Real time landing in the channel – Those who have never landed in the Channel of St. Bartolomeo at the Piran salt pans, they do not know that this can be a very difficult task. Just entering the canal can be a problem. You can only enter it from the sea only when you can look into it. In fact, it starts outside, about 100 m from the visible entrance. It is necessary to sail between Cape Seca and the shallows, which continue into the sea as an extension of the salt pans.
Real time landing in the channel
We stick to the stone wall all the time while sailing along the canal. On the other side, where the road is, is the shallows. Where the shallows end, boats are moored.
In the summer months, the narrow entrance to the canal is always full of bathers. There are also many surfers and kiters who have their base here. They were attracted by the windy peculiarities of this micro location. It has happened many times that the wind was blowing in the gable of the Piran Bay in front of Cape Seca, and there was no wind on the open sea.
Entering the channel
The canal must be entered at a distance of no more than 10 m from the wall of the salt pans. Sailboats with a draft of 2 m can only sail at maximum tide. Those with a draft of up to 1.5 m can go in and out only at normal tides. Ariki has only 70 cm of draft, so it can sail along the canal even in low tide. When the maximum low tide, however, it is not possible to navigate the canal.
Sea tide is a change in sea level
This is due to the influences of the sun and moon. Therefore, sea tides are predicted or calculated with great accuracy for the whole year in advance. However, these calculations may deviate from the actual situation because they do not take into account the current situation, which also affects the sea level. These are wind, air pressure and the own oscillation of the Adriatic Sea.
Forecasted sea levels are obtained using a harmonic spectral analysis on a time-series of observed sea levels at the tide gauge Koper. The link to the pdf about the tides along the Slovenian coast can be found below the video in the description.
The tide of the sea is highest in the Adriatic right here, in the Gulf of Trieste. The difference between the maximum tide in the canal can be over 2 m. In practice, this means that the canal is empty at low tide, but when the tide comes in, the sea floods the road.
The first 2 km of canal from the sea to the only bridge connecting the salt pans to the mainland are navigable. There is another 3 km of canal from the bridge to the village of Sečovlje. In this part, the canal is narrower. There is also less water in it. It is mostly overgrown and flooded with mud.
There is a huge amount of water in the canal, which drains into the sea twice a day and returns. The water in the canal is visibly rising or falling. Sometimes, when the time lag between high tide and low tide is short, it flows like a fast river.
Mischievous wind and water flow
Add to this the wind that usually blows down or up the canal, and these can be very difficult landing conditions. Ariki doesn’t have much room to maneuver. The 8 m long and 4.6 m wide catamaran should be turned 180 degrees on an area only 25 x 15 m and tied to the pier and wooden stakes.
Ariki can’t do this semicircle in such a small space alone. He needs help with a push away from the pier. The bow should be pushed so that it completes the semicircle and is placed sideways along the pier.
It sounds easy, but it’s not. It has very rarely happened that we landed without mistakes. Today there is a possibility for something like that. There is no wind, and the current flows slowly into the canal. We got here with the current, and now we will turn sharply to the right and put Ariki with the bows in the current. Watch the video “Real time landing in the channel.”