Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Sailing in Lake Saimaa, July 2011

This summer we decided to experience what the inland lakes of Finland had to offer. First we had to sail south through the Gulf of Bothnia, the Baltic Sea and the Gulf of Finland towards russian waters. After passport checks at the border we would have to make our way up the Saimaa canal and into finnish territorial waters again.

This was a one and a half month journey and we had four different crews helping us out along the way. Everybody took photos and after sorting through all of them, here's a small selection. Click the first photo after the map to start the slideshow.

This is the route we took, click here for a larger view.

Olle set off from Vaasa in mid June. This picture was taken near Pori, You can see Reposaari in the background.

Our navigation station. The next step is to mirror the laptop screen on a tablet that one can have on the side whilst steering.

Our first crew, Mikael and Päivi, helped Olle get the boat from Uusikaupunki to Hanko.

European Sailing Championships were taking place in Helsinki when we arrived there.

Giving a tug to a classic boat during calm winds.

The Viking Line ferry from Sweden arrives. Navigating through Kustaanmiekka strait
is difficult because it's very narrow.

Oldtimer from 1912.

Henrietta in Porvoo, just east of Helsinki.

Continuing east you'll eventually end up in Kotka, this picture of the city is taken from the top of Haukkavuori Tower.

Santio, the last harbour before the Russian border.

'Your papers please'

The next day we'll be travelling across the border into Russia.

Is it possible to pass with a train over your head? Sometimes yes, sometimes not:

Taking photos wasn't allowed on the Russian side so we had to be sneaky. Titti and Hannu, pictured here, were our second crew.

Soskua lock. M/s Helga (less than 82 meters long, 12,2 wide and 4,35 deep). The Saimaa canal lifts boats up and down a total of 75 meters.

There are eight locks, five on the russian side and 3 on the finnish side of the border.

It takes about a day to travel through the canal.

Lappeenranta guest harbour. Now on Lake Saimaa, 76 meters above sea level.

The guest harbour in Puumala beneath highway 62.

Sulkava Rowing Race is one of the Finland´s biggest rowing events, which have gathered in its best years over 10 000 rowers and over 20 000 visitors.

A panoramic view of Savonlinna.

The weather was almost unbearably hot, above 30 degrees C.

I drove to Savonlinna to join up with the crew. I wasn't on the first leg because my vacation had not yet started and I also didn't have a valid passport to get me through Russia.

Sailing under the swingbridge with Olavinlinna castle in the background.

Saimaa lake is an ideal transportation route to get timber from the finnish inland to the paper mills near the seashore.

There is almost no pollution in the fresh waters of lake Saimaa.

Trying out some different photography techniques.

There was no wind to speak of, but we weren't in any hurry.

The deep waters meant one could park the boats directly onto the shore. This place was a "nature harbour" called Linnansaari.

The view from top of Linnansaari. There was national park as far as the eye could see.

Just floating around.

The midnight sun and a scorching heat made it almost impossible to sleep.

All this warm weather and high humidity meant thunderstorms were to be expected. The question was just when.

On our way to Varkaus.

Taipale Canal near Varkaus.

Rising only about 5 meters this time around.

Keep on pouring!

Here we come!

In Varkaus guest harbour, Tuula Olle, Hannu and Titti.

Planning the next days route.

So this is the storm we've been waiting for so long.

A freshwater seal (saimaannorppa), local only to lake Saimaa.

This is another natural harbour on the other side of Linnanvuori island, on our way back to Savonlinna.

On the hunt for blueberries.

No comment.

Pancakes + blueberry jam = crazy delicious.

In Savonlinna we had tickets to the opera, tonight Don Giovanni was playing.

The old castle provided a great venue.

Again making plans, this time the old analog way.

In the city of Imatra we switched crews again. I, Hannu and Titti left. Torre and Ulla-Maj joined up.

Waiting for the damned dam to open.



Now it was time to start our journey home. First we had to tackle Saimaa canal again.

We made it to the Gulf of Finland (although this picture of Torre was taken on the Russian side).

We swapped crews for the fourth time. This time Tuija, Johanna and Björn would help us get back to Vaasa along the west coast of Finland.

We stopped by the old Bengtskär lighthouse.

The lighthouse is usually much inaccessible, but calm seas meant there were lots of folks there taking in the sights.

Making our way to Turku. Lots of nice houses by the seaside.

The river Aura in Turku.

Good winds meant we made it back to Vaasa in record time. All in all a really good trip, we have to do it again sometime. Perhaps next summer?

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