Scary monsters!

A strange title you may think?

Well, as you know, I’m always able to take on a challenge… But mostly I’d rather not, being naturally lazy and tranquil. However, the approach to Kemi had my sphincter muscles playing rock n roll.

Threading a needle... It takes some skill to sail between these buoys knowing your fate should you wander.

Threading a needle… It takes some skill to sail between these buoys knowing your fate should you wander.

I had heard much about Finland’s shallow coast and how the charts are a little on the blasé side regarding rocks like canine incisors just ready to tear out your keel given half the chance; however, the truth is only revealed when you actually do it. Legions of paper, pontoon yacht masters or ‘chat room sailors’, know all the theory, but I’ll bet there aren’t too many who want to scrape their beautiful white plastic on the fangs from hell!

Attaching the Finnish courtesy flag for my arrival

In Båtskärnäs, attaching the Finnish courtesy flag for my next day’s arrival.

Neither do I actually, but here I am in Finland, resting in Kemi harbour, waiting for the those winds to change from sou’easterly to something a little more sympathetic. This has been made possible by the lovely town harbour which charges very little for a delightful little spot. What a lovely bunch of people and so welcoming. Sometimes I wonder if I am not using up many lifetimes of good karma since arriving in Scandinavia.

A false sense of tranquility!

Kemi harbour. A false sense of tranquility!

Kemi harbour gives the impression of peace and calm while one looks out on the shimmering waters outside the breakwater. However, I know better and realise that the week ahead will be the toughest of my sailing life so far. Never have my navigation abilities been called upon so much, for now for I’m very much alone out here. Despite the fierce heat of the hottest summer in living memory, the locals are already preparing their boats for winter, and I can only remember seeing two others in yesterday’s thirty six mile sail from Båtskärnäs, just to the west of Haparanda.

The careful approach to Kemi harbour.

The careful approach to Kemi harbour.

Kemi? What can I say? Apart from the presence of the Finnish language, one could be forgiven for thinking you had accidentally crossed the Atlantic, instead of the top of the Gulf of Bothnia. It has the look and feel of an American town, all straight roads and blocks. It all looks the same. The old town was destroyed in the last war during its occupation by the Soviet Union. The people are polite, reserved and helpful and there is almost no graffiti.

Now, let’s get back to scary monsters!

When my depth sounder was reading five feet, over five miles out, I knew this was going to be a white knuckle ride. Thankfully, the Finns have employed many useful navigational aids and good quality buoyage. Without wishing to send you into a soporific state, it is necessary to explain the principle of the transit, navigation. This is how the Finnish aid the frightened mariner in her approach to their delightful country!

A transit... the two boards must line up on approach. I have just turned for the next transit.

A transit… the two boards must line up on approach. I have just turned for the next transit.

As you can see from the photograph, one has to pick up two objects and then line them up. Once this is done, the helm is adjusted to steer so that the two transit points remain in a line. This should guide the sailor past any dental anomalies lurking below the surface. Putting total trust in this takes some bottle, but what is the alternative? Even when one’s nerves are shot, a leap of faith is called upon to do the right thing.

Paradise under sail... Sometimes it's easy to forget what lurks beneath.

Paradise under sail… Sometimes it’s easy to forget what lurks beneath.

The harbour manager mentioned the alarming fact that none of these boats were ‘virgins’, in as much that they had all hit a rock at least once. A sobering thought, for I have done it twice before: Helgoland and Greece (Ithaka) in 2007.

If I do, let it be merciful…


About Viking Queen

I am a sailor and I live on my boat 'Free'. I have no home but originate from Tyneside. I have no allegiance, just a desire to do no harm and live with courage and an open heart.
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13 Responses to Scary monsters!

  1. cornishtim says:

    May the force be with you…….

  2. christisn says:

    u have lots of bottle. dream the dream yr dad will guide u as well all yr other family sailors and the viking gods
    enjoy the next part of the journey.

  3. says:

    Get yer arse back here. I miss your face… XSent from Samsung Mobile

    “A Viking Saga: no one here gets out alive…” wrote:

    Viking Queen posted: “A strange title you may think?

    Well, as you know, I’m always able to take on a challenge… But mostly I’d rather not, being naturally lazy and tranquil. However, the approach to Kemi had my sphincter muscles playing rock n roll.

    I had heard muc”

    • Viking Queen says:

      Thank you! Sometimes I feel insane, but somewhere deep inside is the understanding that it is a part of who I am.

  4. Judith Brenchley says:

    Hi Poppy,

    I really have been meaning to write for a long time.  As I read your blogs there are often times when I want to say something, but I’d have to read them all again!

    I have, as much as ever, been quite busy.  Either pacing myself and following my programme which takes a lot of my time, or gardening and visiting Lucy.  She swears she remembers you, and she probably does, which is so good.  Sometimes she’s completely with me, and then occasionally she asks me if I’ve seen her husband Des. She just doesn’t know where he is!  I’ve come across something on the net which I hope to get her – called either a “fiddle cushion” or a “buzy blanket”. They’re made in the States, of course! but are a cushion or a very small blanket, with objects sewn on, or a zip, or a few beads, or pockets for ??? photos.  I must get her one.  She’d be so happy fiddling with it, I hope.

    Another great new idea is that I don’t have ME/CFS at all.  I went to visit Dr. Smith, who has 30 years of dealing with ME.  He asked me lots of questions and decided I didn’t have it.  He’s asked my doctor to refer me to a specific neurologist at the Maudsley, for further tests.  Apparently he thinks I’m too old to have it – it’s mostly people in their 20s and 30s who get it.  Also in one email I said steroids had cured my skin complaint Pamphigus, and Dr. Smith says that steroids have no effect on ME/CFS patients.  so – we’ll see.

    But Poppy, so many congratulations for reaching the north of the Gulf of Bothnia.  I’ve followed all your journey on maps, as far as I could .You’ve had some amazing luck,  now and again, but also your expertise has got you there.It is fascinating reading and I think you’re amazing.  Obviously you’re an excellent sailor and together with your sense of adventure you’ve had a wonderful voyage.  I envy you being in those quite empty parts of the sea, like I have enjoyed so much being in empty countryside and mountains.  Perhaps I’ll summon up courage to write a short sentence on your blog each time it comes, because I really want to comment on something you’ve said and if I don’t do it immediately, I forget.  You’ve met some very friendly people who help you as you’re a fellow sailor.

    Well, that’s me up to date. 

    I must finish, Poppy, as I must do my weekend shopping!  Don’t ever take me off your list, will you.  I enjoy each letter, like reading a serial.

    Where do you hope to go next?  I may be here if you want to stay again.  It was good having you here.

    With love from Judy  /   Judith …..

    • Viking Queen says:

      Hi Judy,

      Nice to hear from you! Just reached Marjaniemi to the west of Oulu. No more cities, they stress me out!

    • Viking Queen says:

      Hi Judy,

      Don’t forget, my blog is public so the whole world knows about your private life if you post! Better send me an email for the private things! Please do reply on my website but only non private stuff!

      Great to hear from you again with all the good news!

      Love from Popy

      Sent from my iPad


  5. Certainly sounds like hair-raising stuff, Poppy. But I feel sure you will triumph!

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