Although yachting is less popular in Ukraine than abroad, it has a certain cache on Kyiv’s social scene. Seen as an elite sport, entertainment, lifestyle, or all in one, it is a great option to enjoy an escape from your daily routine. And you don’t need to be an oligarch to do it.
What could be better than taking a private yacht charter on the river on a hot summer’s day or a quiet evening? With this in mind, we explore what the Parusniki yacht club has to offer.
White and Beautiful
Walking down to the Dniprovska embankment, there are plenty of attractive vessels moored at the wharf; some of them managed by Parusniki. Tonight we join a group on a two-hour night city tour. This white wooden sea cruising sailboat with traditionally gracious exterior lines is designed for both pleasure and sport. Strikingly, the yacht has the same name as What’s On’s editor-in-chief – Lana. It must be a good sign.
Before boarding, I take my shoes off to abide by marine rules. Once the other participants – three women and a young couple – occupy their seats, the yacht pulls off from the shore. Captain Oleh Dovhalenko radiates calmness and confidence coming from his vast experience.
As we leave the dock behind, Oksana, the second-in-command, helps the captain set the two sails – the staysail and the mainsail. Off we go against the wind upstream along the Dnipro; we are headed ‘into deep waters’ in the direction of Vyshhorod,
Sailing Around the World
Lana was built in 2000 in the Mariupol shipyard for the purpose of cruising across the Azov Sea. “It is equipped with a lifting keel which provides the ultimate flexibility of sailing in very shallow waters and gets to places inaccessible to other boats,” the captain explains.
With a 12-metre mast and 3.5 metres in width, it is the only 100% eco-friendly as well as largest sailing yacht in Kyiv’s water area. When the wind subsides, Lana uses the sails or a solar-powered electric engine.
It is also a long-range yacht fit for round-the-world journeys. “It would take at least four or five years to go around the globe. Of course, you would make stops for food, water, and whatever else that needs replenishing. Only sailboats should be used for such trips – it would be very expensive if you were to use petrol!” the captain says.
You could live on board for some time without heading to shore I realise as I go down the ladder to an inside compartment that boasts four small passenger rooms and six sleeping berths. The facilities include all you require for a comfortable trip – a kitchen, fridge, cooktop, and toilet also known as a marine head. In fact, “the yacht can accommodate 10 passengers,” says the captain. The cabin gives a sense of security and safety. With all the hatches battened down, the boat can easily survive any storm and prevent water from getting below-deck.
Though Lana is not a racer, it has won a couple of trophies for coming second in the 2014 Kaniv Reservoir September Regatta and third in the 2016 Victory Day competition.
Gone With the Wind
As the wind changes direction, the crew adjusts the sails. “When the wind is favourable, Lana can reach its top speed of 20 kilometres – nine knots – per hour,” chimes in the captain.
The yacht keeps smoothly and noiselessly gliding over the placid waters. Indeed, this is what sailing is about, and is key to getting everyone in a sort of romantic mood.
The three ladies stay closer to the middle part and stern to take pictures of breathtaking views: the dominant Motherland monument and golden-domed cathedrals with spotting green hills lit orange by the setting sun. The two sweethearts make themselves comfortable on the bow: they have brought along a bottle of champagne and a large pizza to celebrate their first wedding anniversary. They are my focus for just a moment, creating the idyllic image of a new and happy family enjoying the day.
The peaceful, calm, and gentle evening inspires me to go for a test drive. Oksana hands the tiller over and shows me how to steer. I soon begin to understand the logic – pull the tiller left to turn right, pull right to turn left. “Choose some object on the beach or the bridge as an orienting point and head for it,” Oksana instructs me. “Try to keep it straight.”
She moves away, and I steer the boat on my own. It seems easy; however, I don’t flatter myself. In order to sail properly, you must handle the sails, cope with navigation devices, run the engine, and know dozens of technical requirements, taking two crewmembers at least to manage.
The captain turns the yacht around against the wind, causing the vessel to tilt a bit on one side. All the passengers get excited. I am delighted to hear the huge white sails fill with the river breeze.
On our way back, the captain keeps us entertained by telling humorous stories associated with the yacht. “Unlike petrol engines, Lana’s electric motor is quite small and hidden in the water – it is completely out of sight. Once we used it but did not remove the sails. Consequently, we outran a race-cruising catamaran whose crew could not understand how a sailboat could leave them behind. One of them even jumped in the water to check if the catamaran had got stuck in the riverweed. It was hilarious,” Dovhalenko recalls.
His own story is also inspiring. A former tankman, he previously owned a printing company dealing with automobile literature such as catalogues, manuals, and brochures for Mercedes, Hyundai, Toyota, etc. “My business allowed me to earn money and purchase this yacht. If new, it would cost 50 000 EUR,” he says. Finishing navigation and shipping courses at Kyiv’s National Aviation University, he started his new career as a simple sailor initially.
As You Wish
Parusniki offers multiple programmes catering to all tastes – tours for two, weddings, proms, corporate parties, business meetings, sailing races, dinners with an overnight stay, and trips to islands and into the wild. The so-called Dnipro Amazon is their most picturesque route – it leads to a wildlife oasis around Olhyn Island, abundant in yellow and white waterlilies, butterflies, dragonflies, grey herons, black cormorant, beavers, and otters. Test-drives and initial trainings are provided as free bonuses to whichever programme you prefer.
Rental on weekdays: 1 000 UAH for the first hour + 500 UAH for each subsequent hour
Rental on weekends: 1 200 UAH for the first hour + 600 UAH for each subsequent hour
Trip with overnight stay onboard: 1-2 people, 1 room – 1 500 UAH
Return trip to an island (3 hours): 2 000 UAH on weekdays, 3 000 UAH on weekends
Details on www.parusniki.kiev.ua
Are you a sailing enthusiast? Try the Kyiv Racing Yacht Club – it is a good option for those who have neither time nor finances to obtain and maintain a personal yacht. The club owns the fleet of Beneteau Platu 25 – modern racing sailboats, which are ideal for the Dnipro water area. The club is based at Rodion Luka Sailing School authorised to offer International Yacht Training Worldwide courses that will equip you with skills to sail independently. Here you can train as well as take part in sea cruises and even regattas – the club and Rlsailing bring together beginners, professional yacht masters, Olympic and world champions to win!
Strikingly, the yacht has the same name as What’s On’s editor-in-chief – Lana. It must be a good sign.
The captain turns the yacht around against the wind, causing the vessel to tilt a bit on one side. All the passengers get excited. I am delighted to hear the huge white sails flutter in the river breeze.
Ukraine’s Top 6 Sailing Achievements
Valentyn Mankin – Kyiv-born Soviet/Ukrainian sailor, 1968, 1971 and 1980
Olympic champion in three different classes for the USSR team
Ihor Matviyenko and Yevhen Braslavets – 1996 470 Сlass Olympic champions, 2001 470 Class World champions
Dmytro Yarovoy, Serhiy Pichuhyn and Serhiy Tymokhov – 2003 Soling World champions
Rodion Luka and Heorhiy Leonchuk – 2004 49er Class Olympic silver prize winners, 2005 49er Class World champions
Ruslana Taran, Anna Kalinina and Svitlana Matevusheva – 2004 Olympic silver prize winners
Ihor Lvov and Vladyslav Ymenko – 2013 Cadet World champions