Passage West: Latvia to Sweden

An update here about the last leg of the sailing trip to the Eastern Baltic this year. It will cover the weather, route, and conditions of the passage from Riga in Latvia to Karlskrona on the South coast of Sweden.

The sailing took place from 16th to 19th July 2019. Miles sailed about 350 and we were five people on board. Katarina, Alex, Mycolas, Sam and me. A good number of people for a passage like that.

We left in the evening of Tuesday 15th at 9:00PM for the initial 65 mile sail up to the Northern point of Latvia and the corner of the Gulf of Riga

The low pressure

A low pressure system brought in rain and a cold front on Tuesday afternoon. The wind had been blowing Northerly for many days, but with the arrival of the low the wind came from the South West, which allowed us to sail out of the marina in Riga and 9 miles down the Dougava river.

The forecast said that about 8 hours later, or in the early hours of the morning of the 17th an occluded front would pass over, and following that the wind would be from the Northern semi-circle again. We had to make the 65 miles to point Kolka pretty quickly in order to avoid any up-wind beat.

The conditions after passing out the mouth of the Dougava were perfect. Reaching, wind-on-the-beam, and blowing offshore with the resulting flat sea. We sailed all the night and made it to within a few miles of point Kolka, but then the wind started to die down. The sky was looking darker to the West… more rain coming in.

Fortunately for us the low pressure system moved slightly slower than expected. We were given almost two hours bigger window to make the last few miles and clear point Kolka before the wind veered. Just right for us to go on the 260 mile down-wind run to the South coast of Sweden.

Modern forecasting is fantastic and when the planning works out so well is is very satisfying!

Synoptic chart
Rain moving in
The wind shift

The high pressure

The low pressure did not stay around for long enough, but instead continued up over Russia leaving high to fill in over the Baltic.

We had sailed fast all that day after rounding point Kolka, and the following night. However at mid-night the wind died off completely, when we we’re some 20 miles off the coast of Ă–land.

The rest of the trip was slow sailing. Very slow. Luckily this boat will sail (or drift) along at 1.5 knots even in the very lightest of breeze, enough to maintain steerage way at least. En engine to finish up the remaining miles would have been a bonus, but on the other hand it is quite pleasant to be out on the water and with the calm conditions of the Baltic Sea there’s none of the agony of an old swell shaking the boat and sails around.

A morning drifting

End of the trip

There’s not a great deal to write about for the remainder of the trip. We got in to Karlskrona in the evening of Thursday. The following day most of the crew had to leave for their travel home and it started to feel very empty on board.

To summarise the trip from Sweden, over to Lithuania and then back across the Baltic and up the East coast of Gotland, then over to Estonia and the Gulf of Finland… down again through the Gulf of Riga and a few days in the capitol of Latvia, before returning to the South coast of Sweden. It was great! Good sailing mostly, fantastic people on board and a good time was had by everyone!

Many thanks to all the crew; for your help and good company, and I hope we have a chance to sail together again soon!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *