Period 24/06-07/07
Trip through Estonia

Estonia is a beautiful country, much further developed as we thought and in any case much richer than Latvia.
It consists of a number of islands and a relatively large mainland (in total about twice The Netherlands). The islands are for large parts covered by woods with many wild animals and a surprisingly large amount of wild flowers. According to the stories of our crew, we have seen two foxes, common cranes and a very large bird (….in my opinion a cross between a sea eagle and a pigeon….) and many unknown flowers.
There are not many harbours and they differ a lot in state of maintenance and investments. However, they have almost all free internet, while in many ports in Sweden and Finland there is no internet at all.  One attractive well-equipped harbour (Haapsalu) did suffer under the old Soviet disease: the harbour was completely closed because of political quarrel and nepotism. On the internet, there is a lot of information about this stride, including all letters from the two parties.
The people are very friendly and try to make you happy with a super service.
The map for this period is enclosed at the right.

The first introduction on June 24 is not very good. We arrive from Ventspils (Latvia) in Montu. The harbour has never been maintained and looks like it will never be possible to repair. The pontoons are partly on shore and partly awash. In fact, there is only a mooring for the ferry and the fisher boats, but we get approval to take the ferry’s place (it only comes three times a week). The harbour master takes our line, cashes the money, but did not say more than the amount we had to pay. No facilities, although there is a modern, well-equipped building for the ferry passengers. Directly from the harbour you can walk into the forest.

Kuressaare, the capital of the same beautiful island  Saaremaa, is a relief: a beautiful, well-equipped harbour and a harbourmaster who really does everything to make you happy. He gives us loads of information and tips and also a guided tour along the facilities.
The small city is very nice and clean, with a lot of old buildings that are very well maintained. There are many cosy and enjoyable outdoor cafés. The restaurants are reasonably good and very well affordable. We are doing a biking tour over the island, got to museums and see the castle. The museum in the castle is impressive.
It shows a beautiful collection of stuffed animals from the region (an elk is big!) and a lot of information about regional flora and geology. On top of that, there is a very interesting exhibition on the continuous fight for freedom in Estonia: firstly, to get rid of the Russians, in the Second World War the fight on side of, later against the Germans and later again the Russians. Many thousands of people of the relative small island are killed during that period. Nowadays they are very proud to be (almost completely) part of the European Community. They consider it to be finally free.
There are beautifully restored houses and traditional markets, where you clearly can see that many people still struggle to get their income. They are selling self-made cardigans, caps and wooden toys. The contrast is high, because we see many very expensive cars, even so that we would think twice if we could afford. We have a drink and watch the football (Spain-Russia) in the former fire station. The crowd cheered when Spain did score the goals. They still do not like the Russians.
In summary a very nice and enjoyable stay in Kuressaare.

On June 29 we would have liked to go to Haapsalu, an attractive harbour and place. Unfortunately, the harbour is closed for 2008. The new owner of the spa wants to open his own harbour and has found an unjustified reason to help the friendly major to take a drastic step to close the harbour, literally barricade the harbour…..
We sail to the island Vormsi with the idyllic harbour Sviby. There is an open view to the Bight of Riga and the harbour is near countryside. We stay one day longer.
The island is small and ideal for biking and walking. The villages are tiny; all houses are near to or in the forest. We find a Russian-Orthodox church that is completely destroyed. There are flowers growing from the remaining roof.
There are nearly no cars and we are surprised when we see, at the main road of the largest village (about 30 houses), a sign that forbids to stop, while there are coming not more than five cars an hour! Likely, European subsidy is spent not only for sensible matters…
In the morning and evening it is ideal to make nice photographs just aside the boat.
A few times a day a ferry is arriving with tourists that want to bike and walk. The name of the ferry (“see photograph; ‘Reet’ is the Dutch word for arse) brings to the mind that the captain every day with a smile will use something as a Dutch saying (could be the same in UK, I don’t know): “put them all in my …….

From here, we sail between the islands to Dirham. It is really a puzzle tour, because the waters between the islands are very shallow. Dirham is at the North-West of the main land of Estonia, at the Gulf of Finland. There is not a lot to tell about this harbour and village, other than that there is a lot of building activity to create an attractive harbour. In addition, here also almost all houses are at the border of the forest. We do shopping in a very small shop (about two living rooms) of a Russian engineer. He has started this business because as a Russian he could not get work in his profession in Estonia.  
The harbour master is a retired person, not shaved and almost without teeth. However, he is extremely friendly and helpful. Another example from someone who wants to build the picture his country being ideal for tourists. In our opinion, he is successful.

On July 3, we reach one of the milestones of our journey, the capital of Estonia: Tallinn.
Tallinn is a city with many historical, architectural and nice buildings, museums, parks and castles. Many are build in the medieval times and the city wall is still in a very good shape.
The city has many churches.
The city is a real paradise for tourists and many of them loaf about the narrow streets and populate the large amount of outdoor cafés. A city needs to be crowded to be enjoyable. It is an impressive city. The city is also part of the list of protected cities of UNESCO.
Our harbour is part of the former Olympic Complex (Russia, 1980), but clearly it has had no maintenance since that time. Despite that, we have everything, except internet. The harbour is about 3 miles from the city, but Tallinn has excellent public transportation.

Arthur, the son of Nelleke and Arie has also arrived in Tallinn (by plane to Helsinki and ferry to Tallinn). He will sail for a week with us and enjoy the cities Tallinn and Helsinki.
We walk many miles though the city and are overwhelmed by all the specialities and the beautifulness. Another speciality is that we had a chance meeting with our sail friends Karel and Corrie (from our homeport). They have sailed to Helsinki and came by fast ferry (1.5 hours) to visit Tallinn for one day. Of course, we have drinks together and exchange a lot of information about the sailing voyage.
We try several restaurants for lunch and dinner. They are good (the Estonian kitchen is not extremely sophisticated) and very reasonable in price.
The last day we visit a museum about the Second World War and the Russian oppression. Finally, we look extensively at Catherin’s (wife of Tsar Peter I) palace……they had both their own palace... In the palace there is also a large exhibition of old paintings and objects, of which a lot of Dutch origin (for example Delft Blue). Peter I did visit The Netherlands many times to get extensive information about the state of art, science and technology. He wanted to (and did) transform Russia into a more modern nation. One of the results are for example the stoves in every room of the palace, that are look a likes of Delft Blue, but manufactured by a Russian porcelain factory, started at that time. The palace is in an extremely good shape and really well build, very modern for its time and very light in all rooms, which was also not common at those times.

After Tallinn, the next highlight of our voyage is Helsinki.
At time of writing, we have spent three full days in this city, but I will report about that in the next issue.








map of this period

Montu, still some work to do


Kuressaare, nice well cured harbour

Kuressaare, market

Kuressaare, castle

Kuressaare, museum

Nelleke-Robin- Hood

Kuressaare, old handicraft

Kuressaare, old fire brigade place, currently pub/restaurant

Sviby, idyllic harbour

Sviby (Vormsi), Russian-Orthodoxe church fallen into disrepair

Sviby, ferry

Sviby, in the morning

Sviby, evening haze (23:30u!)

stowaway during our travel (special wasp)

Skyline of Tallinn, evening

Tallinn, a chance meeting with our sail friends from our home port

Tallinn, restaurants with medieval atmosphere


Tallinn, Russian-Orthodox church

Tallinn, very special drainpipe

Tallinn, square with restaurants and the city hall 

Tallinn, the same square seen through a bottle of the more than 500 years old pharmacy

Tallinn, who is the real father?


Tallinn, selling handicraft stuff

Tallinn, Catherine's palace (wife of Tsar Peter I)

Tallinn, palace, in each room a Russian 'Delft Blue like' stove

Tallinn, Arie on his way to invite a lady for a wals