Halsskär and Södra Benskär

· The Archipelago Sea · Sarastus · 31 M

In March Seppo and I had agreed on the day and destination for a sailing trip in August. However, as the weather forecast got more and more accurate we realized the northern lake, which was our initial planned destination, would be quite cool and rainy during the chosen weekend. After discussing and weighting alternatives we ended up keeping the day but changing the destination. The trip would take place in the Archipelago Sea!

On Friday we drove to Kemiönsaari where we came to live. On Saturday morning we towed the boat to a ferry which took us from Kasnäs to Långnäset. Then we continued our journey to Rosala guest harbor where Sarastus was launched. The slipway was pretty good, although there was a low-hanging power cable which required forced us to lower the mast temporarily.

In the beginning a northerly breeeze prevailed, and so we had to sail close to the wind when passing through Rosala narrows in order to get to the shipping line leading to west.

On the shipping line heading for Lammörs fjärdenia in west

The weather service had given a warning about a strong breeze in the Archipelago Sea. According to our plan, we would first set off for Halsskär where the latest forecast would be checked and then the rest of the trip planned according to it.

I was bit uneasy about how the conditions would be on Lammörs fjärden where the more open waters begin. Both the wind and the waves got stronger but sailing was still manageable even without reefing. It was a moderate breeze.

We sailed around this unnamed islet west from Västerharu island

We arrived at the sandy bay of Halsskär. There were two keelboats by the rock peninsula but they left soon. After lowering the sails and we paddled to the shore of the bay where the bottom was shallow fine sand. The boat was anchored and exploration of the island could start.

In the sandy bay of Halsskär
A fine natural harbor

I have to say Halsskär is a lovely pristine island. The combination of rocks, sand, vegetation and trees provides a lot to see. According to my measurements, the surface water temperature in the bay was 20°C, while one of the fellow boaters told water temperature in more open waters was just 16°C. We explored the island, finally returning to the boat to have a meal.

There were some rowans on the island
The seadogs having picnic

During the meal the breeze built up rapidly, also changing its direction. We climbed to the northwestern shore to watch the sea. White horses were formed and rustle on the trees got louder. As result we decided to stay on the island until the morning when the conditions were expected to be lighter.

There must be a story about the stack
Strong northwesterly breeze started without a warning

Eventually the sun set behind the clouds. We admired the reddish sky in the west. Next it was time to get into tent and turn in.

In the night I woke up around two o’clock. For a while I looked how Sarastus floated peacefully under the stars in the bay relying on its anchor and stern line. The view was pretty elegant. It would have been worth shooting a picture or two using a fast lens, but tiredness won.

Colors of the western sky

On Sunday morning we woke up before seven. It was sunny and a light breeze blew. However, the weather forecast suggested that the wind would build up again, turning into a breeze moderate, and in the evening it would get close to a strong breeze, the same way as on Saturday.

Sunday morning
Peace at sea again

It was time to prepare breakfast. I had wanted to try how cooking quinoa porridge would work out in camping conditions, as it’s a preferred part of my breakfast. From home I had picked up a trangia, a sieve for rinsing, Finnish quinoa, oat milk and salt. My iron mug served as a measuring cup. For my delight, cooking the porridge succeeded perfectly, and also Seppo wanted to taste it and he reported to liked it. I hope the poor crew just didn’t want to please the captain in fear of walking the plank and getting fed to the medusas…

Quinoa porridge for breakfast

We discussed about our sailing plans for the day. At first we drafted a route from Halsskär to Kråkskär and from there to Norra ja Södra Benskär, but we estimated there wouldn’t be enough time for that and also we wanted to avoid beating and landing when the strong breeze was coming. As it’s known, Kråkskär doesn’t have a properly sheltered shore we considered it to be more sensible not to try to sail there, although it would have been an attractive destination. Our updated plan was to sail to the Benskär islands and then return to Rosala.

The Finnish nautical chart 701 covered most of our trip
Boat ready to set forth

The mainsail was reefed before leaving the bay. Then it was time to untie the stern line, to raise the anchor and to paddle to bit deeper water where the mainsail was raised and centerboard lowered. After rounding the southern cape of Halsskär we headed for Benskär islands. The whole journey was basically about beating to the gusty and shifty northerly breeze.

Stora Kalskär ja Viklandet islands were by our route
There is a fascinating strait between Norra ja Södrä Benskär

I found beating next to the underwater rocks bit stressful but finally we arrived at the strait between Norra and Södrä Benskär which is an unique place. At end of the strait there was a short patch of sandy beach where we tried to anchor. However, the muddy bottom made anchoring impossible, and we considered it best to haul the boat up to the beach using a short log as a roller.

Suddenly my mother called. She was worried if we were well. She had heard from the news about an accident where two men died when a bit motorboat hit their sailboat. Well, we were very well but it’s sad such awful collisions happen. Currently, when this blog post is being written. Airisto accodent is still under investigations.

The anchor didn't hold at all, so we had to land a different way

The sandy bottom of the strait was featured somewhere, but I have to say, compared to the high quality beached of Lake Saimaa the sandy bottom covered by seaweed was quite a modest thing. Still, Seppo wanted to walk to Norra Benskär by crossing the narrowest part of the strait, and then continued to Korpskär. The view from the rocks of Södrä Benskär where unforgettable as the sun glittered on the waves and could of sailboats sailed on the horizon.

On Benskär I saw an unknown bird, but Seppo as a birdwatcher identified it as a grey heron. It was exciting to watch it flying. During the weekend we also saw several great cormorants and even a gallant white-tailed sea eagle. It is called by birdwatcher as a flying rag rug for its long and broad wings.

It was possible to ford to Korpskär and Norra Benskärin
The view to south

Suddenly we realized that we have to rush to have our picnic and then start the journey back to Rosala, to not miss the last ferry. We sailed though the strait towards northeast and then set off for Lammörs fjärden (an open water area). We were lucky to run and to broad reach all the way back to the launching site. That was such a pleasant leg.

Vänö fjärd on starboard side
Cargo ship Prima Viking heading for Naantali at 9 knots

Gradually the wind had turned to west and then started to build up. There were more and more white horses, as well as violent gusts, but they weren’t an issue as we ran before the wind.

Starting from Hamnholms gloppet the wind started to build up

Arriving at Rosala guest harbor was perfectly manageable. The biggest challenge was the westerly breeze which made the harbor area less sheltered than a northerly breeze. We lowered the sails on time and paddled to the pier next to the slipway.

At Rosala guest harbor

Retrieving the boat was easy. We covered Sarastus for transportation and then started to drive to the ferry in Långnäset. We had just 15 minutes idle time before the ferry came.

Waiting for the last ferry in Långnäset

The ferry took us to Kasnäs. When aboard we marveled at the breeze and sailboats with reefed sails. When back to the continent, we started our long drive back to home.

Both Seppo and I were very pleased for the trip which was highly successful despite of the variable wind conditions. We gained more experience in navigating at sea and visiting the new destination was interesting.

Rosala - Halsskär - Södra Benskär - Rosala