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Turku


Date: July 26th to July 31st

Distance : 64 miles

Weather : Mostly sunny.

Bengtskar

We had two days to wait in Hanko before the crane arrived to lift the boat, so we took the 'm.s. Summersea' for a day trip to Bengtskär. Bengtskär is the southernmost point of Finland, a windswept rock stuck out in the Baltic with a lighthouse that looks exactly like a Northern mill. The 'm.s. Summersea' took 90 minutes to get there as it battered its way out of Hanko against a stiff south westerly breeze. The commentary was in four languages, but I got the distinct impression that the Finns got to find out more that we English-speakers did. After 'lunch' ( a polystyrene bowl of that local delicacy, Salmon soup) we arrived at the island. There is no harbour or bay of any sort, so the ferry merely runs itself up against a steep rock in the lee of the island and, with motor running, keeps itself there for the two and a half hours we were there.

Boarding at BengtskarThe lighthouse is impressive it has to be said, and whats more, you can climb the hundreds of (rather worringly, cracked) steps up to the lantern. The lighthouse still works, although the victorian lantern equipment (by French makers and still extant) has been superceeded by one the size of a porch light, and a radar and an array of Nokia cell phone transmitters has been added. I'm always amazed that your 're allowed to crawl all over this stuff - in the UK it would be prevented. The climb is well worth it, the steps precarious, and the view magnificent.

The rest of the building houses a hotel and conference centre (although quite who uses it, apart from perhaps passing Coastguards, I'm not sure) and a small cafe. The island, really just a few rocks, is littered with the debris of earlier installations, (including guns). My favorite bit however was the huge, and very decorative round hole built into the roof of the building. Apparently, this used to house the foghorn. It is said that the whole building used to vibrate when it went off. It's a weird place. The trip back, with the wind behind us, was much smoother, so, despite some pressured selling by the captain, I don't think they sold any seasick pills.

Thursday dawned, and the first news was that the lift (scheduled for 10AM) had to be put back until the evening because the crane was in the wrong place. The stiff south westerly (and 30 knot forecast) also added an element of fun (Hanko isn't the most sheltered place). We'd actually had a job getting anyone to do the job at all, as this was the Finnish holiday season and everything simply shuts down. The owner of one yard, leaning on his broom as he tidied up, said he was 'too busy', and another didn't even answer the phone! Fortunately, Jani, the local Volvo dealer, (and his dad) came to the rescue. They had access to a big enough crane to lift Kissen. It just had to be in the right place.

Leif, the Crane DriverIn the end, Leif, the crane driver, made it to Hanko by 6PM. Hanko is a tourist destination, not a working boatyard, and the hundred or so visiting yotties can smell trouble when a large crane starts setting itself up on the jetty. Apparently, Leif does this journey about once a week to rescue some poor yachtsman, and sure enough, there was a yacht before us that had caught a rope round the prop and needed to be lifted out completely. This guy had bent his 'P' bracket (the bracket that supports the prop shaft and holds the shaft bearing) into the bargain. His plan was just to change the bearing and carry on, but personally, I think he had a bigger problem than he thought. Bent 'P' brackets are big news.

The ValveThe seacock we had to replace was the one that supplied cooling water to the engine (probably the only one we couldnt do without). The boat had to come out of the water as the hole through the hull it controls is normally underwater and changing it would let masses of water in. The handle on the valve itself still worked OK, but clearly nothing was working inside, The extra problem that made the issue pressing was that the valve had broken off partly closed, and this was restricting the amount of water getting to the engine, and we risked overheating it. We had waited so long, I was tempted to just carry on, as the engine seemed to run OK, but when Jani (eventually) got the valve off the boat, we could see it was almost closed so it was just as well we waited. The part itself cost about a fiver. The job to change it, about £400.

Herewith Ivan's first law of Seacocks:

If you must exercise a seacock, be sure only to do so in a fully equipped boatyard.

The harbour was full of vistiing yotties. The mere sight of a boat in a sling brought a rush of them over to find out what the problem was, and compare notes. I think we counted as their evenings entertainment.

By the time everything was finished it was too late to leave, so we downed a few glasses with Barry, a fellow Brit who keeps his boat in the area (and had just hit a rock for the third time).

We now had two days to get to Turku (we had intended to take a week), so that Pat could get her flight back to the UK. It was glorious to be released from Hanko prison, and we had a good sail from Hanko out to Kasnas, where we popped in briefly to see Sir Francis who was heading in the opposite direction. We then anchored a few miles up the track in the 'royal' habour of Högsåra.

Högsåra is a pretty bay where the Tsars used to holiday. They liked it because there are only two fairly narrow entrances to the bay, and it could be guarded by just two gunships.

On Saturday, with strong winds forecast we made an early start and motored against headwinds to Turku. The city marina is OK, but we moored in Ruissalo Marina, a sheltered spot run by an adjacent Spa. The hotel however, is run by Saga. We're the youngest people in the place....


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