061012 - Stockholm to St Petersburg

053112 8 Leaving Stockholm Cinderella Again

Leaving Stockholm and Cinderella is on our tail again

Thursday 31st May to Tuesday 5th June

Thursday 31st May we had been contemplating a tourist day taking on the Hop on Hop off Bus for Stockholm but weather forecasts dictated that we rethink our plans. With the Mastervolt guy, Marcus, literally packing up his tools after the installation and calibration of new batteries, and the water maker parts finally on board we headed out early evening to make an overnight run of around 170 miles to Hanko in Finland. As if being stalked by the Viking Ship CInderella we found ourselves once more meeting her in a narrow section of channel and having to get out of her way. 

Hanko is a small town of some 12000 people located on the southern tip of Finland and gains its main revenue today operating as a commercial port. Its initial apparent claim to fame was that in the late part of the 19th century it was popular as a well to do Russian spa town. The villas were all named after Russian sweethearts and typically colourfully painted. We waked the eastern beach area past several remaining grand houses. Today we are told it is popular with Finns who have summer homes here and head to Hanko every summer to make the most of the sun and sand. Unfortunately we hadn’t arrived in summer weather and had to stay an additional day as winds blew to 30 plus again and we found ourselves once more laying additional lines to secure Katherine. Not to be interrupted by the inclement weather the annual market to celebrate the start of the summer season was held on the Sunday and a huge crowd attended. We enjoyed finding a great source of fresh fruit, olives, nougat and vegetables to add to the supplies on board. We also discovered why the Australian flag was suddenly flying from the restaurant at the end of the harbour - apparently the restaurant owner puts out the flag of a visiting boat to notify locals there is something to see in the harbour - small village communication working well.

From Hanko we did our second overnight run to Haapasaari Island on the edge of Finland and the Russian border about 95miles from St Petersburg.  The island has a population of only three or four during winter and swells to all of 100 in summer. It was quiet unique pulling up to a pontoon to have ourselves cleared out of Finland. We took the opportunity to walk the island once cleared - it had amazingly groomed gardens around beautifully painted houses. The local shopkeeper opened his store for us just to show us his shop so although not in need of supplies we contributed to his coffers. Amazingly Andrew found turpentine something we had been looking for since leaving Denmark. 

Though we cant call it an overnight run we were underway the following morning at 2am to make the final 95miles to St Petersburg. One thing about sailing in the Baltic in Summer is the lack of darkness at night - at midnight we had the hint of dawn. Makes for glorious sailing if the conditions are with you.

Our first hint of being in Russia came with the passing of a fishing boat - it looked light something straight out of Tin Tin. Once we entered Fort Kronstadt it was like being on the radar of an Air Traffic Controller with instructions over the radio as to iwhen and where to proceed as we negotiated the narrow channel with container ships into St Petersburg. Closer to the commercial port we encountered the first of many hydrofoils - they reminded us all of “Thunderbirds Are Go”. Our entry to Russia also seemed somewhat unorthodox - a concrete pontoon behind a barb wired fence in what looked like an old cruise terminal area. We were met by our guide Vladimir Ivankiv and Andrew was taken off to do the official paperwork. He returned less than half an hour later with an official gentleman with a large official hat who with a wink, a nod and a small smile checked us off against our passports - and that was it Welcome to Russia. 

From here we moved onto the Central St Petersburg Yacht club and our visit to St Petersburg had begun. 

(Click Here for Photos)

060512 15 The Gate through which Andrew disappeared for Passport Control

Clearing Customs

© SV Katherine 2018      Cover Photo: Katherine on Anchor Isle Tabarca Spain