We Made It!

Trip Start Apr 29, 2011
Trip End Sep 03, 2011

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Flag of Finland  , Southern Finland,
Monday, July 11, 2011

Today was a milestone day for us, as it was when we would effectively be at our northernmost point ie in Helsinki. It might not prove to be actually the case in due course, but psychologically it was.

There was very little wind but as we only had just over 20 miles to go, I was happy to drift along at 3 knots or so. It was beautifully peaceful and the surrounding countryside quite lovely. Virtually every island had some sort of log cabin on it and later, I was to learn of the origins of these structures, c/o our visitors that evening, more later. Anyway, it seems that virtually all Finns own or have access to a summer house somewhere in the country, usually by the coast or on an island or by a lake. When the piece of land was originally acquired, the first thing any self-respecting Finn does is to build a sauna. Once built, you have warmth and shelter and it is only then that either an extension is added or a separate building constructed for more conventional habitation.

After a couple of hours, the route between the island opened up somewhat and we found ourselves in a wide fairway heading towards the distant buildings of Helsinki. As we approached Helsinki, we saw that there were many dozens of dinghies out in the bay and as we got closer, we realized that some serious racing was taking place – it transpires that it was the European championships and the one class that we saw in action was the 470 2 man dinghy and a tight race it was, with the winner crossing the line just seconds in front of the runner up.

Our destination was the sailing club HSK and according to the instructions in the Finnish section of the Cruising Association's Cruising Guide, was in the HSS marina and Lat & Long positions were given. The reason why we were wanting to go there was that once again, being a member of the CA gives big benefits as the local Honorary Local Representative, Baron Eric von Troil, had kindly found us a berth in his own club for the extended period that CW was to be in Helsinki and moreover, being members of the CA we got a 50% discount on the fee, saving €125. Eric had written with details of where the boat could be left but when we entered HSS, nothing seemed to correlate with his note. Consequently, I hailed a passing RIB and sought directions, to discover that HSK was in fact, on the other side of the bay. In other words, there was an error in the Guide. As Eric was due to join us later that evening I could tell him this and I'm sure he will have the authors’ amend it.

Having found our way into the correct harbour, the next problem was finding where we were to put the boat. We tied up, Swedish style and nose to the quay near to the fuel pumps whilst the attendant called the harbourmaster. It transpired that he had forgotten to book a place for us but coincidentally, where we put the boat would be OK at least until we were back from St Petersburg. As there was no queue, we thought that we might as well top the tank up and then put her back and tied up properly for the duration.

Eric and his wife Elina (her name may not be correctly spelt) arrived soon after 6 and everyone was soon chatting as if we had known each other for years. They are a charming couple and great company, it seems that the CA is great at picking its’ HLR’s as we now know 3 of them and their partners and they are all a pleasure to spend time with. Over dinner of lemon chicken done in the oven, we picked their brains as to what to do whilst in Helsinki and Eric, who had to disappear occasionally as he was on duty that evening guarding the club and its environs, was able to add his recommendations to Elina’s. One of the facets of Finnish life that I learned from Elina was about saunas and summer houses, covered earlier and it was during this discourse that they described theirs and before we knew it, we had been invited to spend a day with them on 19th in order that we could experience a genuine Finnish sauna experience. Can’t wait!

The evening was over all too soon and it was with a feeling that we had made new friends that we bade farewell to the von Troils. All that remained for us to do was tidy up and get to bed. During the night the promised heavy rain came and normally, this is no problem. Unhappily for me, my forehatch started leaking and as a consequence, my sleep was less than perfect as I tried unsuccessfully to staunch the steady dripping. Another job for the morning…
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