Aug 31, 2014

The last weekend of August

Dolphin Dance was due to be lifted out of the water for inspection on Thursday, so we started for the weekend trip already on Thursday morning. The lift out took only about 15 minutes and fortunately the damages caused by a contact with a underwater rock in Sweden appeared to be very minor. I did not expect to find anything too serious, because our speed was quite low, but a longer scratch under the keel would have been a bit more problematic to repair. Now there was just a small scratch in the corner of the keel, which can be repaired during the normal winter lay-up.

We continued for Nauvo guest harbour for the first night. On Thursday evening, the harbour was almost empty, but there were a lot of reserved places for the coming weekend.

We cast off after the rain shower, but more was on the way.  

On Friday we had the best sail of the weekend from Nauvo to Helsingholmen. We expected this popular harbour to be full in the evening, but there were still plenty of vacant places for the night. We booked sauna (of course) in the evening.

On Saturday we continued for nearby Högsåra, which we had not visited earlier. First we checked out the harbour near the village. However, for some reason the main part of the pontoon was already removed, so there were only two odd buoys and the harbour was almost empty in the afternoon. Additionally, loud music was played from the other side of the bay, so we decided to switch to the Kejsarhamnen, the other harbour on the island, which was more quiet (despite the harbour being almost full of boats).

Aug 28, 2014

Trip to the Isokari lighthouse island

In the last week of July, we made a short trip to Isokari, which is located about 13 nautical miles from our family cottage and thus it is a perfect destination for shorter trips. This time we also had a record number of people onboard for an overnight trip, since my brother and his two children joined us for this lighthouse island adventure.

As it was still a high holiday season, guided tours to the lighthouse were organized twice a day. Due to the new legistlation, visitors are not allowed to access the outside platform on the top of the lighthouse anymore, which is a pity, since the views are splendid from the top of this almost 50 meters high lighthouse. Fortunately, the lighthouse's lantern room on the top is still accessible for visitors after some modifications.

As the day was very warm, we spent rest of the afternoon on the sandy beach, which is located close to the harbour. It was nice to find that despite the warm weather, the waters were still very clear around Isokari, and there was no sign of blue-green algal blooms, which had been quite massive in many parts of the Baltic Sea due to the record hot summer weather. The sea water temperature was maybe around 25 degrees, which I have never experienced in the Baltics at least this close to the open sea.

Traditional sailing boat visiting Isokari

Our guests had to get back home for Tuesday evening, so they had booked tickets for a boat which is running daily from Uusikaupunki. However, we decided to stay for one more night on the island. The evening was perfectly calm which made conditions perfect for flying the quadcopter along the kilometers long rocky shoreline on the west side of the island.

Aug 19, 2014

Through the (Åland's) Northeast Passage

From HavsVidden we had two route options to Kustavi where the summer journey would end this time. If the weather conditions had been favourable, we would have taken the direct offshore route from Northern Åland to Isokari. However, light winds were forecasted for the coming days so we expected a lot of motoring and therefore chose the scenery route which is zigzagging across the northeastern archipelago of Åland. This was not anyway a secondary choice, since I consider this route to be perhaps the most beautiful waterway in the Finnish archipelago.

Crossing the Teili in perfect weather. Fortunately, we got more wind than we expected 
so we were able to sail most of this leg. 

The northeast passage (of Åland) starts from Enklinge and continues up to northern Kihti and Katanpää in Kustavi. In the southern part of the route the islands are more forestry, but the scenery gets more barren when getting closer to the Sea of Bothnia in the north. There are very few summer houses in the area because, due to the legislation, it is difficult (or impossible) to own real estate in Åland for people who do not have the right to domicile in Åland. Additionally, as this area is also located quite far from Fasta Åland (the main island) even not many Ålanders have their summer houses in this part of the archipelago.

The waterway is clearly marked with leading lines

We had a lunch and swimming break in a beautiful lagoon between the islands of Bredskär and Högören. Despite the high season, the route was not too busy and we were the only boat in the anchorage.

Clear waters in the anchorage made me test underwater photography with GoPro. There were a lot of  bladder wracks in the bay (rakkolevä in Finnish), which should be a sign of clean water. 

It would have been nice to spend more time exploring this area, since the anchoring possibilities are splendid. However, we had a schedule to meet, so we decided to continue still about ten nautical miles to north for the night. After searching for a while, we found an anchorage near the island called Innerskär. It was not a perfect spot since the space was quite cramped. However, calm winds were forecasted for the night so we set up an anchor alarm and decided that it is good enough for this night. The scenery towards the Sea of Bothnia was breathtakingly beautiful from top of the island and I also flew the quadcopter to take some aerial images of this anchorage.

The following day we had still about 20 miles' leg to Kustavi, where the boat was left for a couple of weeks.

Aug 7, 2014

HavsVidden – sunsets and jacuzzis

After two nights without electricity, showers and other benefits of the modern world, we decided to head for a guest harbour for the next night. The problem was that in the northern part of Åland the number of choices is not too plentiful. However, two years ago I had heard (in the sauna of Eckerö) about a harbour called HavsVidden, which would be something totally different compared to other guest harbours in Åland or in the mainland Finland. We were told that one should book a berth there in advance and the harbour fee in July was more than double compared to the other guest harbours in the area.

I had sailed past HavsVidden a couple of times, but never really paid any attention to it. The harbour, the hotel and the apartments seemed to blend in well to the surroundings. Furthermore, our nautical chart or plotter did not have any indication about the guest harbour. However, there is a good chart with instructions in their website about the approach, which is useful when looking for the safe way to the harbour.

After tying the boat on the sturdy quay we checked in at the reception of a 4-star hotel. The hotel's pool area is included in the harbour fee so we spent most of the warm evening there. After seeing all the investments that were required to put together the harbour with a massive breakwater, the pool area and the hotel, I would not consider the harbour overpriced.

HavsVidden has a unique location in the northern part of Åland. There are not too many locations in this part of the Baltic Sea where one can see the Sun setting in the sea without any islands in the horizon. I guess that the number gets quite small when taking into account the places where one can do that while sitting in a jacuzzi.