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- Customs and Immigration Formalities
Upon arriving in Estonia (we cleared at Pärnu) the Border Patrol and Customs both attended our yacht in the marina. They were there within in 15 minutes after we reported to the marina administration and formalities were quick and painless. A copy of both documents was left with us, which is to be surrendered upon exit from Estonia, there appears to be no other formalities for yachts remaining in Estonian waters. Each harbour queried our previous harbour verbally.
- Money Matters
The banks in Estonia were the most efficient at currency exchange and seemed to offer fair rates.
- Background Information
Has general information in English about Estonia.
A lovely marina which at 125 EEK per night is the best bargain we encountered. The facilities are first class, clean and well operated with water, electricity (no extra charge), showers and sauna, restaurant and bar. Diesel is available from a fuel pump next door to the marina which is operated by a gas station for cars which tends to indicate that the fuel should be clean and fresh due to volume turn over. There seems to a slight confusion over which berths are visitor berths as most berths seem to be held by local boats. When we visited the visitor berths were located on the most up river pontoon and were primarily on the up river side of that pontoon. The mooring buoys for many of the berths are so close in that only small day sailers can use the berths so the number of berths is more limited than it need be. Being the “summer capitol” of Estonia, the surrounding town has all tourist service facilities and a world class beach.
Described by some Estonian sailers as “Soviet Surrealism”, the closest comparison is to the rural hillbilly areas of the Adirondack Mountains. The port is in a poor state of repair but still charges 100 EEK per night for nothing but out-house style toilets (after paying 125 EEK in Pärnu for excellent facilities). The water tap has a padlock over it and the hose has been removed, what berths there are come decorated with old truck tires. The local harbour master complements the old Soviet style perfectly as he does nothing as you come in, not even indicate where the berths are. We spoke to him through a translator and still he would offer no advice or help, other yachts had described him to us so we were not totally surprised. The newest portion of the moorage has a depth of 0.5 meter which is quite possibly perfect for canoes but useless for yachts. As we approached what poor moorage there was rats scurried away. If the berthing area is not silted up then it has long gnarled and rusting railway rails interspersed with the old truck tires on chains. Immediately adjacent to the port are abandoned buildings, an unused cold storage, various pieces of inoperative vehicles, unexplained circular holes in the ground, large welded structures of indeterminate intended purpose, all rusting in the weeds and weather.
The main attraction must remain the social patterns on the island though. Everything except the 2 stores was closed when we visited. Aside from the bars. One must conclude they never shut as the institutional drinking going on with the men of the island can only be described as Soviet-style. Everyone arrives by vehicle whether they can maintain their balance while walking or not. Some arrive by heavy equipment, farm equipment, cars or motorcycles. One patron was so drunk when attempting to leave by tractor that he would fall out of the tractor each time he tried to drunkenly wave goodbye to his drinking compatriots. Vodka bottles are always on the tables of beer glasses and quickly empty themselves. Moving around the island necessitates walking on dusty dirt roads. As these are the same thoroughfares used by the drinkers to move from establishment to establishment it is recommendable to walk on the footpath which is 5 meters into the woods as at least you will have a couple of trees between you and them should they loose control of their cars. Amongst the oppressive drunkenness one may see the occasional woman of grandmotherly age in a woven skirt, all the middle age women are wearing standard western wear and the young girls wear the same fashions as any other western town. The label “ethnographic museum” so liberally used in the tourist press possibly over states the situation.
Roomsaare port, Kuressaare, Saaremaa Island
Reached by a long entrance with safe water buoys, the marina is adjacent to the commercial port and is very modern with showers, electricity, sauna, diesel and a very good restaurant/bar complex. There is also a store which seems to sell ice cream and alcohol. Being close to the airport there is hourly bus service into the town of Kuressaare. Priced at 120 EEK per night, this is the only marina in the Baltic we saw with fingers off the main pontoon so every boat has both side and bow access. There is also a yacht harbour to the south side of Kuressaare reachable by bus service. In addition to these two facilities they were finishing off a new marina immediately in front of the Bishops Fort which is the focal point of the town. Dredging of the access channel was being undertaken in July/August of 2000.
The principal marina is in the 1980 Olympic sailing centre at Pirita. Mooring is stern to buoy, electricity and water are available on the quay. Diesel is available, a chandlery, restaurant and beer store are located in the buildings. The pricing is 150 EEK but this includes toilets only (with cold water for washing), showers are a further 30 EEK per person (per shower). Busses into Tallinn take about 20 minutes and cost 15 EEK per person each way. Actually there are two marinas within the one mooring complex with the marina further in (immediately before the road bridge) charging only 140 EEK which includes showers. A very well stocked very large food store is outside the gates and 5 minutes walk towards a Tallinn. There is a third marina closer to the centre of Tallinn but we did not see it.
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