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June 2013 - Estonia, Finland, Russia

Russia | St. Petersburg | Central River Yacht Club | Al Vladimir (Russian sponsor) Sally

June 30, 2013

Hi just a quick note to let you know they let us out of Russia and we are back in Finland. We are using the SSB as we don't have internet in the anchorage. We had a bit of excitement trying to back out of our berth on the river. The river current just wouldn't let us get away safely. With Alchemy's help we finally just tied her back in. What a puzzle...Vladimir arrived about this time and he called for the Yacht Club rib to help us off. It only cost us 3 beers for the boys who hauled us off. We picked up some half price diesel ($4.00 a gallon) Fuel is very cheap in Russia we'll be paying double that from now on. We left the fuel pontoon Tuesday afternoon and went 15 nm to the Russian customs/immigration control. We had to wait an hour but all went well.

We had a quiet, flat calm seas sail 77nm overnight to Haapasaari Island Passport control, Finland. Again it was light out all night with a full moon. It was so strange with the calm seas and sailing 3-5 kts most of the way. It made for good sleeping. We had a beautiful sunrise about 0430. and arrived at Haapassaari and cleared customs by noon.

After customs we had a short spinnaker run and then nine long hours motoring along the Finnish coast to a beautiful anchorage, Bredoeren, on Emaesalo Island. We were finally anchored and settled for the night about 2200. It didn't matter as it was still light out. This was a nice big anchorage, like and island lake surrounded by trees and a few Finnish summer cottages and sauna. After a quiet good nights sleep, we were busy all day doing boat chores. Al dove on Artemis to check the zincs and prop. Things looked good for not having hauled in over a year to do maintenance. Later after showers Al even found time to make an Aland Islands courtesey flag. That makes 12 that he made for this cruising season. We plan to spend the next month cruising Finland and Sweden. Love Sally and Al

June 24, 2013

Hi Everyone, We made it to Peterhof on Saturday. Antibiotics do wonders Al felt 100% better. The subway stations on the red line were mighty fancy. We got off on Avtovo and the columns were intricately designed and glass! Caught a bus then to Peterhof. Glad we visited Cathedral of St. Peter and Paul before our visit to Peterhof as we were totally worn out after our visit to the Peterhof gardens'

Russia | Baltic Sea | St. Petersburg | Peterhof | Cathedral of St. Peter and Paul

Russia | Baltic Sea | St. Petersburg | Peterhof | Peter the Greats Summer Palace

Peterhof is Peter the Greats Summer Palace. We didn't get inside but friends did. The original furnishings and artwork are replaced in a refurbished palace after it was bombed by Stalin (not Hitler) Stalin heard Hitler was planning a celebration party there so he bombed the palace to keep them out:-) (Al figures it was a good excuse for Stalin to get rid of something so extravagant)

Russia | Baltic Sea | St. Petersburg | Peterhof | lower gardens

We spent four hours in the upper and lower gardens. I posted some pictures on facebook. The fountains and gardens are incredible. It's compared to Versailles with it's huge main palace (several smaller palaces), cascades, fountains and gardens tha t were influenced by Louis XIV summer residence. The Grand Cascade has over 140 fountains. We also toured Monplaisir villa that Peter built and was his favorite retreat.

Russia | Baltic Sea | St. Petersburg | Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood

Sunday we went to St. Catherine's church and had an English mass. It's so much nicer celebrating in your own language. We then visited the Church the Savior on Spilled Blood with it's magnificent mosaic paintings and marble floors. It was built on the spot where Tsar Alexander II was killed when his carriage was bombed. We walked lovely Makhailovsky gardens and along the canals. Found a beautiful supermarket, Lunds type on Nevsky blv. Then caught a bus back to Artemis.

Monday we visited the Russian museum with Alchemy and had lunch. We tried to visit the Political museum but it was closed today:-( So back to the boat preparing to leave tomorrow for Finland. If the winds cooperate we'll go 195nm straight to Helsinki area. We've cruised the area in between so we just as soon jump ahead to new cruising grounds. We should arrive on Wednesday evening. Love and God bless Sally and Al

Russsia | St. Petersburg | Neva River | Central River Yacht Club

June 20, 2013

Hi Everyone,

We've had a busy time so far in St. Petersburg. But first about our passage. We left Kotka, Finland at 1500 for Haapasaari Island where we visited Finland Frontier Guard to get customs clearance to head for St. Petersburg. It was blowing 25-30 with gusts over 35 so it was a wild 3 hour ride between the rocks and islands with waves smashing the side of the boat. Sally hid from the spray down below and Al behind his enclosure. One wave got him anyhow:-) We tied up for a couple of ours at Haapassaari and ate dinner hoping the wind would die down a little.

No such luck but once we got beyond the islands (half hour) we were flying along with winds and seas off our starboard quarter. We set the preventer and whisker pole and away we went. The winds did die down around midnight so we took our the double reef in the main and pulled up the mizzen. We were able to sail all but the last 7nm of 77nm to Fort Konstatin, Kronshtadt Island where we had to clear customs and immigration for Russia.

Our Russian agent Vladimir met us there and all went smoothly but it still took 2hrs to complete. Then we had 3 hours motoring to the Central River Yacht Club on Ostrov Petrovskiy (one of the islands above St. Petersburg). We are moored on a substantial finger pontoon and dock on the Malaya Nevka a branch of the Neva River. The people in the Cruising Association Yacht Rally will be moored inside the Central River Yacht Club Harbor. Vladimir met us at the docks and arranged our stay so we have yet to find a marina office and the facilities are rather poor compared to other Baltic ports we've stayed in. We need to walk about 10 min. to a bus stop or about 20 min. to a metro subway stop to get into St. Petersburg (15-20min ride)

Russia | St. Petersburg | Tour with Vladimir|Dick, Ginger, Vladimir, and Sally

Monday Vladimir took Alchemy and us on a 3 hour car tour of the city to get us acclimated and then we had a Russian fast food lunch of stolle (Saxon style pie) Delicious! We tried a variety...meat, salmon, onion/mushroom and for dessert a mixed berry:-) After lunch we wandered the main street Nevsky Bld before heading back to Artemis.

Russia | Baltic Sea | St. Petersburg | St. Nicholas Navel Cathedral

Russia | Baltic Sea | St. Petersburg |Zayachy Island | Peter and Paul Fortress

Tuesday we spent the day visiting the excellent museums at Peter and Paul Fortress on Zayachy Island. We spent some time searching for a grocery store with no luck but enjoyed exploring new parts of town.

Russia | Baltic Sea | St. Petersburg | State Hermitage Museum

Wednesday we visited the State Hermitage Museum considered one of the worlds greatest art collections. It is housed in the baroque Winter Palace of the Romanovs. Thankfully we followed the advise of the Lonely Planet and ordered our two day ticket online. The lines were horrible, even for the tour groups. All we had to do is exchange our eticket for two day ticket at a kiosk with no line and then walk right in past the hundreds of people waiting to buy tickets. We even packed a lunch as advised by LP but the rules must have changed as were not allowed to bring it into the museum. Thus after 4 hours of enjoying the splendid staterooms, and amazing art collection we were starving!

Russia | Baltic Sea | St. Petersburg | State Hermitage Museum

We decided to systematically work our way around the second floor the first day. This floor had decorated staterooms and imperial apartments of Tsar Alexander II, 19th and 20th Century French paintings confiscated by Red Army from private collections in Germany and an amazing Western European collection.

We had planned to stay in town for dinner and the ballet but decided to go back to Artemis and rest up before the ballet. We saw Swan Lake at the Palace Theater. The prima ballerina was quite lovely and her role as Odette beautifully choreographed.

Russia | Baltic Sea | St. Petersburg | Peter the Great statue as a ship builder

Yesterday, we visited St. Isaac's Cathedral one of the largest domed cathedrals after St. Peters in Rome, St. Paul's London, and St. Marias in Florence. (we've been to all four) Fabulous mosaics, marble and ceiling paintings. After lunch we spent another 2 hours at the Hermitage. I so love Monet and my new favorite artist since London, Pissaro. We walked Mars Fields and the Summer Garden before heading back to Artemis for a rest.

Russia | Baltic Sea | St. Petersburg | Senatskaya Ploshchad | Bronse Horseman (Peter the Great)

We went to a Folk music/dance performance last night. Fantastic! Amazing mens quartet that sang acapella, a mixed group of 6 that danced several folk dances and another mixed group of 8 that sang and danced and a band of traditional instruments. Al remembers from our South Pacific dance days how difficult a coffee grinder was to do and these guys far surpassed that! Wonderful wonderful evening! Far more than we ever expected. So much talent and beautiful costuming!

Today we had planned to visit Peterhof but Al's sore throat turned into fever and feeling miserable so I started him on a Z Pak for strep. Hopefully by tomorrow he'll be feeling better. I organized pictures and found a shopping mall to get my hair cut and a few groceries. Have a wonderful weekend. Love and God Bless Sally and Al

Finland | Baltic Sea | Helsinki | Katajanokka City Marina

June 14, 2013

Hi Everyone, We had a great sail 45nm from Tallin, Estonia to Helsinki, Finland last Saturday. We even flew our spinnaker for 25nm (first time in years). We stayed two days at Katajanokka City Marina in Helsinki Old Town. We enjoyed exploring the city.

Finland | Baltic Sea | Helsinki | Adventurous lunch stop but not ours

Finland | Baltic Sea | Helsinki | Cathedral of Helsinki | Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Cathedral

The highlight of our adventures was a personal tour of the Observatory by a young science student. He was very knowledgeable and even took us up into the towers that hold the telescopes. We visited a chandlery and bought chart books of Finland. We have current electronic charts but without an English cruising guide of the islands it's difficult to passage plan without paper charts.

Finland | Baltic Sea | Risholmen Island | Artemis Finnish Yacht Club anchorage-Alchemy on dock

Monday we had another great sailing day of about 25nm to an island owned by a Finnish Yacht Club that allows CA Members (club we joined in London) to tie to their pontoon or anchor. The entire day sailing to Risholmen Al and I kept remarking on how the area so reminded us of the anchorages and islands along the Canadian north shore. Most tiny islands had small cabins and saunas peeking out of the woods. The anchorage was totally protected from all directions. They even had rings in the rocks so smaller boats could stern anchor and tie to shore like in Canada. Alchemy went on the short pontoon.

Tuesday we sailed about 40nm to Lovisa, Finland. Our anchor wouldn't hold in the soft river mud so some fishermen guided us into a pontoon where we stayed for free. They led us into shallow water so we had a few bumps along the way. Alchemy stayed at anchor.

Finland | Baltic Sea | Lovisa |

We enjoyed wandering with Alchemy on Wednesday and met a gentleman that guided us to the best food in town. We had the best meal we've had all summer and for a reasonable price! Nice salad bar, hearty salmon soup for Sally and salmon filet for Al:-) When we arrived back at the boat the local Swedish newspaper had sent a reporter to interview us for their local paper. He spent an hour or so visiting with us and said he'd send us a copy of the article (in Swedish of course). Afterwards Al and I walked back into town to a hardware store. Then we found a great walking path through the woods, overlooking the bay, that we took the 3km back to the boat. Again even the forests reminded us of Lake Superior, same trees, rocks but the Dutch style windmill and lookout tower were an unexpected find.

Thursday morning a Finnish newspaper reporter arrived unexpectedly to interview us but we were scheduled to depart in half an our for Kotka, Finland . We gave her the quick version of our adventures and she snapped some Al and Sally just awake with sleep hair pictures:-) I don't know if she'll send us a copy. We forgot to ask. So far the winds in Finland have been perfect for our cruising. We have motored very little since departing Estonia.

We arrived early afternoon in Kotka so we had time to walk in a few of the beautiful parks and around the town to get orientated. The gardens are gorgeous and everywhere we've been in the past month we've found lilacs just blooming. Here we've found the fragrant wild rose bushes like the one we had at home and we found in the wild up on Lake Superior.

Today we visited Kotka's excellent Maritime and Kotka History Museum. We asked if the museum had English translations or audio guides but they only had some signs in English. Shortly after we started looking around Helena a young summer employee arrived volunteering to show us around. People in Finland and elsewhere in the Baltic have been so friendly and helpful. Helena spent the next two hours explaining the history of Kotka, Finland, and the displays in the museum. Finland didn't become a country until 1917. They were dominated by Sweden for 700 years sotThe Finnish people speak both Swlandedish and Finnish.

We are watching for a weather window to sail overnight to St. Petersburg. Being that it is nearly June 21 "overnight" may consist of 2 hours of dusk:-) Weather permitting we'll leave tomorrow evening and arrive on Sunday morning or we'll leave on Sunday and arrive on Monday. Happy Father's Day weekend to all our "Dads" out there. Love and God Bless Sally and Al

Estonia | Baltic Sea |Riga Bay | Saaremma Island | Kuressaare

June 7, 2013

Hi Everyone, We spent the last week in Estonia. The weather has been warm but that meant the winds were not as strong. Friday our sail to Kuressaare on Saaremaa Island in Riga Bay, was not as we hoped it would be. Our easterly, southeasterly winds didn't occur until we were nearly in the harbor. Kuressaare like most of the islands in this area are beach resorts. Workers are busily preparing for the tourist season.

Estonia | Baltic Sea | Riga Bay | Saaremaa Island | Kuressaare Town | Lossiperk at the castle

Estonia | Baltic Sea | Kuressaare Town | Wooden building in Lossipark (castle park)

We walked to the castle and saw what appeared to be the end of the school year song/dance performance of second graders dressed in traditional costumes. We enjoyed the wonderful museum in the castle and the great views. Cute small town and walking paths around the moat.

Estonia | Baltic Sea | Muhu Island | Kuivastu | Artemis and Alchemy in Kuivastu new marina

Sunday motor sailed to Kuivastu on Muhu Island. The harbor master was so excited to see us. He came running with his camera taking pictures as we arrived through the harbor entrance shouting America, America welcome! The rest of the brand new marina only had a couple of small fishing boats.

Monday we had a Put the sails out, pull the sails in, put the sails out...kind of day. We finally pulled them in and headed the remaining 8nm to Port Dirham, Estonia on the Gulf of Finland. The harbor had new finger pontoons but we went alongside a high old Ferry quay with semi truck tires for fenders. It was an interesting climb out and back onto Artemis! The beautiful sandy beaches, rocks, pine trees and fierce mosquitoes reminded us of Stockton Island in the Apostle Islands and the walk through the woods from Julian Bay.

Baltic Sea | Estonia | Gulf of Finland | Artemis sailing as the fog lifts heading for Tallinn, Estonia

Tuesday we left Dirham in thick fog but had good sailing winds. Al stood at the helm, I kept a close watch on the radar and our fog horn bellowed every few minutes but no engine running:-)

Estonia | Baltic Sea | Tallinn | Sally and Al in One of City towers looking Tallinn city

We were able to sail all but the last 4 miles (48nm) to Old City Marina, Tallinn, Estonia. We had great NW sailing winds, some sprinkles but the major thunderstorms were well off from us on shore. We had to wait outside the harbor/admiralty basin for two cruise ships to depa rt but we were secure on a finger pontoon before the serious rain began.

Estonia | Baltic Sea | Tallin

Wednesday we walked our feet off:-) Great day explore a beautiful city. Unfortunately with as many as 6 cruise ships a day the streets soon became too crowded to enjoy so we visited an Estonian History Museum in the Great Guild Hall (audioguides and English text signs). We spent 3 hours enjoying the exhibits and could have spent more except lunch was calling. We asked at the Tourist Information when the crowds would leave and she said by 3:00 so we decided to have a picnic lunch and stay in town to explore some more. We visited Tallinn City Museum's exhibit with English texts so we could really enjoy and learn from what we saw.

Estonia | Baltic Sea | Tallin | Festival in Tallin Town Hall Square

It was a Festival week so we were able to catch some entertainment on the stage set in Town Hall Square (Raekoja plats). We enjoyed a youth Symphony Orchestra and then a Senior citizen Latvian Folk group. Music was okay but the violinist was excellent. We walked up to Toompea area where the fortress (now Parliament) is located and had great views overlooking over the city and harbor. We walked along the city walls and climbed up into one of the 20+ towers still standing around town. We decided it was time to quit for the day but it took us until 7:30 to finally get back to the boat.

Estonia | Baltic Sea | Tallinn | Alexander Nevski Cathedral in Tallinn

Estonia | Baltic Sea | Tallinn | View from one of the city towers

Thursday we filled our water tanks and provisioned the boat. We encountered huge lines at the Wine Shop where a bus load of Swedes were buying the store out. The guy ahead of Al spent over 450 Euro's!! After lunch we took another 3-4 hour visit to old town. We enjoyed walking Katariina kaik (St. Catherine's Passage) along the walls of the old Dominican Monastery where various artistic guilds have working shops and goods for sale. We went to Town Hall square again and heard a couple of Pop Music Groups from Iceland perform. One group of about 40 and the other 16. They sang mostly American songs and were quite good. Then a fantastic young trio (violin, guitar, and something similar to a bag pipe)performed and sang Estonian folk music. They also accompanied a two person comedian/acrobat act. Meanwhile cooks were serving a cold soup (pureed cucumber, spinach, coriander, mint and slivered almonds) to the crowds.

Estonia | Baltic Sea | Tallinn | Pirita Marina | Artemis and Alchemy moored at Pirita Marina

We left Old City Marina about 5:00 and went to Pirita Marina Tallin, Estonia about 3nm away. The Old Town Marina was beautiful and nicely located but cost 55 Euros as opposed to 18 Euros a day in Pirita Marina. Pirita Marina was built by Russians for the 1980 Olympics which most of the western world did not attend because of the Soviet attack on Afghanistan.

Estonia | Baltic Sea | Tallinn | Pirita Marina | Built by Russians for 1980 Olympics

Today we did boat chores...defrosted the freezer, dusted and vacuumed and washed the hull/waterline, Tomorrow we plan to sail to Finland for a week of cruising before going to St. Petersburg. Hope everyone has an enjoyable weekend. Happy end of the school year for most and hopefully some nice summer weather to you all. Love and God Bless Sally and Al


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