Yachting on a budget: best Russian route for Frugal Mariners

Ivan Dementievsky
I realized there is no Cote d’Azur with sandy beaches and emerald water in my country. However, I had a strong tailwind, the northern sky and a team of travel companions that turned this trip into one of the best adventures of my life.

The Ivankovo Reservoir, the so-called Moscow Sea, with an area of 32,000, is located to the north of the capital. As spring sets in, water sports enthusiasts, including yachtsmen, come to its shores. Basically, this is a place for the training of beginners – one should go to the North to find real adventure.

If you look at the map of the western part of Russia you cannot even imagine where you can go starting from the Moscow Sea – there are only small rivers and lakes mixed up with marshes everywhere. However, if you take a closer look, you will notice that there are locks between the rivers, through which a yacht from Moscow can sail to the White Sea in the Arctic Circle.

Having mapped the route (it turned out to be well known to my yachtsmen companions), we made several “sorties” away from the main line. For example, we visited Beloye Lake, on the shores of which the impregnable walls of the Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery are located. Yachts are hovering silently above the lake’s mirror in the evening. When the wind dies down and the sun is about to touch the horizon of the water surface – this is a beautiful and amazing view. Beloye Lake is a great place to stop, you can spend the night here, visit the museum in the morning, and take a walk around the monastery (which is a cultural heritage site of Russia).

Passing through the locks also proved to be an interesting experience. According to the rules, the priority in passing the locks is given to ships with passengers, then to tankers and dry cargo carriers, and only then to micro-class yachts. If you are lucky enough, you can “slip” through the lock within half an hour, if not – you can wait an entire day, and you can never tell in advance. That is why you should plan your yachting voyage with ample reserve of time.

Where a network of small rivers finally flows into the huge Onega Lake, a new stage of the journey begins. You can feel a different wave and a different wind immediately: the coastline goes beyond the horizon at once, and soon it may seem to you that the yacht is lost somewhere in the vast expanses of the ocean. You should carefully navigate on such large bodies of water, and keep an eye on the weather conditions, as squally winds can turn the quiet Onega into a pot of furiously raging waves within half an hour. It is advisable not to lose sight of the coastline.

It is hard to get used to the Onega, it is never the same – you may be forcing your way through a wall of rain for an entire day, but the sun will set in calm water in the evening – and that is the charm of yachting voyages. The only pity is that all good things come to an end quickly, just when you have started to get used to a pretty hard life in a yacht, and are starting to have fun, the moorings of Petrozavodsk can be seen in the distance. The old harbor has known better days, and could have been forgotten, but for the yachts that must have a place to be moored.

Teams of experienced sailors part here, at the old pier: some will go home by train, while others will stay for another week to catch the wind with their sails.

The route runs through Moscow Tver Kimry Rybinsk – Rybinsk Reservoir – Cherepovets Kubenskoye LakeBeloye Lake (Kirillo-Belozersky Museum Reserve is on its shores) – White SeaBaltic CanalOnega LakePetrozavodsk

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