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!
Aboard Pomern – last operational sailing cargo ship.
Diverse and very pretty flora
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…
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!
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…
Toodle-oo! is currently in Mariehamn, Aland – and heading out tomorrow (Thursday) morning.
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!
Raising the new Aland flag
Lying to anchor in Aland
Stern to version of Bow-to mooring!
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!
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!
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
Entire lane of this market given up to butcher stalls!
House of Blackheads
Work of Art?
Pretty flowers everywhere
Lots of this…
Church in Riga (One of many)
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.
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!!
Crane Gate from Toodle-oo!
Hmmm – paddling with shovels!
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.
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:
Ceiling in Town Hall to keep sleeping politicians amused
All serene colors
People Watching Paradise
Mall with Ruins
Mine’s bigger than yours old chap!
I Lost my head!
On the Right
On the Left
Subway is everywhere!
Neptune and Town Hall
The Green Gate
Waterfront to Crane Gate
The Crane Gate
Gdansk – the massive Ship Yard
Dipping the flag to the first fallen of WWII