Through the Gulf of Finland and to Estonia

21.07. – 28.07.2012 Helsinki – Tallinn – Turku

Skipper: Andreas

Crew: Ute, Sabine, Guido and Michael

The journey begins with a shock: At check in at Zurich airport an SMS reaches me saying our skipper Daniel is injured after a fall from his bike and can’t lead the cruise. Luckily we can and co-skipper Andrew must take over the responsibility of being in charge. On time on Saturday morning at 9 clock, the crew, now reduced to 5, meets in beautiful weather in Helsinki harbor and we can take on the Rolling Swiss II. After the essential tasks had already been handed out to crew members in Olten, shopping, boat transfer, safety orientation, etc., and after lunch we go out to a first trip. The holiday begins!

The first surprise for me as a sailor, was how much space and comfort a motor boat of this size has. Further acquaintance of the boat will amaze me again and again how completely thoughtful and practical are all the features of Rolling Swiss II, Not only is everything there, but it is also beautiful to look at, and all that wonderful wood!

I’m not the only motor boat newcomer on board: Sabine and Guido are also her to log the 100nm we need for our motorboat offshore certificates. Michael is here to see the charms of Finland and get experience with a twin engine powerboat.

The next surprise waits for all of us in front of the port of Helsinki: The fact that the archipelago would be so fragmented and so confusing had not really been made clear to us. The channel is extremely confusing, and there is considerable traffic of vessels of all sizes. The number of navigational aids which have been prepared by the Finns to direct traffic in the archipelago, is just as impressive as confusing. We have reduced the speed, take it all in, and feel our way cautiously from buoy to buoy .

At night we are tired and happy, but also confident that we can trust ourselves for the  40 nm run to Tallinn next morning.

The trip to Tallinn is easy with mild weather: flat sea, sun – perfect Sunday weather. Our travel literature had asserts that yachts can only come into the former Olympic harbor a few kilometers east of Tallinn. Disappointed, we have read that the City of Port Varnasadam is only for “commercial use” is. Our maps indicate that several ferries pass just before the town and harbor. A satellite image from Google shows a completely
empty dock with a barren stretch of land between harbor and old town … Then we find a handwritten note in the Estonian correction chart that in this nearly square harbor now is a marina! We had no problem getting a berth and be briefed by the Harbour Master at the dock perfectly. It will probably be always full when the information spreads that this is a Marina.

We can recommend it for visitors to Tallinn as a starting point for sightseeing. Showers, sauna and shopping (except for fresh bread in the morning) are available. With Upper Town and Lower Town, cathedral, castle, market and town walls especially busy with many small and almost car-free cobbled streets, the city offers enough for a full vacation. We restrict ourselves to an afternoon and an unfortunately rainy morning.

The return trip from Tallinn to the Finnish coast the next day, then is not as comfortable as the arrival. The sky is gray, a stiff wind blowing from the north-west, impressive waves build up, and the Rolling Swiss II makes its name by wild pitches and rolls through the waves. I think that night everyone was glad to have reached the archipelago again and be back in their serene small ports.

The next day Tammisaari is on the program, but when we come back to a quiet  comfortable ride there looking for a berth, we are turned away due to lack of space. I would have liked to have stayed in this small town; the remains of the glorious summer house of a Russian in the early 20th Century or the Alvar Altoo house designed for sailors and visited by Göran Schildt. So we have to resort to another small port town.
Contemplative, the trip will be, as we hoof it in smaller stages west towards Turku. We have easily clocked our 100nm crossing the Baltic to Estonia and back.

It must be said that not only did Andreas complete his first CCS cruise as skipper, and that he did it masterfully, but he also made the experience wonderful for his three apprentices on board. The training was great; from the right way to throw a warp while mooring, manoeuvring with the two engines, a lightening course in radar use and lots of small details of good seamanship.

I have learned something: Even after this trip I will stay with the  sailors. I can not leave the harbour without looking for different sailing ships and imagining the next cruise. In
the end, I prefer the more direct contact with the wind. Nevertheless, I appreciate the fact that the CCS with Rolling Swiss II offers its members the opportunity to train on a popular powerboat and maintain if you like this trip – join the club. I can only say it was a harmonious and interesting trip.

Reported by Ute Schmiedel, Mulhouse

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