We have been sailing in loose company with Tsetsarevitch, a little home-built yacht from Perm (spelled Perm’). Perm is in Siberia about 1,000 miles up the Kama River, northeast from Kazan. Konstantin Timoynin, Captain of the Belomorsk Canal, had suggested that we might usefully explore the Kama River at some future time and our contact with Tsetsarevitch has certainly whet our appetites.
The skipper, Vladimir, is a monk who runs a sort of Orthodox sea scout movement in Perm. The boat was built as a project by youngsters under his care and tutelage, and their ambitious trip from Perm to Azov and back is a shakedown trip. Three youngsters and Elena, a caring mum, are on board. They have a bare minimum of facilities and equipment but big hearts and a great deal of commitment. Tainui’s covered cockpit has provided refuge for them in the recent bad weather and intriguing conversations have taken place facilitated by the odd drop of vodka.
Cultural stereotypes are one thing, but my jaw dropped when young Leo, a bright-eyed 11 year old came aboard. His first question to me was – “John, would you like to play chess with me?”.
Testsarevitch set off again last night. During a rather touching farewell ceremony Vladimir appointed me Honorary Captain of the Perm Orthodox Sailing Club. To prove it I have a lapel badge, a belt buckle and new-found pride.
Vladimir has offered us his boat for a journey down the Kama next year. I must say, it is very tempting.
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