Kaliningrad former East Prussia, Konigsberg was assigned to Russia in 1945 to have ice-free passage all year round. It lies like a sandwich between Poland and Lithuania and is isolated from Russia by Belarus, a former satellite state of Soviet Russia, also known as White Russia.
To sail from Gdansk to Lithuania you have to pass through the Kaliningrad area, which is Russian territory. I do not visit this area because that would require an additional visa, which I do not find interesting in my case. There are also two military training areas within that area. These are open for navigation on this Saturday and Sunday.
Saturday 27-6-15 Gdansk – Klaipeda
Departure at 10.30 wind variable 1. This is a long trip of 120 miles and takes 24 hours, I have to cross far sea to stay out of the territorial waters of Russian territory, then I cross the military areas.
On the way, I spotted seals several more times. The night went quietly. Radar and Ais are standing by, all systems on alert, now after midnight I go to sleep pieces and pieces on a one-hour timer. Then I check everything again and for another hour, and so on. At 02.30 a ship comes towards me, which I think is the Russian coastguard, eventually it swerves off and passes me at half a mile. I do not see any traffic during the night.
In the north it begins to dawn again with a beautiful red sky.
Around 05.00 I leave the Russian CTR and enter the maritime borders of Lithuania. At 07.33 I suddenly close the fog, I turn my radar back on and see two inbound and two outbound cargo ships, I report to Klaipedia traffic who confirm this. There is little point in looking outside, I have to sail on the radar to the approach. Simba sleeps and dreams, about which I do not know.
I am now heading straight for the coast in order to avoid any possible confrontation with cargo ships; after all, I am 10 miles off the coast. Half an hour before I enter port, the fog suddenly lifts.
Arrival Klaipeda 12.20 (it is now utc +3) at the old mill.
The Sunwind and the Avanti were here too, I knew they had left a day earlier. With Piet and Michiel we made a “lazy jacket” that is a system of lines along the mainsail so that when the sail is lowered, it doesn’t fall in all directions but is guided through the lines. For this I had to go into the mast to attach some pulleys, Piet had special hoisting trousers and together with his wife they hoisted me into the mast, where I attached the pulleys. After that they had a drink with me on board.
Lithuania is predominantly lowland with a few hills in the south and west. There are many lakes and meandering rivers. The capital is Klaipeda. The coastline covers 99 km. Lithuania is one of the fastest growing economies in Europe.
Monday 29-6-15. Klaipeda (Lithuania) – Liepaja (Latvia) 48Nm
Left at 08.00 lt, wind 3 west, blue sky light cumulus. Pete departed from the Solar Wind at the same time as me, an hour later the Avanti would also leave, all with the same destination. (there is not much else, than north or south along the coast)
Genoa and mainsail set up, sea nice and quiet, boat is nice and quiet, engine stroke at, ETA Liepaja 18.30lt.
Really no harbour for yachts, on floating pontoons you can moor slowly, harbour fees incl. electricity, wifi and water € 22,-.
Latvia also has many lowlands, only the East is a little hilly. There are a number of rivers running through the country, all of which flow into the Gulf of Riga. The largest, the “Daugava”, originates in Russia. All of Latvia’s ports are situated in the estuary of the rivers and are former fishing ports.
Tuesday 30-6-15 Liepaja – Ventspils 60 Nm
Wind west 4 later decreasing to 3, blue sky, cumulus, visibility > 10 km.
Left at 07.30lt, actually wanted to leave at 06.00 but did not set alarm. Michiel and Jolanda have already left, Piet and Joke are getting ready. These days we travel together as a Dutch flotilla, we all have the same destinations until the Gulf of Finland, so we always exchange information with each other about weather and navigation matters and next destination. This is another long drive of about 12 hours. Mainsail set to port, genoa to starboard. Genoa boomed out and mainsail bulleted for rolling. Engine at 800-1000 rpm, speed 5,5 kts.
Pete is always in sight, I don’t see Michiel anywhere, only a few miles before the harbour I see Michiel sailing with balloon, of which I take some pictures. Arrival 18.30lt.
In the evening the five of us go for a bite to eat in Ventspils.
Wednesday 1-7-15 Rest day. At least it should have been. Michiel and Jolanda are going to visit Riga, a bus ride of 3 hours there and 3 hours back. They leave at 09.30.
I am going to fill up with water, there is more water pressure here than with us. I am distracted and I am talking to Piet and Joke, completely forgetting my water that still runs. Only after more than an hour I get back on the boat and see that the water is still running, quickly close off and go inside where I discover that there is 2 cm of water above the kitchen floor, the decks are floating. So this is what it looks like when you sink. There is over 1000 litres of water in my boat, which is also quite a bit lower. The only thing I can think of is that because of the higher pressure and the hose that almost closes the filler hole, the water may have run in through venting. So drama.
I only have a very small electric water pump. I’m going to guess if Piet has a submersible pump. He has one, but it is connected to his ship, I can take it off and use it with me. To get all the water out I decide to cut a new manhole in my old unused tank. A manhole of about 45×25 cm through a steel plate of 4 mm. When this is done I can hang the pump in it and spray the water out with a thick jet.
At 1600 the job is done and the tools are tidied up. Now I have to get some fresh fruit and then the day is over. Never a dull moment.
This country, too, is characterised by lowland with many streams and lakes, the largest of which is Lake Peipsi on the Russian border. The largest foreign investor is Sweden with around 40% of the total, with Finland being the main trading partner. Since independence, exports with the European Union have increased exponentially.
Thursday 2-7-15 Ventspils – Montu Sadam (estonia, Estonia) 45 Nm
Michiel and Jolanda have decided to go in a different direction, although they may still go to Tallinn. Piet, Joke and I decide to go to a tiny little harbour with nothing but plumbing and electricity. Arrival 1645.
So there is really nothing, a lot of concrete for the ferry boat. But the surroundings are very beautiful and deafeningly quiet. I also let Simba out of here, she has the day of her life again.
Friday 3-7-15 Montu -Sadam – Kuresaare. 20 miles.
Leave at 0800, in order to have some use for the day, what we hear of it must be a very nice town, well it is the capital of this island. Because the distance is only 4 hours, I decide to slow down halfway to see if I can catch some fish or fish on the troll. Unfortunately nothing, although I had already read that mackerel is found in the western Baltic Sea and I am now well into the eastern part, but other fish would also be good.
The ports are gradually becoming more expensive, however, and this costs a unit price of up to EUR 25 per metre, including everything. Plumbing, showers, wifi, electricity etc.
It will be time for me to anchor, because € 25 per day does not attract this pensionado. But the anchoring possibilities are gradually improving. Only St. Petersburg still cuts in with about € 40,- / night.
Saturday 4-7-15 Curesaare – Kuivastu 45 nm
A fairly long sailing day, always northwards. Departed at 08.00 Initially little wind zw 2, later increasing to west 4-5. All sails set, the track is straight ahead of the wind. Genoa boomed out and mainsail and mizzen boom secured with bully. With a knot of current and 800-1000 rpm on the engine I sail 5-6 knots on the ground. At about 12 o’clock the Sunwind comes up, we chat a bit about channel 77 and make some pictures and film again, the waves are increasing and run in from right behind. The Asmara starts rolling again, I’m used to it. Pete and Joke’s Solar Wind is now 10 metres next to me, be careful now because we both roll nicely. Slowly the Sunwind moves further ahead, yes a real sailboat. I have set out two more fishing lines, but in the end that doesn’t work, probably the hooks are too much in the propeller water. When finally the two lines come together, I bring them back inside. That way you are busy all day. It’s a blue sky and I’m walking in adam’s costume, what a wonderful freedom, it’s a pity that I can share all this with my brother, he would enjoy it.
Around 18.30lt I moor at the harbour where Piet and Joke take me in and have reserved a spot, what a service, I will miss that.
The harbour, a ferry terminal, has made a new part for yachts which was not yet in the pilot. Great facilities for €20,- including again good wifi and even sauna.
Sunday 5-7-15 Kuivastu – Rohkula. 25 nm
3 more stops for Tallinn. The weather has changed a bit, the high pressure area is moving further east so the wind is now in the NW-W corner with initially force 3, to clear to the east by the end of the day to 5-6 bft. There is a low cloud cover from which some rain falls every now and then. Nothing to sit outside and now Pete and Joke have to. I sit inside, straight against the wind, through concrete gullies, which by the way are well marked here. Outside the gullies there is often little water (1-4 mtr) but also a lot of wrecks and rocks, so you don’t want to sail on them. Cutting off the gullies is therefore usually a problem. In my E90W plotter there are updated maps of this area, on my laptop I also have maps from NVVerlag, linked to my own Gps. So I always have two independent map systems to compare.
Ik zet een DVD op met een live concert van Diana Krall, dit is relaxing.
Expected arrival 15.00.
This is clearly only a ferry port. Only a bar and a restaurant at the terminal, no wifi. The nearest village is 10 km. Piet and Joke take the dog Bikkel on their bikes to Haapasalu, 10 km and back again, I didn’t have any futures for it. They brought some fruit, vegetables and bread.
Monday 6-7-15 Rohukula – Dirhami 23 nm
Wind east-south east force 4. The route is west NW so that’s a good idea. Departure at 08.50. Tomorrow the wind picks up to west 6-7 so windy day in Dirhami. Can I take a good look at the route from Tallinn (crossing over Finnish Gulf), because in Finland there are many islands and many more rocks with narrow passages. In between I have to go to Haapaasari, my in and out-check port for Russia. But first I have to go to Tallinn.
Wind now attracted to 5, SOG 5.8 kts. Discussed with the Sunwind if we would continue to Lohusula 26 miles beyond our current destination, we would be there at 7pm. A strong argument was that that port is listed in Rene Vleut’s book as one of the more expensive ports, over €30. Another argument for skipping it, so we simply went to Dirhami, €20, – expected arrival 14.00. On Wednesday we will continue to Tallinn.
Tuesday 7-7-15 Lying blown up
Today we are fighting with the printer, all it does is eat paper and fromming it, I have been busy for hours, give up.
Going for a walk, beautiful surroundings, bag of wild strawberries picked for lunch on bread. Small shop in the neighbourhood did some shopping. This area is sparsely populated. But the weather doesn’t make it necessary to cycle a bit, a lot of wind and rain.
Yesterday evening the rain started as planned and didn’t stop until midnight. Today wind 6-7 from west, so we stay. Today we are lying here moving and tugging on the mooring lines at the quay, which I have already had to correct several times, to such an extent that it even gives me a slight feeling of seasickness. Tomorrow planned to Tallinn old city marina mooring €45,- per 24 hours. Today Piet gave me the opportunity to borrow a set of paper maps of the Finnish NW shearing area in Russia. The routes in my plotter entered to Tallinn, the crossing to Finland, three stretches between shaving and Haapaasari – Kronstad – St.Petersburg. I am ready for it.
Wednesday 8-7-15 Dirhami – Tallinn 45Nm
Left at 07.30. Weather is cloudy, wind west 2-3. A long trip of over 8 hours. Halfway the clouds increase and it starts raining lightly, the wind picks up to 4 and shrinks to ZZW. At the approach of Tallinn the rain reduces visibility. But we reach the harbour safely again and after Ok from port control I get a green light to sail in. Arrival 17.30. Piet and Joke catch me again, what a luxury. But our roads will separate here, they will leave Tallinn on Friday or Saturday left for Finland, Helsinki and I will leave Tallinn on Friday right for Finland in the direction of Haapaasari the exit port for Russia. This is the most expensive port so far, 45 euros. Everything is back in there, free good wifi, washer/dryer/electricity/water showers and everything is very luxurious here, 24 hour security and an assigned code for the doors. First a bite to eat, then the laundry in the machine and into the village, Tallinn by night. What a beautiful old city, I’m glad I went by night because all the buildings are so beautifully lit.
I also fall with my nose in the butter, on the old village square which is surrounded by bars and cafes with terrace lighting, a life concert is given. I sit down on a terrace and listen to music while enjoying a beer, I have trouble going back, but the laundry is still in the dryer and it runs towards midnight. Tomorrow I will see the city in daylight.
Here we see Czar Peter the Great’s country house and the palace he had built for his wife.
Continuation of this journey Part 4 from Tallinn to Helsinki