Monday, 29 August 2016

Observing the sea

I’ve been planning this post ever since I published the previous one but I’ve been too busy… Should there be anyone who still doubts the sea could entertain you all day long I can assure you observing the sea is a most fascinating hobby. And time-consuming, especially if you are spending the summer at a cottage in the archipelago but do not have a boat of your own. Let me convince you by showing how it’s been for us since Midsummer.

First there is the marina of the yacht club on the island opposite the place. There is always happening more there than you could keep up with when the yachtsmen and women are silently gliding across the strait in their little electric boats or rowing boats to and from their sailboats moored in the marina. Not to mention seeing them setting sail or returning from the sea.

Then there are the ships in regular service. This time of the year, several small ferries operate from downtown Turku to destinations in the archipelago. Moreover, cruise ferries of two companies sail twice daily between Turku and Stockholm all year round. The seaway runs about 500m behind Loistokari but the ships are so huge it looks as if they were passing right by the island.

Steamship Ukkopekka taking visitors to the Loistokari island.

Amazone from Turku.

Olga from Turku.

Then there are the historic ships sailing the Turku waters throughout the summer season. We’ve spotted SS Ukkopekka and MS Rudolfina almost daily on their lunch and dinner cruises. The historic and historic-looking sailing ships – although we’ve only seen them en route using engine – are a less usual sight as they are chartered. The white one, on the other hand, is the schoolship Helena owned by the Sail Training Association Finland.

Now we are entering the less romantic merchant tonnage and other working fleet. Hubby who sailed the seas a few years as a teenager might not agree with my wording. Even though the ships were smaller in the 1960s you would be shocked to hear what the seamen let the unskilled trainees do back then. It was not only painting the deck in the burning heat of the tropics but steering the ocean liner wherever you happened to be sailing when the senior staff decided to leave you by the wheel. A 16 or 17-year-old kid with no formal training whatsoever in seafaring! Thank heaven for hubby’s orderly character.

Cable layer Telepaatti.

Regarding my experience in ships, the above is the oceanographic research vessel Aranda equipped with deck machinery I was making promotion for in the late 1980s when it was built. That is about the only vessel I could have been able to name from those days because it was so different from the cargo ships my employer generally delivered machinery for.

Aphrodite from The Netherlands.

Steamship Lokki from Helsinki.

Albanus from Mariehamn, Åland Islands.

National Geographic Orion.
Besides Aranda, we’ve also sighted a few other rare callers. Even though beautiful and very special thanks to the remarkable archipelago, Turku is such a small town international cruise ships seldom pay a visit here. However, we’ve spotted the National Geographic Orion stop over twice recently.

You might wonder how we’ve been able to identify all the ships. Whenever there is an unfamiliar ship in view we immediately rush to the web address to check its details. The Automatic Vessel Tracking or AIS system is a fantastic tool containing data from all over the world free for anyone to browse. Do check it out sometime.

A few days ago, we watched a French documentary on marine traffic and were distressed. If you take a look at the AIS density maps you will be disturbed, too, by the amount of traffic on the oceans. I don’t think it differs much from a massive colony of ants carrying items pointlessly from place to place. We all should do our best to reduce this absurdity by concentrating on purchases of local, domestic or nearby make, don’t you think? In my opinion, it would be even better to favour reclaimed and second-hand items to help this planet endure a bit longer.

Lastly, as though all I’ve shown wasn’t enough. We’ve also seen some action around a few regattas without any need to leave the cottage. The national championships of the Hai or Requin keelboats arranged by our neighbours the yacht club were a little unlucky because of lack of wind throughout the racing days (the two first photos above). Another regatta was such a special one we actually went to have a closer look. My post about that here.