Zoom-zoom to Vieste and back

Posted July 8, 2012 at 13:15

It was both time to break our (and the boats) stay in Croatia and replenish our depleted cupboards and stores with goods that can 'only' be acquired in Vieste...  The weather cooperated by supplying a weak front that provided perfect southeasterlies on the way over and west-northwesterlies on the way back three days later...  Both times we did the 60nm distance in nice daylight in 8 hours under sail.

As I was checking us out at the customs dock in Ubli, after having had a long and pleasant chat with a friendly customs gentleman, a blue-steely-eyed, dark pony-tail-hair young policewomen very pedantically asked for our police registration report in addition to the usual crew list and boat permit (this was the first time in two years that this report was asked for).  She couldn't find us in the 'computer' and we were each to pay a 500 kuna (Can$100) fine...  But, I said, our marina told us they reported us???   So I went back to the boat, dug up the marina paperwork and found the separate, nicely printed police registration from the marina, with the start date filled in and no end date...  perfect!   Took it back to our lady and after some looking at the paper in disbelief, she let us go with a warning that we're supposed to ask for this police registration (and pay the associated tax) even if they forget to give it to us when we check into Croatia (!  - hence the visitor is expected to know and follow the rules better than the border officials)

In Vieste, we checked into the "La Darsena" to the great chagrin of the next door  Canadian woman also running a marina...  "How come you ended up at 'that' marina'???  she ran after me on the street...   "Well, we came together with another boat (Isabell) and they went there, so we wanted to be together.... - and besides, I seem to remember that two years ago you charged us 20E more than this one..."     "No, that can't be true... you don't remember right..."    "So how much do you charge for one night nowadays?"    "Well it doesn't matter now..." was the quick answer... "..and just so that you would know, his dock water is salty and mine isn't and there's nobody watching his docks at night and we have 24 hour surveillance..."   "That's ok, we'll be there watching our boats no problem and we make our own water thank you"  She stormed away...  (two years ago, she was very bossy, curt, took our passports ransom while we were there for three days, even though I offered to pay in advance...  and then when I told her we'd need our passports at a certain time in the morning to check out of and leave Italy, she showed up 3/4 hours later.  I certainly don't recommend that marina in Vieste, but who cares...)   The Italian cartels...  they'll trick you if they can, or if you're informed, they'll charge you the same as the other guy.  But they will never tell you in the open how much.   Our guy wanted 45E and he got it, but he quickly upped it to 50 when he heard that we'd like to use his washing machine sitting in the ladies restrooms (that were locked most of the time).   It took over two hours for one load and we ended up washing the rest the usual way by hand, in the cooler, on the dock.

This time Dora and I had a long late afternoon walk in the oldest part of Vieste, in the maze of narrow, twisting passages, white-washed houses built on still visible foundations of ancient ruins...

It is amazing how much cooler it is in these passages once you reach them - the sun never shines in there for long and any wind blows through amplified... We were standing there like cormorans with their wings half open and enjoyed the cool after the heat of the more modern boulevards...

There are signs showing the direction to the old fort at the top and when you get there..: "keep out, zona militare..."  (yet another prison housed in old forts - seems to be the vogue in Italy - we've seen this all over on the mainland and islands)   What's usually a nice tourist attraction with beautiful views from high above in other countries, is used for its utility of 2m thick stone walls and dungeons with only security cameras visible inside as an improvement...  All this reuse and the budget is still not balanced...   There were lots of other sight-worthy old open chapels with ceilings painted in the style of the Sistine...

The people we met were in general very nice, pleasant, happy and helpful - this is in contrast to the other side of the sea...  For example: Anna fell on the gravel of a parking lot we were passing through in the heat and bruised her little knee bloody...  Within seconds, a boy only a few years older than her, appeared from the attendants hut with a paper towel roll and a bottle of water... This quickly got her to stop crying ;-)

Dora found the place with excellent bread and the market hasn't changed much either, so replenishing the stores only took a couple of hours with a taxi ride back to the dock...  It has to be said that most bottled vines, vinegars and other articles were priced somewhat higher on the market than in the nearby supermarket - the tourist attraction factor.

The trouble with being in Vieste was the heat and the absence of a sea worth getting into...  the horridly hot sandy beaches were quite a walking distance away and all stirred up with mud from the surf...  So whenever we were back at the dock we'd use the dock hoses to constantly shower and cool off.  Which proved to be a feat, because you could run the water for 15min and only very hot water would come out  - then briefly some cold, then hot again, until, finally it cooled off to slightly lower than body temperature...

So three days after arriving, we anxiously cast off for the sail back to Ubli, Lastovo...  There, Sunday afternoon, after an excellent passage, we found a sailboat tied to the customs dock and no officials anywhere...  After some idling and wasting diesel, we tied up near the fuel dock and inquired at the harbourmaster's office where I was told that there's a problem with the customs clearance of that boat and that they do not know when things will re-open...   As I looked in disbelief and other boats started arriving, she called the border police and we were assured that it would reopen around 5pm (an hour and half wait in the heat)...   Later, the customs guy arrived, recognized me from a few days ago, and made a passing remark that they found a joint on that boat and that's what this delay is all about... Aha...  A few minutes later the border police arrived as well and started processing the queue...  When we got to the question of how much we would like to stay in Croatia and I kindly asked for 90 days,  I hear the customs guy throwing over a remark about how we just left 10 days ago or so...  So, uhm, how many days were you here before asks the police..?  You have to be out for at least 90 days to be able to get 90 days again, says customs....   I guess that meant that we got really friendly with each other beforehand, so he's now using the opportunity to pull my leg for my 'foreign accent'...   Hmm says the police, let's see what will 'the computer' give you...  and he checks and voila: it gives us all the 90 days since our marina's report of our spring stay to the local police never made it into big brother's computer... (as already described at the beginning - and thank you Big Bro System Inc!)

We're back in beautiful Croatia!
- Z -