1st Lazarus Union Handicapped Sail Cruise

September 22. – 29. 2012

  A report by Wolfgang Steinhardt,
Union Commander Lazarus Union

”…always facing new challenges…“

This is our mission statement and as such it was the motivating factor ideating, planning, organising, and performing such an activity.

Soon there will be a detailed report of this extraordinary event together with many nice pictures.

Therefore I want to give only a very basic report which also critically addresses the problems of such a cruise, not omitting the negative experiences. This report shall be considered as valuable information to similar organizations what to look for and what to improve on planning like activities. So it is not to be taken as a travelogue in the usual sense but restricts itself to the simple facts without any euphemisms how well it went and similar.

First I would like to say that I do not have any sailing or other naval experiences whatsoever and have been looking forward to this cruise on small ships with rather mixed feelings. Fortunately our skipper was a long-time professional yachtsman with lots of experiences for which we were most thankful as we had to make much use of them.

The preparations and the flight to Split inCroatiawith Austrian were without any complications although it was the first flight for several participants. Austrian was perfect in handling all wheelchair issues and we explicitly want to express our thanks to them. Extra shuttle services from the gate to the plane made boarding and disembarking almost effortless inVienna as well as inSplit.

Problems commenced at the marina where we were to take over our ships. The large boat we had rented especially for the participants with wheelchairs was not available as it was totalled two days before our arrival and a comparable one was not available.

Only with a lot of trouble and support from our chartering company a comparable vessel could be organised which unfortunately offered only eight instead of twelve beds in four bunks. But the crew lists had already been submitted to the authorities and so we could not make new arrangements.

It was also planned to have this ship run by a specially hired crew also assisting with supporting the handicapped people at sea. But because of the reduced number of beds this was not possible. Fortunately the second skipper agreed to forgo his bunk, instead sleeping on deck or in the living room and also to operate the vessel all on his own.

It was obvious that this would provide for a lot of trouble and work but the only alternative would have been to send home all people from the second ship. But as I never accept problems as anything else than challenges I decided to make the best from this situation accepting it as it was. Of course everyone was informed on the new situation but all wanted to proceed to sea as quickly as possible.

One experience we (unfortunately) had to make was that handicapped people do not want to be seen as “disabled“ and want to be treated like “normal” persons but on the other hand when this “wish” is respected they always very decidedly point out their handicap and expect respectively request “automatic support.”

Although on both ships there were persons who were depending on the support of others after two days “mutiny” was the name of the game on the smaller of the two vessels. One lady thought that the “other boat” did too little for the benefit of the small ship and that “… all the trouble with the wheelchairs is put on the small boat only…” Unfortunately this criticism was not directed to me as organiser but spoken out aloud in front of all participants during a common dinner. This completely ruined the atmosphere which until then had been good despite all the problems and there were shocked faces all over the place.

As the moorings of the two ships often were far apart it would not have been possible technically to provide any ad hoc assistance and so every ship had to solve its “problems” all on itself. At sea such a mutual assistance would anyhow not have been possible at all (or only with unjustifiable efforts).

There is one thing I am very willing to admit: The problems associated with bringing persons depending on a wheelchair with limited usage of their hands on deck and back again through a rather steep companionway have been completely underestimated. Boarding the ship by using a plank only one foot wide was a challenge already for normal persons even in light seas.

The problem was solved in such a way that one experienced aide assisted on the smaller vessel during daytime, only changing ship for the night. So also for the handicapped people a safe stay on deck was possible, five aids were supporting four handicapped passengers. Still the originally good atmosphere did not come back again as the criticism was held up despite these measure.

Apparently it was expected that this sailing cruise would be a “luxury trip” with “24hr service” and that all CSLI members had to be “available on the slightest hint.” All CSLI members not only paid for their trip by themselves but also paid a share of the cost for our handicapped guests, spent their vacation days, and were always willing to help whenever the need arose. But there was hardly a “… please help me…” or a “…thanks…” to be heard, something which was not really cheering them up. Also statements like “… why should we say PLEASE or THANK YOU, we are handicapped…” have given me lots of grief thoughts. To say PLEASE and THANK YOU is so obvious and self-evident for me that I do not even have to consider it and has absolutely nothing to do with any handicap at all. Also it is by far not the rule that completely unknown foreign handicapped persons are offered such a sailing cruise at all. After all the Lazarus Union has sponsored this trip for the handicapped guests with more that €2000.

As a result is has to be noted that it is very problematic to bring together (in such a confined space like a small sailing ship) people not known to each other before especially when their needs are not known well enough (e.g. with handicaps). Some “basic fitness” and “basic abilities” also have to be assumed as the stay in the cabin as well as on deck can be dangerous for people who are blind or paralyzed or who can not use their hands to secure themselves.

Every one of our guests did have their own aide but apparently this was not sufficient to get everybody in a good mood. I think it is a real shame as the will and the efforts to get everything right for the participants of the trip were definitely there.

Still we were able to perform many unique activities and the whole trip was finished without any incident or accident and even without the slightest injury. You will learn more about these trips in the oncoming report which will also be accompanied by lots of pictures.

So as the organizer and main responsible I can say that the journey was a success nevertheless *). If it will be done a second time even with the best will in the world I cannot say. The findings of THIS trip would definitely influence any new sailing cruise.

Finally a big thank you to all CSLI members who helped making this trip possible. Especially to Christoph Ptak who as highest ranking “not-nautical” CSLI officer aided much with his unshakable calm attitude to avoid any real escalation and so made it possible for all to have some fun and enjoy this cruise. For all participants this was a real adventure with lots of new experiences!

To be honest this event clearly showed the limits of our (current) possibilities. But if you don’t try you would not know if it works or not (at least as planned). In this sense we will continue to follow our mission statement that we will “…always face new challenges…”

Sometimes it works better ( CSLI Flying Days) and sometimes (sorry) not so perfect. That´s live and we have to accept it!

Senator h.c. Wolfgang Steinhardt
Union Commander Lazarus Union
Organiser andMainResponsible

*) Statements  from participants:

”…despite the mutiny (which actually happened to be a request) and after the help of the passengers from the second boat I am happy to have been on this trip because I have gotten to know valuable people and really enjoyed the cruise with them…”

“…there was a good mood on our boat and a getting along in a friendly manner, probably even better than on the other boat…”

“…it does not make much sense to have all these old people with self-pity on a sailing cruise for the handicapped … still these were great days…”

“…for me this trip was another experience how different people judge a  situation (selective perception). I had fun on this cruise…”

“… I liked it a lot. If there will be another one, count me in…“

“… I thank you very much for your great organizing job and I assure you that this cruise will remain unforgettable for me…”

1st Handicapped Sail Cruise of the Lazarus Union
  By Prof.Hans König
(Translated by Col CSLI Dipl.Ing. Herbert Paulis)


Report of the Croatian cruise 2012 from chronological and nautical point of view

This cruise was scheduled from September 22nd to 29th, 2012, using two modern 15m long Beneteau vessels equipped with a single mast each. Both were to be equipped with roller furling devices and bow thrusters as well as modern navigational systems (chart plotters, true wind indicator, logger, echo sounding, and radio). They were both to provide more than six cabins with 11 bunks, large diesel and water tanks, several toilets and showers, as well as heated outdoor showers.

Our crews were to expect a smooth cruise in not too bad weather. They consisted of sailing enthusiasts who were partly handicapped, some heavily like myself with a 100% reduced motor skill handicap but some long although rusty sailing experience which provided to be helpful later, but there were also two experienced skippers and two deck hands.

But life is what happens to you while you are making plans.

After an uneventful flight with Austrian to split on September 22nd which provided a nice view over the Kornato archipelago we arrived at Kastela marina inSplit bay, albeit somewhat in a sweat in our uniforms.

There the first catastrophe hit us. After a crash the second boat was a write-off, the Croatian skipper was sick and the deck hand was not there. So Wolfgang Steinhardt and our chief skipper Michael Bauer started a thorny negotiation marathon. Finally they managed to organise a replacement ship although somewhat smaller, and also a Slovenian friend of Michael, Clement, acted as second skipper. But there was definitely no second deck hand. Then we began to bunker food and drinks, also not without problems.

But how shall this be simple on a cruise when the crews are not familiar with each other, no shopping lists have been prepared, and the shops were alien and strange. So Wolfgang and his wife Verena went to one supermarket to buy stuff for both ships while I together with Dr. Auner and his wife did so in another smaller shop. I have no idea how the other boat managed the challenge.

Sunday, September 23rd

The day was sunny, almost with no wind and after an opulent breakfast perfectly prepared by Vera and Ingrid we cast off without any problems, full of expectations. Earlier that day our internationally famous photographer Hannes Hochmuth not being able to sleep any longer had the terrific idea to pound his agile fingers in the rhythm of the Radetzky March one foot above my drowsy head. I leave the exact wording of my comments to the imagination of the estimated reader.

First objective of the day was the picturesquevillageofBolonBracIsland. During the reign of the Habsburg Monarchy the island was called Bratz or Brazza.

At lunchtime we anchored in a scenic bay facing the lovelyvillageofMilna. Enjoying the first swim in the crystal clear water and a joint lunch greatly improved our mood. The small passage between Brac and Solta which I remembered horridly as the Solta duct was passed alternately motor-assisted and under sail along the so called Golden Horn of Brac, a well-known beach pictured on most touristic posters inCroatia. Finally we reached the town harbour of the picturesquevillageofBoland the first 33 nautical miles were done.

Hawsers securely fastened to mooring lines we berthed and prepared ourselves for the evening. The restaurant we had selected for dinner turned out to be in a picturesque location at the beach but well-meant is not necessarily well-done. Our crowd was surprised with the statement, ”have only four fish.” After several hours of waiting they managed to serve some food nevertheless. Incidentally, one must mention that the friendliness of the waiters could be higher. We did not have the impression that the host was really happy about 16 unexpected guests.

On our way back to the ships we were surprised by a city festival in the village centre. As our boats were moored in the very middle of this we had the dubious enjoyment of the Croatian version of “Islandin the sun” and similar catchy tunes for quite some time back in our bunks. Our deck hand Andy organized a bottle of herbal liquor but I have no knowledge about the outcome of this as I went to bed just in time.

September 24th

After casting off from Bol we sailed the Hvarski canal eastward. Strong currents and nice winds with light seas carried us quickly towards thewestern capeof Hvar. Soon we reefed our sails to reduce heeling, circumnavigated the cape, and set course towards Palmizana. Luckily the author of these lines was able to sleep off the next morning as the threat to slap Hannes Hochmuth’s face should he repeat his rehearsals of the Radetzky March provided results. Instead our Hannes meticulously made divine photographs and was applauded for his art over and over. Also he began catching flies in the cabin and after some time piled up loads of dead insects for which he was promptly granted the honourable title of “Naval Nimrod.”

The wonderfulislandofPalmizanastayed on our side until we arrived at the entry beacon of the ACI marina, despite a strong current which made a tack towards land impossible. So our motor pushed us into the marina and within a few minutes so many yachts came in that one was thinking of a camping ground on waters (11.5 nm).

This time we selected the restaurant Meninghello, only a few minutes walking distance from the marina. Still it was a difficult job for the wheel-chair assistants to push our Andrea onto land. A few stairs made the task even more complicated and so the crew of the second ship flew into a rage during dinner which by the way turned out to be excellent. Of course they could have just informed the Union Commander but the inevitable happened and there was mutiny and swearing by the low spirited crew of boat one. And all this despite our skipper Michael and Andy pushed and pulled really hard at Andrea’s wheel-chair!

The Union Commander saw need for action. Comrade Andy was transferred to yacht two thus supporting the anxious skipper Clement. AsChristoph Ptakand Josef Maria Gebel could not support the handicapped crew members of the boat alone this had some positive effect. The author of this report was declared deck hand which made him proud but nevertheless it (unfortunately) turned out later that those years out of training and a motor handicap were not really the cream of the crop. All the memories of Atlantic crossings and windjammers were of no help. Sick remains sick!

September 25th

The highlight of our cruise. (13.5 nm)

From Palmizana we turned southwest. A strong jugo (a Mediterranean wind that comes from the Sahara) was driving us towards Lissa (Vis). Gusts as strong as 35 kts made sailing a pleasure and soon theislandofLissarose from the sea. This was the Austrian variant of Gibraltar in theAdriatic. Several bastions with lots of heavy guns up to 42-pounders protected the island. After the battle of Königgrätz the youngKingdomofItalytried to quickly occupy the island with a strong armada stationed inAnconaand led by Admiral Carlo Pellion di Persano. This was reported toAustriausing the new invention of the telegraph and the Austrian Fleet commanded by Admiral Tegetthoff sailed off to the south. Persano had just begun with his attacks, part of his fleet was landing troops, and successfully had taken the first Austrian positions when the Austrian Fleet approached on the horizon. While being ridiculed as wooden fishing fleet the Austrian armada was able to break the Italian line of battle with naval rams.

Having ignored warnings from his pickets of suspicious ships in sight, Persano had effectively allowed the Austrians to ambush his force while it was still forming. Tegetthoff, seeing a gap opening between the 1st and 2nd Divisions, forced his fleet into it and concentrated on raking the Italians and ramming. This meant that he allowed his T to be crossed. While the Austrians were approaching, Vacca’s 1st Italian Division threw a heavy weight of fire at them. The Austrians could only reply with their chase guns. Because Persano was in the process of transferring his flag, no general order was given. The 2nd and 3rd Divisions did not join in and the Austrians crossed the killing area, suffering some serious damage but no ships were lost. Drache on the extreme right (starboard) wing of the Austrian 1st Division was hit 17 times by heavy shells, losing her mainmast and temporarily losing propulsion. Her captain, von Moll, was decapitated by a heavy shell, but his subordinate, Karl Weyprecht, brought the ship back into the fight.

By 10:43 am the Austrians had brought the Italian van to close action. Habsburg, Salamander and Kaiser Max on the Austrian’s left wing had engaged the Italian 1st Division, while the right wing of Don Juan, Drache and Prinz Eugen engaged the Italian 2nd Division. Persano, now on the most powerful warship in either fleet, Affondatore stayed clear of the engagement.

With the confusion in the Italian van, Commodore von Petz took the opportunity to take his 2nd Division to the Italian rear and fall on their 3rd Division. The unarmoured wooden ships of the Austrian 2nd Division were facing modern ironclads armed with heavy guns, yet despite suffering heavy fire they held together. The screw frigateNovara was hit 47 times, and her captain, Erik af Klint, was killed. Archduke Friedrich was hit by a heavy shell below the waterline but still remained afloat, while Schwarzenburg was disabled by heavy Italian fire and set adrift.

Battleof Lissa. Monumental painting by Alexander Kircher (Museumof Military History, Vienna)

Seeing things going badly, Persano found the courage to throw himself into battle, deciding to ram the unarmoured screw battleship Kaiser rather than one of the armoured ships engaged with the Italian 2nd Division much nearer him. However, Kaiser managed to dodge Affondatore. Taking heart from his admiral, the captain of Re di Portogallo decided to hurl his ship at Kaiser, maintaining a heavy fire with her rifled guns as he did so. At the last moment, von Petz turned the tables on her and turned into the ram, in effect conducting a counter ram. The impact tore off Kaiser’s stem and bowsprit, leaving her figurehead embedded in Re di Portogallo. The Italian used the opportunity to rake Kaiser with fire, putting her mainmast and funnel into the sea. The smoke was so great that as they backed off for another ram they lost sight of each other and ended the duel.

At roughly the same time, Tegetthoff threw his flagship Archduke Ferdinand Max (commanded by Maximilian Daublebsky von Sterneck) at first at the former Italian flagship, Re d’Italia, and then at Palestro. In both cases he scored only glancing blows, but these caused serious damage, especially to Palestro, which was dismasted and set afire.

Palestro’s captain, Cappellini, told his men that they could abandon ship but he would stay, and pulled his ship out of the line. His crew refused to leave their Captain and Palestro finally blew up and sank at 2.30pm, with only 19 survivors out of the ship’s complement of 230.

Meanwhile Archduke Ferdinand Max was circling Faà di Bruno’s Re d’Italia, pouring on fire before surging forward and achieving a good impact with her ram, aided by the Italian ship having reversed her screws (in a poorly thought-out attempt to avoid crossing the Austrian’s bows) at the crucial moment. This put an 18 foot hole below the Italians’ waterline, and the Italian ship struck her colours and sank two minutes later. According to legend her Captain shot himself after giving the order to strike the colours.

As the Archduke Ferdinand Max limped away, damaged after conducting three ramming attacks, theAnconaclosed on her attempting to ram. The Italian gunners got a full broadside off at point blank range, but while they had remembered the gunpowder, in the excitement they had forgotten to load the shot.

After his encounter with Re di Portogallo earlier in the battle and having fought his way clear of Maria Pia, Commodore von Petz’s Kaiser found itself at close range with Affondatore. Despite being a perfect target for a ram, Kaiser survived when Persano ordered Affondatore to turn away.

Tegetthoff’s victory was saluted by his mariners – mainly Venetian and a few Croats – with the traditional Venetian cry of victory: “Viva San Marco!” (“Hurrah with Saint Mark!”). In fact, Tegetthoff had his naval training inVeniceand was a fluent speaker of Venetian, the most used language in the fleet. During the battle he gave his orders in that language. The official name of the imperial navy had been Österreich-Venezianische Marine (Austrian-Venetian Navy) until 1849. Of the 7,871 sailors on the Austrian ships, around 5,000 were Istrians and Dalmatian Italians.

Members of the crew coming from Italian families of Venetia, Istria andDalmatiagave no signs of irredentism, and national hero Giuseppe Garibaldi became very angry when he understood that some Venetian people had shown no desire to become part of the Italian state but later he admitted those crew members were bound to their military orders and duty.

In Italy, the outrage over the loss of two ironclads was huge and Persano after the battle was forced to resign with dishonour, together with Albini (whose ships only participated in landings and never fired a shot against the Austrian ships). (Source: Wikipedia).

As descendant of a ship’s doctor of the Imperial Austrian Navy it made me especially proud to steer our vessel into the bay. Our skipper landed with superior ease at the city pier ofVis(Lissa) and at 17:00 we mustered in front of the boat in full uniform of the naval comradeship “Archduke Ferdinand Max.” After Andy had found the village cemetery we went off for a long march along the bay.

I had organised a laurel wreath with bows showing the Austrian red-white-red colours and in front of the memorial at the cemetery in Lissa we saluted the heroes of the battle. So the naval comradeship Archduke Ferdinand Max performed a ceremony worthy of its name.

An atmospheric dinner in a yard surrounded by palm trees concluded this wonderful day.

September 26th

Lissa – Hvar – Palmiziana, 13.5 nm

Clearing the port in Lissa provided no problems. Once again we admired the remains of the old Austrian artillery positions before a growing jugo welcomed us on the open sea. Even after quickly reefing the sails we made breathtaking 8.5 kts.

It was pure sailing pleasure. The waves were at first only 3 feet high. A little spray reached the cockpit and the heeling was tolerable at gusts between 35 and 40 kts. Especially the ladies enjoyed the ride in the swell. Our Ingrid shouted with joy as this would have cost her hundreds of Euros at a fair’s roller coasters. A strong heeling does not improve propulsion but provides obviously pleasure.

We spent lunch break in a small bay inside a narrow canal. The current was so strong that our skipper provided a clever construct with a small line fastened to a ball buoy. So also insecure swimmers were to enjoy a swim without the risk of drifting off. Only our blind lady co-sailor who was a great swimmer could manage without this aid as could our skipper.

Even Wolfgang Steinhardt who insisted at first that he would only swim if theAdriatic Seabottom were tiled enjoyed himself in the water. Also he used his well-loved video camera to film all the diving and jumping fun above and below the water line.

Dark jugo clouds showed up and it was high time to end the fun and head for the harbour. Unfortunately we came too late in the race with other yachts for a place directly at the pier in the cityharbourof Hvar.

So we contented with a harbour tour enjoying the history-loaded town with wistful admiration. Under Venetian and Austrian reign town and island were named Lesina until 1918.

The current was drifting us off to the well known beacon at the entry of ACI marina Palmiziana. So we again took a position in the crowded marina and the crews headed off to the various restaurants. Dr. Auner, his wife, and I hesitated long where to go to still our hunger. Of course we decided for the one restaurant where the unpleasant discussion between the two crews took place two days ago and naturally there was a sequel to it. This was not what we had had in mind and not even the pleasant food helped to prevent for the mood to go down once more. The waiter acting in perfect communist tradition also contributed in lowering the general mood (not possible, don’t know, don’t have).

I took a vow to have my next dinner on board. After such a perfect sailing day as today only happy feelings should have been allowed. At least the crickets chirred and the water chortled at the side plates. Just like it was supposed to be during an Adriatic sailing cruise.

 September 27th, 16.5 nm

A short but wonderful sailing day lay ahead. A stable jugo from south eastern direction, theislandofSoltain front of us. Then the wind dwindled and the swell set us rolling. Motor-assisted we headed into a nice bay and set for the daily swimming ritual. Even with diminishing supplies our ladies created a lunch worthy of a luxury cruiser.

Only a few yards ahead the marina of the enchantingvillageofMaslinicaawaited us. A bay like a dream, a few old houses, many konobas (Croatian tavern) and galleries. Charcoal barbecues sent their smell and smoke over the bay and a fiery red sunset had the water glowing in all sorts of colour. Admiring this view lonely from my konoba I waited for darkness before returning on board. Like on all my cruises I enjoyed some Austrian food brought with me from home, this time together with Dr. Auner. A quiet atmospheric dinner in a romantic bay.

September 28th, 16 nm

Maslinica (Solta). A clouded sky with almost no wind and so we used our engine to reach Rogac, a tiny place that yet provided petrol. We planned to refill our fuel tanks there to avoid the expected queues in our home port. Naturally the queues were in Rogac as others obviously had the same idea and so we were no. 14 in the queue. So what, we had plenty of time.

The bay was charming and fortunately our chief photographer spotted a bathing trunk  rolling in the oily waters in front of the gas station. So we interrogated every yacht in the queue regardless of its nationality if they miss some pants which turned out to be quite a funny action. But as Hannes was not able to find the owner of the pants he took revenge upon the flies, piling their dead corpses on the planks. So the final bathing action ended and we proceeded towards Kastela marina.

Without any serious incidents we chugged to our mooring place, the renting company took back the boats fuss-free and we started packing. Everybody was already minding their own business, at least mentally. As a group we finished off the last ražnjići or ćevapčići and finally returned aboard for the last night.

The next morning we had to get up early as the cleaning team was raring to begin their job. Hannes meticulously cleaned the screen of the logger a last time and finished off the last crumbs (actually we had paid for the final cleaning by pros but Hannes did not want to risk libel and slander). The skippers then assisted us loading our tons of luggage onto bumping carts while we all trusted in Wolfgang who went off to pay the last fees. He also organised some luggage deposit which did not give him great pleasure because of the blistering heat.

Yet there was one final highlight for our group – Diocletian‘s Palace in the centre of Split. An ancient sensation forming the core of today‘s historic old town centre of Split. A portion of art history which was the frosting on top of a cake consisting of fine weather, great sailing wind, and a sea which could not have been of a colour more blue.

Albeit some participants might have been disappointed by the expected service on board, a sailing cruise in the Adriatic Sea cannot be more beautiful.


Prof.Hans König
Commodore CSLI Navy Corps

Now are following additional further pictures: