Sailing Red Rooster
21st August 2018
We needed to fill up with water before we left Umag.
The day before I had gone across to the fuel dock in the dinghy to see if we could fill up there but was told that they had no water for yachts. I did however return to fill our two fuel cans with diesel.
In the summer Umag has two customs offices to cope with the volume of boats either checking out or checking in to Croatia.
One was on the town quay near the square, the other was in the marina on the opposite side of the bay nearer to us so I went there in the RIB to see if there were any water taps. There was, result.
So while Claire was at the customs office checking us out of Croatia I was filling our tanks.
Although we were only 20 nm from Monfalcone where we intended to stop for winter, we wanted to take RR into Venice, so we set a course for Chioggia, the western entrance into the lagoons of Venice which was 50 – 60 nm away.
We had the sails up 5 minuets after clearing the harbour. After an hour we put up our spinnaker.
It was perfect, sailing at 5 – 6 knots on a calm sea in glorious sunshine…..
Claire swapped our Croatian courtesy flag for our rather battered Italian one.
We passed a few large tankers at anchor and a couple of yachts but that was about it.
The wind started to drop so we pulled in the spinnaker and genoa and motored the last few miles to the entrance.
We followed a very large tanker into the wide channel that leads you into the lagoon past the new sea defences called ‘the gallery’ which are being built at a cost of £4.6 Bn to protect Venice from storm surges.
We followed the tanker for a few miles before we turned off into a smaller channel.
It's a very strange place to take a yacht. The lagoons are huge but quite shallow. The deeper channels are marked by lines of posts marking the dredged areas which act like roads crossing a dessert.
Without these posts it would be virtually impossible to get RR anywhere near Venice.
We followed our ‘road’ towards a small island called Poveglia. Where we were going to anchor for the night. The island looked like it had a church, a large building and a small dock.
There were a few boats anchored there already, mostly day boats which left as the sun started to lose it’s heat.
As we sat in the cockpit drinking our rewards for another good day I read about the island.
Poveglia Island was first populated in 421. People lived there until they were forced to leave in 1379 as war ravaged the area.
It remained deserted until 1776 when it was used to quarantine people who were suffering from serious diseases including the plague.
This continued for over 100 years before it evolved into a mental asylum staying in use until finally closing in 1968.
Locals are sure that the island is haunted with many paranormal episodes still being reported!!
Mmmm, we were about 100 meters from the island. It looked peaceful now and I hoped it stayed that way through the night.
After a restless night we had some breakfast before pulling up the anchor and getting back on the ‘road’ heading towards Venice which was only a few miles away.
The traffic increased as we neared this beautiful city. The traffic is the same around any city but in Venice everything, everything is floating on water not rolling on tarmac.
We saw buses, taxis, DHL delivery boats, postmen, workmen, police, rubbish collection, the list goes on, all in boats!
They were all weaving their way through the canals trying to go about their daily business whilst dodging the many gondolas, sight seeing boats and now a yacht called Red Rooster!!
It was really busy as we left our side road to join the grand canal which is like Oxford St in London or 5th Avenue in New York.
Like any road system you have to keep to your side, but there are no road markings, no roundabouts and no traffic lights!
Claire was at the helm as usual. I was laughing as her head was almost revolving on her shoulders ‘Omen’ style as she tried to keep track of all the boats heading in our direction.
It was chaos.
We went past St Mark’s Sq doing a U turn to retrace our steps before carrying on to look at other parts of this famous city.
We decided that it was too late to try and find a new place to stop so we went back to the haunted island via a different route.
We dropped our anchor in roughly the same spot just as the sun was going down.
Later, when it was completely dark we heard voices coming from the direction of the island… we saw torches flashing also the sound of laughter! Thankfully the laughter sounded happy, not evil or demented.
We guessed that it was kids being kids. We certainly hoped that’s what it was. Later we saw blue flashing lights heading our way. A police boat slowly passed between us and the island but the kids were long gone.
We slept a lot better than the previous night.
In the morning we got RR ready as we were heading back out to sea. We decided to go via the Lido inlet this time which meant heading back towards Venice.
As we were lifting our anchor I noticed a sailing yacht similar in size to RR with it's main and genoa up sailing along nicely in the light breeze that was filling in across the lagoon.
I thought how knowledgeable and skilful they must be to sail around here where the water was so shallow.
The anchor was nearly up so I got the boat hook to help it spin into the right position before bringing it up the last few feet into the bow roller.
I stood up looking at the yacht again. It didn’t look right, the sails were full but it wasn’t moving?
I went back to the cockpit and Claire said ‘I think they’ve run aground’ as she pointed to the yacht.
Now RR is blessed with a reasonably shallow draft so we slowly made our way towards the yacht.
There were 5 -6 late teens early 20’s people on there. One was over the side, I assume trying to find out why they had stopped. I knew why they had stopped, we were seeing 2 meters on our depth sounder now as Claire stopped RR about 10m away.
I asked if anyone spoke English?
A young woman came forward, saying in very broken English that she was in charge. They had already wound in the Genoa and the main was flapping.
I told her that we would try to pull them back into the channel we had anchored in if she could throw us a line.
She spoke in rapid Italian and a line was sorted out. The guy in the water swam to the front of their boat, grabbed the line and swam it over to us.
Once it was secure both ends Claire put RR into reverse and we slowly took up the slack. The line went taught with Claire increasing the revs. Nothing happened for a few seconds then the other yacht slowly swung to face us.
I shouted that they should use their motor too and we both started to move slowly towards deeper water.
Soon the yacht was off the mud and moving freely. We undid our end of the tow rope as they waved their thanks.
I told them that if they wanted to sail it would be better for them to go out to sea. The weather was very calm. I also told them that we were going out via the Lido entrance and that they were welcome to follow us.
So without further ado we made our way back towards Venice, past the Grand canal heading out to sea with the other yacht in our wake.
Just before passing the new sea defences at the Lido entrance a huge fleet of Riva motor launches roared past. There must have been 50 or 60 of them.
Riva Boats, renowned for the style, quality and craftmanship was started by Pietro Riva in 1842 on Lake Iseo, Italy.
As time went on engines replaced sail with the 1920 – 30s thirst for speed honing the Riva into a race winning design.
It was through these victories and the obvious care and quality of the craft that bought them to the attention of the rich and famous and soon the Riva was the only motor boat to be seen in.
Riva is still a successful business and the older boats sell for 6 figure sums.
It must have been a rally or club meeting as there were so many of them. We did a lot of waving and more than a few of them waved back.
Outside, the wind was very light with a very calm sea. It was like being in the lagoon…Oh well, we didn’t even bother pulling the main up but motored towards our intended destination which was an anchorage near Caorle.
We passed mile after mile of sunbathers stretched out on the beaches. There weren’t many people in swimming though and guessed that the thousands of jelly fish passing RR as we moved through the water may have had something to do with it.
We found the line of posts which indicated the channel that led to Caorle.
The idea was for us to anchor to one side of this channel but when we got to the position marked in the pilot book we thought it much to narrow. There was also a new fuel dock just before the bridge which meant a lot of passing traffic.
We also had one other consideration. We had seen on the forecast that we had some bad weather heading our way so wanted to be safe. Neither of us felt safe here so we continued down the very narrow canal to the marina in Caorle.
They had space for us so after a bit of confusion with the over enthusiastic marinaro pushing RR with his dinghy we tied up in our very first box mooring.
I think it was our first? A box mooring is a normal stern to berth but instead of bow lines tied to something under the water in front of the boat there are two large posts just wider than the width of the boat sticking out of the water to tie your bow lines onto.
It makes it a bit more interesting getting in but once in I think it's a better, more secure system.
The irritating marinaro was on the pontoon asking for our papers. I handed over our ships registration, but he didn’t want that and in the confusion it fell into the water and sank very quickly in it's laminated pouch!!!
We explained to the marinaro that we needed this document as it's the only one we have.
He apologised saying that he would dive in to retrieve it later!!
Claire was really, really angry about loosing this document as we only had a photo of it as back up.
We sorted RR out before walking into town to get some shopping.
Claire was very pleased to see a large, cheap selection of Prosecco in the supermarket.
I had been messaging our friends Neil and Erica over the last few days to let them know our plans as they live near here.
Neil got back to me to let me know that he would be coming to the marina later on today. Great.
When we arrived back at the marina the receptionist called us over to inform us that we owed the diver who had been called by the marinaro, €200 for retrieving our document from the depths.
I laughed telling her that I didn’t ask for a diver and I wouldn’t be paying 200 euro’s for a bit of paper that I could get replaced for £20.
She seemed a bit flustered and asked me to confirm that I didn’t ask for a diver. I explained what happened, that the marinaro said he would be the one diving in.
She was shaking her head as she started to walk towards the marinaro’s hut.
Back on RR we sorted ourselves out before Neil turned up.
It was great to see him again. We sat in the cockpit with a beer, Prosecco and nibbles.
We were enjoying catching up with Neil when a man pulled up on a pushbike.
He started talking in rapid Italian, in what I felt was an angry tone. I got up and explained that I didn’t speak Italian pointing to the large Red Ensign hanging from the flag pole at the back of the boat.
He just carried on so I put my hands up, shaking my head saying ‘non capisco’.
I turned to Neil, who is Italian. He was looking confused but said something to the man.
After listening to the man for a bit, Neil said ‘He’s a diver. He wants paying for getting something for you’. The man started talking again, he seemed to be getting angrier.
Neil asked me what happened, so I explained.
I tried to calm the man down, but Neil said he was fine, that he was just trying to explain that he had been called by the marinaro to come to the marina ASAP.
I asked Neil to explain my side of the story which he did.
There was a lot of arm movements and shrugging but eventually the man handed me our document. I tried to give him 20 euro’s as a thank you but he waved it away as he got on his bike and peddled off.
We had another hour or so with Neil before he had to go.
We had a slow start. I filled the water tanks, washing the decks while I had the hose out. Claire cleaned and tidied below. We then walked into town.
Caorle is a very pretty town with fishing boats lining the canal that runs into it. It's a busy tourist spot with beaches, café’s and a great shopping area.
We walked back to the marina. I wanted to stop by the reception just to check that everything was ok regarding the disgruntled diver.
The receptionist was a big busty woman with a lot of hair and make up. She could speak a little English. She understood what I was talking about and put my mind to rest about the diver.
When we left the office, I saw the marinaro and he gave me a dirty look so I assume he had got in trouble for contacting the diver. Oh well.
The weather started to make itself felt now with darker clouds covering the sun and strengthening winds nudging RR about in her berth.
We spent the next 24 hours on board happy that we were in a marina and not swinging about on an anchor in a narrow channel.
After the weather blew through we got off the boat to walk into town.
We walked along the promenade finding some wonderful carvings in the rocks that formed the break water.
Caorle was a very nice place and we decided to ask about a berth for the winter here when we went to the office in the morning to pay.
We got RR ready to leave before going to the reception to pay. The same woman was there so we asked about a six month stay from the beginning of September.
After a lot of paper shuffling and calculator use she came up with a figure of just over 3000 Euro’s which was a lot more than we hoped to pay in Monfalcone.
We then asked for our bill. I always ask for discount which often is a waste of breath but this time we struck gold.
The lovely, very attractive lady only charged us for two nights instead of four which was a right result.
We wiggled our way out of the very compact marina into the channel that led out to sea.
We had to be careful as it was very shallow where we were. Claire took us to the end of the posts before turning to port.
We were going to Grado Lagoon, another short hop down the coast. I suppose we were essentially wasting time before we stopped for the winter as our deal in Monfalcone started from the first of September.
Having said that Grado lagoon was great. We dropped our anchor at the edge of a wide channel with enough room from the marker posts to allow RR to swing as the tide moved in and out.
It seemed a little odd having a tide of around a meter here after experiencing a few years of very little tidal movement.
As the afternoon turned into evening everything went completely still with very little noise and a light breeze rippling on the water.
We slept very well.
In the morning we thought we should try to explore this lagoon a bit following the ‘roads’ to the once very important Roman town of Aquileia which was about 6 miles away.
At one time Aquileia was one of the worlds largest cities with a population of over a 100,000 people in the 2nd century AD.
As we followed our road deeper into the lagoon the water got shallower dropping from 4m down to 2m!
We passed many small islands that were only just large enough to support a tiny house. At first, we thought that they must all be old and abandoned but a few of them had washing flapping in the gentle breeze with a small dinghy tied to a post outside.
After a few more miles we decided to turn around as we didn’t want to get stuck so we headed back to our anchorage for another very peaceful night.
The jelly fish were our only companions. Some of them were huge. No swimming here, I fear.
We left Grado lagoon following the posts out to sea for about half a mile before setting a course to miss a post marking the shallowest area to port as we headed for our last stop for 2018. Nautec Mare in Monfalcone.
We always have mixed feelings about stopping at the end of the season. Part of us wants to carry on exploring, sailing some more, while another part is looking forward to tying the boat up for 6 months in a nice marina. Not worrying too much about the weather and the problems it could bring as winter approaches.
We also had another reason for stopping now. Grace, my eldest daughter had secured both Claire and I a place on her boat ‘Cambria’ for a week’s racing in Imperia, northern Italy.
We made our way slowly along the coast before entering the channel that led to Nautic Mare. We followed our chart plotter as it led us past a few, busy marinas right to the very end of the water way where we found our place for the foreseeable future.
Nautic Mare is a small marina, the prices are reasonable, it's very well protected from the elements as it's about two miles from the sea. It has great toilets complete with hot showers, a washing machine and drier at 3 Euros a load, a very nice swimming pool, a café \ restaurant that stays open all year. The staff are nice. There is a chandler opposite the entrance and we can be lifted out here next spring using the marina’s own hoist and cradles.
The very big supermarket and a Lidl is about a 15 minute walk, 7 on our bikes with the town around 30 minutes walk away.
It’s perfect but for one thing. There are no other cruisers living on their boats here which is a shame but apart from that we are very happy.