St. PETERSBURG, RUSSIA to TALLINN, ESTONIA

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Once clear of the wharf we went out through the harbour entrance like a shot out of a gun. A lot of marine traffic was leaving at the same time and so lots of turbulent water in the entrance.

St. Petersburg had been a real treat and now it was time to stand watch in a very busy area. We ran along the side of the separation lanes wherever possible. Crossing shipping lanes must be done at right angles.

The passage was rather uneventful. We had wind on the nose coming in and would you believe wind on the nose going out of the Gulf of Finland!  A purist would simply tack up wind and eventually reach the destination with a full tank of diesel, but we had opted to visit as many ports as we could within 100 days and so to maintain the schedule we are not too proud to crank up the iron topsail’.

The weather had been beautiful ever since we reached Norway but now in high summer the temperature was regularly above 30 degrees Celsius and the nights were no longer cold. We reached Tallinn and the Pirita Marina in the middle of the afternoon.  As they do not monitor Channel 16 we found a phone number in the Baltic Pilot to call and presto we had a berth.

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The Marina office was a very modest affair in a container. They administered the camp ground and the Marina. However the reception was excellent and the woman checking us in immediately called the authorities on my behalf to request ‘Pratique’. We were redirected to the guest harbour 500 metres away where Border Patrol met  us in the cockpit of the yacht. (The cost for mooring fees just Euros 18 the cheapest during the entire voyage.) They were very pleasant and waited while I completed the crew lists in handwriting as we had no more pro formas.  See inset photo. We were officially back in the European Union:

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In the 1980’s Tallinn (Pirita) had hosted the Olympic sailing event and the large modern building still remains however it is almost derelict with plaster falling off the block work and tiles off the concrete and grass growing through the grand wide steps in front of the building.

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The channel like many marinas in the Baltic is the mouth of a river and it had been dredged out to 10 metres, which was great for easy access.

We took a taxi for the 6 Km ride into the old city and as we drove by the bay we could see boulders large and small strewn everywhere. A stark reminder to get the navigation right!  Taxi fare 8 Euros.

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Tallinn is the capital of Estonia and was first set up by the Teutonic Knights in 1272. Hence the old city has a distinctive German look to it in the style of the buildings with their steep pitched roofs and spires. We were dropped at the flower market where more than a dozen florists had stands side by side selling all kinds of flowers but in particular roses. This was one of the gates to the old city.

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We eventually found the town square and settled on a restaurant called the ‘Olde Estonia’ in search of typical local dishes. Graham decided to opt for the Bear steak but alas they could not supply as Bears were out of season but Elk was available. I was much more conservative with a tomato, mozzarella and basil salad and a turkey steak Estonian style to follow. The Estonian beer is excellent.

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Mike who had been absent from the yacht for a week while we sailed into Russia (he had taken a cruise ship from Helsinki to St. Petersburg with a 3 day special visa) joined us at the restaurant. After dinner we walked all over the old city and finished up in a bar called the ‘Laboratory’for cocktails mixed in beakers and shots in test tubes. Mike mentioned that he had been invited on a pub crawl with a Contiki bus tour who were staying at the same hostel as himself. He had politely declined but eventually they all rolled in to the ‘Laboratory’. Amongst the group was a healthy mix of Kiwis and Ozzies.

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We had wanted to buy local paper charts as a back up to the electronic chart plotter but the two chandleries were closed on a Sunday. I went to the office and eventually I managed to get the coordinates of the next port of call – Koigustesadam, Estonia.  We had to negotiate the “Moon Passage” to get there and that was rather tight. At the fuel dock I bought a Latvian courtesy flag and ice creams for the crew as it was 32 degrees Celsius.

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