Balchik to Burgas
I've nothing really planned for Bulgaria. Summer conditions. Easy sailing. No scheduled stops before 'the end'. Enough experience to know I'll complete this last bit, and would do so Monty Python 'Black Knight' style if required... The final days will perhaps be uneventful; sailed with a sense of 'seen it all before'. Accumulated fatigue having numbed mind as well as body.
I rest for two days in Balchik, knowing there is time in hand to link up with the bicycle that will be arriving in Burgas. I am not a good rester; get plenty done; but there is physical rest. The seaside town summer restaurant music begins to really grate, signalling that I am ready to sail.
Before departure I find some gifted food on the board. The customs officers wave when I depart, and then I see Tichomir on his SUP board. A big grin confirms who the food has come from.
Light headwinds make for slow progress. The Black Sea has been almost all headwind. Norway and Portugal were almost all following wind. 10nm is the day's haul. Approaching Varna there are some beaches with arrays of sun loungers, one of which becomes my camp site. A message arrives from Pavel, offering support in Varna. The universality of kindness and generosity evident again. Pavel's offer a final piece of the jigsaw where the pattern is already clear.
Next day begins with a swim in refreshing and clear water, then repairs to a broken daggerboard plate. The daggerboard itself is also badly cracked, but earlier structural reinforcement prevents it folding. I sail beyond Varna, following near continuous beach on this gently hilly and beautiful coastline, fuelled by the breezes of storm clouds. A nearby crack of lightning sends me to shore and determines the evening's camp location.
Despite the wild location there is company at night. A boat engine sounds too close. On the beach, voices, shadows, and the orange of cigarette ends. The fisherman prepare and set their nets and work through to beyond dawn.
A welcome land breeze provides some easy miles in the morning. When it stops I am near to a town, allowing refilling of water and a proper breakfast/lunch. More beautiful coastline follows. Cape Emine - the last major headland of the journey - is a struggle to pass and is where the dolphins say their goodbye. I prefer not to resort to the mystical, but am very convinced that however complete we consider our state of knowledge, we have little more than scraped the surface of what there is to know. The cape and the current running off it resist sailing against. With sunset approaching I complete the rounding by paddle, then stop on a strip of sand to savour the last wild beach camp of the journey.
Next day, by paddle, and then two hours of lucky wind during a rain shower, and then a final mile by paddle, I reach Burgas.
Some pictures here of the last days of the windsurf part of the journey.