Venice – Last Day

We started our last day in Venice by catching the Vesporetto around to the Frontier Police to check out of Italy. Good to get this one out of the way early.
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Then we set about seeing what remained on our To Do list. We loved just walking around Venice, checking out all the nooks and crannies. My phone told me we did a couple of 14km days.

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We wandered up a great shopping street just north of the Grande Canal and ducked in to see the Church of Madonna dell’Orto. The churches of Venice are pretty damn impressive. Then down to the long street again to see some of the impressive palaces on the Grande Canal. We found a nice nook and stopped for a pizza and some wine, before heading to the Rialto Bridge via some more interesting streets.

13434761_10205938959186006_2032267993152033101_n We crossed the bridge and headed for the Santa Maria Gloriosa del Frari. As we got closer the rain started coming down in buckets and we retreated to a café for wine and cappuccino. Two drinks later, the rain abated and we made it to the church (on time). Its spectacular in its shear size and its marvellous paintings, sculptures and its pretty cool altarpiece by some dude called Titian. What caught our eye was a sculpture depicting black slaves, a quite haunting commentary on the wrongs of slavery. Good on the old Franciscan monks for taking a stand a long time ago because slavery was something the Venetians of old used to trade in.

We were on a roll and the last stop of the day was the Ca’ Rezzonico, a beautiful palace on the Grand Canal from the 1800’s. It’s an interesting look into what living in a grand Venetian home was like in the last days of the grand Republic, decked out with 18th century furnishings and paintings.

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13432388_10205939006827197_8696509876084080562_nThen  it was off to Harry’s Bar. Unfortunately it had just ticked over 6pm so my shorts were a problem. So back to the boat for a shower and a change. Whilst on the Island of San Georgio we checked out the impressive yacht club we were staying at but unfortunately the season was a few weeks off and the weather was bad so the bar and restaurant was deserted.

Not to worry, they had another club restaurant on the main island, just off St Marks square with an amazing view back to San Georgio. This was the site of their original yacht club and we had a great 5 star dinner there for about a third of the price of the other restaurants huddled around St Marks. Afterwards we walked around to Harry’s Bar but it was closed.

Never mind, it was getting late and we headed back to the boat for our early morning departure back to Pula in Croatia.

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Venice – Day 3

We started the day by farewelling Stevo as he made his way to the airport. Then it was off for some more exploring. We’d booked our Basilica “No Queuing” Ticket for 4 euros each online and that got us in at 9.45am. The Basilica is one of the most magnificent churches in Europe, dripping in Gold and fantastic mosaics and paintings. You can see that the church in the height of the Venetian Empire was the beneficiary of lots of its wealth.

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13423947_10205909690494307_1206584263925079089_nWe then had another crack at getting a temporary dingy license to cruise the canals. This time the Tourist Info Office directed us towards the City Hall and after being bounced around several offices and ending up at one that seemed to know what was going on, only to be told it was no longer a municipale responsibility but has now been transferred to the regional government, one hours bus ride away. Back at the boat, I read an email from Ellen who said a girl at another marina could organise it, but when I rang her she talked about organising it through the Tourist Information Office, but not before we were leaving. It was time to put up the white flag.

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We hopped on the vaporetto up the grand canal to see all those magnificent houses and palaces using good old public transport. We hopped off at the Daniela Hotel, which we found out about the previous night when watching the making of Casino Royale, the house that sank was based on this hotel with its magnificent interior.

We then walked up to the Arsenal to see where the real power of the Venetian Lion came from – the shipyards that build the naval fleet that dominated the Mediterranean all those years ago. We then hopped on another couple of ferries to continue our exploration of the waterways and canals. The multi-day transport ticket was proving to be very useful as we hopped on and off at quite a few places.

13346423_10205909675453931_7705910035293462541_nWe hopped off at Salute and admired the wonderful church and then wandered the interesting streets that are found around the Peggy Guggenheim Museum. With the sun shining, it was too good a day to stay inside.

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Venice in Four Parts

DAY 1

We checked out of Pula Marina just after 2pm and went over to the Customs and Immigration Dock. Checkout there was really easy and quick and then we were soon on our way.

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We put up the mainsail, but the wind dropped off to nothing. You could tell we were going to Venice, as when we got closer, the water got progressively dirtier and shallower (20-30m). It was a mill-pond out there as we slowly motored across to Venice, 70nm away. We all dodged ships and fishing boats that littered the way on our 2 hour night shifts.

We reached the channel into Venice at 7.30am and got ourselves acquainted with some very busy charts. Once inside, it became much clearer – despite all the new breakwaters and a new lighthouse on the outside.13427751_10205896800892075_717986453167060904_n

There was quite a current running as there’s a 1m tide in Venice, something unheard of in the rest of the Med.

Sailing into Venice (,A La James Bond in Casino Royale), has been on my bucket list for some time and it was exciting to tick this one-off.

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We were heading for the marina at Compagnia Della Vela on San Georgio, a marina recommended by the really nice Italian guys we met in Molat from the Savento Sailing Team.

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We arrived at San Georgio, right opposite St Marks Square a little early and we took the opportunity to do a little sightseeing from the water before heading into the tight entrance of the Marina.

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Because of the tides, the marina was set up with poles for the monos to slide in between and tie up to. There was one space where a cat could go and we were extremely lucky to score it.

Safely tied up, it was off to see Venice. The water bus cost a cool 7.5 euros for a one way ticket, the most expensive public transport I’ve been on for a while. We ended up catching it all the way to the bus/train station as this was nearby to the frontier police, who checked us into Italy. And for 0 euros. Beautiful!

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The rest of the day was spent getting a SIM card from Wind, getting pizza and wine for lunch at a cute little sidewalk cafe, and aimlessly wandering the streets and canals of Venice, seeing what popped up around the corner. We had read SV Golden Glow’s Blog and they had some great info on Venice including how to get some temporary licence plates for our dingy to be able to cruise the canals. Unfortunately the authorities had changed this in February this year and we are not able to do this in A Little Bit of Mischief. Bummer!

After an overnight leg last night, we returned to the boat and had a quiet night watching a movie over a few drinks.

Channeling Daniel Craig

​Apologies for the long post but it is Venice !!!

We checked out of Pula Marina just after 2pm and went over to the Customs and Immagration Dock. Checkout there was really easy and quick and then we were soon on our way. 

We put up the mainsail, but the wind dropped off to nothing. You could tell we were going to Venice by the dirty colour of the shallow water. (20-30m). It was a milpond out there as we slowly motered across to Venice, 70nm away. We all dodged ships and fishing boats that littered the way on our 2 hour night shifts. 

We reached the channel into Venice at 7.30am and got ourselves aquainted with some very busy charts. Once inside, it became much clearer despite all the new breakwaters and a new lighthouse on the outside. 
There was quite a current running as there’s a 1m tide in Venice, something unheard of in the Med. 
Sailing into Venice, A La James Bond in Casino Royale, has been on my bucket list for some time and it was exciting to tick this one off.  

We were heading for the marina at Compagnia Della Vela on San Georgio, a marina recommended by the really nice Italian guys we met in Molat from the Savento Sailing Team. 

We arrived at San Georgio, right opposite St Marks Square a little early and we took the opportunity to do a little sightseeing from the water before heading into the tight entrance of the Marina. 
Because of the tides, the marina was set up with poles for the monos to slide in between and tie up to. There was one space where a cat could go and we were extremely lucky to score it. 

Safely tied up, it was off to see Venice. The water bus cost a cool 7.5 euros for a one way ticket, the most expensive public transport I’ve been on for a while. We ended up catching it all the way to the bus/train station as this was nearby to the frontier police, who checked us into Italy. And for 0 euros. Beautiful!

The rest of the day was spent getting a SIM card from Wind, getting pizza and wine for lunch at a cute little sidewalk cafe, and aimlessly wandering the streets and canals of Venice, seeing what popped up around the corner. We had read SV Golden Glow’s Blog and they had some great info on Venice including how to get some temporary licence plates for our dingy to be able to cruise the canals. Unfortunately the authorities had changed this in February this year and we are not able to do this in A Little Bit of Mischief. Bummer!  

After an overnight leg the night before, we returned to the boat and had a quiet night watching a movie over a few drinks.  

Day 2 in Venice started off rainy and overcast. Refreshed after a good night’s sleep it was off to St Marks Square to start the business of knocking off all the sights. The Doges Palace is still amazing, amazing no matter how many times you visit it. I’ve finished reading the history of Venice and it puts it all in context. I won’t bore you with the rest.

We started Day 3 by farewelling Stevo as he made his way to the airport. Then it was off for some more exploring. We’d booked our Basilica “No Queuing” Ticket for 4 euros each online and that got us in at 9.45am. The Basilica is one of the most magnificent churches in Europe, dripping in Gold and fantastic mosiacs and paintings. You can see that the church in the height of the Venetian Empire was the beneficiary of lots of its wealth. 

We then had another crack at getting a temporay dingy license to cruise the canals. This time the Tourist Info Office directed us towards the City Hall and after being bounced around several offices and ending up at one that seemed to know what was going on, only to be told it was no longer a municipale responsibility but has now been transferred to the regional government, one hours bus ride away. Back at the boat, I read an email from Ellen who said a girl at another marina could organise it, but when I rang her she talked about organising it through the Tourist Information Office, but not before we were leaving. It was time to put up the white flag.  

We hopped on the vaporetto up the grand canal to see all those magnificent houses and palaces using good old public transport. We hopped off at the Daniela Hotel, which we found out about the previous night when watching the making of Casino Royale, the house that sank was based on this hotel with its magnificent interior. 

We then walked up to the Arsenal to see where the real power of the Venitian Lion came from – the shipyards that build the naval fleet that dominated the Mediteranean all those years ago. We then hopped on another couple of ferries to continue our exploration of the waterways and canals. The multi-day tansport ticket was proving to be very useful as we hopped on and off at quite a few places. 

We hopped off at Salute and admired the wonderful church and then wandered the interesting streets that are found around the Peggy Gugenheim Museum. With the sun shining, it was too good a day to stay inside.

We started our last day in Venice by catching the Vesporetto around to the Frontier Police to check out of Italy. Good to get this one out of the way early. 

Then we set about seeing what remained on our To Do list.  We loved just walking around Venice, checking out all the nooks and crannies. My phone told me we did a couple of 14km days.  

We wandered up a great shopping street just north of the Grande Canal and ducked in to see the Church of Madonna dell’Orto.  The churches of Venice are pretty damn impressive.  Then down to the long street again to see some of the impressive palaces on the Grande Canal. We found a nice nook and stopped for a pizza and some wine, before heading to the Rialto Bridge  via some more interesting streets. 

We crossed the bridge and headed for the Santa Maria Gloriosa del Frari. As we got closer the rain started coming down in buckets and we retreated to a café for wine and cappuccino. Two drinks later, the rain abated and we made it to the church (on time). Its spectacular in its shear size and its marvelous paintings, sculptures and its pretty cool altarpiece by some dude called Titian. What caught our eye was a sculpture deplicting black slaves, a quite haunting commentary on the wrongs of slavery. Good on the old Franciscan monks for taking a stand a long time ago because slavery was something the Venetians of old used to trade in. 

We were on a roll and the last stop of the day was the Ca’ Rezzonico, a beautiful palace on the Grand Canal from the 1800’s. Its an interesting look into what living in a grand Venetian home was like in the last days of the grand Republic, decked out with18th century furnishings and paintings. 

Then it was off to Harry’s Bar. Unfortunately it had just ticked over 6pm so my shorts were a problem. So back to the boat for a shower and a change. Whilst on the Island of San Georgio we checked out the impressive yacht club we were staying at but unfortunately the season was a few weeks off and the weather was bad so the bar and restaurant was deserted.   

Not to worry, they had another club restaurant on the main island, just off St Marks square with an amazing view back to San Georgio. This was the site of their original yacht club and we had a great 5 star dinner there for about a third of the price of the other restaurants huddled around St Marks.  Afterwards we walked around to Harry’s Bar but it was closed. 

Never mind, it was getting late and we headed back to the boat for our early morning departure back to Pula in Croatia.

Snow, Snow, Snow, Knees

With a short break in Cyprus, it was back in the air again, this time to Geneva, with some rather long luggage in the form of Dee’s skis.12733443_10205123030548300_6453184930903532345_nLanding at Geneva, we hopped in a 4WD and headed towards Megeve. We’d found a hotel, walking distance from the ski lift and it turned out to be a good choice. Megeve has 4 different ski fields, and Dee managed to ski all four whilst I re-acquainted myself with the art of (un)controlled falling down a snow-covered mountainside. The Megeve town was postcard perfect, complete with cutesy churches, Xmas trees and bars selling mulled wine.

12705268_10205132013772875_90867133093280462_nAfter 4 days skiing, it was time to take a day off and head to Chamonix, another of those cutesy (but expensive) famous ski towns. We managed to find Dee’s favourite restaurant from years ago and enjoyed a nice Valentines Day lunch overlooking the river.

Our next stop was La Plagne, where we had some of our best skiing. La Plagne is linked to Les Arcs by a huge gondola, which carries over 100 skiers at a time. By this stage I was starting to enjoy skiing Red runs and was feeling comfortable zipping down the mountain. That was right up to when I was half way down a really nice red run that went for miles, when I hit a section with some really gnarly moguls.

Somehow I’d managed to skip the Moguls 101 class and I came to grief on a turn. My skis stayed on and I thought I was going to break a leg. In the end I (only) managed to tear my calf muscle quite badly. I managed to get over to a blue run and slowly skied down on half a leg – until I made it to the bar where I stayed for the rest of the afternoon until Dee was able to ski back to our hotel and drive around to where I was – a good couple of hours later.

12768282_10205196198777460_4131995590614826276_o Next day I could hardly walk, so I confined myself to the small village whilst Dee skied. Then it was time for another rest day anyway, so we headed off once more to Alp D’Huez, spending most of the day driving there. It was an interesting drive up to the resort, looking at signs with all the winners of the Tour De France that had to ride up the 20 something switchbacks to the top. As my friend Spike did last year in a moment of madness. Alp D’Huez was where I got back on the bike (skis) and tried a few easy green runs to see how I went. I struggled at first but then managed to do some blues by the end of the day. Dee meanwhile had skied all over the mountain and declared it DONE, so we checked out the next day and headed for Italy. On the way we went through a very, very, very long tunnel – over 20kms. I was excited to roll up in Piedmonte and enthusiastically checked out the wine lists and bottle shops as soon as I got there – there being the cute village of Sous Deux. There were a few good wine bars that got checked out that night if I can remember rightly.

Next morning it was off to find the snow. We got to the bottom of the lifts to see a thin covering of snow. Not good. As we went up the lifts we could see more ice than snow. The first run was more like ice skating than snow skiing. Our aim was to get across to Sestriere, which we accomplished using a series of ski lifts (both up and down) and not much actual skiing.   Once in Sestriere, I found the lifts closed because of wind – I’d like to say high winds, but not really.

Eventually I got to an open lift and had a good few hours skiing on okay snow. Then it was time to find my way back to Sous Deux. This involved going up the gondola and skiing down a goat track. Turned out to be a very icy goat track. It was now snowing with no visibility, and the goat track was a layer of ice-covered by a thin layer of snow. Deadly! Well, deadly to a novice skier with a bad calf. I managed to lose control at speed and crashed, falling on both knees. I remember thinking this snow is really hard as my knees banged into the ice. Ouch. Luckily I hadn’t gone that far so I was able to walk (slowly) up the goat track to the top of the gondola, which took me back to Sestriere. From here, I took a bus back to Sous Deux, my ski trip over courtesy of not one but two non-functioning knees.

12524109_10205201782317045_2132246238112554488_n Dee was still going strong so we went off to look for better snow. We found it in Cervinia, on the other side of the Matterhorn from Zermatt in Switzerland. Dee had fun skiing across to Zermatt, whilst I checked out the Trauma Centre for a couple of matching knee X-rays and some expensive knee braces.

After Dee had her fill skiing, she graciously put her skis away and we went touring. 12525555_10205227844368580_3590290695748579708_oWe headed back to Piedmont to try to find some open wineries, but it wasn’t tourist season and they were all closed. We had a nice drive out of Italy, along a the beautiful Aosta valley, stopping at Roman ruins, historic towns and castles to Courmayeur, where we had a look see but did not stop and ski. Then it was through the Mt Blanc tunnel and off to Annecy for the night.

12809564_10205227838448432_613566304810586831_nAnnecy is really beautiful, set on the Lake that bears its name, it is sometimes called theVenice of the Alps with its two canals and the river Thiou flowing through the old city. We hit upon a student show at the old gaol that is in the middle of the river that night, which was rather fortunate as the gaol wasn’t normally open to the public.

12814816_10205227904170075_7364091598878815212_n Next day we headed to Lyon for our last few days of the trip. What a brilliant French city. We had a great time, wandering the various neighbourhoods of Lyon, visiting great churches, historic old town, great museums and squares and monuments.   The Lumiere museum was a highlight – Lyon was where the Lumiere brothers did their stuff. We even found time to go and see a Joe Jackson concert – a blast from the past.

Skiing and touring over, we drove back to Geneva and headed back to Cyprus.

 

1000nm is Not That Far if you say it quickly.

The EU welcomes yachties from all over the world, provided that they only stay 90 days every 6 months. Great!!! Other that Gibraltar and Morocco, I’d been in the EU since arriving in France on the 17th March so now it was time to leave.

Although Croatia has just joined the EU, it still wasn’t hooked into the Schengen immigration zone, which is the thing, so therefore Croatia is okay for the moment. So Croatia it is, 983nm away as the crow sails.

Our route took us down the bottom of Sardinia, across the top of Sicily, through the Messina Straits, around the bottom of Italy’s foot, and up the Adriatic Sea to Dubrovnick. I had a place to catch on the 9th August and we left at 5pm on the 31st August.

My super smart GPS had us arriving in Dubrovnick on the 7th August if we sailed straight through at an average speed of 6 kts so we had a day to effectively spare. Nothing like a bit of pressure.

The first couple of days and nights we ran 3 hour watches, with myself in a consultancy role, checking at the start and end of each watch and generally being available on a break glass if needed approach. After that I started to miss my night watches and we started rotating through four 2 hour watches.

It took us nearly 48 hours to cover the 290nm to Sardinia and we spent all our time motoring into a fairly light wind. Occasionally we would head off and get a decent enough angle to pull out all the genoa, but not often.

On the way to Sicily, we were entertained by dolphins and whales. Usually around 6pm, the dolphins would head over and play between our bows for 30 minutes or so. We even got to pull out our Geneker and sail for a couple of hours.

Sitting here at 5.30am in the morning on watch, the temperature is 27 degrees. Balmy nights and warm days.

We got to Sicily at midday on day 4, and halfway along the island, we celebrated our half way point. We passed inside some impressive looking islands as we motored along the coast. It would have been nice to stop and have a quick swim but we were racing to get to the Messina Straits to catch the tide through (4 and a half hours after Gibraltar HT according to guide book), so there was no time to dilly daly.

We made the straits just after dark and kept to starboard of the designated shipping lanes. Watched a passenger liner slip in front of us at 15kts.

The straits are narrow – really, really narrow. 1.6nm narrow at a couple of spots. As well as the ships going up and down, we had a constant stream of ferries crossing back and forth from the mainland to Sicily and back. Thank god for AIS.

We eventually made it through all the traffic and popped out the other side as the straits began to widen. And then the wind started to lift from the 10 knots we had entering the straits.

I’d been sleeping and the crew woke me as we needed a reef – two actually. This was more like the winds in the Strait we had read about. Still sleepy we turned into the wind and started to put in a couple of reefs. Normally reefing is easily on La Mischief, but still half a sleep I managed to balls it up and ended up snapping a lazy jack. Bugger.
Without the lazy jack in place the bottom of the sail spilled out and we ended up dropping it completely and lashing it to the boom.

Next morning, we assessed the damage and lifted the main sail to its full height without any reefs – this being the only configuration that we could manage without lazy jacks. The next day was spent motoring along the bottom of Italy’s foot in light winds.

We hadn’t been able to do a lot of sailing, with the motoring being on pretty much all of the time. With a broken lazy jack and running a bit low on fuel we decided we would pull into Italy to refuel.

We picked out Santa Maria di Leuca, right on the cape. We arrived there early in the morning and Adrian went up the mast to fix the broken lazy jack. Then we took on enough fuel to make it to Croatia as fuel is a lot cheaper in Croatia than Italy.

Then it was into the Adriatic. We had a bit more luck with the winds as we just had enough angle to motor sail north. Next morning we sailed past Montenegro and into Dubrovnik, just over 1000nm from Palma. It had taken us just under 8 days and I think we had the motors off for less than 12 hours during that time.

We decided that we would stop in Kavtat, as this was quite close to both the airport and Dubrovnik and looked nice, easy to enter and quite protected. We got there at about 11am and pulled into the Q jetty. Adrian backed in and asked how much insurance cover I had as he went stern to beside a beautiful 150 foot yacht – I told him it didn’t matter how much I had given how expensive the boat next to us was.

Checking into Croatia involves taking a crew list along to the harbour master and getting a cruising permit for the boat (1765 kuna = A$335) – valid for a year) and visitors tax (720 kuna). Even though Croatia has just jointed the EU, they are still keeping their own currency – must be a good thing given the problems Greece etc are having. Next stop was the police who stamped us in and then we were done.

Leaving the Q jetty, we went and picked up a mooring right next to another Australian cat. The Croatians are mad keen on water polo and that night, we found a water polo game going on in an outdoor pool not much more than 50m from our mooring. We dingyed in and watched a bit before having a farewell meal with Roger who was flying out the next morning.

Next day, we dingyed in and said our goodbyes to Roger before heading off on a ferry to Dubrovnik. We could have caught the bus but some Poms we met the night before said we should definitely go to Dubrovnik by boat and they were right – it was so the right way to go to this very impressive city.

But before any sightseeing could be done, we needed to find a replacement impeller for our genset,which we eventually did out at the ACI marina the other side of town. Then it was back to town where we did the walk around the city wall that goes right the way round this magnificent old city. I’m sorry Sevilla, but I think I’ve just got a new favourite European city. The walk took a good couple of hours as we savoured both the city and the seascape from multiple brilliant view points. It was very hot and a bar half way round that sold fresh orange juice was a welcome pit stop.

Back at the boat it was time to pack, ready to head back to Perth for Cas’ 50th.

For photos of Dubrovnik and Kavtat see https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10200112301283200.1073741865.1620379103&type=1&l=e143951a3e