Day 23 – anchoring in the archipelago

Helsinki to Sundskar anchorage

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.

You can hear more of our thoughts about Helsinki and our time there in our podcast Episode 28 – In search of vikings.

Day 22: Where the devil does his washing up

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.

You can hear more in our podcast, Episode 27 – where the devil does his washing up