6 years ago

2017 July August Marina World

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  • Marinas
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  • Estonia
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The magazine for the marina industry


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MARKET UPDATE: ESTONIA Kakumäe Marina, just west of Tallinn, is in the process of being developed. A 300- berth floating pontoon system is complete, an upgraded access road is under way and plans are in hand for varied shoreside infrastructure. Taking to the water by Carol Fulford Bordering Russia to the east, Latvia to the south and with a northern coastline looking across the Gulf of Finland to Helsinki, Estonia has a rich and varied heritage and plenty of space within its 45,227km² (17,462mi²) mainland and island borders for a population of just 1.3 million. A battleground over several centuries for Denmark, Germany, Russia, Sweden and Poland, and conquered by Danes, Germans, Russians and Swedes not necessarily in that order and often more than once, Estonia won independence ‘in perpetuity’ in February 1920 under The Tartu Peace Treaty only to discover that ‘perpetuity’ didn’t after all last forever. In 1940, Estonia was annexed by the Soviet Union; in 1941 it was occupied by Nazi Germany; and in 1944 it was reoccupied by the Soviets. In the course of the collapse of the USSR, Estonia regained independence in 1991 and joined the EU and NATO in 2004. Over the past 26 years, while proudly flying the blue, black and white tricolour, Estonians have travelled, embraced the digital age with open arms – inventing Skype along the way – and benefited from EU funding to restore and restructure heritage sites. The coastline and waterfront that was locked down by the Soviet has now been returned to the people who can enjoy all the associated leisure and sporting opportunities that this brings. Song of opportunity Famous for its music festivals and huge collection of folk songs, Estonia marks time to a new post-Soviet refrain of opportunity. “We’ve lost a generation of seafarers because of the Soviet ban,” explains Jaano Martin Ots, CEO of the Estonian Small Harbour Development Centre and co-author of Estonian Cruising Guide. “Sailing was discouraged during Soviet times but racing was encouraged because of the Soviet drive to win Olympic medals.” This meant that competitive sailing was permitted in Pirita near Tallinn in the Gulf of Finland but a chain was actually installed across the bay to stop people sailing out to sea and leaving the country. Over the past few years, there has been increased interest in sailing, according to Ots, and the emphasis now is on having sailing schools at the country’s relatively new chain of marinas. Ots and others formed an association in 2011 as a lobby group to encourage government support of a marina network and then set to work establishing this Baltic Sea sailing distances. Courtesy: Estonian Cruising Guide network. The aim was to create marinas about 48km (30mi) apart to enable day sailors to cruise the coast. The project was backed by Estonian authorities, bilateral projects with Latvia, and EU funds. “We need more marinas south of Pärnu but we’ve largely achieved the aim,” Ots confirms. “Five or six years ago there were very few marinas.” Today, there are around 2,000 regatta/advanced sailors and 25,000 registered leisure boats in Estonia, but most are motorboats or recreational fishing vessels. The majority of boats moored seasonally at marinas are Estonia-owned but visitors are given a warm welcome. “There is always space at the marinas as there are no natural harbours or safe mooring places elsewhere,” Ots admits. “A harbourmaster has an obligation to find space.” He refers, on this basis, to the socalled ‘guest harbours’. “There are 186 ‘marinas’ in Estonia but many are very small and many are in very shallow water and only suitable for dinghies or small recreational fishing boats. Around 50 can accommodate larger boats and these are styled as our ‘guest marinas’.” Marinas are owned by local authorities, private entities, the military and police. Private marinas are not always for public use, are mostly quite small and have sole access to the water. “Everyone in Estonia has a right of access to the waterfront but if people build a marina in front of their property it becomes private – no public right of way,” observes Indrek Ilves, - July/August 2017 35

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