Milonga yacht under the flag of 100th anniversary of the TASSR completes circumnavigation in Turkey

The yacht's captain, 72-year-old Almaz Aleyev, is happy that the idea has been implemented but says that the “cursed covid” brought a lot of difficulties

A sailing yacht with three Tatarstan citizens on board and under the flag of the 100th anniversary of the Republic of Tatarstan completed a 9-month global circumnavigation on the afternoon of June 14, in the Turkish marina. The yacht has travelled about 45 thousand kilometres, the crew got into trouble, experienced various adventures — and finally the long voyage was over. Realnoe Vremya called the captain of the yacht — 72-year-old patriarch of Tatarstan sailing Almaz Aleyev. He gave some details of his journey.

Three Tatarstan citizens conquered “the sailing Everest”

On 14 June, the Milonga sailing yacht with the Tatarstan crew on board came to the marina of Turkish Marmaris — thus completing the round-the-world trip along the route that is considered a kind of Everest in the world of sailing. The ship's captain is 72-year-old Almaz Aleev, master of sports, yacht captain of ocean navigation and head of the Sailing School of Tatarstan. Thirty-two-year-old assistant captain Ilfat Minnibayev and 36-year-old boatswain Vil Sagitov sailed with him 45,000 kilometres, conquering three oceans — the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian. However, Vil “got off the route” a couple of weeks before its end — for family reasons, he was forced to fly home a little earlier. Before the end of the round-the-world tour, he was replaced by another athlete who arrived from Tatarstan.

Milonga left Kazan on 28 July 2020 — the journey took 9 months. The circumnavigation is timed to the 100th anniversary of the TASSR: the event's logo is printed on the sail, and the flag of Tatarstan flies over the yacht. It was planned that the sailors would pass the flag of the 100th anniversary of the Republic of Tatarstan to the representatives of the Tatar diaspora in Australia, but the plans were disrupted by the coronavirus.

Various troubles awaited the sailors on the way. But in the end, everything ended well, and the ambitious goal has been achieved. The three daredevils have successfully completed their desperate adventure.

Almaz Aleyev: “There were no problems before, but now there are no lyrics and romance...”

Here is what captain of the yacht Almaz Aleev tells Realnoe Vremya:

“We had been hatching this idea for a long time. It was possible to implement it with the financial support of private businesses. Only the damned covid added difficulties. The epidemic changed a lot in such journeys. Previously, there were no problems — we could go to the port of any country, pay for parking, and go out to the city to see. But now there is no such lyrics and romance. Certainly, we are very happy that we have realised the idea. But because of the pandemic, a number of bureaucratic formalities had to be constantly carried out.”

Talking about how the yacht sailed, Almaz Askhatovich describes the route:

“We started from Turkey on September 15. We went out to the Mediterranean Sea, passed through Algeria and Tunisia. In Gibraltar, there were no problems at all, although it was the height of the pandemic. The ship's autopilot was supposed to come to us there. We went out into the city, got everything we needed without problems, prepared the yacht, and went out into the Atlantic. It was good there: mostly fair winds, flying fish and dolphins were seen… Beauty! When we reached the Caribbean, we stopped in the Grenadine — where the guys congratulated me on my birthday. Then we passed the Panama Canal — there, of course, was not without bureaucracy: for example, when passing the canal, there must be a pilot on board. But in general, we did not feel any particular problems.”

As the most pleasant stop, the captain recalls a few days on the Marquesas in the Pacific Ocean. He says that everything was completely free, there was no quarantine, the people were very good-natured, and the yacht was provided with food, drinking water and fuel.

The world is no good without good people

But the yacht was not allowed to go to Samoa — they were told to go further and did not provide any help at all. Although, according to international codes, in cases when a ship runs out of all supplies and fuel, it has the right to call at any port in the world, and the crew must be helped. But in the end, we had to wait until Vanuatu. And we told you about what happened there: it was on Vanuatu that Milonga was quarantined for long 14 days.

“But everything was successfully resolved," says Almaz Aleev. “Then we came to Australia, passed the Great Barrier Reef. A very beautiful place, but also very dangerous from the point of view of navigation. In Australia, we were supposed to meet with our compatriots, but the laws there are very strict — we were not allowed to go ashore. Although our position was taken into account, and when we approached Darwin, we were given supplies and fuel, they treated us very humanly. Australians protect the health of their nation, and I understand their strict laws.

Next, the yachtsmen thought to go to Bali to refuel — but they demanded $1,800 for entering the port. Since the trip was funded by donations from a private company and the personal funds of the yachtsmen, they could not afford such a luxury.

“We had to pull almost at zero fuel in a weak wind. We barely made it to Sri Lanka. And there was the same story. They promised to refuel us, but they demanded $1,000 for entering the port. It's good that in the end we met a fishing boat — and there the guys helped us. And they filled us up, and threw us some fish. However, at first they took us for pirates. It is no wonder — we were ugly, thin, bearded… Then we also had the help of an Indian tractor with a barge — they were very friendly when they found out that we were Russians. Good-natured, good people. They gave us food, fuel…"

In the Maldives, an agent was waiting for the yacht — here the crew rested for a few days, settled food and fuel matters, and moved on.

“They realised that there was nothing to take from us”

In the Gulf of Aden in the Arabian Sea, our sailors experienced another adventure: a powerful boat with six ferocious-looking Arabs on board approached the Milonga.

“They didn't have any fishing rods, and there was no sign that they were fishermen. They came up to us and stared at us tenaciously, all six of them. And they say: “We'll come aboard.” I replied: “Absolutely not, guys, good bye, we need to keep going.” Well, they looked at us — they realised that there was nothing to take from us. We looked like this by the end of the circumnavigation — we were all black, skinny, dried up… So we managed to get away from them, and they did not catch up. There were dashing places, Somalia is not far away, so the crews look at each other: are there pirates coming?"

In the Suez Canal, yachtsmen photographed the ill-fated container ship Ever Given, entered the Mediterranean Sea — and here is the long-awaited Turkey, the end of the journey! Now the sailors will have to rest for a few days — and then take a roundabout route (in the absence of direct flights) to get home to Kazan.

By Lyudmila Gubaeva