My First trip With Ocean Ladies

This is a short blog from a newcomer to the Ocean Ladies team on how the first sailing trip on Carissa feels.
On June 27,2023 I went on my first leg with Ocean Ladies. This first sailing trip with Ocean Ladies from Turku to Stockholm went through a fantastic archipelago that I used to sail in since I was 16. However, since I sold my boat 10 years ago I have not sailed here. Due to our mission in Ocean Ladies ”For Cleaner Seas” we have got into cooperation with the Finnish Meteoritical Institute and this time we were to assist them and the University of Gothenburg in measuring the status of the Baltic Sea with an EXO2 sonde. We had had a previous video call where they demonstrated how to use the sonde. My task was to bring the sonde to the boat on the train to Turku. When I drove to FMI to get the sonde I realized that it will not fit into any normal bag. No worries, there are solutions to every problem. It fitted perfectly into a golf bag cover with wheels. Dragging that and a bag with my personal sailing stuff I set out for Turku.

When I arrived at Carissa in Turku our captain Raija and first mate Paula were already there and short after one by one the rest of the crew arrived. Unfortunately, we had an issue on the boat with the AIS system required for tracking the boat in the Gotland Runt race, being the next leg. Raija our captain was persistent and finally we got some guys driving from Helsinki to Turku to fix the issue. Unfortunately, this meant that we needed to wait for quite some hours before we could set out. Originally, we had planned to set out in the morning, but in the end, we left Turku at about 6pm. The wind was light, so we used the engine to start off.

Well out on Airisto, as we had very light wind and we decided to do our first test measurement. We read through the instructions, prepared the sonde with the weight, float and long rope to be able to lower it into approximately 30m depth. The PC was unfortunately without power, so we had to keep it in the boat and in the power socket. After preparing the measurement templates with the information of the location we took the sonde up on deck. We lowered the sonde at the bow of the boat to be far from the propeller. It was a bit scary lower this expensive equipment into the depth just attached to a quite thin line. Everything went fine though, but getting back into the boat the PC just said lost connection and the screen did not show any button to reconnect to the sonde. We did therefore not get any measurement this time but decided to try again later. Instead, we hoisted the sails and continued under sail westward.

We sailed through the night changing watches as appropriate. We have a system of 3 watches with 2 crew members and either the skipper or first mate assisting. The watches are three hours and takes turns of on duty (1), off duty (2), standby (3). The standby team takes care of kitchen duties. It was a lovely evening and night. Nights out in the archipelago are spectacular and it never gets really dark. it got a bit cooler in the night, but it was not too cold. I was on duty until midnight, and we had got as far as the outskirt of the Turku archipelago and beginning of Kihti between Finland and Åland islands. At this point I was quite tired so I retired to my bunk and had a good short sleep. I was on standby from 3 am, but as it was light wind and no kitchen duty in the night I was allowed to sleep. However, I was too excited to be back in the archipelago sailing that I could not sleep. The archipelago in the Baltic Sea is just spectacular that one does not want to enjoy it as much as possible. Therefore, I got up already at 4:30pm enjoying the morning as we were coming into the Åland archipelago.

It was a beautiful morning and we all enjoyed it very much. We sailed to Rödhamn arriving in the sunny and warm morning and took a mooring there. It is so beautiful out here that it is breathtaking. After a couple of hours rest, swimming, ice scream and cinnamon buns we continued our journey towards Sweden. The weather forecast still estimated light winds, but fortunately we got a sea breeze about 10 m/s over the Sea of Åland with a perfect direction. We made 8 knots at times and the wind did not decrease before we passed the Tjärven lighthouse. After that we got quite light winds again so we started to listen to music and sing and dance. A popular one was the Finnish Eurovision song and Cha Cha Cha sounded in the afternoon on our boat and as we just passed a green navigation buoy it got named Käärijä. What a lovely team we had on board as everyone joined into our playful jokes.

After a while we arrived in Furusund, one very famous harbor and summer retreat for many Swedish artists and authors. This is the home of Astrid Lindgren, the children book author, as well as August Strindberg, to name a few. Evert Taube has of course written a waltz about Furusund. It is an idyllic place, but of course the big ships regularly traveling between Stockholm and Turku take this route passing the harbor. Fortunately, due to the design of the modern ships these vessels do not really make any notable waves anymore and passing in the archipelago they drive at minimal speed. The harbor master was very friendly and helpful. Unfortunately, the septic tank system was placed poorly and the depth would not be enough for our boat, that has a keel depth of 2.4m.

In the morning we enjoyed a few hours of walking around Furusund. We met a lady that spoke so happily about Tant Astrid and her daughter Karin. As we were preparing to set out Galiana passed by. It started out as a beautiful morning but soon we got dark clouds in the horizon and we turned around driving slowly and waiting for the worst thunderstorm to pass before we again turned our course towards Grinda. We did a second measurement test in the light weather, but this time we had issues with the bluetooth connection in general. We decided to call FMI before testing again.
We arrived in Grinda in the evening and took a mooring on the outside of the big peer. The neighbouring boat was not very happy as they told us to shut the engine before we had properly docked. Well, you can not always meet only friendly people. For most part everyone we have got contact with during this trip have been very friendly. At Grinda we enjoyed a well-earned Aperol Sprits and dinner on the boat. Our lunches and dinners have been delicious regardless which team made the food. Provisions was planned by our first mate Paula. Thanks to her for good choices. We teamed up for making the dishes and danced Cha cha cha through the chores.

On Friday morning we drove into Stockholm as we had a quite strong wind against us. With the narrow passes and lots of traffic it was safer to go straight than tacking under sail. We took the scenic route through Waxholm instead and enjoyed the sights. Stockholm was really busy with its preparations for Gotland Runt and the party already started. At Wasahamnen we emptied our septic tank and had a good rehearsal on docking in strong sidewinds We were allocated a place in the guest harbor of Junibacken and docked alongside the peer next to Junibacken’s restaurant. Here we met with the new crew for Gotland Runt and I met my friend Sara from the Atlantic crossing. It was a great trip with Ocean Ladies and we all felt genuinely happy. This is a great way to meet new people around a common hobby we love. It does not matter if you are an experienced sailor or a novice. You can enjoy these trips, find new friends and always learn something new. I am really looking forward to the next time.

Facts of the sailing:
Yacht: S/Y Carissa, Swan 441 (1984)
Team: skipper Raija Alapeteri, first mate Paula Rissanen, crew: Anne-Maria Mäkinen, Mirja Aukee, Paula Erla, Pirkko Karlsson, Annukka Marjamaa and Bodil Forss
Sailing Club: Ocean Ladies, Finland
Route: Turku – Rödhamn – Furusund – Grinda – Stockholm
Dates: June 27-30, 2023
Writer: Bodil Forss