Sailing on the Gulf of Trieste

Sailing On the Gulf of Trieste

When you look out onto the Gulf of Trieste from the Mole Audace there are always 6-12 container ships on the skyline waiting to come into harbour. And on any sunny day, as you look out on the water, you see the white sails of sailboats of all sizes. Little lasers where students are learning to sail kind of just skim the surface of the water near shore while the bigger sail boats are further out. So there is this kind of multi-level aspect to the view. Occasionally a “Finanze- Customs” boat goes by and the regular route of the white ferry boat to Muggia. Nothing hurried, nothing too busy, just a nice, casual, slow pace of boat traffic. On a clear day you can see the snow capped alps. Really idyllic and I never, ever ,thought that I might be out there on a sail boat.

I have never been on a sailboat but I feel so lucky happy to have been invited out a number of times. The yacht club is built behind a small island and so the boats moored there are sheltered from the bora. The landscaping is lovely, yellow ginestre, pink and red and yellow and all shades in between of perfumed rose bushes, palm trees and oleanders and of course shiny white and chrome sailboats bobbing in the sparkling blue –green waters.

The sailboat is 27.7 feet long, which for a first time experience on a sail boat, is a nice size to feel safe on the water. The comandante explains that this boat has a long keel extending down and so makes it far less likely to capsize.

And I have learned a few things about sailing. One nautical mile = 1.852 km and a knot is a unit of measure for speed. If you are traveling at a speed of 1 nautical mile per hour, you are said to be traveling at a speed of 1 knot.

To put the sails up the boat prow has to be headed right into the wind.   The sails are neatly folded into a zippered cover.   The cover gets unzipped and first the sail, and then the jib are winched up.   The comandante prefers a steady wind about 11 miles per hour before putting the sail up.

You always leave and enter the harbour with the motor. This day there is enough wind, the motor is shut down and the sails go up. Without the motor it is very quiet on the water, the course is set automatically and the comandante stretches out his legs for a relaxing sail.

And it turns out I love the feeling of moving with only the sound of the hull cutting through the water, the wind filling the sails, and the boat at a nice angle to the water. It actually feels quite exhilarating.

The view from the water stretches to the Duino on the hilltop, to the new resort development in the hollowed out quarry of Sistiana, to Miramar on the small point of land, to Trieste rising out of the water along the hills, to Grado, and Istria on the other horizon. I drink it all in, just marvel at that spectacular setting and at how lucky I am to have been invited to go sailing!

Another sailing day the forecast is for sun all day but the weather has been less than perfect for sailing and the commandante is not sure we will find enough wind for a sail. We go out in to the channel by motor, pass by a large container ship, docked, with two bright orange tugboats along side. We move out into the gulf and watch as one tugboat seems to pull the prow out and another push the stern towards the pier to gently angle the ship out into the channel. In front is a small pilot boat. A pilot is on board the container ship to guide it out of the channel. Another ship is waiting to come in and the pilot leaves one ship and boards the other to bring it in through the channel.

The wind is not co-operating this time. The water is smooth and calm. Schools of small silvery fish jump out of the water and a little further a larger type fish jumps and creates concentric circles on the surface of the water. Today there is not enough wind to put up the sails. The decision is made to head towards Marina Julia where there are already a number of other boats at anchor, for a swim.

You can climb down the short ladder and or dive in – I take the ladder option. The water  feels nice and refreshing after the first cold shock. The water temperature is probably is around 22 or 23C. I hardly believe that I am swimming in the Adriatic. You can see the snow capped mountains behind Monfalcone. Beautiful and yet somewhat disorienting because I can see the industrial shipyards, the snow on the mountains and yet I am there in the water happily swimming on a warm sunny day!

I am most grateful to the comandante for his generous invitation to come on board, for sharing his knowledge and for his gracious “compagnia”.  Grazie.





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