The Volga gets big

 

Kazan farewell party

Departure from Kazan was difficult. Partly because our dockside farewells were protracted, and partly because we had to wait an hour while a mafioso gin palace refueled before we could top up our tanks a the fueling jetty. This huge motor yacht took on 2 tonnes of diesel, which it burns at around 600 litres an hour. The skipper was incredulous when I told them we could motor for nearly 6 days on that amount. Their total time between tank fills – 10 hours!

Wonderful Sasha brought Credo out to see us off. A huge jar of my favourite pickles was handed to us by Andrey. After we had waved our final farewells, Credo turned back and we set course into the Volga.

We are at last travelling south again. After the Kama confluence the Volga gets seriously wide. With a fresh beam wind and rain squalls we rolled our way down towards historic Bolgar. After our long eastern leg we turned right into the Kuybishevsky Reservoir. With a fresh SE breeze and a 7 mile fetch the seas were choppy, but the ever present current helped us along.

Darkness having fallen it was a relief to enter Karelskaya refuge, a snug little spot where we anchored in 3.5 metres of glassy water.

Today it is windy and wet. We delayed our departure with pancakes, alternator service, battery water top-up and fine tuning of the mast supports. Not until 2 pm, when all excuses had been exhausted, did we raise the anchor and motor out into the murk. In point of fact the wind eased and backed to the NE during the afternoon, so that we had a quite comfortable trip down the right bank of the Volga towards Bolgar.

Bolgar is a pilgrimage town for Tatar people in search of their roots. They were central Asians who preceded the Mongols in this region. Half of them moved to central Europe (Bulgaria, no less) and converted to christianity. The rest stayed, became integrated into Mongol society and ultimately adopted Islam. We had hoped to stop in Bolgar but the bleak weather was adequate disincentive.

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