Boat Trip Along the Coast
A boat trip along the coast will provide a view of Odessa from the sea. During the holiday season, from April to October, the boats follow a regular schedule stopping at the main beaches and the Passenger Sea Terminal.
The Sea Terminal can be reached by trolleybuses No. 4, 10 and 14 (Stop: Morskoy Vokzal), or from Primorsky Bulvar by the Potemkin Stairway or the escalator running along its side (the escalator runs from 8 a. m. to 11 p. m. with an hour break from 3 to 4 p. m. and costs 3 kopecks).
From the lower pavilion of the Terminal walk up to the viaduct and follow it to the end, then take the steps down to the twentieth pier. Here you will see the sign “Posadka na Katera” where the coastal launches take on passengers, the ticket office will be on our left.
There are two coastal lines: one to Luzanovka (a resort on the north shore of Odessa Bay) which takes 25-30 min. and costs 20 kop., the other south towards the Zolotoy Bereg with stops at the beaches, “Komsomol”, “Otrada”, “Delfin”, “Arkadiya”, “Tchaika”, and “Kurortny”. We suggest the second route which takes about two hours, and costs 50 kopecks. If you are short of time, you can get off at Arkadiya, this journey only takes 40-45 min. and costs 30 kopecks.
The comfortable, quick launches leave every 15-20 minutes. Each can hold 200 passengers and does 14.5 knots, i.e. 26-27 km/hr. Some of the launches have been named after Odessa’s twin towns; Varna, Marseilles, Genoa, Vancouver, Split, Baltimore, etc.
But before starting on the trip a few words about the Black Sea. From east to west it measures 1,149 km and from north to south-611km (the shortest north-south distance is 263 km) which makes its area 414,000 sq. km. Its deepest point is 2,245 m. It is linked with the Azov Sea through the Kerch Straits, the Marmara Sea through the Bosporus Straits and the Mediterranean through the Dardanelles Straits. From there ships can pass through Gibraltar to the Atlantic Ocean or through the Suez Canal to the Indian Ocean. The coastline stretches for 4,090 km, of which 2,110 km are within the UKRAINE. The highest water temperature is found in August in the shallow bays, 28°C, while the lowest is out at sea in the month of February, 4°C. In the colder winters the coastal strip along the north shore is often covered with ice in January and February.
There are no tides in the Black Sea, but there can be a strong surf. Compared with most southern seas, swimming in the Black Sea is absolutely safe as there is no chance of encountering any aggressive sea creatures.
A feature unique to the Black Sea is the existence of hydrogen sulfide at depths of 150-200 m. This rules out the presence of any form of life, except for anaerobian bacteria. In the upper layers however the flora and fauna are fairly varied, although not quite as rich as in the neighbouring Mediterranean. About 350 species of monocell cyto-plankton organisms are known, and about 280 species of plants grow on the seabed. These are predominantly red, green and brownish weeds, but there are also several species of sea grass.
The brownish weeds (Cystoseira) and red weeds (Phyllophora) in the north-western part of the sea are found in large commercial quantities at a depth of 25-50 m, and are cultivated to produce agaroids which are used in various branches of the economy.
The fauna of the Black Sea numbers no less than 2,000 species, including 640 crabtype species and more than 160 species of fish. Commercial fishing concentrates on goby, mackerel, anchovy, beluga, sevruga and sturgeon.
There are three types of dolphins in the Black Sea. Entire groups often accompany the ships, diving and surfacing, as if racing with them.
Up until 1966 all the Black Sea countries hunted dolphins. But after their number decreased drastically, first the Soviet Union, then Romania and Bulgaria cut down sharply on hunting and their numbers are now being restored.
Seals can be seen on rare occasions, the sharks that sometimes appear are not dangerous to people.
The port of Odessa is a highly complex hydrotechnical installation. When storms blow up they are felt just as much in the bay as out in the open sea (the width of the bay is up to 9 km) so a lot of effort was required to turn it into a safe and convenient harbour. Now the port is protected from the storms by a complex system of water-breaks and jetties. In the south is the Quarantine jetty and its continuation the Road jetty, at the end of which stands the Vorontsov lighthouse, familiar to all sailors. From the eastern side the storm is halted by a series of water-breaks consisting of huge concrete slabs standing on rocks.
As previously mentioned, the history of the port and the history of the town began at the same time. It took many decades to build the port, and even now it is being reconstructed and extended. At the beginning of the century ships had to drop anchor in the bay and their passengers and cargoes were ferried by boat to the narrow strip of coast at the foot of the cliffs. So the first task was to reclaim from the sea tracts of land on which wharfs, jetties and embankments could be built. The main features of the port as we see it today were developed at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries, but most of the modern installations were built in Soviet years, especially in the postwar years.
The first steamships in the area were associated with Odessa. The very first one on the Black Sea the Odessa steamer sailed from the port in 1828.
Before the revolution, i. e. at the beginning of this century, when in the West the process of mechanisation of loading and unloading was in full swing, in Odessa it was still dockers who handled all the cargo carrying it on their shoulders or using the most primitive aids. The hard labour of the Odessa port workers was brilliantly described by Maxim Gorky in his short story “Chelkash”. He himself had worked in a port and carried 100 kg sacks of wheat.
The dockers were always in the forefront of the revolutionary movement. It was through the port of Odessa that the revolutionary magazine Kolokol (the Bell) published in London, reached Russia in the second half of the 19th century, and then later the works of Marx, Engels and Lenin, as well as other illegal publications printed abroad. Through the port of Odessa Lenin’s newspaper Iskra, which played such an immense role in preparing the Revolution in Russia, reached the country from Varna for dissemination in the southern regions.
The dock workers were very helpful to the sailors from the battleship Potemkin when they mutinied in June, 1905, assisting them to take on fuel, food, water and medicines.
Twice in its history the port rose from the ruins. The first time was after the foreign intervention of 1918-1919 when it was left devastated; most of its installations were destroyed and its ships either taken away or sunk.
“The sea,” wrote the well-known Soviet writer Konstantin Paustovsky, “was as deserted as in the times when man had not yet learned to build even rafts. One could stand for weeks, even months on the boulevard looking out on the sea and see nothing but the spurts of sunlight and the movement of the waves.”
However, shortly after the Civil War ended the port was completely rebuilt.
In 1944 when the fascist invaders retreated from Odessa they blew up most of the jetties, the refrigerator, the railway lines and the warehouses. Foreign specialists who visited Odessa shortly after its liberation believed that it would take decades before the port could be re-built, but once again, the enthusiasm of the Soviet people upset these gloomy forecasts and the port was restored and reached its prewar cargo turnover in just five years.
Today the Odessa port is a highly mechanised transport enterprise. Manual labour for dockers is a thing of the past and hundreds of different machines and mechanisms do the job of loading and unloading.
From the sea the Passenger Terminal looks like a huge liner with numerous decks, superstructures and companion-ways. It can handle up to 3,000 passengers a day. The length of its wharfs allow 5-7 passenger ships to drop anchor simultaneously and from these passengers descend by special ladders that move along the wharf and link the ship-with the viaduct that lies between the terminal and Ulitsa Suvorova (Suvorov St.).
The construction of the Passenger Terminal completed the plans for the sea entrance to Odessa. Together with the Potemkin Stairway and the seaside boulevard it makes an impressive gateway to the city.
From the launch can be seen the numerous Soviet and foreign ships at anchor in the harbour. For many of the Soviet ships, Odessa is the home port. These ships are named after the fraternal Soviet republics and towns of the country, the heroes of the revolution and the Great Patriotic War, and prominent military commanders, writers, composers, cosmonauts, scientists and navigators. Most of the ships are Soviet built, but some, although Soviet designed, were built abroad.
The passenger ships belonging to the Black Sea Shipping Line are first-class liners. Such ships as the Ivan Franko, Taras Shevchenko and Shota Rustaveli are well known in many ports of the world.
They are 176.1 m long, 23.6 m wide and have a draught of 8.1 m. They can accommodate up to 700 passengers and cruise at a speed of 20 knots. The strips circling the hull lend them a special elegance.
They are equipped with stabilizers, so even in the heaviest storms passengers feel perfectly comfortable. These three ships were built for the Soviet Union by the German Democratic Republic.
The Adjaria, Armenia, Bashkiria, Latvia, Lithuania and Kirghizstan which belong to a smaller class of ships can accommodate 300 passengers.
In 1976 the Black Sea Shipping Line was augmented by a new series of car ferries of the Byelorussia type that can take on up to 250 cars. Now four more of these ferries have been added to the fleet: Leonid Brezhnev, Georgia, Azer-baidjan and Kazakhstan, all built in Finland for the Soviet Union. They are 153 m long, 21.6 m wide and have a draught of 5.8 m, and a speed of over 21 knots. The cabin accommodation is sufficient for 500 passengers.
The largest ships of the Black Sea Shipping Line as of 1982 are the Maxim Gorky, Leonid Sobinov, Fyodor Chaliapin, Konstantin Simonov and Dmitri Shostakovich, they have every passenger comfort and belong to the luxury class. The length of the turbo-vessel Maxim Gorky is 196 m, its width 27 m, draught 8 m and speed 22 knots. On a cruise it accommodates 650 passengers, and on a regular trip, 788. It has 12 decks, 3 restaurants, bars, lounges, a wide-screen cinema for an audience of 280, a swimming pool, library, shops, hairdresser’s salons, sauna, etc.
All cabins are air-conditioned and each has a TV set adapted to receive Soviet, European and American TV programmes.
To the left of the Passenger Terminal, just beyond the port wharfs, are the Ship-Repair Docks named after the fiftieth anniversary of the Soviet Ukraine. They are one of the biggest in the country and originated at the same time as the town itself. They take their beginning from the admiralty workshops set up in the time of and with the participation of Field-Marshal Suvorov.
Further along the coast is an immense grey building, the grain elevator with a capacity of 100,000 tons, and beyond it the sugar refinery working on Cuban raw sugar.
Somewhat apart from the main port installations, beyond the elevator and the sugar refinery, is the oil port from which oil is exported on Soviet and foreign tankers to many countries.
Three huge reservoirs are visible in the oil port-they are used for taking on and cleansing the ballast water of tankers arriving to load oil.
In general, environmental protection gets special attention. There is a special Inspection Department in the Black Sea Shipping Line to watch over all such protection measures. Special ships to pick up rubbish and take on from other boats bilge and sewage waters are on constant duty in the port. And all ships in the Azov and Black Sea are equipped with the necessary devices to purify bilge and ballast waters.