The day began fine for some, and rainy for those on watch. Alas, the glorious sunshine of St Petersburg was sadly denied to us but the beauty of the city even in the rain, was undeniable.
We were ready for a scheduled run-in with the Russian Immigration control, who had obviously retained their training from the days of the Iron Curtain. They had very shiny shoes, enormous hats, and the charm of rhinoceros on heat.
Unfortunately when they arrived, we were all halfway through our initial sail training, and therefore halfway up the masts. Our first impressions were that it’s actually incredibly scary!! And it HURTS. The biceps (that we don’t have) ARE CRYING OUT FOR MERCY. But it was awesome, and we can’t wait for more opportunities to risk life and limb at great height. We feel the fear, and love it.
We eventually got the go-ahead to leave our comrades at 17.00, and slowly motored out of port. Our pilot wanted to keep the Captain to himself, so Forward Port was denied its first watch. Some of the more uncharitable members of our watch were hoping to see him take a Baltic bath when he was disembarking. But he knew his stuff, and managed to keep dry and look cool as he left us.
Finally at sea (we’d been getting the harbour equivalent of cabin fever), we stayed in formation with the other tall ships in the race. With a beautiful sunset, and some long hoped-for blue skies it was a great start to our voyage.
The night was calm and we made good progress towards Kotka, our first Finnish port of (booty??) call. [Editor’s note: our crew are young and restless! And the sea air has gone to their heads!] We were on watch again at eight and demanded some proper sailing, with sails, from the bosun. He sensibly agreed to our baying for sail, and managed to avoid the brewing mutiny. Ha ha. Not really. Obviously it was all his idea and we do everything he says. With haste and in a shipshape manner.
After a number of lessons on the counter-intuitive nature of sailing terms (‘come up’ means let go of the rope (or string) (or sheet, bunt, brace, clew…you name it, it’s on this boat, er, ship)), we set the sails. The wind powered us along at 2 knots (!!) and we awaited our rendez-vous with the Saga Ruby.
Our sails billowed proudly, and we gave them a good cheer. They cheered back louder. We honked our horn, and they almost boomed us out of the water. We attempted to catapult them with waterbombs, with our slingshots (stashed away, the Ruskies didn’t get hold of our ‘weapons’, or the illicit rose bush that Chips hid away in a dark corner…). Thankfully for our future fundraising, we failed to smite them with a deadly blow.
The afternoon involved taking in the sails for harbour stow (more adrenaline and quaking legs at the end of the yards), a bit of sunbathing, and afternoon napping.
We’ve just got into Kotka and we’re getting ready for the crew party they’re hosting for us. Bring it on. We’ve been learning our Finnish, and we’ve got booty to find.
The Gals and Guys of F/P.