Who knew. The Baltic Sea is basically a giant lake that barely opens on one end between the coasts of Denmark and Sweden – in fact, it’s not dissimilar to Lake Pontchartrain, only much larger and not patrolled by the Russian Baltic Fleet. I have a 9am boat call on a Stockholm based TP 52, Blixt Pro Sailing, and headed out with them this afternoon for a tune-up sail in preparation for the ÅF Offshore Race that runs 350nm from Stockholm and then into the Baltic where we will round Gotland Island before finishing in Sandhamn, Sweden.
What I’ve learned so far is that the Baltic Sea is in dire straits, mainly from Russian pollution and the dimming of fresh water flows from the adjacent countries – this has led to saltwater intrusion from the North Sea. Lake Pontchartrain in New Orleans experienced a very similar situation, again on a much smaller scale, due to MRGO. The Baltic also holds “dead zones” on a scale similar to the Gulf of Mexico due to agricultural runoff and algae blooms – at least the Gulf of Mexico gets a cleanse from the Loop Current and the Gulf Stream. Blixt Pro Sailing has joined with Race for the Baltic in order to raise awareness for this cause and I met a few of the this afternoon, a lot of them Americans.
I’ve also learned that when anything is wrong in this region you blame the Estonians. Never blame the Russians. Putin drives Harleys and likes to throw his weight around – you know what they say about dudes like that. Only a few months ago he caused an uproar by sending Russian bombers accidentally on a bombing “training” run in Swedish airspace.
Anyway, I am headed out for the boat in the morning. This skipper has won this race 9 times and is looking for his tenth – the fastest they’ve completed it is in 44 hours. Blixt and her crew get shipped out to major regattas all over Europe, as such, I’ve already started luring Blixt down to the Gulf Coast for the Regata al Sol in 2014. <You know skipper, there probably hasn’t been a European boat & crew to race across the Gulf of Mexico since the 1960’s – you’d definitely make some noise.>
He did not dismiss the idea. In fact, started talking about shipping costs for the boat.