Lost…

We left Mariehamn and set off for a small island to the west of Åland, Enskär. Disentangling from the mooring was interesting – we were hemmed in by two boats – so the marina staff had to come by and unhook one’s stern mooring in order to let us out. Not much wind so we motored most of the way – just sailing for about 2 hours once we were clear of the islands using main and code zero. Navigation in Finland has been very interesting. They use cardinal buoys – identifying the north, east, south or west extremity of a hazard according to the arrangement of black and yellow bands on a pole. They also use leading lines a lot – once you’ve lined up two markers that are situated on land, you can follow that track safely through whatever hazard you are negotiating. Arriving at the tiny uninhabited island was quite interesting and we found that there was actually a dock – not marked on the chart – with two sailboats docked. Since we were not sure of the depth around it we opted to anchor – close by the dock. If you’re familiar with the series Lost – this is it – minus the sweat! There’s evidence of past activities, but the huts and houses are vacant. Apparently it used to be populated by marine traffic operations but instead they built a radar station there and monitor remotely. As a consequence, it’s all a bit eerie and the paths all overgrown. We did walk around the island and really enjoyed the huge variety of flora – growing in cracks in the red granite rocks. The rocks remind me of a granite version of Malham’s Limestone Pavement. We stayed a couple of nights – having the island completely to ourselves for a good deal of the day and really enjoyed the solitude. We barbecued on the rocks both nights – sausages, then chicken; both excellent!

Need a bigger boat!

Need a bigger boat!

Aboard Pomern - last operational sailing cargo ship.

Aboard Pomern – last operational sailing cargo ship.

Dinner on the barbie

Beautiful granite

Beautiful granite

Diverse and very pretty flora

Diverse and very pretty flora

Abandoned buildings

Abandoned buildings

Rock Hopping

Rock Hopping

We could have tied up to this and stern anchored... I guess we're just wimps!

We could have tied up to this and stern anchored… I guess we’re just wimps!

Mysterious dead monster - definite carnivore - too big for a dog...

Mysterious dead monster – definite carnivore – too big for a dog…

Flora

Flora

Today we departed Enskär and headed across the bay just 8 miles for the larger island of Eckerö and the community of Karingsund, finding a super little harbor full to bursting with boats and tourists from the local massive camp ground. We even tried it the Finnish way and moored bow to – without drama. A very different but equally interesting locale. We’ll stay here tonight then head on around the top of Åland for Djupviken tomorrow. All very well aboard Toodle-oo!

Track our AIS Signal

Our Spot has not been working well – but we have another – better method of tracking where we are – using Toodle-oo!’s AIS signal.

Go to Marinetraffic.com    This will ask you to establish an account – you can get a free one without any problem – though it may be possible to just go in without an account. The benefit of an account is that you can establish your fleet – and thereby track any vessel that has an AIS signal.

Go into your Account Profile and establish a fleet – you can add Toodle-oo (no !) and it should find us as I believe we are the only Toodle-oo around. If not, you may have to specify where we are. You can chose to view us on the map – and it’ll tell you exactly where we are and what speed we’re doing…

Please someone let me know if I’ve given enough information here to set it up properly (since I have an account already, it’s not easy to work out how to set up the system again…

Enjoy!

Toodle-oo! is currently in Mariehamn, Aland – and heading out tomorrow (Thursday) morning.

 

Mariehamn

We’ve moved to Mariehamn on Aland – the only town in the whole archipelago – in order to find a chandler and  sort out the windlass – and maybe buy a special mooring hook for stern mooring – and maybe some charts or pilots so that we know where we’re going! Some early pictures of Finland for you:

Laurie sews up a new Aland Flag on the way - while heeling!

Laurie sews up a new Aland Flag on the way – while heeling!

Raising the new Aland flag

Raising the new Aland flag

Lying to anchor in Aland

Lying to anchor in Aland

Stern to version of Bow-to mooring!

Stern to version of Bow-to mooring!

Narrow Finnish canal

Punished!

Why am I being punished?

When Mum got annoyed with me when I was a kid, she’d put me to bed early and I’d lie there awake in the summer evenings, waiting for it to get dark – so that I could actually do something productive – sleep…

It’s already 10:00pm and I could sit outside for the next hour or two reading a book without any artificial light – and yet, it’s time for bed…  Why am I being punished so?

 

Today marked a couple of firsts… a first failure of the boat that was not caused by inept captaincy… we went to up-anchor and the windlass died. I had to pull the anchor up by hand. Not only is it bloody heavy, but it was covered in mud and slime. It looks like the motor needs new brushes – which we don’t have – but we hear there’s a good chandlery in Mariehamn so we’ll head there in the next day or two. (Side note: When anchoring yesterday, our second day in Finland, we went aground for the second time!!!!)

The other first was successfully mooring Swedish/Finnish style – taking a stern buoy and tying up to the dock – except that we did it backwards – mooring stern to the dock with a line from the “stern mooring” attached to the bow. No major problems – here we are well secured to the dock, comfortable… Thanks to the harbormaster for lending us a Swedish hook to facilitate hooking the mooring…

Today we had our first rain since leaving Ardfern about a month ago – but tomorrow is supposed to be sunny – so we can explore…

All very good aboard Toodle-oo!

 

Åland Islands

Our “Spot” device seems to be acting up – so (if you were looking) you probably wondered where we were… We’re now in Finland – district of Åland comprised of some 6,500 islands and skerries.

We arrived last night at 10:00pm after a boisterous sail of some 32½ hours – sailing the whole way close hauled and therefore heeled over like crazy – which Laurie didn’t appreciate too much! Wind varied a lot – from about 10 knots to nearly 30 and we had seas that were almost flat and seas running close to 8 feet – and steep! We actually motor sailed the last 8 or 9 miles – just to make sure we got in during daylight – but need not have worried – we could have read a book in the cockpit at midnight!

We anchored in a small cove – after first hitting the bottom (just to test our nerves) and will stay here today recovering, relaxing and fixing various bits on the boat – in fantastic weather surrounded by countless islands.

We have arrived!

 

Riga, Latvia

We took a bus trip to Latvia’s capital, Riga for a splendid couple of days, staying at a really nice little hotel right in the thick of it and at reasonable cost.

Vecriga is the old city and is full of interesting buildings and people from all over. There are restaurants and bars on every street, each offering nightly live music of numerous types – we opted for a spot at Old Riga where a group of three were playing Recorder, Viol da Gamba (sort of a 7 string Cello) and a Luttie like thing with more strings than I could count. They were playing the sort of music you’d expect Henry VIIIth to have listened to… and were dressed in period costume to boot!

My photos probably don’t do Riga justice – it truly is a magnificent spot – though both Laurie and I agreed that Gdansk had it by a hair – possibly partly due to us being hot and sweaty all day  in Riga– in the glorious heat!

Our return bus ride was similar to the outward one – long (3 1/2 hours), bumpy and very hot with minimal ventilation!

 (Click on photos to enlarge.)

Countless Flower Stalls

Countless Flower Stalls

Special Products!

Special Products!

Entire lane of this market given up to butcher stalls!

Entire lane of this market given up to butcher stalls!

Curious...

Curious…

Riga Street

Riga Street

Gothic Ceilings

Gothic Ceilings

House of Blackheads

House of Blackheads

Work of Art?

Work of Art?

Our Musicians

Our Musicians

Neat arch

Neat arch

Riga Street

Riga Street

Pretty flowers everywhere

Pretty flowers everywhere

Lovely Archway

Lovely Archway

Lots of this...

Lots of this…

Main Square

Main Square

Church in Riga (One of many)

Church in Riga (One of many)

Church

Church

Ancient Rune?

Ancient Rune?

Street Scene

Street Scene

We provisioned yesterday – will do a little more today (didn’t get enough alchohol!) and will head out later today for Finland’s Aland Islands. These are a group of 5 – 6,000 islands that lie between Finland and Sweden right at the top of the Baltic Sea. Apparently half the channel markers of the world are in this area! We have heard from all sorts that there are rocks aplenty to fall foul of – so we’ll be on our guard. The trip up there will take about 36 hours – so we’re planning 2 overnights this trip and hope to arrive early on the 11th and then will spend 7 – 10 days wandering around the islands and totally ‘off the grid’ – see you on the flip side.

Will be updating the Spot – so you can see where we are under the “Where we are” tab at the top menu.

Gdansk and Onward

We had a lovely visit to Gdansk – a really nice old town area that has been rebuilt following what looks like almost total destruction during World War II. The marina is right in the heart of the old town – and right next to some bombed out buildings that look like they might become a part of an open air museum in the near future. Around the area they are putting in new docks and walkways. The city is clearly geared up for their important tourist season. When we arrived, the marina even hoisted an American flag in our honor!!

Big Bread!

Big Bread!

Crane Gate from Toodle-oo!

Crane Gate from Toodle-oo!

Hmmm - paddling with shovels!

Hmmm – paddling with shovels!

Marina Gdansk next to some bombed out ruins.

Marina Gdansk next to some bombed out ruins.

We left on Friday morning at 7:00am after spending 3 nights in Gdansk and headed for Leipaja in Latvia. Our weather forecast was for good weather but very little wind – looked like we were going to have to motor most of the way (25hours). However at 10am the wind built to 7kts and we managed to get the boat going at about 5kts with Spinnaker. We later raised the main and got her going at 7 – 8kts in about 10kts of wind. The spinnaker was pulled pretty tight as we were reaching pretty well into the wind.

Unfortunately a wind shift put the wind directly behind us so we suffered the engine once more, but then after turning right at the top end of a Russian exclusion zone, we were able to reach again with Genoa and Main and managed to sail consistently through the night hours at 5.5 – 7.5kts, arriving at our next port of call, Leipaja, Latvia just before lunchtime.

Gdansk

We nearly didn’t come to Gdansk – why come to a massive ship yard… But then when talking with various other sailors, we heard it’s really nice…

I’ll let you judge by these photos:

Green Gate

Green Gate

Yum!

Yum!

Selfie 3

Ceiling in Town Hall to keep sleeping politicians amused

Ceiling in Town Hall to keep sleeping politicians amused

All serene colors

All serene colors

People Watching Paradise

People Watching Paradise

Mall with Ruins

Mall with Ruins

Fresh Fruit

Fresh Fruit

Mine's bigger than yours old chap!

Mine’s bigger than yours old chap!

The Tourist

The Tourist

I Lost my head!

I Lost my head!

On the Right

On the Right

On the Left

On the Left

Got him!

Got him!

Subway is everywhere!

Subway is everywhere!

A Street

A Street

Neptune and Town Hall

Neptune and Town Hall

Waterfront

Waterfront

The Green Gate

The Green Gate

Waterfront to Crane Gate

Waterfront to Crane Gate

Street Scene

Street Scene

The Crane Gate

The Crane Gate

Gdansk - the massive Ship Yard

Gdansk – the massive Ship Yard

Dipping the flag to the first fallen of WWII

Dipping the flag to the first fallen of WWII

Another Change…

So, while we intended to go to Gdansk today, we managed to get a little diverted by the island of Christianso, about 10 miles east of Bornholm…

We left Ronne on Bornholm this (Saturday) morning at 9:30, managing to extricate ourselves from the mooring box cleanly – if not without some angst. Immediatly after leaving the mooring box and before managing to exit the very tight harbor entrance, the engine quit! This could be serious – but we kept our calm and after a couple of attempts to re-start switching to different fuel filters and then to different fuel tanks, we managed to revive her and power out of the harbor without further incident.

We had a great sail to Christianso – which is on the way to Gdansk keeping the speed up between 7 and 9 knots, on a broad reach and then as we headed east around the norther cape of Bornholm we came close on the wind and continued to power our way along.

We entered the tight little harbor in Christianso just after a boat left it – so we knew there was space for us. Indeed, there was a space on the harbor wall about 50ft long – tight fit for a 44 ft boat in 15 knots of wind – but where there’s a will, there’s a way!

Christianso is a lovely little island not even a kilometer x half a kilometer – and is essentially entirely comprised of a military fort dating back to the 1600’s. The 100 permanent residents rent small homes from the Danish military and I think the whole economy relies upon the 40,000 visitors that come during the 2 months of summer…

Photos will follow when I have good internet.

A 44ft boat in a 50ft space!

A 44ft boat in a 50ft space!

Washer woman goes for it while on passage!

Washer woman goes for it while on passage!

Northern Gannet, normally found in the Atlantic, has been living here by this electric post for the past two years!

Northern Gannet, normally found in the Atlantic, has been living here by this electric post for the past two years!

Newcomer

Newcomer

Pretty streets

Pretty streets

The restaurant

The restaurant

Christianso

Christianso

Denmark

Pictures from Copenhagen where we had a really nice time:

Little Mermaid

Little Mermaid

A Palace

A Palace

Nyhavn

Nyhavn

Busy streets

Busy streets

Watching boats in Nyhavn

Watching boats in Nyhavn

Castle

Castle

Hen party in Nyhavn?

Hen party in Nyhavn?

More people.

More people.

 

We left Copenhagen for Denmark’s outlying eastern island of Bornholm – about 18 hours distant – as an overnight passage at Laurie’s behest… “If we’re going to screw up 18 hours sat on the boat – why not make it during sleeping hours primarily so we don’t waste any touring time?” Not able to argue with that logic, we departed at 5pm on Wednesday!

It was a beautiful evening – once again, sunny, dry and cool – and we headed out of the harbor into a 15 knot breeze. Unfortunately the tide was against us and as soon as we tacked to the south, we found ourselves in an adverse current and not making much progress at all. The engine went on and pretty much stayed on the rest of the trip – other than a couple of half hearted attempts to sail in 5 knots  later on.

We watched a beautiful sunset – and Laurie got to see a green flash once again. The sun sets in the north west up here and rises north east – but in reality it never really gets completely dark – this photo was taken at midnight and you can see there is still light available and 3 hours later the sun is rising.

Sunset

Sunset

And the time is... Midnight. Still light in the sky.

And the time is… Midnight. Still light in the sky.

There was even more traffic here than in the north sea – and we had to dodge various vessels from time to time as we crisscrossed the shipping “Traffic Separation Zones” – which we’re only supposed to enter at right angles…

We arrived in Bornholm at 10am and made our first attempt at mooring in a ‘box.’ This normally involves going between two pilings and bow to the pontoon, using ropes secured around the pilings to keep one’s bow from creaming the pontoon. We decided to outdo the Danes by coming in stern to – so we could get on and off easily using our swim platform…  As it happened, when we arrived there was very little wind or current and it was relatively easy to get into the box and secured – but coming in stern to was a major mistake – the pontoon is 4ft high and rigid (no tides here), so we had a difficult time getting on and off the boat. Next time we’ll know better, we’ll come in bow to and clamber over the pull-pit and anchor.

On the dock we met Lars Byder who ended up giving us a tour of the island with his wife Claire – we had an opportunity to visit a really pretty little island that we otherwise would not have seen. Lars is possibly something of a celebrity – he makes custom motor bikes. Guys back at Checon – let me know if he comes up someplace, the pictures he had of some of his creations were pretty spectacular. Claire on the other hand was commissioned to do a couple of cabinets for the Queen!!!

We cycled our tandem around too and have to say Bornholm is a very nice little destination.

Enjoying a beer on Bornholm

Enjoying a beer on Bornholm

This morning (Saturday) we’re leaving for Gdansk, Poland on an overnight trip of about 180 miles, expecting to arrive Monday morning – though we might stop off at Christanso, a small island just off Bornholm for a quick tour.