Sam faces her biggest fear!
Ever since our Finnish lessons, I had always been intrigued by the town Uusikaupunkki, because I had felt rather pleased that I could translate it. These early gains in my Finnish linguistic ability soon came to a grinding halt when Paivi, our lovely tutor, introduced us to the grammar. Anyway it means New Town or Nystad in Swedish. The “new” town was founded in 1617 as a trading town but rose to fame internationally due to the Treaty of Nystad (1721). The treaty ended the Great Northern War and saw the might of the Swedish Empire decline and the Russian Empire come to the fore. The two countries divided up countries, even though Russia had occupied much of Finland, it gave most back to back to Sweden and Russia kept Estonia and the Latvia/Lithuania.
We had an uneventful but frustrating motor for much of the way. As we approached our destination the scenery changed and it was more like the Stockholm Archipelago – only with lots of leading lines – it is a science here. I am sure it is so their big neighbour – the big bad bear can’t paralyse them by turning GPS off.
There were lots more boutique summer cottages – and the last thing you want on your door step is the local cormorant community taking up residence on a nearby skerries – industrial quantities of bird poo turn an island into a barren white ghost and down wind is quite grim …. Bang went the bird scarer and I jumped out of my skin wondering who had been shot – for it to happen 20 mins later – whilst I jumped not a bird moved.
The marina was situated down a narrow inlet with boats on all sides – it looked like it was Finland’s equivalent of the Hamble. The harbour was very friendly and was definitely the heart of the town – great vibe, cafes and restaurants along the harbour.
Free hammocks hung between trees and everywhere in the town there were decorated happy chairs. Like Rauma it had a lot of wooden buildings though it didn’t quite have the randomness of Rauma.
But it did have the Bonk Museum – part art installation, part science but 100% spoof. The museum that traces the history of a fictional Bonk dynasty – and the machines that made their fortune – from anchovies. Yes everything can be made from these fish – from electricity, to potent love potions to rockets and much more. Think Willy Wonker’s chocolate factory and this was the equivalent. It was very well done – lots of period photos – someone had a lot of fun doing it, completely bonkers. But also there was a workshop which encourages children to build their own machines from disused parts.
An early start was needed to get to our next harbour Isokari – which means Big Skerries, the harbour was an old pilot harbour and was small and we wanted to get there first – but lots of others were leaving at the same time and it felt like a bit of a race to leave – but as it turned out they were going elsewhere. We eeked out as much sailing as possible but the heatwave that we were finally having meant very light winds. We arrived to find all places taken, but the harbour master was very helpful and moved a motor boat who had abandoned their boat taking up 2 places.
When I was little and I visited my Granny, she drilled into me the dangers of snakes. Concerned that I would try to pick up a basking adder, I was told to bang my feet if I saw any twigs on the ground. I did a lot of foot banging on my holidays. Ever since then I have had a phobia – even as I write this I can feel the hairs on the back of my neck raise just taking about them. I can’t look at pictures, let alone meet once face to face without a very uncool squeak…… we were just about to leave the previous lighthouse island Kylma-pihlaja – our boat neighbour went into the electric cupboard on shore that was 1 foot from our boat and warps, to unplug his shore power all I heard was “don’t tell Sam” – I knew exactly what it was – hissing sid was in there…… mightily relieved we didn’t take electricity that night. To think it could have come on board….urgh. Well we had just tied up at Isokari – an island with a light house – and the lovely harbour master had just taken a line – she stopped dead – out came the phase again – “don’t tell Sam” which triggers some pavlovian response in me, which means I look straight away – just by her foot was a snake. Trying to retain some modicum of control, I moved quickly to the other side of the wheel – I still needed to park the boat without screaming and running down below and shutting the hatch – which is what I wanted to do.
After a while both Mags and the Harbour Master decided it hadn’t moved – and it turned out it was a plastic snake – left by some horrid child ……. My thoughts about said child are unprintable!
Thankfully there was some more appealing wildlife in the harbour, it was teeming with bird life – black guillemots flapping their wings like little wind up toys you get in Christmas crackers, busied themselves criss-crossing the harbour with small fish in their beaks. Their big orange feet coming out for their rather inelegant landing.
When Russia built the lighthouse on Isokari in 1833, at this point Finland belonged to Russia; this lighthouse was all about Russian status and so was designed to impress the western neighbours. It stands 35m tall and can be seen for miles. You get a fabulous view from the top. The surrounding grass meadow was in full flower with wild oregano and other colour flowers.
The harbour master packed in every boat that wanted to stay, we had 3 boats on the outside of us. An old trading ship skilfully manoeuvred and tied up oppose us onto the ferry pontoon. We assumed it was just an afternoon stop – but in the evening out came a series of tents which they put up on deck. Not sure this was glamping!