A preponderance of northerly winds made our progress northwards challenging. We had to wait at anchor until the wind allowed progress, but then it was invariably light and often wet but we did then make 20-30nm on those days. On the second day we passed the industrial city of Varkaus, a centre of the Finnish paper mill and plywood industry. Here we entered a short canal with a lock which lifted us about 5m. On the second day we locked up another ½m. Clearly the levels of the lakes rise as we progress north.
On the fourth day we reached Kuopio, the ninth biggest city in Finland. Kuopio is as far north as we can go on the lakes given the height of our mast. For the benefit of those in the UK, we are some 270 miles further north than the Shetland Isles and it remains light all night.
Kuopio is a pleasant city, which has been laid out in a unique grid pattern. Every other street is narrow (once intended as a fire break) and now limited to cyclists and pedestrians and provides a peaceful way to stroll through the city.
The region has made a significant investment in improving the health of its citizens. Consequently, it has become a centre for education, health and welfare, with important medical and related schools. There is a major commitment to the quality of living and the city growth plan states that new housing shall be within 400m of a lake shore.
At last the summer has arrived! We are in short sleeves and shorts for the first time. We are also no longer one of two or three boats. The marina has filled with boats for the Kuopio Wine Festival and residents are on the beaches soaking up the sun while it lasts. We loved visiting the town and exploring the market.
On top of the ridge is an observation tower, which provides magnificent views over the lakes and islands. We had lunch in the revolving restaurant enjoying the changing scene.
Puijo is also home to the world ski jumping championships. There are four ski jump runs of varying degrees of terrifyingness. Unfortunately, lack of snow at this time made it impossible for us to demonstrate them in use.
We are mindful of the passages south that we face and, of course, the winds will soon be mainly from there. So we will make a start while we can.
More news in due course
Ynskje & Tony x