‘t Gauwe Haentje to Ladoga 2013
In 2010 the Lemsteraak ‘t Gauwe Haentje, a Dutch classical round bottom sailing yacht, was allowed to sail through the Russian inland waterways from St. Petersburg to Archangelsk v.v. Back then formal authorization for such a voyage was required, as sailing inland Russia with a foreign boat and under own pavilion was forbidden by law. After exhaustive preparation of 4 to 5 month we were allowed to sail by decree of NR 1, Mr Putin. It was told that 14 ministries and departments took part in the process which resulted in the issuance of the Russian identification passport/document.
This permitted us to sail without any hindrances to the White Sea’s Solovetsky Archipelago and back, visiting totally unknown waters, shores and places. All participant sailors enjoyed the modern type Odyssey under the best imaginable weather conditions and when returned it tasted for more. The documentary “On shallow waters” was made by a Finnish film team and a log compilation was published on the SSRP website “Er*Varen” (www.SSRP.nl/Er*Varen/Er*Varingen).
Invitation to pass one more summer in the St Petersburg - Ladoga region
During the fall of 2010 in St Petersburg a conference was held with authorities and waterways and sailing institutions and clubs to prepare the opening up of the Russian inland waters for foreign sailing boats. This process culminated December 2012 in an agreement between the Russian and European authorities to allow mutually the use of their waters, without the very cumbersome procedures of the past. Compliance with international and country specific nautical rules are required, which additionally to our rules boils down mainly to be able to communicate also by Russian VHF while sailing. Summer 2012 I met already a few Dutch boats in Helsinki preparing a trip in the context of 400 years Russian – Dutch maritime relations to St Petersburg by members of the “Kustzeilers” organisation. During the winter I was informed of the armada in which also 2 friends with Lemsteraken “Wulp” and “Stampershoek” were going to participate. For me this was an invitation to pass one more summer in the St Petersburg - Ladoga region, as my boat was still in Finland and easy to sail to St Petersburg.
The cadets of the French Navy at the Ecole Navale at Lanveoc in the Bay of Brest
During the winter I visited my “back office” friends of 2010 in St Petersburg and graciously got their support. Also I entrusted my other boat s/y “Ancre de Chine” to the cadets of the French Navy at the Ecole Navale at Lanveoc in the Bay of Brest and was happy to know they would take good use of it.
Also a number of friends, of whom participated in the earlier voyage were joining me, while Martine my wife, liked the idea of boarding, which she didn’t venture last visit. In May we met with Joost and Renée of the “Wulp” for whom it was their first trip deep into the Baltic. But still I had to attend a business event in Sweden, for which we had to sail first to Stockholm in middle of June. On May 15 to 17 I visited the shipyard in Pojo, SW Finland, while the boat was put to the water, prepared to sail.
On June 3rd 2013 I started off with former Lemsteraak sailors and long time friends
During June and July at these latitudes the sun almost doesn’t sink behind the horizon. The water however is still cold during the first weeks of June, while mostly the weather is very stable with sometimes still cold northerly spells.
The voyage to Ladoga in three episodes
The summer of 2013 has again been a fantastic event for ‘t Gauwe Haentje and her skipper. As a skipper I only can express this by saying I feel blessed by having had the best circumstances to dream of:
- all crewmembers to make the journey safe and as pleasant as can be in a social context,
- my supporters, especially in Russia, for all the assistance with all latest updates of the nautical maps and sometimes difficult logistics and the joy of seeing them again,
- the people and friends I met during these 7 weeks in a row, who made the experience deeper and fuller then I could have expected,
- then the assistance of the friendly and effective officials both on land and on water to implement the new regulations making it possible to enter Russian Inland Waterways without encumbrances, opening a big new domain for boatmen accepting the challenges of “uncharted waters”,
- the beautiful weather due to the Baltic summer high, which made it possible to sail during each day, without having to take inordinate risks or face unpleasant conditions and finally,
Especially a few words of thanks for Jan Eissens, the Stamboekbeheerder of the SSRP, who has generously offered his expertise and time to publish this story for the information to all globally interested on the SSRP website “Er*Varen”. Thanks so much you all!!!