Farewell to Finland

Having waved goodbye to Simon and Roo in Turku we had a fast and windy sail to Stenskär, a little lagoon formed by 4 or 5 islands back in the outer archipelago, with the choice of two little quays to moor up to, one on each of the major islands, or several mooring buoys in the middle of the lagoon. It is high season in the archipelago , and the quays soon get crowded with boat after boat dropping a stern anchor and nosing in to a space that seemingly doesnt exist, but somehow everyone shuffles up and allows the newcomer in.
For our first night we lay to a mooring buoy in the middle rather than attempt this manoevre in the 25 knot crosswind , but next morning as the crowds cleared, we nosed our way in and claimed the prime position. With others aboard you form your own little society but on our own its nice to meet and interact with the”natives “(!), all of whom have been wonderfully friendly and add immeasurably to the experience of travelling in their country, so as the quayside filled up again we had plenty of opportunity to talk and learn from our neighbours .With the luxury of most of the summer at our disposal it means that we are able to stay put and really explore an area, rather than just flit by. This was the perfect place to act as a base for trips into the surrounding mini archipelagos with the canoe , so out it came and we spent 3 happy days here.
One of our neighbours came from a familly who owned a Finnish galeass, a frequent participant in the Tall ship races , and through her we were able to plan our departure to coincide with the race. Her advice was to moor up in Björkö , past which all the participants would travel on their way to the start some 25 miles to the South of the archipelago. The trouble is the charts give little information on the depths in this island anchorage , other than to suggest the least depth is 1.8 metres in the entrance. She seemed certain that it was more , so I hatched a plan to go back to Aspö which was nearby , and ask Tore Johansson what he thought. Tore lives all year round on Aspö and with his familly continues the tradition of musicianship that is so much a part of this islands culture. More importantly for us he works on the pilot boats for ships entering the archipelago, and if anyone could give us sound information, it was him.
He was of the opinion that at 2 metres draft we would easily get in, told us which side of the channel to hug and advised that the water should be clear enough for someone on the bow to spot the deepest chanel. Accordingly after another day on Aspö we set of for Björkö and entered at dead low speed , getting in to the deep inner sound with never less than 0.4 metres under the keel.
What a peach of a place this turned out to be. The rapid rising of the Scandinavian landmass has caused what used to be an inlet to become an enclosed lake, and a nature trail has been created around it making for a brilliant walk. It starts off in woodland, but soon emerges into a wonderland of colour. Pink/grey rocks splattered by multiple types of lichen were interpersed with semi bogland plants and mosses of multiple hues. Several different types of heather competed with blueberry plants and other unknown ( to me !) red berried plants. Junipers and various different kinds of stunted conifers filled in the gaps. Dotted here and there, pink grasses waved their golden seedheads in the sunlight. All in all it was a botanists heaven and a sight for sore eyes! This was to be our last Finnish island before returning to Sweden and it was as if we had saved the best until last!

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