Swallows and Amazons Forever!
We set off early from Seili, with a scrap of yankee (front sail) out we were screaming along across the open water. It was fairly breezy (F5) but at least it was behind us. The waves calmed down significantly as soon as we crossed the wide channel and had the protection of the land. We made our way up towards Turku, spotting a curious seal enroute, and with each open bay we saw the wind and waves increase until we were close to our destination.
We were due to stay with some friends Pia and Juhana at their cottage. They too are sailors and they keep their boat in a harbour close by. We have received several pictures of the entrance and a google maps imags the night before, which I had studied at length. But the closer we got – all we could see were reeds. Then suddenly you could see the top of a mast but there appeared to be no entrance, just a bank of reeds.
We arrived at the entrance which was marked by 4 white posts in pairs, each pair being about 6m apart and we started our approach. With a strong cross wind it wasn’t easy – and the narrow entrance was lined with reeds for about 100m. We could see Pia and Juhana standing on their boat indicating left and right as we came through the shallow bit – it was shallowing 2.3m 2.1m, 1.9m…. we draw 1.9m. They had said it was 2.3m so I assumed it was just weeds on the bottom and anyway stopping was not an option. Once in, we parked next to their boat Kuutti (Finnish for seal pup). This harbour was small but perfectly formed, it was about 20m x 20m, so we only had about 3m at each end to the bank. The close proximity of the trees and the sea protected by the reeds meant that despite the strong wind outside it was tranquil within. It was true Swallows and Amazons stuff – this was octopus lagoon, home to the Amazons!
It was a very special harbour and it has to rate in the top three of remarkable harbours I have a taken a boat into. Each of those harbour have a common theme – they are hidden, have very narrow entrances which afford them remarkable protection once inside. Every time there is a big sigh of relief and quite a buzz from just making it into the harbour. The first one was over 40 years ago. When I was 11 my father and I built a wooden mirror dinghy, which was as a result of my love of the Arthur Ransome’s Swallows and Amazons books which I had devoured as a child. I was enthralled by their adventures. As a result of this slight obsession, which included dragging my father to watch the film 5 times, my mirror dinghy being called Hirundo (Latin for Swallow), knitting a red bobble hat so I could be an Amazon (Nancy Blacket was a great female role model!) – the final piece was taking my mirror dinghy up to Lake Coniston to visit Wild Cat island (or Peel Island as it is called in real life). We had taken Hirundo into the harbour, which from afar it appeared as a minefield of rocks but only when you were close to the entrance did a path open up, the rocks parted and you could enter safely. Despite the wind whistling outside she was perfectly peaceful tucked up in her secret harbour. Quite magical. The other harbour was Utklippan, which is on an island 12 miles of the south coast of Sweden.
Pia and Juhana invited us for brunch knowing that we that we had had an early start and we sat in the sun catching up. We had a tour of their cottages – with the exception of the main house Pia and Juhana had built the other buildings, including their original cottage which is a sauna and guest bedroom and the terrace has a wonderful view down the sound. They also built Kuutti – she is the same size as Carra and it is remarkable that they built him (Kuutti is male) themselves when they had a young family – it took them 9000 hours. Quite an amazing achievement. At their harbour there was even a very smart composting loo for our use.
We cycled to see some of the island of Rymättylä, from the sea it appeared to be dense forests – but surprisingly the interior was made up of small arable fields. Our destination was to get some raspberries and strawberries. With the lack of rain and abundant sunshine they were small but oh so sweet! Yummy.
Once back at their summer cottage Juhana had smoked some fish and we ate our delicious lunch on the decking. We spent an hour relaxing, swinging in their hammocks before having a sauna and dip in the sea.
We returned to Carra gently bobbing about with Kuutti in their lagoon– just like 2 old friends catching up. Well I hope that is all they have been doing!
Pia and Juhana came for drinks and then we returned for a fabulous sea food paella before collapsing into bed.
I awoke to heavy rain but by the time we went for brunch it had stopped and the sun had come out. It was very thoughtful of Pia, she made us bacon and eggs. A real treat – as bacon is not easy to find in Finland. We walked around their island before returning to Carra.
It was time to leave…. Well this would be interesting. We tied Carra’s stern to a tree using one of their lines and pivoted on that point. As there was absolutely no room to go forward. It worked, so we threw back their line and soon we were gingerly heading out to sea following their leading lines past all the reeds. What a great weekend, we had been truly spoilt!