Four Harbours and a Wedding

We left early with a couple of other boats who were crossing back to Finland. We have enjoyed the 3 weeks we have spent cruising Estonia and everywhere you feel the sense of pride in this young nation – which earlier this year celebrated 100 years since their first declaration of independence in Parnu. The regaining of independence some 30 years ago has seen this country grow as an entrepreneurial beacon – it is still developing but you feel it is on the pathway to success. Though they are always have the constant threat of their sabre rattling neighbours to contend with.

Despite it being a hot sunny day the visibility was barely 2.5nm, and with little wind we were motoring. Using all our electronic wizardry, we crossed the shipping lanes without any dramas. Just after lunch the wind filled in and we had a cracking wind and with all 3 sails setting, we soon found ourselves back amongst the rocks and skerries of the Turku Archipelago. It is strange how different the geology is in Finland compared to Estonia – yet at their closest they are only 45nm apart. Estonia with it’s sandy beaches and round boulders and Finland with granite islands and skerries everywhere. As we sailed past some of the bigger islands we were able to summer cottage spot. But having just been to Latvia and Estonia we were aware of how affluent most of the summer cottages appeared.

We anchored in Rosala – Notholm. There was space at the little harbour but it was good to anchor again and enjoy the peace and tranquillity. Not to mention it is better for our cruising budget. In the evening the wind died, the water being glassy still and the reflections were all around. Quite beautiful in the late evening sun.

Our next destination was the charming harbour of Brännskär, run by a young couple – who had turned this small harbour, well one pontoon to be exact, into a little gem. Arriving just after lunch we picked up a stern buoy and watched the harbour gradually fill up. Just when you thought it was full, the boats would create a space by just forcing their bow into a gap and squeezed fenders would pop out. This reminded us another reason why we like anchoring as you don’t have to be squeezed in closely to your neighbours.

There was a café selling lots of yummy things and we came away with some pulla ( Finnish cinnamon cakes) and knackerbrod (cracker bread) all baked on site. Most harbours in Finland you get a sticker or ribbon to display to show you have paid.  We stick them on a board – which has also been called our logbook by some friends. Here you got a small block of wood with Brannskar beautifully written on it. By the evening there was a fire pit alight and several Finns went off to the 2 saunas. Given that it was still +30C we didn’t feel the need.

We left before most people had surfaced and within 10 mins were sailing. We picked our way through the rocks – which would be quite impossible without a chart plotter – sailing with just the Yankee up as we were dead down wind. We dropped our anchor just after lunch and had a lazy afternoon enjoying the peace and quiet of Benskar.

All week we had seen towering clouds build – some forming in the shape of an anvil (Cum Nimb) – you can get lightening with these clouds – but they had come to nothing. But today we were expecting lightening in the afternoon. We had picked Benskar as it was close to our next harbour of Örö as we wanted to make sure we were in before the thunder storms.

DSC06931 It is never good being in a thunderstorm with a big metal mast sticking up. At least in a harbour you can play Russian roulette with the other masts if the lightening hits the harbour. Also as this harbour has a particular tall radio mast we would be safer. We motored through a delightful part of the archipelago with lots of small islands each with a summer cottages and a perfect little harbours. But the sky got darker and darker to the point of being very dark steel grey – which provided a lovely contrast to the green of the pine trees and the red rock. Just out of the harbour the lightening forks started – very visible against the grey. The sky was incredible – as if someone was stirring the clouds with a big stick. The air was being sucked up into the centre of the storm – creating the most incredible cloud formations – which were clearly laden with rain. We tied up just as the heavens opened and the downblast and rain were impressive. Lightening and thunder indicated we were close to the centre . So we retreated down below. DSC06948

We had noticed a boat that was decked out with flags and white flowers on the guard rail it looked beautiful – clearly a bride and groom we soon to tie the knot. You had to feel sorry for them – we have had weeks of sun and this was the first rain we had seen. Thankfully the rain stopped when the bride emerged from the boat – a few hours later the boat had a sign “Just Married”.

We had planned to meet some friends in Oro and at one point the thunder looked like it might prevent them from coming. But the storm passed and Pia, Anni and Jukka battled their way through the rain and arrived in the bay in their speed boat – they cruise at around 27-28 knots – as opposed to our 5-7 knots! Anni had made us a little boat complete with Union Jack and named Carra. It was lovely to catch up with them as we hadn’t seen them for 4 years since we stayed on their island: Horsholm. Sadly we were too big to moor near their island.

We had lunch and the sky looked like there were signs of blue – we decided to go for a walk but – the rain started again – so we retreated with pulla ( cakes), ice-cream and tea and coffee.DSC06945

The ferry moored overnight just behind us and we realised that we would not be able to get out until after it had moved at 0930. Not a problem until we need to leave but to give us flexibility so we could leave earlier we decided to move to the only free space. It was the first move of the day.

The fortified island of Örö has only been open to the public for 3 years, because for the last 200 years it has been part the military defences of this area. First by the Swedes and the British, then Tsarist Russia and more recently the Finns.

The Russians used it as part of the Peter the Great defences of St Petersburg. Scattered throughout the island there are lots of old defensive installations, as well as wooden red huts that were part of the garrison. The island has a backbone of cobbled roads – thankfully you could cycle to the side. We cycled the length of the island, it is covered with small stubby pine trees and areas of open heath land with heather in full bloom. On the west coast unusually there was a sandy beach with sea kale growing abundantly.

We returned to the harbour to find we were the only boat left on our pontoon. The hammer head wasn’t the best location for the windy weather we were expecting. So we decided to move – the second of the day. Just as we did a motor boat – well it was more of a ship / size of an apartment block arrived. They went on the hammer head that we had just vacated and would provide a sizeable DSC06975wind break. We moored up on the deserted pontoon and had just finished putting our storm warps out to be told by the harbour staff that where we had move as it was reserved – despite the harbour being empty. So we moved again – the forth of the day. OK the music has stopped, can we stay here please.

A day of windy weather allowed Mags to see if she could reset the rev counter – which hadn’t worked since early June. We now had all the codes/ settings to attempt this. However, it failed to resuscitate the patient.  In discussion with the engine manufacturer who got her to try another test using our new posh multimeter (after our cheap Chinese one had been rubbished by our friendly mechanic back in Sweden) – he is 99% certain the rev counter needs replacing. We can live without it temporarily but annoying.

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