Antipole in the Baltic

The Åland Islands

On our last weekend in Turku, the port was celebrating the centenary of the Finnish Marines service. A NATO fleet was in port and there were various military activities.  We visited the former Finnish training ship Suomen Jousen, a full square rigger which was fitted with its first small engines only in 1930.

On Monday evening Sarah arrived and, after dinner at a restaurant overlooking the river, we welcomed her on board.  The next day we set sail westwards in very light winds.  After two hours the wind failed completely for four hours.  We were about to abandon the day and left the channel searching for an anchorage when a breeze appeared . We had a good evening sail through the maze of the Turku archipelago which we had not planned.  Tony was hard pressed to keep ahead picking out a route which would not lead us up a blind alley or an impassable channel.  The wind finally failed at 21:00 and we anchored off the island of Storo for the night.  The next day the wind was again very light and we ghosted all day, finally crossing into the Åland islands (pronounced Orland) and berthed on Lappo.  After the long days the sauna was very welcome.  Very fine weather with no wind led to us spending two days on Lappo and some serious relaxation.  A stack of bikes stand at the harbour office for free use and we used them to explore the island.

Åland flag

The Åland islands (over 6,500 of them) are situated at the entrance to the gulf of Bothnia between Finland and Sweden.  The inhabitants are Swedish speaking but it was decided by the League of Nations in 1921 that they should be an autonomous region of Finland.  Under this decree, the Åland Islands have their own government, flag and postal service with their own stamps.  [UK readers: think Channel Islands.] The region joined the EU in 1995 but is outside the EU customs regime, so ferries calling at the islands can sell goods duty free on board.  This popular arrangement leads to the ferries operating between Sweden and Finland calling at the capital Mariehamn and becoming something of a booze cruise.  Sadly yachts cannot take advantage of this!  Notably, the Åland Islands are demilitarised — no military activity is allowed and the residents are exempt from military duties.  This admirable arrangement means the islands are seen as no threat to others and left in peace – si

Sarah writes:

Finland!  The home of midnight sunsets and naked saunas!  What a beautiful and relaxing five days aboard Antipole.  Thanks Mum and Tony for looking after me.  I feel recharged and re-energised.  Gorgeous weather, scenery, company and food.  XX

After Sarah left to take the ferry en route to Stockholm, we attempted to circumnavigate Fasta Åland – the main island.  This involved  ca 78nm over three days with many passages in narrow sounds.  Fortunately the wind co-operated, changing in direction when we needed it to.  But it was very light, leaving us becalmed for hours on each of the three days.  It was also very hot, so we were glad to anchor each evening and flop into the water.

We are now anchored on the western side of  Fasta Åland poised to cross to Sweden tomorrow.  We have hugely enjoyed Finland and are sad to leave. Maybe we will return one day?

with love to all

Ynskje & Tony

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