Thursday, September 11, 2014

Landfall at Marina del Gargano in Manfredonia

Sun rise in middle of Adriatic Sea
In the very wee hours on 9 September we quietly slipped the stern dock lines and departed the Priv.Vela Lago Marina at Hotel Solitude in the NE corner of the large bay on the western side of the island of Lastovo.  We are thankful to Chuck and Alexis, previously on S/V Cyan, for letting us know that it is possible to clear out of Croatia at Ubli on Lastovo.  This is not listed as a clearance port on but is mentioned in the Adriatic pilot book.  We will notify Noonsite with the info to add to their website.  We would not have found Ubli had not Chuck and Lexxy told us about it.  Thanks!  Because clearing out at Ubli on Lastovo provides the shortest route over to Italy.  The closest port in Italy is at Vieste; and we have heard of yachts being able to partially clear in there and complete the rest of formalities in Brindisi; but we opted to go an additional 30 NM or so farther south of Vieste to the nearest official clearance port of Manfredonia.  Plus, there is a nice new marina in Manfredonia.  And a clearance agent since we do not speak Italian.  We think it will be nice to marina hop as much as possible down the eastern coast of Italy.  There are not a lot of sheltered anchoring options along this coast for boats with 2.1 meter draft. 
As always, click on any image for larger view. 

Porpoises came to play with our bow 8NM from Italy

We had previously contacted Mario de Girolamo regarding handling clearance formalities for us.  Mario is an agent for cargo ships; I think we might be the first small private yacht which he has cleared in.  He first quoted us a high fee but then reduced his fee to what we considered reasonable.  Since we do not speak Italian we thought it best to let the professional deal with authorities. 

Look closely. Dark spot in water just to left of sail.
That is one of the porpoises leaving after playing with us.
Probably 2 dozen sailors we have known who went on westward ahead of us over the past 3 1/2 years had told us how easy it is to clear into Italy and that passports are never stamped. That worried us somewhat since we will be flying out of the airport in Rome in early December.  The airport immigration officials might not like us leaving the country when there were no records of us ever arriving in this country.  Bill and I were leery of being in a country without proper passport clearance.  This is no different than the Mexicans who cross the border in the USA.  We did not want to take any chances of having 'Illegal Alien' stamped into our passports when we departed Rome.  If that happens then there is a monetary fine AND the illegal alien cannot return to the EU for a period of 5 years.  This would be a very, very bad thing! 

See the white dots.  Hundreds of these.  A very strange fish
farm.  Hate to get tangled in that on a dark night!
Turned out that we should not have worried about this prior to arrival.  Because the officials did stamp our passports.   Three policemen came to the marina, spoke with us and looked at our boat, and then spoke with the agent Mario.  They were all talking loudly and we did not understand any of it, except we did hear the highest ranking guy say Schengen a few times and the officer carrying the case containing the stamps also mentioned Schengen.  Either the days of 'not caring' are over now that the SIS2 computer system is online for every country, or we just happened to clear in at a port where the officials are more rigorous.  Anyway, the officials here do care about proper Schengen clearance.  We are legally cleared into Italy now, both the yacht and our persons.  We have the Constitudo (cruising permit) and our passports display arrival stamps.  All is good!  Should not encounter any issues when fly out of Rome.

First moon looked red/orange
And then moon looked pale yellow.
Later it was white.
The next day we walked miles and miles through the town of Manfredonia.  First goal was to find a TIM cell phone store to purchase SIMs for the iPhone and the 3G data modem.  Other cruisers had told us that the TIM network offers the largest area coverage and usually the best deals for usage costs.  The walk to the TIM shop was nice.  It is much warmer here in Italy than it was in Croatia.  Strange, since we are basically on same latitude; but, for whatever reason, it is much warmer here in Italy.  We walked to the TIM shop downtown during the morning hours and it was pleasant.  Good exercise.  

Marina del Gargano
Marina del Gargano
With much issue and help from Skype and webcams to the main office, we managed to purchase the 2 SIMs from the clerk who spoke not a word of English.  At first we were all 3 at a complete loss to communicate.  Then I spotted some cards on one of the 
display cases that 
Mostly empty Marina del Gargano
Waters here have more jellyfish than
we have seen since Indonesia.
stated "Welcome to Italy" and described exactly what we wanted.  The clerk could not read these cards because these were printed in English.  She Skyped the main office and held the card up to the computer camera and someone explained to her in Italian what the English printing stated.  Ahhhhh!  Got it!  She can do that!  Whew!  Do not know how we would have handled buying the SIMs and getting the accounts set up had we not found that card printed in English and she was savvy enough to use the camera and Skype to get it translated for her.  Late that night the accounts were activated.  These are good for only 30 days, but we will be at Marina di Ragusa well before these expire and surely there will be someone at the marina who can help us get additional service.

Swabian Angioin Argoneses Castle in Malfredonia.
Bill refused to walk through yet another castle.

With that first chore completed, we continued to walk in search of some form of grocery market.  We walked.  And we walked.  And we walked some more.  I do not know how far but it was too far.  We eventually found a greens grocer and stocked up on vegetables.  It was so rare to find vegetables in Croatia.  I think we will like Italy because they apparently do eat lots of vegetables.  

Right across the street from the greens grocer was a butcher shop.  I stocked up on 2 kilo beef (to be used as stew meat) and 2 kilo ground beef (watched it ground and it is extremely lean -- like 98% lean) and 2 kilo veal roast.  Would have liked to buy more because the meat looked so good but that was enough to carry while walking back to the marina.  

Isn't this a gorgeous cake!

We took a different route back and passed a very small grocery store where we stocked up on various breads and buns.  Also passed a bakery that had the most beautiful cakes.  I had to go in and look more closely at those cakes.  It was a small shop operated by a woman who appeared to be about 60 years old.  Her grandson was watching the shop while she was in back cooking lunch.  The family obviously lived behind the storefront.  He went back and brought her to the counter when we walked in to see the cakes.

More fun cakes.  Details really done well.
This brought our attention to the canisters of cookies behind the display case.  Oh, did those all look so delicious!  We were already burdened to the limits and could not carry any more, but I just had to buy 6 pieces of a certain cookie.  She was so funny!  She could not believe we wanted to buy 6 pieces of the same thing.  She spoke no English and she pantomimed to make us understand that we should buy 2 of those cookies and 2 of another kind and 2 of another kind -- that we must buy an assortment.  We smiled and insisted that we only wanted 6 pieces of that one type cookie.  She finally shrugged and wrapped them up.  

And more fancy cakes

She did not just place them in a bag; she placed them on a small decorative disposable tray and then wrapped them in a heavy paper like gift wrap.  It was obvious that she takes pride in her baked goods.  Wish we could have bought more or that we could return to buy more, but I am not walking that far again.

Last of the cakes

By this time it was after 1 pm and all the shops were closed for the afternoon.  Most everything closes between 12:30 and 1 pm and remains closed until 4 or 5 pm; then reopens until maybe 8 pm or so.  This will take some getting used to for us.  This is a custom that I like a lot.  

Saturday we will probably begin heading south.  Weather looks okay for southward travel then.  We will be motoring again (of course!) but this time with only about 6 kt wind on our nose.  That isn't too bad.


  1. Hi Judy and Bill - Glad you made it safely to Italy. We are here as well, having crossed from Zadar, Croatia to Ancona, Italy. This Saturday we plan to take about a 2 week land trip, using rail to get us from Ancona to Florence, Venice and a few spots inbetween before heading back to the boat in Ancona and sailing further south. We'll have to consider stopping in to see you in your 'winter home'. It was great to finally meet you at Mljet.

  2. Ciao Judy and Bill.... I hear Puglia is supposed to be beautiful. My wife, Cinzia, keeps promising to take me. She is in Ravenna and leaves to Houston on the 28th. If you need emergency translation, she would be happy to help. I can email her number if you'd like. Too bad, you could not sail to Ravenna - it has a lot to offer. Good blog on entering Italy by sea..thanks


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