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 Post subject: Across Ukraine Part Two
PostPosted: Fri Nov 16, 2018 2:07 pm 
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Joined: Sun May 04, 2014 12:19 am
Posts: 29
Location: Washington/Lake Mead/Ukraine
Once I hit the Black Sea I often had to leave my kayak pulled up on the beach and just trust that it would be there a couple of hours later when I returned from my trek to find a shop, food and water. Never once was there a problem. I always took my papers, my phone and the cash, as one should. I gradually relaxed about it and I think it is very eloquent comment concerning the Ukrainian people.

At Ochakiv, the first town of any size after you enter the Black Sea, you will be detained by the State Border Guards. They can see you coming from a long way off. You will need to show GPS tracks to prove that you did not pass the 12 mile limit and then re-enter Ukraine illegally. You will be tracked for the rest of your journey and they are seemingly everywhere. Every time you stop and turn on your phone you will get a message asking for your GPS coordinates. You will have to check in at night and in the morning when you set out. There are many Border Guard watch posts along the Black Sea shore. Wave. Remember: Ukraine is at war. The Guards are actually very nice people and once they figure out what you are up to it's comforting to know you are being tracked. Especially as I was alone. I thought that they were very kind.

On the reservoirs and the Black Sea the wind can go from glassy calm to maelstrom in about two minutes. Don't get far from shore. If you have any doubt, get ashore now. You will have to make some open water crossings. The longest I had was 14+ miles. Start at 3am to beat the wind. Plan your downwind bailout. I had one to make that the first potential landing was Turkey (200 miles) if I was unlucky. I was cautious with that one. Do not be shy about turning back. If it's not already too late.

Bugs. You will come to believe that most of the bio-mass in Ukraine is composed of ants, gnats and mosquitoes. Choose your tent site carefully and do not pitch it on an ant hill. In some places that is impossible. I once filled my kayak with ants overnight. I was expunging ants for three days. Getting out of the tent at night to pee is a suicide mission. I had a titanium pot to pee in. Only the best. Non-absorbent. Did not significantly flavor the coffee.

Snakes. You will see myriad snakes, some fairly large (over 4 feet). Watching them fish is amazing. They seem aggressive in that they will swim right toward you in the water and on the beach. They aren't. I'm convinced after numerous encounters that they just don't see very well and you just happen to be on their path. They will veer off at the last moment. If you stand very still they will get very close. Be not alarmed. They are beautiful and watching them stalk and catch fish is very wondrous. I have seen baby snakes no longer than six inches catch small fish with more mass than themselves. At times it seemed a question of who was eating whom.

Pike and carp. The Northern Pike (Shuka) are numerous and quite large. Their ambushings will keep you awake at night in some spots. You have to wonder about taking a dip, getting in there with whatever is making all that commotion. I once saw three seagulls standing on what I thought was a floating log in moderate chop. As I approached it became clear that they were all perched on an enormous dead carp, I mean a really big carp.

The people I met along the way were very kind, warm and quite generous. It was actually the best part of the experience. Ukraine is an undiscovered (so far) jewel and is a kayaking paradise. Go if you can. Don't be afraid.


Last edited by xeniv23 on Mon Nov 26, 2018 7:19 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 18, 2018 3:01 pm 
Brotherhood of the Golden Paddle

Joined: Mon Apr 18, 2005 3:40 pm
Posts: 1147
Location: isles of scilly UK
Sounds like a very interesting trip, and for those who have the time well worth considering. Thank you for posting it. Both parts should be read.


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 18, 2018 6:55 pm 
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Joined: Sun May 04, 2014 12:19 am
Posts: 29
Location: Washington/Lake Mead/Ukraine
It was a very interesting trip. It is quite easy to just do part of the route that I did. Bite off as much, or as little, as you have time for. Transportation between towns/cities is pretty simple. You can start anywhere and stop anywhere. It is not strictly necessary that you speak Ukrainian or Russian, though it would/does help. Knowing the alphabet is of great utility.

I used a Feathercraft Kahuna; no cubic centimeter was left unpacked. Had I to do it again I would take my Klepper AEII 520 with a 1.6 Kayaksailor. I could have sailed about half the time and it would have been faster overall and a lot easier to pack and unpack everyday and access equipage. I had a Windpaddle on my Kahuna but it was only useful for just a handful of occasions.

There is a very active kayaking community in Ukraine and they are eager to meet kayakers from abroad: you will feel very welcomed . I was fortunate to make some good friends there.


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