Episode I - Westbound

On June 3rd I started off with former Lemsteraak sailors and long time friends, Hans and Annet Mallant, already many years familiar with the ship. Hans was SSRP board member in the ’90-ies. We arrived on board in Pojo on 3pm (local) EET time (one hour later MET).

To do the necessary shopping we quickly got installed and sailed to Ekenäs, a lovely little town and Swedish speaking centre of SW Finland; off we were westbound. The next day we sailed into the harbour of Hanköby, where we met Sandra and son, while later her husband Illka joined.

Sandra, a well-known Finnish photographer-artist, played the leading role in the documentary mentioned above, while Iilka was the sound engineer. They met each other on board of ‘t Gauwe Haentje in Russia 2010, fell in love and live in Hangö now! We had dinner in “Ekström’s” - the best fish restaurant in this part of Finland - and did some additional shopping. We now were ready to sail to Sweden. Hanko, the Finnish name of the town, is the most SW-erly town of Finnish mainland. From then on we are sailing through the wonderful archipelago of Turku and the Álands. A myriad of islands of all forms and sizes, plenty of anchorages, natural harbours and rich bird life, while good planning for supplies is welcome as shops and fuel are seldom nearby.

The season really starts after Midsommar, around 21 June

The weather was still cold and in the morning the mist was just acceptable to get off . In this period of June few boats are out. The season really starts after Midsommar, around 21 June.  

The trip to Mariehamn, Áland’s capital was made in 4 days cruising, mainly motoring as the wind was from NW for the major part of the journey, exactly on the nose. After spent a night at Bodö (NJK) we went ashore on Österskär, where we met Mr Jonsson, one of the last inhabitants living on the island except in wintertime. 

Over the last 100 years the population on the islands of the archipelago has decreased rapidly and many islands only have cottages visited by their owners during the summer season. This is of great concern also for the bigger islands as schools and (social) facilities are disappearing. We continue our voyage and arrive in Áland waters, signal to hoist portside the beautiful  Áland (courtesy) flagga. 
In the evening we moor on a small pier on NW Kökar - its restaurant opens in 2 days -, where we meet skipper Harry of m/v “Martha Gunn”, a Nelson craft, and friendly with Loek and Marijke Vrijenhoek, who owned the Lemsteraak “Marendorp”. We drink on their health. Harry is on his way to St Petersburg…Next morning we make a halt for luncheon at the southern tip of Sottunga for luncheon and to say hello to Harriet Pettersson and runs during the summer season a restaurant overviewing the pier and ferry landing. We then proceed under sail and blue skies to the fine landing in the North bay of epic Bomarsund, the huge Russian fortress build in middle of the 19th century when Finland was a Grand-Duchy under the tsar. The site is still awesome,  the construction took many years and during the Baltic campaign in the Crimean War the fort was taken in 1854 by the Anglo-French fleet and almost totally destroyed. 

Next morning 8 June with favourable winds and weather we sail to the Easter harbour of Mariehamn. While shopping, we meet old local friends, Inga-Lill Pettersson’s family, cousins of Harriet,  and decide to have a drink and dinner together in the evening. On motor we move over to the west harbour, the ÁSS Marina, where one of the last surviving Windjammers, s/v “Pommern”, is moored as part of the Nautical Museum.  At the very lively dinner we meet the whole family of Inga-Lill. 

Next morning we leave at 8:30am with nice NE wind on sail to Sweden across the Áland Sea. Just out of the harbour we meet the first seal. Near the Swedish islands the wind drops dead and on motor to Österhamn on Arholma, where we arrive at 15:30pm MET. The weather is beautiful and we make a walk over the island and when back we meet the first Dutch sailboat on its way to St Petersburg: owners Çam and Adelien Langezaal.

She is a former colleague of Hans and Annet’s daughter, who very recently – just before sailing to St Petersburg -  organised her farewell party!  During our drinks we discuss the electric car battery loading stations “Fastned” now being developed in the Netherlands by son Michiel. Next morning it rains shortly. We decide to have luncheon in the Blidö Värdhus, the sun comes out and with a very light breeze southbound, we anchor in a beautiful protected bay W Träsko Storö. Annet prepares another delicious meal, while during our drinks we are animated by an osprey couple nesting nearby. Next day we wish to pay a visit to Sandhamn, the sailing capital of the Baltic from where the famous Gutland Runt starts off. We have luncheon on the terrace of the KSSS building. Unfortunately the famous local bakery opens next day. On the way we see a second seal; it looks as they are coming back in the Baltic. The Stockholm Archipelago has many islands, bays, piers and restaurants are all over. Every Swede has at least 2 boats of which one with a powerful motor. For sailors this is a nuisance during high season, but before Midsommar sailing here is a treat. In the afternoon we are expected to arrive at our friends Micky and Marianne Obermayer’s place near Vaxholm. Aside having a beautiful home and annexes, they have provided for berthing in their own harbour.

In the evening we meet many friends and daughter Louise flies in from Yerevan, Armenia, where she helps to establish the special UWC Dilijan school being integrated in the United World Colleges.

Fjord Clean Energy Symposium

The next two days are busy attending the Fjord Clean Energy Symposium and visiting a new factory for the Nilar company in Gävle, with a totally new battery concept.

Next year I seriously consider installing them on board to replace the conventional batteries. Martine, my wife, flies in next day and relieves Hans and Annet, who return home with their son Gijs, also present at the symposium. The last evening in Stockholm is a farewell party at the Obermayer’s; we feel being specially treated. Next morning 16 June, after the grocery’s we set sail North with a group of six guest for a day sailing trip to Furusund. The weather is perfect with a nice southerly breeze. 

When at 17pm we arrive on the pier, one of the halyards slips out of the top blocks and Louise goes up in the mast. Our guests off by taxi, Martine and I proceed to a pier on NE Feijan.

The voyage to Ladoga in three episodes



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