[Part 1 of 14. Solovki 2013]
I stand at the bow of the ferry as the water of the White Sea comes in wave after wave through the hole in the deck that the anchor chain runs through. Stepping up on the coiled ropes lying on the deck, my feet stay dry and I look out with excitement at the outstretched sea in front of me. The weather could not be more perfect—sun, light winds, calm seas, easy sailing across a Sea known for its nausea-inducing swells.
A mother and son play in the running water beside me while a young couple stands draped over each other. A middle-aged man discusses cameras with a young photographer taking an endless string of “art” photos.
And then, about an hour and half into the trip, we all see it. The Solovetskie islands appear on the distant horizon and, as we get closer, the spires of the Solovetskii Monastery grow ever larger and magical. The view makes the 20-something hours of travel from St. Petersburg to this distant site—by metro, train, bus, and ferry—all worthwhile.
I marvel at the approaching human and environmental wonder of Russia’s Solovetskie Islands—an archipelago of 6 major islands (and about 100 smaller ones) in the White Sea not far to the south of the Arctic Circle. It is a Russian national park and has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1992. http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/632.
I can’t wait to get off the boat, start exploring, and work on our project.