Southern Baltic Sea

  • Posted on: 28 May 2012
  • By: Andrus

Again it is time to compile a summary about a number of events and experiences from last cruising season. For almost three months Suwena was our summer home during which we sailed 1215 nautical miles from Finland, through Sweden, Denmark and Poland to Germany.

This season was special because in May we were casting off Suwena’s lines in Turku and she started sailing towards new seas. The upcoming seasons will show where she will carry her crew. Our intent is to sail every year further away from home port and seek out new places for exploring.

During the previous winter Suwena's fixed blade propeller was changed into Flex-o-fold folding propeller. The change was so significant that the character of the boat changed. Suwena's sailing ability increased substantially and her fuel consumption while motoring decreased as well. Thus, it is easy to guess that during the first legs from Finland through Åland to Göta canal in Sweden brought a wide smile to the face of skipper. Due to changing the propeller now we can raise sails already during the light winds. Of course if we look at annual total the engine hours are significant but this is due to mandatory motoring on Göta and Trollhätte canals and windless days while crossing big lakes of Sweden, Vättern and Vänern.

Göta canal was the biggest challenge of the summer. Beforehand we were excited about 58 locks on Göta canal and 6 locks on Trollhätte canal. How would we cope by just two of us? Andrus drives Suwena and I handle mooring lines. I was needlessly worried because we quickly developed a routine for locks and the whole lockage process is much simpler than I thought beforehand. Friendly lock keepers did their job well. They were always nearby if there would be a need for help on any of the boats in the lock.

We passed Göta canal from east to west. This direction is more labour intensive as we were ascending 38 out from 58 locks and descended 20 locks. The canal trip is anyhow worthwhile experience. During the trip we enjoyed beautiful scenery and idyllic small villages on Swedish countryside. Göta canal as an experience is very different from sailing on the sea or motorboating in archipelago. Maybe it is best described as continuous small undertakings on a boat in a very safe environment. After all there are no worries about the wind or waves. Additionally it is possible to get new friends from boats travelling in same direction. Spending time together with new acquaintances both in locks and during the evenings in harbours makes the passage pass quickly. We are glad that we decided to travel through Göta canal. The whole experience was fun and we are still married despite of the canal’s other famous name, a divorce ditch.

The weather at the beginning of the summer was rather cold. Even in the local newspapers were stories about the coldest June ever in southern Sweden. I guess we maybe got a glimpse of what to expect in Caledonian canal of Scotland where we would like to go some day by boat.

The highlight of summer was the island of Marstrand. We spent on the island the Midsummer celebration and enjoyed its summery atmosphere and rugged nature. There were also a lot to see and do on the island. Of course the harbour and the town were charming as well. We were taken by surprise about diversity of sights on the island.

Three weeks passed quickly in different parts of Denmark. We sailed from Skagen in Denmark's north-east corner over the Kattegat to Copenhagen and then further forward to the island of Bornholm. The most memorable places from Denmark were the islands we visited, Anholt and Bornholm. In addition the small Swedish island Ven in the middle of Sound was a surprising discovery.

The biggest surprise of summer was offered to us by Poland. The hospitality and friendly atmosphere of Polish people felt cosy after Danish stiffness. We were downright annoyed about being stuck in Denmark for extra week because of the weather. For this reason our visit to Poland lasted only one week. Especially the city of Kołobrzeg turned out to be a popular Polish holiday town where people walked around enjoying the beach and numerous seafood restaurants.

Most sailors only get a small glimpse of the coast of northern Germany on the Baltic Sea during a transfer sailing to Kiel canal. We had an opportunity to explore the boating culture in northern Germany for three weeks which was really rewarding. We could easily spend two weeks on the island of Rügen solely if the timetable would not limit our stay. There is a laid-back attitude to life in northern Germany and we felt right at home. So leaving Suwena for winter on Schlei area seemed natural to us.

During the season we participated in two sea rescue operations. First we helped to search for a missing motorboat on Kattegat south from the isalnd of Anholt and later on Schlei we helped a German sailboat to get free from a sand shoal.

The best sails of summer were several 50 to 60 mile legs on the southern Baltic Sea. We had a few unbelievable gennaker sailings and also the voyage from Rønne to Kołobrzeg while broad reaching the whole way is memorable. Even if the season is now already behind these sailings still bring warmth to our hearts. We also used our new whisker pole a couple of times for trimming the genoa. The first impression is that the whisker pole is a good investment for downwind sailing.

Rafting up the boats in harbour is a lesser-known mooring practice for Finnish boaters. We however got used to rafting during this summer. Summer's funniest mooring was at the island of Ven where we had another boat rafted up to Suwena even if we were still making fast our first line ashore. It seemed that rafting with other boats was self-evident always when harbour is full. The only clear rule was that in rafts the other boats should be crossed to shore by the bows.

Now we have sailed in all nine countries of the Baltic Sea. We have seen many interesting and memorable locations on a shores of our own Baltic Sea. Despite that there are still an enormous number of coves and inlets to seek out and explore. During the next winter we will be thinking back about the Baltic Sea and planning for upcoming summer. Next sea and new countries are waiting for us. Likewise Suwena, she is waiting for us near the entrance of Kiel canal ready for the challenges of next summer.

All the Southern Baltic Sea blog entries can be read from the 2012 blog archive and we've made also a seasons ranking list

Log summary of Suwena 2012

  • Nautical miles: 1213 M, from where 36 % sailing, 3 % motor sailing and 61 % motoring
  • Engine hours: 168 h
  • Generator hours: 20 h
  • Fuel used incl. engine, generator and heater: 766 l
  • Fresh water: 7400 l
  • Ports 33 + anchorages 3: 36 pcs
  • Overnight stays: 87 nights, from which 5 in anchor
  • Lockage: 64 locks with total height of 188 m
  • Longest leg: 80 M Stralsund – Heiligenhafen, Germany
  • The great-circle distance to the farthest point from home port: 789 nm Oulu – Schrader Marina, Germany
  • Southernmost point: 53N54.7 Świnoujście, Poland
  • Westernmost point: 9E26.2 Flensburg, Germany
  • Easternmost point: 22E13.5 Hirvensalo boatyard, Turku, Finland
  • Northernmost point: 60N25.9 Hirvensalo boatyard, Turku, Finland
  • Dinghy fuel consumption: 2 l

The map of Suwena’s year 2012 harbours and summer voyage..