Day 89 – Stein think they are big enough to shoot, but we are not armed – 29 May

Day 89. 29th of May. Staraya Sviritsa to Lodejnoje Pole. 54.8 km, 6.4 km/hr average speed.

We got off to a 0950 start. We got a bit delayed when we discovered that the hotel only accepted credit cards from Sberbank. We don’t have that and we didn’t have enough cash. We came to an agreement after we had emptied all roubles, and topped up with 30 euros and offered 15 pound sterling (the 15 shouldn’t have been here anyway, but we still have them, they were rejected. It’s a long time since the pound was the reserve currency of the world).

So we got to go, but we do not have any cash any Russian will be interested in.

We paddled for about two hours, and were encouraged. The current wasn’t too bad. We saw sandy banks with open pine forest, just what we were looking for for a camp site. And we had 6 m/s tail wind.

We climbed one of the two meter high sandy banks and dangled our legs over the edge at lunch. The wind took care of the mosquitoes, only a few king-size horse flies (klegg) made a nuisance of themselves.

Galina, who ran the place we stayed at had made us lunch. Pancakes and lightly salted flesh (flesk) from yesterday’s unlucky pig. The pancakes were good and we can’t complain about the calorific content.

We paddled on planning to find more such nice places to rest and finally camp.

After a few more kilometers, Erling noticed that a brownish grey layer appeared beneath the sand. Clay! And this layer grew in thickness replacing the sand. We were being let down by geology. Sand means dry land and open pine forest. Clay means dense, shadowy, swampy birch and asp forest. Mosquito heaven.

We just paddled on hoping for the sand to return. We kept going for five hours fifty five minutes. New record for this trip.

If we feel demonstrated at little stamina, it was dwarfed by the huge horse-flies that swarmed around us non stop. They never gave up. Stein think they are big enough to shoot, but we are not armed. And as long as we kept moving, they were a nuisance, but did no harm.

Finally we found a small sandy beach that could do the job. However, we had gotten so close to Lodenjoje Pole, that we just kept going (after some consultation with Vladimir).

We camp in the outskirts of a WW2 memorial park on the outskirts of the town. Tomorrow we’ll get some cash, and paddle on 18 km to the first locks.

We are a bit apprehensive. We are sure that tomorrow we will be past the locks, by land or by water. On our own keel or on someone else’s. But exactly how we might know till after we have passed. We expect an interesting day.

Updated May 30, 0830


Day 81 – The first hour we paddled through central St Petersburg, but parts of some canals were almost like wilderness all the same – 21 May

Day 81. 21st of May. St Petersburg central yacht club to Rybatskoye yacht club (just beyond the last St Petersburg bridge over the Neva). 26.0 km, 5.7 km/hr average speed.

After breakfast, final packing of boats and farewells, we were on the water about 1215.

The first hour we paddled through central St Petersburg, but parts of some canals were almost like wilderness all the same. Mostly in areas with closed down factories. Change is coming though, like in so many cities around the world, what was once industrial areas are turned into offices or apartments. In contrast to Vyborg, St Petersburg is an expanding city.

We eventually got to one of the main Neva channels, and the going got a bit tougher. Still with kayaks, we can go very close to the river banks where current is mostly less strong. So we managed to keep up average speed around 6 km/hr, only falling a little towards the end of the day when we had to pass some lengthy sections with strong currents.

All in all Stein’s theory was confirmed; paddling was quicker than feared and that was a positive experience.

We found a yacht club recommended by Vladimir, just after the last bridge over river Neva, before we leave St Petersburg.

A short distance. But we had a late start and we had to work hard at times. Also we have maybe gotten soft form slacking so long in St Petersburg, at least we can feel the 26 km quite well in our muscles and sinews.

Again we were received with great hospitality when we arrived unannounced at the Yacht club: Kayaks moored and we got a roof over our head in a sort of detached living room the staff at the Yacht club can use, mainly in winter we believe. Perfect for us.

Summer is still here and even at sunset as this is written, it is warm and comfortable outside.

Tomorrow we plan for another 25 km or so. We’ll stop at the site of the Battle of the River Neva in July 1240. Before we call it a day we also hope to be able to pass up the Ivanovskoye Rapids, the most difficult part of paddling the Neva.

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