Estonian yacht sails around the world

  • 2000-09-21
  • John Knight
DARWIN, Australia - Marking the half-way point in its trip around the world, the 13.3-meter Estonian yacht Lennuk departed Darwin, Australia at 11 a.m. local time on Sept. 13 bound for Benoa, Bali, Indonesia.

Lennuk, the first boat ever to sail around the world under the Estonian flag, started its voyage in Oct. 1999, and should return to its home port in March, 2001. Estonian President Lennart Meri is the trip's patron.

Lennuk's visit to Darwin caught the attention of the few Estonians living in the city, as this is the first Estonian yacht to carry the national flag around the world.

The crew's first difficulty on arrival on Aug. 25 was their discovery that they could not enter the Cullen Bay Marina without an underwater inspection to check that black-striped mussels were not attached to the vessel's hull. This sea creature invaded all of Darwin's marinas in early 1999 and cost a substantial amount of money to eliminate.It was feared that it would, by its massive reproductive rates, cause major damage to the pearl farming industry of North Australia.

Consequently Lennuk had to be lifted ashore for 48 hours to kill off a small amount of marine growth. They were then allowed to enter the marina on the evening of Aug. 29. For the next fortnight the crew, most of whose families visited them, spent their time on sightseeing, repairs and maintenance.

The Estonian Consul-General in Australia, Malle Tovher, came from Sydney to visit the crew during their stay, and the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade hosted a function also attended by Darwin's Lord Mayor George Brown and yachting leaders.

Lennuk's Captain Mart Sarso was favorably impressed by Darwin's ability to meet all the boat's needs. The engine was serviced, the radio repaired, the batteries replaced and rigging and sails restored to good condition.

The crew and their families visited the World Heritage Kakadu National Park as well as other places of interest including Litchfield National Park, the wildlife park at Berry Springs and a bull-riding rodeo.

Departure was delayed because the Indonesian Government insisted on visas for the crew, who were traveling on seaman's discharge books and would not normally be required to have visas. The yacht was able to sail, only a day late, with the crew well-rested and the yacht in good condition for the voyage ahead. From Bali the route is via Christmas and Coco-Keeling Islands to Mauritius and South Africa. The route from there is via the South and North Atlantic returning to Tallinn in March 2001.