Archive for the ‘St Petersburg to the White Sea’ Category

Walk from Weymouth to Worth Matravers

Monday, March 16th, 2015

14th March 2015 Dorset Coast – South West Coast Path The much needed weekend break had arrived and we were on the 1800 train to Weymouth. As John works with train sets we were treated to first class and the journey was very civilised. Selma greeted us at Weymouth and, despite our large snack en route, we were soon tucking into a fine tandoori meal served by one of the most polite waiters I have ever come across. I think the restaurant was called Weymouth Tandoori – not very imaginative but worth finding. The walk back to the B and B was the dark side of Weymouth with lots of drug and alcohol crazed rather menacing people hanging around the streets. The cleverly named B and B – called Weymouth B and B was modern, clean and served up a good breakfast. The view from our room perhaps wasn’t the best. (Cost about £80.00 for a double room)

Inspiring View from B and B Window - if you like Bricks

Inspiring View from B and B Window – if you like Bricks

Weymouth is a handy place to start a walk as it can be reached swiftly by train from London. Our first day was to be a short walk to Lulworth Cove – about 12 miles away. We set off at a lazy 10 am on Saturday morning. Sadly Selma wasn’t to join us for the walk as she is recovering from an ankle injury so John, Grit and myself pushed off along the grand sea front towards the hills. We called in at a busy little café at the end of the beach to buy some sandwiches for lunch but they would only sell things with bacon so we had a cup of coffee and pushed on up the hill. There we found a really splendid café called The Lookout who would make us some sarnies for lunch. It had a very appetising menu. Next time we will have coffee here!

The Lookout in Weymouth

The Lookout in Weymouth

The imposing white Riviera Hotel in a Spanish style looks slightly smaller as you get closer. Soon a rather splendid outdoor centre looms beside the path. There are some long and intricate zip wires and diabolical swings which must be pretty character building for the hard hatted children who looked like they were enjoying the experience. The path is not for people who don’t like hills. Although this section is less arduous than the North Somerset and Devon sections it is nevertheless very hilly indeed. One year I was walking it and there was an ultra marathon taking place. They were so knackered that we were able to overtake most of them by walking at a brisk pace. It is said that the South West Path has the same ascents as climbing Everest twice. I believe it is Europe’s longest continuous path but I could be wrong. For March it was quite cold dropping to 2 degrees at night and only touching 7 during the day. Add a bit of wind and you can soon chill off. I wore a pair of merino long Johns with Montane technical trousers on top and two Devold merino tops with a Montane Event jacket on top. A merino hat, Devold wool mitts and merino snood were donned when necessary. It was a good choice as I never got cold or hot. I had a Rab belay jacket and waistcoat for when we stopped for lunch. At Osmington Mills there is a normally very attractive pub but on this occasion masses of flood defence work was being carried out and the place looked like a bomb site. I’m sure it will get restored to it’s former glory soon As we approached Burning Cliff we found a little wooden church. It was rather Norwegian. The cliffs around here have been known to catch fire. In 1826 this cliff burnt for a year. Soon we were climbing to White Nothe and preparing ourselves for some splendid walking along the whalebacks of this wonderful coast. Durdle Door is a popular spot for tourists and in this case almost entirely Indian visitors – not sure why! After Durdle Door there are just a few more beautiful miles before reaching Lulworth Cove where we once again met Selma at about 4 pm. We were booked into the very posh Lulworth Inn which was quite a treat compared to some places I’ve stayed in. (cost about £105.00 for a double room) John and I decided to do a bit of hill running before our evening meal. In the morning we left at about 9.30am as we had intentions of getting to Worth Matravers for lunch. If we had bothered to think about it we would have realised that that was virtually impossible without running shoes. The path from the bay was closed due to a cliff collapse so we walked back through the village and over the fields. In fact we could have saved ourselves a big hill by walking around the beach! Mupe is a lovely anchorage sheltered from the South West by a ridge of rocks. Soon we were in the Ministry of Defence firing range where we were attracted to a sign saying danger keep off hanging on a tank with the inevitable consequence. This section of the path is more demanding than the day before with some corking great hills. Those Ultra Runners must have been crestfallen when they saw some of the paths, many of which need steps to achieve the gradient. At Kimmeridge the surf was up and about 50 surfers were out there enjoying the waves. There was a group of kayakers riding the waves too. The oily stone at Kimmeridge can be turned on a lathe to make unattractive ornaments. There is a working oil well on the cliff. Once we reached Chapmans Pool we needed to turn away from the gorgeous Dorset Coast and head inland. Chapmans Pool can be a good overnight anchorage but nowadays the Sunseekers from Poole Harbour tend to snatch the space before the slow yachts can get there. Just a few more miles inland and we arrived at what must be one of Britain’s finest pubs – the Square and Compass. What a heavenly pie (and a pasty) and tasty pint! Can life get better?

Another Hill

Another Hill

Yet Another Hill!

Yet Another Hill!

Oil Well

Oil Well

John and Myself on a Tank

John and Myself on a Tank

Durdle Door

Durdle Door

Burning Cliff Church

Burning Cliff Church

Mupe Bay - A lovely anchorage

Mupe Bay – A lovely anchorage

Along the Dorset Coast

Along the Dorset Coast

 

Russian charts at the CA

Saturday, December 14th, 2013
Atlas Cover

Atlas Cover

Side Elevation Diagram from Canal Atlas

Side Elevation Diagram from Canal Atlas

The Entrance to the Canals at Belamorsk

The Entrance to the Canals at Belamorsk

Diagrams of the Canal Bridges

Diagrams of the Canal Bridges

A Typical Section of "Canal"

A Typical Section of “Canal”

6th December 2013

During our Russian Meeting No 1 at Kentish Town Graham kindly suggested that he may be able to arrange a viewing of the Cruising Associations collection of Russian Charts. On Friday evening Grit and I arrived at the CA to take up the offer.
Graham and Fay had found the folio of charts, maps and “atlases” which were stored in the loft and had arranged them in organised piles on a large table in the Committee Room. We had the luxury of a whole evening to study them.
The charts are of significance because they belonged to the first pioneer yachts to make the journey. Some charts were marked with Wallace Clark who was the father of Miles Clark who sailed White Goose through the whole canal system sadly dying before finally completing the journey. The book “Sailing Around Russia” was completed by Wallace Clark.

We had a variety of aeronautical charts, maps, navigational charts from British Admiralty and Russian Sources plus three “Atlases”. These Atlases were books of charts plus side elevations and diagrams and photos of bridges. These books were fascinating and contained everything needed to navigate the “canal”. I suppose naïvely I rather had the impression that the journey would be a matter of entering and leaving a canal into a big open lake and then entering the next canal. It is apparent from the charts and atlases that it is all a bit more complicated. The canal joins into small areas of open water and buoyed channels and even when you exit into a massive lake there are large shallow areas and areas ridden with weed and rocky outcrops. That said, certainly from these 40 year old charts, there are plenty of navigational markers to help us on our way.

Looking at used charts has the benefit of being able to take heed of various notes written on the charts. Even knowing which town is which is tricky without a copy of the Russian alphabet to hand. Markings pointing to reporting Radio Stations reinforce the need to have Russian speakers on board.

Grit and I have taken extensive notes from the charts and we have posted a couple of pictures we have taken to give a feeling of the quality of the charts. The charts we studied were clear and easy to understand (given access to the Russian alphabet). It looks like we will need to purchase two Volumes (Toms) to complete the sections from the White Sea to St Petersburg plus various lake charts and charts of the White Sea. Obviously there will be more charts needed to cover our exit from Russia into the Baltic. It could be quite an expense.

 

 

Russian Meeting No2

Monday, November 4th, 2013

1st November 2013

Davy’s Wine Bar – Greenwich

Maxine and Dirk had kindly agreed to meet us for a chat over dinner. By amazing coincidence we found out about Maxine’s amazing exploits early this year when we saw a car with Russian number plates parked in Greenwich. Asking if Dirk was Russian he replied that he wasn’t but his girlfriend was (well Dutch but Russian speaking) and it transpired that she was planning to join a yacht “Tanui” to sail through the same canal that we were planning to sail through. In fact she was going much further than we were planning and actually stayed on the yacht for four months travelling from Tromso all the way to the Black Sea making if the first ever foreign flagged yacht to accomplish the task. Maxine and the Skipper will  be writing a book for Imray in the near future. I could not do justice to all the tales we heard in this little blog but we have convinced her that a talk at Greenwich Yacht Club would be well received and we are hoping Norman can organise it. From our chat we did learn some important tips. Firstly the Russian speaker is totally vital and it would be unlikely (if allowed) for one shared speaker to be enough. On a more upbeat note, there was a mere hint of a faint possibility that just maybe Maxine could be persuaded to do a little bit more Russian Canal Sailing in 2015?! As far as the 3,000 euro fee to transit the canal, Maxine did not think it was nearly that much so that would be very helpful for our budgets. It seems that some training in Vodka drinking is going to be needed.

I’m looking forward to hearing Maxine’s talk.

Russian Meeting No 1

Friday, November 1st, 2013
Charlotte Sykpes Vladimir

Charlotte Sykpes Vladimir

Then have a lovely meal

Then have a lovely meal

While we all watch on

While we all watch on

30th October 2013

Charlotte had organised everything! The team met up at the Pineapple Pub in Kentish town. I didn’t make it to the pub having had to bail out of the overcrowded tube and run half way across London. I joined the meeting at Ashcombe Street where Charlotte was staying whilst in London. I burst in to find everyone totally engrossed in a long Skype session with Vladimir from St Petersburg. Vladimir has enabled many yachts to pass smoothly through the often complex Russian bureaucracy and is generally regarded as a top dog hero to every yacht person who ventures into Russia. It was very kind of Vladimir to take part in this Skype session as it was about midnight in St Peterburg.

Present at the meeting was:
Graham from the Baltic Section of the CA
Tim hoping to skipper Thembi
John and Selma hoping to take Brimble with their family
Norman and Christine probably not joining in their yacht but certainly in spirit.
Coll Hutchieson who is hoping to sail anti-clockwise in 2014
Alasdair (me!) and Grit intending to take Sumara on the grand trip
and of course Charlotte who will be taking Svarte and the Good Ship Pouncer.

Business was conducted over a massive Bolognese with beer and wine.

Our big question was “Clockwise or anti clockwise?”. The original plan had certainly been to go anti-clockwise. In fact Selma and John managed to winter their yacht on the South East coast of Norway in anticipation. However we have now decided to go clockwise! Charlotte will transport Pouncer overland from North Sweden to Tromso in the spring of 2015. In the summer of 2014 Thembi will sail towards Tromso from Scotland, Brimble will about turn and sail up the west coast of Norway and Sumara will head out of London.

The hope is to rendezvous for some climbing in Lofoten on 19th July 2014 (Hey might as well give it a date!) before mouching on up to Tromso where the yacht will spend the winter.

In the spring of 2015 there will be hectic fitting out combined with skiing in preparation for the long trip around the North Cape towards Archangel to clear Russian Customs before heading to the canal entrance. Vladimir had suggested Archangel was easier to clear customs than Murmansk which was mainly a military port.

We have been warned that there is a 3,000 euro charge to pass through the canal and we are going to make enquiries as to whether there were any further charges to be expected.

Tonight Grit and I are meeting Maxine and Dirk. Maxine, a fluent Russian speaker, sailed through the canal this year on Tanui joined by Dirk for some sections. We are looking forward to hearing their tales.

 

Russia and all that

Saturday, July 27th, 2013

27th July 2013

I had been worried that I had missed my chance to join Charlotte’s adventure through the canal from St Petersburg to the White Sea. John had already set off for Norway and arranged winter berthing. My only chance of joining the trip would be if the whole thing was delayed by a year. I gingerly suggested this to Charlotte having already run the concept past John and Tim. John was pretty easy with the idea and a delay made it more possible for Tim to join with Thembi. Charlotte had wanted to do it next year as it fitted neatly with her plans in Sweden but she also really wanted a little convoy and agreed to let the date slip one year so the canal part of the voyage will now take place in 2015.

It will give me a chance to sort out Sumara in London as she has been wintering in Scotland for two years and tasks are building up. I will then hopefully join the Risor Wooden Boat Festival next year and winter in Norway. It would be good to arrange a big meet up when Charlotte is back in the UK so we can fix up the details.