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Old 03-07-2014, 06:06   #1
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Sailing to Russia

I'm probably going to sail to Vyborg tomorrow, and I'm a little nervous about it.

Most people use an agent to clear in, usually the guy Vladimir Ivankiv who is supposed to be so helpful. But Ivan is in St. Petersburg and unable to help me in Vyborg.

I've read the instructions over and over again, including the very good ones on the Cruising Association cruising guide, and it doesn't actually seem so much different as I thought, just a lot more documents than usual. I do speak fluent Russian.

I have entered Russia by car, train, and airplane many times since 1980, and I've always found the border guards to be exceptionally friendly. I've never had a bad experience. I hope this will not be the first one.

If anyone has any tips, especially anyone who has cleared in at Vyborg, I would be very grateful for them!
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Old 03-07-2014, 06:23   #2
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Here's to you having a Grand sail... and a trouble free arrival..
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Old 03-07-2014, 06:28   #3
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Re: Sailing to Russia

Presumably vodka will smooth over any small issues

Sorry I can't be more helpful but I am jealous...
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Old 03-07-2014, 08:07   #4
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Re: Sailing to Russia

Well, this is going to be interesting . . .

I called to the "Favorit" yacht club in Vyborg, which is the old Soviet Sea Yacht Club, right at the castle. They put me on with the director of the club. I was just calling to ask whether there is a berth or not, but after confirming that there is a free berth (and 33% cheaper than what is said in the club's website), he asked the name of my boat and number of people, and said he would arrange everything with customs. When I asked how much his services as agent would cost, he said, "Oh nothing, it's part of our job. A bottle if you're in a good mood." He told me exactly where to go and how to proceed. He will personally bring the customs and immigration people and will inform the Russian Coast Guard that we will be crossing the sea border.

So this is not looking as difficult as I feared and it looks like we're off tomorrow. I'll post about our adventures.
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Old 03-07-2014, 17:02   #5
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Re: Sailing to Russia

Sounds fantastic, keep us all informed

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Old 03-07-2014, 17:47   #6
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Re: Sailing to Russia

Be sure to let us know how this turns out. I am sure many of on here are interested.
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Old 03-07-2014, 17:57   #7
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Re: Sailing to Russia

People in most places love it when a foreigner speaks their language, and that will continue to enhance your experience, Dockhead.

Have a good one!

Jim
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Old 04-07-2014, 04:32   #8
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Re: Sailing to Russia

...sounds great, I 'll stand by and listen
Wanna get info 's to german forums.

Have a nice trip
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Old 04-07-2014, 06:37   #9
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Re: Sailing to Russia

Ever since reading Racundra's First Cruise by Arthur Ransome, I have wanted to sail in the Baltic.

I think though I would be challenged with only English and French.
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Old 04-07-2014, 06:42   #10
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Re: Sailing to Russia

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Originally Posted by Saa Bear View Post
I have wanted to sail in the Baltic.

I think though I would be challenged with only English and French.
almost everyone here in the Nordic/baltic countries speaks fluent english. French won't help you much - but you'll have no problem speaking only english.
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Old 04-07-2014, 07:13   #11
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Re: Sailing to Russia

I've cleared into Vyborg on a tug, this was about 2 years ago, and with the help of an agent.
Never saw customs, but theimmigration people were friendly.
It was a lot easier than clearing into some countries in West Africa.
As you speak fluent Russian, I'm sure it will be real easy.
Enjoy the time there.
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Old 04-07-2014, 08:10   #12
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Re: Sailing to Russia

Stories and pictures if you can please! It sounds fascinating.

How did you learn fluent Russian, a skill not normally found amongst UK sailors?

I speak fluent Mandarin but there is no way in h#ll I would want to ever take my boat there!

Enjoy.

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Old 04-07-2014, 13:21   #13
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Re: Sailing to Russia

So I'm tied up in Vyborg, under the beautiful castle.

I was nervous about the customs and immigration clearance, and dealing with the Russian Coast Guard, but in the event there were no problems at all.

I cleared out of Finland at Santio Island, and headed out into the Fairway #4 to cross the border into Russia. Within 100 meters of crossing the border, I get a call from the Coast Guard -- "Yacht X, Russian Coast Guard, Priyem". I answered, "Yacht X, we speak Russian". "Nu khorosho" [well, OK]. "Where are you going?" I answer: "Vyborg". "Nu khorosho. Have a nice journey. Russian Coast Guard out."

And that was the only contact I had with the Russian Coast Guard, whose cutters sport amazingly big guns on their foredecks.

I followed Fairway #4, gybing many, many times. Then I came to this strange place, Vysotsk, where you have to sail right through one port and out the other end, through a narrow channel, in order to resume your journey towards Vyborg. Just before Vysotsk I was almost run down by a Russian tanker, which was not following the channel, but cutting across it. I was loathe to deviate because (a) as a foreign vessel not cleared in, I am forbidden from leaving the fairway; (b) I am sailing downwind single-handed, and gybing is not an instantaneous affair. But approaching from behind, the tanker gave one blast (?), and I realized that I had better figure out how to get out of the way. Crash gybe, and out of the fairway, in violation of Russian law, and he just keeps coming, pushing me almost onto the rocks, moving through the wrong side of the channel. WTF? What in the world was that? Saw the English flag and decided to replay the Crimean War? I have no idea.

Then the heavens opened; one of the hardest rains I've ever seen. So keeping up the unbroken record of rain every day for the last month.

In Vyborg, tied up to the customs quay under the ramparts of the gorgeous medieval castle, where we were met by the director of the yacht port, a cheerful retired Soviet Air Force helicopter pilot with 18000 hours (as I was to find out). And waited for more than an hour for customs to show up.

Who grumble that I have not brought copies of any relevant documents: "You knew you were coming to Russia, a bureaucratic state!". But open their office to make the necessary copies on their own machine. Walk me through the various declarations, patiently.

And it's all over in about 45 minutes. They didn't even come on board. At the very end one of them says -- "you don't have anything, there, on board, forbidden?" I said "of course not; come on board and see for yourself." And "nu ladno, have a pleasant evening." And that was that.

So in sum: Clearing through Russian customs on a yacht is not nearly as horrible as I expected. In fact, not horrible at all. So in future, I will not be as hesitant to sail into these waters, not at all.
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Old 04-07-2014, 15:27   #14
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Re: Sailing to Russia

Wonderful. Would it have been as easy if you only spoke English? I guess the question is did all the officials speak English?
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Old 04-07-2014, 17:47   #15
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Re: Sailing to Russia

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dockhead View Post
So I'm tied up in Vyborg, under the beautiful castle.
...........

Just before Vysotsk I was almost run down by a Russian tanker, which was not following the channel, but cutting across it. I was loathe to deviate because (a) as a foreign vessel not cleared in, I am forbidden from leaving the fairway; (b) I am sailing downwind single-handed, and gybing is not an instantaneous affair. But approaching from behind, the tanker gave one blast (?), and I realized that I had better figure out how to get out of the way. Crash gybe, and out of the fairway, in violation of Russian law, and he just keeps coming, pushing me almost onto the rocks, moving through the wrong side of the channel. ...............

This bit would have been much easier if only you had taken me with you; still there is always next time






hint
hint
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