Romania by windsurf
Sulina to Danube Delta
A rough sail. Strong onshore wind. Very shallow water. First part going upwind and offshore but never deep enough water to be properly 'out back'. 2m+ waves increasingly breaking. As coast bends and course becomes more open decide to crash in and stay inshore until tip of 7nm long sand spit. Daggerboard creaking and jammed requires swim to retract. Very hectic. Take a few tumbles from white water sideswipes (a little explanation here). Spit is a windy place surrounded by such shallow water that it is likely rarely visited. It is also a natural collection point for plastic (presumably from Danube in this case).
Sail on to more substantial land on the mainland proper, but stay within shelter of spit, out of reach of bigger swell.
Danube Delta to Portitei
Wait. Allow time for swell to drop. Enjoy shoreline wandering on this very remote stretch. Wind good for making miles, but swell builds soon after launch when protection of spit is lost. The landing will be a problem. Important not to sail into late afternoon and failing breeze.
Approach the 'resort' I am heading for. Pretty soon am committed: within range of bigger sets. Hook onto a swell from 200m out and surf at an angle until on my preferred line and it becomes steep. Then set the board straight, with back foot jammed up against the barrel, ready for the break. Momentum keeps me clear. White water chases the now powerless sail, but there is sufficient breeze to prevent backwinding, which means I can stay sufficiently rearward to prevent nosedive. We race shoreward between the twin jaws of concrete armour that form this pseudo bay. The wave steepens again before we surge up steep beach. The fin crash grounds and an inelegant haul later gear and I are onto beach proper - unscathed.
I can get food here, and water - which is good because in yesterday's crashes I'd popped a two-litre bottle.
Beach (nr Lacul Sinaie)
Swell has dropped by the afternoon. Float out on rip by side of concrete arm. Sail along empty beach. Stop when tired and savour the solitude: aware that there are not many beach sleeps to go, and aware I will miss them.
Cosmin, a contact (friend of a friend of a friend!), has suggested I stop at the fishermen's huts just past the port. I stop and fisherman Ilie immediately invites me for a drink. Romanian being a Latin based language, I can understand the gist of conversation. The important maritime words are all basically similar to Spanish.
It turns out Ilie knows Cosmin and from there all is sorted. Cosmin shows up later and takes me for a tour of Constanta and Lidl (ticking all the boxes). I sleep in a caravan having drunk just enough vodka to show willing.
Beach (nr Tuzla)
Departure after early lunch of delicious BBQ fish (expertly cooked by Crocodile Dundee fisherman). These are freshwater fish (a canal from the Danube reaches the sea here, providing a shortcut for shipping).
Sail to Constanta port, and then lose wind, so paddle to the limit of its (8km long) northern wall. Dolphins. Pick up wind at the port entrance (way offshore) and when reconnected to land have sailed 20nm. Beach camp.
An easy reach to the port of exit. There is a yacht regatta here this weekend and Cosmin is sailing. I watch a start before heading in. At the quay a friendly captain called Iulian takes me to customs and smooths the way to being processed for exit next morning. All very easy. Iulian also offers a bunk to spend the night. All the crew are kind, friendly and unassuming.
Cosmin's boat win their class in the regatta, and we meet up for a bite before he heads back to Navodari and I head to my bunk.
Mangalia to Balchik - first port of entry in Bulgaria - is 43nm: about double the distance of what I would normally consider a decent day. After clearance from customs I am sailing by 07:30. The first 30nm to Kaliakra Headland are upwind: productive zig-zags (long zigs, short zags). Beaches become cliff. Beyond the headland the wind direction is briefly favourable. Before sunset - on dying wind and still 9nm from Balchik - I take my first break of the day and prepare for paddle mode. By pumping hard a further 5nm are possible by sail. The final miles are mostly paddled, and it is mostly - but not quite - dark when I reach port 14 hours after having gone afloat.