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2006-08-31
Author: Category: Press release

Life near the new harbour

Saaremaa Harbour is a new name on the map of Estonia and the world. The tiny former Tamme Harbour is now called Saaremaa Harbour and huge cruise ships, with hundreds of people on board will soon be docking here.

Tagaranna Village is located not far from the harbour. Only 5 people in this picturesque fishing village during the winter, but many summerhouses with beautiful views at the sea hae been built there recently. Yet at the beginning of this spring, the villagers had no real idea how these major changes would affect the life in their village.

Talmat Allvee from Kalda Farm is rather calm about the changes and says that he is too old to think about what follows the present expansion of the harbour.

Talmat adds that the new harbour is already the third renewal of this place. The first for military ships in 1940, the second for trawlers in 1960 and now the third for big cruise ships. In the past Talmat has left this port himself to go fishing for flounder and Baltic herring;today he sets out from a small dock near his farm. Probably he would not like sailing with his small fishing boat between the big ships.

Talmas is happy that the village will get its access road paved, thanks to the harbour. Talmat doubts however – together with his son who is an summer islander – whether is is a god idea to bring big tourist buses right through the village. They feel some walking is good for everyone, and a nice 1,5 km walkway from the harbour to the village might have been built for the tourists.

The summer islanders are more concerned about mass tourism, they don’t want to be subjected to big crowds during their brief vacations.

Elvi and Paul Kärner – a retired couple on Kajumää Farm – have spent several winters in the Tagaranna Village and say that the summer visitors do not bother them, because there has to be some activity in the village, and hopefully it may help to resolve some local issues. Some visitors have stopped at their gate asking for coffee and cookies or to use a toilet, as there is no restaurant in the village. The people at Kajumää Farm would not mind someone opening a cosy café to earn a living during the summer. Elvi and Paul like progress, because the more people they see, the more human they feel – in the winter the village feels abandoned.

As the number of permanent inhabitants in Tagaranna Village is very small – without a village elder or village council – several problems remain unsolved. For instance: what’ll become of a little village next to a big port? How should the villagers prepare themselves for it and what are the possible threats, if any. The construction of the port has certainly brought along some anxiety and uncertainty. The first summer will provide some answers and we’ll see if the harbour is going to be a good thing for the village and how the villagers will benefit from it.

In some sense we are dealing with a unique phenomenon – a harbour for cruise ships founded on a village pasture is rather rare. Citizens of Tallinn are not worried about another new ship in the harbour and the big ships are no longer that rare in Kuressaare, but a big harbour in such a small place is rather unusual and gives food for thought not only to the nearby villagers but also to the owners of the harbour. What is the status of a harbour in the middle of junipers and small groves, with no town and no houses visible from the cabin portholes?

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