We have a lot of jokes about the Finnish summer. One of my favourite ones goes something like ‘Finnish summer might be short, but at least it doesn’t snow much.‘
Believe it or not, Finnish summer can be hot and sunny, and this year the summer arrived earlier than ever before. It’s perfect, as I feel that last year it didn’t come at all, and due to rainy weather, I missed many wonderful trips. One of them was literally wonderful; A sailing trip with Schooner Ihana, which actually translates as Schooner Wonderful!
Schooner Ihana truly is a wonderful sailing ship and worthy of her name. Her home port is located in Luvia, a small seaside municipality on the South-West coast of Finland, just a bit over half an hour drive north from my home town Rauma and 20 km south from the nearest town Pori. Luvia archipelago is part of Bothnian Sea National Park where Schooner Ihana has been sailing since 2011.
Luvia might be a small place and somewhat unknown even among Finns, but it’s a traditional place for building wooden sailing ships, just like Schooner Ihana. And that is exactly how Ihana was born: hand-made by volunteer workers over 6 years.
I spotted Schooner Ihana already the night before our sailing trip when spending an evening by the sea in Luvia archipelago.
Schooner Ihana was built to honour the shipbuilding tradition in Luvia and Satakunta area. Ihana was hand-made by 126 volunteers who spent more than 43,000 hours building the ship. One of the most active volunteers, Esa Tuominen, was part of our crew. Esa spent 4,000 hours building Schooner Ihana. In the photo above he is showing me the nails that were used to build the ship – 9,000 of these nails were hammered in when building Schooner Ihana.
The story behind the ship is worth telling, but the sailing trip itself can’t be described in words. You have to experience it! You have to feel it!
Whether it’s windy or calm, on every voyage, the engines will be turned off, and at least part of the eight sails of Schooner Ihana will be lifted. Every single time.
Because on this voyage we don’t need to hurry anywhere. We have no destination to reach within a certain time limit.
When sailing with Schooner Ihana, the most important thing is to forget everything else and enjoy the fresh sea air. Enjoy the silence. Enjoy the beautiful views of the Bothnian Sea National Park. Enjoy the moment when there’s no rush, no stress, no nothing. Nothing but the sea. And the gentle sea breeze.
When the wind favours, Schooner Ihana can speed up to 11 knots. For land-lubbers like myself, it means about 20 km per hour.
Does chilling out on the deck of the schooner sound boring to you? I have good news for you: When sailing with Schooner Ihana also YOU can be part of the crew!
Land, ahoy! On Schooner Ihana anyone can join the crew. Every passenger can help with lifting and taking down the sails or even enjoy a moment as a captain of the ship. I left my captain hat home, but doesn’t my lovely pink skull hat make me look a bit like a pirate? Arrrr!
Helping the crew is of course entirely optional, and no one forces you to work on the ship. There’s a song that sailors love to sing, ‘All but sailing is vain’, it goes, but in case you don’t happen to have your own sailing ship, with Schooner Ihana you’ll get an authentic touch of sailor life.
And it doesn’t matter if you know nothing about sailing. The crew of Schooner Ihana quickly noticed that I didn’t, as I was asking them to slow down with their instructions as I didn’t have my sailor’s dictionary with me.
They got me all confused with the weird words and fancy sailor terms, but luckily the crew on Schooner Ihana is always happy to guide newbies to the wonderful world of sailing.
In case you prefer relaxing over helping the crew, just sit on the deck and watch others working while enjoying a nice bowl of traditional Finnish fish soup that is included in the price of the 4-hour sailing trip. Also juice and coffee are available.
If you fancy a cold beer, cider or even a glass of wine, you can take some drinks with you – they don’t sell alcohol on Schooner Ihana, but you are allowed to bring some for yourself, as long as you remember to behave well and stay safe. Other boats are passing by, as you can see…
Actually, I’m not entirely sure if the crew on Schooner Ihana says no to anything when you just dare to speak your mind. My friend on board really wanted to climb on the mast of the ship, and after a while, he got brave enough to ask the captain for permission to do so.
‘Yes, of course’, was the answer – as long as you can handle the safety harness.
The main mast of Schooner Ihana reaches up to 23,4 meters. The views from the top were so beautiful that my friend Pitek climbed the mast twice during our trip – the first time without a camera and the second time with the camera.
How can you recognise the land-lubbers on board? Our group at the helm. The credits from the last five photos belong to my friend Pitek.
This summer Schooner Ihana is sailing also further away from its’ home harbour Luvia. Find all the sailing trips here.
Together with my friends, I took part in a 4-hour day cruise, and I must say that the time really flies when sailing on the Bothnian Sea. The lovely crew of Ihana even invited us for the second sailing trip of the day, experienced sailors as we already were. Unfortunately, the home was calling, but I can assure you this wasn’t my last cruise on Schooner Ihana – and I can’t wait for the next one!
The association behind Schooner Ihana is organising training every spring. By taking part in the training, you can become an official member of the Ihana crew. Perhaps next year I will take the training to become a real sailor and spend all my summer days sailing on the Bothnian Sea National Park. After all, you just can’t get bored with this view, or what do you think?
The wonderful crew on Schooner Wonderful: Tommi, Harri, Esa, Jorma the Captain, Pekka and Henriikka, and of course Sanna, who is missing the picture but made this cruise possible for us.