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SeaHelp warns: Shoal in the northern Italian river Stella again and again cause for accidents

Warning: shoals river Stella Italy
Two SeaHelp rescue boats were required to tow the heavy steel yacht free after touching the ground.

Actually, the Marina Stella (Italy) is considered an insider tip for skippers in the area of the northern Adriatic Sea: Via the small river Stella you can reach on your own keel from the northern Italian Laguna di Marano deep into the interior of Friuli, where typical delicacies and an excellent Prosecco are waiting for the owners at the end of the voyage. But specially the bigger ships repeatedely get problems on the way there: On a sandbank in the Stella, ships with a draught of more than one metre have stranded time and again. In this young season alone, SeaHelp has had to take action twice to pull damaged owners from the shallows.

Hardly any warnings of shallowness

Warnings of this dangerous obstacle on the way to Marina Stella (Italy) are hardly ever found, the usual internet portals indicate a calming water depth of at least three meters. This may be true in the marina, but not on the way there.

River Stella: danger for bigger yachts

As a result, more and more owners of larger ships become stranded on a shoal consisting of sand and silt. The sand and silt is then sucked into the cooling ducts with all the vegetation, the engine cooling system fails, the engine overheats and often causes major engine damage. Also affected by such an accident are usually the sensitive bow and stern thrusters, which quickly quit their service in case of excessive silt and “green stuff”.


Warning of shoals in the river Stella in Italy
Blocked cooling ducts and filters caused heat problems with the yacht’s diesel engine.

Observe tidal range

“The Stella can only be navigated safely with larger ships if the tidal range and onshore wind push the water from the Adriatic into the river, or hold back the water flowing into the Adriatic so that the water level rises accordingly,” says a long-standing expert on the area, who is also familiar with the problem of accidents on the Italian river Stella.

Two SeaHelp rescue boats on site

A large steel yacht had just run aground again on the shallow waters of the Stella, and the only way to get it free was to use two SeaHelp rescue boats from Lignano and another nearby base. Only by joining forces was it possible to free him from the mixture of sand, silt and vegetation.


Towing from the river Stella to the Marina Lignano
Also from the air an impressive sight: Two SeaHelp rescue boats tow the damaged yacht to Lignano.

To the crane to Lignano

However, the lack of handbreadth of water under the keel did not remain without consequences even for the robust propulsion system. After successful towing from the shallow, the engine temperature rose so much that it was impossible to continue the journey under one’s own power. The SeaHelp towed the yacht to the Lignano Marine Complex, where it first had to be craned and the cooling channels thoroughly cleaned. The mechanics also discovered additional damage to the cooling system, so it was unlikely that the yacht would be able to continue its journey.


Marina Lignano Crane: After an accident in the river Stella in Italy
Last resort Lignano: only after the crane had been hoisted could the thorough cleaning of the cooling channels and the inspection of the underwater hull begin.

Coordinates of the shoal

Mike Jessen from SeaHelp’s Lignano base: “As a warning to all owners of larger yachts, I first recorded the coordinates of the shallow (see photo). Who would like to set off with course for the Marina Stella, should be extremely careful here, particularly since on the conventional map material there is no warning of it. But also in the marinas of the region one knows the problem, before a trip into the undoubtedly charming interior of Friuli, owners should absolutely inquire with local area experts.

Coordinates on the Raymarine navigation system
Mike Jessen from SeaHelp’s Lignano base captured the coordinates of the shoal in the Stella River with a photograph.


OpenSeaMap: Situation of the shoal in the river Stella in Italy
Position of the shallow. By clicking on the picture you will be redirected to OpenSeaMap. (Source map:
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