Jul 29, 2015

Season of strong winds

This summer has been perhaps the most windiest here in the Northern Baltic Sea, at least that I remember. Since the start of the season in the end of May, we have been sailing in winds above 10 m/s (20 kts) at least half of the time and it seems that the normal summer winds have been mostly missing this year. When sailing to east towards Helsinki in the end of June, we had mostly tailwind so the windspeed did not have that much effect.

The strongest wind (18 m/s or 35 kts) that we encountered at sea during the summer trip was when sailing from Estonia to Finland. The following day it was blowing even harder and this time from the west, so we spent the rainy day in Hanko.

On the 11th of July the wind turned northerly for about a week. When sailing from Korpoström to Åland Archipelago, we got the toughest headwind leg of the season as the wind was gusting about 15 m/s (29 kts). The northwesterly wind created steep and short waves at Kihti sea, so a lot of water was over the fore deck. Thanks to her hull shape and weight, Dolphin Dance is generally a comfortable boat to sail to windward as she does not slam and takes the waves gently. However, her waterline length is rather short so the ride often resembles a roller coaster when sailing in short and steep waves. Usually the sprayhood gives very good protection for the helmsman and crew so the cockpit remains dry when sailing. However, this time the nasty waves at Kihti sea gave us a couple of good showers also in the cockpit. Fortunately, the weather was sunny.

Thanks to her deep hull, DD takes the waves gently, but the bow dives deep into each wave. 

 Thus, in steep waves, there is usually a lot of water over the fore deck.

Lesson learned... always double-check that the fore deck ventilation is closed when the ride gets wet! 

Jul 23, 2015

Lohusalu and crossing back to Finland

After sunny days in Tallinn, we continued towards west along the Estonian coast on Sunday the 5th of July. We chose to head for Lohusalu, located about 20 miles from the Estonian capital.

This time, we were four people on board, since Antti's parents had joined us in Tallinn and decided to stay onboard and cross the Gulf Of Finland with us. We had earlier made plans to continue on the Estonian side of the Gulf and maybe even visit Hiiumaa island, but the strong westerly winds forecasted made us decide to cross back to the Finnish side, where the archipelago would help us to keep on sailing towards west. Furthermore, good easterly winds were forecasted for Monday, so we decided to take the advantage of those.

We left early in the morning, since the wind had been forecasted to pick up in the afternoon. This was a good decision: in the end, the strong winds came earlier than forecasted, and it was gusting around 15 m/s (30 kts) already at 11 o'clock.

Due to the strong winds, the guest harbour 'Itäsatama' in Hanko was already full in the afternoon, when we arrived there, but we managed to find a vacant berth on the Itämeren Portti harbour, which is located on the nearby island. There is a frequent and free connection between the harbour and mainland, so in the end we liked this harbour more due to its beautiful location on the island and better facilities.
/Minna & Antti

Here is a short video about crossing the Gulf of Finland:

Crossing Gulf of Finland
Feelings from Monday when sailing from Estonia to Finland! First the wind was light but increased during the day to near gale strength. #sailing
Posted by S/Y Dolphin Dance on 8. heinäkuuta 2015

Jul 19, 2015

Tallinn Old City Marina

On Thursday the 2nd of July, we headed for Tallinn. We chose to try out the Old City Marina located in the center of the Port of Tallinn, close to Vanalinn, the old town of Tallinn.
We motored a short leg from Naissaar since there was not that much wind. Arriving in the Old City Marina was exciting, since the marina is located in the Port Basin. When navigating in it, the small crafts have to steer clear of passenger ships and cruise liners and should not obstruct the manoeuvring of these vessels. When approaching the harbour, one has to request permission on VHF channel 14 or call by telephone. Additionally, one has to wait that the traffic light turns green to enter the Port Basin.

After all this, we motored in to the Port Basin and to the small canal in which the Old City Marina is located. The outer side of the first pontoon in the inner basin is reserved for bigger boats (+45ft) but we found a good finger berth in the inner pontoon.

We had a pleasant stay in Tallinn. We stayed for three nights and had some guests over - Antti's parents joined us for a couple of days. We walked a lot in the city - my Polar loop showed more than 30k steps per day! The Old City is very idyllic, full of medieval streets to stroll down. We found nice Italian restaurants - I am happy to recommend Trattoria del Gallo Nero and Ristorante Gelsomino.

Furthermore, we wanted to see also something else than only the idyllic old town. I saw some blogposts about Telliskivi Loomelinnak and We decided to visit these old buildings that had been turned into design shops and pop up stores. In this area, there is also F-hoone restaurant that has been praised for its food and interior design. We totally recommend visiting this place - you get another view of the city, and the walk to the area did not take that long from the marina either.

Jul 17, 2015

Crossing the Gulf of Finland: from Helsinki to Naissaar

On Wednesday the 1st of July, we decided to take the advantage of rare northwesterly winds and woke up early for a 40 nautical miles leg across the Gulf of Finland. In the morning we got a good wind, but the wind started to fade away around noon. We motored for a short while, but then it started blowing again – this time from the west. So instead of having a downwind leg, we were now close reaching, but at least we were able to sail all the way to Naissaar where we arrived after eight hours of sailing.

Naissaar in sight

Due to its strategic location less than 10 nm northwest of Tallinn, Naissaar has history as a military base. After the Second World War, Naissaar was a naval base for Soviet Union, which even had a mine factory on the island. Soviet army left the island in 1993, and after that it has been converted into a nature reserve.

There are good pontoons in Naissaar harbour. Tallinn in the background. 

There are kilometres of empty sandy beaches on the island 

On Thursday morning, we walked to the mine factory, which is located in the inner part of the island. However, we did not find too much to see in the forrest and as the route had been longer than anticipated, we decided to take a shortcut to the harbour. One of the trail maps that we saw along the route showed a straight route from mine factory to the harbour. We decided to try this out, but eventually this 'route' turned out to be an old electricity line which was mostly overgrown. However, there was a narrow trail following the old line. The trail was getting narrower and narrower and after we had walked about 15 minutes, the trail ended up in a wetland without any possibility to round it. Thus we had to swallow our pride and take again the longer way to the harbour. After that it was time to head for nearby Tallinn. More about that in next blog post.

As a reminiscent of the military history, there is a narrow gauge railway network on the island.

Jul 8, 2015

Elisaari-Stora Svartö-Helsinki

On the way to Helsinki we overnighted in Elisaari, which is a popular harbour in the Barösund area. Located in the midde of a very narrow channel, Elisaari is the kind of harbour that I would like to be in, if a hurricane ever hit the Baltic Sea.

The sea chart gives very little indication that the channel is navigable for sailing boats as there are depth markings of about one meter along the route. However, the channel is deep enough even for bigger yachts. The beginning of the channel is a bit hard to locate as it looks to be a marsh field. But as you come closer you see the beginning of the waterway which is easy to navigate.

In Elisaari there is a beautiful nature trail, which goes trough 
one of the largest oak forests in Finland. 

From Elisaari we continued east across the Porkkala fjard in fresh 10-12 m/s (Force six) downwind. On the eastern side we anchored in the lee of an island called Stor Träskö, where we had lunch and photographing break. The anchorage was a bit windy, so we decided to continue a couple of miles to the east to nearby Stora Svartö, which has good pontoons and buoys.


Stora Traskö

 Stora Svartö

On the following day we had a about 20 nautical miles stretch to Helsinki, where we spent two nights in Liuskaluoto, a harbour by sailing club Helsingfors Segelsällskapet. We liked very much staying in the harbour as it is located in the beautiful Kaivopuisto area close to the city centrum.

Jul 4, 2015

Legs 4-5: Örö-Hanko-Långskär

From Örö we continued towards Hanko in strong 10-13 m/s (Force 6) breeze. The wind was from southwest so we got a good speed for the whole leg across the Hanko western. Mostly the skerries were giving at least some shelter from the swell of the Baltic Sea, but the ride got a bit bumby in some places.

My brother's family arrived in Hanko for the evening so we had a record number of people overnighting onboard (six). For these occasions 29 ft boat (without an aft cabin) is a bit too small.

On Friday afternoon we continued to Tammisaari archipelago for the night. This area turned out to be a very beautiful part of the coast between Hanko and Helsinki with plenty of natural harbours. First we tried to find a place from Trelänningen, but as the island is located close to the open sea the anchorage was rather windy. After touring about an hour, we found a more sheltered place to drop the hook located on the north side of the island called Långskär. In the evening some dark thunder clouds rolled over from the west which made this peaceful scenery rather dramatic.