Welcome to Latvia! Starling heads further east
Everyone had a really good sleep after our overnight passage to Klaipeda and our one Lithuanian dinner. Michael cooked the most amazing blueberry pancakes for breakfast, and at 1100 we slipped lines and headed back down the channel, bound for Liepaja in Latvia, our third country of the trip,
There was not enough wind to sail, so we motored on calm seas under a blue sky. We did our man overboard practice – despite the heat nobody was keen to be dunked into the chilly Baltic, but we got our intrepid volunteers Bridget and Deb back aboard almost completely dry.
After a while we realized that the lovely German yacht we had tied up next to in Klaipeda was ahead, clearly headed for the same destination and making the steering north towards a featureless horizon much easier for us. We were motoring slightly faster, and the shrinking distance between us brought out a competitive instinct in some of the crew, as we raised the yankee for more speed, and changed from the Lithuanian to the Latvian courtesy flag for the sake of correctness.
It’s just as well we did – before we managed to pass the Germans, we heard the Latvian coastguard hail them and tell them to turn round immediately and return south. We weren’t sure exactly why, but we were expecting to pass outside a restricted area closer to the shore, so we thought it wise to angle further out to sea to show that we had no intention of entering it. The next thing we heard over the radio was the coastguard reminding the German yacht that it was now in Latvian territorial waters, so “please raise the correct flag”. Just as we were congratulating ourselves on already having the correct flag up, the coastguard hailed us too, and said that we must immediately change course to head west for at least 10 miles to avoid the restricted area. It turned out that the restricted firing range area was actually much larger than the one marked on our chart. But the unfailingly polite Latvian coastguard was happy to give us the coordinates of its corners, and we set off on our detour. At least we were now ahead of the German yacht, who had entered the restricted area and had to head south before following us out to the west. It was not long before we heard the booms of large guns firing, making us glad that the coastguard was so diligent. The only downside was the extra 20 miles or three hours added to our journey, which is why I am writing this after a delicious dinner at sea on a grey and glassy evening.But the Latvian coast is coming into sight – not long now to arrival.