One of the great times to meet other sailors is during the spring service of your boat. Last spring I met Greg Ward in the marina in Pargas when I was getting our sailing boat ready for the summer. Between waxing and painting we had some great conversations with Greg about the differences between sailing in the UK and sailing in Finland. After a little bit of persuasion Greg promised to share some of his insight into those differences.
Sail in Finland (SiF): Welcome to Sail in Finland, great to have you here!
Greg Ward (GW): Thank you, it’s great to be here…
SiF: Finns are always a bit startled by foreigners wanting to live in Finland and therefore we always start off any conversation by asking why a foreigner moved to Finland. What brought you here?
GW: Finns shouldn’t be so modest about their country; it has got so much going for it! I suppose I am a bit biased as I have been married to a Finn (Anita) for over 20 years. She speaks excellent Swedish and English as well as Finnish. I can speak English and school-boy French so it made sense to live in my native Jersey to start with. However both our parents started getting old. My father who is in great shape for his age has been looking after my mother but Anita’s father died many years ago and so we decided to move to Finland and try to help her mother. That was seven years ago and we are still here.
SiF: Your post will tell more about the sailing differences, but is there anything else that surprised you in your new home country?
GW: Yes, I have discovered that the Finns seem to be a very practical people, this shows itself in many ways, from: building their own homes and repairing many things to: collecting fungi, berries etc and making their own decorations and Christmas cards.
SiF: So let’s move over to sailing. What kind of sailing do you do?
GW: I’m not a solo-sailor, that’s not for me; I am more of a sociable cruising sailor who likes to: visit places with family and or friends and our blind dog , make good food, swim and read. Oh yes I also do some photography and filming too.
SiF: Any particular favorite destinations?
GW: My wife and I particularly like Tunhamn because of its tranquility and the fact that it is slightly off the beaten track. Oh yes we like the fresh bread there and the hand knitted socks too. We also are keen on Seili, despite its sad history. Last year we made a brief call on Kumlinge and are definitely keen to visit again. By coincidence whilst we there we met some fellow Channel Islanders (from Guernsey) who were also enthusiastic about boating in the Baltic.
SiF: Sail in Finland has quite a lot of followers in the UK. Any special advice for someone thinking of sailing to Finland or chartering in Finland?
GW: If you are sailing from England beware that the gas canisters and attachments are different here. On the way to Finland we stocked up on gas just outside the Kiel canal in Germany. Apart from that I would say go for it; this isn’t the Mediterranean or Croatian coast and the sailing season is shorter but this is a special place with a unique charm of its own. Make sure your boat has heating or you have extra warm clothing because the weather can be very warm but it also can be surprisingly cold too.
SiF: Last spring we met during the spring service. This year it looks like spring will arrive early. Any special plans for this summer?
GW: Well yes; last year we made a trip to the North Eastern part of Åland. My late father-in-law was born there and the family still have land there. It is totally unspoilt and we plan to visit there again this summer; perhaps we can start planning our own summer house. I also want to take my father for a short cruise, he will be 79 in April and I want to reward him for introducing me to sailing at the tender age of 5.
SiF: Sounds very good. Thanks for being here on Sail in Finland and let’s see if we will bump into each other in the marina again this spring!
Read Greg insightful comparison to sailing in UK and around the channel islands, Greg’s blog post can be found here.