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There's no way out, if you want to return north from Greece towards Jesolo, you have to cross the Otranto Channel!... (unless you fancy sailing Albania, that is)

...and the weather forecasts of the last 10 days have kept promising north-westerly winds throughout the Adriatic, and in particular in the narrowing between Italy and Albania: the OTRANTO CHANNEL!!

The result is not only wind, but also waves, all on the bow of the daring sailor who's waiting for the right moment to leave, and he's waiting since a week, the crew is getting nervous, fresh fruit and vegetables are nearly finished, fresh bread is only a distant memory, and at the end one sets sail at the first forecast that is not calling for rain and thunder...

...and so yesterday a solitary boat weighed anchor and left the nice harbour of Erikoussa heading north-west, exactly against the wind! A wind that initially was very light, but gradually increased and also started creating very annoying WAVES!!

...and how does Shaula (any Shaula of the series) sail when close hauled? Answer: very poorly, that's how it sails, beating here and there and progressing very slowly.

Add that the night was spent like an ice-cube in a shaker while crossing the path of all ships going towards the Adriatic or coming down from it, and a handful of fishing boats merrily zig-zagging around, and the result is a sleepless night.

Now we are motoring in flat calm in front of the town of Lecce, and our faces would make two zombies proud...


It's been a while since my last report, but fact is that there's very little to report, we've been blocked in Brindisi by a contrary wind since a week!

The upwind climb from Erikoussa to Brindisi has been very tiring, we were worn out by the time we reached Brindisi, but since then the wind has always blown hard!


The ever welcoming Brindisi Marina

Rest in Brindisi then, because we had no choice! In fact there was a brief interval which lasted less than 24 hours, but we decided to stay put because the break was too brief to reach a worthwhile destination, such as Vieste; we could have stopped in any of a multitude of small ports north of Bari, but we decided against: maybe it was a mistake, but by now the opportunity is gone!...


Visiting downtown Brindisi

Perhaps today is the day: it's still blowing, but in the afternoon it should calm down for about one and a half days, after which the wind will restart, then rain will come, then the locusts, then...ok, you got the idea, we will have to take advantage of any short break in the weather to gain some distance northwards.   How boring!


This is what I may have to do on Shaula (painting all cleats red, I mean).

The fact is that both at the bow and at the stern, Shaula4 has double cleats: unusual but handy on many occasions, but Baby who is traditionally assigned the line-handling tasks at the bow, keeps hitting these cleats with spectacular but painful results.

Some days ago she slammed heavily on deck, and last time she managed to strain her left leg which left her limping and barely able to walk around.


The huge Castellana caves (note the size of the people near the centre of the left picture!)

In the meantime we decided to spend a couple of days visiting the surrounding area, beginning with the caves of Castellana, the "trulli" (a peculiar cone-shaped kind of building) of Alberobello and the towns of Martina Franca and Lecce; afterwards, we managed to move from Brindisi to Vieste.


 The "trulli" of Alberobello


The historical centre of Lecce


Just another stop in Vieste to let just another depression to pass by, this time discharging a lot of rain upon us; by tomorrow, we should be able to do another jump towards Pescara or thereabouts.

Heavy rain in Vieste


Our return from Greece has been a succession of short legs, interspersed by long (and expensive!) stops in a safe port, waiting for the weather to improve.
And we are at the beginning of August!

One of the consequences of this situation is that we are missing all events going on in Jesolo, probably including the traditional fireworks on the night of the 15th of August.

...but then again maybe this is not entirely a negative fact, considering that this year the barges from where the fireworks will be shot will be prepared and loaded in the river, just in front of our marina, and then towed to the beach-front: if something goes wrong, they will wipe out the whole marina, what a fantastic idea!

Progress update: we are 10 miles from Pescara, our next "forced stop" which will presumably last until next saturday or sunday.


We are here, in a remote corner of the Marina; we left Vieste the day before yesterday, despite the wind was not yet decreasing as forecasted, because it was expected to worsen again after little more than 24 hours, just enough to reach Pescara, 95 miles away!

The first hours were tough, doing less than two knots against a well formed swell, then the wind abated and the waves calmed down a bit, but the speed remained slow, 3 knots, 3.6 , 4 knots and finally 4.2, our going was also slowed by the adverse current, as expected.


The reception quay of the Pescara Marina, and Shaula moored in a faraway corner

OK, maybe our arrival was not spectacular, but by lunchtime yesterday we were at the entrance of the Pescara Marina; they gave us a mooring which is just few meters from where they put us the last time we visited with Shaula3, and we could leisurely arrange ourselves and prepare for the expected bad weather, which was announced by nasty clouds forming overhead...

Initially there was no cloud in sight, but by sundown nasty-looking, black clouds had gathered! Also the wind builds up, and finally a nasty thunderstorm hits! We are in port, well moored, and despite the heavy rain we are safe and comfortable.

Just when the rain begins to decrease, we hear noise on the quay: a boat is trying to moor but the dark and the cross-wind are making the manoeuvre difficult. We lend a hand, and after a while the boat is safely moored.  We learn that they too arrive from Vieste, but they left early this morning, so they had a smooth and fast passage but were late enough to be hit by the storm while still at sea: not nice indeed! Our strategy may have been slower, but we did not run into any danger, I believe our option was better!

The next day begins with strong wind (over 30 knots, we are around force 7) and few raindrops; later the situation improves a little, but the sky is still dark...

We learn that the Marina is lending some bicycles for free, and with these we can reach a supermarket where we can do a minimum of victualling; in the afternoon, we head the other way, crossing the fishing port on the new foot/bike bridge and then visiting the town.

The fishing-boat port of Pescara, as seen from the foot-bridge

And what about the next leg? It's too early to say, probably sunday the 14th of August, maybe the day before; it will remain to be seen if we will succeed to reach Jesolo in a single leg or another stop will be necessary, possibly in Ancona.


We left Pescara yesterday afternoon, hoping to reach Jesolo within monday the 15th, but so far the wind is a bit stronger than expected (and obviously blowing against our bow, needless to say!) and our progress is slow.

And furthermore, we are shaken by the waves which slow us down.

Since several hours we see the Conero mount that hides Ancona from sight, but it seems to be always at the same distance...


Divers who go to great depths or stay down for a long time, when coming back to the surface need to perform a decompression, i.e. they must stop and spend some time few meters under water to disperse the nitrogen dissolved in the blood; similarly, after a passage we need a day "with the brain switched off" to recharge a bit.

The last return leg has been relatively smooth: we were beginning to worry because the contrary wind was continuing to blow and slow us down, then the wind dropped suddenly, our speed doubled and all became simple.

Only remaining problem, arrival around 21 hrs implied darkness!   Not such a major problem, but the mouth of the Sile river is narrow and particularly nasty in darkness due to the many lights ashore that confuse the tiny entry lights.
Yesterday things were further aggravated by the flow of boats, some very poorly lighted, which were exiting the various marinas to go and watch the fireworks from the sea.

A blinding spotlight just in front of our marina entrance is the last difficulty, and then we are in and all is ok!

Who moved our pontoon?!   No, it's where it should be, and our son Lorenzo is waiting for us to help with the lines, all is under control!

We are so tired that we go to sleep without waiting for the fireworks which finish barely in time before a nasty thunderstorm hits the area; we turn on the other side in our bunks, all can wait until tomorrow!

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Last Update: 07/09/2017

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