After moving Tainui 4 times at the behest of the port authorities we seem finally to have found a permanent spot, rafted alongside a working tug in the outer harbour. After an acceptable omlette with cheese and Russian spam (luncheon meat or, as Ian calls it, “eyelids, lips and arseholes”) we all collapsed into our own private comas.
Tainui came alive at 7 pm, all of us except Max (still sick after that terrible trip here) set off exploring the monastery. This quiet, brooding place stands behind quite unbelievable masonry ramparts. Orginally the centre of a huge monastic state in the 15th century, its history was severly tainted when Stalin established one of the first gulag prisons here in 1923. The hardships suffered by the prisoners were almost unimaginable. I stood spellbound in St Nikolaus cathedral as the rich bass voices of monks in harmony sang evening service.
Today it is sunny and Max is recovering slowly. I think cognac deficiency and gastritis are contributing to his malaise. Omeprazole, Aludrox and Kwells have been added to his rehydration solution, in anticipation of today’s trip down to Belomorsk, 35 miles SW of here.
No sailor passing should miss the opportunity to visit this enchanting place. My brief, obvious advice to yachts entering Solovetsky Harbour is to follow the leads and back leads closely on final entrance. There is a shoal patch (1m) to the west of the channel which should have a cardinal mark on it but doesn’t. We grounded hard on this because of my inattention.
In protected waters after the shouting and tumult die I get lazy. That is how we ran aground on the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbour! Now there’s a confession.