After a fine sail down from Venice, Tainui is again tied up in Pula. Lucky I didn’t dely my departure – last night a vicious series of storms passed through with spectacular lightning displays, strong winds and hail. It would have been a tedious crossing in that weather.
Tonight the projected lights on the shipyard cranes are hypnotic. and I wish I’d brought my tripod. These shipyards were built by the Habsburgs and naval officers stationed there learnt English from a Berlitz teacher living and teaching in Pula – James Joyce, no less.
I have written before about the memorable chance meetings which cruising enables. In Vardo it was the young soprano learning the Berio folksongs. In Pula yesterday it was a particle physicist from Munich who tried (and failed) to explain neutron beam technology to me.
Now, at the marina, my neighbours have been a cheerful group of Italian architects, writers and others crammed into an impossibly small but seaworthy little boat. My ears pricked up when I heard one of them singing Italian opera (“ai nostri monte” from Trovatore, as I recall). Inevitably, conversations were struck up and we ended up singing through most of Rigoletto over a fine seafood meal at Pompeii restaurant. I knew the music of course, but they knew the entire libretto and sang all of the words. Then they moved on to Tosca, Turandot, Trovatore and a heap of other classics. The bastards.
This inspirational bunch of middle-aged Italians attack each and every new experience with exuberance and carefree enthusiasm. Everything is fun and nothing is impossible. Thank heavens their attitude is infectious. Meeting such folk is one of the great pleasures of cruising – the intimacy is immediate and unrestrained. Then suddenly, they are gone, but the friendship is lasting.
And now, a week’s R&R in London.