If you read sailing magazines, as I do, you will be familiar with the many articles written about grand adventures in the Pacific, the Caribbean and other exotic locations around the globe. But what about adventures closer to home, in the Mediterranean, where "Lady Roslyn" is currently located?
Searching the internet for information about sailing, mooring or anchoring in Venice and the Venetian lagoon proved to be less than adequate. Likewise, the Pilot Books and Cruising Guides for the region contain few facts and tips for exploring this fascinating city and incredible lagoon wetland. A real adventure, then, to explore and discover for ourselves.
We leave Muggia in north eastern Italy early in the morning for an 8 hour sail with a light north-westerly breeze blowing us across the top of the Adriatic Sea, heading for the Lido entrance to the Venetian Lagoon.
There are only 2 Marinas suitable for multihulls in the lagoon (Marina Vento di Venezia on La Certosa Island, and Marina Santelena on Sant’ Elena Island). We choose Marina Vento di Venezia for 2 reasons - it is the cheaper of the two and it is situated on a lovely green island where one can run and cycle. Both marinas are only 10 minutes by “Vaporetto” water bus from Saint Mark’s Square and could not be more conveniently located for all of the sights of the City of Venice itself. We are assisted to our mooring at the marina by a very helpful “marinaio” and the check in process is both easy and friendly.
What a welcome, and just in time for drinks as the sun sets over Venice.
We are up early for the short vaporetto ride from the marina to Saint Mark’s Square and for a day full of exploring the canals and alleyways of Venice.
Up until 2015, it was possible to purchase a temporary licence to operate your RIB in the Venetian lagoon and canals of Venice. The office for temporary licences has now closed and it seems there is no-one who can advise if using your own RIB is permitted or not. We decide it will be better not to try exploring any of central Venice canals by RIB and rather use the excellent public transport system to get around.
There are so many famous sights to take in that we could easily spend days here, but as we want to explore the lagoon by boat, we pick our top sights for the day and are happy to come back to explore on foot another time.
Today we decide to visit the island of Murano - famous for its glassmaking.
As there is no way to know whether we can moor or anchor “Lady Roslyn” near Murano, we decide to take the RIB from Marina Vento di Venezia to Murano. We have been advised that all commercial traffic on the lagoon has right of way, so we keep to the edges of the waterways, staying close to the vertical wooden poles which indicate channels of safe passage throughout the lagoon. The canals of Murano are very quiet and we are able to explore many narrow passageways before we tie the RIB up near the centre of Murano to explore the glass factories and the town on foot.
We return to the marina in the late afternoon, cast off and motor “Lady Roslyn” past the new MOSE flood barrier which is being constructed at the entrance to the lagoon in an effort to protect the city of Venice and the Venetian Lagoon from flooding. After carefully searching for a suitable anchorage or wall to tie off to, we find wooden posts alongside a beautiful grassy bank on the island of Mazzorbo, which is connected to the island of Burano by a wooden bridge.
We are struck by how quiet it is without cars everywhere. Burano, famous for its lacemaking and colourful houses is an absolute delight. After unfolding our bicycles we cycle around Mazzorbo, with its famous Michelin Star restaurant - Venissa (which we are unable to eat at due to a large wedding party) and over the wooden bridge to Burano with its colourful houses and church campanile which looks as though it is about to fall over and seems to lean more than the tower of Pisa.
As the tide is at full high around 6pm, we cast off in the late afternoon and motor around Mazzorbo, through a very narrow channel and north towards Torcello Island.
The island of Torcello, which was one of the first islands to be populated by the Veneti fleeing the Huns around 450AD and once held the largest population in the Region of Venice, is now almost deserted and offers a quiet, natural landscape dominated by the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta.
After taking "Lady Roslyn" along various narrow channels near Torcello, we choose to anchor in an area which will offer us good swinging room if the wind shifts during the night. It is a beautiful, quiet anchorage with only the sound of birds and insects to keep us company.
We lower the RIB into the water early in the morning and set off to explore the channels of the northern part of the lagoon. One could get lost here for days exploring this quiet wetland with only birds and the occasional fisherman passing by for company.
We stop on Torcello to climb the campanile which offers us fantastic views over the northern part of the lagoon then spend the afternoon on-board “Lady Roslyn” enjoying the solitude.
Raising the anchor with the rising tide in the late afternoon, we head south towards Venice and take a narrow channel alongside the Island of Saint Erasmus. This island is covered with small farms growing all sorts of vegetables and fruit. It is only 15 minutes by boat from the centre of Venice, yet is quiet and rural.
We find a sea wall with mooring rings and secure “Lady Roslyn” for the night before taking our bicycles and setting off for a 45 minute ride along flat farm roads.
A few boats pass by us in the night, causing “Lady Roslyn” to rock gently against the fenders. Besides that, we are struck by the quietness - we can see the skyline of Venice nearby but there are few sounds to be heard.
At 7am, just as the sun rises, we cast off and motor towards Venice where we plan to return for one night at Marina Vento di Venezia. Before that, however, we decide to take “Lady Roslyn” into the centre of Venice. It is a picture perfect morning with no clouds or wind as we motor slowly up the main canal, making sure to keep out of the way of all commercial traffic.
We stop directly in front of Saint Mark’s Square and marvel at this magnificent city which looks and feels completely different when viewed from the deck of our own yacht. It is a very special moment and a highlight for us in a week a special moments.
The city comes to life early and by 8.15am the water traffic is starting to get busier, so we turn back and head to the marina where we secure “Lady Roslyn” and catch a vaporetto into the city to visit the Rialto market and spend another day wandering and getting “lost” in this fascinating city.
We need time to prepare “Lady Roslyn” for the winter in Europe and so reluctantly must leave Venice to head east to our home base near Trieste. It is another clear sky day and the wind fills in lightly from the North allowing us to beat back home on flat seas. A perfect end to a perfect week.
Marina Vento di Venezia - www.ventodivenezia.it/en
Marina Santelena - www.marinasantelena.com/en
Tides: The lagoon is tidal so you should take care when navigating certain channels. Know your draught and study the tide table for the dates you will visit. It is an ideal location for multihulls which by nature have shallower draughts.
How long: We could have easily spent another 7 days exploring this lagoon both further northwards and to the south alongside the Lido and towards the town Chioggia at the southern end of the lagoon.
When: “Lady Roslyn” was there in the last week of September. The temperature was between 18deg. C and 26 deg. C.
Where: There are so many places to tie up and to anchor in the lagoon. We are certain that we did not even scratch the surface of all of the places it would be possible to spend the night. We were never asked to move and were not charged anywhere besides in the Marina.
Caution: One must be aware of commercial traffic on the waterways at all times and take note of reserved spaces alongside the quays in the canals. We would not recommend venturing up the main canal in front of Saint Mark’s Square during the middle of the day - it is just too busy. Apply common sense and realise that the waterways of Venice are the motorways of Venice and act accordingly.