An Åland Adieu

I write this from the southwest of Finbo Island, the final one in my Åland odyssey, and of course, you guessed it… I am anchored! But after threading the needle between the channels and islets from Djupviken on the island of Geta, to here, I encountered a full on ‘scary monster’ scenario just to remind me that paradise can also be littered with tiny nasty surprises. Ask Adam and Eve!

Finbo, the final island in the necklace.

Finbo, the final island in the necklace.

The ‘poison apple’ in my case was an over active starter-motor (oh no, not that old chestnut) which decided to start running while my engine was under power. Most folk will know that the former is only to get the engine started, then it ends its function until the next time one needs the engine. In sheer desperation, I turned the engine off by lifting the full pump and turning off the battery isolation switch. Fortunately for me (thank you Njörd) it happened while I was manoeuvring in the anchorage and not when losing the wind in a rock infested channel! Without meaning to bore you with the technical details, I have worked out a way to by-pass the starter motor so that the alternator will charge the engine when running, this I did by isolating the live terminal once the engine was running; it’s a bit dangerous, but hey…. So are rocks when the engine won’t start. I suspect that the battery selector switch has a malfunction, either that or the starter motor has an internal short circuit. I hope it is the former hypothesis.

Time to replace the Åland courtesy flag with its Swedish equivalent.

Time to replace the Åland courtesy flag with its Swedish equivalent.

Even with all the time in the world, I doubt one could see everything in the Åland Islands; it would take many voyages, for sure. I have barely knicked the surface of this stony paradise and yet something deep within me has changed forever. Could it be the sense of aloneness; the feeling that one has sailed through a portal into another time? When perusing the charts, it doesn’t really do it justice because it looks so near to Sweden and Finland, and yet…

The mystical link between the sea and the land in Djupviken.

The mystical link between the sea and the land.

Why can’t I capture their essence with words and film? And the time… Where has it gone? I’ve been here for just a short while and yet it seems longer. A sense of deep cleansing, a huge space that balances mind and soul, so that the infernal mental chatter ceases. Emotions are washed like water colours as the night creeps into an anchorage, and all one can do is just be humbled.

Leaving Bomarsund left me in a dilemma, North or East? With so few places to re supply, food has become a major factor in determining my departure, that and the topsy turvey weather patterns. When you’ve been sailing a long time, experience is vitally important; I know that without last year’s northern voyage and my northern Finland episode, a single-handed affair in these islands would have been very unwise.

Djupviken anchorage. Although deep in the centre, the viken shallows out quickly. Here one can see the life that grows up through the rocks.

Djupviken anchorage. Although deep in the centre, the viken shallows out quickly. Here one can see the life that grows up through the rocks.

I sensed that pushing further east this year, may have left me struggling on my return across the Åland Sea to Sweden, which is tantamount to poor seamanship. Maybe a series of shorter voyages using Mariehamn as a base would be an alternative thought for the future, who knows? So I decided on a northern route up to the more remote islands and anchorages, to Länsmansgrund, Djupviken on Geta, Dånöfladen and finally Finbo, the last island, to wait out the wind for the crossing. I allowed two to three days of anchoring in each location to sample the little creeks and rocky shores in my little tender, ‘baby’, meditating, harvesting firewood, and investigating the local creatures and fauna. It is possible to spend hours just pottering around on the smooth granite outcrops of this remote, appealing wilderness.

Threading the needle between the narrow channels and islets between Djupviken and Finbo.

Threading the needle between the narrow channels and islets between Djupviken and Finbo.

The skill and pure sailing ability needed to negotiate the channels and multitude of rocks and islets has been immensely satisfying. To sail a sturdy, heavy motorsailer like Free, with her large leeway, between the islands and shallow ground has been exhilarating and sometimes downright terrifying!

Now I wait for that wind again, cultivating patience and presence. A brisk southerly breeze would be ideal for the Åland Sea crossing with some reduced wave height (wouldn’t that be nice?) but I’ve yet to find that perfect wind. I hope my temporary solution to the new starter motor problem will hold until I can repair the problem, but there’s always bloody something, right enough.


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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23 Responses to An Åland Adieu

  1. Kjell-Arne says:

    I would have expected the ignition switch to be faulty. But I suppose you have ruled that out?

    • Viking Queen says:

      I’ve just tested my new one on arrival, and it doesn’t work. This is becoming a serious problem because I think the navigation is running off one of the batteries. The auto pilot is turning itself off after a while when sailing without the engine. I am having to keep the petrol generator out on the after deck for emergency. Thanks for your theory… if you have any more ideas, please let me know.

  2. christian says:

    Hi P
    Glad still enjoying all the new wonders and great photo’s as always, know u will sort out the starter motor. The wind will come and carry u and Free off to your next port of call, where has the time gone this summer. And never a truer word always something will happen just when you think all is going great and you let your guard down.
    but being at sea you are not really aloud to do that take care.


    • Viking Queen says:

      Thanks Chris. Yes it’s the technical problem that is causing me some grief now. I’ll write very soon with details about travel.

  3. costenoble christian says:

    hi sister super content de lire tes aventures cuidate biz

  4. cornishtim says:

    Loving this journey. How alive you must feel

    • Viking Queen says:

      Yes, todays crossing was unbelievable, huge waves and managing an average sailing speed of over four knots for the whole journey. The starter motor has added a rather unfortunate component though; I can do without that.

  5. Dom says:

    Hi Poppie,

    So there you are between Finland and Sweden, with a broken engine !!!… Argh!, life is a bitch , hey😏. I hope you manage to come back to greener pastures safely, though. Be careful. Already mid summer, time flies… Safe journey back!

    Have you seen my videos in Paris?

    See you soon and all the best,


    Ps have you put on weight a bit?

  6. Hariod Brawn says:

    A lovely and most interesting article Poppy, and despite the technical glitches, you seem to be experiencing wondrous shifts in the inner seas. H ❤

    • Viking Queen says:

      I thought you may pick up on that, Hariod! It’s amazing how a little terror focusses the mind; it brings a sharper edge to meditation, for sure. There’s only so much one can say about the ‘doings’ but the inner aspect is equally if not more pertinent. Out here, you can really find out exactly what kind of person you are. There’s nowhere to hide… from the sea or from yourself.

      • Hariod Brawn says:

        I can quite believe it Poppy. My admiration for you is immeasurable, and I could not ever hope to match your courage myself. Long live the Viking Queen!

      • Viking Queen says:

        Ah, Hariod… horses for courses… kind words, but I’ve been around boats all my life, plus all my family/ancestors were born to it. Your courage is in a different way. Your ability and humility to face the tempestuous mind… now that’s scary! You have so much to teach.

  7. Monica says:

    Hallo! I miss you in Borka! Meny hugs to a ladie with a very beateful hart!! Hope to see you soon! Monica

    • Viking Queen says:

      Hej Monica! Good to receive your message and thank you! Don’t forget to knock on the boat when i return!

  8. Looking at your blog again from my desktop Pc is a joy, Poppy, as I can see your photos in fullscreen. So much better than staring at a tiny pic on my phone. Sorry to hear that the starter motor is giving you a headache again….

  9. Viking Queen says:

    Glad you’re enjoying them, Amanda. Yes, there’s always something going wrong; that’s the nature of seafaring unfortunately. The older the boat, the more problems there are. How you deal with things defines who you are as a being, I believe. In the end, one has to accept full responsibility for that. One of the most unpleasant factors of modern living for me, is the constant complaining, and ‘passing the buck’. It’s always somebody else’s fault, ie the government, the police etc. mostly we make choices and how we see the world, produces our own little private drama. Drifting back into society again after living off the anchor really highlights this, even in a town like Gävle.

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