18 augustus 2013

New Pictures!

look at all the pictures from my Russian adventure. On the right there's a link to 'new pics' with pictures from Arkhangelsk to Murmansk via Franz Josef Land. Below that, you'll find a link with "diavoorstelling" which will lead you to all pictures from the first stage, from St. Petersburg to Arkangelsk.  Just click on the picture.
With many thanks to Paul, Heinz and Petra who made some of the pictures!

4 augustus 2013

Bathing in the Banja

Around 10 o'clock in the evening, we finally arrived in the bay were two other boats of the regatta were already waiting.  Our first night on Frans Jozef land was nice and interesting with walruses and drift ice surrounding us, but if we want to see some more and actually go on land, we have to stay with the leader of our pack, Peter I, who has a ranger on board without whom we cannot go ashore. So all five boats that of the big Regatta fleet that made it above 80 degrees North, came together in a bay close to Tigaja Bay were an old radio station stood.

Around 11 at night the fourth boat, Barlovento, joined the group and finally, around 2 in the morning, Peter I joined as well.  Everyone had dropped their anchor and it seemed that it would going to be a quiet night where everyone could catch up in sleeping again. I was still awake on duty for the 'anchor watch' and around 2.30 a radio call came in from Peter I: "all yachts all yachts, we can go to the station now and go to the banja". A banja is a Russian bathhouse.

Uta and Heinz, who were still awake as well, and me looked at each other:" did he really told us to go to the banja right now??? It's in the middle of the night!"
Heinz politely replied that all guest were sleeping at the moment, and that we would join the next day after a nice long sleep.
Three of the boats got their anchor up (again) and went 1,5 miles to the west to drop it (again) and go to the banja. It's the Russian style (at least of our regatta); when it's time to do something, it's time to do something, no matter what time it is.
The other thing is that the continuous light nights totally destroy the idea of night and day.

The next day we got our anchor up as well and joined the rest on the other side of the bay.  Apparently the station was not abandoned at all but occupied during the summer by four students and a ranger. After a guided tour along the once glorious radio-station on Hooker Island, most of us went back to the boat. Since we have hot showers on board, the need for a banja is not as big as on other boats. But let's be honest, how often do you get to go to a private banja on Frans Jozef land?

Andrei (the ranger in charge) showed us all around his banja. While standing in his bedroom we could just peek into the tiny room next-door where a big stove filled up half the room on the one side, and a big ton of water the other.  Where we were to sit with the three of us was not quite clear, but asking Andrei was not an option as he quickly left the place to get away from us since we were already starting to take off our 10 layers of clothes in his bedroom.

I wonder if the tourist that come here once every two weeks with the nuclear icebreaker "50 let Pobedy" (120 passengers) get the same treatment from Andrei.