Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Baltic Adventure Part 3: Time To Meet the Wesilind And Go For A Sail - Saturday, June 16th, First Day With Our Boat!

Saturday, June 16th dawned beautifully clear. Not that I was up to see the dawn, seeing as dawn was at around 2:30 am (if you use "beginning of civil twilight" to define "dawn", anyways) - but it must have because when I finally did wake up several hours later, it was to find that a lovely day was going on outside the blackout curtains at the Hotel Metropol.
A fine, fine day for meeting our boat, buying provisions, and setting out on our sailing adventure!

I overslept the hour at which folks who wanted to get the formal introduction had to be up - Captain Kat had actually said that that sometimes went better if NOT everybody came along, and what with a long day of flying the day before, and a missing duffle bag out there somewhere, I didn't push to come. That worked out nicely as I was there when the bag turned up, which at that point was the only thing I was remotely worried about, I got to relax over the breakfast I'd decided to get as part of my hotel package (it was a very nice buffet and yes, there was more good smoked fish), I think I finished vacation reading Part 1 (Fahrenheit 451, in honor of Ray Bradbury) while I sipped my coffee, I got postcards and stamps (which I hope eventually arrive at their US destinations - anyone get theirs yet?) from the desk in the lobby, and checked in on the internet for the last time while I was on vacation (I've never been able to convince myself that internet on vacation is really a good idea and I think I will remain stubborn that way for some time).

With a good half hour left before the boat overview session was supposed to end, I decided to go out and see if I could spot our boat.
No, no, that was not our boat, just the first of a lot of really lovely wooden boats we saw on this trip. I didn't end up looking too hard, I just walked around for a few minutes & then, with 11 am approaching, I realized that I had better get myself back to the hotel, collect my stuff and check out. Good thing I did, Kat & the rest of the gang were waiting downstairs in the lobby when I came back down. I checked out and off we went to the Jahtklubi! Hooray! 

And here's our boat! The Wesilind is an Elan 344 Impression, home port Orjako, 10.46 meters (34 feet) long, 3.49 meters (11'5") wide, with a 1.6 meter draft (this did put us into a trust exercise situation at one point but it worked out OK - more on that on the report for the day it happened). A nice comfy boat for 5. We could've done 6 just fine had our missing person been able to come, but he had to bow out due to a possible new job situation - he was missed (I don't know him but Kat & the others did & from all they said, it sounds like he's a great person to travel with) but he did check in midweek to let us know that he'd gotten the job, so it worked out as he'd hoped.

The capacity plate said 8 - we think that would have been a little on the overly-cozy side and in fact were wondering how that would work, but for 5 it was lovely

Here's my cabin! I actually loved it - I was always fond of little dens and tents and the like when I was a kid (I carved a little hideaway out of our massive hibiscus hedge, for instance) and to this day I still like snug little quarters like these. Going back to the "how would you fit 8 on this boat", I guess 2 people who really like each other could share this -- I could see sharing this with TQ as long as the weather stayed cool, which it did -- but really, it was perfect for one. 
There were 2 of these little cabins, one on either side of the companionway, and then Kat & J. shared a nice big V-berth in the bow, and F. was in the dining salon - we figure that the maximum of 8 would've involved 2 people in each area, and the boat would've been very crowded on those rainy days when you're all stuck inside, but it was lovely for 5.

Once we were all settled into our respective quarters, Kat reported a couple of small things she'd noticed needed fixing during her own inspection of the boat (good thing to do) to Merika (one of the owners of sailing.ee and a very nice person to deal with) and then we set off for provisions. J. and Kat had met years ago as Outward Bound counselors and they'd sat down together and put together a carefully calculated shopping list (f'rinstance, sandwiches for 5 people for 6 days worked like this: 60 slices of bread  [2 slices of bread x 5 people x 6 days], same calculation for lunch meat, 30 slices of cheese, etc.).

I didn't take the camera on the first shopping trip but here was a small piece of the final tally. It seemed like an astounding amount of food but 5 grownup people sailing on a boat get hungry! We overdid it on the cheese and the beer but other than that we did pretty well.

And yes, more herring! And yes, if you spot Pringles on the list, yes, Pringles are Pringles, that's not Estonian for anything - we all agreed that Pringles are simply the best potato chip design for a sailboat (it can't be a coincidence that every kiosk at every little marina where we stayed had Pringles for sale) so we made sure we were well stocked. We got back to find that the requested repairs had been made while we were shopping (great!) and we went to work stowing our purchases. 

During all the running around, I'd found myself getting uncomfortably warm, and I'd only packed one t-shirt, so at the last minute I decided to run back to the mall where we'd gone for the groceries to see if the clothing store I'd spotted on the way out had anything.  J. came with me because she also wanted some sort of cover-up to put on over a swimsuit if we were walking to a beach or a sauna (or both, they go together). I think we'd thought it was going to be cooler based on the averages - it did cool down but I was happy to have the 2 t-shirts I found - and we couldn't help stopping to admire the great old 50's cars that were parked there.

Tallinn may enjoy their medieval heritage but from what we saw, some of them also channel a mean inner Fonzie. I don't know if it was a festival or if this is just something some Tallinnites like to do on a lovely summer day but these lovingly maintained old cars were everywhere, frequently loaded up with kids who looked like they'd stepped of the set of Happy Days. Fun stuff!

Finally, at 3 pm, the captain and crew (that's us!) of the sailing vessel Wesilind called the harbormaster for permission to leave the harbor, which was granted, and off we went! We had a very nice breeze & raised sails as soon as we were clear of the harbor.

Didn't take long to break out the Pringles, did it? The charts more or less stayed out - actually the one thing Capt. Kat didn't like about this boat was that there was no nav station, so when they weren't out they were stored up in Kat & J's cabin - but mostly they were out, we needed them (here, for instance, we could see where we were going pretty soon after we left the harbor, but there are some shoals around and although we would go to the GPS for details & specifics, we all sort of liked the old-fashioned paper chart for keeping track of the big picture). 

The spires of Tallinn (great landmark for the homeward leg). 

A Finnish sailboat...what is that rule about if two boats are sailing in the same direction it's a race? They smoked us of course (possibly without even noticing their silly American challengers) but it was fun while it lasted.

Our destination for the afternoon was the island of Naissaar in Tallinn Harbor. Merika had recommended this as an excellent shakedown cruise - it was about 10 miles there and there was a recreational boat dock there where we could spend the night if all went well.

All went well as far as getting there - but when we got there, we found a sparsely populated dock. We went ahead and made our first docking. That was an interesting process, the entire area uses a Scandinavian arrangement where you dock with your bow held on the dock by a couple of big heavy lines with rubber shock absorbers twisted in, and your stern made off to a large buoy that holds you off of the dock; you drive in with one person on the bow ready to jump (or throw the lines if someone's offering to help, which happened frequently) and another amidships waiting to grab onto the stern buoy as you drive past it slowly. The buoy gets grabbed with this weird little latching hook device - it's not a boathook, it is actually what attaches you to the buoy. Everything was odd but we managed to get the boat attached to the dock with only a little disturbing of the peace .   
And it was VERY peaceful, and getting moreso by the minute. As we began to discuss maybe a bit of a walk, another boat left. The dock was down to 2 other boats plus us, and one was getting ready to leave. It had clouded up a little while before we arrived, and now a little rain began to spit. 

We'd known there was some weather coming in overnight. We decided it was time to check the latest update. F. pulled out his Gulf-of-Finland-weather-enabled iphone and read the forecast.

It wasn't good. Heavy rains, and south winds up to 30 kts, all turning up sometime in the early early hours of the morning, just when we hoped to be peacefully sleeping.

Guess which way this harbor faced? Uh oh.
To Be Continued!

Next installment: Captain Kat's Midnight Docking Practice, Wanton Public Toothbrushing, a soggy day in Tallinn, and a grand welcome-home for some Estonian adventurers. 

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