The forecast southerly breeze of 6 knots turned out to be a southerly wind of over 20 knots with big breaking seas. This was actually quite welcome as we were able to make great pace and improve on our intended arrival time so that we had time in hand to be able to take it easy overnight.
A course was plotted between two sets of shipping lanes but this just swapped big ships for a fleet of fishing boats. Of the two, I prefer the big ships as they steer a straight course and usually have someone on watch.
For my next extended solo challenge, I feel I will need to obtain a timer with a more strident alarm as, worryingly; I have failed to wake at the allotted time even with it hanging around my neck. The AIS alarm however is so piercing I think it could wake the dead so that at least is a ‘backstop’.
You know that a ship is really big when the AIS data for its length is not quoted in feet as usual but in proportions of a mile!
Let me talk you through a typical scenario during a watch: The system will warn you of a dangerous AIS target by sounding an alarm which will only stop when cancelled and then kick off again a few seconds later. This warning probably relates to a vessel a considerable distance away which theoretically could pass within a ‘dangerous distance’ at some stage. It’s like a spoilt child and I want to ignore it. I have, when I am watching and not napping, turned the alarm system off and only re-instated it when looking to nap. As I have said before, it even considers AIS equipped lighthouses a collision hazard and alarm repeatedly to remind you of a lighthouse which is about to mow you down although to be fair, I could plough into it. So, you are aware of a vessel which might present a hazard. You interrogate the AIS data and put a ‘flag’ on the icon representing the vessel on the plotter. The ‘flag’ information continually updates so – and this is a real example as I write – the vessel ‘Galliano Micuccii’ is a fishing vessel dead on my course and coming towards me. It is 79ft long and is doing 3.5knots. The AIS system calculates that, given our respective course and speed, it will pass 157ft away in 31 minutes. What this means is that you now have to monitor the data to establish the developing relativity while in the mean time you are also monitoring several other developing situations at the same time. Now try and get a kip! The traffic has been particularly bad over the last couple of nights and there is always something going on and imagine doing it for 7 consecutive nights on your own with little sleep. This probably sounds like a whinge and it is not, I am doing this passage because I want to be doing this passage, I am only trying to outline some of the challenges.
Another thing about sailing solo is that there is no one to rub the sun cream into the inaccessible areas of one’s back. I probably have a red patch that I can’t reach. There we are, a business opportunity for somebody – ‘The SSSS’ the Solo Sailor Sun-cream Spreader ! I claim no copyright.
One of the transitions experienced on a long passage is that you don’t count down miles, you know it’s a bleedin’ long way and that you will be going for some time so it takes on less relevance. Over the last 24 hours however, the increasing proximity of the destination has induced the old channel crossing mentality – are we nearly there ?
How does this work – we were 80 miles from Venice, 30 miles from the nearest land (which is actually Croatia) and we were infested with flies ?
I made a lot of fuss in a previous blog about switching off my Ultra Sonic Anti Fouling (USAF), claiming it was discouraging dolphins. Well 1200 miles later with it switched off, we have still seen no dolphins……
Conscious of Paula’s likely impending cull of dodgy use by dated grub when she returns to Venice with me in a couple of weeks’ time, it seemed like a good idea to have an ‘out of date feast’. So, it started, as always, with onions and garlic, a pack of Jan 2019 (not too bad) potato and bacon rosti and the crowning glory, a rusty tin of not sure. The label, what was left of it, was in Spanish and it might have been chicken meat balls. I am still not sure even having eaten them. How these escaped the cull I don’t know, I think they probably predated dating. I then remembered that I had half a dozen eggs which needed to be used, so a couple were cracked over the top. You are probably grimacing or even retching at this description but, actually this eclectic mix was not too bad.
It was poignant to hear a coastguard broadcast this morning asking seafarers in a particular area to keep a sharp lookout as a yacht had been found sailing with no-one on board……..
I had a notification that my Iridium Satellite ‘Usage Threshold’ had been reached and that my bill would be $339.54. Bear in mind that this is only since I left Nice two weeks ago and was only utilised for WhatsApps, a few Emails and a very short phone call. It was only activated when my course took me between headlands and out of mobile signal range. It is certainly an expensive way to communicate and will need a review after this contract expires at the end of August.
So, after an extremely quiet night, the Venice Lagoon entrance hove into view at about 09.00 and the entrance was very simple with seductive views of charismatic Venice glimpsed as I sailed past.
I was directed in and onto an alongside berth – dead easy.
The berth is very sheltered, quiet and my AC outlets will not offend anyone. The Marina is on Certosa Island opposite the main island complex. The Vaporetto (water bus) service stops at the Island every 20 minutes and there is a 40 minute ferry to the Airport every hour. I first came across the marina on a stand at a boat show and always kept it in mind. My 18 day stay is cheaper as a month contract and with a 10% Cruising Association discount, at 805 Euros is half the price of my Baie des Anges berth – hmmmmm. The check in process was turgid and took an hour but they were very helpful and the location, facilities and price are exceptional. It is exceedingly hot so it was a relief to return to Hejira, plug in my credit and turn on the AC to catch up with the paperwork – ie. write this blog !
I am trying to hold off turning in until I can resist it no longer, I guess it may be necessary to set an alarm for this time tomorrow, would it be possible to sleep for 24 hours and miss my flight? The views of my bed are hugely seductive and I might just give in and get horizontal under a light duvet in the air conditioned cabin – BLISS………….