Round the Venice lagoon by barge

The beauty of Venice is so great that even the high-season overcrowding is still bearable. Now we’ve found a way of seeing the city in spring, summer and autumn without feeling oppressed by the sheer numbers around us. A week afloat on a barge is is the answer, because you see Venice in the context of its whole lagoon, and can slip easily away from the crowds.

Arriving, for example, at the island of Torcello in the evening, after the day-trip boats have left, is a blissfully peaceful experience. We found a mooring up a tree-lined creek on the far side of the island from the excursion landing stage, right behind the basilica. It was just an hour and a half slow cruising from Venice. In the city itself, we spent two nights in the peaceful surroundings of a yacht club marina at St Elena, in easy reach of the sights but away from the crowds.

Read the rest of the post by following this linkRound the Venice lagoon by barge.

The mooring on Torcello
The mooring at Torcello

Venice Biennale – all at sea

Gav's Bar
Gav’s Bar
We had hardly started on the Venetian lagoon when we came across this site-specific installation by Gavin Turk, the much-praised Young British Artist (now of course no longer so young). Here is some of the publicity material we found flying about in the wind from the Biennale*.

“Gav’s Bar – entrance through the white door on the right – is set on a platform once used for fishing on the western lagoon, not far from the shore of the island of Pellestrina. Gav has hung empty frames, canvases, a representation of the moon from a carnival parade and other found paraphernalia to provide a challenging invitation to fellow artists to replace the material with their own artworks, in a curatorial and interactive project that will evolve during the lifetime of the Venice 2015 Biennale.

In keeping with Turk’s  playful references to art history and identity, Gav is also a hommage to the celebrated arts cafes of Montmartre where artists used their work as a medium of financial exchange. In return for their work, artists will be offered drinks and a certificate to validate the transaction. Drinks on offer include Gav Grappa, locally produced, whose hallucinogenic properties rival those of the absinthe drunk by Bohemian artists in early 20th century Paris.

Turk will personally be monitoring each contribution and will only accept art works that he feels are worthy of inclusion or rise to the spirit of the occasion. The participatory, interactive project relates to his ongoing dialogue with the meaning, authorship and value of works of art.

The mundane remains of artefacts from life on shore, set alongside debris collected from the lagoon and the sea outside, will gradually evolve into a coherently curated set of artworks that will illustrate the challenges of maintaining life in the oceans and resisting over-exploitation of the world’s resources at a time when society is increasingly focused on excessive material consumption and the inevitable production of waste and pollution, as exemplified by the passing yachts and holiday barges.

Gav’s Bar has organised a fleet of old and carefully damaged inflatables to ferry artists from the village of San Pietro on Pellestrina to the bar. The deliberately corrupted state of the inflatables and the inevitability that some will not complete the journey without sinking and rescue of the artists on board adds a further political and social dimension to this conceptual project, encompassing the plight of refugees in the Mediterranean”.

* Only slightly adapted from the flyer for Gav’s other bar in Calle del Forno, Venice, and publicity for various Biennale events.

Round Venice

A year ago we went round London by barge, and next week we’ll go round Venice, with the same seven-strong crew. We will start from a barge base at Chioggia, and plan to visit Venice itself and several other islands, including Torcello, and maybe up the River Brenta towards Padua or the Sile towards Treviso. Not sure whether the mobile internet reception is good enough to allow a daily blog, but we’ll load a picture log during the week.

Chart errors (contd).

Several earlier posts covered inaccuracies in charts. Last week I came across yet another example in Cala de Portinax, a bay at the north end of Ibiza in the Balearics. This screen shot from my Navionics chart shows depths in a fair amount of detail: yet the numbers were wrong by a factor of three or four. IMG_2586 Because of the modest depths shown, we motored in with great trepidation in Olivia Jane, a Beneteau 43 with a 2 metre draft. Yet we found the depths in the middle of the bay were all in the 11-13 metre range and even close in to the rocky shore we anchored in 8 metres. In contrast, the C-Map chart on the cockpit plotter gave no depths at all inside the bay, which is a safer option than mistaken information. We’ve fed this back to Navionics and await a reply, but the nagging question will always remain in future, even if this proves to be a rare mistake: can we trust the inshore information on these charts? What if the mistake had been the other way, showing 11 metres when only 2 metres was there? Do other brands of charts have similar errors? Previous posts on this subject were mainly about errors arising from old surveys; many of these were to do with 19th century measurements of longitude, which become glaringly obvious with GPS. This Navionics chart seems in contrast to suffer from a basic data problem. I’ll update when Navionics replies.

May 14  Here is part of the Navionics reply – they put it right but there is no indication of the frequency of the problem.

Thank you for bringing this issue to our Cartography Department. Navionics appreciates your input and we are pleased to inform you the issue has been corrected. The updated data is currently available for Navionics Mobile by updating your maps.  We have asked to write us from the App, in order to know which App version you were using and you need to update it. Always make sure you are running the most current version of the mobile app. 

However, when I went on line, the app told me that no updates were available at this time. Are the above lines just their formula for telling people to go away? The chart of the bay is unchanged.

11 June
finally got the problem of the Navionics chart errors sorted, with help from the company by email. I deleted and reinstalled the whole app and succeeded in getting the updated version, which matched the plotter and our own depth measurements.

(1) one could go on for a long time not knowing that the charts are failing to notify updates via the App Store. So best to ask it regularly to update and if it keeps saying no updates available get in touch with Navionics help, or simply delete and reinstall (after logging on and syncing to avoid losing data). There must be a bug lurking somewhere.

(2) the chart was bought late last year and is still current – so the error was there very recently. There will always be a nagging question in my mind about whether other mistakes are lurking in the charts.

PS Am now looking into why my 2015 edition of Memory Map’s UK charts, which I have on my laptop, does not mark the position of the massive new breakwater at the entrance to Cowes Harbour, my home port. It says in general terms ‘works in progress’ with no position or indication of what. In Navionics’ favour, they show the new breakwater accurately. I have asked Memory Map what the actual cut off date is for its 2015 edition but have had no reply. 

For more on this subject, see:

Med Charter Disaster? Orkney Roulette Marine Survey Accuracy