On the second day in Helsinki we woke up with sunshine. Our neighbour, a Finish guy spending his summers here, the rest of the year in Thailand, greeted us dressed in boxer shorts only. Obviously he must be Nordic: temperature was at 15 C! Finland's education system is ranked top in the world. A lot of the Finish are fluent in at least 3 languages: Finish, Swedish and English. So, we had no problems, finding a vet and arranging an appointment for our two dogs, to ensure, they get the anti-worm-pill and necessary stamp in the passport for entering Sweden. After the dogs had been to the vet and we shopped for more maps and made more pictures, we left for Stora Svartö This is what we missed so much on the southern side of the Baltic: amazing nature, thousands of islands, pine forest, clear water. Lovely sailing with 10-20kn N.
Cold crisp clear air (well, I did not really miss the cold air). It felt like a lovely autumn sailing day in the Oslo Fjord - and yes: Helsinki is slightly more north than Oslo.The wind didn't favour the harbour at Stora Svartö, so we went to the lee side of the same bay, just about a nautical mile away, to Brändholm. The harbour is located in beautiful nature, and with electricity, we paid 10€.
At 0800 the first mate set of to collect some more chanterelle and enough mountain cranberries to make some marmalade. She said, max. 1h. When she was still not back after 2h, it became obvious, that something has happened: The first mate left without her mobile phone and got completely lost in the forest. She had to find out, that it does not really help to be in a highly civilized country where everyone speaks English and has a mobile phone, if you do not know the name of your harbour, or the phone number you have to call. After having walked to 3 different harbours, she finally, 2.5 hours after she left, found the right place.
And off we set: No wind to start with, then some wind, then on motor again. Our next Stop was Hanko, at the most southern tip of mainland Finland. The temperature however was not southern. Despite the sunshine a cold north wind was blowing. And it was a cold north wind, even if it blew from west. Seems, that up here, the North wind is always cold, no matter were it blows from. Hanko is a small city with a big harbour - actually 4 harbours at least. We stayed at the harbour nearest to the breakwater. 21€ without electricity, but with internet, toilet, shower and a very, very nice sauna.
Yes: this is really great here: the harbours have saunas. We guess, that this is another area were Finland is top: number of saunas per person. And the Estonians are good at this, too. The church and the red tower, is easily spotted from the sea, the casino to the right is less obvious.
Utö is emerging from the sea.
We shopped again for the missing map, then some food, then some breakfast bun. Shopping really hurts here: the pumpkin-seed-breakfast bun was at 1,30€ a piece! No wonder, the people are so slim here!One hour on engine then more lovely sailing through the inner part, passing hundreds of island, calm water, sunshine, temperature a bit higher, water at 16 C now. I have no idea how anyone could find his way around here without a chart plotter. We had to leave the inner fairway and sail out into the waves to get to Utö, Finnlands southernmost year-round inhabitad island. There are some houses, a shop, a hotel and a lot of cottages to rent - but not much going on.
Utö used to have Finland's oldest light house. However, that was destroyed during the Finish War. Now you have a red/white building, which is quite new and only the house of the light house keeper is still original and now a museum. No service and no fee in the harbour. When the first mate took the dogs on a walk, she was very much surprised to meet a German. He had left Hamburg something like 15 years ago - might as well move to another planet?
The wind was between 15-35kn. Again the cold north wind, this time from SE - but sunny, until a front arrived. We thought, we would make it, but shortly before we reached the harbour the rain started. There are at least two harbours in Degerö and we stayed at the most southern one. The other, which we would have preferred, had no free and deep enough place or us, to lay along side. Our harbour was run by the near-by restaurant, and it had a Sauna - of course:-)The first mate set off to do some shopping. Bad luck: it was Saturday and the one and only shop closed at 13:00. We were too late.
Not much sailing today: we started on engine, then tried to sail a bit, out of the archipelago of Åland. Our sails seemed to have scared the wind completely away and we had to motor the rest of the way through the sea until we reached the archipelago of Stockholm and Sweden. On the way in through the archipelago of Stockholm, the captain spotted a natural harbour, just a couple of miles from our intended destination Gräddö.
The harbour is called Osterhamn, and is situated on the island Lidön. It is a real beautiful bay, calm, no disturbing noise, just an occasional bird singing. We spotted fish eagles, woodpeckers, ducks and herons.
We finally received confirmation about a winter storage place for Welkin. The place is near Vaxholm, and this is were we were going. The wind with 5-10 kn was dead ahead, therefore we motored again most of the time. After visiting our winter marina, we continued to the city of Vaxholm, which with around 5.000 inhabitants is not really a city. When we arrived we were surprised to find a huge castle, Vaxholm castle from 1549, which was constructed for defence purposes by King Gustav Vasa. The city was later build near the castle, and up until 1912 all buildings had to be wooden. Today it is a nice, neat town, with plenty restaurants and beautiful Swedish houses.
Harbour days in Vaxholm
The harbour has no Sauna - we are in Sweden now! - but besides this, more or less everything. For using the washing machine we had to pay ONE-HUNDRED SEK (~10€) here - they are crazy. The the captain took the train to Oslo and the first mate got busy with other things.
The captain arrived with the winter cover at Malmqvist Båtvarv on Tynningö, and the first mate had to bring the boat alone from Vaxholm. The first mate then took off with the dogs, and brought back this:
-preparing for the winter
Hectic work to get the boat ready for the cold winter left no time to visit Stockholm, although the captain had a sneak preview before boarding the train on the way to Oslo, but a report of "Gamlestan" (the old city) will have to wait until next year.