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The Bulgarian Folkdance

By Robert Burn — last modified Aug 25, 2017 10:36 PM
We are just completing our Black Sea experience, which was relatively brief. There was a quest for cheaper fuel, but we were partially sated in Varna, Bulgaria at AU$1.55 per litre. Calms have slowed us down as well, and we are making an effort to keep the hull clean for efficiency. There is a surprising amount of shipping in the Sea of Marmara. We had 240 AIS targets yesterday, however there are not many cruising yachts here at all.

Published: 2017-08-24 23:00:00
Countries: Bulgaria

Having cleared Turkey from Eregli for Bulgaria, the best point of sail seemed to be Bourgas, a Port of Entry.

Bourgas

Clearance was quite efficiently done after being boarded by Border Force a few miles off the coast in calm conditions. They are quite cordial. The Bourgas Traffic Control saw us into the main harbour next to the Customs building where we cleared in without fuss or charge.

There is a new 1 km concrete breakwater running N-S separating the Pilot Wharf where we are, from the main harbour. This is not shown on the latest C-Map ENC cards. Bourgas is a small commercial port, with copper concentrate stock-piles, and Bentonite, used for drilling, waiting for shipment to Israel. The infrastructure is dated and decaying. There is a vehicle transport ship unloading three hundred American armoured vehicles, part of the global hearts and minds program. On shore, close by, the supermarkets offer a fair variety of goods at very reasonable prices.

For the first time I see McDonalds selling a variety of beers to go with their meals. Alcohol of all description is very cheap, but the Bulgarians seem remarkably sober. Officials are quite punctilious with their paperwork; they seem to keep long hours, and may even inhabit vacant space adjacent to their offices. The water off the wharf is very clean, and we have experienced more rain here in the past week as in the last six months. There does seem to be a weather incidence correlation to the Coptic Calender, that we have been following.

We make for Varna, which is much more interesting, the next day.

Varna

The Imray Pilot suggests anchorages along the north side of Varna, but anchoring is prohibited.

The Varna Traffic Control directs us to the Yacht Club where we go alongside for Euro 13 per day for our 17 metre vessel.  The water here is also sweet. There are basic amenities including hot showers and the locals are friendly with an active juniors program for young sailors.

There is a basic chandlery and boat yard for smaller vessels. There is an excellent sail-maker who repaired my tattered genoa for Euro 100. Good diesel fuel is delivered by a Shell agent by mini-tanker for about Euro 1.00 per litre, almost half the price than in Turkey. Street food is similarly priced, and there is a Steak and Grill Restaurant that does “all you can eat” for Euro 5 for lunch and Euro 12 for dinner, good value for a hungry crew!

However, it seems that very few yachts venture to this picturesque Black Sea coast.

Varna has a proud history dating back thousands of years, of trading and boat-building. The excavated Roman ruins in town are worth a look, as is the Maritime Museum with a range of exhibits from heavy artillery to torpedo boats rampant on concrete pedestals. Their celebrated victories centre on the Balkan Wars and fighting the Turks, Christian oppressors here and in Armenia. Here they used small ships and minefields to great effect. Unfortunately the later Soviet dominance left their shipbuilding industries poorly prepared for global competition in the 1970’s, and they continue to struggle economically.

However they are proud of their arts, there is a long seawall covered in most interesting graffiti, and there is a wide variety of literature available, though little in English. We could not find any English language papers. There are traffic –free boulevards in town set up with book stalls, and there are cafes well patronised by the locals, surrounded by lush parklands. There are good sporting facilities, such as Olympic pools and sporting fields and the Bulgarians are generally in good shape and dress well.

We have judged communities by gauging the levels of litter and general hygiene of facilities, and the Bulgarians measure up very well in this regard. Varna is clean and tidy, even if it is in a state of decay.

We give the Yacht Club notice that we wish to clear for Mangalia, about 50nm up the coast in Romania. The Customs official comes down to the boat for our passports and our inward clearance from Bourgas, and half an hour later we are cleared to leave Varna.

We can recommend a pleasant visit here in Varna, Bulgaria, for the budget minded passing yacht.

Robert Burn

Read Robert's Romania report at Romania Next

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