Mariehamn, Aland


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Six weeks into our Baltic cruise, we departed Sweden at the end of April from Arholma to Aland, an autonomous region of Finland. We made landfall at the capital, Mariehamn, where we spent a great few days exploring the town and visiting their excellent maritime museum. But the highlight of our visit was a day spent at the Aland Maritime Safety Center, one of the reasons we’d stopped in Mariehamn.

Below are trip highlights from April 30th through May 3rd, 2019 in Mariehamn, Aland. Click any image for a larger view, or click the position to view the location on a map. And a live map of our current route and most recent log entries always is available at mvdirona.com/maps

4/30/2019
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Sunrise
Our last Swedish sunrise before we cross the Sea of Aland.
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Sea of Aland
Wonderfully calm conditions in the 30-mile crossing of Sea of Aland.
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Traffic
Lots of traffic in the Sea of Aland, heading to and from the Gulf of Bothnia and the northern coasts of Sweden and Finland.
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Swedish Flag
Lowering our Swedish courtesy flag as we depart Swedish waters. We’ll be back in the end of June.
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Finnish Flag
Raising a Finnish courtesy flag as we enter Finnish waters.
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Rosella
The Viking Line ferry Rosella en route to the Swedish mainland from Mariehamn in the Aland Islands.
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Lilla Batskar
Wind turbines and tower from an old mine on Lilla Batskar as we enter the Aland Island.
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Boatyard
This boatyard at Mariehamn in the Aland Islands is using what looks to be a shipping container lift system to move boats around in the yard.
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Maritime Safety Center
One of the reasons we’d come to Mariehamn in the Aland Islands was an invitation from Sam Eklow to visit the Aland Maritime Safety Center. Sam, pictured at left, was on hand to meet us at the dock, along with his colleagues Susann Friman and Kristoffer Joelsson.
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MSF Guest Harbour
Only a handful of visiting boats are at the MSF Guest Harbour in late April. But in the high season the marine will be packed and to maximize space, boats will be moored bow-to the dock with sterns tied to the pilings visible. Here in the off-season we can tie alongside the dock, a much more convenient arrangement.
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Miramar
A nice lunch street-side at Miramar Grill & Pizzeria.
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Alandstidningen
With a population of only 29,500 the Aland Islands support two newspapers and a radio station. Shortly after our arrival, a team from from one of the papers requested an interview. Pictured are reporter Petter Lobraten, left, and photographer Robert Jansson of the newspaper Alandstidningen.
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K-Supermarket
Picking up a few provisions at the well-stocked K-Supermarket grocery store in Mariehamn.
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F.P. von Knorring
A delicious meal with local microbrew Stallhagen in the restaurant ship F.P. von Knorring with a view the harbour. Dirona is visible in the background moored in the MSF Guest Harbour.
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Crank Shaft
Out in front of a local marine insurance company is a marine engine crankshaft, presumably available for display as the result of a claim :).
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Walpurgis Night
April 30th is Walpurgis Night in northern and central Europe. Saint Walpurga was canonized on May 1st and was known for successfully battling issues such as pests, rabies and whooping cough. He also fought against witchcraft, and large bonfires traditionally are lit on the anniversary of the eve of his canonization to ward of witches and evil spirits.

This is the what’s left of a major bonfire just outside the Mariehamn town center. This year’s celebrations have been restricted due to extremely dry conditions and the fire department is keeping a careful watch over this one.

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Fire Truck
The Mariehamn Fire Department’s beautiful Scania pumper.
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Pump
The fire department had a pump in the water, primed and ready, with hoses leading up to the bonfire in case the flames got out of control.
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Nesting Swan
Nesting swan along the shoreline near the bonfire.
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Sawdust
A local power plant appears to be fueled by waste sawdust. We didn’t see anyone there, so it appears to be automatic that the shovel will go down, pick up a load of sawdust, deliver it to the burners and then return to its resting position.
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Bonfire
Returning to the boat, we could see a huge Walpurgis Night bonfire still burning across the harbour.
5/1/2019
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Equilization
This picture shows a web page used for different control system settings where white is normal and yellow is notable (click image for a larger view).

Like many, if not most marinas in Sweden, only 10A shore service is available, so we are using our dual-shore power configuration and are limiting the charger draw. Both both chargers are configured to operate at 65% output and are shown in yellow. This keeps our maximum draw on each down below 10A. They’ll draw around a bit more than 13amps at full output.

We also have selected shore equalize which allows the system to run at higher than normal voltage without warnings alerts or auto-shutdowns. It’s been 6 months since we have equalized (also called conditioning) the batteries, and the capacity is starting to be obviously less than the should be. When cruising full time we usually equalize about every three months.

The last yellow box is forced start battery parallel. This connects the main engine start battery to the house bank so they are equalized as well. It’s been roughly a year since they were equalized. We’ll be charging at 30.8V since the batteries will stabilize at about 82F while charging. Then we keep an eye on battery temperatures and wait for 8 to 10 hours before taking it back out of equalization mode.

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Norra Esplanadgatan
Walking along Norra Esplanadgatan to the Aland’s maritime museum at other side of town.
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St. Gorans Kryka
St. Gorans Kryka, built in 1927, is one of the few modern churches on the island.
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Ferry Terminal
The Aland Islands are an autonamous region of Finland that is one of 31 special territories with the EU. The islands are part of the EU, but outside the VAT area and ships that dock here can sell good on-board duty-free. As a result, the ferry terminal here sees 16 ships in a 24-hour period en route between other European ports.
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Propellor Blades
Damaged propellor blades from the ferry Isabella, each one weighs 5,300lb (2,400kg), on display near the Mariehamn ferry terminal.
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Sjofartsmuseum
At Mariehamn’s maritime museum Sjofartsmuseum.
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Pommern
The four-masted barque Pommern is the pride of the Sjofartsmuseum. The ship was built in Glasgow in 1903 and plied the trade route between England and Australia from its homeport of Mariehamn. The ship twice won the ‘Great Grain Race’ for fastest passage between Lizard Point, Australia and Cornwall, England with times of 104 and 94 days.
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Band
A band playing at today’s grand opening celebration for the Pommern. The ship has been closed for the past two years for renovations.
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On Deck
On the deck of the Pommern. A constant stream of people were arriving to see the ship. And with good reason—the displays and recreations are quite well done.
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Steering Geer
The steering gear on the Pommern. As the wheel turns, the worm gear rotates. Riding on the worm gear is a shuttle that gets pulled towards the wheel (forward in the boat) or away from the wheel, depending upon wheel rotation. The shuttle drives the rudder arm and turns the rudder. It looks like a lot of turns of the wheel is required to go from lock-to-lock on the steering, but the large mechanical advantage will make it easy and non-tiring.
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Below Deck
The cavernous cargo hold of the Pommern is full of information displays detailing the ship’s history.
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Motorcycle Club
After touring the Pommern, we walked into town for lunch. Today is a holiday to celebrate the canonization of Saint Walpurga, and the local motorcycle club traditionally holds a rally and displays their bikes in the main square.
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Lions Club
Crowds of people in downtown Mariehamn for the annual Lions Club auction in the town square.
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Nonna Rina
Lunch at Nonna Rina with a view to the action in Mariehamn’s town square.
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Fresnel Lens
After lunch we returned to tour the excellent Sjofartsmuseum proper. This is a Fresnel lens with the Pommern visible in the background.
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Ship’s Bells
Collection of ship’s bells at Sjofartsmuseum.
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Pirate Flag
A late 18th-century pirate flag from North Africa, one of only two original pirate flags known to exist.
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Viewing Platform
Part of the renovation the Pommern added a viewing platform that extends aroud both sides of the ship.
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View
The view south from a hilltop park above Sjofartsmuseum with the masts of the Pommern prominent.
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Ravine
The path down from the hilltop led through a narrow ravine.
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Aland
The Aland Islands are part of Finland, but operate autonomously, including having their own license plates, flag, postal stamp and web suffix ‘.ax’. And despite being a part of Finland, the language spoken here is Swedish.
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Cat
Watchful Aland cat having a snooze on a warm car hood.
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Aland Lyceum
Aland’s senior high shool.
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Dinner
We finished the day with a great meal at Dino’s Bar & Grill in Mariehamn.
5/2/2019
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Snow
A light snow started falling as we were out walking this morning. What fun!
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Aland Maritime Safety Center
Today we visited the Maritime Safety Center in Aland to see their facility and to learn more about the STCW (the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification, and Watchkeeping) courses they offer. Read more …
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More Snow
By mid-morning, the snow had gotten fairly deep. This is the view from the Aland Maritime Safety Center classroom. Even above 60°N in Aland, this is unusual for May.
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Indigo
A great lunch at Indigo in Mariehamn with microbrew from another local Aland brewing company, Open Water Brewery.
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Groceries
Picking up a load of Stallhagen IPA, and a few extra provisions, at the local grocery store on our way back to the boat.
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Ligier
This car caught James eye with its Ligier logo on the hood. He remembers Ligier from their Formula 1 racing days from 1976 through 1996. They have also built Le Mans race cars. What we didn’t know is they now build small cars and buses. This looks like a Ligier JS50.
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Snow on Deck
The snow had built up a couple of inches on deck by the time we returned.
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Albanus
The two-masted schooner Albanus, built in 1988, is a replica of the original 1904 Albanus. Both ships were built in Aland and the current is a regular participant in Tall Ship Races
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Pub Niska
At Pub Niska for dinner.
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Inside Pub Niska
Pub Niska is a chain of restaurants started by renowned Alan chef Michael Bjorklund with a goal of producing high-quality food using local ingredients. The restaurants are built to look like a ship’s interior—we loved it.
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Barometer
The barometer has fallen hard over the past few days—we’ve got some winds coming.
5/3/2019
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10A Breaker
This power pedestal has 6x 16A receptacles but, from experience, we know to look closer since most shore power connections we’ve seen recently are only 10A. So we always check the breaker first. We’ve gotten used to the 10A connections and the boat runs very well on 2x 10A shore power connections. In fact, we think it would operate on as low as 8A.

But, what surprised us about this power pedestal is that each side has only a single 10A breaker for the 3 shore power connections. As we are currently plugged in we are drawing the pedestal’s entire 20A capacity. This works fine when no other boats are in the marina, but when it’s full and and the pedestals are fully subscribed, only an average of 4A is allocated to each shore power connection. We expect it would be extremely challenging to avoid overload and the breaker popping when more boats are around.

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Pizza Diablo
A delicious pizza with a window table at Pizza Diablo in Mariehamn.
Show locations on map Click the travel log icon on the left to see these locations on a map, with the complete log of our cruise.

On the map page, clicking on a camera or text icon will display a picture and/or log entry for that location, and clicking on the smaller icons along the route will display latitude, longitude and other navigation data for that location. And a live map of our current route and most recent log entries always is available at mvdirona.com/maps.

 
 


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