After our stay in the hotel Pilotti near Helsinki airport we caught the airport
shuttle back to the airport to catch the train to Turku. We tried several times
to buy our tickets from a machine and eventually gave up.
A station employee
told us where to change trains and that we could buy our tickets on the train.
The connection was good and we got on a double decker train to Turku.
After a couple of hours going through very green country side we reached our
destination and got a taxi to the marina, where the owner of our charter yacht
was waiting for us. After the owner Marti and his wife, Tina, showed us over the
boat, they gave us a lift to Lidl for provisioning. In the evening we took a
taxi into the town for supper. Sadly we had missed the Tall Ships Race by a day.
The next morning, 25 August, after sorting out a few things on "Nova", a Dufour
385, we set sail for Verkan on the island of Korpo. The navigation was
relatively easy as we sailed, or rather motor-sailed, as the wind was very
light, down the main channel towards Korpo.
We saw quite a few classic yachts tacking up through the islands.
There was just a slight challenge going through the many small islands to the
harbour of Verkan but the leading marks were extremely helpful and there were
posts marking a very narrow passage. Eventually we found a place to moor,
hooking a buoy to tie to the stern and then bow to a jetty.
It was difficult to find how to position the ladder on the bow to get ashore and
ended using our neighbour's ladder. It was soon time to have drinks, accompanied
with some pickled herring on rye bread, in the evening sun. It was not getting
dark until way after 10. The next morning we had a full breakfast in the marina
cafe, after the girls tried the sauna.
The decision was made to head for the one of the NJK outstations on the small
island of Kråkskär. We had a following wind all the way and quite a few ferries
passed us on their way to Mariehamn.
Eventually the wind died as we approached the north end of the island so we
switched on the engine and motored round into the little harbour that was empty.
Again we tied up with the bow to the jetty & the stern hooked up to a buoy,
luckily the jetty was a bit higher this time so we had no need for a ladder. As
we went ashore to explore we noticed a visitors' book stored in a cupboard that
we duly signed.
Nearby was a small clubhouse with a sauna and beyond 2 pretty little huts with
toilets in them. We walked to the other side of the island over the smooth
granite rocks. A yacht appeared round the headland and tied up next door to us.
There was lovely view of the western end of the Korpo archipelago as we had
drinks in the cockpit. It was Pat and Maggie's turn to cook supper that evening.
The next morning the gentleman on the next boat suggested that Rödhamn was a
pretty and interesting harbour to visit so we set off to join the main ferry
route through many islands including Hamon, Turbin and to the west of Sotunga.
Again we saw the ferries going between the islands.
After lunch the sea breeze from the southeast filled in and we were able to
sail. At this point the channel became narrower as we sailed passed Delburgen
and some fish farms. Once again we entered and crossed the main shipping channel
before passing to the south of Buskskär on the southern most tip of Åland, where
we turned to the north west to Rödhamn.
It was a sheltered harbour where we tied up in the usual manner, bow to the
jetty. We walked round to the little café/restaurant to order some bread for the
After a glorious day there was rain overnight and off and on during the day. Had
the weather made it all the way from home? Whatever, the only real effects were
more gloomy photos and, good news, enough wind to sail most of the way to
we had been forewarned about rain - the delightful marina office cum shop
provided a weather forecast for the day on the bag of homemade bread we'd
ordered in time for breakfast.
Before leaving Rödhamn three of us explored the area, coming across a tiny
museum in the building, which had been an original radio transmitter, similar to
Niton Radio, with Its machinery intact.
It also had photos of island life in the 1930s and '40s, a hard existence.
On our way to the museum we saw many flowers in the scrub.
After casting off the big excitement was our first holding tank pump out. It
entailed mooring alongside a small platform and using a hand pump to extract the
doings, a surprisingly easy and effective system without using power.
Our sail to Mariehamn was an uneventful navigational exercise, minimum motoring
for a change, and good to arrive at the starting point for the ICOYC cruise.
With such a palaver previously to set the ladder over the bows we made our first
try at reversing into a berth so our buoy connection was made from the bows and
we could get onto the pontoon via the sugar scoop stern, a great deal easier.
On the pontoon we found friends from Seattle YC, Pam and Chuck Lowry with their
crew, and finally met Jan Horhammer from Nylandska Jaktklubben (NJK). He had
organised the cruise, providing detailed information not only on the cruise
schedule but also on all the 10 NJK outstations.
A history note: The Åland (pronounced Orlan) Archipelago is now a mixture of
Finnish and Swedish cultures, though entirely Swedish speaking. Apparently there
were many Russian incursions in the 18th and 19th centuries with Finland being
part of Russia for considerable periods.
A scorched earth move in 1743 caused
many Ålanders to flee to Sweden. However when Finland finally obtained
independence from Russia in 1917 the Finns claimed Åland, despite Ålanders
wishing to be part of Sweden.
A compromise was achieved with Åland being given considerable autonomy as an
independent municipality within Finland. It also has its own flag, the Swedish
yellow cross on a blue background and with a red cross inserted in the yellow
We felt there was a different atmosphere from our limited experience of Finnish
ports but maybe this was because it was more of a major centre.
Saturday 29 July, Mariehamn, capital of Åland
first day of the ICOYC/NJK Cruise and the only scheduled lay day from sailing,
though plenty happening. A four hour coach trip took us to some of the principal
sights of the islands. Kastelholm Slott (Castle) was built in the 14th century
and now partially reconstructed to give an indication of how it would have been
when King Eric XIV was deposed and imprisoned there in 1569.
At the beginning of the 19th century Åland was the western extremity of the
Russian empire. To defend St Petersburg the Russians started building fortresses
at Bomarsund but these were largely destroyed by an Anglo/French bombardment in
1854; however Sweden didn't want Åland so the islands were returned to the
benign Russian ownership!
It was a fascinating tour of the principal island of the archipelago. On
midsummer's day it is customary in Finland to decorate and erect a pole similar
to a mast with green leaves, garlands and flowers.
This pole stays up until it a
few weeks before the next mid-summer day when it is taken down for redecoration.
We saw many in the archipelago.
We returned to Mariehamn to buy stores for the week, followed by a session in
the sauna at the marina. Some of the crews visited the local Maritime Museum.
Sadly the museum ship, Pommern a four masted merchant barque and windjammer,
which regularly operated on the grain trade route between Australia and England
during the interwar years, was closed for refurbishment. Jan our leader held a
skippers briefing giving them information of the next two days' cruise.
Finally we all enjoyed a dinner for all the Cruise participants at an excellent
Sunday, 30 July. Mariehamn to Benö-ö.
We weren't quite the last to leave and followed Svanhild out of Mariehamn
retracing our inward track from Friday. There were many navigational marks both
on the islands and in the channel. The wind was blowing from SW so we motor
sailed for a while until we could bear away.
Our course took us to the southern tip of Åland, in between two small Islands,
Buskskar & Ledskar. Half way up the channel towards Fliso one of the many
ferries passed us going to Mariehamn.
Our next landmark was the fish farm at the bottom of the channel passing Fliso.
Just before the island of Sandö we turned to starboard into a narrow channel
known as Embarsundleden, passing many islands. Luckily one of our group was
ahead of us to show the way.
Half way along, the genoa came down so we hurriedly pulled it on deck. Carrying
on under main alone we passed a little car ferry. Soon we were coming in to our
anchorage by the island of Benö-ö. Jan kindly loaned us a bosun's chair and Pat
was hauled up the mast to retrieve the top of the furling system. The shackle
holding the genoa up had obviously come out.
Again Jan came to our aid with a shackle. So we were able to hoist the sail. Pat
braved the cool Baltic and went for a swim. Supper on board was local cod,
followed by fresh fruit. The sunset was beautiful and we were getting used to
the light evenings.
Monday 31 July Benö-ö to Hellsö on Kökar
We weighed anchor at 0935 and motored out of the harbour past Svanhild who was
moored alongside the rocks. We were soon under sail and the first section was
across a wide bay. We then continued our sail along the Embardsundleden, the
narrow passage we followed yesterday.
The wind was strong and gusty between the islands. Sälsö marked the end of the
channel and we then had turn south and as the wind was on the nose the engine
After about 40 minutes the wind freed and we were then able to sail towards
Kökar. The harbour of Hellsö is entered from north and we tied up in the small
marina in the usual fashion - hooked to a buoy and bow to the jetty.
After lunch we had a short walk, then Maggie and Annette braved the water for a
short swim, while other crews hired bikes for a ride around the island.
An early supper had been arranged in the restaurant overlooking the harbour at
We were served three delicious local dishes; shrimps in sauce for starter, fish
soup and then Åland pancakes with prune conserve and cream.
After supper we were taken by boat to St Anna church dating back to 1784 and the
ruins of a 15th century Franciscan monastery founded on the routes of the ships
of the Hanseatic league. The island of Kökar has only 210 inhabitants who live
here all round the year.
It's difficult to imagine what the winter months are like here. Life must be a
challenge for the young people and many move away, hopefully to return with
young families. The Internet here is usually very good so at least it is
possible to run a business from the island.
Tuesday 1 August Hellsö to Jurmo
It was a lovely sunny day with a breeze from the southwest. We managed to
extricate ourselves from the berth without too much difficulty. The course took
us along the north coast of Kökar and then a turn to starboard going southeast
down a main channel towards Jurmo.
We passed several yachts going north including a lovely ketch from Latvia. It
was easy navigation to the island of Jurmo and there were good leading marks to
get in the harbour.
There was quite a strong cross wind so it was quite a challenge to get into a
berth but we were not the only ones who had difficulty. Another boat came in and
they missed hooking the buoy, so the lady crew swam out with hook to the buoy.
Some of the crews stopped in Utö for lunch on the way. The island of Jurmo was
formed during the ice age, an island surrounded by large amounts of gravel, not
consisting of only rock like most other islands in the region. It is actually a
distant continuation of the Third Salpausselkä a mountain range in the Baltic.
After a late lunch we walked across the island to view the church. Most of the
churches in Finland have a ship hanging above the aisle and this one was no
There were a few small houses clustered round a wooden windmill and alpacas
grazing. We walked back to the harbour via the highest point of the island,
Hogberget, (80 metres) where there was a midsummer pole and also a superb view
over the rest of the island and all the neighbouring islands.
Wedmesday 2 August Jurmo to Bodo
We were the last to leave the lovely island of Jurmo and the departure was
easier that the arrival with a gentle wind bowing. We motored out and soon had
sails up for a gentle sail to Bono. This was an easy navigation day too and we
were in the harbour after two and a half hours. Bono is a private NJK harbour
with a small pontoon and 6 buoys.
The shoreside facilities are a small clubhouse with the customary sauna attached
and a toilet with a magnificent view. Christian and Maggie from Wildu II, NJK
members came into the harbour and offered to get the sauna going. Most of saunas
on the islands are heated by wood. This time we did it the proper way and had a
dip in the sea afterwards.
Most of the outstations are well equipped for cutting up wood. Every outstation
is looked after by at least 2 members of the NJK who make sure that everything
is working properly and kept clean.
Thursday 3 August dö to Längholmen
We woke up to blue skies with the wind rustling in the pine trees. After leaving
the shelter of the NJK harbour at Bödo we turned towards the south to rejoin the
It was decided to reef the mainsail. It was a cracking sail after we turned to
the east passing various small lighthouses. The charts of the Finnish
archipelago are in book form so you have to list each chart you will be using on
your voyage and work out where you leave one chart and enter the next. Post-its
came in very useful marking the charts needed en route.
Eventually we reached a north cardinal where we had to turn into the NJK harbour
The entrance was quite difficult to see. As usual we hooked a buoy and tied the
bow to some to rocks. Luckily Jan was in the harbour already and took our bow
ItIt was a short walk up the hill to a clearing where we had a party on the
boulders with wine and cheese. We caught up with the rest of the group including
those on the large Baltic trader "Svanhild". The guests on her from the Seattle
Yacht Club were talking about their sauna they had on board in the bow of the
The view from the top, where there was a flag pole flying the club pennant, was
Friday 4 August ngholman to Munkshamn.
We left our mooring at 0910 and motored out into a stiff headwind and rain. But
as usual after we raised the main we were able bear away and to sail down wind
towards the east.
We sailed in company for part of the way with Ondina a Swan 37 owned by Robin
Lindën, which he had bought in England. It was great to sea Svanhild sailing
downwind with her mainsails acting like spinnakers. We soon rolled out to the
genoa for a very rock and roll sail towards Hanko through the Hitis archipelago.
We stopped in nko to fill the fuel tanks and empty the waste tanks. Annette
made speedy trip ashore for bread and milk. It had been decided to approach the
harbour at Munckshamn from the south.
We tied up in the little harbour in the normal Finnish fashion and we joined the
American ladies from Seattle Yacht Club in the sauna. with a dip in the sea
Saturday 5 August nkshamn to Högholmen
On Saturday our penultimate day of our cruise we woke up to a sunny day with
fairly strong winds from the southwest.
The course from Munkshamn to Högholmen took us along inner route, which meant we
were only in the open sea for a very short time. As we went east we could see
more and more summer houses with boats tied up at their jetties and pennants
flying from the flag poles.
There were many small motor boats zooming through the islands. The Baltic trader Svanhild had taken the Southern route and we caught glimpses of them through the
islands. We reached a very narrow bit of the route at Barösund where there was a
restaurant overlooking the sea and then a small ferry and a little harbour.
The wind was behind us all the way and we had to keep gybing. Various yachts
passed us going in the opposite direction that were participating in the Baltic
Arc. By chance Keith & Di Jones on their boat Dizzy Di, were among them and they
turned round motored alongside us. We had a quick chat and then they went on
their way to the west.
was an extremely narrow entrance between gholmen & Krkogårdson into our
mooring for the night, so it was very interesting to see Svanhild squeezing in
through the entrance marked by small buoys. We tied up as usual between a buoy
and a jetty.
Claes Tallberg, a past Commodore of the NJK, and his wife Helena had invited us
for drinks at their summer house on Krkogårdson which went to by RIB. The house
had a wonderful view out to sea.
Sunday 6 August Högholmen to Blekholmen
We motored out of the harbour and just as we were about to bear away to the East
we saw what Pat thought was a log floating in the water but it turned out to be
two moose swimming in the quite rough water. It was the windiest so far on the
cruise but our luck was still holding out and the wind was again behind us so we
just able to sail under genoa.
As we got nearer to Helsinki we saw more and more habitation and boats of all
kinds but mainly sailing yachts. We stopped at gelsällskap marina to fill up
with diesel and pump out and then headed for the NJK club in Blekholmen.
The club is actually on an island and they had cleared some berths for us all.
There were a couple of yachts from the Arc Baltic still there who had had
various problems with their instruments.
After yet another sauna and shower at the club Jan gave us short history of the
club and showed us their cabinets full of beautiful trophies and many half
models hanging on the walls. The ceiling in the main dining room looks like the
inside of a Viking ship.
After the delicious buffet dinner, the Finns showed us how to drink their
schnapps after a short rendition in Finnish. This was followed by members of the
Seattle Yacht Club performing a short song. The Royal Southern did not perform
but Annette Newton thanked Jan for all his hard work in organising such an
Nyländska Jaktklubben (NJK)
Norddeutscher Regatta Verein (NRV)
Royal Southern Yacht Club
Seattle Yacht Club