Venetian living

Well, I definitely dropped the ball on my blog, and kind of left you hanging without a finale.  I am going to attempt to rectify that little mistake now, and take you back to the end of our cruising season.  When I left you last, we were parked in a marina in Venice, Italy and doing some land tours of Italy.  Our original plan was to spend our remaining month in the water at the marina, and then have Zoe hauled out and stored on land until next spring.  As I am sure you are quickly discovering, when it comes to life on a boat, it is impossible to have concrete plans.  All plans are written in the sand 🙂  We quickly discovered that being on a beautiful little island that was mostly park was not very conducive to the kind of work we wanted to have done on Zoe over the winter.  It was a major undertaking to even find the supplies and materials we needed to do our own maintenance on the boat.  When they wanted us to bring our boat over to the crane so they could take measurements to determine a more accurate boat weight for lifting us out, we decided this might not be our best plan.  If their crane required that close of a calculation, we started getting a little skittish.  Dan to the rescue, as always 🙂  He began quickly emailing a number of shipyards to get quotes and check availability to store us.  We had visited a few of these places the previous year, and while they are great for storage and equipped to do every job imaginable on your boat, they are not the prettiest of places to spend any degree of time (picture major industrial area for miles and miles).  Two places were available to take us.  When we discovered it was going to be $1200 cheaper than Venice, the decision became a no-brainer.  The next challenge was to find a weather window for another very long passage further north in Italy.  In the meantime, we prepared for our final visitor of the season.

Fresh produce delivered by barge
We miss these Venetian sunsets from our boat already…

Our friend flew in for a quick weekend (ahhh, the perks of working for an airline….you can do that kind of crazy stuff).  Dan and I wandered down to the vaporetto stand on the island to meet our friend.  Once settled on the boat, we headed into Venice to take in the sights and grab some dinner.  We opted for the scenic water taxi ride back to the island since it went through the Grand Canal.  We were able to grab some seats on the outside of the boat which made for great viewing as we cruised through the canals. 

Amazing sights!
Rialto Bridge

We decided the next day that we would actually take the boat out for a sail while our friend was here.  The plan was to head out of the lagoon and cruise the coast off the island of Lido.  We would then come in another entrance to the lagoon, follow the lagoon in and up to San Marcos Plaza.  We were allowed to sail up to the Grand Canal but not allowed to enter the Grand Canal with our boat.  The next morning we began the process of getting Zoe ready to leave the marina.  Because of the tidal changes and swift currents, we were tied up to six points on both the dock and the boat which made things really interesting when it came time to cut loose.  Unfortunately, Dan and I somehow miscommunicated our intentions (go figure) for releasing Zoe’s lines.  My plan was to  re-rig key lines to be cut from on board.  While Dan and I are on the dock working with the lines, our friend is on the boat alone (can you see where this is going?). Next thing I know Dan is yelling at me to drop lines and get on the boat.  The boat has begun moving out of the slip with the current and Dan and I are both on the dock.  I no longer have a way to get on the boat and Dan is scrambling to climb up the side of the boat.  Thank god for his long legs.  He manages to get on the boat and back it up in the slip so that I can get on.  Definitely not one of our more stellar moves, but we did learn a lot!

Luckily that was our only flash of incompetence on this journey out!  The weather was a little chilly and cloudy, but the sea was nice and calm.  Our venture out of the lagoon was very different from the first time we entered.  The tide was working in our favor, so it was a smooth cruise over the bar and out into the sea.  We didn’t have a whole lot of wind, but we did manage to hoist the mail sail and gennaker for a couple of hours of sailing…..a rare treat :).  Before long, we were making our way back into the lagoon and heading up toward the Grand Canal.  Here is where my stress level went off the charts.  There were boats EVERYWHERE!  It was like rush hour with no rules.  There were pocket cruisers, water taxis, private boats, tour boats…..all zooming around in every direction imaginable.  The boys were in hog heaven cruising into the chaos with our big American flag fluttering in the wind.  Needless to say, there was not another American flagged boat cruising in the lagoon that day.  Before long, the day was coming to and end, and it was time to bring Zoe back to her slip.  That ended up being another adventure when the marinero never answered the phone to provide assistance on the dock.  Fortunately, one of our wonderful boat neighbors came over to catch lines for us, and before long we were neatly tied up in our slip.  Sadly, our friend was leaving the next morning, but I’m pretty sure his next visit will be for a lot more than a weekend!

Visitor takes the helm…it’s not like its a busy or anything
St Mark’s Square
Flying our two headsails wing on wing.  Great day of sailing with a good friend
That’s right – It’s an American boat in Italy!
Happy photographer…so much beauty in Venice!
Pictures don’t really do justice do how much traffic is in these canals

As we were now in the month of October, the weather was becoming more and more unsettled for longer periods of time.  While we waited for a weather window, we began the tedious task of getting the boat ready to be put up for winter (at least what could be done while we were still in the water).  Our window finally came, and we were up before the sun.  We had an 8 hour passage ahead of us, and the day light hours were getting shorter and shorter.  This time Dan told me to handle the lines however I saw fit, and he would stay out of it.  With only two of us now, it was critical that we were not both on the dock.  I re-rigged the key lines back to the boat so they could be cut with me onboard.  Non-working lines, were completely taken off.  It was a textbook departure!  We actually looked like we knew what we were doing…haha.  It was a very cold and cloudy day, and the water was rough thanks to several days of storms.  We decided to do 2 hour watches on this journey.  It was an uneventful cruise up the coast of Italy.  Eventually we reached the entrance to another lagoon which would then take us up a river to our new home.  We took this opportunity to fill our fuel tanks for winter storage.  Apparently, it’s not good to not have full fuel tanks.  After filling up further up river, we headed back to our new marina.  Their in water storage was teeny tiny and no room for a catamaran, so we would be tied up to their transit dock (wall) outside of the marina until time to move our boat to the travel lift.  Once there, our boat would be lifted out of the water, placed on blocks on land, and that is where she will remain until next season.

Sunrise as we head into the Adriatic on our last passage of the season 

The tidal shifts here were even more extreme than in Venice.  The other challenge was that we were side tied to the wall which made getting on and off the boat really interesting.  We had to keep the boat somewhat loosely tied in order to accommodate the tidal fluctuations.  Since we were going to be here for a week before heading home, we decided to rent a car.  This would allow us to run around, pick up things we needed, and just get out of the shipyard.  We were set to fly out of Venice which was now about a 2 hour drive away from us.  We rented a car in Trieste which could then be dropped at the Venice airport.  Win-win.  It was now time to get serious about prepping the boat for storage (you can hear all about that fun in my next post).