Baltic Cruise 2007 (continued) part 3
Up: Baltic Cruise 1: Tønsberg- Gdansk
Baltic cruise 2 : Gdansk to Riga
Baltic cruise 4 : Stockholm to Gothenberg
Riga to Tallin, Helsinki, Åland and Stockholm
Riga Townhall Independance monument
It was delightful to visit Old Riga again, especially for crew member Ingvald who left us after 4 days to go back to Norway. He was a fantastic history guide and storyteller. Our friends in Riga did their best to make us stay over for the midsummer celebrations which they maintain are even bigger than Christmas.
We had some unforgettable days together with Rotary friends, and others who have visited us in Kongsberg - visiting museums and other places of interest, going to concerts, eating out with them and visiting their homes. We had interesting discussions about the Vikings, the Hanseatic period and Latvia's situation now in 2007. Thanks indeed to Guntis and Laima, Adrija and Ritvars, Elena, Raymonds and Viktors, Gertrude and Aivars, Anita and Arturs and Riga Hansa Rotary. What a great holiday! We were also treated to lunch by Uldis Dinne, owner of Evija, and partners whom we first met in Kiel.
Jon Erik washed the hull with oxalic acid to remove the yellow staining then polished it afterwards.
About Latvia: For those with an interest in Pharmacy, Latvian Pharmacies have been bought up by 4 different chains within recent years and it is more or less impossible to survive as a private pharmacist any longer. The tendency now is to go over to the use of internet involving new distribution systems. Latvia has a shortage of workers, both professional and labourers because so many have move to Sweden, Irland, Norway and other EU countries. Corruption has decreased greatly since independence and measures are taken to punish all who are proven guilty. An inflation rate of 7-8% influences the price of property particularily.
Raymonds paprika snack: Cut red and yellow paprika in two, take out the seeds, fill with small tomatoes, mozarella cheese, sausage slices, olives and garlic. Sprinkle with balsamico vinegar and oil and marinate for 24 hours. Bake at 200deg. until the paprika is as soft as desired. Scrumptious served with white or red wine!
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To Salacgriva 57 45N / 24 21E 49,4nm 22nd June 2007
It was a great pleasure to have Guntis as crew as we left Riga. It was the first time he had sailed out of Riga since his family fled by boat to Germany in 1944. We sailed while the wind was strong enough, motored otherwise and enjoyed Laima's excellent herring salad, special midsummer cheese and Latvian bread.
Laima's herring salad: Cut salt cured herring into slices, cover with sour cream mixed with dill and hardboiled eggs chopped into small pieces.
We arrived just a little too late to see a prosession of about 100 veteran cars driving over the bridge on their way from Beiing to Paris. We spent our last Lats (Latvian currency) in Salacgriva to fill up the larder and cellar! Salacgriva was a small rather uninteresting place with a privately owned jetty with electricity and water, fee 7 lats.
To Pärnu 58 23N / 24 29E 40nm 23rd June We filled diesel before mooring up. Being foreigners we got it at the cheap rate 0,65 euro. A friendly Estonian, whom we met earlier in Runhu, while he was on his way from Germany with a brand new Hansa helpd us with mooring. Pärnu was earlier known as one of the Spa and holiday resorts for Russians.many churches made an impression on us. Midsummer's eve was uneventful, partly because of the rain and partly because the town was deserted and most restaurants closed. Fireworks at midnight though!
One of the many churches in Pärnu
To Haapsalu 58 57N / 23 32E 79nm /11,5hrs 24th. June Start at 5:30, sunshine and dead calm sea. No sailing but motoring through very shallow waters following the fairway, particularily as we neared Haapsalu. We were on the verge of sitting in the mud several times. Haapsalu is historically known for spa og famous for its mudbaths since Tsar times. Haapsula is a center for ice sailing. The "Grand Holm" Marina had an excellent restaurant and very good facilities otherwise. Harbour fee 20 €.
Haapsalu marina Dorothy and Mike arrive from Scotland
To Tallin 59 24N / 24 49E 65nm /10,5 hrs 25th. June
Our aim was Lohusalu, 45 nm from Haapsalu, but favorable wind encouraged us to continue to Tallin. The wind increased to 15 m/s as did the seas making sailing challenging and almost exhausting! - a reefed mainsail made the last part of the journey more pleasant. Kite surfers in the bay by the Olympic Pirita marina had a great time taking advantage of the waves caused by the almost gale force wind. Just after we arrived our new crew, sister Dorothy and husband Mike, arrived by ferry from Helsinki.
Russian Orthodox church Tower in Old Tallin city
We spent 2 days exploring Tallin, particularily the old town, with a cathedral, churches, towers, markets, street music and cafès, thousands of tourists and europe's oldest still functioning pharmacy, all within a few miles bus drive from the Pirita marina. The Marina was built for the Moscow Olympics in 1980 and hadn't been renovated much since that time. The price was average 20euros, but showers were extra, no washing machines, no WiFi on the boat but free internet for weather forecasts available in the harbourmaster's office.
Check out from Tallin functioned well for us but the Swedish owner of the new Finngulf 33 after us had problems proving who the owner was. The sail to Helsingfors (Helsinki) was less trying than our crew expected (little traffic along the Gulf of Finland) and lasted 8 hours.
We moored up in the center of Helsingfors at a fashioable, expensive marina, 40€, used mainly by large cabin cruisers. It was extremely well organised with all facilities included and with really service-minded harbourmaster. Helingsfors is a beautiful town with many places of interest, with a long waterfront and many parks. We spent a few hours at the Mannerheim museum and learned a lot about the amazing acheivments of Mannerheim.
Modern marina with all facilities Harboumaster serving guests
Porkala 59 58 N/24 25 E 26nm 3,5hrs. 30th.June
Leaving Helsingfors next day we were surprised by the number of sailing boats all around and regattas with many competitors. Our travel through the Finnish archipelago had started and we arrived at Porkala, a fine little harbour after motoring and navigating carefully among all the islands and rocks. Coordinating the crew in marine language terms, and trying to avoid blunders can be trying at times! A rescue ship came into the harbour towing a boat, with only the owner on board. His mast had broken between Helsinki and Tallin. The fixture holding the Furlex foresail had snapped. Quite a frightening experience for him but a reminder that equipment has to be checked and kept in good shape. Another SOS on VHF was asking boats to keep a lookout for a windsurfer somewhere between Tallin and Helsingfors. Several hours later the search was called off - the lucky fellow had been rescued by a tankship. Jon Erik's short wave radio transmission system was working at last and he was able to send and receive e-mails once out of harbour areas. The seawater at Porkala seemed clearer than the waters round Latvia which were muddy
Porkala harbour and rescue vessel which brought in one boat and towed out another with motor problems to Helsinki
To Jussarø 59 50N/23 54E 32nm 5hrs 1st. July To our delight, an easterly wind 6m/s made sailing possible. Holiday time had started with many more boats around. The proportion of motor yachts is definitely much lower than in Southern Scandinavia.
Jussarø had been demilitarised only 5 years earlier and opened for the public in 2003. Now a popular mooring with electricity, toilets, cafè, nature walks and guide. Popular too for cruise ships leaving their passangers ashore for 2-3 hours. The couple running the place were active, selling home made bread and other goods, guiding and generally creating a pleasant atmosphere certainly appreciated by our crew. Iron had been mined on the island in 2 different periods but the influx of 1800 litres of water per minute to the shafts made mining too problematical and expensive. The island was perfect on a sunny, calm day such that many boats moored up for the night. Many people were fishing for, and catching, lots of perch. One 8 yr old girl beat the others, having over 40 fish to barbecue that evening..
Background - Jussarø marina with ferryboat
To Borstø 59 52N/ 21 58E 52nm 7,5 hrs 2nd. July
We motored as far south as the rather flat islands extend, noticing less trees than further north and east. Navigating was fascinating because of the enormous numbers of leading lights and beacons. Borstø was a charming island with an interesting history of seal fishing at least since the 14th. century.
The museum and nature paths were particularily interesting. An isolated community now divided into 4 privately owned farms, icebound some winters. We noticed the algae growth on the increase here. A Ballad (nr.142) sailor who Jon Erik helped with a mast repair and rigging advice, told us that scientists claim that algae production will increase for up to 60 years because the hangover from pollution is long. The algae are caused by Finnish agriculture and St.Petersburg. There is a joint Baltic project to dampen the devilish development,but at the same time EU is sponsoring the development of industrial agriculture in Poland.
Developing Baltic agriculture to the same industrial level as Denmark will certainly kill all life in the Baltic. An example of lack of total system thinking in EU. Swimming in the yellow soup we see developing as we proceed in our trip is considered inadvisable. Borstø had no water or electricity but a cheap harbour fee, 5€.
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To Degerby 60 06N /20 23,5E 59,5nm 3rd.July
We sailed via Køkar to have a look at the moorings there but we weren't impressed enough to stop for the night. The weather was warm and sunny with little wind so we motored most of the way. Degerby West harbour was fine, the little town and all the necessary facilities being within walking distance. The swimming pool was however closed. Sea water temp. still 15 deg. and not too inviting despite the lovely weather. Harbour fee 12 €
To Mariehamn 60 06N / 19 56E 19,3nm 4th. July
The sail to Mariehamn was exciting, running before the wind, through narrow channels in rainy weather with poor visibility. Identifying all the beacons and ialas was none too easy!
The Finnish archipelago, an endless area of low-lying islands, is marked extremely well with more leading lights and beacons than we've ever seen before. We noticed that prices in Finland were similar to those in Norway - in other words, much more expensive than in the Eastern Batlic countries!
Mariehamn was a charming place with many tourist attractions. The Western Marina turned out to be one of the best we'd come across so far. Very well organised, spotless showers, saunas, toilets and laundry facilities. Wifi connection Harbour fee 22€. The "Pommeren", one of Gustav Eriksson ships was the main attraction for all of us. This amazingly sturdy 4 masted sailing ship was built as late as the beginning of the 20th century and continued trading, particularily wheat from Australia, until 1938. I'm sure our grandsons would have loved to be aboard with us! The restaurant at the marina is renowned for excellent food and we certainly enjoyed our meals there. We met a Norwegian boat from Mo I Rana, the first since leaving Kiel! The marinas filled up quickly each day - something that suited us as we like to get up and get going early.
Mariehamn marina from Pommeren
To Siarö fort 59 33N / 18 38E 50,6nm 6th July
Leaving Åland we crossed the Gulf of Bothnia and motored towards Stockholm stopping at the now unused and well camouflaged but intact fort, Siarø Festning, now open to the public. It was a cold but interesting walk through the damp, underground tunnels. We also found a graveyard for cholera victims. The harbour and island were otherwise charming, fee 10€ for the harbour, 5€ each for entrance to the fort.
Map of Sairö fortress area Signpost by the graveyard
To Stockholm 59 29N / 18 04E 23,1nm 7th. July
The Stockholm archipelago has an amazing number of islands, many with cabins. The nearer we came to town, the larger they were! A couple of the islands were infested with cormorants. None of the trees had any foliage, only hundreds of nests with birds everywhere - a worrying sight.
Lifeless trees Chilier weather
A short sail into Stockholm gave us plenty of time for sightseeing.
Dorothy and Mike preferred the tourist bus trips which drove around towns like Tallin, Helsinki, Mariehamn and Stockholm and give audio information in many languages. We took the ferry over to the old town and even managed to loose our way before getting back! The harbour was situated beside the Vasa museum and near all the other places of interest. It was fun just being in the harbour too, watching all the boats manouvering in and out. We spent a forenoon in the Vasa museum, going through all 6 floors with not only the ship itself. A film taken during the excavations, displays of life in Sweden around 16 - 1700. life aboard the ship, finds from the ship, sails, ormaments, skeletons reconstructed using scientific analysis to judge age, sex, state of health,etc of the people. The preservation work done on the ship, which sank on its maiden voyage in the center of Stockholm in 1628 and was salvaged after being found in 1956 has been enormous. Much of the work had to be done on the sea bed and the whole operation was called the worlds largest jigsaw puzzle. The ship was vastly decorated with carvings and seemed to us an almost vulgar form of showing king Gustavus II Adolphus power and wealth.
Vasa modell Some of the decorations, akterut on Vasa
Mike offered to make dinner for us one evening and served his scrumptious speciality, macaroni and cheese.
Mike's Macaroni with cheese and tomatoes: Cut 150 g bacon into small pieces and fry. Boil a sufficient quantity og macaroni and make a good, well seasoned white sauce, Stir into it 150g cheddar or other relatively strong cheese, the bacon, 100ml ketchup and tabasco sauce to taste (a good few drops). Mix with the pasta and turn into a fireproof dish. Top with slices of tomato and plenty more cheese before baking in the oven until golden on top.
Tønsberg to Gdansk Gdansk to Riga
Riga to Tallin, Helsinki, Åland and Stockholm Stockholm to Gothenberg