For the summer of 2011 holidays for two long planned did we have. My ready diploma was supposed to wait in Łódź while Hanne and I would be basking under the Adriatic sun. Joka, a charity connected to Caritas Belgium gathering volunteers willing to help in elderly homes, offered it’s veteran – my Hanne – a 10-day trip to Jerusalem in August, during the second part of her summer holiday. A bargain – the trip was for free! I said “Hanne, you should go!”. The time we planned to allocate as our Croatia holidays has suddenly shrinked to 10 days. The planned route led through Poland. In Łódź Hanne was supposed to have an LPG system placed in her car. Recalculating our time once more it turned out that instead of resting we will spend all holidays in the car. It was the end of May – there was still time to change plans.
Maybe something closer to Łódź??? Considering our marine aspirations, together with my friends and Hanne we thought of going to old good Masuria to sail a little bit. Hanne & Bronek haven’t been there yet together. Hanne could finally see how it is on the swinging deck.
Masuria is a beautiful region in the North-Eastern Poland. For it’s forests it is called the Green Lungs of Poland. It is also famous for it’s post-glacier landscape full of holes and hills formed by the withdrawing glacier – lakes and moraines. And most of all, Masuria is famous for it’s Route of Grand Masurian Lakes – a water route with the length of around 100km consisted of lakes and canals, including the two “most” lakes of Poland, the largest with more than 100 sqkm area – Śniardwy, and the deepest – Mamry. The region is one of favourite holiday destinations for sailing Poles as well as Germans who love to cycle around the grounds of their Prussian ancestors. Amateurs of quiet agricultural holidays will also find this place a heaven. Masuria used to be a part of the Teutonic Knights Order country, part of Prussia and part of Poland. Around the area you will find historical attractions of all these cultures – like the Wolf’s Lair – German headqarter-bunkers from the 2nd World War, the still carrying nazi symbolic Masurian Canal with it’s forest burried gigantic locks. The canal was supposed to link Masuria and the Baltic Sea. The legend says it was developed to lead to a secret nazi U-Boot shipyard in the lakes. Nextly urban locations like Mikłajki or Giżycko villages will allow you for summer art and entertainment. The Grand Lakes Route is full of fauna and flora natural reserves like the one on the Cormorant Island (the name speaks for itself). Masuria has a very well developed tourist base, which allows for camping, sailing, fishing, water-skiing and much more.
The sailing team gathered quickly and spontaneously. In the beginning it seemed that we will be sailing with an entire fleet. After all it settled at 2 large (as for Masuria) boats – Marconi sloops. We rented them in the friendly Marina Evelyn in Bogaczewo n. Giżycko. We payed advances, signed charter contracts and the only thing which was left was to wait for the 23rd of July. In the end the team consisted of friends of Bronek: Maciek & Asia, Łukasz & Paula and Staszek with his study-mate Kamil with Gosia. From the side of Maciek we were joinded by Maruda & Sylwia, from Asia’s side Karolina has joined us. On the spot it turned out that Patryk, the brother of Gosia will also sail with us. Together with Hanne & me we were with 13 people.
The time before the cruise passed very quickly. On the 13th of July I left to Hanne to bring her and her car to an LPG installer in Łódź. We bought new rubber trousers, sandals, batteries, a waterproof map and departed to the lakes. The new LPG didn’t blow up on our way! The installer was a trusted Łódź company. We left all the Belgian car formalities related to LPG for later…
On the way I practised assertiveness. Because of the car we were a little late and bound to arrive around dusk. Crews burning to sail were waiting for us. Even for a while I didn’t think of leaving the port in the darkness – what a SILLY idea. When we got to the marina Hanne was slightly intimidated by the yacht. She declared she will pass all the stuff to me from the land. OK. After boarding and denying to depart from the harbour in the masurian twilight, we all proceeded to inspect the bottles of vodka and other specifics.
The crew composed of me, Hanne, Łukasz, Paula & Staszek (Kamil & Gosia joined us later) accounted for Evelyn 2 – the Antila 26 class boat. The other part of the team with Maciek and Maruda (the Nagger :P) took Evelyn 4 which was a Janmor 28 class. Both boats were fresh, clean and broadly equipped. Sailing fittings included: lazy jack – the main sail pocket, mast patent – used to easily put it up and down, rolfok – rolled front sail, convenient cleats, capstans and engines. Evelyn 4 had a stationary built-in engine. It turned out to be quite fuel inefficient and prevented the boat from being moored with the stern at shallow places. Under the deck we had chemical toilets, equipped galleys, cd-radios. Antila even had a gas fridge! Interiors of both boats were separated with little doors which provided better comfort and privacy. Communication between the two boats was held depending on capacity and distance with the use of two radio-telephones which we brought with us (European PMR standard).
With regard to sailing, the slightly sharper going Antila 26 showed a higher sensitivity to weaker breeze, Janmor 28 on the other hand reached better speeds at stronger winds. Janmor sailed slightly faster also because it’s crew showed a tendency to get up and depart earlier. Antila was 26 feet or 780cm long and had a total of 30 sqm of sail, 28 feet Janmor was 840 cm long and had 40 sqm sail. Janmor suffered also a bigger draft – while in the wild it could only moor to our stern or to the end of a little pier. Both crews managed to stain the bottom of lakes with their centreboards.
The route took us from Bogaczewo, through Mikołajki, Kaczerajno Bay, Kula peninsula, Sztynort and Mamerki. In 7 days we managed to visit both the south and the north end of the Route of Grand Masurian Lakes. On our way back from Kaczerajno bay to Kula we picked up the late Kamil, Gosia and Patryk.
Hanne shyness for the boat ceased quickly. The helm of Evelyn 2 was taken mostly by Łukasz (Captain, Captain, Captain), Bronek (Captain), Hanne (deck-hand Majtek Bow String) and also sometimes by Staszek (Captain, Captain). Due to the presence of Hanne we used a very funny fake English sailing vocabulary. You could hear us saying “sword” while referring to the centreboard or shouting PULL UP while giving command for topping lift, lazy jack or the mentioned sword. We also used a lot of Polish-English mixtures.
A lot of good laughs in general. Every morning we swum in the lake, during day we sailed, in the evening we drunk beer, sung at the camp fire, fished, played games or did all that together.
On the 30th of July, after a 7-day cruise we were back in Bogaczewo. The time came to clean and part with our boats. After reclaiming the warrant me, Hanne, Paula, Łukasz and Staszek went to Signor Caffetano - an Italian restaurant located close by the marina. This turned out to be a superior choice for the farewell dinner! After the meal Łukasz, Paula and Staszek hit the road. Me & Hanne took advantage of the beautiful weather, jumped once more to the lake and scampered to Łódź afterwards.