Celebrating Juhannus (Midsummer) with Friends

The sky was very grey and very ominous – so for the first time since May 4th we got into our oilies. We left Hanko through the narrow breakwater and set sail east – well motor sailed at least. One plan had been to stop in Jussaro at an anchorage but we would then have to leave at early o’clock to out run a gale so decided to press on and anchor in a nice safe spot. Just after the decision was made the heavens opened and we sheltered as best we could from the elements.


Part of trip plan has been to visit some friends’ cottages in Finland. So we were very excited when we could see Diana’s lighthouse which is by her house come in to view – so we called her up to let her know we were passing . Our original plan had been to stop at Diana’s cottage first but given that is open to the SW and that was where the gale was due from, we sail pasted and she waved standing next to the lighthouse – it was a real high spot that we had actually made it here. We then tucked round the back of Stromso (Piia’s Island) and found a safe anchorage to spend the next 2 days. Piia wasn’t at the cottage yet – but again her jetty is open to the SW. So we opted to anchor opposite where we would be sheltered from the gale. We dug the anchor in well, let out 7 times the depth of water in chain to ensure we stayed put and retreated to down below for a bit of binge series watching – the sound of heavy rain just confirmed our choice (of anchoring and binge watching). Having watched “The Split” we surfaced after 2 days, the wind had abated and so we moved across the bay to the Piia’s pontoon.


Tied up safely, we welcomed them onboard – it was so lovely to see them. We had forgotten have stunning their house is. Nestled in the trees, their modern long house clad in wood, slopes to perfectly match the descending ground. It blends in with the surroundings and the carpet of blueberry bushes. Each room having a view over the water. The sauna stands alone and overlooks the pontoon. Piia had put the sauna on and within 30 mins we were sitting in the sauna with a view over Carra – we were pinching ourselves that we were really sitting in the Sauna at Piia’s.

WP_20180623_11_23_45_ProWhen I got out of the sauna – there was some groaning from the pontoon. The wind had increased and the boat was in danger of moving the pontoon enough to drop the bridge connecting the pontoon to the shore into the water. So with no time to lose I got Christian and Christoffer to help me drop her back onto the buoy. Then Christoffer went to pick up Mags in the dinghy – who was now out of the sauna and wondering what was happening. We were shortly about to have lunch but not knowing what was the rating of the buoy or the size of the concrete block securing the buoy, I wasn’t keen to leave the boat. So Mags went for lunch and I stayed on the boat and tidied things up. It was a bit frustrating – but I wouldn’t have enjoyed the lunch if I wasn’t sure that Carra was safe. After an hour I was happy that the boat wasn’t moving and the wind had dropped so I went ashore and had lunch and celebrated our arrival with a glass of Champagne.

Diana was over from her island and she was keen to come on board. Pikku Carra (our dinghy) was hidden behind Christian’s and Piia’s motorboat. Diana assumed that she was getting in a rather large 5m rib. So she was very surprised when we pulled out Pikku Carra which was less than half the size and she realised that was her mode of transport! We had some pre dinner drinks on board and then we walked through the meadows with everyone to the other side of the island to eat a delicious meal in the Island’s restaurant. With the World Cup on the guys were keen to get back to watch Sweden versus Germany. The World Cup has rather passed us by.


Later that evening we watched the end of the midsummer bonfire. Pia had suggested that we go back to the house and sit round the fire pit – which we thought seemed like a good idea ‘til we realised it was in fact 30 mins past midnight but it was still deceptively light. Once we all realised the time, we decided to call it a day. A Midsummer Day we will remember for a long time.

DSC06198The next morning we had a sauna with Piia before inviting Piia and Christian over for a rather yummy chicken caesar salad on Carra – all cooked from scratch. It was soon time to leave – we were just popping round to the other side of the island to Svarto – where Diana lives.

Her jetty is a stone one but as it was nearly 100 years old and relatively small for our boat I approached with caution. None of the charts show any depth detail for this bay. We attached briefly to her jetty ‘til we realised that the angles for the shore line would not be sufficient – so we decided to anchor in the bay. Diana’s house: Hammarborg is an historic wooden house that dates back to the time of the Russians. Her great Aunt had bought it to find peace and quiet to write – several of her books were published. The house stands on the promontory with its only little lighthouse. The forest has grown around the house to you don’t really see the beauty of the old house until you are close to it. The semi-circular summer room must have had a spectacular view of the sound before the trees blocked its view. We had a lovely dinner with Diana, it was very special being able to celebrate having made it to Hammarborg.

Whilst we were happy to anchor in the bay for a short time – it wasn’t really suitable with the expected wind direction for overnight. So about 2130 – we returned to Carra and moved to a sheltered spot. We were just anchoring when our AIS alarm went off with a man overboard coming from our boat. It was a false alarm as we both were still on the boat. Frustrating we couldn’t cancel it – so we informed the coast guard that it was a false alarm and went to bed.

The next morning we were keen to solve the problem before moving on. We had this problem previously and Raymarine had solved it by reflashing the AIS. Which we did – but it didn’t solve the problem. So we then contacted Raymarine who told us to do a factory reset on the chart plotter – this didn’t clear it but worse still it removed all the depth contour lines. Not very funny when you are in a rocky anchorage. They then blamed the chart manufacturer that we had a faulty card. They seem to fail to grasp the concept that it was functioning perfectly well before they suggested we reset the chart plotter. Eventually we found a setting in the chart plotter which went we turned it on – all the depths reappeared. So clearly they don’t know their own product. This wasted a total of 3 hours. But still no resolution to the MOB. As we had already wasted enough time – we set off. The islands are close together here, as if you were on a big boating lake and there was a very attractive passage through Barosund with relatively high cliffs dotted with pretty traditional summer cottages . Before long we were out past the islands and the water opened up with less land around us.

By now we were aware of an armada of boats going west – and we appeared to be the only one going east. It was as if they had all been invited to a party which no one had told us about. It was to continue until we reached Helsinki the next day. We were glad as this meant more space for us! With a flash of inspiration I did discover what had triggered our AIS. It was Mags’ lifejacket – there was a piece that was pressing against her test button. So finally the MOB alert stopped.

Frustratingly the wind was on the nose so we were just able to motorsail for all bar the last hour. We sailed into the small attractive harbour of Porkkala. This peninsula, the last major one before reaching Helsinki had still been occupied by the Russians as late as 1956.

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