Dirhami to Naissaar Island

Sunday 24 June

An early start took us out into a steady Northerly F4, with the sea a little lumpy with swell. Optimistically setting full main and genoa, we soon had to change down to the staysail as the wind picked up, and we tacked along the coast, staying clear of a seal sanctuary and identifying Arthur Ransome’s ‘Baltic Port’, now known as Paldiski. The shoreline here is formed of low cliffs, sheer to the sea and absolutely horizontal in strata: the Ice Age must have prevented any volcanic activity or Tectonic Plate movement!

At the North edge of Tallinn Bay lies the ex-military island of Naissaar, or Terra Feminarum, the ‘Island of Women’. The island was once inhabited by Swedish fisherman, and also has a long military history. The Russian army manufactured mines here, before abandoning the place at the end of the Communist era. The island was reopened to the public as a nature reserve in 1995. We were warned not to touch the wild pigs or snakes we may spot on a walk.

The small harbour lies about halfway along the Eastern shore of this forested retreat, fringed with white sand beaches. We managed to sneak in between two arms of pontoon to tie up on the quay wall once again, suitably distant from the ferry dock. Trip boats bring city residents over for weekend breaks, and service boats visit regularly to deliver supplies to the eight permanent residents, and take away their refuse. The only child of school age receives his education via Internet link, supplemented by monthly visits to his teacher in Tallinn.

For visiting boats, water is available to order, as it is ‘made’ ie desalinated, and the quality depends on the current pollution levels of the surrounding sea. Electricity is supplied by solar, during daylight hours only. Fortunately, we were well stocked on both counts, and managed to remain all but independent. However, this does make ‘spending a penny’ ashore very expensive!