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Highfield Boats - Sailing - LEADERBOARD

OCC RoRC Report from the Baltic

by Andrew Curtain 19 Dec 2020 10:30 UTC
Martinssons © Andrew Curtain

RoRC Andrew Curtain reports on the limited cruising in Scandinavia in 2020 and provides some clues about what to think about for 2021.

I am not an epidemiologist! The infections a gynaecologist observes generally arise from a complete absence of personal distancing. So, there is no entitlement to comment on the management of the current pandemic in individual countries nor any wish to provoke disagreement amongst readers. We are above politics.

My brief is the Baltic region and our yacht is based in Sweden. It is too early to judge if their approach will be better/safer than its neighbours, but comparisons will be made. They do have restrictions, but also the advantage of a homogenous disciplined population which uniquely trusts its politicians and advisers. I was almost scorned for wearing a mask.

What this different approach meant, to us yachtsmen, was a complete ban on yachts sailing from Sweden to popular destinations such as Norway, Denmark, Germany and Finland. Home waters were packed with local yachts. The West and East Coast archipelagos are busy enough in July, but this year the crowding was exceptional. Happily, our preference is to anchor in remote places and there are plenty of them, but nevertheless, this year I can't report extensive cruising.

So, where are we at? Despite promises from politicians, I can't see any significant respite until well into next year. But we must plan in order to stay sane. If readers intend to cruise the Baltic region, they might want their yacht to spend the winter in a local yard. These must be booked well in advance so it would be prudent to look at this now for the winter of 2021/22. There are many excellent yards in all the Baltic countries but I include a shortlist of some close to my own area on the island of Orust. It might make interesting winter reading. If readers have particular requirements in other areas, I can make enquiries and am sure that our Scandinavian members would also help.

  • Vindo Marine: On the site of the Regina Yachts factory
  • Orust Yacht Service: A large facility with indoor heated space for 200 yachts on the previous Naiad Yacht factory
  • Ellen Yachting: Again a large facility on the previous Sweden Yachts factory
  • Batvardsvarvet: A wonderful yard with particular experience with wooden yachts and their painting/varnishing. I am told that the King of Sweden sends his sailboat here.
  • Broderna Martinssons Varv: With a vested interest, I am biased. This is a yard with the highest standards which has looked after Pilgrim Soul for its 15 years. On collection every spring, she looks new. But book a space early.
In conversation with other yachtsmen this year, I noted two issues worthy of discussion. At the time of writing, Brexit has not been settled. Our British friends are concerned about keeping their yachts in the EU. When the dust settles, I will try to find out how the Scandinavian countries actually administrate long-term non-EU storage and whether regulations are strictly enforced. It is clearly possible already to keep non-EU boats in the region long term. I noted several Russian, USA and Canadian yachts at the boat yards so in the event of "no deal", what applies to them would also apply to British vessels.

Another issue discussed, not so relevant to the Baltic, but to the Mediterranean or English Channel, is what one would do if an inflatable carrying migrants was encountered. Plainly we all would assist in a life-threatening emergency, but if large numbers, perhaps swimming towards one, were encountered, what would you do?

Looking forward to a better 2021, may I wish all a safe winter. My letter to Santa in Lapland has already gone wishing for all OCC sailing plans to come true.

This article has been provided by the courtesy of Ocean Cruising Club.

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