Date: June 30th to July 11th
Distance : 280 miles
Weather : Glorious - Summer is here!
After a week off for Pat to return to the UK we left Bullandö for a (fairly leisurely) trip to Helsinki, capital of Finland. The first couple of days were rather trying, with strong northerlies preventing much progress, but we spent a night at Finham, and a night at Arholma to give us a reasonable slant over the Baltic to Rödham in Åaland.
The trip was uneventful, apart from getting the anchor snagged on a wire or chain when we tried to creep out from Arholma early in the morning. Mercifully, we managed to free it, otherwise we'd still be there....
From Rödham (no fresh bread rolls in the morning, sadly) we had a short sail round to Degerby. By this time a large high pressure had established itself which was to stay with us. The following day, in light winds, we mostly motored round to Kökar, meeting the Viking Line ferries in the narrow channels on the way (why do these ferries always travel in pairs? Are they afraid to go out alone?). We think we chose the worst of the two harbours at Korkar, with the marina full of Finnish families indulging their kids.
The next day, in no wind at all, we motored round to Jurmo. It was so hot, we were reduced to emptying buckets of sea water over our heads at regular intervals just to cool down. When we got to Jurmo (2pm) the marina was full to overcrowded, and to make things worse we lost a jackstay so I had to go up the mast and get it back. We anchored instead in a lovely little bay, just of the beaten track at Nötö. There we could have a peaceful swim and a quiet night. We did the same the following day, anchoring at Rosala rather than use the marina, (which wasn't full at first) to get some peace.
Finally we made it to Hanko - in regatta week, where half the marina is cordoned off for race boats. We managed to get a berth thanks to a kindly harbour master, but this turned out to be a mixed blessing as it was under the mast crane, and a succession of regatta boats wanted us to move, in order to retrieve lost halyards. We didn't stay....
Hanko was our first impression of a Finnish mainland town - the capitals are always rather atypical. Although a lovely setting, we thought it somewhat of a hick town, with little going for it other than the sailing centre, and a few villas built by the Finns at the turn of the century for Russian nobility. We did come to the conclusion that Finnish local supermarkets are somewhat better than their Swedish counterparts, but this view remains to be confirmed by further research.
Between Hanko and Helsinki is a further skärgard, with much of it part of a National Park. We took a leisurely four days to travel what is in effect about 75 miles, sniffing out some interesting anchorages on the way. In some parts of the park, they go so far as to provide helpful signs on the rocks. Somehow, it spoils the effect (see picture).
As a sailor, the one thing out here that starts to get to you are motorboats. They usually create wash in inverse proportion to their size, and on light wind days, they can be a nuisance. Some of the locals are also up in arms, as, just like the UK, you can buy a 30 knot power boat and use it without any formal training. Their navigation, according to one, is by 'telephone book' (the local telephone book has a map of the archipelago in it). Some of the key rocks, helpfully, are marked with big letters, just for the motorboat fraternity - its the only thing they can see at the speed they go!
One of our anchorages was Brändholmen, near Barösund. We were calmly sitting there, tied to a rock, when an Elk swam across from one island to the one we were moored to. First time we've seen an elk and it was swimming! We dont think many people had anchored here, as the island had no signs of human tracks on it.
Our last stop was in an old Viking harbour about 20 miles from Helsinki. We're grateful to Hendrick for the use of his bay!