Sailing trip to St Petersburg (SPB), Russia (July 2018).

This message aims to set out a VERY preliminary concept and plan to sail to SPB in the summer of 2018.
Initially we wanted to arrive in St Petersburg (Russia) before the World Cup but that is getting a bit tight so we have decided to arrive after. (World Cup: 14 June – 15 July 2018). During the World Cup, immigration rules tighten considerably and territorial waters will be subject to random closures without sufficient warning. Not helpful, if you are just about enter and the door gets shut in your bow. I’ll liaise with our agent about this before confirming a date.
Our collective jumping-off point to SPB will be Vergi, in Estonia, the last port before the Russian border where we will be checking out. Vergi is about 90km from the Estonian capital Tallinn, which has good air connections just in case. I expect everybody will be coming to Estonia in their own vessels, with their own crew. If there is any interest, we can meet in Tallinn to get to know each other, before we sail to Vergi. Tallinn has a lovely old town. From Vergi it is only about 125nm to SPB. I will agree on a time of arrival and depending on that we’ll depart. The good thing is that we’ll be coming op to the longest day of the year, so we have long days and very short nights.
We clear Russian immigration and customs in Kronstadt, an island in front of SPB. After that we’ll sail on to the marina. Vladimir Ivankiv will be our agent. He is a very decent chap, representative in Russia of various cruising organisations/association, including the British one. Unfortunately a simplified clearance for yachts does not exist in Russia. Most European and US visitors need a visa. To obtain a 28 day tourist visa you will need a visa invitation, which can be issued within 24 hours. Check the websites of your closest Russian consulate for further requirements. All this should be arranged well in advance – note that visas CANNOT be obtained at the border.
How long should you allow for your visit? We suggest at least a week, as there is so much to see. I have asked a friend of mine who runs a travel agency in SPB to prepare a three-day program with an English-speaking guide, just for us. Of course, you can all do it by yourself, and if you speak Russian, that is no problem. But in the summer, the city is full of tourists and you may have problems to get into museums if not organised in advance. If you decide to stay for a week in SPB, you will have plenty of down time, and to work on the boat if necessary.
Checking out of the country will be in Kronstadt, facilitated again by Vladimir Ivankiv. You need to advise him of your planned departure date. Note that the person who is the skipper when the boat checks in must be the skipper again when the boat checks out. There is are very good rail connections between SPB and Moscows and once you are in Russia, you might as well use the opportunity to visit the Federation capital.
We will sail to Lakes Ladoga and Onega and exit the country again via St Petersburg. If there are other boats wishing to explore Russia’s inland waterways, there are additional bureaucratic requirements, so let me or Vladimir Ivankiv know.  If you’d like a taste of the experience, read our book “Sailing through Russia”, available on Amazon.

(6 May, 2018)