Report 54 Belgrade to Nova Sad
12 May 2011 | Nova Sad
Sahula Passage Report. No. 54
Belgrade to Nova Sad, Serbia
“Welcome to Belgrade,” George (mob: +381652082998, Dir: 011 2628250, email@example.com), owner of the Vodenica fish restaurant in Sava River entrance, takes a line from Sahula. Coffee, liqueur and a city map, soon see Skipper and Crew amongst the Kalemegdan Citadel. Its battlements impose over the Danube and herald the city centre. The city lines the Sava rather than the Danube.
Belgrade was reputedly bland (“WWII “…reconstruction in bland concrete… not hurt to build it again (Heikell 1991);” “…one of the ugliest cities imaginable, repulsively so…” (Negley Farson, 1924) the result of some 30 reconstructions at the hands of various invaders and incipient wars to recent times.
Times have changed; Sahula’s experience is the opposite. City parks surrounded by Hapsburg and Ottoman architecture, put paid to any blandness. Open air cafes, art galleries, book shops, along tree lined streets and wide pedestrian boulevards of chic shops, people and families, make for a friendly, beautiful, vibrant, city.
“Why are you here, you don’t need to see me,” Harbour Master “frees” Sahula till exiting Serbia in Nova Sad. Once entry process is complete, Serbian ports are clear till exit.
Skipper and Crew attend a game at the Serbian Tennis Open which Serbian hero, Novak, won convincingly.
Belgrade yacht berths/marinas (apart from George’s) are in the channel off the Sava River towards the upstream Danube confluence. Another marina is upstream of it, along the River. The pontoon alongside the city, before the bridge, is reserved for passenger ships. Police, customs, Harbour Master are located at or near, the pontoon.
Captain Jord emails that the River’s shallowest depth, at Szoit, (1559) (Hungary), was 2.70 m. In a “drying” River, Sahula moves on.
Rubbish tips, suburban, city and village, plastic bags, human refuse, tipped off high bank tops, tumbling to the River. Homes (large, neat, wealthy) view from shore and rarely river recreate (few boats, apart from fishing dories). Pollution is “out of sight, out of mind.”
International River agreements, environmental ethics seem unknown, uneducated, unsupported. Danube bleeds.
Off channel, anchored; a Pusher, off course came up inside seemingly mistaking Sahula’s anchor light for a stern beacon. It grounded at two metres. A reminder: competency does not reside in all commercial captains – anchor shallow.
Captain Jord suggested exiting Serbia at Novi Sad. Reputed to have “lively cultural air…” (Heikell), Sahula would stop overnight. There are no places to stop. The pontoons are all for larger ships and the floating restaurant berth was occupied and the police (at “their” pontoon) instructed to return when leaving. Sahula anchored off under the Petrovardin fortress’s battlements.
Perhaps indicative of the few visitors on yachts was the confusion amongst officialdom. The “transit log” was deficient as there was no Harbour Master form from Veliko Gradiste. This was subsequently emailed through.
Petrovardin fortress and surrounding village is the cities greatest asset. The town is a mix of old and new along pedestrian boulevards and narrow ancient streets that feed to a square dominated by a superb tiled roof, “cathedral.” It was not a challenge to Ruse.
Sahula duly moored to the “police” pontoon (so customs could visit – they never did) to be advised that only passenger ships (like Captain Jord’s) could avoid exit at the Serbia - Croatian border town of Bezdan. Sahula, as in Belgrade, had no need to visit officialdom at all in Novi Sad.
However, the sting was yet to come. “Privatisation” meant that the pontoon “master” could claim 60 Euros for the short visit (subsequently reduced, under protest, to 30 Euros for the one hour). Crew’s short fuse on officialdom was suitably expressed and Sahula moved to anchor, a suitable distance upriver (some 5 kms). Skipper and Crew, resolved to avoid pontoons and press onto Budapest.
Next Report: Novi Sad, Bezdan, to Budapest.