harbour days in Kaliningrad (Königsberg)
On our way and while planning this trip we have heard again and again, that we are crazy to go to Kaliningrad. "There is noting to be seen", "nothing is left of Königsberg", "you will have to bribe your way through". In all ports we have been to we have not met a single boat, going there and other sailors just shook there head at us, saying "you will see" or "you will learn".Because of all the negative comments we have heard, the section on Kaliningrad is longer. We did not have to bribe anyone (like some people meant) and we found, that the city is definitely worth visiting. The beauty of the city is not as obvious and overwhelming as Gdansk - you have to search for it and so we did. Building material was taken from the city and used elsewhere in Russia and during the 50ties the soviets tried to "erase" the German history of the city, i.e. by demolishing what was left of the Königsberger Schloss. Shortly before and since the 750-Birthday of the Königsberg in 2005, this previous Soviet attitude of erasing the German history of the city seems to have changed and more and more buildings got restored. It might have also helped that Putins wife originated from Kaliningrad.
The next morning we first had to recover from the long leg before starting the sightseeing of Kaliningrad. Our first trip took us to the south of River Pregolya (Pregel) to the Brandenburger Tor, which is the only Königsberger gate which still functions as a gate, and then along Leninskiy Prospekt to the restored Königsberg Cathedral on the Kneiphof island (now "Kant island"). The architecture found along the way consisted mainly of Soviet building blocks X. You find plenty of them in Kaliningrad, but one picture says it all:
However, as we turned northwards, things were getting better. Unfortunately our camera went out of battery power, so we decided to come back again later.
In the evening of our first day we walked the quays in front of the Museum of the World's Oceans. Here the Baltiysk Fleet's choir was giving a free concert - each of the singers worth singing in the opera - very impressive.We then met our Russian contact who drove us in his car on a sightseeing trip through the city. If you have the possibility, it is a good idea to do so.
The city is large and the sites are distributed - it is a long way on foot.Our second day in the city started with a visit of the Museum of the World's Oceans, which had a lot of items from pre-war time Königsberg on display as well as pictures of the German refugees fleeing the city at the end of WWII.In the aftermath, fleeing the city before the Red Army arrived was probably the right thing to do. According to the German Wikipedia Webpage of Königsberg, approximately 100.000 Germans , (mainly women children and old people) were still left in the area in August 1945. They were not allowed to leave until October 1947. By then only 20.000 were still alive.
We then continued again to the Königsberg Cathedral with Immanuel Kant's grave next to it, this time with a fully charged camera.
We did not really spend time in the museum, but on the museums boats a submarine and an exploring vessel, which was definitely worth visiting.
There is also an space research vessel called "Cosmonaut Victor Patsayev", that is fully operate able, but we could not visit it at the time.It is not often one can visit a Russian submarine of this size.
Maybe this submarine has been deep into a Norwegian fjord during the cold war?
One of the front torpedo tubes were even loaded, hopefully it was just a dummy.
Not much space for passing through the watertight hatches!
In our opinion the city is lacking outdoor cafés and beer gardens (you need that when travelling with dogs) - and public toilets. The reason is supposed to be that the government tries to put a lid on the extended consumption of alcohol. However this seems to be quite futile: The locals buy their booze and have it in one of the many parks, leaving their waste behind.
Along the western shore new upmarket buildings in old style can be found. (the new fishing village ?)
The bluish building in the background is built on the ruins of the Königsberger castle, but it cannot be used anymore, the foundations of the castle is giving away as a last revenge.....
Crossing over from the Kant Island to the eastern side you find many locks on the bridge. These are from newly-weds.
We continued our walk along Moskovsky Prospekt (Sackheim Strasse). As this is again full of soviet buildings we will spare you the pictures.
Near Sackheim Gates we found multiple blocks with old German houses. Some of them still bearing the signs of WWII and most of them in desperate need of renovations (despite the fact, that they looked much more solid then mostthe soviet building blocks) .
Königsberg received a new defence ring 1626-1628, which consisted of a arrangement of banks (Wallanlage) with bastions (Bastionen) and gates (Toren). In 1843 the defence system was brought up to date by adding a ring of 53km with strongholds (Festungen) around the city which was completed in 1873. As if this were not enough 12 forts were added from 1874-1882 outside of this ring.As our time was limited we did not visit any of the still existing forts, but most of the gates still exists and some are in excellent condition.Our first gate of today has been Sackheimer Tor from the middle of the 19th century. Once the gate was part of the city wall.
From Sackheimer Tor we continued along the old Litauer Wallstrasse north towards Königstor from 1765 and stumbled across more and more pre-war buildings from the old "Festungswerke" with Bastion Grolmann and opposite "Kaserne Kronprinz". Wallstrasse describes the location pretty well - Along this road you can find an overgrown bank / wall.
Even further north is the Rossgärter Tor, again nicely kept and with a restaurant.
The Dohna Tower from 1859 is now housing the amber museum. In addition to the Dohna Tower, another tower, the Wrangelturm, exists on the westside of the upper lake (Obersee), being part of Königbergs defence system. Unfortunately the Wrangelturm has not been restored yet
At the back of Rossgärtner Tor some rebuilding is going on.
The junction (park) between the two lakes "Schlossteich" and "oberer Teich" is in a very poor condition:
On some of the houses the symbols of the free masons are still intact and visible.
After having visited the past, we continued our trip towards the present and saw the impressive Kaliningrad Market and the new orthodox cathedral, where we could not really see the inside. Just opposite of the cathedral and the traffic police building not far away, we found an outdoor restaurant.
While we were at the restaurant we added another attraction to Kaliningrad: the First and Second dog. Around 10 pictures were taken of this couple by by-passers, while we were relaxing with our beer.
The way back to the boat took us to the astronomical bastion from 1860, were the dogs liked to play freely.
In the evening we dined at the Hotel Berlin (now Hotel Moscow). Excellent food and - sushi!
The rookie sailor's corner
Being a rookie sailor 5 times smaller than his superior (The First Dog) makes certain tasks more difficult.
The First Dog can jump from a low floating stage onto the deck of the boat.
His subordinate cannot, although he keeps
on trying, with the result: one wet rookie sailor! Nice to have mammy around with dry towels!
The third day draw the first mate and first dog towards the old Südbahnhof (southern railway station). Along the way they were passing Friedrichburg gates where construction works were going on. As you can see, one of its towers looks brand new.
Friedrichburg gates is not part of the above mentioned defence system but Friedrichburg used to be a castle on an island. This island is now gone, and so is the castle. The only thing left is the gate. As you can see, some construction work was going on. Maybe the castle is rebuild?
The area around Südbahnhof is fascinating: it is full of blocks of old German buildings (not the nicest German architecture, but anyway). One feels like being in an old German city, that was aloud to run down: many buildings in desperate need of maintenance work, some of them nicely renovated. And strangely: Russian is spoken!
(right)In one place I the found this lovely garden
The journey then went on towards the former St. George's Hospital with its dried out pond.
The catholic church of the Holy Family from 1907 (now the phil-harmonic orchestra hall) is currently being redone - as you can see.
St. George's Hospital from 1897, now nautical college.
Next is the "House of the Bridge Keeper",
then southwards along the Pregel towards Friedlands Gate, where you can still see the above mentioned defence bank on both sides of it.
Besides many living houses also many factory buildings are left from pre-war Königsberg.
They are now used by Russian companies.
During the afternoon the captain and the second dog joined the tourist team and it took us to the north west of the harbour (name of quarter ?). Again we found an amazing number of pre-war buildings, but a higher amount being renovated. This area has lovely tree-lined streets, plenty of villas (old ones and new ones), consulates and frequent green park areas.
This is where Putin stays when he is in Kaliningrad:
The way back to the boat took us into (park ...), where we got lost and ended up in pure wilderness. The city is located in lovely surroundings and we have never been to a city with as many parks as Kaliningrad. Some of them are maintained others seem to be not maintained and have a special charm: you find wild forest in the middle of a big city.
On the last day in Kaliningrad the captain and the dogs stayed at the harbour while the first mate went to the market in order to spend the last Rubels. Things have changed significantly for Russia since the last time the first mate has been here - something like 20 years ago - and definitely to the better. The market provided with fresh fruits, chanterelle, veggies and lamb!!! Surprisingly you could also by all type of spices (if you know russian) and there was a fantastic selection of dried fruits and nuts. Afterwards the first mate went to a supermarket which was located in the middle of the worst looking soviet blocks. Surprisingly, the people emerging from this horrible looking building blocks looked very well (slim, nicely dressed, enthusiastic), and the supermarket they frequented had an excellent selection. The first mate could not help but buying shrimps and a fantastic caviar mousse.
Rumour has it, that in the beginning of the 90ties after the fall of the iron curtain, when Kaliningrad lost its strategically value to Russia, the Kaliningrad oblast was offered to Germany for around 60 million German Marks (approx. 31 mil Euro). The german minister of finances Waigel would not accept it - even if offered as a present. Nowadays Kaliningrad seems young and dynamic, adverbs which cannot really be used to describe today's Germany. Let's hope, that history will prove the german Ex-minister of finance wrong. If the Germans are not interested in converting Kaliningrad back to glorious Königsberg - maybe the Russians are now - finally.
Kaliningrad - Klaipeda
Started off at 1400, motoring out the channel for border and customs clearance. As we could not continue to Pionerskiy as planned we had to go to Kleipedia directly which is 100 nm. The captain estimated, that this could take 24 hours, if the wind didn't favour us. We therefore dumped our plan to stay overnight in an unused harbour opposite Baltiysk, as 24h or 27h (adding 3 hour through the channel) did not really matter and we had to sail through the night anyway. After an hour at the customs we could set sail in the nice west breeze. Baltiysk Traffic gave us permission to head direct north for 20 nm (which would bring us closer to harbour of Pionersky ) and then go directly north-east to Klaipeda.Sailing during the night requires lanterns, we turned them on just after sunset and checked that they were working. But our side lanterns mounted in the bow didn't. In the heavy sea and with the boat rolling in the surfs, the captain had to spend more than an hour in the bow trying to find the fault. One faulty connection in the anchor well was replaced, but still no power to the lantern. In the end a makeshift power cable was connected from the cabin light in the forecastle thru the hatch to the lantern, and finally it worked.
Click on the picture and see the video!
We escaped the "Whaleboat¹" this time! The wind favoured us, and we raced along averaging almost 8knots, with up to 10kts surfing. so the captains estimate were decimated; 15 hours instead of 24! ¹) The call sign of the Russian border control boats is "Whaleboat" and reflect what they are able to do, namely shoot the intruding boat and make it sink like a whale!
Approaching the harbour entrance, we tried to raise the Border Control on VHF channel 10 ( that is the channel for the harbour according to our newly updated maps).
We got a reply from Port Control that told us to use ch. 09 to contact Traffic Control, who told us to use ch. 73 for Border Control and finally we were give instruction to go close to pier 82 for border and customs clearance.
There we could not go, as everyplace was occupied by boats. In Klaipeda we could not go to the harbour in the city - which, according to some other sailors, charged full price without being really finished.
Sunset over the Baltic Sea at 20:48 (above) and sunrise over Klaipeda at 04:55(below right).
So we ended up at the Yacht Club Harbour on the other site of the Juru Kanalas opposite the city at the northern end of Kursiu Neringa (Kurische Nehrung).
The dogs had a quick walk and then we slept half the day away.
The rest of the day was spend with cleaning up, preparing a lovely dinner with lamb and chanterelle, brought from Kaliningrad.
Then chocolate mouse and berries for desert with the crew from the German boat "Eisvogel" - what more do you want.
Harbour days in Klaipeda
The harbour in Klaipeda was the most expensive one since we left Scandinavia: 20 Euro. However, this price included internet, shower and washing machine. So the rest of the day was spend with using the shower and washing machine and chatting with some locals at the harbour restaurant.
At the second day the whole crew walked from the harbour to the beach and had a beach day - Klaipeda can wait! In contrast to Poland they found a nudist beach, and as the dogs did not bring any swimwear, that was a perfect fit.
The rookie sailor's corner
Why do sand beaches have to be so sticky???
On the third day we finally went to Klaipeda. It was the first day here of the Tall Ship Race 2009; the city boiled with tourists.After some search we found the tourist information and got a small map with a suggested sightseeing walk.
Left is the Norwegian full-rigger "Christian Radich", in fact the other Norwegian full-rigger "Sørlandet" and the three-masted bark "Statsraad Lehmkuhl were all participating this year.
A sailor belaying the sails some 20 meters up in the rig of "Sørlandet".
Klaipeda City (Memel) In 1252 the Teutonic Order build Memelburg which gave birth to the city, which from 1252 until 1945 with the short exception of 1923-1939 was officially called Memel. The border between Memelland and Lithuania was one of the longest standing borders in the European history. It seems that throughout its history Memel was continuously burned down and rebuild in various wars. The first verse of the German national hymn, which is not song anymore, lists the borders from Germany to be from Mars to Memel. According to the Klaipedia Webpage, Klaipedia was "returned" to Lithuania in 1923. This happened in accordance with the treaty of Versailles after WWI and without asking Memel's citizen. The city was then named Klaipeda. In 1939 by-then Nazi-Germany demanded the return of the city, and as it was expected that the Memel parliament (Landtag) would vote for the return and there was no real other choice, Memel returned to Germany. At the end of WWII the German citizen were fleeing and left a more or less half empty city, which was then repopulated not only with Lithuanians, bus also with Russians. The Russians converted Klaipeda into a large marine base. Since the break-down of the Soviet Union, Klaipeda had a strong economic growth, also thanks to the fact, that Kaliningrad is not a competition on the same market anymore.
The suggested sightseeing walk through old and extraordinary well preserved Memel with many renovated houses from the 17-19th century some of them in half-timbered (Fachwerk) style starts at the Theatre square with the sculpture of Anna von Tharau. The German poet Simon Dach fell in love and dedicated a poem to her.
We found the old German city Memel very charming with most of its houses not more then 2 stories high, many outdoor restaurants. As the Tall-Ship-Race was taking place, the city was full of Lithuanian and foreign tourists.
The tour took us to Liepu gatve with its fantastic houses - some of them still in need of restoration.
Here are some local traditional boats
The not so tall ships of the Tall Ships Race:
Roads in the city were closed, and a lot of people were out for the big event.
On the next day the first mate and second dog took the 09:25 Bus to Nida. The captain, having seen his share of old German cities, was not interested and preferred to get himself busy with the boat. The bus was quite full and the first sight in Nida was the harbour - to see what they had missed by not coming here with Welkin. And they had missed a lot: The harbour in Nida has a perfect view of the dunes. A big food store is in short walking distance and it is cheaper than the one in Klaipeda.
Here the first mate met "Eisvogel" again, who had no issue navigating the shallow waters with a total distance of 27nm and no proper map, always having 30-40cm below keel, despite its draft of 1.90m.
The rookie sailor's corner
Why can't I sit up front with the bus driver?!
Next were the dunes. In regards to its dunes, Nida shares the same fate as Leba: in 1784 the town had to be moved to its current position, as the old one was overrun by the dunes. Despite that there were many tourists on the dunes the place was not crowded and the second dog could enjoy playing around. From the top of the dunes one can see to the left the Curonian Lagoon (Kurrisches Haff) and to the right the Baltic Sea.
Nida is full of beautiful, tidy, well maintained Scandinavian style houses. Some of them with German influence of half-timbered constructions (Fachwerk) and thatched roofs (Reetdach), others not. (Below is the summer cottage of Thomas Mann:)
Some gardens were just stunning. (not the one on top) Wikipedia describes it as an upmarket holiday resort - and it was the most beautiful holiday resort found so far along the coast.
On the way there was the Lutheran church with its harmonic wooded interior design. Next to the
church a graveyard can be found, with not very Christian signs: In the old days the locals placed a wooden symbol at the food of the graves which symbolized a toad to guard the grave.
They They used a different type of wood for men and women. The Christians, not really wanting to break this tradition added a small cross on top of it. However, the tradition got lost - the new graves have normal Christian crosses only. Some of these symbols are on display in the church.
At its beginning in 1525 Nida has been a fishing village. In the beginning of the 20th century it was famous as a colony of German artists and poets. After WWII it became a deserted place, and then went back to its roots: a fishing village again in the post-war period. However, it soon recovered and is today the most lovely holiday resort. And our tourists took another full bus back to the harbour.
On the second evening we had to move Welkin to another place to make room for an incoming boat. This procedure had to be repeated the next day, which kind of annoyed us. It was time to leave again and continue our journey. The evening was spend again at the local bar/restaurant, this time with the Lithuanian crew of Levante. One of them speaking English, the other German. They were here for a regatta that started the next day and recommended Ventspils as next harbour. We spent our last local money on half-frozen Tiramisu, beer and red wine - a very good decision. The night was kind of rough: The harbour was full of young and not so young people, participating at the regatta. Partying was going on everywhere through the whole night. At 03:40 the earplugs were put in, to soften the sound of shanty singing sailors on the quay!
When the alarm clock rang at 6am the next morning, we did not notice it. It took 30 minutes to realize that we should be up and going. The first mate then took the first dog on a bike ride. Adding to the frustration of a bad nights sleep was the fact, that these bloody young partying people were again (or still) up, walking around and looking much fresher than the first mate, who had not had a coffee before her bike ride! We finally left for Liepaja at 08:00 and set sail just outside the breakwater, but the wind left us in the afternoon. The wind was straight from behind 7-8 kn. We were going with the same speed on engine - meaning no wind and only the summer heat in the cockpit. Lovely for the captain and first mate, not really appreciated by first and second dog.
You enter Liepaja through a large man-made lagoon, which has three entry points. The water temperature in this lagoon (which also has beaches) was 22 degree - the warmest we had experienced so far. Your fist site is a new harbour build by the Soviets, then the way continues along quays full of wood, passing fishing boats towards to quays which are the yacht-harbour.
The harbour is not particular cheap, but has water, electricity and working shower, toilets, washing and drying machine. Five minutes walk away you can find a large Rimi shopping centre, cash machines are just around the corner. When we arrived at Liepaja, we got a city map with suggested walks, exchange rate and other information at the harbour office, and then we set of to the music walk. Liepaja is a music capital and the walks are marked with music notes.
The Livonian Order under the aegis of the Teutonic Order established the settlement as the village of Liba(u) in 1263. The city was under Russian control since 1795 and in 1900 7% of Russian exports were passing through it making Liepaja Russias most important port in the Baltic. In the early twentieth century it became a major port for immigrants to the United States. However, the recent history is everything but glorious, not to say absolutely glooming: In 1940 the city was annexed by the Soviet Union. Thousands of property owners were arrested and deported to Siberia, others fled. In WWII the city was captured by Nazi Germany, who virtually exterminated the Jewish population of 7.000 with the help of Latvian collaborators.
In 1949 yet another mass deportation to Siberia occurred and during the Soviet occupation Liepaja was a closed city housing the Soviet Baltic military base and nuclear weapons. Only in 1994 the last Russian troops left Liepaja - and with them probably the major source of income.
It did not take long and Liepaja became our favourite city on this trip so far. The city is very well preserved, but definitely not in prime condition. It is not as polished and shining as Gdansk, not as matter-of-factly as Stralsund. You find all different styles here: In one street you feel like being in a deserted wild-west-movie-city, the next one has the brick buildings of a Hanse-City.
One has buildings of Russian style, others make you feel like gone-with-the-wind in Georgia. Some of the buildings are lovely renovated, other only partly, others not at all, which adds an incredible charm to the place. An amazing, fascinating city, which luckily (at least for us!) is missing the hordes of tourists we found in Stralsund, Gdansk and Klaipeda.
The old city is full of such houses of varying styles missing any newer dated soviet or other ugly living blocks.
A lot of construction and maintenance work is going on, with some of the houses only partly done - as the one to the right. So it would be very interesting to come back in a couple of years and see the differences. However, we are happy, that we are here now: the place will never be the same again.
Once it has been brushed up, the hordes of tourists will be on it, because this is really THE place!
There are so many nice entrance doors in this city, so here is a little collection.
The next morning the first mate and first dog completed the city walk, shopped some fresh blueberries and lovely patisserie pieces. Then she shopped for a breakfast at Rimi and we finally enjoyed breakfast at noon - after having been up for more than 4 hours. Around one we left and hoped to glide smoothly to Pavilosta. Liepaja is known as "the city where the wind is born". However, the wind was not born in Liepaja today, but going there, meaning: we had headwind all the time. The weather forecast had predicted 5m/s from land, we had mainly 8-12 m/s from N/E. It was lovely sailing, sunny and warm - only T-shirts and shorts the whole day! It was tacking the whole time.
Our only concern was a 2.7m shallow in the mouth of the harbour in Pavilosta. Welkin's draft is 1.95, the wind and the 1-2m waves coming directly in thru the breakwaters - we were afraid that a groundswell would put our 10000 kilos very hard into the bottom of the harbour entrance and break us into small pieces. We tried to call the harbour on all the usual harbour channels, but only got an answer from Border Control in Pavilosta, who didn't seem to understand our questions about it being safe to enter the harbour in these conditions.
We also tried to call other boats in the harbour, but in vain, so we slowly approached the mouth, and carefully compared the size of man standing there with the height of the waves beating against the breakwaters and decided it was safe to enter. A strong current was visible and manageable. The German harbour master, Wolfgang, a very cheerful guy, welcomed us at the quays. Soon we sat together with beer and Kahlua (he does not like whisky!) and he provided us information. Wolfgang makes it a habit to be the cheapest harbour in the area. But he talks you around staying - and that's what we did.
Safely through the breakwaters, and happy that we didn't had to return to Liepaja today, or had to beat our way into the night for another 33nm to the next port!
harbour day in Pavilosta
Hopefully, there is neither gloomy nor glory history to report of from Pavilosta and we can finally relax here. First and second dog disappeared with the first mate towards first beach, where a lot of windsurfing was going on, and then forest, where they hoped to find chanterelles. No such luck. Instead they came back after 4 hours with a bag of blueberries. The first mate, not happy with the expensive 70% fruit-strawberry marmalade she bought in Liepaja and which contained hardly any big strawberry pieces, decided on making her own blueberry marmalade. But now she got busy writing this log. What happened to marmalade-cooking? "Eisvogel" has arrived and there is still no marmalade!
By 20:00 the crew was still working on this Webpage - neither marmalade nor dinner done. A quick decision was made to go to the local restaurant - good choice: the food there was excellent. And we had a chat with a German family who spend a wind-surfing and amber-searching holiday here. In the evening we were sitting outside with beer and wine listening to the crickets and to the breaking of waves at the nearby beach! Peaceful. Lovely. Finally. The harbour has water, electricity, Wi-Fi, toilets and washing machine. Nearby there is an excellent restaurant, the beach, the forest, a shop, a petrol station, a bus station to who-knows-where-to-and-who-cares. Perfect place to rest a bit, but still no blueberry marmalade!
We had such a relaxing time at Pavilosta, that we complete forgot to run around and make pictures or visit the local museum. Sorry, but we highly recommend it. So if you want to find out more about this place, you will have to come yourself. Please say hello to Wolfgang from Welkin.
The next morning when we were about to leave the engine would not start. Battery empty! The problem was fixed very fast by the captain and off we went. The first hour was done on engine to load up the battery, the rest of the way we had to beat the wind which was 10-20kn NNE against us. We arrived at Ventspils around 1900.
An hour away from Ventspils a rescue chopper circled "Welkin" a couple of times before it moved on.
Full moon rising over the harbour. The harbour in Ventspils is the most expensive one we had on this trip - so far: approx 25 €. The internet was not working. That kind of annoyed us, so that we decided to spend no more money here and continue straight away the next day. Therefore: no information on Ventspils. Now we have marmalade, but no fresh breakfast buns to go with marmalade - life sucks.
When passing Kolka lighthouse (left), some 50 nm out of Ventspils, just outside the northern tip of Latvia, a seal emerged from the water, as if to check who is entering his territory!
The sailing today was lousy, simply not enough wind! We only sailed for about 3 hours and had to do the rest on engine and it was a long way to Ruhnu, a small island in the Gulf of Riga, which was recommended to us by Wolfgang from Pavilosta.
Ruhnu is Estonian, so the captain hoisted the Estonian courtesy flag - or at least, what had been sold to him in Stralsund as an Estonian flag. When he looked around in the harbour he discovered however, that all the other flags looked quite different: he had a Finnish Åland Flag, which then came down very fast.The plan was, to take a high-speed ferry from here to Riga, so that we do not have to sail the whole way in and out of the gulf. That was, before we discovered, that the island is inhabited by only 50 people! No high-speed ferry, and hardly much shopping. Fill up your stocks before you come here.
Next to the harbour is a beautiful beach (Limo Beach).
Harbour day in Ruhnu
The harbour is recently built by subvention from EU, so it is nice and modern, with all facilities even sauna, Wi-Fi and it very own airport 5 minutes walk away! Thanks to EU!
The outer part of the harbour.
The wind turned last evening, and swells started to enter through the breakwaters, so the captain didn't sleep much, hence in the morning "Welkin" were moved further into the harbour, to the floating stage of the yacht harbour, which is totally free of swelling.
When exactly the Scandinavians arrived on this island is unknown. The island has been under Swedish and then Russian control. In WWI it had been occupied by Germany and afterwards in 1919 the islanders, mainly Swedes, wanted to become part of the newly independent Estonia. And that is what happened. During WWII the island was first under soviet, then under German, then until 1991 again under soviet occupation. The whole Swedish population did not like this and left. When Estonia gained its independency again, ownership of the property was restored, so that now again you can find many Swedes here.
Today this paradise island is controlled by another army: hordes of fiercely mosquitoes and other stinging, biting or crawling elements. The first mate was under heavy attack, when collecting forest raspberries and blueberries, while the captain socialized with a group of Estonians. The first mate resigned to the usage of chemical weapons, but the mosquitoes, were not impressed at all. Heavily wounded she returned back to the base, where the whole gang (captain, Estonians, first mate and dogs) retreated to the beach.The battle with the island local mosquitoes-army continued in the evening.So, we were not completely sad to leave this island the next morning.
While the first mate went on a shopping trip (not that there was much to shop for) she stumbled onto this stave church from 1644 - one of the oldest wooden buildings in Estonia, which is next to the new Lutheran church.In the shops no fresh breakfast buns could be found. Looks like the marmalade still has to wait.
Sadly, we missed the lighthouse, constructed by Gustave Eiffel, that is supposed to look like the real Eiffel Tower.
The fellow sailors of Estonia invited the captain for raw and grilled locally, freshly caught fish and of course vodka!
Here thin slices of of raw gwyniad is prepared. the fish was salted and left for 3 hours. The raw gwyniad is eaten on top of a piece of bread - simply delicious!
Sailing boats are not allowed to sail the streets of Ruhnu and I wonder what has happened to the biker below.
It seems, that the islander have a nice sense of humour.
Too much vodka?
Started off at 0720, set sails just outside the harbour entrance, 7-8 knots broad on the beam doing nice speed for the first 30 nm, but then the wind eased off and the iron horse was brought into life again, but not for long. Soon after we were under sail again and cruised nicely and could enjoy the skyline of Riga as it emerged above the horizon.
The most exciting happening today, when crossing the Gulf of Riga, was this sailing boat: We met 2 more - seems a regatta is on.
The river Daugava has been part of the Vikings navigation route to Byzantium and the site of nowadays Riga has been recorded as early as the 2nd century. So for for about one hour we were sailing up the this ancient route before we could see the centre of Riga. Robert, the captain of "Chookapa", whom we met in Ruhnu, greeted us at the quay, and advised us to moor as far away from the disco as possible, he also invited us for a night cruise on the channel around the old city in a boat called "Darling". The boat was originally built in 1907 for a wife of a Swedish priest and its last owner was the manager of the music band Abba.
We were picked up directly at the quay.
On board were a stag party, but they left at the first stop in the channel
A proud captain in a proud boat!
A lavish interior, kept original as it was in when it was built 102 years ago!
When we exited the channel ( which was too dark for any decent photos, otherwise you would now see the picture of a beaver here) into the river, we went under the old railway bridge, which you see on the left.