· Pihlajavesi · Sarastus · 31 M

My youngest daughter and I went on a second sailing as a continuation of the Patasaari trip, and this one had to be a two-day sailing trip to a new destination. Almost all the easy-to-find spots on the southern Saimaa have been explored, so I chose the area in Pihlajavesi for this trip. Syrjäispää looked like a nice destination there.

On the Pihlajavesi, either there are hardly any boat ramps or they are well-kept secrets. However, I had found information about a ramp in Koljoniemiemi of Särkilahti that opens to the north-east. So we drove there.

Koljonniemen boat ramp

The concrete boat ramp turned out to be excellent, even though there was no service dock next to it. There is plenty of parking space, but unfortunately no toilet. There is also a haven, so you didn’t have to be completely alone.

We rigged the boat and launched it. The wind conditions next to Koljonniemi were very changeable. The wind was blowing in virtually all compass directions. Occasionally we found ourselves backtracking when the headwind would not take us forward because of the wind’s shifting direction.

Eventually, however, we got further out of the shadow of the mainland, but the next thing we encountered was a moderate breeze. The prevailing wind speed was around 10-15 knots, but the gusts got well into the 30 knots range. Certainly the boat moved fast as the breeze was blowing. There were also just two of us, which made the boat lighter. At best, we were sailing alongside Jänissaaret at almost nine knots. My daughter said it was pretty thrilling!

Suuri Kontiainen was approaching at a good pace

Once Suuri-Kontiainen started to cast its shadow, things calmed down for a while. After passing Karhusalmi, the ferry and Lammassaari we arrived at Paatinselkä, where there were still some gusts, but the breeze was clearly less than on Särkilahdenselkä. In the distance ahead we could see rain clouds, but fortunately they were not moving towards us.

Rain showers could be seen over Paatinselkä

A little before 9pm we finally anchored in front of the sandy beach at Syrjäispää. We moved our stuff ashore and pitched the tent. After that, however, we wanted to explore the nearby cliff, which rose about 20 metres above the beach, before going to bed.

Sarastus at the beach at Syrjäispää
Landscapes from the top of the Syrjäispää cliff to the north

The sun was setting and the long day was already wearing us down, so we went to bed. Mosquitoes were a bit of a nuisance at night, but otherwise we slept well.

The evening fell

The sandy beach at the end of the outlying headland is a shadowy place in the evening in terms of sunlight, but the morning sun shines directly on it, which we were able to enjoy when we woke up. Forest birdsong also filled the soundscape, and in the distance we could hear a lone cuckoo, a raven and a firecrest. Could the morning start any better?

Pihlajavesi literally means rowan water

After breakfast we took a walk for about an hour through the forest and cliffs in Syrjäsniemi. Eventually we returned to the beach.

Our camp in the morning
On Syrjäispää cliffs

Before leaving, we had noticed something green floating in the water. On a stick test, it looked like cyanobacteria (known as “blue algae” in Finland). However, after our walk around the peninsula, the floats had disappeared, but there were still some green particles in the water. After some time of reflection, we decided to go for a swim. It was pleasantly refreshing without any itching or other problems.

Cyanobacteria seen before the walk

After the swim, we packed our gear into the boat and raised the anchor. The wind forecast had improved compared to what had been predicted the day before. The breeze was around 6-9 knots on Paatinselkä.

Syrjäispää left behind
And we had a speed of 3-5 knots, with sails only...

We decided to make a stop at Mitinhieka, where we had last visited in 2014 as a family. There we chatted with other holidaymakers and had picnic. After that it was time to move on.

A stop at Mitinhiekka

In Enasalmi we had mostly a headwind, so we tacked through the strait. It was nice to see another sailboat doing the same. After Enasalmi we headed southeast.

A pram before the ferry to Pietolansaari
Suuri-Kontiainen behind

The wind was relatively calm the rest of the trip. In the narrow Karhusalmi we had to paddle a couple of hundred metres past the cairn as the wind weakened, swirled and was mainly headwind. It was quite strange that the phone’s positioning was stuck both coming and going at Karhunsalmi. I wonder what local phenomenon could cause such a thing?

Sailing across the Särkiselkä was still relaxed in a crosswind. I was a little surprised why trees had been cut down in front of the cottage plots on the beach. I understand that, at least in the past, this has been illegal on the shores, but perhaps this is a change in the law or a local practice.

Cottages at Koljonniemi

At Koljonniemi the wind turned very gusty, increasing our speed to over seven knots. As the gusts eased, we rolled in the genoa and made a final tack that took us to the ramp at speed. We pulled the boat onto the trailer and headed for home, where supper, strawberries and a sauna were waiting for us.

Koljonniemi boat ramp

The trip to Pihlajvesi was a good experience, especially because the destinations Syrjäispää and Mitinhiekka are so magnificent. Personally, I would like to come to Pihlajavesi again, but have to say that it is not an ideal area for day sailing with the family, because the wind conditions are so challenging and the distances are easily relatively long.

Koljonniemi → Syrjäispää