Day 72. 12th of May. Vyborg to Primorsk. 52.2 km, 6.8 km/hr average speed.
Farewell to Vyborg. Hello to the coastguard. Warm welcome in Primorsk.
We left the hotel shortly after 0700 and were on the water at 1000, after having repacked the boats and cooked and eaten breakfast at the Yacht club.
So our first paddle strokes in Russia. Perfect conditions. A summer’s day without wind. Even the water is warming up so we decided to paddle without the dry suits. A first on this trip. The warmth the last two days have turned the birches green. And pollen production is peaking. The surface of the water was like a mirror, but underneath the first 50 centimeters was a pollen soup. We must have paddled through literally tons of the stuff. We both agree that pollen is best stored in water, but there is enough to go round to fill the air as well.
We kept a good pace and after about two hours we came to Vysotsk, were we planned to have a break. Turned out Vysotsk is a base for the coast guard. As we approached, a small vessel from the coast guard came out. We hoped it had nothing to do with us. But in vain. We were waved over and told to go to shore.
Apparently something was not in order. We showed them Svetlana’s article, our blog and called our helper Vladimir Ivankiv. After some conversation it was clear: The coastguard needed a signed document describing our plans till St. Petersburg.
We were given a blank sheet of paper, wrote down the plans and signed. After that, the coast guard wished us luck and waved us on.
In three words they were professional, polite and solution orientated.
We still had 30 km to go and took the shortest route with about an hour’s open crossing. One third in we had to wait for a tanker on its way in to get loaded in Vysotsk, which seems to be at least as busy a harbor as Vyborg. In fact the busiest harbor we have seen so far.
We also met a paddler. Not easy to communicate but he was exited when we showed him our blogg.
It was a long day’s paddle, but shortly before 1900 we approached Primorsk harbor.
A small group of people were waiving and shouting at us. Who they were and how they knew about us we don’t know, and never will. It was clear they wanted to help. Probably with directions. At least we found the Yacht club. Which is new and well designed.
They were waiting us, but language was a barrier. We spoke to Sergey the harbor master, partly with the help of Sergey the boat owner, and interrupted by Svetlana the journalist who came to interview and photograph us.
Finally, all was sorted and we were rigging us up under roof in a small pavilion. More than adequate. Enter the third Sergey. Helicopter and Antonov 12 pilot, and most importantly in this context: Owner of the Yacht club.
In about 15 min, Sergey had shown us in to a hut with bath and kitchen. After 30 minutes he had driven us to a local Cafe, ordered food and arranged for two beers, something that was first impossible.
When we were about to leave after the meal, the bill was already settled and a taxi was waiting.
As we have said before: Generosity is not in short supply in this country.
We start to realize that for the Russian leg it will be less about planning and more about capacity for flexible response.