26-Jul-2004 -- My older son Robert and his girlfriend Alexandra were at her mothers summerplace in Berghamn in Houtskär, SW Finnish archipelago. I had noticed that the only remaining primary confluence point (60N, 21E) in Finland to be visited was at some 15 nm distance from were they were. The trip from there to the point would however be over open waters where more than 6 m/s wind would create waves big enough to make it very unpleasant to go there with my 17 feet outboard boat. I informed my son that - weather permitting - I was planning to visit that confluence during their stay there.
Followed some days of thight watching of the weather forecasts. On Saturday at last the three days forecast looked promising enough to decide to try it. So on Sunday I loaded the boat on the trailer and drove the 220 km to the Verkan small boat harbour in Korpo. Natalie, one of Alexandras sisters joined me in the car as she was to go there anyhow. At 16:20 we started from Verkan and with some occasional stops to check the navigation we were at Berghamn at 17:00. We passed some open water areas where the waves splashed over to wet Natalie quite thoroughly - but she didn't mind - dry clothes waited at the destination.
I enjoined the hospitality of Alexandras mother and the four of her five kids with dinner, sauna, sunshine, trip around the island etc. Robert and Alexandra decided to join me for the confluence visit, to start at 9:00 the next morning. Well, we started at 9:42, the wind was definitely lower than the previous day and when we got out from within the islands we tested that we could go at about 20 knots without making the crushing into the waves too uncomfortable. The wind and the waves were almost straight ahead, somewhat from the left, so the splashes usually hit Alexandra in her face, as she was sitting most to the port, Robert navigating in the middle and me steering at the starboard side. At 10:06 the engine suddenly went almost dead and an alarm was screaming. The oil level was too low, should of course had been checked before starting. We filled the oil tank - yes, we had anticipated this and had some spare oil - but it was good that the waves were not bigger during the refill. Off again at 10:10. Now the waves were somewhat bigger and we dropped the speed to about 17 knots.
I had created a route for the GPS and at the end of the long leg we went somewhat past the turning point. We were now closer to some small islands and I started to stear from my memory on how the maps were looking. So far we had only navigated with the GPS. From an electronic chart I had printed out some maps with the waypoints and the route but now we discovered that they had blown away from the seat. Robert brought with him a real paper chart so we used that instead of starting the laptop with the electronic map.
We were so excited about approaching the DCP that we forgot to do the navigation appropriately. At 0.3 nm from our target we drove at 5 knots when Robert happened to glance at the echo sounder and immediately shouted - LIFT THE ENGINE IT'S ONLY 0.8 m! - I told him first it must be something wrong with the sounder, but then realised he was right and that we were very close to a shallow. See map picture. Fortunately nothing happened and we proceeded slowly towards the DCP.
We managed to manevour the boat to drift slowly towards the DCP and actually at the first approach we were lucky to get an all zeros reading - the GPS picture missed the time however and therefore we made a second approach. Also now we found an all zeroes spot but the picture now - although showing the whole GPS display - was very unsharp. This was not checked at the spot so we have to be satisfied with this.
Pictures were taken and then it was time to celebrate. We decided to go to the leeward side of the closest small island Sondronskär. There we went ashore and celebrated with a light lunch, a bottle of white wine was standing in for the champagne and as we only had one plastic glass it had to circulate among the three of us. I went across the island and took some pictures. At some distance in the north we could see one of the ferries between Åbo (Turku) and Stockholm passing by. We left the island at 11:40.
We were now close to Kökar, a group of islands were my paternal grandmothers ancestors were coming from. I had visited Kökar 20 years ago, but my son Robert had never been there. So we decided to go there and as the route there was sheltered from the winds we could go at about 24 knots. At 12:15 we arrived at the Hellsö guest harbour and enjoined our lunch at the terrace of the restaurant Havsutsikten. We phoned home and reported our plans. After refuelling we continued with the boat to the Sandviken guest harbour where we saw some friends from our local sailing club in Espoo. We rented bikes and went first to the church and the remains of the old Fransiscan cloisters. From there to the main village Karlby where we had icecream at the local store. Back again over the hill - my legs were not very used to (one gear) biking - so it was somewhat sweaty work. We left Kökar at 15:45 and initially progressed downwind at 30 kn until we reached more wavy waters were the speed varied 20 - 25 kn depending upon any islands giving shelter from the wind or not. We arrived at SE of Berghamn at 16:32 where Robert wanted to check out some possible windsurfing spots. Back to the base in Berghamn we were at 16:45.
From there I left 17:15 alone back to Verkan, there at 17:45, got the boat on the trailer at 18:26 and arrived at home harbour at 22:04.
Secure your maps so they don’t disappear by the wind.
Preferably the route planner loading the waypoints and the route to the GPS should also be the navigator during the trip.
Stick to planned route in detail.
Check approach also on maps - not only GPS - were shallows etc don't show up.
Keep champagne stock in boat at appropriate level - just in case. Same for glasses.