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ITALIA - SLOVENIA   Part 1/4 - Just One Cornetto
Gommone Laguna Club Venezia - 21st Raid, Venezia-Pirano
 

As those December nights grew longer and 'Jack Frost' was paying his regular visits it seemed a good idea to accept my Swiss friend Peter Zurrer's kind offer to join him on a unique RIB adventure starting from Venice. It was my first visit to the Adriatic and even being December did not convince me it could be any colder than in temperate Britain.

Indeed, television commercials for 'just one cornetto' had subliminally convinced me it was always warm and sunny in Venice. I should have studied more closely the English word for Venezia, Ven - Ice. Cold it was to be, just like ice cream. So that's what the advert was all about!
Our arrival at Beppi's boatyard on the outskirts of Venice, located at the very end of the airport runway, was during the late hours of darkness after Peter's 8 hour drive from Zurich.

It did not take too long to fall into deep sleep, in the camper van, only to be abruptly awoken just a few hours later by the incredible noise of the first early morning flight. Russian Ilyushin jets have no interest in European regulations on noise pollution...
.
Perhaps the anti-aircraft gun in the boatyard was Beppi's solution to those rude early morning calls!

The event was the 21st RIB Raid organised by Gommone Laguna Club Venezia,very keen to impress with their warm-hearted generosity and fun loving nature. With 22 RIBS and an international crew to organise, the continental precision for timekeeping ensured that all boats were launched and ready at the official start time.

Thanks to the hard work of Beppi's Pony, one of the two tractor units used by the boatyard.I was amazed at the amount of spare fuel being eagerly stored in 25 litre plastic containers on each of the boats. Indeed it looked as if we were in for a long trip...The geography of this part of Italy and the northern Adriatic was new to me.

A low-lying land at the foot of the eastern European Alps. Riddled with sea canals and lagoons formed by huge swampland deltas from
the flowing rivers born in the backdrop of the high mountain ranges....

We set off as the morning sunrise tried desperately to cut the cold morning mist, but never quite succeeded, only managing to increase the temperature by just one or two degrees. I must admit to having wondered what I had let myself in for as we moved out of the canal system towards the open sea, with nothing to see in the shrouding mists. At our first stop to rendezvous all the boats I quickly added more clothing layers under my drysuit.

Once clear of the entrance to Venice we headed in flotilla northeast along the coastline. After a couple of hours motoring we entered the sea canal system again for what we English would say 'elevenses' to make our first landfall.



Now I started to understand the reason for all that extra fuel.  A communal sack of bread was produced, as were huge cheeses and sausages. Then the fuel!.... You've probably guessed by now, each container was full of personal fuel - Italian red wine! Whoever said red wine was to be taken warm had never met the RIBsters of Venezia.

The only hot activity was jumping around to avoid the firecrackers set-off by the exuberant Italians and the bursts of laughter as one risqué joke was told after another. By now, everyone accounted for, watered and fed, it was time to move towards lunch.
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