 when a Cistercian Monastery was built, with vineyards and vegetable gardens. For many years it was then used as a military base until 2004 when it was restored and developed as a centre of learning traditional boat building skills as well as offering moorings. It was a haven of peace and tranquility after a day spent exploring Venice itself with friends Ian and Jan, who joined us for a couple of days, having driven over from the UK.
Venice is 4km from the mainland and 2km from the open sea. It is made up of 18 islands, interconnected by waterways. The longest canal is the Grand Canal which divdes the city into two parts that are interconnected by three bridges; Bridge of the Scalzi, Bridge of the Rialto and Accademia. Insular Venice covers an area a little over 7 square km. In the time that we spent there, we visited the famous landmarks of St. Mark's Square with it's tall campanile, and from where you can also visit the Clock Tower, Palace of the Doges and the Basilica. The exterior of the Basilica was breathtaking with colour marbles, gold statues, mosaics and ornate paintings. Unfortunately, we didn't manage to go inside on this visit so we will just have to come back again.
Getting around Venice is an experience in itself. The water buses cover all the main areas and steam ahead keeping to their timetables. When they arrive at a stop, they seem almost to crash into the sidings, bounce off them a few times which creates a huge wash, and then once everything has calmed down slightly, the conductor opens the gate for everyone to jump on and off. If you do get the chance to visit, you can take number 2 bus from outside St. Mark's and go on a round-trip that includes a journey up the Grand Canal.
Behind the main waterfront is a rabbit warren of streets, alleys, canals (some of which are only wide enough for a small boat), bridges and normal life. Because everything happens on the water as there are no cars or bicycles, you can see workmen mixing cement on the back of a boat as they renovate a building or a courrier boat with DHL and TNT parcels piled high ready for delivery.
There were lots of tourists taking gondola trips on the narrow boats that are today painted in contrast to year's gone by when they were painted very brightly and highly decorated as a show of wealth by noble families but the Senate decreed that ostentatious ornamentation had to stop, hence the uniform black colour of today. The gondolier wears a uniform of a striped jersey and beribboned straw hat and all look very smart as they propel the boat with the use of just a single oar.
It is truly an amazing and unique place to visit and a milestone for us on our journey as every yachtman dreams of taking his own yacht to Venice. We had a lot of fun, ate ice-cream sundaes whilst watching the gondoliers setting off on another trip and yet were able to get away from it all each night on Certosa. We took lots of photos which can be seen by clicking on Gallery/Italy/Venice.
Marina Vento di Venezia www.ventodivenezia.it
65 euros + 20% per night 14m July 2009 + water/electricity which was a couple of euros
Marina has washing machine (4 euros & dryer) & offers free water taxi pick up in evenings from S. Elena stop
Provision before you get to Venice as there are not many places to shop and, as you can't take your bikes there, you have to walk a long way.
After leaving the marina we anchored with local boats off Isola Poveglia (45 22'.9N 12 19'.7E) about 2 miles from Venice.
We had a lively journey to Chioggia with some fast sailing which ended with us arriving just as a thunderstorm was passing overhead. We slowed down to let it pass before we got there and just got hit by the final remnants of rain as we entered the canal with lots of sea and wind behind us. We again had to moor between poles at the Sporting Club but with a bit more space this time.
Chioggia (pronounced key-oj-ar) is a thriving, bustling fishing town 15 miles south of Venice and in many respects is quite similar to Venice in that it has a network of canals and bridges that link it all together. There is one main pedestrianised street that is the main focus of activity full of restaurants, bars, shops and supermarket. The Cathedral dates back to mid 1600's. The marina is modern with sun loungers and umbrellas in the gardens for use by the berth holders, a lot of whom probably live in apartments and don't have the luxury of their own green space.
A couple of days here is just what we needed to get us ready for the next stop - Venice!
Launderette opposite Cathedral.
Bikes are very useful as marina is a long walk from main town
Darsena Mosella is an alternative marina, nearer to bigger shops, but there was only 5 euros difference in cost
71 euros per night 14m Jul 09
Two entrances into marina - one going towards bridge and then turn right infront of Guardia Costiera, mooring between poles. Other is to keep marina to port side, go past it and entrance is at the end, mooring both along side and between poles.
Supermarket is cathedral end of main street, same side as launderette.
What started off as a gentle sail to Porto Garibaldi changed with the unexpected arrival of plenty of wind which meant that we had to reduce the sails. By the time we arrived, the wind had died down and we had our first experience of mooring between poles. The idea is to reverse between two larges poles, similar to telegraph poles that stick out of the water about 2 metres, and lassoo a pole as you go past. This is not easy! Luckily, we had some assistance from the marina mooring guy but it is not easy when you are short handed and the wind is blowing on your side. The next surprise was the cost, 84 euros per night + water & electric after the first day which makes this marina the most expensive we have ever been in but we had no choice.
The town itself is no great shakes but we did jump on a bus and visited the nearby town of Comacchio, which gave us a taste of what is in store for us in Venice. The town was originally three islands interconnected by bridges crossing over the canals. The area is within the salt marshes and in the past they have fought with Venice over the precious 'salt territory'. There were lots of trabucchi in operation here that were actually being used by the locals.
Jul 09 14m 84 euros per night + water & electric after first day.
No credit card facilities only cash.
Town quay is full of fishing boats, several deep.
Learn how to lassoo poles before you get there!
From Vieste northwards, we have seen lots of 'trabucchi' along the coast. The name derives from the word trabocchetto meaning trap.
The trabucchi structures came into existence about three hundred years ago as a way to fish when sea conditions were too bad to take out the boats or for fishermen who couldn't afford a boat.
Looking fragile and unsafe, the structure is made strong by the interlacing of beams and ropes. They are extremely flexible and resistant to the fury of the sea. Stakes or hollow poles are driven into the rocks as the structure is built approximately 5m from the shore or cliff. Once the walkway and platform are built, ropes supporting a large fishing mesh net are lowered into the water. The nets are placed either north-west or south-east to take advantage of the currents.
Though the trabucchi tradition has long gone, every year in June a trabucchi celebration takes place where tourists can watch the trabucchi at work. Many have been restored and reconstructed over the years but today they no longer have an economic function.
However plans are underway in Gargano area to finance a project for the re-establishment of trabucchi fishing industry (mainly for tourism). Trabucchi and the impressive towers (which were built to protect the coast from Turkish invasion) are an integral part of the Gargano landscape
A short trip from Pesaro took us on to Rimini, a popular holiday destination. There was plenty of room on the town quay when we arrived mid-afternoon so we moored up and then sought out the Guardia Costiera (Coast Guard) to ask if we could stay there. They were very accommodating and said that we could stay for 2 nights free of charge, perfect, until later that day when the big fishing boats came back and we had one close in front of us and close one behind. We watched them as they prepared the fish for collection by lorries later that day. It was certainly a happening place.
Next day, we checked out Rimini on our bikes. It is a place that has something to offer for everyone, whether you want to spend all day lazing on the beach or take part in the beach entertainment, nightclub to your hearts content or whether you want to visit some of the ancient sites in the historical centre and towns close by. The information booklet that we picked up at the tourist office is the best we have ever seen and made sure that we saw all the main sites during our short stay.
Rimini is a city of Roman origin with an official foundation date of 268 B.C. when the Roman Senate sent a colony of 6000 people there to found a new city. The colony was called Arimium, after the original name of the river. The Bridge of Tiberius is a testament to Roman engineering know-how. Built 2000 years ago it is still standing and is in use. We cycled across it on our way through Piazza Cavour, where we saw Leonardo di Vinci's favourite fountain 'Fontana della Pigna' and the 18th century Fish Market, before arriving at the Arch of Augustus, the oldest of all Roman arches dating from 27 B.C. It is 17 metres high and erected on the orders of Emperor Augustus in honour of Julius Caesar.
Good winds were predicted the next day, so it was an early start as we left for Porto Garibaldi, passing the traditional fishing nets 'Trabucchi' on our way.
Whilst it was useful to be on the wall, if we returned, we would go into the marina because the wall was very busy when the fishing boats came in. We were obviously in their way and were asked to move up a couple of metres to make room for one of the big boats, which we did. There was also a swell against the wall and the water wasn't very clean.
You need bikes to get around and if you need to do any supermarket shopping.
Large supermarket one street back from the seafront, about 1km away.
We arrived in Pesaro on Sunday afternoon and tied up to the town quay. There was a fun fair all set up and we could see some market stalls so we knew it was not going to be a quiet night but that was ok because we had been up at 4.30am the two previous nights so one more wouldn't matter. After we had sorted ourselves out, the Coast Guard walked over and told us that we could stay that night but that a large ship was due on the quay at 6am the following morning so we would have to leave by then - another early start!
We thought we'd have a walk around to the local yacht clubs that were there and see if they had any space that we could stay in for a night or two because we really wanted to take the bus back to Fano and visit it properly. On our walk around, we practised what we were going to say and how we were going to say it as we are not fluent in Italian. Both clubs tried really hard to help out, especially when confronted by an English woman trying her best to explain about what the Coast Guard had said etc.. but they were used to smaller boats and couldn't help.
Back onboard we could see a stage being set up close by with big speakers and amplifiers and by this time the fun fair had opened. It was only a small one so wasn't bad after all. From 7pm onwards, the previously deserted quayside was heaving with people promenading and enjoying themselves. At about 10pm the main band came on and they were absolutely fantastic. The singer, Sergio, was obviously a big Bruce Springstien fan and even sounded like him so we went over and danced with the crowds that were enjoying the show. He tried to finish several times but the crowd kept calling him back and he obviously wanted to sing and they did about four encores. We spoke to Sergio afterwards to say how much we enjoyed it and he told us that he had been playing at Wembley stadium the previous weekend. As the music ended, fireworks erupted over the port. We turned around to see the locals all sat on benches along the quayside to enjoy the show and we joined them. We found out (from the Coast Guard in Rimini the next day) that the reason for the party was because it was the 'Notte Rosa', which is like New Year's Eve. It is always held on the first weekend of July to celebrate the summer season all along the east coast.
So, with the sound of fireworks and Bruce Springstien ringing in our ears, we went to bed for a couple of hours before getting up again to move on but we had such a fun night that we didn't care.
For photos go to Gallery/Italy/Pesaro
It originated in a bar in the port and used to awaken and warm the fisherman prior to going out to sea. It is hot, sweet coffee flavoured with aniseed, rum, brandy and a slice of lemon. The coffee and alcohol layers are separated and it looks and tastes great.