· Suur-Saimaa · Sarastus · 31 M

Our eldest daughter came to visit home before the beginning of the university term, and our plan was to go sailing, as she hadn’t had a chance to get out on the water all the summer. We decided to head to Peräsaari, because it was her favourite island on the southern Saimaa, and because of its protected bay opening to the north. The weather was lovely, but the forecast predicted a fresh south-easterly breeze for Lake Saimaa.

As our departure was in the afternoon, we planned to overnight on the island and return in the morning. So we took a tent, sleeping bags and food for the evening and morning. We loaded the boat and lowered it into the water. The sheltered shore seemed quite calm, but when you peered further out onto the open water, you could see foamy wave crests. Also the weather station at Hiekkapakka showed a wind speed of 15 knots. We reefed the mainsail to be on the safe side and set off.

By Ilkonsaaret
On Mäntyselkä in a gusty tailwind

The wind was more or less running downwind for most of the journey. Our speed was typically between five and seven knots. After two and a half hours of sailing, we arrived at Peräsaari cove, where we landed.

At Peräsaari

Although it had been hot when we left home, there was no sign of that on the island. We had packed our swimming gear, but somehow swimming didn’t inspire us at all, even though the water was about 22 degrees.

It was getting late enough that my daughter had dinner and we started to prepare for an overnight stay on the island. I chatted for a while with another boat owner about boats, kayaks and life on the lake. It was a nice chat.

Soon it was a bedtime. I decided to sleep under the sail on the cockpit floor, as there were no more mosquitoes, gnats or deer flies on the island. I guess the brisk wind had done its job there too.

At night I woke up to visit a bush. After that I admired the bright starry sky overhead. There was the Ursa Major and many other familiar constellations. As I lay in the boat, I took out the boat’s binoculars for a moment and peered at the stars for a while. They looked beautiful but then it was time for sleep again.

In the morning I woke up around six. It was surprisingly cool and the lake sounded and looked a bit like a potato boiler. I checked the weather forecast and it gave no hope of the winds dying down that day. Ahead was a journey of about 12 nautical miles in a fresh breeze.

In the morning the lake looked like a potato boiler

After my daughter woke up, we had breakfast, packed the boat and set off. We left the cove with a reefed mainsail only. Once out of the shadow of the rocky headland, a strong breeze picked us up. I estimated it to be around 20 knots. The waves were in line with that, and spray was flying into the cockpit and over the crew all the time. I was a bit nervous of how rough the journey would be.

At Koirasari the breeze decreased slightly

Our plan was to sail near Kaitasaari and to tack either before or after it. At the island we decided to continue to Pieni Lintusaari to make the turn more manageable under the shelter the island offered. Then began the long port tack from Pieni Lintusaari to Ilkonsaaret. Before long we ventured to roll out of the genoa, as the breeze had clearly lost its strength.

The rest of the way was quite relaxed, but sometimes the gusts caused a bit of excitement. When approaching the slipeway, a capsize was pretty close, when a gust caught us by surprise and caused the boat to tilt sharply to starboard. However, the situation was resolved by loosening the both halyards completely, causing the water to pull away from the side deck and the boat to right itself. It would have been a bit embarrassing to capsize in the last few metres after almost five hours of sailing in a fresh breeze.

Sheltered by Listinki, on Vitsainselkä

The trip was pretty memorable for us in many respects. We experienced many adventurous moments and of course we got to enjoy the beautiful Finnish summer weather.