Our summer holiday started this afternoon. We had planned to hop on our boat and sail away the minute our last working day was over, particularly as the wind forecast was showing pretty nice figures earlier this week. According to a couple of different sources there was going to be a brisk easterly wind of 15 to 20 knots. That would have pushed us nicely dead downdwind for a few days, and we could have made it pretty far west towards the Archipelago Sea on the south west corner of Finland, perhaps even as far as the Åland islands. Easterlies are quite rare in the summer in the Gulf of Finland, where the prevailing winds are southwesterlies, so it’s always good to take advantage of them if heading west.
I watched from the shore as our blue sailboat became smaller and smaller, moving slowly with the wind. When I could no longer see the people onboard I turned away, started the car, and began my journey home. But oh, how fast the car was going! I felt like my brain just couldn’t adjust to the speed. Things were happening way too fast, I could hardly see where I was driving – I couldn’t read the road signs, I couldn’t focus on anything in that whizzing landscape. Yet, after I while I noticed there were several cars behind me with a frustrated driver in each one, apparently wondering why someone was driving so slowly.
The horizon in the Baltic sea can seem vast, but the distance to the opposite shore is never very great. Sailing to Sweden was one of our plans for the holiday, but we wanted to make it further west before crossing the open sea between Finland and Sweden. We travelled in the outer archipelago, navigating through passages between the islands and rocks that dot the coastline like a maze.
After some rough sailing the previous day, it was time to take it easier and explore some of the best landscapes the Baltic Sea has to offer. We found our way into a narrow, fjord-like bay that provided an excellent, sheltered anchorage. The bay is called Djupviken, which simply means a deep bay, and is located on the northern shore of Geta, the northernmost part of the Åland archipelago.
The northen Åland archipelago was a turning point of our holiday trip. From here on, we would be heading east, homeward. But the holiday was by no means over, there were still many beautiful islands to visit and interesting places to see. After another sunny day of downwind sailing we happened upon the island of Vårdö in the eastern Åland. It was only a 6 hour’s sail or so, but the landscape had changed from rugged, rocky hills to rolling, green fields and lush orchards full of apples. We tied up to a quiet, peaceful dock with only a handful of other boats. The village itself was a bit further away, but we found two bicycles parked by the dock, free for the marina guests to use for their shopping trips. We immediately decided to try them out, as the shop would still be open for a while.
Our last destination in the Åland archipelago was the small island of Sottunga. It was a brief overnight stay, but we had time to visit another church very close to the harbour, and this one was especially pretty. It was built of wood and you could tell it’s age by the thick coat of red iron oxide paint on the cladding boards and roof shingles.