Second routeVolga - Don

Volga - The Vein of Life in Russia.
As we got out of the Volga - Baltic canal a completely new landscape opened up in front of us; the landscape of the Volga and its surroundings. Via the Volga we were going to sail through a water dam of 125kilometres. The charts showed a lot of church crosses spread all over. We did not understand what this really meant until we passed a church in the middle of the water. Apparently at the building of the dam the builders let the landscape get flooded, including all the houses and even churches.

A church that we passed at a dam.

The Volga begins somewhere at Moscow and travels all the way to the Caspian Sea, so we had a choice; To the south = Moscow, to the east = Volga and downstream waters. At the Volga, life was at spring with large traffic, fertile grounds, villages with their included churches, passenger ferries with tourists and Russia's history behind every corner.

Station by the river where passenger ferries arrive.

A so called Raketa which passed by us at a speed of 20-25 knots.
One of the areas we passed was called Kostroma, which is where the Ipatjevsky monastery is located. In 1610 an envoy came to this place and announced that the 16 year old Michail Romanov was to be the new Tsar. There was no successor to Ivan the Treble and his dynasty. The Romanov dynasty began here and was also the last.

Ipatjevsky monastery in Kostroma

. . . . . . . . . Campanions from Moscow.




One of the many churches we passed at the Volga.

The journey along the Volga passed with a mixed content of some locks, sailing and sightseeing. The next big city was Nizny Novgorod, the place we had to get the next setup of charts. At the ministry where we were planning to buy our atlas we met a lot of other sailors, and one sailboat owner even invited us to the yacht club where we spent the night. To our surprise we met a family with two children who were traveling by sailboat the same way we were. They had a self-built 7m sail boat with an outboard motor and they had a plan of sailing from Moscow to the Black sea (circa 3000 kilometers. They became our companions for the rest of the journey.


The Fishers got mad.
A very unpleasant situation occurred a bit into the Volga. After we had anchored at a side-river, a small aluminium boat with two drunk fishermen arrived. They put their boat next to ours in a very clumsy way and started yelling and causing a commotion. We did not like their company so we pushed away their boat from ours. They protested and told us that we did not like their company and that we "townspeople" from Moscow and were not welcome in "their" waters. We pulled up our anchor and tried to escape the scene, but they wouldn't give up. They followed us and started threatening to ram our sail boat (100kg row-boat versus 2.5 ton sailboat). They kept following us for half an hour and we thought that we had to come up with something. In St Petersburg we had bought us some flares and I tried to fire off one over their boat. The flare went a bit in the wrong direction but it worked and they went away. Fifteen minutes later they were back with their own flares and started shooting at us. After a while there were flares flying in every direction over the water. There was no precision in these flares and one could even hit his own boat with one. No boat or man was hit. After a while they again disappeared and we kept going for a few hours to the closest city for a rest.


Vladimir Uljanov - also known as Lenin.
After passing Kazan we started our course change to the south. Many rivers from the Urals connect here and the Volga gets broader which means better sailing waters. This broader river would take us to two historic places; Uljanovsk and Volgograd.
With the reason of Lenin founding the Soviet state, there had to be a city named in his honor. This led to his city of birth called Simbirsk being renamed to Uljanovsk. The city itself is placed high above the sea level and offers some of the most beautiful views over the Volga river. As this is the place Lenin was here a Lenin museum and market could be found. We were not allowed to buy anything at the market as we did not have any "city cards" that proved us living in the city. A visit in the Lenin Museum is something you cannot miss, but there are of course other things to do. As the wind went northward we continued our journey to the south.

Lenin museum


Liberty statue i Volgograd

After a week of sailing we finally arrived at Volgograd, the next milestone in our journey. After Volgograd we had the river of Don and 18 more locks ahead.
In Volgograd the battle of Stalingrad was fought (the city name during the Stalin-times). This was one of the turn points during the Second World War, where Hitler's troops were surrounded and General von Paulus capitulated and the strategic place became soviet again.

Before the first Locking point in the Don river, we for the first time met a more alert locking director. He asked us about our "Captain´s certificate", to which Anjeliqa replied that we had forgotten it. We had to show my sailing license and my foreign identity, a thing we kept to our selves in previous locks. The director went very serious and started asking about papers from the KGB. Anjeliqa tried to joke it off by answering what "KGB"?? He mumbled as an answer and then asked if she was sure I wasn't a spy. Anjeliqa answered that she wasn't sure as she had caught me counting Lenin monuments several times, but that director had nothing to worry about as I had lost count after a 100. The director was pleased with the answers, and to change subject he started instructing us on how to lock, even though we had passed 25 locks before and more than half of Russia. Finally we could proceed in Don without any trouble.

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