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Old 20-01-2016, 13:45   #16
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Re: USA to Saint Petersburg, Russia

If you're going to sail in St. Petersburg, I wonder how hard it is to get into the Volga river. I took a cruise on the Volga and remember seeing a few pleasure sailboats. Such a beautiful river connected by large lakes and lots of spots to anchor.
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Old 20-01-2016, 23:56   #17
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Re: USA to Saint Petersburg, Russia

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Originally Posted by antoha View Post
Govmint or no govmint - where is the professor going to dock on the Neva river?

Sailing in Russia, sadly, is still perceived as unattainable luxury, and by coming in by your own boat you're basically broadcasting an f.u message. Is that really the intention?


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While not as popular as in Finland, Russia still has its fair share of recreational boaters. There was a regatta here in Turku last year, and the city marina was packed with small Russian vessels.

Sailing on the Neva may be off limits, or would probably require a local pilot, but sailing into St Petersburg is really not a problem, unless things have changed in the last months. You check in at Kronstadt outside St P and continue to one of the marinas in the city, at the Neva estuary (there's at least three). No time to check details now, but here's a flyer from a Finnish yacht club with St Petersburg marina information and rudimentary maps: http://nesteenvenekerho-net-bin.dire...iin%202014.pdf
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Old 21-01-2016, 00:56   #18
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Re: USA to Saint Petersburg, Russia

A couple of corrections and additions, now I read that document a bit more carefully:

If arriving from Finland, you need to check out at Haapasaari-island and contact Russian border officials on Someri-island on VHF16. Russian border control is open between 8:00 and 22:00 and you can stay in Haapasaari for a night, if necessary.
You have to take the boat by the fairway between buoys 15 and 16. After checking with the RU coast guard on VHF, continue to Kronstadt channel, monitor VHF channels 10 and 16 and check in to VTS on 16 about one hour before Kronstadt ("St Petersburg Traffic").

Pay attention to possible piloting instructions in the channel. Actual customs and border check is in Kronstadt and there is a also marina here, if you want to stay after check in.
You can now continue to one of the marinas in St Petersburg. It is advised to contact the marina in advance to secure a berth.

Necessary documents:
Visas + passports
Crew list
Customs inspection form
Vessel registration
Radio station registration + SRC
Insurance documents
Power of attorney(?, assume if you are traveling by someone else's boat?)
Canal regulations, Russian regulations for recreational vessels
Paper charts

Caveat: The document was made with Finnish pleasure boaters in mind, but I assume we have no special rights and that this information is generally applicable. The document is by the Finnish Sailing and Boating Association from 2014. Check the internet for up to date info.

Hmm, may go there myself next summer...
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Old 21-01-2016, 01:03   #19
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Re: USA to Saint Petersburg, Russia

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Originally Posted by antoha View Post
Sailing in Russia, sadly, is still perceived as unattainable luxury, and by coming in by your own boat you're basically broadcasting an f.u message. Is that really the intention?
Could you please enlighten us, when was the last time you sailed in Russia? Or been to Russia?
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Old 21-01-2016, 05:25   #20
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Re: USA to Saint Petersburg, Russia

I never sailed in Russia. But am Russian, grew up in Moscow and have family there, visited S.P-b a few times (never lived in the Northern Capital, although my sister spent a few years there), last time in 2012, Moscow all the time. Don't remember seeing sailboats in the city of S.P-b (i think I would have noticed, I already was sailing at this point). Bay of Finland maybe, but that would be out of coverage by the subway system (there are still transportation options to these areas, by shuttle from end of metro lines (маршрутки) or hydrofoil or commuter rail (less familiar with this option), but I wouldn't want to come into the city daily this way.

Why so aggressive? "Enlighten"... Sheesh


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Old 21-01-2016, 07:26   #21
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Re: USA to Saint Petersburg, Russia

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Originally Posted by antoha View Post
I never sailed in Russia. But am Russian, grew up in Moscow and have family there, visited S.P-b a few times (never lived in the Northern Capital, although my sister spent a few years there), last time in 2012, Moscow all the time. Don't remember seeing sailboats in the city of S.P-b (i think I would have noticed, I already was sailing at this point). Bay of Finland maybe, but that would be out of coverage by the subway system (there are still transportation options to these areas, by shuttle from end of metro lines (маршрутки) or hydrofoil or commuter rail (less familiar with this option), but I wouldn't want to come into the city daily this way.

Why so aggressive? "Enlighten"... Sheesh
Aha. So all this was purely theoretical. OK, I live in St.Pete currently and from what I can see, there are sailboats in the area (several marinas, however most of them are pretty poor by, say, EU standards). There is no sense in sailing in St.Pete itself - i.e. on Neva river, due to high traffic and lack of mooring facilities, but I did sailing there, right in the center of the city, on various occasions in the past on boats up to 50'. Mostly on "day of the city" events and such, entertaining crowds . It is much more interesting for people to sail in the Gulf of Finland, more space, less traffic. I guess, there are some regulations about internal waterways too.

Now, about the second part, about sailing broadcasting "f.u" message. I really don't know where you got that idea, but I haven't seen anything of that kind. Not back in good old days of communist Russia, and not now. Actually I have seen quite a few foreign sailboats in St. Pete's marinas and I can see that locals are pretty friendly with sailors. This may be different for "megayacht" crowd, but I don't see any problems with ordinaty sailboats.

In general, Russia has changed quite a bit in recent years. You may actually be surprised how much. Even compared to 2012 it is different, not even speaking about good old 90's. Actually, I feel safer in St. Pete now, than in some EU cities. I never thought I would say that, but that's how it is now.

All this is to say that when making broad statements, it is always good idea to add a disclaimer that it is your purely subjective point of view, not a reality. As for sailing in St. Pete. The main reason for not going there is red tape, but it seems that there are countries with much worse red tape than Russia. However, for an average EU folk who is used to come and go as he wants, this may be a bit too much. So, I will probably agree that it may be a better idea to leave a boat in Finland and come to St.Pete by train, but it doesn't have anything to do with locals.

I myself would just love to sail into St.Pete on my boat in future but being Russian, I will have to deal with even more red tape (incl. almost 40% boat value "tax insurance deposit") than non-local. So when I start moving my stuff to the boat, I will most likely just leave it in Finland and go there by car. Much easier than dealing with bureaucrats. However, things change, and we may see quite a different situation in a year. Who knows?
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Old 21-01-2016, 07:55   #22
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Re: USA to Saint Petersburg, Russia

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I used to teach at the University of Latvia, in Riga, and I speak Russian fluently, though not like a native speaker. I've been to Russia many times. I would not sail into Russian territorial waters, especially if it were my own boat. Too much risk and hassle, unless one has diplomatic immunity as Adams did. I suggest you consider sailing to Tallinn (Helsinki would be a more expensive alternative) and then going by train or bus or car to Peter.
Have you actually sailed in Russian waters, or are you just speculating?

I have sailed there. Russia is not EU and so you have to clear customs, and you need a visa. They have peculiar rules about where to clear in and how to use their channels. Furthermore, the infrastructure for yachts is not as good as in the rest of the Baltic.

But there are no other significant problems with cruising there. The people are friendly and the places absolutely fascinating. I highly recommend cruising in the Russian Baltic. It would be crazy to get as far as Tallinn and then stop.

One tip, however - although St. Petersburg is one of the most fascinating cities in the world, and you could spend a lifetime exploring it, don't limit yourself to St. Pete. Vyborg is unmissable. And while you're up that way, go through the Saimaa Canal and poke around a bit in the Finnish lakes. This is a spectacular corner of the world.

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Old 21-01-2016, 08:39   #23
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Re: USA to Saint Petersburg, Russia

Sorry, but unless the 'goal' is actually the sailing, then just take a 747, they're much better than any sailboat, especially to windward.
We know several boats currently sailing in the Baltic, all have either been or are planning visits to St Petersburg and without exception, they're leaving the boats in either Finland or Estonia and travelling overland - word is that the red-tape involved in sailing into St P. is way too much hassle.


PS: In response to the comment "...problem I hear about in Europe is the different valves needed to refill propanetanks..." We've never had a problem with this in Europe, though we did find we needed different valves to refill them in the USA.
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Old 21-01-2016, 08:52   #24
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Re: USA to Saint Petersburg, Russia

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Sorry, but unless the 'goal' is actually the sailing, then just take a 747, they're much better than any sailboat, especially to windward.
I'd say, that applies to any destination in the world They're way cheaper too...
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Old 21-01-2016, 17:35   #25
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Re: USA to Saint Petersburg, Russia

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Originally Posted by Sea Frog View Post
Aha. So all this was purely theoretical. OK, I live in St.Pete currently and from what I can see, there are sailboats in the area (several marinas, however most of them are pretty poor by, say, EU standards). There is no sense in sailing in St.Pete itself - i.e. on Neva river, due to high traffic and lack of mooring facilities, but I did sailing there, right in the center of the city, on various occasions in the past on boats up to 50'. Mostly on "day of the city" events and such, entertaining crowds . It is much more interesting for people to sail in the Gulf of Finland, more space, less traffic. I guess, there are some regulations about internal waterways too.

Now, about the second part, about sailing broadcasting "f.u" message. I really don't know where you got that idea, but I haven't seen anything of that kind. Not back in good old days of communist Russia, and not now. Actually I have seen quite a few foreign sailboats in St. Pete's marinas and I can see that locals are pretty friendly with sailors. This may be different for "megayacht" crowd, but I don't see any problems with ordinaty sailboats.

In general, Russia has changed quite a bit in recent years. You may actually be surprised how much. Even compared to 2012 it is different, not even speaking about good old 90's. Actually, I feel safer in St. Pete now, than in some EU cities. I never thought I would say that, but that's how it is now.

All this is to say that when making broad statements, it is always good idea to add a disclaimer that it is your purely subjective point of view, not a reality. As for sailing in St. Pete. The main reason for not going there is red tape, but it seems that there are countries with much worse red tape than Russia. However, for an average EU folk who is used to come and go as he wants, this may be a bit too much. So, I will probably agree that it may be a better idea to leave a boat in Finland and come to St.Pete by train, but it doesn't have anything to do with locals.

I myself would just love to sail into St.Pete on my boat in future but being Russian, I will have to deal with even more red tape (incl. almost 40% boat value "tax insurance deposit") than non-local. So when I start moving my stuff to the boat, I will most likely just leave it in Finland and go there by car. Much easier than dealing with bureaucrats. However, things change, and we may see quite a different situation in a year. Who knows?
Now that's useful -- real commentary from someone who lives there.

This coincides with my actual experiences actually sailing in Russia.

The red tape requires attention to detail but there's nothing ridiculous about it. It is less complicated than red tape in the U.S. for non-Americans.

There are three yacht clubs in St. Petersburg, IIRC. One of them is the oldest yacht club in the world, going back to 1718. So there are plenty of berths (and great fellowship with the local sailors), but fairly basic infrastructure compared to what you find in Finland or Sweden.

To Sea Frog: It makes great sense for Peterburzhtsi with yachts to keep them in Kotka, Finland. This is the beginning of the Finnish archipelago (which ends only somewhere South of Stockholm -- so hundreds of thousands of islands over hundreds of miles of coastline) and an endless cruising ground.

There will be a direct ferry from Morskoi Fasad to Kotka -- contract signed last month. It's only 110 nautical miles. So you can finish your work on Friday, get on the ferry and arrive in Kotka later that evening, and be at anchor off one of the wonderful islands around there before midnight.

The probem with Piter for those who live there is the city is located at the very end of the shallow Gulf of Finland, so you have to sail a long ways through narrow channels past Kronstadt before you get to any kind of open water. Then, you have a lot of red tape to leave the country. Much better to keep the boat in Kotka.

There are already a couple of nice marinas there -- Sapokka, which is the municipal marina set in a wonderfully beautiful park, and New Port, on the other side of Kotkansaari. Sapokka is cheap but always full; New Port usually has something but it's a little boring there. The old port of Kotka is being redeveloped into a new yacht club with excellent facilities, based on 2km of existing quays, and will be for Russians as well as Finns. I heard there will be a pop-up marina this summer there. Check it out!


As to crime -- St. Petersburg is notorious as the crime capital of Russia, but everything is relative. It's not nearly as safe as Moscow or, say Geneva, but it's definitely safer than London or any U.S. city. So crime is just not an issue.
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Old 21-01-2016, 17:53   #26
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Re: USA to Saint Petersburg, Russia

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Originally Posted by Sandibar View Post
A couple of corrections and additions, now I read that document a bit more carefully:

If arriving from Finland, you need to check out at Haapasaari-island and contact Russian border officials on Someri-island on VHF16. Russian border control is open between 8:00 and 22:00 and you can stay in Haapasaari for a night, if necessary.
You have to take the boat by the fairway between buoys 15 and 16. After checking with the RU coast guard on VHF, continue to Kronstadt channel, monitor VHF channels 10 and 16 and check in to VTS on 16 about one hour before Kronstadt ("St Petersburg Traffic").

Pay attention to possible piloting instructions in the channel. Actual customs and border check is in Kronstadt and there is a also marina here, if you want to stay after check in.
You can now continue to one of the marinas in St Petersburg. It is advised to contact the marina in advance to secure a berth.

Necessary documents:
Visas + passports
Crew list
Customs inspection form
Vessel registration
Radio station registration + SRC
Insurance documents
Power of attorney(?, assume if you are traveling by someone else's boat?)
Canal regulations, Russian regulations for recreational vessels
Paper charts

Caveat: The document was made with Finnish pleasure boaters in mind, but I assume we have no special rights and that this information is generally applicable. The document is by the Finnish Sailing and Boating Association from 2014. Check the internet for up to date info.

Hmm, may go there myself next summer...
Foreigners usually use the friendly border station at Santio, rather than Haapasaari. Don't deviate from the channels in the border area, or the Finnish Coast Guard will be all over you like white on rice. Don't ask me how I know Clear out with them carefully, stamps in passports, etc. -- you are leaving EU and Schengen.

Then you proceed into Russian waters, and you are required to immediately contact the Russian coast guard by VHF and inform them of your passage plan, and proceed to your planned entry point (either Vyborg or Kronstadt) without deviating from the channels.

You are not allowed to sail at night before you're cleared in, and you should not arrive outside customs hours (I did that, and there was no problem -- the friendly customs guys came out and opened up their office for me, but it's a violation, so could be a problem if you happen to get a less friendly customs guy).

You need multiple copies of your crew list, boat registration, and passports (IIRC 5 copies of each). This is important. You will go through two different procedures, one with customs and the other with immigration.

IF you're going into St. Petersburg, this takes place on the island of Kronstadt, before you get there.

It's not essential, but really useful to have a Russian-speaker on board. Also in Estonia, where English is little spoken in the maritime community, but Russian is universal.
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Old 21-01-2016, 23:27   #27
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Re: USA to Saint Petersburg, Russia

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It's not essential, but really useful to have a Russian-speaker on board. Also in Estonia, where English is little spoken in the maritime community, but Russian is universal.
I think the English language issue in Estonia reflects the average age in the maritime community . I'm glad Finnish is very closely related to Estonian.

To the OP and others who may be interested. There's a possibility to visit the city even without a visa by taking a cruise from Helsinki. Two nights on the ship and one day in St Petersburg costs around 50 eur/person, may be more during summer.
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Old 22-01-2016, 02:12   #28
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Re: USA to Saint Petersburg, Russia

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I think the English language issue in Estonia reflects the average age in the maritime community . I'm glad Finnish is very closely related to Estonian.

To the OP and others who may be interested. There's a possibility to visit the city even without a visa by taking a cruise from Helsinki. Two nights on the ship and one day in St Petersburg costs around 50 eur/person, may be more during summer.
Yeah, close enough to cause mass confusion. E.g. "Piima" in Estonian is milk; but Piima in Finnish means kefir (milk is "maito").


Yes, I guess age is a factor, and in Tallinn everyone under 30 speaks English. But outside the cities, few people of any age spoke English, and even young people all spoke Russian, and were still learning it in school (I asked). Very different from Tallinn. Estonia altogether -- outside of the cities -- still seemed stuck in Soviet times -- ironically, much more so than Russia; there's nothing Soviet really left in Russia anymore. Living history!

I found it really fascinating. I cruised the whole coast of Estonia last summer, all the way to the Gulf of Riga; it was absolutely fabulous and highly recommended. I think it's quite undiscovered -- except for Tallinn, we saw very few boats and the marinas were almost empty. An occasional Finnish or Russian boat and almost no Estonian ones. We never shared an anchorage with anyone, but that's true in Finland also -- function of the huge number of feasible places to anchor.

The OP would be well advised to budget some time for this coast, if he has time.


Actually the whole Gulf of Finland is a simply incredible place to cruise. You have what -- four or five marvelous cities with ancient ports -- St. Petersburg, Vyborg, Kotka, Helsinki, Turku, Tallinn. Thousands of islands on both sides. Infinite number of places to anchor. You have real wilderness but also great cities with culture, things to see, and city things to do. And it's never dark around midsummer.

I've sailed in many places around the world, but never anything better than this.
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Old 22-01-2016, 04:07   #29
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Re: USA to Saint Petersburg, Russia

Wow, this thread has taken off. Thank you to Artisthos for reviving the thread. And thank you to all who have posted. Your comments encourage me to keep after this adventure.

There is another component of this trip which drives me and that is that my paternal grandfather and his family left from Moscow (1917) to Estonia then to the USA (1931). I have always wanted to visit the those places.

I know I can catch the Bolshoi in many cities but it isn't the same. (I wish to attend the grand halls in Europe and elsewhere and St Pete is high on the list.) Naturally, the thought to sail there is alluring. It would be a logistical challenge as much as anything else, it isn't purely the romance. I rise to challenges.

The CF brain trust has come through and will be quite helpful as I get closer to shove off. Thanks a bunch!
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Old 22-01-2016, 04:13   #30
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Re: USA to Saint Petersburg, Russia

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Wow, this thread has taken off. Thank you to Artisthos for reviving the thread. And thank you to all who have posted. Your comments encourage me to keep after this adventure.

There is another component of this trip which drives me and that is that my paternal grandfather and his family left from Moscow (1917) to Estonia then to the USA (1931). I have always wanted to visit the those places.

I know I can catch the Bolshoi in many cities but it isn't the same. (I wish to attend the grand halls in Europe and elsewhere and St Pete is high on the list.) Naturally, the thought to sail there is alluring.

The CF brain trust has come through and will be quite helpful as I get closer to shove off. Thanks a bunch!
Smart grandfather! His timing was impeccable

There is now a futuristic bullet train between Moscow and Piter, so you can get to Moscow in less than 4 hours by train. Moscow is totally different from St. Petersburg, almost like a different country, so highly recommended to make time for a visit there too. There are endless things to do and see -- those are two of the most interesting cities in Europe.

Moscow used to be prohibitively expensive for tourists, with the most expensive hotels in the world (if you could even get a room), but with the current situation and collapse of the ruble, that is no longer the case. This is a great time to visit.
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