Raid Finland - Part 1

By Norm Wolfe - Washington, DC - USA

To Part Two

How fast can you row while sailing? And...why would you want to? To participate in a RAID of course. A RAID is an organized cruise in open boats which rely on both rowing and sailing for propulsion. Raid Finland is usually 5-7 days long, and has one or two legs each day, with a lay day in the middle of the week. We sometimes eat at restaurants, but also purchase packed lunches or shop for food when cooking is available. Accommodations include either camping in your own tent or rooms in cabins, lodges, or hotels.

On 1 August, 2009, seven boats gathered at Bromov, Finland for RAID Finland.

My entry was my Michalak designed RAIDER, with friends Len Sadauskas (Arlington, VA) and Miira Makela (Helsinki, Finland) as crew. Since Miira is familiar with the Finnish names we encounter I asked her to be our navigator. She agreed and in preparation for her responsibilities, enrolled in a continuing education course in small boat navigation in Helsinki last winter. I warned Len that some rowing might be required, and he responded by training on a rowing machine at his gym for several months prior to the RAID.

Peter Lord, an Australian living in Stockholm, Sweden brought his home built Vips (a Campion APPLE). Tuukka Makela (Miira’s brother) was his crew. Peter and Mike Hanyi organized the RAID.
Flemming Sorensen, a Dane living in Tallinn, Estonia sailed his home built v.Bearing (a Welsford NAVIGATOR built on 3 continents, but that’s another story) with Rickie Kuttermann, his 14 year old nephew from Denmark, as crew.

We first met Rickie when he and his dad crewed for Flemming in RAID Finland 2005. V. Bering was the Danish explorer after whom the Bering Strait was named.

Wojtek Bagonski from Warsaw, Poland trailed his home made Doppio (a B&B designed Bay River Skiff 17 and just finished this spring) from Warsaw, through Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia to take the Tallinn-Helsinki ferry to Finland.

His crew was Greg Derecki, an old childhood friend and also from Warsaw. Wojtek has built a few Michalak designed boats for himself and volunteers his time and expertise at a community boat building workshop in Poland which he organized.

Yves Paternot from Luzern, Switzerland was sailing his Eleanor, a traditional Finnish wooden sloop built to his carefully researched plans, with Bertrand Chazarene as crew. Yves is a regular on these RAIDs and Bertrand sailed in the 2005 raid with his wife on a 15' Whitehall. Yves keeps his boat in Finland not far from Bromarv, so he and Bertrand arrived under sail.
Christian Hausmann rented the large catboat Cohiba and had as crew his daughter Nina and her husband Jan-Dirk Seiler-Hausmann. The boat was built by the same man who built Eleanor, from plans of the Gil Smith design. Smith was a boatbuilder from Patchogue, Long Island, New York in the first half of the 20th century.

Why a Finnish boat builder would construct one of his boats was hard to understand, but she is a beauty, although hard to handle in a breeze. The Hausmanns have a summer home not far from our cruising grounds, so when accommodations were tight, they stayed there to free up rooms for others.

Ralph deJong and Katia T’Joen, who live in Belgum, rented Meander, a 15' fiberglass yawl and a veteran of 4 Raids, rather than tailoring their own Lynaes 12 to Finland.

Mike Hanyi generously resisted bringing his authentic Herreshoff Riviera so he could support the rest of us with a baggage van, and a safety boat on the longest leg. If you want to see the Riviera in action, try this video:

The village of Bromarv (or Bromarf in Swedish, which is the second language of Finand and predominates in this western coastal area) is on the south coast of Finland, about 60 miles (100 km) west of Helsinki.

My Estonian friend Andres again towed RAIDER behind his SUV via ferry from Tallinn to Helsinki, then on to Bromarv. Miira met us at the ferry landing in Helsinki. We arrived at about 1400 on Saturday, 1 August 2009, and noticed that three others had already arrived and were in the water.

Since there were launch ramps on both sides of this narrow (about 300 yards/275meters) isthmus, the plan was to launch on the west side on Saturday and recover on Friday on the east side.

We rigged and launched RAIDER, and prepared for a Sunday morning departure. The weather was so nice that we sailed in the protected area near the harbor for about an hour to familiarize the crew with the boat. Two people approached and asked if this was the start of RAID Finland. They were François and Danièle Dubois, working in Finland and hoping to join us next year in the boat they keep in Finland.

They kindly furnished some of the photos you see in this article. A link to all of their photos is at the end.

Ville Lindfors also visited us on Saturday. In previous RAIDs, Ville and his 24' cruiser have been with us as a safety and baggage boat. Unfortunately, a new job prevented him from helping us this year, but he took some nice photos which are also linked at the end of this article.

Coastal Finland with its numerous islands is a great place to sail in August; 17 hour-long days with sunny temperatures in the 70's (21-25C), short nights with temperatures in the 60's (15-19C), and 0.5% brackish water (the open ocean is about 3.5% salt) in the 60's, becoming warmer in the shallows near shore. In previous years there was plenty of wind, but “ROW” Finland might be a more appropriate name for this year’s event, as we were greeted by light winds the entire week. At least there was no rain. The area is known as the Finnish Archipelago, and there are thousands of islands and skerries, which are small, un-inhabited islands or rocks. My GPS acquired a new location: 60 North, 22 East.

We followed a rough circular route, counter clock wise, beginning and ending at Bromarv. The route was planned so each day should have been be an easy sail, but the wind did not cooperate; when there was wind, it was blowing towards us from our destination, so there was lots of tacking and rowing. But with the pleasant weather and long daylight hours, it was enjoyable.

On Sunday we left Bromarv sailed about 14km north-east to the very end of the peninsula to a settlement called Skata, where we had spent the first night, so our baggage was already there. There was no wind, so we rowed. I say we, but in fact, Len did most of the rowing. At age 70, he needs the exercise. Along the way, the weather looked quite threatening, with dark clouds, thunder and lightening all around, but not a drop of rain on us. We arrived mid afternoon, just as a gentle wind was building, and found our cabins and a hot sauna waiting for us, as well as a delicious dinner. Seppo and Elina Narinen and their son Sergi arrived in the Haven 12 ½ which Seppo built. They have been on nearly every prior RAID, but could only join us for the day today. Seppo’s son Sergi enjoyed the beer bottle caps I brought from the US for his collection. Mike entertained us by reading aloud a few hilarious stories from the 1937 collection of essays “Blow the Man Down”, edited by Eric DeVine.

The owners of the camp also provided breakfast and packed lunches for us. One cannot eat too much salmon - hot, cold, pickled, or smoked, but we tried. Our Sunday and Monday our buffet breakfast feast together in one room provided a convenient place for skippers meetings to review the course to be followed for the day. This morning skippers meeting is an every day event on all RAIDs Finland I have attended, and is quite helpful.

We were the first underway. I hoisted the balance lug sail and hauled down smartly on the down-haul. The loose footed boom (the sapling we carved into a boom last year) fell off, into the water! This means that both tack and clew somehow came loose from the furled sail during the night. By the time we had retrieved the boom, re-lashed the sail and set it again, all the other boats were well ahead of us. (We have suspicions, but no proof.)

To be continued tomorrow...



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