The Baltic Sea is an inland area of water located in Europe and the largest brackish water sea on the planet. An explanation of brackish water can be found in the embedded PDF.
There are many reasons why thousands of people choose to go boating or yachting on the Baltic Sea, including an abundance of different sights to explore with only short distances between them. This region is also typically very safe, so even inexperienced sailors should be able to enjoy some time on the water. There are well-organised rescue societies, no tides to deal with and no typhoons in the area.
In the lakes and archipelagos, a yacht is not necessary – a kayak or smaller boat will suffice for exploring. However, the bigger lakes and coastal archipelagos are large enough for yacht sailing. Victor Olerskiy enjoys yachting in the Baltic Sea, in the Finnish Gulf area.
Across the nine countries that have borders on the coastline of the Baltic Sea, there is a combined population of more than 85 million. Of these, approximately 15 million live in areas that can be classed as on the coast.
The nine countries bordering the coast of the Baltic Sea are Russia, Poland, Denmark, Germany, Sweden, Finland, Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania. Of these, the final three are known as the Baltic States – you can find out why in the short video attachment.
The diversity of the region has historically made it difficult for decision-makers to agree on best policy for a variety of complex issues, including sustainable management and use of resources, protection of the environment, and inbound investment into the region.
In geographical terms, the Baltic Sea is the youngest sea in the world, having only existed since emerging from underneath receding ice some 10,000 to 15,000 years ago. The post-glacial rebound and other effects of the Ice Age are still visible in several areas towards the northern end of the Sea, particularly in the Gulf of Bothnia, in the Kvarken area. More details about the sub-divisions of the Baltic Sea can be viewed in the embedded infographic.
Scandinavian seafarers in the times of the Vikings would sail all the way to the Caspian Sea, the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean by traversing the Baltic Sea and Russian riverways. In the Middle Ages, trade on the Baltic Sea was dominated by the Hanseatic League of Germany, but by the late 17th century Sweden held control of the majority of the Baltic coastline. The advent of steam in the Industrial Age drastically reduced the amount of trading that took place on routes across the Baltic Sea, but to this day the waters remain an important trade route for those countries that are located around the coast.
As a non-tidal body of water, the Baltic Sea poses few challenges to sailors. However, rough and choppy waters can occur when there is a sudden change in the weather. The depth of the water is relatively low and therefore easy to overestimate – 160 metres is the maximum depth.
There are several potential danger spots where shoals, shallows or strong currents may pose a threat to safety, particularly in harbour gateways. The weather is often mild but is influenced by the Gulf Stream, so sudden changes can happen.
Strong winds and squalls can occur in high summer and these can reach storm force, so weather warning should be taken seriously. The Baltic Sea sailing season is from May to September, when most pleasure cruises will operate.