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

Day 21: Haapasaari to Porvoo

We couldn’t see those rocks at night!

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.

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