By: Maxine Maters (https://www.sailinginrussia.org)
Trust me to open the sailing season with the coldest weather imaginable. And again with snow! And this after a few days sightseeing in SPB in lovely warm weather. We watched the military parade rehearsal on Palace Sq, kulich getting blessed in the maritime cathedral in Kronstadt and the start of Easter service in the St-Isaac Cathedral, all in shirt-sleeves.
This morning though Dirk and I – with our friends Iain and Bridget from the UK – set off from Priozersk in the snow for a short fast cold sail down to the island of Konevets which is only 20nm south. It was however just glorious not in the least hindered by hailstones in my coffee.
I was sorry to say goodbye to Priozersk with the marina and the hotel/restaurant and all the lovely and helpful people who looked after Blue Dove and me. I hope to come back to Ladoga in a boat – not foreign- flagged though. The endless reporting about what we are, where we are, what the draft of the boat is, the height of the freeboard, whether the boat has sailing restriction, etc, drives me mad. I’m being told that Russian sailors don’t have to do this. Next time, I’ll find (not sure yet how) a Russian-flagged yacht to rent and – hopefully – experience some less frequent radio exchange. By the way, in the end the marina facilitated water. They just organised a 5km long hose.
Arriving in Konevets, the security guard recognised me from last year. He called Father Alexander who allowed us to stay. The good news is that the big hotel had been refurbished and was open for business. I’m very grateful. Because there is still no shore power and it was going to be another very cold night. Fortunately (not) we’ve also ran out of gas. I’ve been unable to buy new gas without a 50km drive because Priozersk does not sell gas and/or bottles. Without gas and/of without shore power, the boat cannot be heated. But in the hotel we are warm and comfy in a room with heating and an en-suite. Tomorrow though is going to be a long and cold sail. We’ve got 60nm to go to Schlisselburg.
Konevets hasn’t been exactly hibernating this winter. Old buildings have been restored, new building have been built. The island visitors now stay in the newly restored “White Hotel” whilst the 19 resident monks have moved into the “Red Hotel”. The Red Hotel was a ramshackle wooden house where John and I stayed last year. I hope for the monks well-being that they also have done up the Red Hotel.
One of the resident monks was happy to show us round. Turned out he was a bit of a sailor himself! The new two dining rooms of the monastery on the first floor of the main building look lovely with bright red carpets, long wooden tables and benches and cast-iron chandeliers. The ground floor will be entirely taken up with the kitchens and bakery to feed the ever-growing stream of pilgrims and other visitors. The port is being enlarged to accommodate 3-deck river cruise ships. One of the builders was Portugese. He spoke Russian without an accent. Was rather jealous.
Note to sailors: the entrance to the marina is south-facing and a bit tricky to see from a distance. But it’s more or less in front of the monastery. The harbour is not (yet) on the charts. No shore power, no water, no showers or other modcons when we were there. We paid 4000₽ for a basic room, but no mooring fees were charged.
For more info on Konevets and monastery, see: