With the high over the Baltic we hadn’t always had fair winds but this time the weather Gods were kinder. Wind Guru is a great site and my Norwegian friend had given me another Danish site called DMI.DK which forecast westerly winds further offshore. After motoring 15 Nm offshore we picked up wind on the beam and had a great sail south to Klaipeda.
There are two marinas in close proximity and the Pilot said that the old Castle Marina was suitable for smaller yachts only and I regard Meg as medium size and therefore we berthed in the Cruiz Marina adjacent to two cruise liners. I later discovered that we could have gone into the other Marina but with a possible delay as the staff manually swing the bridge every hour. Out come the the long bars and walking in circles two men swing the bridge using large gears – really cool to watch!
A lot of money has been spent on an upgrade to both marinas and the facilities for visiting yachtsmen are excellent. The old town is very well presented also. In general the town appeared to have shrugged off the Soviet mantle and was progressing. The river has a large volume of water in it and an inland sea is separated from the Baltic by a narrow spit of land.
We noticed in Scandinavia, Russia, and the Baltic States that a popular thing for romantic couples to do is to take a padlock, engraved with a message of undying love, to lock it onto the bridge, or a wrought iron sphere in the park, as below, and throw the key in the river.
Joining the river and the marina is a pedestrian swing bridge which is manually operated every hour by two of the marina staff. From a central shaft two long bars are inserted and the men walk in circles and with large gears the bridge swings open – fascinating to watch!
Can you imagine the stealthy character in the hooded robe clambering over the wharf on a dark foggy night.
Roaring Meg in the Cruise Marina at Klaipeda, Lithuania:
Mike, the Entertainment Officer, recommended that we go to the Viva La Vita Bar which was located on 20th floor of a modern building for cocktails and a view over the city. With no mint for the Mojito, I settled for the strawberry Caipirinhas which looked rather gay in the glass but tasted great. Below a cruise liner eased her way out of the harbour.
We noted that the Baltic States were just as much into brewing beer as the Germans and that their breweries had a long history also.
Next we had the choice of the ‘Fat Cat’ which seemed rather quiet or another bar on the canal that was packed. Upstairs there were two guys singing folk music in the local tongue – one on guitar and the other on a large bongo drum and the locals were joining the chorus. There were many local beers on tap. In the canal was a square rigger that the Finns had built in 1946 as a training ship with some of the reparation money from the Soviets after WW2. The ship was lit up like a Christmas tree and looked stunning.
We got talking to the locals in English and we learned that when the Russians entered the city of Klaipeda after the war there were only 20 people remaining in the city and all the others had fled. They have since returned. The population mix in the Baltic States seems to be roughly 75% local and 15-20% Russian with the balance a mixture of other cultures.
This was a true whistle-stop tour as we were moving swiftly south. In fact the voyage from St. Petersburg to Kroeslin Marina in Northern Germany alone (where we are to leave Meg) is further than the entire length of the New Zealand coast from the North Cape to the Bluff.
The next morning Mike cooked us all a Big Boys Breakfast with the old ‘set the egg in the hole in the toast and cook it trick’ – very nice and one less tin of baked beans on board!
I managed to buy a Lithuanian courtesy flag from a store without any signage which makes it a real challenge to find. We fuelled up probably for the last time as we want to leave Meg on an empty tank this time because of freezing conditions. Normally we leave her full to prevent condensation forming in the tank.
We slipped out of the harbour at 1430hrs on Friday 1 August knowing that we were sacrificing a Friday night in Klaipedia for a Saturday night in Gdansk!