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Voyage to tall-ship rally Delf Sail in the Netherlands (24.06.1998 - 4.07.1998)

On June 24, 1998 the great sea adventure of Baltic University students and some other people has started. The idea of the cruise appeared some time ago, but it was not before this year that all preparations were finished thanks to the work of Mrs Maria Winkler and funds from the Swedish  Institute. The cruise has been divided into two parts: working one, because we have been the temporary crew of S.Y. “Pogoria”; and a scientific one, while we have been participating in lectures and discussions lead by the students and teachers of the Baltic University. The topics discussed included: “Miłosz – the meeting place of cultures”, “Sustainability in Baltic countries”, “Marine biology”, “What can students do to improve the co-operation in the region?”.

On June 24, 1998 almost 40 complete freshmen and already sailing brothers gather on board of Pogoria, which moors next to ORP “Błyskawica” at Skwer Kosciuszki in Gdynia. After completing the final crew list we are welcome on board by the captain Jerzy Rakowicz-Raczyński and Lars Ryden – the director of the Baltic University Programme.

Because quite big part of new crew consists of 100% land rats we get 24 hours to get acquainted with the sailing-ship well enough, so that we would not make it sink by the first occasion. Difficult duty of teaching our bunch falls to the boatsman, Misiek, and we have to admit that he does this ungrateful job with his entire heart and enthusiasm. He names all the ropes (we are lucky that ropes are colourful, in the future we will see that only the command “Third blue rope on the right, pull!”, will have the effect) and sails, he also makes us climb up the mast and spars, do and undo the sails. There is some mess but finally we manage to do something and Misiek lets us free.

Unfortunately, or maybe luckily, nobody believes in our capabilities and therefore the cannon-fodder is divided into 4 groups – watches, under the guidance of Elder. The Elders are people who have some experience in sailing. They are right hands of watch officers, and, at least theoretically, we should listen to them. Watch officers are: Krzysztof Rudzki – chief officer, Jerzy Jaszczuk, Kazimierz Goebel and Mikołaj Lewków. Above the watch officers there is only one person – the captain Jerzy Rakowicz-Raczyński, first after God. Mechanics: Mariusz Cwingelberg and Piotr Geissler take care of the engines (Niuniuś). The boatsman Michał Łapiński – Misiek orders us about so we do not blow the ship up into pieces while having a good mood. That’s all for the spirit, but no one can live only from sailing, so it is worth being in good relation with the cook Robert Balcerzak, and maybe one gets some extra sweets.

As mentioned before first 24 hours is an occasion for us to get acquainted with  the ship, each other and the thought of the coming cruise. With time the tension is increasing and on Thursday afternoon the emotions reach the top. Finally our patience is awarded – we are leaving! Our Great Voyage has started.

Our first destination is Bornholm. During watches and between them, not to allow us to get bored, the boatsman successfully finds us something to do, including polishing all brass parts, washing the deck etc. We are also taught how to behave in case of danger and alarm. But it is a lot too difficult to remember and recognise few sounds, and sometimes we appear at the sail alarm  in safety-jacket instead of safety hunnies. At the beginning we use the engine to propel the ship, but at the first moment of stronger winds  we use the knowledge so patiently offered to us by Misiek, officers and some of the Elders and we pull up the sails.

The second evening of the cruise and third on board of Pogoria we arrive to Rønne harbour on Bornholm. Our appearance is a kind of sensation and we are observed by a group of locals. After supper everybody, except from the watch on duty, uses the occasion to visit the city. We admire the architecture, silence and calmness in the town.

Our next destination is Copenhagen. While approaching the capitol of Denmark very beautiful weather becomes worse and worse, making us leave sweet idleness and get to work with clearing the sails. We pay our midnight homage to the Little Mermaid in the rain and light of lightnings. We moor in the centre of Copenhagen at Amalienborg wharf, right next to the royal yacht – Rose Marie. Next day is for sight-seeing, because the crew high-mindedly decides to decrease our duties for this day (thanks so much Misiu!). In the evening there is a football game, 1/8 of World Cup Finals, Denmark-Nigeria. Danish team wins and the entire capitol is celebrating the victory.

On Monday we say farewell to Little Mermaid and continue our cruise towards the North Sea. We pass Helsingor – the castle where Shakespeare placed the action of “Hamlet”. In Skagerrak Strait using favourable winds, sun and full sails we decide to take some photos of Pogoria. It could not go without an accident, the bath of pontoon with entire content, but everything ends quite all right.

Our sailing technique is better now, the zigzag is not the only route of motion. Unfortunately ropes are still a problem for us and it is not so unusual that only the command “This yellow, nice to touch, loose!” is successful. During the watches we improve  the conditions of the deck and brass items and also learn rules of thumb and secrets of navigation and sailing. At the beginning the most favourite place to spend watches was navigational room, with time, especially during nice weather, bowsprit is became highly popular. Everybody wants to be “on the eye”.

Up till now the Neptune has been kind for us, but we must have offended him somehow (however not on purpose), because now he shows us his power and the sailing-ship rolls up to 200. The crew has some problems with keeping balance and walking straight, which is especially visible in the kitchen.

We are approaching the final destination, Delfzji in the Netherlands, where the operation Delf Sail ’98 is held. The world’s biggest sailing-ships are coming here: Cedov, Krusenstern, Sagros, and also Dar Młodzieży and Pogoria’s sisters: Iskra and Kaliakra.

On one hand we think that our adventure with Pogoria has started only yesterday, we have just started to treat HER like home. On the other hand we feel like we have spent ages on board. One thing is sure, the time of leaving HER is coming and it does not make us happy. We would like to stay just a little bit longer. Let’s hope that at least some of us will return here or become interested in sailing because it is an unforgettable experience and never-ending adventure.

The chronicler needs to apologize for not showing the importance of the movie “Rejs” by Tym and Piwowski during this cruise. I think that everybody has seen it, it has been shown at least once in two days, but sometimes it has been watched twice a day. Dialogues, songs and scenes taken from the movie are noticeable at every step. “Mis” ranks  second in popularity.


To Pogoria and all her future crews,
we wish You favourable winds and one foot of water under keel.

Crew from
24.06.1998 – 4.07.1998

Paulina Bohdanowicz (July 1998)

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