· Suur-Saimaa · Sarastus · 16 M

My eldest daughter came to visit us, and she and I wanted to do a short day sail. In the previous evening, however, I was a bit hesitant because the forecast for the afternoon was for 17 knots with heavy thunderstorms starting from 16:00. However, we planned our schedule carefully so that we could get off the lake before the thunderstorm, and we were prepared to reef as well.

When we set off in the morning, the wind was a gentle 10 knots cross and tailwind, which took us to Ilkonsaaret islands in an hour and a half. However, there was all sorts of issues to be fixed in the beginning of the journey, as the rudder hoist rope was stuck under the stern locker hatch deck. After that the mainsail sheet was stuck under the tiller. Then the outhaul was loose and also caused the mainsail tack to come loose… But eventually we were fine.

After departure, the mainsail sheet was stuck under the tiller, that can be seen in this picture

As we approached the Ilkonsaaret, the wind and gusts picked up somewhat, but that only added to the momentum. Our top speed was 7.0 knots according to the recorded GPX file.

High water made it challenging to identify east and west marks in the surge

We landed on the sands of Ilkonsaaret. First we went for a swim in 25 centigrade water, and then had a chat with the paddlers who had come ashore next to us. They had spent the night at Satomaari, where it had been a pretty restless night, with a bunch of people partying there with loud music until the wee hours. We also saw someone trying to come through the unique rocky shoal of the Ilkonsaaret in a motorboat, which naturally led to a loud grounding. The rocks would appear perfectly on nautical charts, if they were used. Would it be worth recommending some courses for novice nature explorers to learn the basics of outdoor life?

Sarastus in Ilkonsaari bay
Gusts and whirlwinds play in the shelter of Ilkonsaaret

After a picnic, a little before 1pm, the paddlers headed towards Jänkäsalo and we headed towards Joutseno under reefed sail. On the way back, the clothes were of little use as the water splashed on us and on the bottom of the boat all the time. There was enough speed for the bailers to drain the water from the bilge efficiently. At best we had a speed of 7.3 knots until the genoa was rolled in, as it alone seemed powerful enough to almost capsize the boat. So the trip continued with a reefed mainsail only.

At Päihänniemi, the Lake Rescue boat was clearly looking at us, wanting to check that we were all right in the midst of white capped waves of around one metre. After wondering for a while, it continued on its way. The water splashing on us wasn’t that big issue, because both the air and the water were pretty warm.

After landing, the northern sky began to darken

My wife was waiting for us at the dock to help us land. Once on the pier, we heard the first distant rumble from the north. However, we made it home safely before the rain and thunder began to pour down, watering also our vegetable garden. The trip was another nice and adventurous experience in our memories.