Sahula Cruising

14 May 2012 | England
25 October 2011 | Ipswic
13 September 2011 | Ipswich
13 September 2011 | Ipswich
25 June 2011 | Frankfurt
09 June 2011 | Frankfurt
25 May 2011 | Regensburg, Germany
18 May 2011 | Linz
12 May 2011 | Nova Sad
12 May 2011 | Vienna
05 May 2011 | Budapest
22 April 2011 | Viden
08 April 2011 | Constanta, Romania

Report No. 55 Nova Sad to Budapest

05 May 2011 | Budapest
David Haigh
Passage Report No.55

May, 2011

Nova Sad to Budapest

After a month on the River the unfolding riverscape across the plains was beginning to pale. It remained a beautiful river with picturesque villages along densely, wooded banks, but Budapest beckoned. As well, the added attraction of no more officialdom after entering the European Union (in Hungary) made for moving on.

Croatia (some 100 kms) was traversed in transit i.e. no ports only anchorages on an international waterway. Sahula, tactfully, flew the Serbian, Croatian, Australian and "Boxing Kangaroo," flags.

Days pass navigating, reading, preparing, inter alia, videos, articles and art and engaging the languid life of being part of an ancient river.

After Nova Sad the river narrows and shallows to between 2.7 and 3 metres. Current remained the same i.e. between 2 and 3 Km/ hour.

Vukovar's, shell pocked watertower was a reminder of the impact of the 1991 war on the city. Above it, a large, Croatian flag flew defiantly.

"They still have mines in the River in Croatia." Whether true or not, Sahula anchored on the Serbian side.

Seeming to mistake Sahula's white anchor light for her stern light, a large "pusher" grounded nearby, attempting to pass to port. Sahula's off channel and in shallow water anchorage (2-3 m) paid dividends.

River depths rapidly vary to 2.5 - 3 m. Marker buoys are often moored at the edge in shallow water. Sahula, at times, ploughed the River silt.

A flock of white swans swam idly by. Cranes fished off river sandbanks. Fish projectile at insects.

Fishers in traditional scows plied their nets. Ashore, families on holiday, played, fished and waved from their campsites and stilted, holiday bungalows.

Bezdan, the town, is not the border post. The post is on the River, the town some distance inland. Sahula booked out with helpful officials. Serbian officialdom earned kudos.

Sahula anchored on the border. Her anchor was in Hungary but the boat in Croatia. "What about the mines?" says Crew?

The "mine" however, was to be in Hungary. At Mocha village the border post is a new, yellow brick, building upriver from the town. It is not on the chart. Mike, captain, aboard the harbour launch, escorted Sahula to the pontoon.

Fuel and supplies are not available in Mochas. "... available in the yacht harbour in Baja (20 km upriver)."

All went well, passports to the Police, Customs, doctor, then a boat drivers licence was requested (during a boat search) as an E.U. requirement (which commence at Hungary) Skipper had an original, signed, licence letter but it was insufficient, "plastic" was required. This was resolved but not without some concern about identification. It was the first document "hitch" on the Danube. Skipper's "first" since leaving Australia. Sahula, Skipper and Crew are now cleared for Europe. Sahula has an 18 month VAT (tax) exemption and crew, visas are for 3 months.

Sahula passes, going downstream, the second small yacht (Austrian) destined for Turkey.

"Fuel is up canal near bridge, Tosco..." was the advice given at the small boat marina up the canal at Baja central. The "canal" proved impassable but the "Tosco" (marked on chart) source of supplies, fuel and water was correct (anchor near bridge and walk 1 km along highway).

Crew dives into a cold, polluted (sewerage, silt) River which is now shallower and its flow, faster.

Sahula is "fed" and "fuelled" for the two days to Budapest.

The Danube towns, generally, are not equipped for boating tourism other than the passenger ships. Most towns have no small boat mooring facilities. Pontoons are for cruise ships or barges and are expensive. Anchoring off may be the only solution.

The River twists and turns across the flat plains of the Puszta. The Puszta "...has been described as the dullest place in Europe. It's so grey, it's dust..." (Heikell). Times change, it is now rich farm land. It stretches over half of Hungary from the Carpathian Mountains of Transylvania to the Danube.

It is here also, at the Dunadoldvar reaches, that the Danube has its least depth. Captain Jord's advice was the "...move on..." to pass here as the River would be shallower in summer. He subsequently advised that the "River Countess" had, a week before, passed with a depth of 2.7 m.

It was, providentially, evening; time to anchor. Dark clouds, wild wind, and rain saw Sahula riding out the storm at rest. A large barge stopped nearby. Passenger ships raced on.

The river, hereon, narrows, shallows and has faster, but varying flow. Sahula's progress returns to some 70 km over a 10-12 hour period. It is a cold, windy, bleak, River day.

Sahula is "...slowly catching that barge..." "... it is anchored!," "...lucky we didn't slow down to avoid passing it." A long day.

From Dunafoldvar (1560), the River depths, average, 2-3 m. River maintenance boats are re-surveying the changing channel. Rocks, off channel, create the first rapid seen on the River.

Underway at 0530, Sahula arrives in Budapest today. It is a cool, calm and sunny.

Sahula is passing the city centre. Under five bridges, into the heart of the City of the Danube.

Next Report: Budapest, City of the Danube.

Vessel Name: Sahula
Vessel Make/Model: van de stadt 36 extended to 40 feet
Hailing Port: Townsville
Crew: David - single hander
David is retired (60 ish young) academic who taught potential environmental radicals environmental law, law of the sea and coastal law. He's now setting out on a global cruise aboard Sahula. He's travelling solo except when potential crew take the plunge and join up. He welcomes worthy souls. [...]

About Sahula

Who: David - single hander
Port: Townsville