The Baltic is the world's largest sea composed of brackish water. The demarcation of the Baltic Sea was established at the Helsinki Convention of 1974 and, with regards to the boundary between it and the North Sea, is the parallel of latitude N57 44’8” which represents a line stretching from Marstrand to Skagens Rev (the Skaw), Denmark's most northerly point. Waters to the north of this demarcation line, i.e. the Skagerrak, are considered part of the North Sea.
For practical purposes, the Skagerrak is frequently grouped together with the Kattegatt which is the area between the demarcation line and the Danish islands of Fyn and Sjaeland.
The Baltic extends from the demarcation line to the Gulf of Bothnia where Sweden shares a border with Finland and into the Gulf of Finland and the Russian port of St. Petersburg.
Generally, the Baltic is noted for being a shallow sea with an average depth of 56 meters although plunging , on occasion, to far greater depths. At its deepest, off Landsort somewhat south of Stockholm, the Baltic's depth is 460 meters. In total, the Baltic has a surface area of some 355 000 km2. The most noticable difference between the Baltic and the adjacent North Sea is the low salinity of the Baltic which in the south west is approximately 5 -10 p.p.m. decreasing towards the Gulf of Bothnia where the it becomes almost saltless.
For cruisers with a literary inclination, Arthur Ransom, the author of the Swallows and Amazon novels, spent much time sailing in the Baltic. So much so that he ended up marrying Evgenia Shvelpina, Trotsky's secretary. He also knew many of the leading Bolsheviks, including Lenin, Radek and, of course, Trotsky.
Cruising in General
Cruising in the Baltic Sea is safer than any other sea. Weather is easy to predict (best link: http://www.flyingineurope.be/aviation_weather_maps.htm) and there are no sharks or other dangerous animals, the most dangerous are viper and mite. To avoid them, look where you step and do not go under alder trees. Most expensive are the nordic countries (Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and Finland) due to high taxation. Cheapest are the baltic countries. Archipelogo of Turku is know as one of the finest archipelagos in the world. In holidays there are lots of Swedish sailors among the Finnish sailors. A trip to Saimaa lake is interesting because of the Saimaa Canal and sandy beaches. Stocholm archipelago is also interesting place and you can sail to big swedish lakes too. Compared to cruising in archipelagos, coastal cruising is a bit boring, harbors are similar and very few nature harbors. In archipelagos there millions of nature harbors for all people, for example:
Charts of the Baltic are published by the hydrographic institutions of Russia, Germany, Sweden the U.K and U.S.A. however for navigation within archipelagos in particular national charts produced by the hydrographic services of Denmark, Germany, Sweden and Finland are essential.
The climate of the Baltic Sea Region reflects its geographical position and can be deemed to be between maritime and continental i.e. wettish, with moderate winters and summers, in the south to sub-arctic in the north.
Ice in the Baltic can be a hinder to shipping although the southern Baltic has been ice free this past 15 or so winters.
Weather information for the Baltic is readily available from Danish, German, Finnish, Swedish and Polish meteorological offices.
- The Swedish Shipping Forecast
- The Danish Meteorological Institute
- Atlantic Surface Pressure Chart from the B.B.C. - a very useful feature
- The Polish Numerical Weather Forecast also for South Baltic
Yachts navigating in the Baltic area will find fitting a receiver for weather forecasts via radioteletype (RTTY) from the German National Weather Agency (DWD) a great advantage.
Hydrography:- The science of the measurement and description and mapping of the surface waters of the earth with special reference to navigation.
The offshore islands of the Baltic, i.e. islands other than those which are to be found in archipelagos or in coastal waters, are very limited. In fact, there are only two of any consequence; the Danish island of Bornholm and the Swedish island of Gotland. Details of these should be found in the relative national section.
See also List of islands in the Baltic Sea.
Also see World Cruiser's Nets
- Stockholm Radio's chart of VHF coverage - ALL coastal VHF stations in the Baltic as well as German, Danish and Norwegian North Sea coasts.
The Baltic is not a difficult area to navigate. Aids to navigation are many and varied and the buoys are generally very good but mariners should be particularly cautious during the winter and spring months as ice flows can occur even in the Baltic’s climatically mildest areas which can cause buoys to break adrift or drag their moorings.
The Baltic is, for all intents and purposes, a tide-less sea but strong winds in this or the adjacent North Sea area can cause strong currents to flow. This is particularly noticeable in the narrow passages between the south western Baltic and the Kattegatt where strong currents of up to 5 knots can be found in the Sound, the Great and the Little Belts and adjacent areas. There are no currents from Gotland to Kemi or Sankt-Petersburg.
See each country listed above
Immigration & Customs
See each country listed above
All countries of the Baltic area with the exception of Russia are members of the Schengen group of countries. This means that there is a common visa regime for these countries and a Schengen visa issued for one country is valid also in another. Those who require visas (generally citizens of other countries than the EU, the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Switzerland) must apply for the visa at the consulate of the first Schengen country to be visited PRIOR TO entering that country. More information regarding Schengen and the need for visas can be found by following the link below.
The Russian system for issuing visas is a little more complex. Contact your nearest Russian consular office well before your planned visit.
Also see each country listed above
Health & Security
Submit any health warnings/information and any security details here.
Countries in the Region
- Denmark (Has data)
- Lithuania (Has data)
- Russia (Has data)
- Sweden (Has data)
Contact details of "Cruiser's Friends" that can be contacted for local information or assistance.
List links to discussion threads on partnering forums. (see link for requirements)
- Ellennet, copy from archive.org
- Weather in the Baltic Frank Singleton's Weather and Sailing Pages
- Baltic Cruising Guides, The Cruising Association UK
References & Publications
Books, Guides, etc.
- RCC Pilotage Foundation, The Baltic Sea, Last Printed 2010, Imray, ISBN: 9781846231872
- Fay and Graham Cattell, Harbours of the Baltic States, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, Cruising Association, Last Updated 2010
Websites that List Available Guides & Books
- RCC Pilotage Foundation, Passage Planning Map based index to RCC Crusing Guide Books & Passage Planning Guides.
- Imray produce many Cruising Guides for Many areas of the world, 
- Conference of Yacht Cruising Clubs (UK), Sailing Directions published by CYCC members
- Ocean Cruising Club, Cruising Areas This website contains information for a large number of cruing areas including brief information about each area and a list of guide books as well as a Google map of the locations in the reports.
- Cruising Association, Publications Books and Cruising Guides.
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