Difficult to believe that 45 days ago a group of strangers with 15 yachts between them, ranging from 40-75 feet in length, all gathered in Rostock, Germany to start out on their Baltic adventure. Right from the very start it was clear that they were a group of genuine cruisers, as they discovered secluded anchorages and secret hideaways; one boat, Hoedic added in a visit to Latvia “because we had the flag” said owners, Susan and David.
By the time the rally reached Ronne, at the end of leg one, friendships were building with an entertaining group BBQ complete with music and dancing into the night. Sapphire’s ABBA collection and incredible sound system acting as mobile disco-party venue for the fleet!
Morning Yoga sessions where championed by Julie from Circe with great attendance in most ports along the way.
The night club in the marina in St Petersburg kept some crews awake at night, whilst others chose to party until the early hours in the vibrant city. Museums, historic churches and a visit to the world-famous Peterhoff – the summer palace of the Russian Czars. It was humbling to hear the tales from not so long ago as to how different Russia really was. A cultural treat for sure.
Out into the Baltic again and away to Finland, the land of a thousand islands and some truly friendly locals. When one yacht got stuck on a rock the locals where quickly on the scene to offer assistance stating that “people are always hitting that rock”. So why is it not marked, came the reply. “Well that would just spoil our fun rescuing people!”
There are far too many rocks to mark them all as most of the fleet discovered. The warnings given of “go slowly slowly” sank in quite quickly during the free cruising time in the Finnish and Swedish archipelagos’. Remote wood fired saunas, restaurants on rocky outcrops, and a Viking museum to mention just a few of the experiences shared by the crews during this leisurely stage of the route.
As the rally drew to a close in Kalmar, a beautiful cosy town with everything one could need or want as a visitor. There were Certificates awarded, and fun prizes for the Yoga guru Julie; four photo categories won prizes: “crew shot” to Maggie from Selkie for catching Rory red handed with the SLR in his little hands; Paul from Sea Crusader for a beautiful sunset shot of Sapphire pre their mishap; Tracey from Joleif won the “on land” prize for the most dramatic reflection shot of a small island; whilst Martin from Mila took the “marina” prize for a great moon shot through the flags of a yacht. Experiences are still being shared amongst the fleet and the talk of high winds and rock hoping will soon be distant memories for some. Others have truly cherished their time here, some crews even opting to leave their boats in the Baltic for next season. And with £50 a month mooring fees who could blame them!
A tearful farewell speech and crew supper and a few more fun gifts and prizes for those who really entered the spirit of the rally. The yellow-shirt team awarded Steve a flag for his dancing ability in the folk show in Russia incredible fun had by all. “It has been so great we really could not of dreamt how good this rally was to be“ said, Maz from Bolero. Maybe we will see you on the ARC one of these days.
As we all travel our separate ways to distant lands and foreign shores the ping-ping of the WhatsApp group still continues true sailing friends have been made probably forever.
All good things must come to an end so as has been said before this is Rally Control signing off until next time.