Time to move on

Trip Start Apr 29, 2011
Trip End Sep 03, 2011

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Flag of Lithuania  ,
Tuesday, June 14, 2011

It did!! Of course, as usual there was nothing of note in the parcel
so a great deal of angst was expended on nothing very much but thank
you John anyway for posting it. Still, at least we were now OK to
leave and the forecast was for NW F4-5 winds, which would mean that
we could sail. All we had to do was to spend some of our remaining
zlotys (more beer & wine, replacing the depredations of the
night before) and basically get going.

The destination was to be the only maritime harbour of Lithuania,
the country's third largest town, Klaipėda. Now between Poland and
Lithuania is an anachronism (in my view) – a left-over from USSR
days, the small region called Kaliningrad. When the USSR ceased to
be, Russia retained this area as she wanted ice-free access to the
Baltic. As part of Russia, it is subject to all the rules and
regulations that Russia imposes ie visas are required and we don’t
have them, so Kaliningrad’s territorial waters had to be avoided and
the advice to yachtsmen is to keep well out to sea, 20 miles or so,
to prevent the aggressive questioning or worse of Russian patrol

Poor Kaliningrad. Once it was the capital of East Prussia and called
Köningsberg. It was ceded to Russia in 1945 and renamed after the
then Soviet president, Mikhail Kalinin. In common with much of this
area of the Baltic, it was re-populated with Russian people (we were
told that Lithuania had fully 30% of its’ people 'disappear’ during
the Soviet era, to be replaced by Russians). Prior to this
ignominious existence, Kaliningrad was once an important part of the
group of Hanseatic cities but most evidence in the form of buildings
were destroyed during the war. The city of Kaliningrad itself is
about 30 miles from the sea but much nearer and the reason for
Russia’s continuing interest in the place, is the port of Baltiyisk,
home of the Russian Baltic Fleet.

So, Kaliningrad was to be avoided. Fortunately for us, the Russians
hadn’t decided to play war games and close a huge area of sea called
‘Regulated area 117’. The distance from Gdańsk to Klaipėda is about
110 miles but if the Russians were playing, then it would be more
like 160 miles, so we were very pleased at them staying in harbour.

We set off at 13:00, motoring down the river and out to sea, dipping
the ensign again at the Westerplatte memorial. Once out in the bay,
we were somewhat discombobulated to discover that the wind was
blowing at F5 as predicted, but I suppose we should have anticipated
it, it was from the NE and not the NW ie our direction of travel.
Despite that, we decided to press on, as we had one option open to
us and that was to stop at the entrance to Gdańsk Bay, on the tip of
the peninsula at the harbour of Hel (doesn’t that bring a smile?).
So we plodded on, and our decision was vindicated as the wind slowly
backed to the NW and we were able to switch the engine off and start
sailing. Our anticipated journey time was in the order of 22 hours,
so we settled down to the hour on, hour off routine that suits us
very well.

As the evening progressed , the winds settled in to a steady F5 and
we were bowling along with a reefed genoa but full main at 7 knots.
Much later, with Julie in bed (we change routines at night) the wind
continued to back and moved to the SW. This meant that the main was
now blocking the genoa somewhat and the latter was in danger of
flapping, thereby waking her up. I managed to sail with this
configuration until about 02:30, when she woke up (actually, I would
have woken her within 30 mins or so as I was flagging) and we were
able to furl the main, let out the reef in the genoa and continue
sailing with one sail, still at over 6 knots. I then went to bed and
slept fitfully until 04:30 and took over the helm again, or at least
took over the supervision of the autohelm. One point – it wasn’t
ever really dark, as there was a full moon and we are relatively far
north (about the same latitude as Newcastle, say).
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