Israel to Venice

rael To Venice, Venice

Israel to Venice


Our basic navigation plan was to head out on a starboard
tack, with the prevailing wind coming from the 
North Western quadrant, taking us West to South West towards North
Africa, about Libya  and, as  the prevailing wind should back to West,
start heading North towards Italy. Around 1,500 miles and 2 to 3 weeks later be
in Venice.  Well that was the plan,
within half a day the wind settled to a South Westerly taking us South towards
Port Said. Change of plan - go port tack North West towards Crete, then West,
using the North West "Meltemi" wind, around the bottom of Greece and
North via Ionian islands to the Adriatic Sea and  Venice. Well sort of! Aussie friends, Carola
and Jim on Koza, a 49 Jeaneau, had decided also to head to the Adriatic but via
Marmaris, Turkey, where they had some business and boat repairs to do. We set
up a HF radio contact schedule with Koza and maintained contact as they left
about 18 hours after us. It should be noted that the trip would essentially be
"the wrong way" pretty much against the prevailing winds which means
sailing as close to the wind (called close hauled or beating, I guess because
sailing like this you take a beating when the wind strengthens), so it was
never going to be the most comfortable or enjoyable passage.


We continued, mostly on a starboard tack, for the next few
days heading North, past the Western end of Cyprus and on up to the Northern
end of the Greek Island of Rhodes and into the Rhodes Channel, the body of
water between the Western side of Rhodes and the Turkish mainland. That's when
we got our first introduction to the strong seasonal wind known as the Meltami.
It blew to 30kts with very steep seas and we had to tack into it going from
Rhodes shore to Turkey shore and back again all night of 4 July and it wasn't
until morning of the 5th that it settled down to 15kts still coming from the
direction we wanted to go. This pattern continued for the next  night although wind only to 25 and less rough
sea. Then things started to look up, we caught an 8kg Tuna and, although we
were still tacking the wind was mostly lighter until finally on 6 July the wind
veered to the North and we had a few hours of wonderful beam on sailing at over
7kts as we approached Southern Greece’s Peloponnesus finger and the small island
of Elephanisos for a few hours  r&r
and swim to the lovely sandy beach.

To our surprise it was very much the same
as it was when we were there in October last year, we had expected it to be
crowded. Swimming in the beautiful clear water, exercising on the beach and
enjoying beer o’clock on board, just what we needed before setting off again to
round the next two Peloponnesus fingers and into the Ionian Sea. It had been
our first really enjoyable day of the trip.


It seemed that every turn or change of course we made the
wind was still against us and the Ionian Sea was no exception, once again we
found ourselves beating into 25kts so, with several islands nearby, decided to
take refuge in a small bay on the Eastern side of Ithaca mud afternoon.  After an early dinner and nap we moved on
through a still night dodging fishing vessels and island. On the morning of
July 9 we went through the Lefkas canal and stopped briefly to refuel at
Lefkas, after about 1,000 miles. We were expecting to have to motor more in the
normally calmer Adriatic Sea that we entered after the canal. After waiting for
the exit bridge to open we finally got out into the Adriatic still somewhat
undecided as to which way to head North, up the East side along the Albanian
coast or over to the West,  Italy, and up
the West side. Initially the wind was North East so we headed for the Ionian
islands to stop over for a few hours before heading across to Italy with  forecast of some wind to sail with. We
anchored in a lovely bay in Mongonese at 16:30 
and best of all a good free wifi signal. After an early dinner and nap
we sailed out at 22:30 heading for Otranto, Italy. Early in the morning it was
cold, trousers jumper and socks. Throughout the day the motor was on and off as
the wind varied between calm and 15kts. With the wind direction changing we
changed our plan and headed a little further up the Italian coast, for Brindisi,
arriving at the town dock in the early hours of 11 July. Next morning, Sunday,
we tried to check in but no one was interested, port police and customs closed,
so we stocked up with wonderful Italian goodies, sausage, cheese, wine, pasta
and, of course, beer before sailing out at 2 on the afternoon without refueling
as the fuel station was closed too. Next scheduled stop, Venice. It was slow
sailing, just 100 miles in the next 24 hours before the wind, mostly 5 to
10kts, died completely and on came the engine. We did not have enough fuel to
make it to Venice and with little wind forecast we had to get fuel somewhere.
The best option seemed to be the Croatian Island of Vis so we altered course a
little for our new destination, a little nervous as we had not checked into
Croatia. At 07:00 we were in the small harbour of Vis on the island of Vis,
waited a while for the fuel station operator to arrive, fill the boat in front
of us before refueling ourselves, self service. Immediately after we were out
of there and again heading for Venice.


Early in the morning, 1am, disaster, the thing that all
cruisers fear, one of the crew blocked the toilet, and as there is only one
crew on Ednbal we know who the culprit was! The captain was woken from his
slumber to deal with the ever so urgent problem! First thing, the inquisition,
how many sheets of toilet paper did you use you *#*#!! woman. The poor crew
felt so guilty "I should know better, I'm so sorry, etc etc. After a
certain amount of calming and  removing
the 1.5 inch outlet hose from the toilet end and Y valve end the blockage was
found to be somewhere in the middle of the hose, oh joy. Fortunately we had the
aft head fully operational so an immediate repair was not essential but I still
gave it a go pounding away at the blockage with a variety of smaller hoses,
wires and wooden dowels, to no avail. With the forward head closely resembling
a battle ground I turned in for a couple of hours sleep. In the daylight a
bright idea. I had a couple of metres 3/4 
inch hard plastic pipe so a cutting end was fashioned using a triangular
file and the pipe inserted into the tube. The cutter worked a treat removing
the blockage bit by bit. No it was not the crew's fault really it turned out to
be more the straw that broke the camels back as the hose was full of a calcium
like scale, very hard and difficult to remove. In the end we decided to replace
the hose with one of the same size that we had kept for another purpose.


Later in the day the wind shifted 120 degrees to be 8kts off
the aft quarter so time to put up the genaker. All went well until the halyard
was almost to the top when suddenly the genaker fell down to the deck and the halyard
shot up to the top of the mast, bugger! We undid the boom topping lift and used
it as a safety line while I climbed the mast to pull the genaker halyard back
down. Luckily the sea was quite calm so I replaced the steaming light globe,
that had died the day before, while I was up there. It is always a lovely view
from the mast head!


After some sailing and a lot of motoring we finally entered
the canals of Venice, on schedule 15 July, the day before Sasha's birthday,
early  morning. What an experience! Not
being sure where best to go we pulled into a small yacht club on the Grand
Canal, directly opposite Saint Mark's Square and "med moored" next to
an Italian yacht. On board we meet with Lorenzo and Leafta to find out that she
also has birthday on 16 July. Lorenzo gave us a bottle of Prosecco (a sparking
dry white) from his home town of Riminni to enjoy on Sasha's birthday as we had
decided to move to a far cheaper location, Saint Elena on the main Venice
Island. We were in Venice, on schedule, over 1,500 nm from Israel.




On our first day in Venice we decided to walk the streets,
try and soak up some of the atmosphere so to speak. Good idea but we had barely
walked at all since leaving Israel and did we feel it. By evening we just about
dropped dead. Seems we were in Venice for its busiest weekend of the year that
was to cumulate in a giant fireworks display from barges moored out in front of
Saint Mark's square on 17 July. Venice was packed, walking the streets really
meant being carried along with the crowd. Next day, 16th was Sasha's birthday;
we spent it somewhat more leisurely touring the canals in the dingy, stopping
in a shady spot for a picnic lunch on one of the quieter canals.

You see a
totally different Venice from the water. Amazing how house doors open right on
the canal, want to hope your boat is there when you step outside!

We had been
told we should not go into the Grand Canal in the dingy but we did so anyway,
great fun. At times, in the small narrow canals, we had to dodge Gondolas, a
bit tricky in a dingy with no keel at all, only upset one guy.  I think Sasha enjoyed the day.


 Next day was the festival
finale, the fireworks due to start about 11. We had two options, take Ednbal
early,  anchor her in a reasonable spot amongst
the other 1,000 or more boats  and take
the associated risks or take Tadpole, the dingy, at the last minute and squeeze
in somewhere up close. Tadpole was our choice and we had a front row seat just
as the first rocket started exploding. We thought the shows in Columbia wee
something special but this was truly something else. For the next, almost hour,
you could have read a newspaper from the light of explosions of firework fired
from at least 8 huge barges. Absolutely the most spectacular we'd ever seen. As
soon as it finished we roared off the nearest narrow canal to get out of the traffic
and back to the Marina. Only down side we had forgotten the booze!


From Saint Elena Marina we motored a few miles to the small
island of Morano. You need to keep in mind that the islands are all low-lying
areas of ground within a huge area of mudflats so channels have been dredged to
a depth of about 3m to  allow larger
vessels to transport people and goods from island to island. Morano is famous
for its glasswork which is exported, from many small glass blowing factories,
around the world.

After anchoring out of the main channel, on the Northern
side, we went ashore to visit one the factories under the invite of the owner
who had come out to see us in his very swish, traditional, high-powered  speedboat. Of course Sasha could not resist
the temptation to buy a few item for family birthday gifts. Although we just to
the side of the canal that the ferries and water taxis use their boat wash was
not an inconvenience for us and we had a surprisingly comfortable night. Next
stop, the nearby island of Borano, this one famous for lace. It was probably
the cleanest most well kept of all the villages we had visited.

While there, we
organised the delivery of new AGM technology house batteries for Ednbal. The
agent for the manufacturer, Fullriver, in Italy was extremely helpful and organised
for them to be delivered the day after we ordered. They were to be at a
transport company's warehouse in Venice, close to the rail and freight
terminal, we could pick them up by boat.