Russia - Facts

Select your download option below

  • ALERT: On 24 February 2022 Russia launched a large scale invasion of Ukraine which is ongoing.
  • COVID-19: Entry protocols for yachts have been affected by the pandemic. See the Biosecurity section for details.
  • Important pre-arrival information: Foreign yachts must arrive with visas for each crew member obtained in advance – however if your visit is for less than 8 days an e-visa is now possible. See Formalities for more information.
  • The break-up of the Soviet Union has radically altered the cruising picture in both the Baltic and Black Sea. Unfortunately, while the countries themselves have undergone a profound process of liberalisation, rules affecting the movement of foreign vessels have seen only a limited relaxation compared to the Soviet past. In this respect, Russia is the worst culprit and formalities for visiting yachts are just as cumbersome as in the past. Foreign vessels and their crews continue to be viewed with a high degree of suspicion and the officials one has to deal with can be just as difficult and unpleasant as their Soviet predecessors. After an initial outburst of interest, the number of cruising boats visiting Russia has levelled off as sailors realise that visiting Russia on their own boat is perhaps not worth all the aggravation.
  • Since the beginning of June 2012, it is now permitted for foreign vessels to cruise all of Russia’s inland waterways – in theory!  The details are still being worked out and all the officials involved informed. No special permit is required but one crew member has to be a Russian speaker. On some sections of waterway, a pilot is necessary.
  • Even if not always rigidly enforced, many of the restrictions introduced during the Soviet era have remained basically unchanged, so one should not expect the same kind of freedom of movement as is enjoyed by land tourists. Although foreign yachts can now enter Russian coastal waters, obtaining visas and permission for entry remains complicated. An invitation from an authorised body, such as a yacht club, is essential. Russian consulates will issue visas for all those named in the invitation with dates of birth and passport numbers for the period and the ports stated in the invitation. A vessel which takes shelter or stops in a port not specified in the visa can expect difficulties. (There are three Russian ports in the Eastern part of the Gulf of Finland which can be visited by foreign boats. It is enough to specify St.Petersburg in your visa to be able to visit the other two).
  • The lack of adequate facilities for visiting boats, unnecessarily complicated and time-consuming formalities, difficult officials and the distinct feeling that many Russians regard foreigners as nothing more than a convenient source of cash, should make anyone planning a visit to Russia consider seriously if the effort is really worth it.
  • Should the situation improve, from the cruising point of view, Russia has three main areas which can be visited, all very different in their own ways.
  • The Black Sea coast is now very much diminished following the independence of Georgia and Ukraine. The Black Sea ports, none of which are recognised Ports of Entry for yachts (they are commercial POE), discourage visits by foreign private yachts by obstructive bureaucracy and extremely high harbour charges. It is advisable to remain well clear of Russian territorial waters in the Black Sea. Since 2014, it is also now advisable to also avoid the Crimea. No foreign yachts have reported visiting here in recent years. What little information there is about these ports can be found in the RCCPF files in publications
  • The main attraction on the Baltic Coast is the historic city of St Petersburg, built on the banks of the River Neva and considered the most beautiful Russian city. The sea area between St Petersburg and Kronstadt, inside a man-made seawall, is a popular cruising area for Russian sailors. A highly enjoyable detour can now be made into the Finnish Saimaa Canal which gives access to Saimaa Lake, but whose entrance was barred in the past to foreign vessels. These restrictions have now been lifted by the Russian authorities. The Baltic enclave of Kaliningrad has been open to tourists since 1991, a small region of Russia squeezed between Lithuania and Poland and separated from the rest of Russia.
  • The Far East is more remote and less accessible to cruising yachts, as several sensitive areas are closed to foreign shipping. Weather considerations would probably deter most cruising yachts from sailing to the Arctic ports, which involves a long detour around the whole of Norway.
  • The best facilities for foreign boats are at the St Petersburg Central River Yacht Club. There are two Yacht Clubs (YCs) that claim to be the oldest in Russia, namely: Sea YC and Central River YC. The Central River YC is the biggest in Russia, it has the easiest access from the sea and is closer to the city centre.
  • Yacht building is gathering pace as there is a great demand for cruising boats. Although not up to western standards, repair facilities are good, as local mechanics are used to improvising when spares are not available. The situation regarding marine supplies and spares is gradually improving. Ordering essential spares from abroad and clearing them through customs can take a very long time.
  • Provisioning can be quite difficult as the yacht clubs are often out of town. There is usually a good selection of fresh produce which is better quality in the markets than in the large stores. Water is readily available, but the quality is sometimes questionable, so it should be treated; bottled water is widely available. Fuel is difficult to obtain, so it is best to order some via a yacht club or agency. There are two regular floating fuel stations at the River YC (of which one is a very modern one).

Read and Post Related Comments

If you have information for this section, or feedback on businesses used, please let us know at [email protected]. We also welcome new information about businesses you have used (see Related Businesses).

Select your download option below

Next Section: Profile: Security

Russia was last updated 2 years ago.

Related to following destinations: provides high quality courtesy flags that are manufactured in durable Knitted Polyester fabric. Knitted so that the fabric itself does not deteriorate in the constant movement that marine flags are usually exposed to, and polyester so that the flag does not weaken in the strong UV-light usually found in the main sailing areas of the world. offers a discount to Noonsite members.

Use the coupon code NOONSITE_5A2B when checking out to get 10% off today.

Buy Now On provides high quality courtesy flags that are manufactured in durable Knitted Polyester fabric. Knitted so that the fabric itself does not deteriorate in the constant movement that marine flags are usually exposed to, and polyester so that the flag does not weaken in the strong UV-light usually found in the main sailing areas of the world. offers a discount to Noonsite members.

Use the coupon code NOONSITE_5A2B when checking out to get 10% off today.

Buy Now On provides high quality courtesy flags that are manufactured in durable Knitted Polyester fabric. Knitted so that the fabric itself does not deteriorate in the constant movement that marine flags are usually exposed to, and polyester so that the flag does not weaken in the strong UV-light usually found in the main sailing areas of the world. offers a discount to Noonsite members.

Use the coupon code NOONSITE_5A2B when checking out to get 10% off today.

Buy Now On

You must Login or Register to submit comments.

  1. August 15, 2019 at 8:00 AM
    toddst says:

    On my recent passage from Portland, Oregon to Yokohama, Japan in my 60’ s/v Elcano I had the unpleasant experience of being arrested by a Russian Coast Guard gunboat off the southern tip of Sakhalin Island. We were transiting the area on the way to a planned landfall in Japan at Wakkanai on the NW corner of Hokkaido and within the traffic separation scheme shown on charts and in the UK pilot when a Russian boat appeared out of the dense fog and boarded us. We were told that we were violating the Russian Federation’s 12 nm limit of territorial waters without a permit and were arrested. We were unaware of this 12 nm claim as the chart and pilot made no mention of this. The Russians placed two individuals on board us—one a Coast Guard official and one in military fatigues—and told us we had to proceed about 12 hours to the nearest port of Korsocov to be interrogated regarding our violation of the Russian Constitution. The gunboat escorted us and told us where to anchor off the port.
    The next morning about ten officials boarded us led by a Chief Investigator who interviewed the crew separately and compiled lengthy, repetitive reports by hand. Meanwhile other officials examined, searched and photographed everything aboard. Fortunately we had a Russian speaker among our crew so we had some idea of what was going on as they had no English and even the official put aboard as a translator used google translate to communicate.
    After about 8 hours of this we were released with a US$78 fine and escorted out of Russian territorial waters by the Coast Guard gunboat. The fine had to be paid using a Russian internal transfer system that we only figured out with the help of a Russian friend living in Moscow.
    I suggest posting this on the Russia country page with a warning that the Russians are very sensitive to what they perceive as violations of their territory in this area. They were upset that charts and pilots did not reflect their law.
    Todd S Thompson
    s/v Elcano
    July 2019

    1. March 21, 2021 at 9:31 AM
      lurxl says:

      Wow, very interesting, -but apparently the officials behaved correctly, and you got away with a story to tell and an experience probably worth the 78$ 🙂
      Compared to other countries, which catch you for no reason at all, prison and ransom and damage to the boat..
      Except the worry it does not sound scary, right?

  2. August 9, 2019 at 3:05 AM
    artisthos says:

    Russia in 2021. Putting the engine in a 32′ Bayfield 2019 at Brand’s Marina, Port Clinton, Ohio. Sailing on the Ohio in a 19’ pocket cruiser out of the Ohio River Launch Club. Going up for a week at a time install the engine and Caphorn Self Steering device. Hopefully we will be able to trial the engine in September.
    Sailing the length of Lake Erie in the fall of 2019 and again several times in 2020.
    Setting off for Russia in May of 2021 sailing directly to Orkney Island, Scotland. Next Flekkeroy, Norway; Helsingor, Demark; Saint Petersburg, Russia; arriving mid August. Leaving her on the hard in Finland. Sail the lakes of Russia and in 22’ & 23’. Sail back to Lake Erie via the Caribbean.

  3. October 22, 2018 at 1:05 PM
    Lynda Lim says:

    Posted by Aleksandr Tarasov
    October 22 2018

    I live in Saint-Petersburg, may be you know that all Neva river bridges are have timetable for to be open at nights for giving possibility for the ships to go through

    1. March 21, 2021 at 9:34 AM
      lurxl says:

      I am planning to visit St. Petersburg with a small boat, once the Corona is done with, and continue visiting the inland waterways, which I heard is now possible.
      Do you know the rivers and lakes beyond St.Petersburg?

  4. March 28, 2018 at 4:22 PM
    Data Entry5 says:

    I’m interested in sailing in a catamaran from Petropavlovsk Kamchatskiy to St. Petersburg via the North East Passage. Anyone here willing to help me out with the details?

  5. March 11, 2018 at 7:30 AM
    Data Entry5 says:

    I am the skipper of 33’ sailing Yacht from Finland. My boat is registered and inspected annually in Finland. It is equipped with VHF Maritime +DSC radio.

    I am experienced sailing in Baltic see and Saimaa Lake. the mast of my boat is 15 m high. My Crew is Three Person and one of us is speaking Russia. Next summer we are planning to sail from the Gulf of Finland to Lake Ladoga through Neva River.

    I have couple of questions: 1. Do I need to bring the mast down when going through st Pietersburg? 2.if yes, where do I find the crane and help for the manouvere? 3. Where do I get information about the Yacht Clubs and marinas in the Ladoga Lake.

  6. March 5, 2018 at 2:24 PM
    Data Entry5 says:

    I’m the skipper of the Swiss sailing vessel Chamade. Last summer we cruised the far east coast of Russia and stopped at Petropavlovsk (Kamchatka). A great experience with a fascinating landscape and a very warm welcome. In Kamchatka, we were helped by Alexei. I warmly recommend this nice and reliable fellow.

    But the first “sailing” thru the administration and visa system could be difficult if not very well prepared. For more information, please look at our blog and the page “Far East Russia cruising notes”.

    SV Chamade

  7. June 25, 2017 at 6:33 PM
    Data Entry5 says:

    I live in the Far Eastern Russian port of PetropavlovskKamchatskiy- placed at Kamchatka peninsula. And I have assisted two Swiss yachts this year. Coming here is not so difficult as it looks.

    If you want to discover Russia in the Far East coast – contact me. I help you with anything. And I’m the owner of 30′ sailing yacht.

  8. September 9, 2014 at 7:18 PM
    Data Entry5 says:

    I have been following John´s travel through Russian canals and I fully agree with Tainui, those are fantastic waters to sail on. I really appreciate the positive attitude that Tainuis´ crew had towards sailing in Russia and Russia itself. A huge obstacle seems to be the Russian-speaking pilot that is required to be on each boat.

    I sailed through those canals from the Baltic Sea to the Black sea in a small Swedish boat in 1993. Me and my wife were planning to sail to the Mediterranean Sea. Since I was married to Russian and had travelled a lot through Russia, I decided to take the Soviet canal way to the Mediterranean. The bureaucracy during those times experienced some kind of vacuum as the country was evolving from Soviet Union to Russia. As we found out, there was no permission to get from any authority. I thank the Russian sailors I met who helped us with information about the canals.
    On our boat, the mast is 10meters high and we sailed maybe half of the route. We only brought down the mast when going through St Petersburg and the first 20km.

    I agree with John about the fact that Volga/Don is full of attractions with its size, culture and that it works like a life source in Russia. This quote perfectly presents my impression of the Volga.

    “Of the Volga-Don trip, I can only say that as an Australian I found every day a quite magical experience. What wonderful rivers they are! The endless secluded anchorages, vast inland seas, rich forested shores, sparkling onion dome churches, fascinating commercial shipping, the warmth and friendliness of the local people – all are a delight.

    After 40 years of ocean voyaging, I am finding my search for novelty less often requited, but this Russian voyage has been wonderful – life-changing even.” I agree that a Russian-speaking person aboard is necessary when locking and meeting authorities. To know Russian in Russia is the basis to feel the happiness and to get something in exchange in all that happens along the way.

    We never had any large expenses, it was easy to dock and we met a lot of nice people (except once), and never had to pay any bribes. Sometimes we had problems buying fuel along the way, but it always got sorted out with time. This issue is probably getting better with time. I really hope these canals are visited by many and someday will become a natural way for people who want to sail to the south or north through Europe. I look forward to getting more information about the experiences of Tainui and other sailors that have sailed through Russia!

    Christer E
    S/Y Afrodite, homeport Norrtälje situated in Stockholm Archipelago
    English version about the trip.
    Mail: [email protected]

  9. March 22, 2014 at 11:17 PM
    Data Entry5 says:

    Cruising down the Volga from White Sea to Black Sea. Australian yacht Tainui has just completed this journey, from Archangel’sk to Rostov-on-Don.

    This is the first time a foreign-flagged yacht has been allowed into the Volga-Don waterway system.
    For details, check out, or our article in OCC Flying Fish 2013/2. This journey is now definitely do-able.

Click to access the login or register cheese