After 2.5 years of waiting for the end of travel bans as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic, I decided to launch the yacht and drive it from Kotka to St. Petersburg as soon as such an opportunity arises. The opportunity did not come. The foreign passport was replaced with a new one, and there was no visa in the new one. To get a new one, I did not fit into any of the categories that are allowed to enter Finland. I wrote a letter to the consulate, attached a contract for the storage of the yacht and from the second call I was allowed to apply for a visa. I got it and went to get the yacht.
After going through humiliating screening procedures, questioning about the purpose of the trip, checking all possible documents at the Russian border, I finally got to Finland. The Finnish border guards were satisfied with my answer to the question about the purpose of the trip and did not ask anything else.
I had warned the company where the yacht was stored about my arrival in advance, so that by my arrival the yacht was almost hanging on the slings and was ready to descend. After two years of downtime on the shore, she was terribly dirty. I washed it after the descent for 3 hours, but I could not wash some places. But the main thing was that the yacht was on the water, and it was possible to prepare for the transition. The battery, surprisingly, remained alive, the outboard motor after checking the spark plug and changing the oil started up quite normally, although the old 2-year-old gasoline made itself felt. It was dry inside, although a little dusty. Sails, covers, papers, and so on-everything was in perfect order. The ropes are almost all stiffened, covered with mud. I had to knead them and wash them as much as possible.
The next day I armed and checked the yacht. I am very grateful to my fellow neighbors on the pier for advice and help in preparation. Sven especially helped out by agreeing to help buy a portable walkie-talkie, without which trouble could happen when crossing the border. I am very grateful to both Sven and Mikhail.
On the third day, I bought groceries (it is unknown how much time I had to spend on the boat), poured gasoline into cans and went to the island of Santio for customs clearance. I planned to come there later to spend the night there, and in the morning after going through customs procedures to go to St. Petersburg.
The journey from Kotka to Santio took 5 and a half hours. The wind was very good (7-10 m/s) and mostly passing. Of course, the path among the islands turns out to be winding, but I didn't have to maneuver anywhere. A sunny evening, white clouds, fresh wind and excellent views of the islands - after almost 3 years of downtime on the shore, I was just delighted. But I didn't want to rejoice. It was sad to leave Finland and Kotka, who was close to my heart. Passing by the islands, I remembered how we went to them, walked, admired the views, how friendly companies spent evenings together ...
There was no one on Santio. I calmly moored, had dinner, clarified the weather forecast for the next day, adjusted the route and went to bed.
The next day, when I woke up, the first thing I did was call the border guards, telling them that I would be going through customs clearance. They came by boat half an hour later. We inspected the boat, put seals on the documents. During this case, we had a nice chat with them about the transition, about the current political situation and even about yachts. They asked me if I was leaving right away or if I was still standing, and when they heard that I was planning to leave right away, they wished me a good journey.
I left about 9 o'clock in the morning. The wind was a little weaker than the day before, but again favorable. I walked almost all the way to St. Petersburg by ford wind. Of course, the backstay would be better. But the fact that it is not against the wind is already good. I must say that, of course, I chose the day of the stage in advance so that there was a suitable wind.
20 minutes after leaving Santio, I crossed the border with the Russian Federation. They called me on the radio right away (it was very useful). He informed me that I was alone on a yacht, going to St. Petersburg and I didn't have a flag. I was warned that 105 and 107 districts should be bypassed. No one else called after that. Then everything was monotonous. Waves and wind. I stocked up on tea in a thermos, buns, sandwiches and pies so that I could eat without leaving the tiller. I alternated tea, cigarettes and songs to make it more fun.
The Russian coast was slowly approaching. First the Birch Islands appeared, then the northern shore, and then the southern one. It was raining here and there on the horizon, but it was always dry above me. Lucky. I didn't want to get wet. In the afternoon, even the sun seemed a little more cheerful.
Finally, I saw the corn of the Lakhta Center on the horizon. A good reference point was made. But the wind began to subside. The speed dropped to 3 knots. In order not to hang out on the waves at night, I decided to start the engine and finish the transition as soon as possible. Although it is noisy with the engine, but still an increase in speed by 2.5 knots gave me the opportunity to save 3 hours of travel.
On the approach to Kronstadt, a walkie-talkie sat down. I worked only for the reception. Therefore, he passed through the checkpoints without warning. As I was later told - it's not scary, I'm not the only such blockhead.
The whole journey from Santio to Kronstadt (69 miles on the track) took 16 hours.
I moored at the border landing stage in Fort Constantine around one o'clock in the morning and the border guards came to me immediately with papers. I didn't even have time to lay the mooring lines properly. The sea border guards turned out to be much more friendly than the land ones. I was so seasick all day on the waves that I could hardly think, but the border guards explained everything to me with understanding, what to write where, what to do, etc.
In the morning I woke up to the sound of a trumpet. It turns out that the Kronstadt Sail festival was being prepared in the fort on this day. There was a stage not far from the yacht, and the musicians were preparing for the concert, tuning the equipment. I got straight from the ship to the ball. During the customs clearance process, I listened to music.