Bounded by the Baltic in the North, the Oder in the East, the Elbe in the West, the lower Havel in the South West and the Spree-Oder Canal in the South East, this region is probably one of the largest cruising areas in Europe.
Text & photographs: Doris and Dr. Lorenzo Guendel
Well over 2,700 km of interconnected lakes, rivers and canals form an inexhaustible, dense network of navigable waterways of differing sizes. Most of them are located in the Länder of Berlin, Brandenburg and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, one of the regions of Germany which is most steeped in history, whether it’s the history of the Hanseatic League, the noble Junkers of Western Pomerania, the Prussian kings or the influence of Dutch princesses and craftsmen. Russian and French cultural influences can be observed everywhere – even Vienna has a share in it. The result is a region with unparalleled variety and diversity in terms of art and history.
The route is lined with big cities such as Berlin and Hamburg, as well as medium-sized towns such as Lübeck, Rostock, Stettin, Oranienburg, Potsdam, Brandenburg and Magdeburg. Art lovers seeking cultural diversity will feel right at home here. Take Potsdam as an example, where the influence of the Dutch and Russian colonies is particularly in evidence, even today. If you are interested in history, you need only follow in the tracks of Humbolt or “Old Fritz” (Frederick the Great) to Sanssouci palace. This has continued into most recent German history, as witness the Potsdam Conference in Cecilienhof Palace or Templin, the municipality in which the current German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, was married.
Those interested in literature are warmly invited to visit Theodor Fontane or Kurt Tucholsky. But it’s not only these luminaries of German literature who can be found here.
Museums, art galleries and major collections give way to small art studios, so that you can for example watch an artisan blacksmith or string instrument maker at work in the citadel in Spandau. There are also many aspects of regional history, which children and young people in particular find especially different and interesting. Examples include the inland waterway museum in Zehdenick and the Ziegeleipark industrial museum in Mildenberg.
Now 80 years old, the Niederfinow boat lift is a special technical miracle of German engineering and has to be experienced.
By contrast, you will find large expanses of unspoilt nature, where you can see herons, cormorants, ospreys, cranes, storks, ducks and great crested grebes, as well as kingfishers, in their natural habitat.
Besides the large number of birds, you may also catch sight of rarer animals, such as beavers, otters, muskrats, bison, frogs, etc. Also worth a visit, especially for children and young people, is the Müritzeum in Waren, an excellent visitor centre featuring native fauna and flora.
You can go for a dip or while away the time in dreamlike, tranquil anchorages. The canals and rivers are lined by a variety of small towns, where you can stroll, shop and stop off for a while. An impressive range of restaurants have become established in this area, which treat customers with local dishes.
Of course, Berlin also offers a wide diversity of cultural, historical and natural features.
A detailed description is beyond the scope of this report.
We set forth from this fantastic landscape to explore new shores. We had investigated the Lake District after many years and the same applied to Berlin. We now wanted to test Category B on our Linssen 43.9AC “La Cabaña and visit the Baltic. We covered the route from Zehdenick along the Mälzer canal and the Voss canal to Berlin in a few hours and then headed east to the boat lift. We found a nice spot at Marienwerder Marina with Sabine and Lutz Biller when Lutz probably wanted to see whether the crew of La Cabaña could actually control the boat and allocated us a very nice spot right at the back corner. He then watched the manoeuvre very closely with a benevolent eye. As he didn’t say anything more, we think he was probably happy. We also thought that we had performed our task well. So we treated ourselves at the marina’s bistro. After a wonderfully peaceful night and a hearty breakfast on board, we set off for the boat lift. The passage was uncomplicated but, as so often, a great experience. We shared the lock with two passenger vessels, which didn’t cause any problems in the large basin. The temperature had risen mercilessly and it felt like 40°C under the tarpaulin, but we couldn’t escape it in the scorching sun. So we opened all the windows we could and we stepped on the gas to produce an air flow. In Oderberg that evening, the neighbours must have thought us a strange crew as we were all below deck in the saloon. Of course, they couldn’t have known that we had an excellent air-conditioning system down there. This cooled the two cabins as well as the saloon, which was very important in ensuring a refreshing sleep. A number of bigger vessels were moored with us in Oderberg, all of which - except one - gradually sailed out the following morning. Finally, we were ready, with the water tank full and batteries charged, everything OK. Temperatures promised to be high that day as well.
The water level reports for the Oder were giving rise to concern in the dry summer, which is why we decided to use the Hohensaartener-Friedrichtaler canal. Considering it’s a canal, the journey is surprisingly attractive. There are low embankments to the right and left of the canal, which allow a view of the countryside beyond, with the floodplains of the Oder on the east side and farmland and forest on the west side.
There we discovered large tobacco plantations, which surprised us a lot, a little industry, both old and new, and small but inviting villages. Our destination was Schwedt, which we reached in about four hours. On offer were a small sport marina, which was not deep enough for us, and a bigger pleasure craft marina, which provided a fine mooring. It was any easy choice. This marina was another surprise. It was really well cared-for and housed ultra-clean toilets and showers in an architecturally humorous building and had another nice bistro with a very pleasant all-rounder in charge. Besides the bistro, she was also responsible for the caravan park, the marina, selling shower coins, etc. She was cheerful and helpful despite being very busy. The usual, informative talk on the landing with Oder travellers did provide us with some information which we were able to use later in our trip. However, my desire to obtain a Polish flag as the host country flag remained unfulfilled. We again had to cool the boat to a level that allowed comfortable sleep.
After a delicious dinner and a glass of good red wine, we were ready for bed.
We were especially looking forward to our next destination, Szczecin. We had heard widely differing reports on the mooring options in Szczecin and were therefore eager to find out the truth. The marina in the centre of Szczecin was highly praised in the legend on our map but we had read and heard criticism elsewhere and so were not convinced. A marina a little further north at the terminus of a tram line was commended, so we went there. Wonderful water meadows accompanied us on our way to Szczecin. The inevitable industrial plants on the outskirts of Szczecin were followed by prominent and very busy docks and shipyards. There was a lot of traffic there. Then came the skyline of the city, with some magnificent buildings and two bridges which were so low that we had to lay not only the mast but also the tarpaulin completely flat. This occupied so much of our attention that we failed to see the city port on the east side of the West Oder. We therefore continued on our way, past more shipyards, until we reached Goclaw marina. The marina is small, clean and has everything you would need, even though parts of it are still very basic. The best thing about it is the small supermarket on the opposite side of the street and the tram station. The staff were particularly friendly, even though they spoke no German at all, which came as a bit of a surprise to us. Using a mixture of English and sign language, we were able to ask them everything and also obtain correct answers to all our questions. I managed to obtain a Polish host country flag from another German boater. The next day was reserved for Szczecin. In the morning, we took the tram into town. We caught an older model, i.e. we arrived in Szczecin half an hour later as if shaken (not stirred!) in a cocktail shaker! Our stroll through the city led us to St. John the Evangelist church, a wonderfully light building with a very beautiful but somewhat unusual organ. One striking building turned out to be the former castle of the Pomeranian Dukes. It was still blisteringly hot, so we dropped by the small café in the Münzhof courtyard in the castle for a coffee and water. Today, the castle is used for music and art and as a museum and science centre. While we were sitting in the courtyard, we listened to a pianist who was already very proficient in his art. This is also where the tourist information office is located. We then headed for the Haken Terrace, which our guide book boldly claimed is one of the most beautiful terraces in Europe. We couldn’t wait to see it and have to admit that it is very beautiful. The view is magnificent. It’s about 500 metres long and about 20 metres above the Oder, thereby providing a great view over this part of the city. Behind us was a series of beautiful old buildings, including the Maritime University, the Vovoidship office and the National Museum. In the shadow of these historic buildings, on the Haken Terrace, we found a beautifully situated restaurant (Columbus) where we sat in the front row eating our lunch. Top quality and reasonable prices, including a breathtaking view, was our final verdict on this beautiful spot. From there we then saw the massive marina which we initially missed. It was eerily isolated. There was not a single yacht among the estimated 120 moorings!!! The area around the marina was not exactly chic either and it was extremely awkward to gain access to the city on the other side of the river. We planned to poke our nose into the marina on the return journey.
But we wanted to continue on our way. We proceeded north on the Oder, passed the entrance to Dabie Lake and took a second decision to come this way on the return journey. Further north, the waterway forks into the Oder and the Policki Canal, but we stayed on the Oder. It went on and on. The floodplains of the Oder appeared lush green when flooded, sometimes with old trees and sometimes with tall shrubs or reeds. The bird paradise seemed never-ending. Kingfishers flashed blue-green but they were so frantic that it was almost impossible to photograph them. We didn’t see any more grey heron but we did see an osprey which flew overhead but apparently wasn’t hungry. At least, it didn’t appear to be hunting. The cruise along the Roztoka Odrzánska was uneventful but we stuck to the marked shipping channel for safety’s sake. Level with Trzebiez, the riverbank retreated further and the great Haff showed us its most beautiful aspect. Because of the very good visibility, we were able to see the tall navigation signs (Brama Torowa 4 - 1) from a distance.
At wind force 4-5, we were also subjected to a heavy swell but this hardly had any effect on our 20-tonne Linssen. Our thoughts were directed towards the marina we should head for and we decided on Uekermünde, which we did not regret. We received a warm welcome at SSC Vorpommern. Dinner at “Backbord” was delicious, the prices reasonable and the atmosphere great. We were grateful for the always refreshing breeze as the heat continued unabated. When we wanted to start the air conditioning, the shore power had a relatively low rating (6 amps), which was insufficient for the air-conditioning unit. We briefly switched on the generator to cool down the yacht and then went to bed. The next morning, we decided to spend a quiet day in Uekermünde. We had not definitely planned our next destination. We had planned to call in at the marina at the entrance to the Peenestrom but made such good time that we decided to keep going. We continued north along the Peenestrom through the Moderort channel. Even our Linssen was now being tossed about in the wind, so we chose Rankwitz as our destination port. This was an excellent decision, as we can only recommend the charming harbour. Besides two very good pubs, there is a fishmonger that sells fresh and smoked fish. Added to the beautiful port and the overall ambience, five pleasant holiday homes are situated right next to the port. It’s a fine example of a successful port development. Our cruise continued, via Wolgast, into the Peenestrom. The entrance is somewhat industrial, which made us happy. There would be beautiful countryside again further north. The wind was now blowing at force 8 and all the locals were complaining that they had never before experienced so much wind so many days in a row. Kröslin was then our last port of call, a wonderful, very well kept marina opposite Peenemünde. Boat trips are run from here on a small passenger vessel. A day trip to Wolgast revealed a medium-size industrial town with the problems that sadly still persist in former East Germany, such as young people leaving.
In Kröslin, our travelling companions met acquaintances they had not seen for years, which resulted in a pleasant, convivial chat on board under the tarpaulin in gale-force wind (with gusts of around 7 on the Beaufort scale).
As the weather forecast was still issuing storm warnings, we had to abandon our actual destination of Greifswald and content ourselves with the fact that we had ventured into the Baltic.
We turned around.
We now headed south in bright sunshine but still facing heavy winds. As intended, we then turned, a little to the north of Szczecin, into Dabie Lake to experience an idyllic landscape. It is uniquely beautiful. We took our time and, towards evening, looked for a port that would do justice to this landscape. We found a dream spot in the HOM marina at the south-eastern extremity of Dabie Lake. One reason was a Pole who spoke very good German and helped us with the formalities, but during this time a beautifully restored motor yacht arrived and moored behind us. The owner was Polish, based in this port and unbelievably proud (rightly) of the yacht he had restored. Our Polish hosts removed the benches from the rustic table standing on the jetty and replaced them with comfortable garden chairs to make things more pleasant, another extraordinary sign of hospitality.
I would like to conclude the report with this port. The return trip to Zehdenick was uneventful. We arrived there four days later safe and sound and full of new impressions.
A teak deck gives your yacht a handsome and luxurious finish but it definitely also has practical benefits as well.
A new teak deck is brown in colour. After a while, the teak deck changes colour by means of a natural process from golden brown to its final
appearance: a natural silver grey.
Advantages of your teak deck:
- Anti-slip; Teak is a naturally rough wood, whether wet or dry. A teak deck increases safety on board as it has a good anti-slip effect under all weather conditions.
- Temperature of the deck; At high outdoor temperatures, a teak deck will remain relatively cool and that is great if you’re walking around on deck bare-footed.
- Insulating effect; The teak deck also has a very effective insulating effect on the interior.
Maintaining your teak deck
To keep your teak deck in good condition, the following maintenance measures are recommended.
Wash the teak deck once a week with ordinary fresh or salt water without cleaning agents so as to prevent pollution.
Algae and mildew may start to become established in the grain structure (turning the teak deck green), which makes the structure rougher.
The rougher structure makes the deck more susceptible to wear. You can prevent this by cleaning the teak deck once or twice a year.
Once or twice a year
Proceed as follows to clean the teak deck:
- Make a soap solution consisting of 1% soft soap (otherwise known as green soap) in a bucket of warm water.
- Take a soft brush and scrub the deck, exerting light pressure on the brush, across the grain of the wood or make rotating movements.
This is an effective way of removing the contaminants from the deck without damaging the deck.
In addition to the above-mentioned maintenance, we would advise you to have your teak deck inspected at the boatyard every five years.
The aim of this inspection is to check for damage to the deck and inspect the caulked seams. Caulked seams may become worn over time. It is important to replace or repair these worn caulked seams in time to prevent moisture penetrating between or below the teak deck planks.
What you should definitely not do
- Never use a high-pressure cleaner to clean your teak deck.
This appears to clean the teak deck quickly but the use of a high-pressure cleaner eats away the softer grain of the planks. This makes the grain structure much rougher, with the result that dirt becomes more easily embedded in the teak deck, causing it to wear faster and become thinner.
- Never use a hard brush as the use of a hard brush can also scrub away the soft grain.
- Never use household cleaning products other than soft soap and definitely do not use detergents.
Other cleaning products contain powerful degreasers, which harm the wood and possibly the caulked seams as well.
Detergents are also bad for the paintwork on board as they have a powerful degreasing effect.
You should also be careful of “professional” teak cleaners. These cleaners try to restore the teak deck to its original brown colour but that does not last long. The deck returns to its silver-grey colour after a while. These cleaners are usually based on powerful chemicals.
If these cleaners are not prepared properly, e.g. not diluted properly, or if the deck is not rinsed properly afterwards, this type of cleaner can damage other exterior components such as your paintwork or the aluminium sections of your windows.
If you follow the above maintenance instructions, you will be able to enjoy your teak deck for many trouble-free years.
The design and thickness of teak deck sections, the method of construction and the way in which the teak deck is attached to the floor are factors of essential importance in guaranteeing that you will enjoy your teak deck for years to come. Linssen Yachts has a lot of experience in this area and, as a result, has developed a unique, high-quality teak deck construction which has definitely proved its worth over the years.
In this regard, we have seen many times how cheap works out more expensive but by the time that this realisation dawns, it is usually too late…
Have you any questions about maintenance? Which topic would you like to read about in the next edition? Let us know. Send your question to firstname.lastname@example.org
More than two thousand years of history, an impressive landscape, secluded bays, and harbours both tranquil or bustling – Croatia has everything that a cruising enthusiast could desire. With our Grand Sturdy 40.9 Sedan, we could view Croatia from a new perspective!
Text and photographs: Randolf Nott & Renate Thieme
And to say it right away: we have been sailing the Adriatic in a number of different vessels since back in the 1980s, but none was as comfortable and safe as the Hippo – a well-deserved name! Although the Adriatic is often derided as “just a bathtub”, things can get very uncomfortable when the cold “Bora” wind sweeps down from the mountains and churns up the sea. But even in weather conditions that had made our solid old motorsailer creak and groan, and we had felt better off with lifejackets on, the Linssen lived up to its name and lay there unconcerned like a big heavy hippo in the water. But let’s begin at the beginning.
After its maiden voyage on the Meuse, Waal and Rhine, we took over the new boat at Izola (Slovenia) on 6 June 2013 and set off to enjoy the transfer trip to our home marina at Simuni on the island of Pag (Croatia). The coasts of Slovenia and Istria were still very busy, with a lot of buoys marking obstacles that we had to look out for. But despite it being the holiday season, things got less busy after we had crossed the Kvarner Gulf and left the coast of Istria. We naturally stopped off in Rovinj before the crossing. The town has a long and turbulent history. The Romans called it “Ruginium”, which the Slavs changed to “Rovinj” in the seventh century. Rovinj is well worth a visit. The townscape has been shaped by its rich history, with winding alleys and an overall Romanesque-Gothic appearance, but with renaissance, baroque, and neoclassical buildings too. Particularly striking is the Basilica of St Euphemia, whose 60 m-high seventeenth-century tower is topped by a 4.70 m-high bronze statue of Euphemia herself, the patron saint of the town.
Another interesting town is Pula, with a history dating back 7000 years. In 177 BC, it was captured by the Romans, who built an amphitheatre there in the reign of the Emperor Augustus that is now one of the main sights. Other remains from the Augustan period are the Temple of Rome and Augustus, the partly preserved city walls with their gates, and the remains of two theatres.
After a two-week voyage with several stopovers at historically notable locations and secluded, picturesque coves, we reached our base at Simuni on the island of Pag. We have been coming here for many years, and we really enjoy the homely atmosphere of one of the smallest marinas on the Croatian coast. Pag is famous for its lace, which is still painstakingly produced by hand, and its sheep’s milk cheese, now made in cheese dairies partly modernised with funds from the EU. The milk comes from sheep that graze on the mostly very poor soils – often apparently consisting only of scree – throughout the island and also on the generally uninhabited neighbouring islands. When you cast anchor in the bays of these uninhabited islands (for example Maun), you may quite possible see the sheep come down to the beach in the evening to drink water from the sea. It is supposedly this and the saline meadows that give the cheese its distinctive taste. Another interesting feature are the olive trees – some up to 1500 years old – around Lun at the northwest end of Pag. As on the other Croatian islands, the production of olive oil is an important part of the economy.
Located in central Dalmatia (about an hour’s drive from Zadar), Pag is the ideal starting point for cruises both short and long. In deciding on the “Longtop” Sedan – i.e. the model with an extended roof over the cockpit – we were influenced by our previous experience in the area: intense sunshine, which not only heats up the sea significantly (in June already up to 28° C) but can also be hard on the skipper and his crew. So our chosen model is also suitable for pale-skinned northern Europeans! However, this kind of boat is not very frequent in the Adriatic, and we have already become accustomed to being gazed at in every harbour that we visit. Even the owners of sleek yachts have to admit that the Linssen offers an impressive degree of comfort. That also applies in rough seas and conditions that are a challenge for sailors and that keep those fast, sleek yachts in the harbour.
So much for our boat. In June 2014, we used the first part of our stay in Croatia for some short trips, which we’d like to tell you about. From the ACI Marina at Simuni, we set a course of 330° past the lively harbour town of Novalja – popular especially among younger visitors to Croatia – and past the island of Pag to Rab. To starboard, we could see the ancient olive trees around Lun that we already mentioned. Near the headland lies the sleepy little village of Tovarnele. Drawing level with the buoys marking the shallows, we changed course to 350° and sailed directly into the bay at Cifnata. The sandy bottom is ideal for anchoring, and although the bay is frequented by day-trippers, they leave in the evening in small yachts or taxi boats. We reached this intermediate destination at a leisurely 5,5 knots in just under 5 hours, and prepared for the night. We enjoyed the quiet of the evening and after breakfast set course the next morning for the harbour at Rab (44° 45’ N, 14° 46’ E). We were greeted there by the four striking bell towers of the historic centre, which is built on a steep rocky ridge. At the harbour entrance, we came across a whole armada of boats both large and small – like a swarm of mosquitoes – that were on their way to the numerous bathing inlets. That was fine by us, because it meant more space in the harbour. The marina is situated opposite the quay of the town’s harbour and is a very convenient place to moor. But for an hourly charge of 20 kunas (about EUR 2.50) you can also moor alongside the quay itself. The Linssen’s bow and stern thrusters meant that “parking” was not any problem. The advantage of mooring by the quay is that you have easy access to the town centre: you don’t have to walk around the harbour basin as you do if you tie up in the marina. Rab is over 2000 years old, and with narrow lanes and many churches has a special flair all of its own. With Rovinj and Zadar, it counts as an historic and cultural gem of northern Croatia. There are numerous excellent restaurants, but we will mention only two. One is the stylish “Paradiso”, in the old town loggia and the Cernota Palace, which also has its own picture gallery, which the owner is happy to show to visitors. The slivovitz and the house wine are both produced by the restaurant itself. The link with the coast is also shown in various items that give the restaurant its exclusive atmosphere.
The “Rab” tavern is in a rustic but refined style. With its wooden beams and a welcoming gallery, it has a traditional atmosphere and its excellent but inexpensive dishes make it really worth a visit. It’s striking that younger people in Croatia prefer to communicate in English, while older people usually understand German better. But basically, there are no communication problems. On this cruise, by the way, there were five of us on board the Linssen, but none of us felt there was too little room. One reason is of course that the cockpit offers plenty of space, although a cover needs to be put up if it rains.
After a good meal and some extensive sightseeing, we left Rab in the evening so as to spend the night at Cifnata again. Next morning we set a course 253° for the island of Cres. During the crossing, we were in fact caught out by a moderate Bora wind, making it seem sensible to stop over and spend the night in the bay of Toverašćica on Cres. That also made things a bit easier for our guests, who weren’t such experienced sailors. Next day, we rounded the island to the southeast and sailed comfortably through the Lošinjski Channel, with Cres to starboard and Lošinj to port, to the little town of Osor. At Osor, the islands of Cres and Losinj are separated by a canal – only 11 metres wide – that was constructed more than 2000 years ago. The bridge over the canal is opened twice a day, at 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. For the vessels that are waiting, there is an area with buoys and a clearly marked navigation channel. The buoys enabled us to tie up and use our Zodiac dinghy to go ashore. The Zodiac is equipped with a 4 hp Torpeedo electric outboard motor, allowing for elegant and almost silent operation.
In Roman times, Osor was a strategically important centre with about 20,000 inhabitants, because the sea route from Aquileia to Salonae passed through the Osor Canal. Surrounded by strong defensive walls, it was the site of numerous temples, a forum, theatres, and palaces. The harbour was the base for Ravenna’s navy, and in 530 AD, the town became the seat of a bishop. It was later devastated by the Saracens and sank into insignificance. Today’s Osor is a village of scarcely 100 residents, with ancient remains that are well worth seeing.
We continued on a course of 148° past Losinj to starboard and Orjule to port to the island of Ilovik. At the south-eastern tip of Losinj there is a small uninhabited island, Kozjak, which we rounded, keeping it to port and looking for a suitable bay to anchor off the west side of Ilovik. We decided to anchor in the bay of Pažine in the south of the island and to finish the day there.
Next morning, we set a course of 132° for Ugljan, passing by Silba (to port) and Premuda and Ist (to starboard). At the southern tip of the island of Silba we had to correct our course again slightly so as to pass Sestrunj (to starboard), with the offshore islands of the Tri Sestrice, to reach the island of Ugljan. We moored at the “Olive Island” marina at Sutomiscica, a brand-new marina leaving nothing to be desired.
After a restful night in the marina and after replenishing our stores (including water) we set course for Zadar. Ugljan and Zadar are separated by the Pašmanski Channel, which we crossed in less than an hour, tying up at the town’s marina. Getting into this marina is a tight squeeze, and a bit of a challenge for a 40-foot vessel. The Linssen is somewhat cumbersome, but using its bow and stern thrusters enabled us to moor without problems, although without the additional rudder, things would have been extremely difficult. We can’t really recommend this marina because it is extremely expensive and crowded. Although we were only moored for a few hours so we could do some sightseeing, we were immediately charged for 24 hours (including for unnecessary water and electricity!), whereas at all the other marinas there is also a charge for just half a day. So what you need to do is either stay for the whole time you’ve paid for or go to the Borik marina instead. As we’ve already seen, Zadar is a real gem and very much worth visiting. It’s no wonder that the AIDA cruise ships put in here too. The ferries that are constantly coming and going also need a lot of space, so we were glad – especially after our days of peace and tranquillity – to get away from the hustle and bustle.
On the way back to the island of Pag, we once more moored off the island of Vir, and could admire a spectacular sunset, which compensated for the stress at Zadar.
One thing that this cruise showed us is that the Longtop model of the Grand Sturdy Sedan is ideal as far as we’re concerned for sailing in this area. Croatia’s membership of the EU has led to changes in the conditions for yachts. The important thing now is no longer the length of the vessel but the power of the engine. That made this year’s permit significantly cheaper than in the past.
The Hippo has an engine speed of from 1800 to 1850 revs per minute, producing 5.5 to 6 knots (diesel consumption: about 5 litres per hour). That is rather slow compared to the usual yachts in the Adriatic, but we’re not in any hurry. People often talk of “slowing down and starting living” – that’s what we actually managed to do! In return, the boat is extremely reliable, and remains docile even in rough seas. There’s enough space even when you have guests on board, and we have come to appreciate the storage space too. A Fritz!Box and the connected stick allowed us to connect up with the rest of the world via the Internet, and there was a stable WLAN network on board for our mobile phones, iPad, and other devices. We hadn’t thought about installing an additional external antenna for all this, so we had to make do with an after-market antenna with a magnetic base, which we extended out through the sliding roof in areas with a weak signal. When sailing in this area, I advise bow and stern thrusters and auto pilot. We also think it’s absolutely necessary to be able to cover the cockpit with a cover during bad weather.
Finally, we would like to record that Linssen doesn’t just build top-quality vessels but also provides a first-class service. That more or less guarantees that the “best weeks of the year” will be just what we want, namely totally relaxing!
Matti Pitkänen bought his Linssen Grand Sturdy 34.9 AC “TUR 35” via the Linssen dealer Proficon, and decided to collect it from the Dutch yard and sail it home himself.
Text & photographs: Matti and Tuula Pitkänen
The yacht left Maasbracht on 12 May 2014 and was taken by lorry to Heiligenhafen on the north German coast, where it was launched on 14 May.
Next day we stocked up with the necessary stores and the trip could really begin. We left at about noon on 15 May, passing under the Fehmarn Sound Bridge shortly after. There was a gentle north-westerly breeze, which dropped even more, so that the rest of our voyage across the Baltic Sea was under clear blue skies. It was wonderful to watch the porpoises swimming right next to us in the clear water.
In the course of a few days, we sailed north along the Danish and Swedish coasts, putting in for the night at Ystad, Karlskrona, Kalmar, Oxelösund, Dalarö, and Sandhamn. From there, we set out for the crossing to our own country. On 22 May – seven days and almost 1000 kilometres after setting out – we arrived at the Finnish island of Kökar, halfway between Sweden and Finland.
From there, the next stage was about 235 kilometres to Helsinki. The temperature increased, and when we arrived in the Finnish capital it was a 27° C.
We spent two days in Helsinki for some maintenance work and to have a bit of a rest, and on 27 May we set out on the last stretch of our journey. This took us via the Saimaa Canal, the first section of which is on Russian territory and is leased out to Finland. Our last stop before Russia was at the island of Santio. Here we were inspected by the Finnish border patrol, and all our papers were checked. Next morning, we set off to cross the border and enter the canal. Conditions were exceptionally calm, and the final section at sea presented no problems. Before entering the lock in Russia, we filled up with cheap fuel and we were checked by the Russian border police.
All went well and we could quickly continue on our way. On 30 May we arrived late in the evening in Lappeenranta, after “only” 43 kilometres, 8 locks, and an ascent to 76.7 metres above sea level. We also had no problems on the final leg of the journey to our home port at Partakoski.
TUR 35 was home!
Every year, more and more boats with foreign flags are visiting Finland. Many of them are touring the Baltic. Some are just cruising around the Finnish coastline and enjoying the thousands of islands.
Text & photographs: Ari-Pekka Hildén
Finland has a relatively long coastline. It extends from the Swedish border at Tornio at the most northerly point of the Gulf of Bothnia to the Russian border at the eastern point of the Gulf of Finland. The Åland Islands lie fifty miles off the south-west corner of the mainland.
The south-western archipelago and the Åland Islands together form the Archipelago Sea. With over 40,000 islands, it is the largest archipelago in Europe and one of the largest in the world. These sheltered waters are a real cruising paradise.
The cruising season in Finland starts in early May and continues until late September. The summer months from June to August are the high season. During holidays, some of the most popular harbours may be very crowded. Most of the guest marinas close their doors at end of August. Mooring is also possible at other times, but services may be restricted. In Finland, it is also possible to moor at natural harbours. You can legally moor, swim and rest anywhere as long as you do not disturb other people and provided that access has not been restricted for defence or environmental reasons. Needless to say, you must not moor too close to private homes or private boat clubs.
During the summer months, the days are long and it never really gets dark in archipelago. The weather is usually very predictable. Strong winds are rare during summer. At worst, it may be wet with temperatures around 10º-15º C. At best, summer temperatures may exceed 30º C and the sun is so strong that it’s hardly possible to walk on the deck with bare feet. Thunderstorms may occur suddenly even during good weather. But the archipelago, with its thousands of islands, provides sheltered waters where it’s safe to cruise even in bad weather.
Cruising and navigation in Finland are relatively easy. However, it’s essential to have up-to-date charts. The Finnish coast and archipelago are well known for underwater rocks, so following recommended channels is advisable. These channels are very well marked with guaranteed draught.
There are plenty of things to do besides enjoying the marine life and beautiful views. The archipelago is full of history going back to seal hunters living in the area over 3,000 years ago. During the Viking times, many important sea routes crossed the Archipelago Sea. Finland was part of Sweden until 1808 and subsequently the most westerly part of the Russian Empire for over one hundred years. These periods also left their mark on the cities, villages and islands across the archipelago. Nearly every island or village has its own museum or exhibition introducing the local history. There are wonderful walking routes taking in historic places and local wildlife. Boat enthusiasts can also enjoy water sports, as well as other activities including tennis and golf. Perhaps the greatest attraction in the Finnish archipelago is the local food and the culinary experiences that can be enjoyed in various small restaurants and shops. There are plenty of local specialities, but the most famous are smoked fish and local bread.
Marinated cold smoked salmon at Restaurant Smakbyn in Kastelholm Åland. The owner and chef Michael Björklund has been nominated as Chef of the Year in both Finland and Sweden.
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