One of my colleagues, Olli Vuola and his wife Anu, used the fantastic spring weather we had around Easter to do a rare kind of trip: Helsinki – Tallinn in an open boat! Anu and Olli kindly agreed to share some photos and the details of their trip with Sail in Finland readers.
As Finland had a very early spring in 2014, the Gulf of Finland was already ice-free by Easter Sunday, April 20 when Anu and Olli headed out. The boat they used was a Yamarin 50SC powered by a Yamaha 50 hp outboard engine. Yamarin is one of the most popular powerboat brands in Finland and a very typical representative for small, open powerboats popular along the coasts and on the inland lakes. The boat is mainly designed for sheltered waters, but as you can see, it can be used out on the open sea in the right conditions.
The round trip distance Helsinki – Tallinn – Helsinki was 76,7 nautical miles (142km). Olli started out at 8:25 and returned back in Helsinki at 20:50. Boating time was just under 6 hours with the rest of the time spent enjoying the Tallinn old city center. The route was quite simple. From the island Katajaluoto 6 nm South to the Ulkomatala fixed marker, then 194° for 23 nm and finally 160° for another 9 nm. This route keeps you clear of the Helsinki-Tallinn shipping lane used by the ferries.
If you want to visit Tallinn by boat, then check out the harbor facilities here. Olli used the Old City Marina which is very conveniently located close to the Tallinn old city. The main downside of this marina is that you need to pass through the very busy passenger ship harbor to reach it.
Out on the water, Olli kept an economical cruising speed of about 18-20 knots and consuming 48 liters of gasoline for the whole trip. Gasoline is about € 1.85 – 1.95 at the marine filling stations (2015 prices, but € 0.50 cheaper in Tallinn) so the cost of gas at Finnish prices would have been just under 100€.
The Finnish law requires boats to have a minimum of security equipment such as fire extinguisher, compass and charts and life jackets for all on board. In addition Olli carried and hand-held VHF radio and emergency flares and a 10 liter spare gas canister. Even though the weather was very nice and warm, the water is still very cold in April and therefore proper clothing is a must. In an open boat with no sail trimming to do, you will need a lot of insulation to keep warm. And remember your feet, they will also start freezing!
For navigation Olli used paper charts and a mobile phone as a backup. Binoculars are very helpful to spot navigational markers as you get close to shore. The main navigational challenge when crossing the Gulf of Finland is to stay clear of the shipping, therefore constant watch is important.