At midnight last night we crept into this protected little bay near Usovska and anchored in 8 metres of flat water. The windward shore is only 100 metres away and this morning a warm breeze has the trees in motion.
With a following wind and 2 knots of current yesterday we made fast passage south from Balakovo and Volzshk. After those huge reservoirs the high shores were pleasingly close, hence the current. The familiar afternoon thunderstorms kept their respectful distance and life was grand. My only regret is that we didn’t have sails. We could have done the entire passage in silence.
We have done a couple of night passages now, and I must say they are fun. The river is well buoyed and lit and our charts are accurate, so that we usually know where we are. Commercial shipping continues unabated at night but IALA rules of the road are observed and even when passing at close quarters we have not yet had any cause for alarm. It can be offputting though, when you are down below and glance out a porthole to see the slab side of a 5,000 tanker sliding past only 50 metres away.
All ships have strobe lights at their bridge deck. When an approaching vessel sees us they set the strobe flashing. We respond with our own light and then both lights are doused. A nice way of saying hello, lovely evening, we can see you, we know you can see us, let us be careful of one another, and have a safe passage.
Today we have a 25 mile trip down to Saratov, where Gerda and Dima leave Tainui and return to Nizhniy Novgorod. I know they have enjoyed their experience and we will miss them.
At last I am able to put the times and distances ahead into some sort of perspective. Until now there has been just too much of it, with too many imponderables to allow a calendar to be of use. So….
Saratov to Volgograd 350 km
Volgograd to Volgodonsk 280 km
Volgodonsk to Azov 310 km
Volgograd 15-25 August
Azov 3 September
Kertsch (Ukraine) 10 September
Only 1,000 km to go. What a doddle!
Rosie and Jenny will join the boat in Volgograd for the last bit of the Volga, the Volga-Don Canal and its grand lock system, then passage down the Don to Rostov. What a privilege it will be to have those gorgeous daughters of mine back aboard.
In Rostov we put the mast up. I can hardly wait for that.
My visa expires on 28 August and before then I must leave Russia to get another. Volgograd looks to be the spot to park Tainui for that exercise. Maxine can escape back to her real life for some own time while I queue outside the Russian embassy in Riga (or perhaps Athens) for permission to return to Tainui.
Maxine will sign off finally and permanently in Kersch or Yalta. Dirk will be releived to have her back. How much bigger, quieter, lonelier and less efficient Tainui will be then. This has been a splendid shared experience and I doubt I could have done it without Little Miss Perfect.
Anyone fancy a trip from Ukraine to Istanbul and Izmir?