When I heard that you could “do Venice” in your own boat, this was immediately added to my bucket list. I imagined nonchalantly sailing down the grand canal with the kite up (forgetting the Rialto Bridge...) dropping the kite and tying up outside the Piazza San Marco, next to the Gondolas… Although I have been to Venice a couple of times before, and once to The Venetian hotel in Vegas, Keith has never been to “the real thing”. I really do think everyone should see Venice before they die as it is a magical place which outshines every expectation you could possibly have about it. One of the problems with doing Venice in your own yacht though is that the Italians have been inconsiderate in placing it so far north and with not enough interesting stuff on the way! Just as we pushed ourselves to get the Balearics last season, so to we have raced up the coast to get to Venice this season, promising to go slowly down the Croatian coast ….
From our last stop in Ravenna, Venice is a 60nm further north. This can be a PITA distance - at our passage planning speed we are looking at 10-12 hrs which means leaving early in the morning to get in before sunset, with no room for the unexpected. Alternatively doing an overnighter and arriving at first light, pretty much wrecked due to broken sleep. Venice is one place that arriving at night would not be a lot of fun, given that you are essentially entering a shallow lagoon with a series of channels to various destinations! We decided to wait out the last of the poor weather in Ravenna, finish doing the tourist thing and head off late afternoon/early evening to arrive at Venice early morning. Light winds were forecast so we expected to motor all the way at an average speed of 5.5kts. That would make for a timely arrival around sunrise (6am) – a slow boat to Venice. No problem, we can mosey up the coast and put the water-maker on along the way…
As we got out of the harbour and into the Adriatic we were thankful that the swell we had seen over the last couple of days had died down, but the aftermath was clear - we came across a tide line of some serious flotsam: plastic bags, styrofoam trays, extra-large plastic fenders (we later recognised these in Venice Lagoon) and some huge croc-a-logs (large floating logs that in other circumstances might be mistaken for a croc!) Presumably this was all stirred up as a result of the weather over the last few days - some of these floating garbage islands even had birds perched on them. Hmmm water looks pretty filthy and we are still surrounded by oil rigs so I guess we won’t be making water!
Not long after our departure those forecast “light breezes” had built to 10kts “up the duck” (technical term for wind from behind…) so even though we were not in a hurry it would be as shame to waste good breeze and it’s always nice to turn the engines off - so up went the parasailor. For a while there we were making good speeds for our slow journey with 3.5-4kts GPS speed on the dial. As is bound to happen though, when you don’t really want it, the breeze built steadily before settling in around the 20kts mark - so boatspeeds of 8-10kts were now being recorded. What a dilemma! What do you do? Drop the kite and turn on the engine so you can go slower? You never know, the breeze might drop out down the track so let’s just keep going and we can slow down later...
Whilst I was off watch I woke to what sounded like a gybe festival happening on ITIKI. Keith was running from one side of the boat to the other, alternatively grinding on and easing to manoeuvre ITIKI from danger. Turns out we were surrounded by fishing boats going in all sorts of directions. At night they can be lit up like Christmas trees, oblivious to passing yachts as they trawl and retrieve nets, changing direction unexpectedly. They dont always show up on AIS either and our RADAR seems to have given up the ghost! We were in the thick of a popular fishing grounds and just had to get out of their way as best we could. After that little adrenalin-rush we continued on with the kite up but we were still moving too quickly. Eventually the kite came down and motors went on. As Keith was packing the kite away another onslaught of fishing-boats arrived and I hit the panic button. We had to do a 360 to get out of the way of two boats that were just charging directly towards us. Lucky the kite was down or it could have been really ugly.
A couple of hours more motoring and we arrived out our destination, the Lido entrance to Venice lagoon - problem - it was around 4am and still dark. Keith was on watch and was circling for a while bouncing around in the swell, before deciding to drop anchor in 9m and wait until sunrise. He managed to park us head to wind to drop the pick for an hour or so as the sky slowly lightened and we could head in. Oh and by the way, did I mention it is really freezing cold!? What happened to my endless summer??!
From the entrance to the lagoon it’s a long and slow motor in to our marina on Certosa Island which is across the channel from Venezia island. We arrived at the wrong side of the marina but the Marinero managed to find us and escort us around to the other side to our berth. What a beautiful and peaceful place! The island itself is so green and quiet and there does not seem to be anything here other than the marina (which is in a long and narrow channel), a restaurant and a take away pizza van (yes really!). We are berthed next to a floating “paper” boat (WTF??!). The staff are really helpful and gave us a huge amount of information on visiting Venice and the lagoon. We hit the showers and then to bed for a late morning kip to recharge the batteries before doing the tourist thing. Stay tuned for ITIKI does Venice!