Monday, July 09, 2012

Baltic Adventure Part 5 - Across the Gulf of Finland!

6/18/2012 Journal Entry (with some additional notes added as I'm posting - I notice that my journal entries tended to omit quite a bit, probably because I wrote all of 'em at the end of the day when I was ready to go to sleep - I'm embroidering a lot to cover the omissions & also work in the pictures):

Up early, with a beautiful day for sailing to Finland!

Leaving Old City Marina for the 2nd time - J. at the helm for the first shift, F. on watch

Under sail in Tallinn Harbor

The winds were 15-20 kts. We started with full sails, 

then reefed in a bit as the boat was a bit overpowered, J. was finding the steering to be hard work, and we had a long sail ahead of us - a little over 36 miles according to the course we'd laid out for the day (and it ended up being even longer when we ended up deciding to skip ahead & do a 5-mile preview of our Day 4 sail, oops!) - no point in wearing people out this early, we're here to have fun!

Here's a new navigation marker - I'd mentioned the yellow-and-black steer-clear buoys that we came to call "the girls" (and I'll show you a real one in a minute), and the red and green markers that serve the same channel-marking purpose as they do here, except that you must remember that it's red-left-return, not Red Right Return. These red and white markers are safe water marks - this one is Tallinn Harbor 1, the last one you pass as you leave the harbor for the Gulf of Finland, with 2 and 3 leading you back in. There are no shoals or obstructions around one of these - but if you're here, you do need to be aware that you're right where the ferries and cruise ships go  (there's one in the distance that had passed us by a bit earlier, in fact)  and you need to keep a good sharp watch to make sure you stay out of there way. Law of Gross Tonnage applies here, too!

We had a fantastic sail - it was sunny, we usually had the boat moving at around 7.5 kts with occasional bursts over 8 in the gusts or when you managed to use a wave well. The storm had kicked things up out here and they hadn't settled down yet, I'd estimate our waves at 3-5 with the occasional 6-footer, and Capt. Kat once again put on her sailing-instructor cap andwent to work teaching us all how to take them in a way that helps you, or at least doesn't put the brakes on as you slam into the trough - although the waves seemed to be a little irregular and sometimes it was hard not to splash down -

like this, SPLOOSH! 

Here, I think, our helmsperson (I'm not being PC, I'm just not sure who was driving right now, B. was the first to get to feeling a little seasick and Kat suggested he take the helm as that can actually help, which it did) got some nice acceleration on the back of a wave - I took about a hundred pictures of this because there were RAINBOWS appearing and disappearing in the spray - never got a rainbow in any of them, but although this picture is rather ridiculously unaligned, I still like it because we were ZOOMING! 

now here I was just getting silly - here's the view from one of the main cabin portholes! 

As mentioned, here's one of the "Girls" - this one is of course our East Coast Girl, all in black with her midriff showing - travel to her east to stay out of trouble!

Lawrence of Estonia! B.'s very fair-skinned so was very sensibly cautious of the sun, the towel was for that purpose. 

And here I am enjoying being a lady of leisure - 

but I liked it even more when it was my turn to take the helm! Yay! 

And here is the chart with the place in Finland where I make sandwiches! 
I drove until we'd left the Porkkala Light behind (yes, I passed on the chance to take a picture of the lighthouse in favor of just a leetle more helm time) and came onto the green path right about where it comes into the left-hand side of this chart. At that point I relinquished the wheel to F. - and I was absolutely ravenous and of course the water had settled down nicely with all the little islands we were coming into, so I offered to run down below & make some sandwiches - and then on Day 4 when we came through here again en route to Helsinki I made sandwiches again - I was going to say by pure coincidence, but it was the same business of coming out of some choppier open water into this nice protected area where you can make sandwiches without everything going on the floor. So that is why this is the place in Finland where I make sandwiches. And they were good sandwiches, too

This was also the place in Finland where we made our first navigational error!

Our final destination this night was Lahteela Harbor on the Porkkala peninsula, and as we sailed onto the "Green Path" where it came onto the western edge of the chart we went to after we passed the Porkkala Light (shown above), we were just a couple of miles from our journey's end - except that somehow we missed the direction in our notes to hang a little dogleg up to the gray path just north of the islet of Smultrongrund (if you click on the picture of the chart you can see the nicely pencilled-in course of 023 degrees for .8 nautical miles, d'oh!).

I think we'd somehow skipped onto another page and were working our way day down Day 4's course where we passed back through here again - but it didn't help that we were both hypnotized by how absolutely gorgeous it was back in these islands, and were actually having a blast finding our way down the green path in here.

For instance, we'd been puzzled by a common chart marking showing a tiny triangle of three stacked circles; I'd found those were cairns in the legend at the beginning of the chartbook, so I got a little silly-excited when we came sailing up on the first cairn marking and oooh, look, a cairn!

And there were ranges to match up with ranges on the chart, and small channel marker buoys to follow (red-left-return!), and daymarks, and did I mention it was just really, really beautiful? 

It was a bit beyond this house (one of hundreds of amazing summer homes on these islands), and well onto the next chart page, that we figured out we'd missed our turnoff by 5 miles.  

We retraced our steps and found the turnoff without any trouble and by late afternoon, we'd docked in the first of a string of absolutely beautiful spots where local boaters can spend the night for 10 to 15 euros. Amazing, right? This was one of those times when I was getting a little envious and had to remember those long cold winter days - the locals EARN this. Summer should be magical.

Ah, and finally back to my journal, which had somehow dropped everything from crossing the Gulf to arriving at Lähteelä:

"Destination was a beautiful little boat harbor on the peninsula of Porkkala. Lots of granite, conifers, bogs, wildflowers, birds -- look up canada goose-like goose with a white head, very pretty"(I googled 'em when I got home and they are Barnacle Geese), "oystercatchers sound the same as at home, though!" J. noticed that, she turned out to be a fellow fan of Jamaica Bay and it turns out we have some mutual friends in the local paddling community - I'd love to get her to the club sometime, I think she'd love it! I have a few nice pictures from a walk on shore, but I think I'll put those up in a separate post tomorrow as it's late and this is already quite long!

Our first dinner in Finland was a nice simple one, soup and salad, with some chicken that needed to get used. Not fancy, but very good after a long day of sailing.

Evening weather check was a bit discouraging - rain rain rain the next morning. Our next day's destination was about 20 miles away, and with the experience we'd already had of missing a turnoff on a perfectly clear and lovely day, we were very concerned about visibility. We discussed going around the peninsula to where there was a little town, but with the town marina only having 12 slips, we decided we didn't want to chance sailing over in the rain only to find no room there & have to find our way back. The final decision was to wait out the bad weather (which was supposed to clear by the afternoon) and then take advantage of the long northern summer days by heading on to Elisaari whatever time things cleared up. Alarms turned off, we all turned in for a good night's sleep.


JP said...

Looks idyllic, though finding the right island out of all those thousands must be an interesting navigational challenge.

Looking forward to the Helsinki report

bonnie said...

It was both idyllic and challenging. We managed to never actually get lost - this day I think we just got overenthusiastic with finding our way, and when one of us described our one other point of real uncertainty as "getting lost", Kat cheerfully dismissed that - "We weren't lost, we knew exactly where we were, we just weren't sure where we were going next". And we sailed around in circles until we were. No room for error, though - when we did go 5+ miles down the "green path" past our turnoff, we weren't even slightly tempted to try to find a shortcut between the islands, even when we could see the sailboats up in the gray channel - I'd bet a local might've done it, but there were just way too many rocks & shoals for a bunch of first-timers to go wandering off the main drag!

Glorious though.