Monday, August 29, 2011

Visitors from the mist

M/S Brahe approaching Märket from north

It was again a very misty morning. Early , very early there was a ship in the mist. It was M/S Brahe which like the Flying Dutchman came with 62 guests who were on a trip between lighthouses.

Visitors landing Märket northern harbor

Our guests looked at Märket and were guided around the island and got coffee.They had to leave earlier than planned because of the growing wind and next they headed onto Sälskär.

M/S Brahe in anchor next to Märket

In the afternoon we rested a bit and took down the steel constructions on the walls of the annex building. After the scaffolding were moved to the storage area we started to plaster on one wall at the first floor in the ligthouse building. Tomorrow we continue plastering the other walls of the very same room.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The night of the ancient lights

Märket lighthouse

The morning was a misty, but warm and sun started to shine very early. It was beautiful morning when we were driving from Mariehamn towards Postbryggan and Mats' boat. There should have been four radioamateurs from Netherlands waiting us, but unfortunately one of them had injured and therefore all of them cancelled the trip to Märket lighthouse. Instead of them we saw couple of ornithologists, who were joining us and getting a ride from Mats to Signillskär island.

Windy Märket

Three other people from Åland were coming to visit Märket as well. Alltogether 12 people were packed to the boat and finally at 8:30 AM we headed from Eckerö towards west and southernly wind and waves.

Two of us are first-timers at Märket and there were excitement in the air when they saw first time Märket lighthouse getting closer and closer. The wind was blowing from south nearly 10 m/s and Mats steered his boat to the northern harbor, from where we were able to enter the island and meet the previous shift.

It was amazing to see how this place has changed in a year! There were new stairs, new windmill station, new sauna and renovated rooms at the first floor of the lighthouse, but at the same time we were feeling nostalgic, when the place was still good old Märket with howling wind, breaking waves and fierce sunshine on a bold surface of smooth rocks.

Waves breaking at southern cliffs

Roughly 25 years ago citizenship of community of Parainen invented the night of ancient lights. The idea was to have burning flames from Stockholm all the way to Tallinn in the darkening autumn evening. You can check the planned locations of burning bonfires from following link : So we decided to do our share and set a bonfire at Märket southern cliffs.

Ancient lights bonfire

Monday, August 22, 2011

Day of pain & torture at Tampere : World & European Championships

Sunday 21st of August was full of pain, but on the other hand full of joy as well. It was a day when elite triathlonists were competing on a ETU long distance triathlon European championships at Tampere. The race started at an inhuman time 6:45 AM, when trained bodies dressed up in wet suits were jumping onto a Pyhäjärvi lake for a respectable 4 km swimming leg. The Ratina stadium was acting as a competition center and the fastest completed 4 km swimming, 120 km cycling and 30 km running race roughly at 5,5 hours. Just increadible!!!

At 5 PM there were a bit different race at central market at Tampere. As part of chilifest 2011, there were world championships of eating the hottest chili in the world, Naga Morichi. There were 13 brave competitors suffering and having pain when trying to destroy as much as possible Naga Morichi in 30 minutes. The winner broke the world record by eating astonishing amount of 181,57 grams of Naga Morichi (previous world record was 94,98 g) !!!!

Nobody participated both competitions, I wonder why :) It would be extreme competition to combine triathlon and chili eating competitions. I could imagine the feeling at the next morning after such a torture, suffering and pain. I'll stay at the other side of the fence and be a spectator only...

P.S. I bought couple of chili from chilifest just to spice up my meals a bit, not to start practicing for the next year competitions.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Peeking onto next year

Previous couple of weeks have been totally sanctified for the recovery activities like getting massage for tight muscles at upper body, eating a lot, sleeping well and resting as much as possible. However at the same time I have been starting jogging and orienteering very cautiously, after being 2 months without running a single step since Jukola orienteering relay at mid June.

The reason for starting orienteering exercises is pretty long orienteering race (over 20 km) at Vaajakoski at the end of September. It's part of Kalevan Kierros, which is a competition of total of 6 different endurance sports during one year.

I have been participating this type of endurance sport tours like Kalevan Kierros and Pirkan Kierros already 5 times and therefore I was thinking next year to do something new. Yep, I decided to go abroad :) Sweden, here I come !!

En Svensk Klassiker is a similar tour of 4 endurance sports during a one year at our loving neighbor country. It includes 60 km skiing race Engelbrektsloppet, 300 km cycling race Vätternrundan, 3 km swimming race Vansbrosimningen and 30 km running race Lidingöloppet. It seems I'll be spending couple of nights at the ferries between Finland and Sweden next year... If someone of you wants to join me for training or participating this tour / races, just let me know.

So, I'll be a regular visitor at Kaleva swimming hall at Tampere during the coming winter. Hopefully I'm able to learn a decent freestyle swimming technique for the next year and will survive 3 km swim at open water.

In addition of Svensk Klassiker there will be single races to be participated, like 54 km skiing race Birkebennerreinnet at Norway and traditional Jukola orienteering relay competition at Vantaa.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Eating, sleeping, eating, sleeping, ...

Pretty much the activities done on this week at home. When I returned back home from paddling trip on Wednesday last week I had one day to unpack the stuff, wash the clothes and do the packing again. I was attending on a 3-day paddling guide course at Kotka from Friday to Sunday.

Writing this blog at Pikku Leikosaari at Helsinki on midnight summer eve

I was feeling a bit nostalgic to return back to the area, from which I started the coastline paddling just 1,5 months ago. Actually on the course we were having the camp on the island (Koukkusaari) next to my third camping night spot on Svartbäck Krokö island.

One of the highlights of the trip, remote and not allowed to enter without permit, Porkkala lighthouse finally reached

It was windy again as last time, but now the wind was blowing from NE 5-8 m/s. During the 3 day course we visited Kaunissaari island and did some 5 km crossings on a moderate surf. Fortunately the wind was not that strong and waves were smaller than 1,5 months ago...

Paddling after 11PM at sunset

On Sunday evening I was back at home and realized I don't need to paddle for awhile anymore. On this week I'm just going to rest and try to gain weight back. I lost 6 kg during the paddling trip and so far I have got 2 kg already back. I went to massage yesterday and the masseur found all my tight and tense muscles on by upper body, on my neck, shoulders and back. But it felt heavenly when muscles were relaxed and loosened a bit. The next massage time has been reserved already to next week.

At Raahe

It was a long trip, 30 days (29 days of paddling), 1301 km and as said already I lost 6 kg of my weight. The weather was varying from storm (up to 20 m/s wind) to totally calm and sunny days with zero wind. From sunshine to heavy rainshowers and thunderstorms. From 10 degrees temperature during night paddling up to 30 degrees warmth at sunshine. The length of the paddling days varied from 6 hours to 11 hours and were roughly between 24 km - 77 km.

Somewhere between Pyhäjoki and Siikajoki

I visited on a 8 lighthouses during the trip : Suomenlinna, Porkkala, Gustavsvärn, Kylmäpihlaja, Ritgrund, Stubben, Tauvo and Keminkraaseli. There were lots of other lighthouses close to my route as well, but I tried to pick those I have not visited before (Porkkala, Ritgrund, Stubben, Tauvo and Keminkraaseli). On Kylmäpihlaja lighthouse I stopped to have delicious lunch, on Gustavsvärn lighthouse to stay overnight and on Suomenlinna lighthouse to have cup of cocoa with buns at midsummer, although I had been on these places before. In addition of lighthouses I visited on numerous daymarks as well and e.g. stayed overnight on Lyökki, which is the oldest and most famous daymark at Finland.

The last camping spot at Hietakalla island. The tent, hut and kayaks between rocks

Few facts and opinions as a summary:

- Best paddling area : Saaristomeri with small islets and islands
- Best meal : Mässkär nature center at Pietarsaari. The chef is just incredible and food is awesome.
- Most beautiful camping spot : Fladalandet at Tammisaari
- Camping spot I wouldn't like to experience again : Stora Fagerö at Inkoo, the north peak of the island was      occupied by the army of angry ants, which were biting all the time. It was impossible to stay even 1 minute standing still. They were occupying the tent as well, just horrible.
- The most scary moment : 9 km crossing from Hailuoto on a sudden storm
- The longest crossing : At Perämeri close to Tornio, crossings were roughly 18 km.

Supper at Mässkär nature center