Sailing adventure heading for Mediterranean
An idea emerges
Sailing in Rubinsk reservoir on the way to Volga
The build-up of the voyage.
Like the adventurer I am, I had been travelling around the world by
different means. After trips by camping bus and train in Europe I decided
to buy a sailboat.
I bought a Fingal, a small but sturdy sea cruiser with a length of 27
feet. Quite a bargain compared to what you get with great sailing capacity
I had sailed to most places in the Baltic Sea before but with other
sailboats. One of these journeys to Tallinn in 1989 ended up with me
meeting a beautiful girl and marrying her, but that is another story.
As the boat was bought I started to plan for a Mediterranean Sea trip.
The Mediterranean is very attractive to my eyes, the climate is comfortable,
many cultures living close to each other, and I don't have to worry
about the tide. Everything is close and no large sailing voyage within
is required to get a great experience.
An idea grows.
To train the crew and to get used to the boat I took a trip to Riga
in Latvia in 1992. Riga was a natural destination because Anjeliqas
parents lived there. From Riga we traveled further to St Petersburg
in Russia in my father in law´s camping bus. In St Petersburg
we spent our time with usual tourism. After we had visited the Winter
Palace and gone outside we discussed the river that went through Petersburg,
The Neva River and where it ended. The Neva River ends at the Svir river,
and the Svir River connects to Volga-Baltic Canal. The Volga-Baltic
Waterway ends at the Don River which runs all the way to the Black Sea.
We had just found a new alternate way through Europe.
So, with a Fingal from -66 and a wife from -65 I decided to sail through
the Russian rivers all the way to the Mediterranean Sea.
All the puzzle pieces started to come together as the Russian river
system connects all the way to the sea, and there is also a large amount
of logistic transport traffic between the White Sea, The Baltic Sea,
The Caspian Sea and the Black Sea. There should be maps of the Canal
system, and the dams, lakes and the Volga should be large enough for
the mast of the Fingal to stand up. Russian is not a problem for my
Russian-speaking wife. Some problems started to emerge like if our little
motor could manage to go upstream, if any maps were available to buy,
the maximum and minimum depths of the different rivers, and finally
if a foreigner was allowed to sail through Russia? We did not know if
the laws of the 30s still were in use.
We contacted the ex-Soviet embassy in Stockholm.
At the embassy we explained that we wanted to sail with our own boat
all the way from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea, via Volga and Don.
Our most important question was, it is not forbidden right? We could
not get a clear answer as the ambassador told us that it was not forbidden
to travel through, but there was neither any law that allowed a foreigner
to travel trough.
Juridically, if something isn't forbidden, it must be allowed? (Or is
it the other way around?). We kept asking for what they could recommend
us to do.
"If you are interested in Volga there are tourist ferries you can
take, but if insist on bringing your own boat you can hire a truck to
carry your boat along the Volga, as long as the boat doesn't touch the
water." - Communism fell, but was not dead yet.
He kept going and told us; "You can rent your boat to some Russian
organization, and then travel as passengers on your own boat. You can
ask the Swedish sailing club if anyone has gone the same route before,
and maybe they could get you some contact details to some Russian sailing
In other words: there was no information. We decided to travel to St
Petersburg and to get some more information from there.