Kronstadt is a town and a district of Saint Petersburg located on Kotlin island in the Gulf of Finland. Sea transportation was the only way to get to the island for a long time. Nowadays, construction of the Saint Petersburg Flood Prevention Facility Complex allows traveling to Kronstadt by the road on a dam built through the gulf. Construction of north area of the dam connecting the island with the north coast is finished. Construction of the south area is almost complete.
Seven killometers far from Kronstadt, on the south coast of the gulf there is a town called Lomonosov also known as Oranienbaum. In 1966 year, icebreaking ferries “Nikolay Kaplunov” and “Andrey Korobitsyn” had been introduced as a replacement to the winter road Lomonosov-Kronstadt going on the frozen gulf. The ferries were designed to take passengers and cars and they are operating to this day providing the link between two towns all the year round. When the south area of the dam will be finished, the ferries may become a history passing their role to a bus connection.
A week ago on January 20 2010, we took a commuter train to Oranienbaum-1 station in order to experience still functioning icebreaking passenger connection between the towns.
“Andrey Korobitsyn” is one of two ferries on the route between passenger dock of Lomonosov and winter dock of Kronstadt. This time we took another ferry of the same construction – “Nikolay Kaplunov”. The one way ticket costs just 35 rubles. Trip to Kronstadt takes approximately 30 minutes. Ferry timetables are available on the site of Kronstadt town (in Russian).
When boarding it was possible to see a tug turning a tanker “Gazpromneft East” to the exit of Lomonosov harbor. The tanker went out of the harbor followed by the tug before us.
Now it is our time to follow the tanker, leave the harbor and take the course to the Kotlin island along the fairway #7. In spite of frost we took a place on the deck. There is a heated place for the passengers on the ferry equipped with seats, but there is not much possible to see through a porthole.
Kronstadt is quite near. We are crossing the fairway #2 also known as Saint Petersburg Sea Channel. The channel is used for vessel traffic to the sea port of Saint Petersburg located at shallow Neva Bay. Winter traffic is supported by icebreakers. You can see the above noted tanker and tug going to the Saint Petersburg along the channel.
And now after short period of time we are entering Srednyaya harbor of Kronstadt through Lesnyye gates where the final point of our voyage Zimnyaya dock is located. Traffic to and from the port of Kronstadt is mostly using Lesnyye gates and controlled by the signs posted on the signal beacon located near the gates.
This ferry is at the moment the affordable and easy way of having a winter sea voyage in the east part of the Gulf of Finland. The ferry connection most likely will not close till the end of the winter navigation, thus everybody who wants to try still has the time to do it.