- Captain Albert's Blog -

Stories from the Sea, Past and Present

09 June 2018; St. Petersburg, Russia, Day 2.

Also the Russians are good in forecasting weather and the real weather was exactly in line with what had been predicted. A little bit warmer than yesterday but still quite chilly when out of the sun. Perfect weather for sightseeing and our guests went for it in large numbers. As those full day tours mentioned yesterday start very early, the cooks had to get out of bed early as well as the Lido opened as 06.00 hrs. It was also almost empty again by 07.30 hrs. Only those who had seen it all and bought the T shirt or were going on the afternoon tour were still lingering around.

This is what we woke up to this morning. The north side of the Marine Façade. The rocket shaped building is the head office of Russia’s largest Oil and Gas company Gazprom. I wonder if you would light the gas, if the whole building would take off as a rocket. Maybe a good way to escape disgruntled share sholders or something. Yesterday was  a quiet day with cruise ships but today we got the full whammy. The Navigator of the Seas came in, the Sapphire Princess, the Marina and the little Wind Star (ex Seabourn) went inside all the way up to the Leutenant Smith dock in down town. So those people have all the luck as it is really easy for guests and crew alike to get to downtown from there. (Basically because you are already in downtown) Here at the Marine Façade, the Russians had promised two years ago that they would start up a Water Taxi service to downtown but I have not seen anything happening yet. They are still busy with building houses, roads and now there is a plan for an indoor swimming pool. All very nice but that does not help us as we have our own pool. But a water taxi would be nice as it would offer some sightseeing at the same time while getting to down town easily. Maybe the Cab drivers don’t like it.

The nice thing for the crew for overnight is that they do have the chance to go ashore as there is more time to plan it. So last night groups of cabin and dining room stewards made it ashore to have a look around. We ask them always to go in groups as there is safety in numbers and not every local is necessary friendly to people with a darker skin. The other nice thing, because there are no standbys for arrival or departure, is that the officers from deck and engine can catch up with paper work and with maintenance that cannot be completed during a normal day call. Hence paperwork was flying around in the deck office and discussions about valves and plungers abounded around the engine room.

This is our way out. We are coming from the lower right hand red fork and then join the Vessel Traffic separation scheme which merges with a route from the ports on the North East side of Finland. Everywhere where ships might do stupid things (like cutting corners), a little highway at sea has been created (see the purple arrows) to ensure that everybody behaves themselves.

At the same time preparation was going on for departure and the rest of the cruise. The ship will have to retrace its route to sea as for getting to Helsinki there is no other way in or out.  Sailing the same way out will offer the guests some sightseeing as it was so early when coming in. Tonight will be better and around 19.30 we should pass Kronstadt which is the old navy base of imperial Russia; with is fortifications and a large Basilica dedicated to St. Nicholas the patron saint of all the seafarers. (There is a similar church in Amsterdam opposite the Central Station).

Laid up navy and exploration ships with the Dome of the church towering over the island. This was 2010.

During my last visit they had just put the Flood Barrier into place and were in the process of completing the whole set-up. So tonight we should be able to see the completion of the project. To go here is still on my bucket list but it might be one of the un-full filled ones as it is hard to get there. Although the “Top security” flagging has been removed it is still not so easy to get in the former base for non-Russians although they now have a road running to the area. A road that was enlarged when they started constructing the Flood Barrier.

Also in 2010. They had just installed the large (white) closing doors which were to seal off the fairway during a flood surge.

I will post tomorrow what the changes have been, if any. Once past Kronstadt it is another 45 minutes to get to deeper water and to disembark the pilot. Then we are heading through various vessel traffic systems towards Helsinki. We are scheduled to dock in downtown, so deep in downtown that we can drop our anchor on the fish market stalls. This means that around 07.00 hrs. we will sail through “the hole” a narrow passage in between the rocks, cliffs and islands which form a natural protective wall around the south harbor of Helsinki. One of the reasons why the town was founded there. A nice sheltered harbor and nearly impossible for the enemy to get into.

The good weather is holding. Partly Cloudy skies and the temperature is going up to 66oF or 19oC with a gentle breeze.

1 Comment

  1. I’m watching Prinsendam arrive via the Helsinki port authority south harbour webcam. You couldn’t wish for a berth closer to the centre of town!

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