Home  / 2005 Log   / Åaland

Åland and Åbo archipelagos

Date: 5th to 14th August

Distance : 190 miles

Weather : Wind and Rain.


Its been a week or two of trials and tribulations, but more of that later.

We left Ruissalo (nice hotel, shame about the clientele) after lunch and motored about 10 miles down to Nauvo(Nagu) in the heart of the Turku (Åbo) archipelago. We should have sailed it really, but it was a stiff 18 knot headwind and it was easier to motor.

Nauvo marina is quite large for the area, however it surprised us how full it became for midweek, at the end of the season. The village does however have a few shops, and a couple of reasonable restaurants.

A group of local independent restaurants (also food and craft) suppliers in Finland and Sweden have got together under the 'Skärgårdssmak' banner. Backed by European money, they publish a directory in a little book. The aim is to give you a 'taste of the archipelago'. (one of the awards is the 'Archipelago's Tastiest Potato'). Locals generally rate these establishments and we've tried a few, with, I have to say, mixed results. The restaurants are scattered throughout the whole area, across Sweden and Finland, and there is one in Nauvo. Under instruction from some locals, we instead went somewhere else - the Lanterna Hotel - which, despite appearances, turned out to be excellent.

ParattulaOriginally we'd planned to go south, to Gullkrona, but with a F4 southerly blowing, and forecasts for an F6 easterly, we instead took the wind in a lovely sail up to Kustavi island. Its a lovely part of the archipelago, with the navigation being interesting, but not stressful, and the views spectacular. We moored in a tiny, sheltered little harbour called Parattula, where we were welcomed in by a very friendly harbourmaster who thoughtfully parked us right by the sauna, so the local kids could practice jumping into the water and seeing how wet they could get our boat. This private habour is the 'factory' shop of the Laura Peterzens design studio. The shop, and the accompanying restaurant, are in the book. We eat on the boat.

Next day, no easterlies, but even stronger southerlies, so we tracked another 10 miles north to Katanpää, where we met Barry again, and his crew of Mike and Dave. This island used to be a russian fortress, and then a prison. It has now been turned into a kind of living museum. Some of the fortress guns are still in position, (they could fire nearly 10 miles), and you can climb the observation tower and look out over the archipelago. You get a real sense of what it must have been to be a lookout in the last war, until you realise that the tower was built in 1977. The cafe, by the way, whch still has its original interior, does excellent home made doughnuts...

Still stronger winds and rain forecast (up to 40 knots, which is 'having a laugh') so we went even further north to the edge of the Archipelago and the pretty little town of Uusikaupunki. By the time we got there it was pouring down (no wind), which it continued to do for the rest of the day and much of the following one.

Anything can happen in the next half hour...When the rain stopped, we went for a walk. On the way we passed a block of flats which looked strangely reminiscent and with an odd loud hailer system on the roof. We think Uuisakaupunki is actually Marineville. Ever since, we've been on the lookout for Stingray.

Not so many people make it to Uuisakaupunki, as it's on the extreme north of the area, but we really liked it. It felt clean and tidy, and there had clearly been investment in the harbour, which had won awards for three years running. However a reporter from the local paper told us that unemployment was pretty high in the winter.

Tuesday being our Wedding anniversary, we thought we'd try the local Skärgårdssmak restaurant, it being reputed to be the best in town. Well, it was surprisingly cheap...

The wind eventually arrived and turned northerly, but with a forecast of going southerly. As we had to track 35 or so miles directly south, this wasnt good news. It was a choice of strong Northerlies today (favourable) or moderate southerlies tomorrow (unfavourable) so we left in heavy cloud, showers and a F6/7 and ran south. We poked our nose into Vuosnainan, but quickly left again and instead went west a few miles to Jurmo. The harbourmaster came out in the rain to help us tie up and sold us some smoked fish. (We haven't eaten it yet so will reserve judgement). The place was deserted.

JurmoThe border between Finland and the Åland islands is a sliver of water a couple of miles wide, and yet there is a definite difference in character between the islands on each side. Jurmo is on the Åland side, so we had to hurriedly swap the courtesy flags we fly (foreign boats have to fly the flag of the country they are in from the crosstrees).

After a quiet night (and a good sauna), we set off south to Lappo. The light southerly had arrived, and we motored down the remaining few miles against it. We got to Lappo and tied up for lunch. It was deserted. An hour later we upped sticks and sailed (west this time) to Bärö.

In a small bay to the north of Bärö is an old coastguard harbour. This has now been taken over by a Skärgårdssmak restaurant, but all the coastguard stuff is still there, including the 32 meter high observation tower. For a small fee, you can climb this thing, and sit in the glass cabin at the top pretending to be a coastguard. Its undeniably impressive, particularly if you climb it in half a gale and driving rain, as we did, when you can feel the whole thing swaying.

By the time we'd got to Bärö the Åland courtesy flag we'd put up at Jurmo had wrapped itself into a tangle and we coudn't get it down, so I had to go up the mast (again) to sort it out.

By the way, the meal was excellent.

Next day and we motored and sailed to Bomarsund, another Russian fort, from the 1700s this time. One part of the fort stands high on the cliff, and the cannons face you as you sail in.

For the past couple of days we'd felt some more vibration when we were using the engine. Whatever it was, it sounded under water (remember we'd just hauled the boat out to fix a seacock), so this wasn't good news either. When we got to Bomarsund, I dived down (all of 18 inches) under the boat to look at the propeller. (Not an easy task for someone who likes to be on the water not in it, cant swim for toffee, and cant hold his breath under water without holding his nose. The water temperature by the way was 19 degrees)

Sure enough, the anode on the back of the prop had come loose and was rattling. The screws are prevented from coming out by installing them with Locktite. Well I thought I'd put some on...

Eventually, I managed to get the screws refastened, although whether they will hold, only time will tell.

The hot water on our boat is heated in a boiler either by the engine or by an mains immersion heater. At Bärö, for the first time in some weeks, we had no mains electricity, so overnight, the hot water gradually cooled down. In the morning we had a serious leak from a pipe joint. We think we've fixed the leak, but it may be a symptom . Our current thought is that the immersion heater thermostat has packed up, and the water has got too hot (the fact that it comes out as steam is a kind of give away..) This also, is not good news, as I've been told that changing the immersion heater (which should be a simple job) can ruin the boiler. To change the boiler, the engine may have to come out...

The Balilika OrchestraAt Bomarsund, the islanders were holding a 'Russian Day'. This consisted of a small market selling, well, not really Russian stuff, and a series of entertainments. Actually it was professionally organised for something approaching a village fete. Your entrance fee gets you a tin mug to put your beer in, and the entertainments included a short play (in Swedish) about the local governor having it off with two local women (er, yes) and a Balalaika orchestra (from, er, Stockholm). Incidentally, both were excellent.

We crept out of Bomarsund late in the day to nip round to Kastelholm, a castle this time. Here, the huge marina was empty. Just us and another Swede. The harbour guide says that the showers and sauna were 'perfect', but, at 6:30pm, they were closed...

Mariehamn next. We need to wash some clothes...

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