Venezia bound at last

We made it through the nasty storm without issue, and despite the winds not dying down overnight.  The next day, we planned to head to the ancient city of Poreč (have you noticed that pretty much every city we’ve gone to is “ancient?”).  This was going to be our jumping off point for our crossover to Venice.  We also needed to make sure that wherever we chose as our departure point had an immigration and harbor patrol office so that we could check ourselves, and our boat, out of the country.  When we arrived, we decided to grab a mooring ball instead of tying up to the city wall.  The weather was suppose to be pretty nice, and we much prefer the quiet of the bay versus being on display in front of all the restaurants and people strolling the town.  By the time we got tied up, it was only 3:30, so we quickly pumped up our still deflating dinghy and headed to the immigration office.  Deflating dinghy you ask?  If you will recall, we came back to a partially deflated dinghy in Primošten (wow, that seemed like forever ago!).  While prepping for our departure from Cres, we worked on finding the leak and patching it.  Needless to say, it didn’t fix the problem 🙁  

Back to our current story…..we headed into town on our dinghy and tied up to the wall.  We walked over to the customs office only to discover it was closed!  Are you kidding me?  They are typically open until 5 p.m.  it is only 4:30.  As we stood there trying to figure out what to do, we noticed the sign indicating that 4 days a week they closed at 3 p.m.  Well wasn’t that just great!  We had a 55 mile crossing the next day, so our goal was to be underway by 6:30 a.m. to ensure we arrived in Venice with plenty of daylight to find our way through the lagoon.  Now what!?  They didn’t open until 8 a.m.  We decided at this point to wander the town and check out the beautiful sights since we were already onshore.  It was shockingly crowded here for the end of September.  We walked the cobblestone alleys exploring the beautiful architecture of the city.  We even stumbled onto a intercultural event with blaring music and different countries represented by groups of people dressed alike and dancing in the square.  Ironically, most of the music was American (but all the flags on display were from the EU).  We enjoyed the scene for a bit, and then continued on our way.  Unfortunately, our hearts weren’t totally into this visit as we were both preoccupied with how we were going to proceed in getting out of Croatia on time and in safe weather.

Poreč’s lovely cobblestoned alleyways

Poreč’s old city fortifications
Cultural Festival

We returned to the boat to begin strategizing.  If the customs office opened at 8:00 like the sign said, and the process was expeditious, we could be on our way to Venice by 9:00.  We looked at the weather forecasts, re-calculated our distance, and calculated time.  At best, it would take us 8 hours but could take up to 12 if we tried to sail in less than sustained 15-20 knot winds or only used 1 motor.  We both agreed that the 12 hour version was not an option.  We did not want to navigate the Venice lagoon and an unknown marina in the dark.  The second option we tossed around was to delay Venice for a day or two and continue our way north.  We would be close enough to Slovenia to tap us out of Croatia on time, it would be a shorter open water crossing (however more miles due to moving north along the coast).  Delaying our crossing could put us into another bad weather window since the storms seemed to be rolling in on a more regular basis now that fall had arrived.  After much consideration, we made a pact (my requirement, of course).  I made Dan promise that the only way we would lift sails was if we had at least 15-20 knot sustained winds…gusts don’t count.  You lose time powering down the boat and changing course to hoist the sails, and we did not have time to spare.  I also requested that if we were unable to keep 6 knots (about 7 miles per hour), under 1 engine, that we would motor under both engines.  With our agreement in place, we decided to go ahead and make the jump the following day provided there were no delays with immigration. Needless to say, it was a rough night (of course it was!  A long, draining day awaits you!).  The wind had kicked up yet again…..and NOT in any of the forecasts!  This was our first time on a mooring ball in high winds, and the noises were actually louder and more intense than when tied up in port (lots of creaking and cracking as the boat pulls and twists on the single point of the ball).

When morning arrived, we scrambled to get to the immigration office right as they opened.  We tied up the dinghy and raced over there.  A group had already beat us 🙁    I whispered to Dan that they were on the catamaran that had come in a few hours after us last night.  We soon realized (more like overheard) they were headed to Venice as well.  This was oddly comforting knowing someone else would be on the same path as us.  We finished our clearance and were told to head across the way to the police station to finish our check out.  The group was just finishing as we approached, so we stopped to talk.  They were, in fact, headed to the exact marina  in Venice that we were.  After a brief discussion about engine size (Men!  Always comparing sizes 🤣), the race was on!  We both got back to our boats at about the same time, and quickly prepared for departure.  They had the jump on us after dropping our mooring lines, but had to make a side trip to the fuel station (that would easily cost them a 1/2 hour).  We were out of the breakwater by 8:40 and ahead of schedule.  Yeah us!  There was not much wind forecasted by any of the models (but we’ve seen how well that’s been working), so we knew motoring was probably going to be the case for most of the journey.  We also knew that after several days of heavy wind, coming down the gut of the gulf, that we were likely going to have uncomfortable seas.  We decided we would do an hour on/hour off rotation at the helm since neither of us had a great night sleep, and it was going to be a long day.  Since I was on the wheel coming out of the breakwater, I started.  There was some wind….not enough to sail with but enough to chill you to the bone….and it looked like the seas were going to progressively get worse.  Warm clothes, heavy weather jacket, life jacket and tether attached to the helm station were the theme of the day.  When Dan came up to relieve me, I asked him if what I was seeing on the horizon was rough water.  The entire horizon looked like the boiling surface of water.  Neither one of us could figure out if we were seeing the line of rough water or our eyes were playing tricks on us.  It didn’t take too long before we had our answer…..large swells,  breaking waves, and whitecaps…..let the fun begin.  We alternated our shifts, catnapped when off, and tried to keep warm.  Surprisingly, the 8 hours was over before we knew it.  I didn’t think I would like the switching every hour (too quick), but I think it made the passage go really fast.

As we approached the entrance to the lagoon, things got really interesting.  The water color shifted from the beautiful, clear, deep blues to this milky, murky, grayish-green.  That wasn’t the interesting thing though….it was this really bizarre, roiling, washing machine of confused waves that greeted us (greeted is probably not the right word since the water seemed angry as hell).  We made sure to give the land and any water markers a wide berth so as not to get pitched into them by the crazy movement and hellacious current.  The water stayed this way for a very long time as we made our way deeper into the lagoon.  We later learned that coming into the lagoon can be a challenge if you don’t enter during a slack tide.  Hmmmm….we missed that little tidbit.  So of course, we entered during the tidal change and against 2 knot currents!  Needless to say, it was a slow journey to our marina. 

Crossing into the Lagoon

The next piece of fun was entering the main “traffic” canal.  OH MY GOD!  This was your worst freeway at commuter time….only you are not at a stand still, you are playing frogger on steroids with high speed powerboats, ferries, water taxis, etc.  This is Dan’s specialty and one of my greatest nightmares.  Whew!  Glad we were done with that!  As we entered the transit dock area to our marina, Dan repeatedly tried to reach the marina for direction and assistance.  Finally, they answered and sent the marinero out in his dinghy.  He told us it was too rolly on the transit dock and to follow him into the main marina.  Ummmm, this isn’t right.  We both had understood, when we visited in the spring, that our boat could not come through the front channel that he was now leading us down.  Up ahead we saw the sliding bridge opening that he expected us to go through.  Now mind you, there are boats parked on both sides of us, leaving about 3 feet or less on each side.  Dan shouts to the guy, “Are you sure I can fit through there??  I am 7.25 meters wide.”  The guy tells us it’s about 7.3 meters wide!  Oh hell no!!  Now comes the fun part….oh yes, there is always a fun part.  Dan has to back out of this winding channel, staying clear of all parked boats, and avoiding the new, impatient arrivals that are trying to go around us.  I’m on the front with a boat hook, ready to fend off any boats we get to close to, and calling out directions to avoid a couple hazards.  We’re gonna need a stiff drink after that bit of fun!  We head out into the main channel (the way we should’ve gone in the first place), dodge a few more high speed ferries, and enter a canal on the back side of the island.  We come into the marina and get Zoe tied up in her slip….home for the next month.  In case you were wondering, the group we had met in Poreč ended up parked right beside us a few hours later.

This entrance is way too tight for a catamaran!
Zoe’s Italian home
Exploring the nature park next to the marina
The family car in Venice is a boat….
Last stop this year!
Random sculpted marble for contemplation

Our track across the Adriatic

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