Charts for the Finnish waters

E-sereis chart foils

Click on image to buy on-line the charts you need for Finland!

Sailing in Finland is an exercise in navigation and therefore your most important your second most important (a life jacket is the most important) security equipment are up-to-date charts for the Finnish waters where you plan to sail!

The Finnish charts are produced by the Finnish Transport Agency (FTA, Liikennevirasto in Finnish). FTA produces a number of different types of charts, but the chart folios are best suited for pleasure boating. The chart folios are small – well, midsized – leaflets, 36 cm x 48 cm in size. Each leaflet contains about 30 charts and one or more overview charts of the area. They come as a ringbinder so you just flip thru the charts as you sail along. Check the on-line chart shop to see what the latest chart folios look like! The shop also serves foreign buyers and will deliver world-wide.

The foils are identified by letters and are commonly referred to by these letters. Thus I’m mostly using the D-series as I mostly sail in the Archipelago waters. The picture at the end of the post shows the area covered by each folio.

Charts are very easy to come by. Pretty much every marina, gas station and souvenir shop along the coast sells the chart folios. Therefore, if you are unsure about where you want to go in Finland, you can simply get the one chart folio that you need to enter the country (e.g. the C-series if you come from Sweden to the Åland islands) and then buy any other charts along the way as you discover you need them.

If you have friends in Finland and they suggest that they can lend you the charts, you should be thankful but a little vary. There is an incredible amount of changes going on in the water along the Finnish coasts. Of course the islands don’t move (but new underwater rocks are discovered from time to time) but the markings of the fairways do change a lot. With around 19,500 kilometers of charted fairways marked by more than 33,000 aids to navigation (such as lighthouses and buoys), it is now wonder that they might change a bit.

In particular, if you are offered the old style charts that have green overall look, I suggest you kindly refuse and get yourself a fresh set of charts. The green charts have been phased out starting in 2003, so most green charts are more than 10 years old. An eternity in Finnish waters. So always use up-to-date charts, you can check the latest releases here.

An other thing to pay attention to is that charts are mainly used outside. When sailing in Finnish waters, navigation is done in “real time”, in the cockpit. Don’t even think about having someone down below navigating by the chart table, it just won’t work! In Finnish waters, the chart table is mainly just another storage area.

So even though the chart folios have been printed on special paper that has some degree of water resistance, you will need some form of protective cover for the charts when it rains or there is a heavy wind (so the wind will not constantly flip the pages). The folios are sold in a plastic bag, but the bag will crumble rather quickly in use, so you might want to consider getting a special purpose cover for the charts.

As electronic navigation equipment becomes more and more sophisticated, people tend to ignore paper charts. However, in Finland, you are pretty much stuck without charts, so paper charts are a really important backup for the situation that there is a malfunction in your electronic navigation equipment. But we will get back to electronic charts in a later post!

The areas covered by the Finnish chart folios. Click on image for larger version.

Update Jan 2016: Prices for foils between 38€ and 44€, cheap way to secure your sailing. See the current set of foils and prices here: www.merikartat.fi!

8 thoughts on “Charts for the Finnish waters

  • 2014/04/24 at 09:36
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    I would appreciate and information or advice about operating a small craft around the Pori area.I have just bought a 6 metre motor boat and and live in Pori and have never had a small boat before. However I am a profesional sea captain and been at sea for over 35 years.

    • 2014/04/24 at 18:26
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      Hello Ben, congratulations on your boat! Not exactly sure what information you would need but here are a few points:
      – the area around Pori is quite challenging to navigate, the main point is to practice visual navigation regardless of whether you use a chart or an electronic navigator
      – due to shallow and narrow waters, the weather can have a big impact on boaters, so always check the forecast before you go out
      – boat clubs provide excellent support for boaters, in Pori I could recommend the local navigation club, http://www.porinnavigaatioseura.fi/ as they have a training boat and provide not only theoretical but also practical training
      – if you feel unsure about boating, why don’t you ask someone local to take you out on a couple of trips and show you around?

      Hope this helps some! Håkan

  • 2014/04/24 at 22:15
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    Hi Håkan

    Thank you for your very useful advice and information.I am now the proud owner of a Sunbird Barletta 184 as of today. If I can somehow find someone local I will ask them to show me around.

    Thanks and regards

    Ben Hudson

    • 2014/04/24 at 22:26
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      Uh, that’s a pretty racy boat, remember to take it easy the first couple of times! I’m sure you will enjoy it!

      Håkan

      • 2014/04/25 at 09:46
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        Hi Håkan
        Ya I gotta take it easy until I know the waters.What is the procedure for small boats that break down or need assistance around the Pori area, do small craft usually have VHF sets or do they just rely on and use their mobile Phones. If using the mobile phone is there a designated number to call. If one does have a VHF set who do you call, Pori coast guard, or port control.

        Cheers.

        Ben

  • 2014/04/26 at 21:08
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    VHF is nowadays very rare in pleasure crafts and therefore it is not very effective. All archipelago areas and most of the Finnish open seas are covered by cellular so your mobile phone is your best choice for emergency communication (see https://sail-in-finland.info//2013/06/your-smartphone-is-your-third-most-important-safety-equipment/ for more information).

    The primary emergency number for the coastal areas has just changed, add the new number +358 294 1000 to your phone, this is the Coast guard sea rescue center number. You can also use 112 (the general emergency number in Finland), but if you call about an emergency at sea, then they will forward you to the Coast guard center.

    The other thing that I warmly recommend is the “Trossi” membership with the Finnish Lifeboat Society. if you are a Trossi member, non-critical mission such as towing you back into the harbour are free. Great value if anything happens. More info here: http://www.meripelastus.fi/en/trossi-initiative, it only costs 75€/year! Best safety investment you can do in Finland.

    • 2014/09/07 at 11:02
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      Good day Håkan

      My boat is moored in Pori since June can you tell me what is the latest time people usually take there boats out of the water.

      I have a Johnson 120 HP outboard engine on my boat 1991, it is in excellent condition and running very well, question is should I get it serviced every year as the previous owner did. I have only put about 10 to 12 hours on it this summer. Where or who would you recommend to service the engine.Where should I stow the boat in winter. I have plenty of space in my garden and can make a tent of some sorts if this would do.

      • 2014/09/08 at 20:14
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        Hi Håkan, I seem to have lost your reply to the below query could you kindly post it again. My outboard is a two stroke.

        Regards Ben

        Good day Håkan

        My boat is moored in Pori since June can you tell me what is the latest time people usually take there boats out of the water.

        I have a Johnson 120 HP outboard engine on my boat 1991, it is in excellent condition and running very well, question is should I get it serviced every year as the previous owner did. I have only put about 10 to 12 hours on it this summer. Where or who would you recommend to service the engine.Where should I stow the boat in winter. I have plenty of space in my garden and can make a tent of some sorts if this would do.

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