All posts by SimonTheSailor

Quick Trip To Helsinki Finland !!

In August i was invited back to rejoin a boat i was on last year. It was taking part in the ARC Baltic rally and i was joining in the latter part of the rally in Helsinki Finland.

NorwegianAir  got my custom this time and i flied to Helsinki from London.

I had some time to tour the city and take some photos before joining the boat. I was surprised to hear that Finland spent a lot of time under Swedish rule where as i thought it had mostly been under Russian rule in the past. In fact it wasn’t really that long ago that it gained its complete independence, only in the last 100 years or so.

Finland has two official languages – Finnish and Swedish, but English is spoken widely, making it very easy for us English speaking folk to get around ! In fact the whole of Scandinavia is easy for us English speaking folk to get around !

Helsinki Cathedral –

Helsinki finland

Helsinki finland

Had to get a picture of a boat in here somehow ! –

You might think that Helsinki has hints of Russian style and architecture about it and you’d be right ! Apparantly the whole town was built to resemble St Petersburg.

We enjoyed a dinner in the oldest yacht club in Helsinki called the Nylandska Jaktklubben. It is situated in the bay right in the heart of the city on the island of Blekholmen.

The green roofed clubhouse was built in 1900 and is only accessible by boat or ferry.

Nylandska Jaktklubben

Looking out from the clubhouse –

Nylandska Jaktklubben

After a couple of days in the capital we headed out to sail west ultimately to get to Stockholm Sweden but with a few stops along the way.

The weather was forecast to be a little lively so we kept into the coast and stayed for a couple of nights in Porkala in the marina. It was in a sheltered bay, ideal for sitting out the gusty weather that was apparantly blowing 30 kts.

Slightly chilly but the sun was out –

Porkala marina

The next day i went out to explore the green and wild surrounding area.  All very natural with no signs of pollution anywhere.

It didn’t take me long to find the other side of the bay and more water !!

Many Finnish people have second homes in these sorts of areas. Usually some type of cabin quite often with a sauna, what a great way to get away from it all.

We left after 2 days as the winds had died down and headed for Junta. After 12/13 hours at sea we arrived and moored up stern to to the piers.

Sadly this was going to be the end of this trip for me. I turned my phone on and all sorts of bleeps and ring tones started playing. It was the messages and calls you dread the most. One of my parents had been taken seriously ill during the night and had undergone heart surgery that morning.

Fortunately Junta was the last stop on the train line so I was able to get the last train that day back to Helsinki. I slept at the airport that night and flew home the next morning, I was home by lunchtime.

You have to be thankful for modern transport and communication to get back home that quickly !!

Sadly my father never made it but it wasn’t for the efforts of the doctors and nurses who tried their best to save him.

Good bye old fella – you were a muched loved man.

This obviously brought this years travelling to a halt.

Sorry for the late update of this trip, thought i had added the details already.

Looking forward to 2018 for more travels and exploration !!

 

French Riviera, Italy and Greece

A new sailing trip beckoned and i was on my way to the French Riviera. This time helping a guy sail from France to Italy, Sicily and the islands of Greece. Easyjet did me proud again.

Waiting to take off at Gatwick, it was a busy day –

Gatwick

I flew into Montpelier and travelled to Port Camargue, one of the biggest marinas for please craft on the south coast. I joined the sailing vessel Melandro, an American registered 42ft Beneteau which was spending its 18th season in the Med.

Approaching the coast –

French riviera

You always know you’re in France when they start serving you raw food –

We got the boat ready and soon headed off for our first port of call Cannes.

Cannes marina –

Cannes marina

Cannes marina is actually one of the cheaper marinas on the south coast. It is still operated by the local authority, not a private company so berthing prices are very reasonably. It had also recently been refurbished and a lot of the quay side had been replaced.

Cannes marina

After a brief stop in Cannes we headed for Italy, to the island of Elba on the west coast. Elba is best known as one of the places Napolean was exiled too. We had to motor for virtually the whole time as the wind had gone elsewhere.

The Italian island of Elba. Inside Portoferrairo harbour.

Elba

Elba

The place where Napolean was exiled to in 1814-1815, he still had the position of Governor though !!

Portoferrairo harbour-

The coastline of Elba –

When in Italy eat like the Italians !!

Sunset whilst at sea, it looks like i have added special effects to this photo but its just the way it came out !!

We headed south to Naples and stayed in a not so pleasant marina in Torre Del Greco. It had water and electricity but no other facilities to speak off. Due to its impressive sea wall it not only kept the sea out but any chance of a sea breeze too !! It was well over 100 degrees and no air movement at all. The locals seemed to like it though.

We moved on the next day and motored again for a day and a night. We arrived into the straits of Messina in the early hours, this included a couple of hours watching the fantastic sight that is Stromboli. This Italian volcano is one, if not the, most active volcano in Italy. Before we got there we could see the eruptions in the distance a few miles away. Every few minutes she would erupt spitting lava from the top, unfortunately my phone camera was unable to capture any decent shots. This photo i borrowed from the internet –

It was a worthwhile stop and we were happy to wait every 10 minutes or so for the next orange fireworks.

We arrived in Sicily at Catania on the east coast. It was stifljngly hot with virtually no wind passing through the marina.

We hired a car for the day when the two new crew arrived and drove up to the town of Taormina.

The skipper and crew in Taormina –

View of the coast from Taormina village –

We left Sicily with the new crew and headed across the sea towards Kefalonia, Greece, just under 300 hundred miles away.

Another sunset at sea –

Eating better onboard than the cruise liners !! ‘Apero’ – served at 5 o’clock.

Two days and two nights later we arrived in a windy Fiskardo on the top of the island of Kefalonia. Once a quiet small fishing village its now full of restaurants  and cafes serving the holiday makers. We dropped anchor and then had to reverse up to the shore line and tie the boat to a tree, only way to stop the boat swinging about in the harbour.

Me and the skipper of Melandro celebrating the first thousand miles of the trip !!

My last drink of the trip, in the harbour of Fiskardo waiting for the bus.

Fiskardo kefalonia

It was time to return home so i caught a bus from Fiskardo down to the capital Argostoli. The airport is only a short bus ride away so i stayed for a couple of nights to see the town and went on a bus mans holiday over to the town of Lixouri.

Arriving into Lixouri –

Lixouri sea front currently under going some redevelopment work to the sea front.

Another crewing experience completed and another 1000 miles to add to the log. Time to return home to catch up with a few friends and hope the English summer has finally arrived !!