We crossed the Gulf of Finland from Tallinn to Helsinki on 7th July. Our course was the same as used by the ferries and the traffic was quite heavy involving a fair bit of weaving and dodging en route, it was also somewhat uncomfortable as the wind was on the nose. Embarrassingly, when we arrived in Helsinki we had a little trouble locating the marina where I had arranged for us to stay; It sounds stupid, but there are several very close together. (At least that’s my excuse!) But eventually we managed to work out which one was the HSK (Helsinki Yacht Club) harbour. It’s on an island called Lauttasaari, where the boat yards and chandleries are, which is connected by road to the mainland and the city centre is just a short bus ride away. We had lunch at one of the many street food vendors selling fresh salmon and veg – an unusually healthy option!
Helsinki City Centre
We struggled to obtain local Finnish navigation charts in the UK before we left, so it was a relief to be able to buy the rest of the charts we needed, local pilot books and also a splendid new locking buoy hook, in Helsinki. Charts are a huge expense on a trip like this, as you need so many of them, so we were very grateful to borrow two of the three required Finnish packs from a generous CA colleague, saving us nearly 100 euros. Thank you Nicholas!
The route back to Sweden from Helsinki is pretty much due West. It passes first through off lying islands that are so densely packed it feels like you are on a series of canals at times, rather than at sea. The local detailed charts are an absolute must, and without them you could easily get lost amongst the maze of islands. Also, there are a lot of rocks around, so it is imperative to know where you are all the time. Our first port of call was the only major town along the way which is Hanko, on the South West tip of Finland. Hanko is a big yachting centre, and we arrived, fortunately, just as a regatta ended so were able to get a space without any difficulty. We were also able to catch up on laundry and provisioning while we waited out some strong winds.
Leaving early the next day we motored pretty much all the way into a westerly wind, stopping overnight in picturesque Barosund, where we saw a seal, and spent a pleasant evening with friends from the CA who were also there.
Then, out into the Archipelago. We visited the islands of Vano, Jurmo, Kokar, Degerby, and Rodhamn. The last two islands being part of the independant Alands group. The Aland Islands are a self governing region independent from Finland and with their own flag, the set up is somewhat like the Channel Islands….
From our last stop in the Aland Islands, Rodhamn, it is less than 30 miles to Sweden.