She is the Captain of a River Ship

Now that autumn has come to the country and the tourist season is over, the ships that transport tourists along the river that flows through the Slovenian capital are also resting. It’s time for fun. Captain Joe and the crew invited us to join them on a trip along that part of the river, where riverboats are not allowed to sail.

Joe is in Indonesia during the winter and in Slovenia in the summer. We often sail together. He with his Tiki 21, we with a good meter longer Ariki. Remember him from previous videos?

Joe is full of interesting stories. Again, he told us one very juicy one from faraway Indonesia.

(Od kod prihaja Ljubljanica) The Inner Carniola region is unparalleled throughout the world. Underground rivers, which rise to the surface every now and then and rush their short song to the sun quickly disappear into the darkness of the underground. Spring and fall rains fill the famous intermittent lakes – true gems of unspoiled nature.

Even the vast meadows of the Cerknica Karst Field can flood. The lake surface then measures up to 24 km2. When the water drains off, stream beds winding across wide grass fields and numerous sinkholes which divert the water into the underground become visible.

Water from the lake again rises in Rakov Škocjan, but the course of the river lasts for only 2km before it disappears into the underground again.

The stream flows through the dark passages of the Planina Cave into the Pivka River, which passes hrough the Postojna Cave.

The river which from the confluence on carries the name Unica rises to the surface on the Planina Karst Field. It also floods during heavy rainfall.

On the other side of the Field, The Unica River again dwindles and rises on the surface as the Ljubljanica River near Vrhnika.

(Barje) The marsh extends from Ljubljana all the way up to Vrhnika. This is a marshy area which has drained in the last centuries. The layer of peat in this area can be up to 8m thick. Long ago there was a shallow lake in this area, which has run dry not before the Bronze Age. Until the 19th century, the settlements were located only at the edge of the basin and on former islands, which later became lonely hills on the marsh. Today the Ljubljana Marshes is one of the largest grasslands in Slovenia.

(Ljublanica) Just like all major cities, Ljubljana has also developed along the river, which was an important traffic connection until the construction of the railroad line in the 19th century.

2000 years ago, the Romans changed the stream of Ljubljanica River. They have leveled the complete 20-km-long riverbed in the Marsh and partially moved it to Podpeč, where they excavated building material from the local quarry and used it to build the ancient town of Emona. The abandoned part of the riverbed has become overgrown and marshy, but even after all this time it is still visible between the settlements of Notranje Gorice and Podpeč.

Before the construction of the Gruber channel, which was an impessive construction for that time, the Ljubljanica River flowed through the city in a wide riverbed, creating bends and islets, and it often flooded. After the channel construction, the riverbed has been deepened, but the river banks have became so steep that they had to be supported, first with stone and later with concrete embankments.

The Ljubljanica River is navigable for 20 km from Vrhnika to the capital of Slovenia, Ljubljana. Ships can sail only in the narrower area of the city. Upstream, navigation is prohibited for them.

This is a kind of absurdity for a simple reason. There is no service zone in the area where these ships can sail, nor a place where such a ship could be lifted out of the water.

This is possible only in the village of Podpeč, which is halfway from Ljubljana to Vrhnika. But, from the permitted navigation area to there is 8 km of the forbidden area.

I really don’t understand what the bureaucrats thought when they wrote this rule?

Despite the rules, the ships sails to Podpeč and back to Ljubljana. But only when they go to the service. Otherwise, they stick to the rules. Passengers are no longer on this route.

For us, sailing on the Ljubljanica with a river boat is an interesting experience. We knows the river well. We have already paddled it several times along its entire length. Because it flows out of the cave, it has a very low temperature. Even in the greatest summer heat, it does not heat up but stays cold as she barely exceeds a temperature of 10 degrees Celsius.

The banks of the river are densely overgrown. It’s just a narrow strip of bushes and trees. Only at rare points is it possible to land and disembark from the boat.

Beyond this belt, which in some places is only a few tens of meters wide, are marshy meadows and fields. There are no roads along the river. Only in Podpeč it is crossed by two bridges, a road and a railway. There is only one inn by the river, in Podpeč, right there it is a service zone too. And this one is closed more times than open.

This is not a river boat. It’s a raft that has a chassis made of barrels. For many years it was moored along the coast on the outskirts of the city and served as a cafe on the water. I remember the pleasant ambience on it. Many times we got there with other boatmen and drank some beer or two or three…

Even today is such a day. We have already drunk a lot and we will drink more. It is really getting dark, but at the end of November the day is already so short that the night is done in the middle of the afternoon.

The sausages ran out, and there was still plenty of beer and wine in the fridge. So we will land and moor the ship. Then we’ll chat and have a drink.

You too can join us. Open a beer or pour yourself a glass of wine. Cheers!

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