We didn’t end up where we had intended at the end of the day, but were glad we changed our minds.
We had flip flopped over where to stay the night before, and had eventually settled on an island in the middle of the Archipelago sea. We slipped our berth on a misty morning about 0930 in Turku, and retraced our steps back down the river towards the archipelago.
By late morning our sails were back up and we were making around 5.5 knots – Suzanne had slipped back to bed, still full of cold.
Around this time another yacht said they would be going to the island of Baro, which had an excellent restaurant and a barrel wood sauna – would anyone like to join them. So at just before 4pm we altered course to head up to meet them. In doing so we got to see another pair of sea eagles.
Dinner was booked for 7pm, and our sauna for 10pm – so to make sure we were there just in time, we washed and changed as we motor sailed along.
Berthing was a bit of a cockup – Suzanne trying to catch the stern buoy with the wrong side of the hook (she blames her cold), the guy in the boat next door wanting to engage in conversation, and the stern buoy rope getting caught on a cleat and stopping our approach to the pontoon rather abruptly. With the other yacht watching…. why is no one ever there when you boss it?? Still no-one was hurt and we arrived with 15 minutes to spare for dinner.
Dinner was delightful, the usual fish and vegetable fare we have come to love and enjoy during our time in Finland. We also paid our berthing fee of 30 euros and sauna fee of 20 euros at the restaurant. The normal sauna was free, as was the laundry.
After dinner, we pottered across to our barrel sauna. A small ante chamber to change out of your clothes and then into the sauna proper where a small stove blazed with a wood fire, heating the stones on the top. We then spent a blissful hour, over heating in the sauna and then popping out onto the verandah, to dip our toes in the sea. And dodge the mosquitos.
Andrew, as ever, got bitten – and the bites blew up to the size of small golf balls. So big, the other yacht could see them the next morning from about 40 feet away!
Needless to say we both slept like logs that night.
No image of our track, we forgot! We took just over 9 hours to make 55 nautical miles, with an average speed of 5.9 knots. We sailed for 2 and a half hours, and used 5 gallons of fuel.
Today was the day we reached the destination the last few days had been about. And Suzanne missed most of the day – struck down with the Helsinki flu bug. She got up to see us out of the Helsingholm berth and then retired to her pit.
Andrew had booked the berth online in Turku, so knew that it wouldn’t be available until 2pm. So he enjoyed a very leisurely sail drifting along downwind. More seals spotted, more beautiful islands and cute painted wooden summer houses.
Suzanne was kicked out of her sick bed to help with the arrival into Turku – which she didn’t begrudge as it was a great entrance. A long river, with the castle on the corner as you turned into the main straight through the town. On the port side the maritime museum, with a number of interesting military ships and an old tall ship berthed alongside.
The city marina was a short way from this, and before the first low bridge that prevented exploring any further up river. The box berth was 5m wide, but the actual piles only came up to cockpit and were no where near our stern – so we had to put on springs – which was odd but worked.
The little cafe/kiosk was also where we paid our fees, 47 euros all included, and picked up the local info. The toilets were behind the kiosk, and the excellent showers/saunas and laundry were across the road in a former ceramics factory, down in the basement, with exposed stonework and tiles.
We pottered into town to visit the living museum, the cathedral and grabbed dinner at a vegetarian restaurant beside the river. A very pleasing town, with life centred on the river. A great art museum that we didn’t have chance to visit. And a cool looking castle that we saw only from the outside.
It would have been great to spend a few more days in Turku – but we were on a timetable – so had to content ourselves with the few short hours we had. We hope we get to visit again soon.
Our daily stats
We travelled 32 miles in just under 8 hours making about 4.1 knots, of which over 4 hours was sailing. We used half a gallon of fuel.
By 0730 we had raised both our anchors and retraced our steps to rejoin the fairway. A grey and cloudy morning, but lifted by the stunning scenery of the national park we seem to have all to ourselves. We saw seals, great flocks of cormorants and perhaps even more rare a sighting, Suzanne steering.
Around 0930 we were able to start sailing, make a good 6 knots and a for a brief period we even put up the cruising chute – although that didn’t last long. Throughout the day military launches swiftly passed us.
Mid afternoon, just past Hanko, we caught up with another rally yacht – who attempted to offer us scones it turns out – though we couldn’t make it out at the time! The wind had picked up a little and we were making up to 7.5 knots under sail.
Andrew had found our berth for a night on a website called viking islands. It sounded promising, with a kiosk, sauna, showers and fresh fish. We arrived about 4.30pm, and slowly motored into a sheltered bay on the island of Helsingholmen.
Our first attempt to moor was rebuffed by another yacht – who said it was too shallow and directed us to the other side of a pontoon. However when we got there, the boats were too close together and there was no room at the inn. We spotted a gap further down, and slowly nudged our way in, until we slowly touched bottom. Nope that was no good.
We reversed back and ended up tying up on the rubbish pontoon in a space reserved for the refuse ship. Unfortunately Suzanne had just started to cook dinner when the said ship arrived in the harbour. It had a small crane and was busy working on the round waste containers that were moored in the centre of the small bay. Everyone watched intently as they made a lot of noise and put in a lot of effort into doing quite what, no-one knew.
The boat then put across towards us, and Andrew asked if they wanted us to move – no they were ok on the end. They let their dog off to pee and then they were off again. Bin men of the waters still working at 7pm at night.
We had a similar non event with the harbour office. It was 10 euros to stay, another 5 euros if we wanted electric. However no shower without the sauna, and that was booked until 1am. There appeared to be nothing for sale in the small kiosk. Armed with only a card, Suzanne slunk back to the boat, and we spent the following half hour rummaging through drawers and clothes pockets to scrape together enough coinage to pay the 10 euros.
Nevertheless it was a peaceful spot – with an amazing display of fish jumping out of the water. It also, inevitably had a similarly large number of flying insects to tempt the fish…
Our daily stats
We made 51 nautical miles in 9 hours averaging 5.6 knots. We sailed for 4 and used 4.5 gallons of fuel.
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We set off around 9.30am, put up our sails and were soon sailing the inshore route behind the islands, moving into beautiful clear waters and clear skies. We were sad to say goodbye to Helsinki. We’d enjoyed a fabulous crew meal at the yacht club the night before – as well as a sauna, and a shed load of washing.
Unfortunately the tumble dryer couldn’t match the washing machine, and we left with our saloon looking like a chinese laundry – a makeshift line hung up to try and dry the last load of washing.
Our trip to the island of the street of chandlries had been interesting and fruitful. It’s not often you get asked to leave a chandlery at 3pm on a Saturday afternoon because they are closing. But yep, they all did. We had lunch of the local delicacy of fish soup – basically salmon and potato – very delicious, in a restaurant overlooking another marina. Bit of a busman’s holiday…
Mid morning we caught a glimpse of our first sea eagles, as we wove our way carefully through the guide poles between small islands.
Beware the gusts that come between islands! These are strong and can almost knock you over. We were caught out – and Andrew’s full glass of squash went tumbling down the companion way, over the newly washed clothes – of course!
Others from the rally had taken the outside route, and appeared to be battling against a strong headwind and rain. Around lunchtime they started to move into the inner route and we met and past a number of the other boats.
Barosund had been one of the recommendations of the speaker at the crew dinner. He said it would be like sailing in a swimming pool. Not sure that some of the other yachts would quite have agreed with that on the outer route – but here as we drifted through the islands, we understood exactly what he meant.
Having learnt the lesson the hard way on arrival in Finland – we knew we would want to find our anchorage in day light. Andrew had earmarked a few on the chart – and we discounted the first – as too small and possibly also belonging to someone – there was a buoy.
It was getting close to 6pm, the wind was picking up and our swimming pool was becoming quite choppy. Luckily our next choice proved just the ticket – some carefully following of guide sticks, and we were hunkered down in an anchorage made for one. The small island of Sundskar was to be our berth for the night.
We dropped both bow and stern anchors, and settled down to some mushroom risotto for dinner.
Our daily stats
We made 51 nautical miles in 8 and a half hours, averaging 6 knots. We sailed for an hour, motor sailed for 7 and used 7 gallons of fuel.
We pottered in the morning and set off about 0930 – the other rally yacht had left earlier as they had crew to pick up in Helsinki.
We slowly motored our way back down the channel out of Porvoo, where the depth at times dropped to as little as 0.9 metres under our keel. We had hoped to take a sneaky short cut and follow a lead all the way to Helsinki, but the bridge was deemed too low for our mast.
What’s a lead? Sailing the archipelago they are a must. They are lines on the chart which show you the way to go from one point to another – show the depth of the water under the keel, and so help you avoid going aground! It’s a new and different way of sailing for us, and takes up far more energy, nerves and time than we had anticipated. It is also thrilling, exhilarating, and achingly beautiful.
Opportunities to sail have to be chosen with care, but even within the archipelago there are wide open expanses of water deep enough to sail, as long as you keep a close eye on the buoys and the transit lines.
Today we were lucky, with a combination of wind, direction and expanse of water. We sailed, with the westerly breeze pushing us around 4 -5 knots as we made our way towards Helsinki.
On the lead up to Helsinki, the wind was gusting, getting us to over 7.5 knots under sail, and putting us in the mix with some 5.5 yachts who were racing out of the sailing club we were heading for. We even over took a ketch.
Around 4pm we let rally control know that we were making our approach and were told to enter close to the stern of another rally yacht. Unbeknown to us at that stage, that yacht had hit a rock on the entry to the harbour, so we were all now being guided in over known safe water.
We bossed the stern buoy berthing and took the opportunity to take in the stunning setting that we were so privileged to enjoy. The NJK marina is an island that belongs to the oldest yacht club in Finland. Its club house is an Edwardian treasure, with the backdrop of the city skyline behind it. The facilities were perfect, with showers, sauna and laundry. And a half hourly ferry to take you to the main land.
We enjoyed the next couple of days exploring Helsinki – travelling out on the tube to the street with 4 chandleries and eating and drinking with other crews.
Our daily stats
A short day’s run of 38 miles, took us 6 hours and a half hours, we sailed for 3 and made an average of 5.8 knots, using 1 gallon of fuel.
After our late night shenanigans the night before we didn’t rush to leave Haapasaari. We were a little shocked when we looked out of our companionway first thing to see just how close and how many rocks there were round about. Just how we managed not to hit any is still a mystery.
At 0930 we set off with another rally yacht, to make for the town of Porvoo. One of the oldest cities in Finland, it promised to be an interesting sail and deep into the Finnish countryside.
The westerly wind gave us a good lift, allowing us to sail – making a good 6 knots and sailing side by side with our companion boat.
It was a cloudy day, and the wind had a cold bite to it, although the sun did manage to raise the temperature into the low 20s in the afternoon.
This was our first real taste of the Finnish archipelago, and it met all our expectations. Islands, big, small, stone and granite, sand and shore, pine trees, and trees and trees. Cormorants and shags and terns. And endless blue water.
And as we sailed up the approach to Porvoo, the sides closed in with reed beds and fen like landscape. Little culverts and side streams all along the way. We gently and carefully wove our way up what felt like a river within a swamp, up and up towards Porvoo.
Our way was heavily marked with buoys to ensure we didn’t stray, and safely guided us into the small marina at Porvoo. We berthed alongside and paid – for the first time, but not the last, at the local cafe/kiosk for our overnight stay. It was an eyewaterinw 47 euros, which included power, water, showers, kitchen and laundry.
The small marina was so shallow there were water lilies in the water. It nestled close to a road bridge, over which a supermarket was conveniently located.
We took a walk into town, with beautiful old wooden medieval buildings, and luckily fell upon a restaurant in old barns overlooking the river, with a waitress with impeccable English and great customer service. The beers were pretty good too.
We were too late for the bakery, but not too late to see a weird sculpture(?) consisting of old Barbies and other toys naked around a bowl. The streets were also eerily quiet, the roads too. Where was everyone?
Welcome to silent, still Finland.
Our daily stats
We took 9 hours to complete 60 nautical miles, averaging around 6.7 knots, and using 8 gallons of fuel.
We’d had a late night and a long day – metro tour, bike tour, dinner out, final provisioning shop, then the usual pre-departure checks and preparations before bed. So a 5.30am start wasn’t particularly welcome. Still it wasn’t raining, and most of the other boats were also up and at ‘em – so we were in good company.
The first three hours were the schlep back up the fairway from the yacht club to check back out of Russia at Kronstad. No sniffer dogs, just a man with a camcorder recording his search, a quick passport check and we had 15 minutes to leave our berth.
Again we had to stick to the traffic separation scheme, and in a convoy of yachts we made good progress, with a helpful wind, making an average of 7 knots on a beam reach. There was some chop and a few waters off the bows, but generally it was a good sailing day.
That said, it was very windy and cold. Suzanne spent most of the day at a 45 degree angle in the saloon and galley – trying to cook or to eat what she’d made. From fried egg sandwiches in the morning, to fresh baked cheese baguettes and soup for lunch, and asparagus risotto with homemade apple, blueberry and cherry crumble and custard – we were well nourished on this long leg.
We crossed the Finnish/Russian border around 9pm, and duly raised and lowered our courtesy flags. We regretted that we hadn’t recordings of all the appropriate national anthems to play at this particular point. Now safely back into EU waters, we could switch our mobile devices back on and use our mobile data roaming, without fear of breaking our bank accounts.
Our plan was to find an anchorage close to Hapasaari, the customs and immigration point, a small island in the Gulf of Finland, and the most tick ridden place in the whole country. We were advised they were only open from 8am to 8pm, and not knowing the rock strewn area, thought that as we would now start to experience real night darkness, it was probably the most sensible option. It also meant we could keep taking advantage of the favourable wind and sail all the way (and keeping our incredibly cheap Russian fuel for as long as possible!)
Our plan was thwarted, when a message came through to say customs were expecting all 15 yachts to check in that night. So we turned on our engine, to try and get to the island before night set in. It was not to be. We arrived with our navigation lights on and with difficulty picking out the guiding withies and buoys. Luckily most of the rally yachts were already at anchor, and these provided a useful guide to the direction in which we should head.
We waited our turn to dock and handed the lines to the two waiting officials. Our papers and passports were taken away to the office, and returned about 10 minutes later, along with a free gift of two glasses cleaners. No, I don’t know either. Perhaps it was an oblique reference to our berthing style – although we’d done it fairly smartly? Who knows. But I wish I’d used mine immediately.
After leaving the berth we then set about trying to find a suitable anchorage in the pitch dark – and our first starlit night of our whole trip in the Baltic. Sailing at night plays with your sense of depth – making it really difficult to judge just how far away you are from another boat or boulder. Anchoring means trying to find somewhere not too deep, so you don’t have to put out miles of anchor chain, and also in the right kind of sea bed, so you don’t get stuck.
We had two aborted attempts to anchor – one we realised there was a rock looming, the second because we realised we were directly over a cable. We moved around and tried to moor near the customs pontoon – but they were having nothing of it – shinning torches directly at us.
As we looked for other options, the customs launch came straight for us, and we thought we were going to be boarded, but we think that once they saw the boat name, they realised we had checked in. We’d forgotten to take down our yellow Q flag, that indicates you still have to clear customs. Doh!
Past midnight, tired and just a little rattled, we finally found a spot, dropped anchor and set our anchor alarm. Andrew slept in the saloon in case there were any problems in the night. In fact, there were none – the boat barely moved. However the closeness of the rocks and boats surrounding us when we awoke next morning were a bit of a shock!
Welcome to Finland – land of lakes, ferns – and rocks!
Our daily stats
No map again for this leg, but it was a long one! 102 nautical miles, which we sailed, and sailed and sailed – and only 4 engine hours.
2 in a boat is our podcast that brings you the sailing and travel world of Suzanne and Andrew on their aged yacht Crystelle Venture.
You’ll join us along the way as we prepare for our longest sail yet, from Dartmouth, UK to St Petersburg, Russia. Our route takes us across the North Sea and around the Baltic this summer, a round trip of about 3000 nautical miles.
With a fab intro music written by our talented nephew, Joseph Turner, and artwork by our equally talented daughter, Jessica Caballero – it’s something of a family affair.
Warts and all live recording of our time sailing across Lyme Bay to Portland. Ever wondered what goes on during those long hours in a small cockpit on a yacht? Now’s your chance to eavesdrop and find out what Andrew and Suzanne get up to!
Just where have our 2 in a boat washed up now? They’ve spotted submarines, been boarded by the Dutch authorities, and now want to buy concrete sheep. Listen in to find out what on earth/on sea, has been going on.
At last our 2 intrepid sailors have made their way to the gateway to the river Elbe and the prospect of the Kiel canal looms. But what are our 2 in a boat talking about? Borkum, bikes and boys! Listen in to hear about their journey from Borkum to Cuxhaven, and all manner of other discussions.
Today is the day our 2 in a boat face one of their biggest fears, and most anticipated parts of their journey to the Baltic – going into the Keil canal (NOK). Find out how they got on in today’s episode.
Today we find our 2 in a boat preparing for the first official leg in their Baltic rally – from Warnemunde, Germany to Bornholm, Denmark. What have they done in the past few days and what are their thoughts on the rally? Join them on Crystelle Venture to catch up with our 2 in a boat.