Then comes our last day in Oulu. Lena Pisareva is in a trance, she’s almost crying, so imbued with life on the boat, concerts, sailing. She eats pasta which she would have never done onshore. She does not believe her luck saying: What good did I do in life to live so as I’m now spending time.
Lena is a totally blind singer from Tver, with a beautiful voice and manner of speaking. I’m sure that her image has many beautiful pitches. I mean external image. Lena is modest open at the same time. But now Lena is in trance even more: she is as outraged inside as Sergey Burlakov. He is very intelligent and it’s in his blood. But even this highest level of intelligence does not help hide the discontent. Sergey imbued with the sea, sails and sailings, life on the boat, concerts on board and his inner outrage is fair and to the point. He is bit confused with his own inner outrage. There’s no need to be embarrassed, it is important to transfer this discontent in the energy of creation that to live as many days of the year as possible in this bright way.
On the last day, a trio concert is scheduled on the main square. According to the forecast, it will either rain or not, it’s unclear. In the morning it broke out and calmed down, it began to dry out. The guys gathered and moved things from the boat in the hotel. Only the guitars were left. We begin preparing to go to the center, Mikhail and Yulia come with Arina. Misha has a jacket on, Julia and Arina are clad in ranger-like unsoakable jackets. We’re moving to the center.
Another weather will not come, the concert will not be canceled, the mood is up, upset only by parting to come soon. From the central scene trio name sounds a bit ridiculous in Finnish manner. Then the trio sang Vysotsky and, of course, “Million of scarlet roses”. Finnish friends in the square applauded, despite the rain and bad weather. It seized Julia’s breath. We are all excited, we are together near the Arctic Circle walking, singing, dancing, talking, doing something useful and international.
After the concert, a short lunch together in the market, in the cafe where they fry local trout and whitefish. Only Malyshko has a meat dish. I tape to a blind radio last comments of the trio. We feel joy and sadness at the same time when approaching the catamaran and hearing how Mikhail invites the trio to visit in Helsinki. They quietly accept the invitation and discuss where you can come take a walk on the week-end. I immediately advise to plan a concert somewhere. Then Lena utters a phrase for which such projects as The Sails of spirit are started: Now I do feel light of foot!
We climb aboard, say goodbye. Anna, Sergey, Lena and Misha … Each of them went now in all directions: to the station or to the hotel.
We said goodbyw to Yulya and Arina while in the square after the concert. To Outi- on board before the concert. We kept souvenirs and sweets. We have the remaining part of Arina’s blueberry pie. We have in our souls confidence that we want to return to this city and continue its investigation. To continue discovering its values for ourselves and for others.
In updated crew we move to Sweden, to the south. Stockholm is almost 600 miles away. Interesting now to remember how I and Uldis planned route on the map and now it is in fact traversed. This is the same as plans realized in practice. Very interesting. Sweden is a natural and it can be said for many a social paradise. I am for the first time in this country. I wonder how the outer view will be compared to the concrete experience of the stay. We do not have much time for this country and we need to go a great distance from Oulu to Stockholm. Nearly 600 miles … There is one more pleasant task: we have agreed with Johannes Marcel, our new Swedish friend, to go along on a catamaran for several days. With Johannes introduced us by Vera Simakova, for which a separate, additional respect to her. During the preparation Vera was strongly trying to making sure that we met. Now it is clear that intuition has not deceived the experienced social integrator. Meeting point with Johannes in Suntsvall was reached in two steps: we stopped for domestic bathing pause in a small yacht club on the east side of the Swedish kingdom. Weather and wind are favorable to us, and we reached Suntsvall in two steps of about 200 miles. We went into this, in my opinion, industrial town in the morning at sunrise. Industrial enterprisesб houses on the slopes, high bridges under which our ship with a 20-meter mast passes easily. Empty deserted morning port. We “clean feathers” and wait for Johannes. He appears by noon. We say hello, he goes for a welcome ice cream, we prepare lunch, eat it and depart. And somehow immediately Johannes is in the team: no awkwardness, no lapping movements and combinations of words. He is already helping with sails in gloves. He is already on the bench next to me and we begin to discuss absolutely all topics which are countless.
Now we’re approaching Ventspils and Robert saw a ship from Murmansk. “Northern Land”, Oscar and Robert pronounce the name of the ship. And then I, Johannes and other members of the team headed for Stockholm and were together for more than 200 miles. Johannes works as labor teacher at a school for the disabled in a small Swedish town. He himself is a Hollander and his wife is from Slovakia. Johannes made musical instruments himself, he is an experienced sailor and an extremely pleasant person to talk to, of respectable age and in good physical and above all psychological form.
The following morning I and Johannes begin to discuss possible routes for next year. I remember that I had already written about him above in notes on Finland. Johannes has wonderful communication skills: three languages, as is usual in the Europeans: Swedish, Dutch and English. Johannes shares his idea of the Congress in Yekaterinburg. He suggests making wooden parts for each member with the hook so at the end all together they could make a big circle, catching one another on the hook. We develop the idea together and understand that these things, pre-prepared, half of the participants will be able to assemble for themselves during registration, sign and use as a kind of ID at the Congress.
The most remarkable moment of transition is the morning of entrance to Stockholm through the famous archipelago. It’s early in the morning, we go sailing where the passage between the islands is wider, where the nearest shore is 20 meters away. When the wind hides the island from us we go slowly for three to four knots, and there is gentle sailing silence around. As we pass another islet, the wind blows, and we go at six knots with boiling astern and wind noise in the ears. Weather in the morning is sunny and warm, the island covered with pines and colorful small houses. On the rocks sit the birds. Stones are white with bird gatherings, rare morning boat sail against us. With the day coming, sailing on our way increases, there are ferries and cruise ships hurrying to Finland. We are in a real sailing paradise!
On the archipelago the Swedes themselves live and relax in the summer, of course moving in boats, mostly sailing. Closer to the capital port traffic increases dramatically, we pass the city fortress, the channel is narrow. Robert says he has never been behind the wheel in such traffic. Johannes conducts entrance in Stockholm, shows where to pass and turn. Takes my photo in the same place where he had taken a photo of Vera Simakova when they went on a sailboat last year. He sends the photo to Vera. We anchor in a marina in the city center, near the sea museum. The marina is crowded, many yachts for parking, brave master chases away a large Danish sailing vessel.
Welcome to Stockholm!
There’s a slight difficulty in leaving the catamaran: the pier is too low and the gangway angle will be too high. More like trampoline than gangway. Lena, labor teacher Johannes, Robert, Oscar and Janis make an original gangway from improvised means, something like such a platform on the pontoon with the angle available for descending with a cane. The construction resembles a wooden roller coaster in the yard, and the gangway is now parallel with the board. Everything is ready and now it is really a welcome to Stockholm!
A brave master comes, and Johannes tells him about our project. The master is really interested in the particulars, I asked him about handicapped sailors. He said they have no such men in the port but recommended the places where they may be. Our partners from Rosatom arrange for a meeting with the city’s ombudsman for rights of the handicapped next day. They are coming to the boat in the afternoon with a representative of city administration. We are engaged in house cleaning, replenishment of provisions, dinner cooking. There comes a mail from a man named Glen who writes that he’s part of the «Handicat» fund board and tomorrow he’s going to visit the ship. I’m merrily apprehensive of the last three letters of the Fund name. I do not stop thinking that this is about home cats. I almost wrote back to Glen: How many cats are ready to visit our ship with you? I tell the name to Johannes, he finds on the Internet, too, the sites of organizations offering cats for rent.
Thank God in the morning we enter the right name and get an answer – it is the sailors with special health potential and cat is not “cat”, it’s the first three letters of the word “catamaran”. Cool! When Glen appeared on the boat the day after he quite a fun when we told him who we were expecting.
In the evening the girls had quite a rare opportunity in this journey to go for a walk in the city. Yanis goes with them. I and Johannes stay on the boat and talk, talk, talk… discussing politics, the disabled, the environment. One story for example from Johannes. He does a lot of sailing with different people; one of his friends works in the crematorium. And that’s when I start to doubt that our nature is so much we polluted that Johannes suddenly and gently tells me the story of how his crematorium friend once complained to him that before, in good years, after burning there remained about a liter of ashes of each person. And the ashes, to put it mildly, were regular. Now the ash quantity has increased almost two-fold, and because of different non-inflammable additions, it became terribly toxic.
That is the reality now! Nothing can be helped about it!
The next day, on July 22nd, it was only yesterday, in the morning we visited the shop to upgrade the yacht clothing. That same day, linger as Johannes did, we made a tour of Stockholm for him blindfold. When my new friend understood that he could not slip away and he’d have to go blindfold he beat me jestingly. And so the two of us, he blindfold, move along the summer Stockholm, studying the curbs. First I come with a cane, Johannes holding my shoulder. We meet on the road a group of drummers, Lena and Robert who followed us and shot us on the camera then said it was a parade of firefighters. We pass through the narrow passages near entrances to some houses. Our guards told afterwards that at this point a man in a wheelchair went of the store and saw two blind squeezing between the passage and the parked bus and closing his mouth, he apparently told himself in Swedish: Oh my God. Johannes, first stiff and a little shaky inside as usual, then becomes more relaxed. Oh, how fine he will feel then! I give him a cane, and he begins to explore the city with it. We also touch it; there are shop glass windows, we find scarce stone walls. Johannes traditionally gets in a state that comes after the fear – he begins to hear city environment, he goes into another world, and at this point we remove bandage from this happy man. We promptly catch a taxi and go to the yacht club. Johannes tells an Iranian cabbie about his unique excursion experience. The taxi driver answers that his Iranian brother-in-law is also blind and that he worked in Tehran at the telephone exchange.
We get unloaded in the port and soon the guests come on board the catamaran. The first is the magic and amazing Glen from “Handicat”.
Right at this moment, we’re anchoring at the yacht club in Ventspils in a quiet Latvian evening. Silence all around. The yacht club where during the first Baltic voyage we had been left alone for the night on a catamaran without the crew. Lena and Artem were checking mooring lines all night in stormy weather. Oscar shared Latvian internet and I got in touch with old friends. Among them is Nastya Proskuryakova, a blind friend from Venstpils which shared a lot with us. Tomorrow we will meet with Nastya, Constantine and Tatyana, her parents. In the air is the silence and the smell of our diesel. Yanis already jumped onto the dock. Nastya is couching in the corner of the cockpit.
The final meeting on the catamaran in the Swedish capital was more than good. Glen got into our subject at once and after briefly listening to the idea of a joint voyage on the Baltic Sea next year began actively developing it. After Glen came ombudspersons for rights of the disabled in Stockholm and the Swiss Bern «Riitta-Leena Karlsson» and Miriam Gras. After a brief acquaintance Rita agrees to go on a tour with blindfolded with Zhenya Malyshko. Glen talks with Johannes. Standing around a common round table in the cockpit we discuss still the same issues; employment and independence of people with disabilities. Swedish social paradise but with a sting such as paid public toilets for everyone. I told him about our journey, about those whom we meet on the way. After the story about Oulu Rita confesses that she is from these places. It will be a double pleasure to hold an inclusive conference sailing in the north of the Gulf of Bothnia.
“Inclusive Baltic Sailing Congress” – the name comes from Johannes. Glen begins outlining project structure; Rita assures that at the verbal support level all is settled. We agree to discuss this topic in the postal correspondence. Glen talks about his yachting with his wife who had recovered from a back injury only 18 years later, also through the sail. Miriam says that in Switzerland, the issue of public toilets free visiting is solved by free access to toilets of all food establishments. Besides Miriam said that this year it had rained a lot of so the mountains are streaming of water and stones in Switzerland. Miriam complains of her poor English, she’s helped by her daughter with whom she is on vacation in Stockholm. We thank Miriam and Rita for having sacrificed vacation time and come to the meeting. We took a photo at the pictures with invitation to the Congress and said goodbye and see you soon.
Glen still lingers, telling the story about how he served on a radar point in the early 90’s with a Soviet officer, and after a night of transformation with a Russian army officer. I admire straight into Glen’s face that fate has brought us together with him. This is a man with whom it is difficult to part. But we do it, and after about an hour parting is much harder with Johannes, he goes to the station to take the train. Yes, three days with the labor teacher passed as a life.
Now we have Pasha Chegvintsev on board, another participant from Yekaterinburg, from our dear Medical College. Pasha helps to dismantle the super-gallery built by Johannes.
…We are pulling out heading to Ventspils.
Sometime later we got a message from Johannes that he was late for a minute, while the train was late for two minutes. He was happy greeting us.
Good-bye Scandinavia! We are moving forward.