OK, so we're back safe and sound in Finland after our Russia
It was altogether an EXCELLENT adventure, and I recommend all Baltic
sailors to sail to Russia at least once in their lives. Vyborg was possibly the most interesting place I've been in the Baltic, and worth spending a week (or a month) exploring. The "Favorit" yacht club is a third-world s**t-hole, looking at it from the point of view of its physical assets, but Igor, the director, is an absolutely lovely guy whom we regretted saying good-bye to. And the location is perfect right under the ramparts of the very ancient castle.
I had dreaded the bureaucracy getting into and out of Russia, but in fact there was really nothing at all bad about it. All the various petty bureaucrats were scrupulously correct and unfailingly friendly and there was really no problem at all.
Because the fuel dock
at Lavola was out of commission due to lightning
strike, I ended up ordering a load of fuel to be brought up from St. Petersburg by truck. This was quite an experience -- a bit like buying
a load of fine wine. In order to get within reach of the fuel truck, I had to berth against the pre-WWII ruins of a quay on the SW side of the harbor, with harsh concrete walls about 20 cm from the water
level -- a recipe for scratched topsides. But it was ok in the event. Igor showed up with a boathook to help hold us off the wall. The driver arrived with a full set of official stamped documents testifying to all of the qualities of the fuel -- Cetane rating, what elements are present, flash point, percentage wax, percentage ash, milligrams of water per ton, etc., etc., etc. Before we started fueling, he ceremoniously opened the tank on his truck, and dipped out a one-liter sample. This sample he sealed in a special stamped envelope. This is the Russian way of guaranteeing quality -- in case of any dispute, you've got a sample of what you were sold
, and you can send it off for analysis. Cool. They look at hydrocarbons like the French look at wine.
We pumped in the fuel, while I listened to the driver's philosophy of life, his disagreement with the Russian government's actions in Ukraine
, his views on friendship of nations, etc., etc., etc. I filled an extra 30 liter canister (a gift from Igor) for good measure. And that was it.
The fuel is beautiful; the higher Cetane number (52) means it explodes less violently when injected, and the engine
sounds definitely sweeter and smoother. I am used to the red diesel sold
in the UK which is more like heating oil
-- Cetane of about 40 and quite a bit of ash in it. So now I understand the ship captain
I know who sails
the Baltic on a break-bulk ship, and eagerly looks forward to bunkering in Russia. I have almost 700 liters of it
, 2/3 of a ton, I hope enough to get me back to Blighty in August.
In case anyone is interested, I can post the contacts of the company in St. Petersburg who sent the fuel. For someone buying
a large quantity, it actually makes sense compared to buying it at a fuel dock
, since the price
is only 29 rubles per liter, compared to 35 or even 37 on fuel docks.