Crossing the Baltic Sea, Vändburg – Klaipeda 27.6. – 29.6.
Old Hoburg was probably busy with the boys in the navy as he did not visit Suwena during our pass of the Gotlands southern tip. We turned north and continued for another 7 miles to a quiet fishing harbour of Vändburg. There were already a few boats before us and we could only moor her to a quay with old car tires as fenders. We felt sorry for our fenders what would be full of thick black strikes. But the plan was to continue in the morning so we went to sleep soon.
The alarm clock rang at 5am but we decided to sleep on. We were no hurry to cross the Baltic and the weather forecast was better for Wednesday as well. Tuesday was absolutely fabulous hot summer day and we relaxed by sunbathing. The Sun also dried our laundry in record time.
Originally we planned to take few wooden planks with us in case we need to moor on a quay with car tires. Somehow we forget about this. Fortunately we were lucky and there was a man in a harbour making a new wall for a marina building and Andrus went to make a deal for some planks. Soon we had two new fender boards with notches for lines that we hung to protect the fenders.
We prepared ourselves and yacht for the Baltic Sea crossing for the next day. We also made some food rations so we do not have to cook on sea even if it is fully possible in Suwena.
On Wednesday morning we woke up at the same time with a Sun because the alarm clock went off already at 3am Swedish time. We quickly had some porridge and filled the coffee thermos bottle and all was ready to cast off the lines. The rest of the morning tasks can easily be done while underway reaching Klaipeda meter by meter.
The crossing day had a relatively calm wind. We had less than 6 m/s of close hauled wind. We could not use gennaker as it is a downwind sail. With only sails our speed would be between 4 and 5 knots. We calculated that we wanted to be in Klaipeda late in the evening before the full darkness so we decided to test Suwena's motorsailing capabilities.
Immedeately after leaving we raised all three sails in addition to the engine and our speed was on average about 7 knots. We sailed 102 nautical miles on the port tack and that was Suwena's longest single continuous tack up to date. Few miles before Klaipeda the wind died altogether and we motored the end part of the leg.
This time both of us had nice nap during the day and the voyage was leisurely all the way. There were no traces of the bad stomach even if in the middle of the Baltic there were some waves. Sails and engine pushed Suwena forward and she was stable also in waves.
In Visby we had a chat with a Lithuanian guy regarding the approach to Klaipeda. In addition Andrus read from Internet about the Lithuanian border crossing formalities. Most of the directions available are from before the Lithuania joined the Schengen agreement and we were sharp when we crossed into the Lithuanian territorial waters. In addition Klaipeda is a big international harbour with dense shipping traffic that arrives also from outside the Schengen countries.
We followed the VHF traffic on both the channel 16 and 9. As we approached Klaipeda there were few ships entering the harbour as well. We listened as one of the captains get angry as Klaipeda VTS gave preference to another ship arriving after him. We listened and thought that should we really enter between all this mess. Fortunately all ships were in harbour before it was our time to make traffic announcement. Two miles before the Klaipeda harbour entrance Andrus contacted Klaipeda VTS on channel 9 and announced our arrival. We received a quick answer to contact the passport control on channel 73.
Passport control asked our yacht name and we had to spell it with international code: Suwena (Sierra Uniform Whiskey Echo November Alfa). In addition we got questions about our yachts sailing flag, how many persons onboard and at what nationality and where we are going. At the end they wished us a good journey forward and asked to report about leaving the Lithuania on channel 73.
Later after talking to local sailors we found out that we could have called passport control directly on channel 73 or 16. There is no need to notify the VTS when entering or leaving Klaipeda by pleasure craft.
Already at sea I went to lower the Swedish courtesy flag and rised the Lithuanian flag instead. This is our third courtesy flag after Åland and Sweden during this season. In Lithuanian coast guard instruction is a clear marking that the courtesy flag must be flown always when in Lithuanian waters.
We drove two miles up the river and passed many ship quays on the way to the only yacht harbour in Klaipeda, the Old City Marina. Already in Visby we heard from the captain of the Lithuanian yacht Tineke that the Klaipeda Sailing Center Smiltyne is closed due to reconstruction. So this year there is really only one place to go in Klaipeda.
On the river the pleasure craft must stay outside the fairway near the south beach. After two miles we turned left and drove into the Dane canal that leads into the marina. The guest docks are located in the inner harbour area that can be accessed by a very narrow channel. On the entry of the inner harbour there is a turning steel bridge built on 1855. The bridge is opened manually for yachts on every hour between 7am and 11pm.
As we approached the entry channel a marinero came to meet us and told that the marina is absolutely full. He asked us to moor on the side wall of Dane channel. First we were a little afraid about the swell from passing ships and added a lot of fenders to our starboard side. We were surprised when marinero brought two huge ball-fenders to protect our yacht. In addition we received sturdy ladder straight next to our starboard side open gate and welcomed us to Klaipeda.
After 125 nautical miles our crossing of the Baltic Sea was happily over. We checked into the marina and Suwena's aft cabin was already waiting for us promising deep and peaceful sleep after the exciting day.